How many times did I tell myself that Paris was not my thing? That 2 previous visits to the city were enough, that another trip had no chances of changing it? Well, a lot of times. I was never a girl idealizing Paris, in fact, both times I found myself there before was solely because of the people I traveled with. Both times it was like having to meet somebody famous, and then get disappointed because it felt so overpriced and narcissistic.
Then something clicked. We planned this small weekend getaway to Paris to open our new visa, and this time Paris got me hooked. Here we are hiking in Montmartre (this is just the best verb, because it’s Montmartre, you know? All hills and stairs!), stuffing our faces with croissants, crepes and macarons (no regrets!), missing on our planned shopping (and saving ourselves from lavish spendings, apparently), drinking cocktails in a gorgeous speak-easy bar… It was a revelation, a new face of the city, cleaner, more intriguing, stimulating. How could I not see it before?
This post is about little things that I found Paris consisting of. Call it a recipe for a great time in the city, you can check the places we’ve visited or find your own, just promise yourself to not stick to conventional routes from tourist guides too much. Get lost in the streets, explore, surprise yourself!
Patisseries, bakeries, creperies
Fact #1: Paris is a mecca of dessert lovers. Fact #2: you don’t like desserts and sweets? You’ll try them in Paris anyway because they’re LEGEN-DARY. Fact #3: Your healthy eating diet is screwed in Paris.
A bunch of addresses and names really worth checking out:
— Pierre Hermé has a whole network of boutiques around Paris, just pick one that’s convenient for you.
The thing with macarons is that until try a really good one, you can’t understand what’s so special about them. Pierre Herme’s seasonal flavours don’t ever cease to surprise, while timeless classics are worth hundreds of others. My personal all-time favourites: Mogador (passion fruit and milk chocolate), Ispahan (rose-lychee-raspberry) and Infiniment Jasmin (jasmine flower and jasmine tea).
—Odette is a petite corner shop close to Notre-Dame, selling bite-size chou-de-la-creme. Again, selection of flavours will satisfy anyone. Take a couple for take-away, and enjoy at a nearby park.
— Breizh Café greets you with a queue coming out from the restaurant during lunch hours (or maybe whole day, I don’t know), and makes you wonder what is there so special about it? It’s only the best crepêrie in Paris, that’s what! Their authentic buckwheat crepes and galettes have nothing in common with think fast-food cheese and Nutella crepes sold on the streets around Paris (which can be good sometimes too), they’re light, balanced, slightly crispy but tender, and simply delicious. Whatever you pick from the menu you can be sure that ingredients are top-quality and relate to the philosophy set by the brand. They also have a number of successful cafes and restaurants in Japan, one of them boasting a Michelin star.
Coffee (chic and trendy)
As a dedicated (but not very savvy) coffee fan, I must say that Paris coffee scene is so abundant, you’ll have a hard time choosing a place for yourself. I had dozens of places saved in Foursquare and only tried a couple, so there’s definitely more to come back to next time. I couldn’t miss a somewhat iconic Cafe Kitsune if only for my love of European-Japanese collaborations and foxes. Used Book Café next to Merci designer store is also great, and the interior is just a honeytrap for all book lovers out there.
Parks and outdoor secrets
Jardin du Palais Royalto me looked like a perfect place for locals to hang out on Sunday early afternoon. There were lots of people soaking in the sun, sitting with a book in their hands or just dozing. Lots of shopping opportunities in galleries around the garden + great coffee from above mentioned Cafe Kitsune.
The Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden of Paris, and a great place for a stroll. It also has a pretty nice zoo and huge glass houses, but we only stayed outside and enjoyed some autumnal sun. La Grande Mosqueé de Paris is only a short walk away from the garden, and definitely worth a visit! It feels like you’re suddenly in Morocco rather than Paris, and you can take some time to sit down with a glass of sweet, amber-colored mint tea.
The Tuilleries Garden is probably known to everyone. Thanks to its very central location between The Champs-Éllysées and Louvre Museum, it attracts lots of visitors, both local and visitors. Great place for people watching!
Districts and Arrondissements
The greatest discovery of this trip for me was Le Marais, the area spread across 3d and 4th arrondissements , with its modern, free-spirited, artistic identity and infinite possibilities for a great day or night out. We went there in the morning to try some of the Liberté bakes, and walked along the canal, checked out numerous design stores, ate best galettes at Breizh, then came back there in the evening for a drink with friends at Le Comtoir Général. All were great!
Latin quarter is definitely another favourite neighbourhood of mine, with its bohemian spirit and beautiful architecture. Check out legendary Shakespeare and Company shop and café to get a feel of Midnight in Paris (at least that’s what I feel) .
Also this time we stayed in Montmartre, and it was absolutely beautiful! As we walked in the morning, we watched people opening their balconies to greet and day and let the sun and air in, buying fresh bread and croissants for their morning weekend feasts at home, walking cute dogs. We watched beautiful, almost cinematographic houses, and for a moment I almost wanted to stay and live there. Then I remembered I don’t know any French, and it’s kind of a vital skill ?
I fell for Paris this fall, and I’m sure this is just the beginning of a long beautiful romance ❤️ See you soon, City of Light!