salut mes cheries!
I’ve been saying this for a while now, but the ultimate ultimate goal is an interactive paris map. thank you for joining me in the second stepping stone on my way there — the first was my paris travel diary from 2017, obv.
just going to underscore a few highlights from the last trip, particularly the most impressive addition, which was our hotel. c’était un rêve absolu!
hotel highlight: hotel west-end
the hotel west end in the 8e arrondissement near champs-élysées was a spectacular mix of charming hospitality, old world paris, and timeless elegance. we couldn’t have asked for a more quintessentially parisian experience, and the staff was second to none.
croissants and café crèmes on the terrace looking out at the top of the tour eiffel was a moment straight out of my heart’s sweetest dreams, made real by staying in this gorgeous hotel. hermès soaps, a gift box of angelina chocolates to celebrate my mother’s “anniversaire” (birthday!), plush robes, breakfast brought up each morning, and a CUSTOM ITINERARY OF ACTIVITIES AND SUGGESTIONS hand written by the staff — I can’t make this up. cannot recommend this place more highly. they even had a blanket for us to take on a picnic to champ de mars. I love them.
it’s exceptionally walkable as well, at the corner of the shops of avenue montaigne, just around the corner from the famous(ly expensive) plaza athenée hotel, and a short three to five minute walk from champs-élysées.
this is not sponsored whatsoever (paid full price to stay there) but again, this hotel rocks. it seriously made the trip.
dining highlights: many
I always eat well in france, but that’s not the revelation of the millennium now is it? I made a return to some of my all-time favorites, added a few new places I’d been meaning to try, and discovered hidden treasures along the way. here are four from the last trip (go back to this post to see my other favs). I love ladurée, angelina, and chez julien as my go-tos!
les deux magots, 6e / st germain-des-prés
surprise! this has nothing to do with two “maggots” — les deux magots means “two chinese figurines” (go figure! pun sort of intended)
les deux magots is a historic café in the sixth, where the likes of picasso and hemingway used to convene, create, and dine. it was founded in 1812 and is still wildly popular today, as is café flore (just across the street from ldm!). order a saint germain spritz (when in rome!) or a drinking chocolate, and nosh on a croque with a scoop of berthillon for dessert.
café de l’homme, 16e / trocadero
this is also a touch touristy but one million percent worth it! the most spectacular dining views of the tour eiffel — like, on full display — are at this restaurant at the musée de l’homme. get yourself a reservation well in advance and try to time it with sunset; the lights for the tower turn on at the hour mark after sunset (ie, 6:55pm sunset, 7pm lights on). they sparkle every hour on the hour for five minutes after that.
tifinagh, 18e / montmartre
the least touristy, most hole-in-the-wall gem was this little spot tucked away on a small dead-end road behind the moulin rouge. brush up on your french menu ordering skills (je voudrais, je veux commander, s’il vous plaît, etc) and get whatever is written on the chalkboard that day. and remember, entree means appetizer in france. that’s not a joke, that’s just literally what it means.
flore en l’île, 4e / île st louis
this is one of my favorite spots in the entire city. I absolutely adore pont saint louis. to me, this is less about a standout gourmet meal, and more about gazing at the spire of la notre dame (so sad now) while eating a scoop of berthillon (a theme for this post, and also my life), and getting a light lunch. if it’s warm enough, get a spot outside to hear the live music on the bridge.
first trip to louis vuitton champs élysées, 8e
this past trip, I made a spiritual pilgrimage to the motherland for my first LV bag purchase. even if you don’t plan on spending money there, a tour around the iconic and historic LV flagship in paris is well worth the trip (somewhat like disneyland for handbag and luggage enthusiasts). if you want a more authentic, local experience, try the louis vuitton store on avenue montaigne. it’s a stone’s throw from champs élysées.
chanel hq, 1er
I went into this in my last travel diary, but I love going to the original chanel boutique. this is an even bigger deal to me than the LV store, and one day I’m getting that quilted double and I will carry it with me to my grave like the mummies in the louvre carried their treasures into the afterlife.
ok now for some actual shopping; sézane has fast become one of my favorite brands. it’s sort of like french madewell, but a touch more feminine. I’m absolutely obsessed with their sweaters, I have a pair of trousers from them that are hands down the most flattering pants I own, and their classic trench coat is an iconic piece for less than $300. my next addition is absolutely going to be one of their beautiful summer dresses. make your way to their boutique: l’appartement sézane in the 2e.
curling paris, 6e
I stumbled into this lovely little shop en route to the saint sulpice cathedral, and ended up picking up a sweet red wrap dress from this unique french brand. there are several locations in the city, and you’ll definitely find something you can’t get at home in the US.
saint ouen marché aux puces, 18e
and for my favorite shopping experience, the vintage couture in the flea market (marché aux puces). the boutique les merveilles de babellou had an insane collection of vintage chanel jewelry (like these 90s clip-on earrings, below) and hermès scarves… you’ll definitely want to stop by this little treasure of a store. keep in mind, the market is only open certain days and certain hours (saturday, sunday, and monday) and you can buy a ticket to a tour if you want someone to walk you through it and help you find something special.
some of the best finds in paris aren’t at a luxury boutique or department store, but at a pharmacy (or pharmacie, en français)! you can’t go wrong with any of the following brands: avène, embryolisse, bioderma, caudalie, la roche posay (particularly anthelios SPF), and vichy.
okay so my activities (like my shopping) are a tad touristy, but you know what? tourism is fun. I also just like exploring with no real agenda… walking around, having a picnic, sitting in a park, etc.
picnic in champ de mars
I can’t wait to do this again; I still think about this day almost a year later! here’s the itinerary: buy a bottle of wine at a cellar (with the help of the local shop owner — we went to one next to the hotel west end), grab some cornichons and grainy mustard, a wedge of brie, a baguette, some fruit, and a box of macarons from ladurée — then make a picnic in champ de mars. soak in some sun and fresh air, split up some fresh bread and cheese, and sip a nice bottle of wine for an ideal afternoon.
so funny story, I had never been to the louvre until my third trip to paris! this past time, we took a guided overview tour in english. It was about 2 hours, and honestly covered like… 10% of the museum. this place is insane (most of you probably know that but I’m late to the game) and I’m pretty sure you could spend a month here and still not see every single thing. I loved the iconic nike (winged victory) as much as everyone else, and diana of versailles was perhaps my favorite.
sounds silly, but one of my favorite activities is just walking along the seine (merely existing in paris is an unparalleled delight). I love being by the water, especially when the weather is nice. pro tip: grab a coffee (or my personal fav, a scoop of berthillon) and enjoy a nice little treat while you stroll.
jardin de luxembourg
another relaxed daytime activity: enjoying the jardin du luxembourg. you can do another picnic, play some outdoor games, visit the musée de l’orangerie (haven’t yet been but it’s on my agenda for september!), sail a mini sailboat, take a walk and see over 100 sculptures, or read a book on a bench.
before you head into the park, grab a treat from pierre hermé (rue saint sulpice / rue bonaparte) and enjoy a nice little pastry while you soak in the lovely natural atmosphere.
of note, it was pretty damn cold when I was last there, despite the fact that it was mid may (it was chilly in amalfi as well… super bizarre). I did not pack adequately for cold weather, and thus had to improvise a bit. so bring some layers! this was my second springtime visit to paris — the first being in 2009, when I went in march (and it was très froid then), and I’ve been in september when it was (surprise) also quite cold. perhaps my next trip I’ll have better weather luck? pray 4 me.