Updated February 1, 2023
I’m packed and ready for Paris! I can’t wait to see my oldest, who is a freshman at the American University in Paris. We will shop for Christmas gifts, stroll outdoor holiday markets and eat *all the things*. This trip is extra sweet because it’s coming at the end of a few very busy weeks. I’m excited to share my list of what we’re up to next week. This is by no means an exhaustive Paris travel guide. It’s a “best of” list based on the fact that we’ll be there as a family that includes a 14-year-old girl who just wants to shop and a 16-year-old boy who might rather be in the mountains skiing, fishing or golfing (just a hunch). I want restaurants that aren’t stuffy, days that aren’t too packed and downtime.
A few notes before we jump in.
If you’re headed to Paris, download the G7 app for a convenient taxi service. They are everywhere. Uber is also available.
You can use the map app that comes downloaded on your iPhone to enter your final destination, it will tell you which metro to take and how to walk to the nearest stop based on where you are. When you purchase a metro pass don’t let it touch your phone or it will demagnetize, take it from me. There’s a Paris Metro app as well, but honestly, I like how the iPhone map works the best.
Paris does not have a central restaurant reservation system like Resy or OpenTable (that I know of), but most restaurants have online reservations available on their website. Make reservations in advance for every restaurant, except at most cafés. And be sure to cancel if you can’t make it. We don’t need any more reasons for Parisiennes to think we’re rude and don’t follow their rules!
In Paris, I love small boutique hotels where you get to know the staff a bit. But make them cool with soft sheets and an honor bar! That said, a splurge is sometimes in order!
This is a budget-friendly hotel on the right bank, owned by the same people who run Hotel Recamier (one of my favorites on St. Sulpice square in the 6th) and Adele & Jules. Update: The hotel is fine but nothing special. Our room was meh: A dark interior room and a little musty. I much prefer Hotel Recamier on the left bank, but the central location of Hotel Therese can’t be beat. There are fabulous restaurants close by and the Japanese patisserie up the street makes a matcha eclair that’s next-level delicious. We walked everywhere from this location. If you stay here, opt for one of their more expensive rooms.
I haven’t stayed here, but it’s at the top of my list. Old world, cool bar and superb concierge, according to several friends who have stayed here. It’s a tiny bit off the beaten track, so you either need to enjoy walking or take G7s to the hotel. It would be in ideal place to stay in the fall or spring when walking in Paris is a dream.
Anything that’s good enough for Mimi Thorisson is good enough for me. Good friends of mine stayed here recently and raved about it. Dark and clubby bar, staff car to drive you to dinner, and no detail missed in the rooms including a free mini bar, which is weirdly one of my favorite amenities.
I’ve been stalking this website, but I haven’t stayed here. Close proximity to Galeries Lafayette and other shopping. Easy walk to the George V Hotel for an evening cocktail.
Le Pavillion de La Reine
A friend recommended this hotel in the 3rd and it’s in my favorite neighborhood for shopping and cafés. I’ve heard great things.
These are highlights of places I’ve eaten and recommend. I couldn’t get into Frenchie or Septime, but I definitely want to hit FTG for a quick lunch one afternoon.
Aux Bons Crus (11th)
Open Sunday, casual, locals-vibe and classic entrees. I had a good laugh with the waiter here when I thought I ordered bread and he brought me a pen. And then he swiftly brought an English language menu after our dual laughter. This is inexpensive and casual.
Les Vitelloni (3rd)
A charming, sidewalk spot with kind waitresses. I hugged our waitress goodbye the last time I was here after we had a sweet conversation about leaving my oldest in Paris for her first year of college. The Italian menu is nothing groundbreaking, but good reliable pasta and an awesome wine list. I prefer it in warmer months when the sidewalk tables are set up, it feels a little claustraphobic in winter.
Fried chicken is what everyone goes for. Cute and cozy but lots of Americans talking loudly (Let’s all make a pact not to be those loud Americans). These people also own Verjus and 22 Club.
Pizza Chic (6th)
Delicious pizza and casual setting. Better than Marzo, which is also really good. My in-laws saw Ina Garten here.
Croissants, bread and great bread knives you can purchase to take home as a souvenir (if you’re checking a bag).
L’As Du Fallafel (3rd)
So efficient that even when there’s a line, you get in quickly. And you can grab delicious treats at the patisserie across the way while you wait. Dessert before dinner has always been my vibe. Great regular menu items as well as falafel, I love the eggplant. No reservations, but the line moves fast. Head to Rendel to look at sunglasses after your meal.
Les Juveniles (2nd)
Charming wine bar with good food in a neighborhood setting. No online reservations, but you can have your hotel call to reserve a table for you.
Near Luxembourg Gardens. Owned by two women, one from Charleston and one who’s Scandinavian. Casual and delicious. More of a café or bakery.
A few other faves that are always at the top of my list: L’Ami Jean, Le Petit Cler, Café de Ministeres and Alcazar.
Le Mary Celeste (3rd)
Adorable neighborhood spot in the Marais, but it will have limited indoor seating in cooler temps. Go in warmer weather when all the windows are open and the tables spill out onto the sidewalk. I haven’t eaten here, but the food always looks delicious.
Hotel Costes (1st)
Dark and clubby hotel bar, good people watching. Dress up if you go.
Jacques’ Bar (2nd)
A young crowd sits in the courtyard of The Hoxton, but walk upstairs for a quiet and cozy setting. Great weekend brunch and breakfast at The Hoxton‘s downstairs restaurant.
Harry’s Bar (2nd)
On our last trip to Paris, when we went to sleep early and woke up wide awake at midnight, we walked to Harry’s for drinks. Great cocktails and a fun setting with walls covered in American college pennants.
Willi’s Wine Bar (1st)
A cozy spot to take a break from touring, very close to Palais Royal.
You can hit all the big stores (Galeries Lafayette, Bon Marche, Samaritaine) but the smaller specialty boutiques are more fun. Please share any personal favorites in the comments.
Astier De Villatte
Shakespeare and Co.
Flea and Food Markets (“Brocantes” and “Marchés Alimentaires“)
Vanves flea market (easy to navigate and less overwhelming than Les Puces). Weekends only.
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