Ahhhh... the smell of croissants linger in the air, while lovers embrace with the majestic Notre Dame in the background. This is Paris right? Well... not really. This is only the part of Paris we dream about or see on the big screen. The real Paris has much to be discovered outside of the main tourist sights.
After living in Paris for nearly a decade, I want to share with you some of my insider tips so you can enjoy the city as much as I do!
Restaurants and Bars
1st Arrondissement: Start your day with a coffee at one of my favourite cafes, Telescope. For an taste of history head to the oldest bar of Paris, called L'Entracte. It's a small quaint place with a familial vibe that will keep you coming back. This area also has some of the best Japanese restaurants in town. For a taste of sushi, head to Takara, the oldest Japanese restaurant. Some say the quality is as good as if you were in Tokyo! End your day with cocktails at the fabulous Hotel Costes.
2nd Arrondissement: For something more trendy, visit the Montorgueil area and head to Le Coeur Fou on the rue Montmartre. End your evening with a perfectly mixed cocktail at the Experimental Cocktail Club.
3rd Arrondissement: If you're looking for a low key brunch surrounded by locals, check out the Marché des Enfants Rouge and rue de Bretagne area. Cafe Charlot is a particular favourite, especially around Paris Fashion Week! For dinner, my favourite places are Le Mary Celeste (they have an oyster happy hour!!!), Le 404 for Moroccan food, and Le Derriere. End your evening with drinks at the Little Red Door or Candelaria.
6th Arrondissement: For a more gastronomic experience within a reasonable budget, head to Semilla on the Rue de Seine. Before your dinner, you can have a truly "bobo" experience by visiting La Palette for l'apéro (cheese is a must!).
10th Arrondissement: Tucked away between three metro stations is what I like to call the golden triangle of hipsterdom. It goes from metro Grands Boulevards, north to Poissonniere and east to Strasbourg St. Denis. This little pocket of the 10th is one of my favourite areas to hang out in. Start your night with beers and arcade games at Le Fantome. Then clear your conscience with a healthy dinner at Nanashi. Go on for drinks at Chez Jeanette, or Le Mauri7, which have both become the "institutions" of this area.
For a nice view you can try Kong and the George (at the top floor of the Pompidou Museum). The views make them worth a visit.
If you only have time for one place, make sure to go to Colette. It's the ultimate concept store with a great selection of books, music, cosmetics and of course, fashion.
In you really want to embrace your inner Parisienne, check out some of my favourite stores:
Iro - A black leather jacket from this signature brand has been on my shopping list for a while!
Isabel Marant - A favourite worldwide, pieces are bohemian, flatering and easy to wear. There is also has a more affordable range, Isabel Marant Etoile
Carven Youthful couture with playful silhouettes.
Another lovely concept shop, where you can enjoy a café surrounded by books, then move on to beautiful home furnishings, shoes and clothing, is Merci.
The guide books are full of recommendations but my favourite places are the Pompidou Museum, the Catacombs and the Père Lachaise cemetery - the final resting places of Oscar Wilde, Colette and Jim Morrison. Another great spot is the Palais de Tokyo, an exhibition space, bar and restaurant in the 16th.
After all the fine dining, you'll probably want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. My personal favourite is the Palais Royale gardens.... I may be biased because I live right next door, but to me, this is one of the best places to relax. You can read a book and enjoy the sunshine, stroll around the many shops that line the inner courtyard, and enjoy some excellent photo opps.....!
It's also nice to enjoy a picnic at the Champs de Mars, at the Parc Monceau or the Place des Vosges.
Finally, no visit to Paris would be complete until you enjoy evening drinks along the Seine at the Ile St Louis or with the many expats on the Pont des Arts :)