How I Spent A Perfect Two Weeks In Paris
I spent two weeks in Paris and while the internet is not lacking in travel guides to Paris, I spent a long time collecting recommendations from friends and relatives and then actually going and seeing everything. So I thought it was worth sharing what I loved and what I ate and what I did.
Where to Shop
Merci: Honestly just block several hours to lose yourself in Merci, the creative, innovative concept store. You’ve seen their tiny red car in the courtyard in every blogger’s Instagram, but the inside is really worth your time. The fashion was a little funky for me (they were mad about plaid that month), but the homewares, particularly the bath and ceramic areas, were were extremely tempting.
Sezanne: Cute women’s clothes and bags, basically the French Madewell in price and quality (in fact they have done collabs with Madewell)
BHV department store: French Target/Macys department store where I bought a cheap coffee maker for my Airbnb (my best move)
G. Detou: The most incredible grocery and specialty food supply store ever. This is where you can get jars of caramel sauce, boxes of spices, Spanish olives, fois gras, they have it all. For some reason it’s split into two stores side by side, so don’t miss both. In Bon Appetit’s Paris guide here.
L/Uniform: A tiny store with customizable, high end leather and canvas bags and travel accessories that come in fun bright colors.
La Trésorerie: This kitchenwares store reminds me of chic homewares stores in Copenhagen or London — it has global brands, lots of which are Scandinavian, that make everything from scrub brushes to trash cans look pretty. In Bon Appetit’s Paris Guide here.
French Trotters: Chic mens and womens clothing that reminded me of APC in style and price. I got some nice presents here from their home goods and candle/magazine section.
The Broken Arm: This is half a restaurant/coffee shop with excellent avocado toast and coffee, and half a chic, high-end fashion boutique (they are both in the same space).
Kerzon: A very chic candle store that I’m surprised hasn’t opened an outpost in LA yet. I got several candles here as gifts to bring home, and they wrapped them all like Mr. Bean in Love Actually.
Paper Tiegre: Colorful paper goods and office supplies, they also have a store in Tokyo.
Bonton: This is a concept store for kids clothes, toys and furniture. But even if you don’t have a kid it’s fun to browse the first floor toys.
Le Bon Marche: Famous department store in France that has a strong cool vibe. When I was there it was LA skater themed, and I think they change it up regularly with art installations in the center.
Where to Flea Market
Obviously the dream is going to a Paris flea market, buying some amazing mid-century treasure for $1, and when people back home ask you where you got it, be like “oh at a Paris flea market.”
Alas, there are dreams and there is reality. The most famous Parisian flea market is the Marché Aux Puces De Saint-Ouen. I really did not love it, honestly. The subway trip and area surrounding it was seedy, and inside it was all extremely high end antiques that take all the fun out of it for me. If you’re into antiques or want to window shop it’s fine, but you’re definitely not finding any bargains here. This was a resounding meh for me.
But casual Googling let me to Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves which is truly the flea market of my dreams. South of central Paris, this flea market lined a very long street with vendors laying out trinkets, household items, clothes, toys, books, and all sorts of randomness (much of it perfectly sized for a suitcase).
I spent a very happy morning browsing here and recommend it wholeheartedly:
Where to Eat
I started making a Foursquare list of places to eat in Paris and quickly maxed out. Turns out people have a lot of must-eats in Paris. Eater’s 38 Essential Paris restaurats, David Lebowitz’s Yotam Ottolenghi pastry picks.
The Hardware Société: Fabulous Australian style hearty brunch in Montmartre. Long lines, so go early (although I got seated right away as a party of one).
Telescope: Australian cafe focused on excellent coffee with light snacks, very close to Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre if you need a coffee break from museuming.
Broken Arm Cafe: Great coffee and healthy-ish breakfast options in the other half of the fashion boutique mentioned above.
Holybelly 5: Very trendy brunch spot. While it might be a little overrated and is filled with Americans, the Australian style breakfast hit the spot after a week of toast. Plus, their drip coffee (rare in Paris) was much appreciated.
Fragments: I went several times since it opens at 8AM. Avocado toast with eggs was a great start to the day, and the clientele of cool locals made for excellent people watching. You can also get coffee and pastries to go.
Coutume Café: Solid brunch option in the 7th where hipster brunch spots are otherwise more rare. Brunch that includes coffee and juice was a good deal.
Honorable mentions I didn’t make it to: Boot Cafe, Loustic, O/hp/e, Cafe Mericourt
Des Gâteaux et du Pain: Transcendent pastries and bread. I got the tart au citron and it was a religious experience. Walk over to the tables near Arabica to enjoy your treats with coffee, since the interior looks more like a high end jewelry shop than a place to eat.
Ten Belles: Bread, beautiful bread in the 11th. They had Tartine’s bread book on their shelves so I felt right at home.
Le Café Richelieu/Angelina: Yes it’s overpriced but you’re here for the location — it’s literally inside the Louvre, with a stunning view of the pyramid in the main courtyard. ITake a break for an eclair and coffee and admire the view. Go early, since they do run out of pastries by the end of the day, and skip the super overpriced salads and lunch food. It’s located in the Richelieu wing of the museum.
Boulangerie Poilâne: Famous for their apple tarts, sable cookies, and bread — you cannot go wrong. They have several locations.
Utopie: Excellent pastries, some of which have interesting twists like sesame pastries.
Pierre Herme: Even if you think you don’t love macarons, the delicacies at Pierre Herme would change your mind. Multiple locations in Paris.
Carl Marletti: Work-of-art pastries near the Sorbonne. Grab a few and take them to the nearby Botanical Gardens to enjoy.
Arabica: Great coffee in an outdoor alley with seating that links a few restaurants and shops.
Tout Autour du Pain: This boulangerie was next door to my Airbnb and I got countless baguettes, sandwiches and croissants here, even if it isn’t on any “best of” lists. A great reminder to leave your lists behind and keep an open mind to all fresh bread.
Honorable mentions I didn’t make it to: Berthillion, Jacques Genin, L'Éclair de Génie, Ladurée, Boulangerie Bo
Breizh Café: Savory Brittany-style crepes and apple cider. This place is delicious. Go during off hours because it gets busy.
Le Ruisseau: Supposedly the best burger in Paris. I went here when I was jetlagged af and it hit the spot.
Nanashi: Vegetable-forward Japanese bento-style meals which were very necessary after a diet of 90 percent pastries. Extremely chic decor and terazzo tabletops were a bonus.
Miznon: Fabulous Israeli food in the Marais. They do awesome whole roasted vegetables (cauliflower, sweet potatoes, artichokes) that are not to be missed, as well as tasty pitas. Great for vegetarians.
Sanukiya: Japanese restaurant near the Louvre with delicious udon. Seats face a counter that looks out onto the street when the weather is nice. Get here early because there was a long line before it even opened for dinner.
Kunitoraya: Another Japanese restaurant with tasty udon — I went here for lunch after I finished at the Louvre and it was fabulous.
L'As du Fallafel: This is the most famous falafel in Paris and everyone will tell you to go, so passing along this rec. But honestly it was not my favorite — I don’t love tahini or eggplant and both of them featured prominently. But everyone but me seems to love it, so you should probably just try it.
Stohrer: This is the oldest bakery in Paris but it also has a lunch and salad counter where I picked up French-style lentil salad that was one of the best things I ate all trip. Good for lunch or pastry.
Frenchie to Go: American-style food like fried chicken and pulled pork sandwiches next door to Frenchie the upscale restaurant and across from the wine bar.
Honorable mentions I didn’t make it to: Ober Mamma, Raviolis Nord Est, Buvette, Frenchie Bar a Vins
Frenchie: This was the only fancy sit-down restaurant I went to, and damn it was delicious and worth it. I did the tasting menu for lunch which was perfect, because it gave me a mid-day rest when the museums were crowded and the light was gorgeous to see the food. It was very challenging to make a reservation and I swear it’s actually not possible online. Their website showed availability, but I was unable to book (and all my calls went unanswered). But I DM’d them on Instagram of all things and that did the trick. Send me an email if you want their direct contact info.
Honorable mentions I didn’t make it to: La Servan, Cafe Charlot, Clown Bar, Clamato, Le Mary Celeste, Bistro Paul Bert, Le Pas Sage, Ellsworth, Le Chateaubriand, Septime
Where to Stay
For Paris, I referred to Jordan’s handy guide to best Airbnb neighborhoods which was really helpful. I stayed in this apartment in the northern part of the Marais neighborhood, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. That said, if you know you’ll be visiting a lot of museums early in the morning, it’s probably worth looking at apartments closer to what you want to do. Next time, I might try to stay in the 7th (if only for early morning wanders through the Rodin gardens.)
Where to Wander
I walked everywhere! Here are some photos of my favorite places I went: