“America is my country, but Paris is my hometown.” – Audrey Hepburn
If you’re lucky enough to be jetting off to Paris this summer, then consider yourself lucky enough. At this exact time a year ago I was returning from my five blissful months of studying abroad in the city of light, and in one short month I will be lucky enough to return to my home away from home. Just thinking about the copious amounts of bread, cheese and wine that await me in the near future has made it absolutely impossible to focus on anything else, much less finals. So take a study break and take a tour through my guide to why Paris is the greatest city in the world. C’est la vie!
If you were to start at my old homestay, which was on the right bank of La Seine River next to the famous Pont Neuf bridge (swoon), you should walk left down the street to play with the bubble man at Hotel de Ville and then explore Rue de Rivoli for the best reasonably priced shopping in the city.
Keep heading down Rue de Rivoli until you hit the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (districts), an area called Le Marais. The character and style within these tiny winding cobblestone streets make Le Marais my favorite area of Paris. Here, you’ll find the best restaurants tucked into every corner and the cutest boutiques in-between. For true Parisian fashion, Le Marais is a must. It’s also the area with the most health-conscious or “trendy” food options, if you can’t bare the thought of another baguette. However, I would definitely recommend the more traditional French restaurants like Chez Janou.
Visit the Jewish Quarter in Le Marais for the world famous falafel at L’As du Fallafel….seriously, it’s incredible. However, I would not recommend going on bikes when it’s snowing…a very questionable decision by me and my roommate.
But whatever you do, do not leave Le Marais without experiencing the hidden gem that is Chez Alain Miam Miam (highly recommend following on Instagram), or as my friends like to call him, The Sandwich Man. Located in the most unique little outdoor market called Marche des Enfants Rouges, in the 3rd arrondissement.
After exploring the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, head back to where you started and cross the bridge next to Hotel de Ville to Ile de la Cité to wander around the Notre Dame.
There’s a lot of cute little cafes on the island; but most importantly, if you take the bridge on the other side of the Notre Dame to the left bank of the river, you’re almost always guaranteed to find the crêpe bike. Nothing beats a plain crêpe with Nutella.
If you’re feeling intellectual, check out the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore for a quaint and cozy stop right near the Notre Dame.
While you’re on the left bank of the river, walk up to the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens to take a stroll through the trees to find the hidden glass restaurant, or pull up a chair and watch little kids race mini sailboats while you lounge in the sun with a bottle of wine.
Then take the 15 minute walk to Boulevard St. Germain for luxurious shopping and some of the most iconic cafes and restaurants in Paris. During fashion week, models and celebrities never fail to make a stop at Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots.
From here you can make the 45 minute walk along La Seine River to the Eiffel Tower, or you can easily hop on the metro if your feet are already ready to kill you. If you’re looking for something closer, walk back across Pont Neuf to the right back of the river where you will find the world’s largest museum of art, the Louvre. Take your tourist picture touching the tip of the pyramid, and attempt to see as much as you can (warning: it’s actually impossible to see every piece of art in the museum in one day).
Directly in front of the Louvre is the Jardin de Tuileries. Take a stroll through the gardens toward the massive Ferris wheel with some of the greatest 360 degree views of the city.
After you take a spin, keep walking straight to hit one of the most famous shopping streets in the world, the Champs-Élysées. Along the nearly 1.5 mile walk up the Champs-Élysées, you’ll encounter almost every major luxury designer along with lower-end stores like Zara and H&M. Stop at the world famous macaron shop, Ladurée, for a bit of afternoon tea before you finally hit the Notre Dame at the very top of the boulevard.
If you’re interested in the Paris club scene, two of the top spots, L’Arc and Titty Twister, are right around the Notre Dame. Warning: if you think Parisians hate Americans, wait until you meet a Parisian bouncer…
I could rave about this city for days, so to spare you from an even longer rant, I’ve listed other top places to try below.
Whatever you do while you’re in Paris, make sure to take the time to just relax in a park or walk along the Seine River. Channel your inner Parisian and live that Laissez-Faire lifestyle.
Angelina – world famous hot chocolate
Les Marronniers – a variety of croque monsier
Le Relais de L’Entrecote – famous steak frites restaurant
Le Refuge des Fondus – fondue and wine in baby bottles (yes baby bottles)
East Mama – pasta served out of a flaming hot cheese wheel
Candaleria – best little taco joint in the city *(knock on the tiny door at the back of the restaurant for one of the many speakeasys in the city)*
Chez Julien – authentic french
Seasons – if your body needs something healthy
A Mi Chemin
Le Mix – Thursday Nights
Other Places to Explore:
The Latin Quarter – weekend farmers markets, cute restaurants and fun bars
The summer river bank bars on La Seine – lounge along the river at one of the outdoor bars only open during the summer months