Hi everyone! It has become a yearly tradition for me to take a little trip to Paris at the end of my June exams, and I’m already counting the days to this year’s visit! Although it is no secret that my happy place on earth is London, there’s something about Paris that always makes me want to go back. As a history and literature enthousiast I mostly spend my days walking around admiring its beautiful architecture, getting lost in Le Marais, visiting as many bookshops as I possibly can, and stopping for un café au lait now and then. Since I have a long list of favourite places that I keep revisiting, I thought it was about time to share some of these with you. I did this by creating a 1-day itinerary, which includes a lot of nice places to eat and neighbourhoods you shouldn’t miss. Enjoy!
Now, although Paris has a long list of monuments and museums that you should at least have seen or visited once in your life, this itinerary is not focussed on that aspect of the city. If you’re going to Paris for the very first time, you should definitely include the Louvre museum, the Île de la Cité with the Notre Dame cathedral, the Jardins de Luxembourg, and the Moulin Rouge, to name a few. If you’re going to Paris for the second or third time, or you’re staying for a longer period, however, I would suggest to really take your time to explore the various neighbourhoods in Paris, sit down in one of the city’s gardens, and actually listen to the street musicians instead of rushing from one monument to the next.
Start your day in Le Marais
I feel like the neighbourhood Le Marais is the perfect area to explore in the early morning. There are many nice places to go for breakfast or a quick coffee, and you can have a look at some of its small independent shops. If you want to start your day in a healthy way, get one of the cold-pressed raw juices at Wild & the Moon (55 Rue Charlot) or go for a coffee and a croissant at Strada Café (94 Rue du Temple).
When you’re walking around in Le Marais, make sure to spend some time in the Rue des Rosiers. You will notice that this area looks very different from the typical image people have of Paris, with its buildings in the style of Baron Haussmann that characterise the city. This street, however, is the main street of the Jewish Quarter, and was left untouched by Haussmann’s influence on the Parisian architecture. You will find many Jewish bookstores and falafel restaurants here, as well as some really nice fashion boutiques. If you’re into vintage, have a look at the little shop Vintage Désir (32 Rue des Rosiers), which has a wide range of second-hand denim jackets and other treasures.
Tip: if you’re looking for an affordable place to sleep in Paris, I would suggest “Auberge de jeunesse MIJE Fourcy”, a hostel in the heart of Le Marais. I had a very pleasant stay here last year, when I took a solo trip to Paris. The 17th century building is incredibly charming and, not importantly, located in a safe area, at an 11min walk from the Notre Dame.
Choux à la crème with view of the Notre Dame
After you have spent some time in the beautiful le Marais, you can walk to the neighbourhood of Île de la Cité. If there’s one tip I would give you when visiting Paris: walk, walk, walk! Paris really is too beautiful to use the metro to go from one place to another. Not only do you save a lot of money, you would be surprised how close certain areas actually are to each other! From the Rue des Rosiers, the centre of le Marais, to the Notre Dame Cathedral it’s only a 16 minutes walk!
At the other side of the river, you’ll find the famous bookstore Shakespeare & Company (37 Rue de la Bûcherie), which I always visit when I’m in Paris. Whether it is to actually have a look at the wide range of books, have a drink at their terrace, or simply go looking for their cat, Agatha, this place should be on your list! Although the place is mostly really crowdy, since it’s so popular with tourists, I think it’s worth a visit. By the way, I read that this book store was a favourite of Hemingway.
Very close to Shakespeare & Co you will find Odette, a Parisian pastry shop, famous for their “choux à la crème”. If you’re lucky, you can have a coffee and one of their pastries at the window seat upstairs, which has an amazing view on the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Lunch at the Latin Quarter
Shakespeare & Co and Odette are located in the Latin Quarter, or 5th arrondissement of Paris. Also known as the student area of Paris, this is where you can find the Sorbonne university, and many student cafes and book stores. Apart from that, the area is known for their crêperies (French for waffle stands), which tend to be quite cheap.
What I like to do when I’m in Paris is to buy some food in a supermarket and have a little picnic in one of the gardens. Go get yourself a baguette and find yourself a spot in the Jardins des Tuileries, near the Louvre, a relaxed place and one of Paris’ most beautiful large gardens.
Spend your afternoon in Saint Germain des Prés
A great area to spend your afternoon is the neighbourhood of Saint Germain des Prés. This chique neighbourhood is where you can find the famous and luxurious Café de Flore and Café des Deux Magots, as well as the Musée d’Orsay, but it’s also home to many bookstores and antique stores. There’s also the Jardin du Luxembourg, a beautiful garden where you can relax for a while or, in my case, read one of the books I bought at Shakespeare & Co. 😉
Golden hour at the Palais Royal
Cross the Pont des Arts to get from Saint Germain des Prés to the Palais Royal. This former royal palace is located in the 1st arrondissement, very close to the Louvre Museum, and is surrounded by the Palais-Royal Gardens. Take some time to admire how the sunlight illuminates the palace. If you’re looking for a spot to take that Instagram picture, this is it!
Speaking about Instagram pictures: the Louvre Museum also provides the ideal setting for some nice pics, especially around the golden hour. My favourite pictures of my last trip to Paris include some of those that I took outside of the Louvre museum.
Experience a magical sunset with view of the Eiffel Tower
Now, I have two options on how to spend your evening in Paris: you can either take the metro to Montmartre, and enjoy the sunset from up the hill, or take a walk along the Seine and take a seat at the Trocadero square to have the Eiffel tower view during sunset.
On my last trip to Paris I decided to go for the second: I walked all the way from the Louvre Museum to the Place du Trocadéro. As I expected, the square was bursting with tourists, but I didn’t mind: the sunset was pure magic.
or… spend the evening in Montmartre
However, if you have already seen the Eiffel tower, I would suggest going for the other option and spending your evening in Montmartre. Montmartre is quite far from the centre of Paris, so I suggest taking the metro there.
Apart from the stunning views of Paris you get from the base of the Sacré Coeur basilica, make sure to walk around at the Place du Tertre, known for its many artists, and have a look at the Wall of Love at the Jehan Rictus garden square. Last year, on my little solo trip to Paris, I spent my time here chatting with a French artist who introduced me to the work of the French poet Gérard de Nerval. He might still be there, say hi to him from me! 😉
If you ask me, Montmartre is one of the most picturesque places to see in Paris. It’s also a great place to have dinner, since the area is rich in gastronomy.
Hopefully, this little guide will give you some inspiration on what to do and see next time you’re visiting this amazing city. Let me know what your favourite places in Paris are!