The Hotel Westminster
Patisserie Liberte | Blend | La Becane a Gaston | Republique of Coffee | Laurent Favre Mot | Muffin Corner | Peonies | The Sunken Chip | Carette
L’Appartement Sezane | Floriane Fosso | Shakespeare & Co. | Boule de Neige | Maison Labiche | Fleux’
Musee de l’Orangerie | Square Rene Viviani | Galerie Perrotin | Parc Floral de Paris | Musee Galliera | Foundation Louis Vuitton
This is my third Paris travel guide in as many years. (The 2015 version is here, and the 2016 version is here.) Considering that I started Coco & Vera in 2010 and have been to Paris every year since 2011, the fact that I’ve only done this three times surprises even me. But writing a Paris travel guide is a bit odd, because in many ways it feels like writing a guide to my hometown – and I readily admit there are many wonderful Parisian things I often take for granted. Recognising that, we made a concerted effort to discover new places in the French capital during our three-month stay last year. (It’s easier to discover new things during a long visit; the temptation to simply return to old favourites is much greater when you have a limited time to stay.) It was wonderful fun and the result will be a guide that is probably too long, but absolutely worth reading, anyway. Especially if you have plans to visit Paris.
For our three-month stay, we rented an apartment from Paris Attitude. They are a reliable rental agency we have used in the past and would gladly use again. For shorter visits to Paris, I highly recommend hotels. Paris has a million amazing hotels to choose from, but my favourite by far is the Hotel Westminster. (And I’d love to stay at the Nolinski Paris someday.)
Liberte Patisserie Boulangerie – 39, rue des Vinaigriers
You can’t go wrong with Parisian bakeries, but that doesn’t mean they are all created equal. Liberte was our local bakery this year, just around the corner from our place, and we felt utterly spoiled. Run by Benoit Castel, formerly of La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marche, Liberte makes everyday pastries truly special. We didn’t try a single thing we didn’t love, but I remember their ham and cheese baguette sandwiches with particular fondness.
Blend – 1, boulevard Filles du Calvaire
Burgers are all the rage in Paris at the moment. New burger shops pop up almost daily. We scoffed when this one opened down the street from our apartment in 2013, because it appeared to be more focused on design than food. We were so wrong. Blend has three locations in Paris, each one serving meat from different local butchers. Somehow, every time we visit, they make us the best hamburgers we’ve ever had.
La Becane a Gaston – 24, rue Lucien Sampaix
There is nothing we did not love about La Becane a Gaston. An unassuming little cafe with only about five tables, it is located across from what is currently one of the most popular (and, I think, most overrated) restaurants in Paris, Holybelly. And everyone who lines up to eat across the street is missing out. La Becane a Gaston perfectly blends traditional French cooking with current food trends, serving the freshest and most local of everything. And as a bonus, the decor is adorable.
Republique of Coffee – 2, boulevard Saint-Martin
Instagram led me to Republique of Coffee, a beautifully decorated pastel coffee shop near place de la Republique, but the coffee and carrot cake made me stay. And that’s saying something, because I don’t actually drink coffee…!
Laurent Favre Mot – 12, rue Manuel
There are so many amazing pastry shops in Paris. And many of them are as well known for their chef as for their pastries. A search for a pastry shop run by a regular chef with just one location and no cookbooks for sale led to our discovery of Laurent Favre Mot. And we went back again and again. Impossible to choose a favourite pastry, everything from the unassuming shop is amazing.
Muffin Corner – 41, rue Godot de Mauroy
I love English muffins. And somehow, the French have made them even better. My favourite spot for a quick, albeit not authentically French, lunch on the go.
Peonies – 81, rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
A coffee shop and florist in one? My heart practically skipped a beat when we discovered this cafe, run by actress Clementine Levy, who often works the front counter. Despite its off-the-tourist-track location, it is a heavenly spot for an afternoon coffee break with a girlfriend.
The Sunken Chip – 39, rue des Vinaigriers
Another non-traditional entry to the list, we visited The Sunken Chip because the name made me laugh but fell totally in love with their English-style fish and chips – especially the cornflake-battered variety, served with minted mushy peas.
Carette – 25, place des Vosges
This cafe is well-known among Parisians and tourists alike, but remains one of my favourite places for a quintessentially, bordering on cliche Parisian cafe experience. I love to linger on the terrace in the afternoon, sipping tea, munching macarons and just watching the world go by.
L’Appartement Sezane – 1, rue Saint-Fiacre
The home of my favourite French brand is a Paris shopping destination – and basically instagram heaven. And the bookstore attached to it is equally lovely; read more about it here.
Floriane Fosso – 39, rue Montpensier
All of the shopping in and around the Palais Royal is heavenly, but many of the brands can be found in other cities. Floriane Fosso is unique to Paris, at least for now; read more about it here.
Shakespeare & Co. – 37, rue de la Bucherie
If you love books, you will love Shakespeare & Co. There are many wonderful bookshops in Paris, but the quirky layout, the plethora of used volumes and the not-very-friendly cat make this one special. Most books are in English, so it’s also a great place to stop to pick up reading material while on vacation.
Boule de Neige Fleuriste – 21, rue de Lourmel
My current favourite florist in Paris, I would willingly travel halfway across the city to pick up bouquets of ranunculus and anemones here. All French flowers are lovely, but that makes it all too easy to run a mediocre flower shop. Boule de Neige is a cut above the rest (no pun intended.)
Maison Labiche – 24, rue de Poitou
This tiny shop in the north Le Marais is the home of minimal but fabulous embroidered shirts of all kinds. I wear my Cherie t-shirt regularly and have a few others from the brand on my wishlist.
Fleux’ – 39, rue Saint-Croix de la Bretonnerie
Fleux’ is the kind of place you never really buy anything but never tire of looking around in, anyway. The unusual array of home decor items they sell, which range from tiny candles to enormous couches, are housed in a snaking series of shops on both sides of a Le Marais street and never fails to fascinate. Best to visit during the week, because it can get extremely crowded on weekends.
Musee de l’Orangerie – Jardin des Tuileries
This museum is a must for anyone who loves Impressionist painting – and anyone who loves art, period. A breathtaking collection of Claude Monet’s Nympheas, or Waterlilies, paintings is displayed alone on the main floor. And while that may not sound like much, the sheer size and scope of the works is astonishing enough that we spend hours looking at them every time we visit.
Square Rene Viviani – 25, quai de Montebello
The best place, hands down, to enjoy lunch with a view. Grab a crepe or panini from one of the nearby vendors (of which there are many), then grab a bench and bask in the virtually unobstructed view of Notre-Dame de Paris.
Galerie Perrotin – 76, rue de Turenne
A lovely small gallery in Le Marais that is free to enter. The range of exhibits varies but the art tends to be on the modern side. It doesn’t really matter what you see when you go, because the gallery is worth stopping in at for its breathtaking courtyard alone.
Parc Floral de Paris – Route du Champ de Manoeuvre, Bois de Vincennes, 75012
A visit to the Parc Floral de Paris technically requires leaving Paris for the nearby suburb of Vincennes, but the ride on the metro is easy and, more importantly, well worth it. The large public garden is home to the most magnificent, and enormous, magnolia trees I have ever seen – they bloom in early March and are not to be missed.
Musee Galliera – Rue de Galliera
It took over a decade for me to finally visit the Paris museum of fashion, Musee Galliera, but it was absolutely worth the wait. The museum only opens for temporary exhibits and has no permanent collection on display, so be sure to check if there is an exhibit on during your time in Paris.
Fondation Louis Vuitton – 8, avenue de Mahatma Gandhi
An architectural marvel by Frank Gehry on the outside with a modern art museum inside. And all done with impeccable style, because it’s by Louis Vuitton – read more about this incredible attraction here.
If you’re headed to Paris, bon voyage!