Paris
Photo by matthewleesdixon/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by matthewleesdixon/iStock / Getty Images

 

Every city has hidden treasures that only the locals are privy to… so whenever I travel, I like to ask these connoisseurs about their favorite spots and how to best navigate their city. When I had the brilliant idea of exploring Paris last summer, I immediately started reaching out to close friends for exciting tips.  

Paris is the most visited place in the world, so it's no surprise that a few thousand city guides have been written about the “city of lights" and romance. While these books can be both helpful and inspiring, I knew that my friend Laura would give me the insider flare I was seeking. If you are planning a Parisian getaway, enjoy the cities best kept secrets! 

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Laura

Born and raised in Montreal, I started my studies in Tel Aviv and finished up my psychology degree in Ottawa (where a city guide is DEF not worth doing #lol). Soon after, I went back to Tel Aviv and then made my way to Paris, where I lived from 2009-2012. Those were some of the best years of my life!

In true Parisian form, I met my husband through a mutual friend and had a real 'coup de foudre'. From then on I was able to experience the city with someone who had been lucky enough to call it "home" his whole life.  St Germain is the district where we spent most of our weekends, walking around the gorgeous borough and falling deeper in love. From coffee shops to boutiques, art galleries to restaurants, we wondered together through Paris for three amazing years.

This open air museum never gets old and if you put the snooty french attitude aside (that my husband never had-thankfully) and you'll find that you're in one of most beautiful places in the world.

 

Paris by Laura

How would you describe the city: Passionate

What is your city philosophy : Don’t let a stranger ruin your day . Try to fall in love!

What is your neighbourhood of choice : St Germain des Près

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The best way to get around the city: Metro or Smart

Your favorite hotel and why : Royal Monceau in the 17e arrondissement. The décor is gorgeous and they have the shop lÉclaireur with all kinds of amazing finds. I would recommend sitting at the bar and trying their club sandwich with a coupe de champagne.  The perfect mix of down to earth chic.

Best place for a cup a coffee, fresh juice : In paris, it's customary to replace fresh juice with a glass of wine...in which case I suggest ‘la palette’ in St Germain. This is the go-to bar for all the boho chic students of l’École des Beaux Arts. It has a huge outdoor terrace, which is super rare in the city or Les philosophes.

Favorite bakery: Carette on la place du Trocadero is without a doubt one of the best. For something a little more specific, I would go the ‘Au Merveilleux de Fred’, they make two deserts that are both are out of this world. It's really a MUST!

Best brunch :  Bread and Roses on Rue St-Honoré or Café Charlot on rue Charlot for a good breakfast with a side of people watching.  Also Benedict in le Marais

A good restaurant for lunch with friends : le DS, A real ‘girls menu’.  One of the best fat free cheesecakes I've tried. Otherwise I like : Little Apple for a burger, Freddy's, Le Comptoir du Relais Bistronomie française, Le Frenchie to go

Where to eat out at night : So many amazing places!!! I love this pizzeria called Amicié Mie in the 11e arrondissement. Great Italian restos include: Positano (the small one rue des canettes in St Germain) , Ferdi in the 8e arrondissement , Gracie in the 11e arrondissement, Mama Shelter , Le Relais de L'entrecôte, Le Septime, Gravity bar, Est mamma (Italian), Cevicheria…  just to name a few.

The best stop for “people watching”: Bar de la Croix Rouge in St Germain

Fun Roof Top Terrace: Le Perchoir et Le Faust (Thursday, Friday & Saturday)

After work cocktails (5 to7) : Depur or any of the outside bard on rue Montorgeuil in the 2nd arrondissment

For a fun girls night out: Le Coeur Fou 2e arrondissement    

Cool place to go for a drink: there is SO many !!! Here are a few of my favorites: Prescription, Candelaria, Andy Wahloo, Le Montana, Le Lavomatic.

Great date spot: Bar Experimental in St Germain

Best spot for work and business meeting: The Lobby of the Parc Hyatt hotel in the 8e arrondissement

Before you leave the city you HAVE to eat at : Ferdi, every single thing on the menu is delicious. If it’s the summer, try and go to Pizza Maria Luisa on the Canal St-Martin, since it has a huge terrace and is very laid back. Make sure you go to Bar de la Croix Rouge for lunch!

A classic, an institution: Le Relais de l’Entrecôte , preferably the one rue Marbeuf and Le Café Flore in St Germain.  

Your absolute favorite place: La Palette

What is totally overrated: Restaurant Le Market

Where do you unwind: Spa Terre D’iris, Neuilly sur Seine.

Your favorite Museum: Palais de Tokyo, their expositions are always modern and super interesting.

Place not to be missed: I loved going to la Candeleria in the 3e arrondissement, it’s a small taco bar with only 4 bar stools and at the very end of the restaurant, a door leads you into the hippest, most underground (literally) bar.

A very touristic place that you still love to go sometimes: Musee du Quai d’Orsay

In Paris don’t forget to: get lost in the streets of the Marais, have a glass of wine with your lover or your best friend and remind yourself of how lucky you are to be there.

 

Shopping 

Do you have a shopping route: Absolutely!!! The city is a shopping route in itself and the best way to navigate is by neighbourhood.For example in St Germain, I would do le Bon Marché, Cos, Reine Rosalie, Sonia Rykiel, Carven. In the 1e arrondissement, I would go to le Palais Royale, though it is so beautiful that you almost forget to shop (#JK!). The brands are fantastic and the shops themselves are exquisitely designed. They carry Acne, Pierre Hardy, Marc LeBihan and a beautiful selection of sunglasses. In the 8e arrondissement, I would do Colette, MiuMiu, Le Printemps (for a nice mix of all major brands). Le Marais is full of shops that are more ‘artsy’ like l’Éclaireur, Bimba and Lola

Tell me about your favorite shops: So many to choose from, I love l’Éclaireur in the Marais, Carven in St-Germain, Cos for your basics, Princesse Tam-Tam for the best lingerie, Acne for great jeans..

Your favorite multi-brand boutique : Colette, an amazing boutique with a great lunch spot downstairs,  Montaigne Market, extremely snobby but totally worth it, Merci is very cool concept store in the 3e arrondissement and it helps that everything you buy goes to fund education in Madagascar.  They serve as a platform for up and coming artists and their selection in fashion and design is really great. They also have a great café downstairs where you can lunch after your shopping workout!

Where do you go for a bargain : Never try to bargain in Paris, it's a faux-pas...unless you go Les Puces de St Thouin, in which case bargain away!

What about Vintage pieces: Kiliwatch rue Etienne Marcel in the 2e arrondissement

Where do you go to pamper yourself: Best haircut at Salon des Garçons on rue St Honoré

Where to get a good work out: I loved la ‘gym Suédoise’. Its basically 1980's inspired aerobics class, which might sound lame but it's so much fun. Its full of girls who just want to stay in shape and have some fun.

Best way to escape the city: take the train to Deauville. Walk on ‘les planches’ by the beach. Have breakfast in Trouville. Go for dinner ‘Aux Quatres Chats’. Make a pit stop at the "Casino de Deauville".

I left paris with : True love, a taste for life, a smaller waist and fabulous shoes!

Thank you Laura xxx