Carla’s Ultimate Guide to Paris
Dearest Paris Lover,
I wrote this blog a couple of years ago for one of my best friends who was coming to Paris and have updated it today as it is still one of the most questions I’m asked, “What would I recommend for a groovy gal if she just had a couple of days in Paris?”
As a coach and photographer, one of the things that I believe in is the power of pleasure, beauty, and joy and the wonderful benefits it has on our nervous system and mindset. So my version of Paris has plenty of things on the list for the senses!
So I have written an updated version, of my ‘best friends’ guide to Paris, where I’ve put a lot of thought into it and jammed packed it with things I love about Paris and can’t wait to do myself.
The first thing I hear when I meet up with most Australians in Paris is ‘agghhhh the coffee’. Now for the uninitiated us, Australians have some of the best coffee in the world (move over, Italy!) so when we arrive in Paris and see those gorgeous cafes, we are imaging great coffee. Wrong!
Now, anyone that gets off a 24-hour flight deserves a good cup and here are some of my favourites where UHT milk (that is widely used in Paris) is banned.
19 rue du Pont aux Choux
I love this place! It is a teensy weensy cafe in the third and it is gorgeous in every way. This cafe was the former home of a boot maker and the owner has kept the sign out the front and added even more atmosphere and beauty inside. Be warned it’s tiny, 2 tables but they do great coffee to take-away. It’s just around the corner from groovy Merci so you can stop in for a coffee on the way. This place makes me happy.
60 rue des Ecoles
The fabulous boys at Coutume Cafe have opened an ever so cool space right next to the Sorbonne. You feel like you are in Finland or Australia. White trestle tables to share, big open space and lots of light and heavenly coffee. Tell your 20 year old friends they will love it as will you!
76 Rue des Tournelles
Tucked behind the busy Boulevard Beaumarchais Fragments is not a place you accidentally walk by. Look for the traditional Parisian shopfront painted black. These guys are serious about their coffee, the pace is slow and relaxed so don’t come screaming in for a quick take-away. The coffee is great and they serve a delicious range of cakes and salads. Hubby rates this as one of his best coffees yet!
47 Rue Babylone
A French/Aussie combo started this cafe and were at the forefront of Aussie’s doing great coffee in Paris. Not far from Le Bon Marche in the 7th these guys take their coffee very seriously. Bare-bones decor and yummy things for a light lunch. Coffee and milk 5 stars!
53 Ave Trudaine
The French guy that owns KB took a trip to Australia, walked into a Bondi cafe, couldn’t believe the coffee and remained for a couple of years. On his return to Paris he opened KB Cafe in gorgeous SOPI (south Pigalle) and has a stream of devoted customers each day. If you are in the area and hankering for a good coffee or a great green tea drop in and say hi.
5 or 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix
Two cafes on the same street!! Ahh Holybelly, this is the ultimate “I’m missing my Aussie cafe breakfast’ place! I love Holybelly, eggs like you were in Sydney, coffee like you were in Melbourne, friendly staff and a cute space to boot…
10 Rue de la Grange Aux Belles
2. A walk or drink along the Seine
Something magical happened in Paris a couple of years ago, the once very busy road along the river was closed to traffic and has become the most magical place to bike, walk, drink or eat with your friends. Paris has turned parts of the left and right bank into boats with bars, restaurants, dance schools and places to grab a beach chair and relax. One of my all time favourite things to do on a beautiful day.
First shopping stop Merci. Merci has become my second home. I love eveything about this shop, the products, the space, the wonderful restaurants and cafe.. But most of all I love that a percentage of profits are donated to charity. I lunch at the canteen downstairs as it has great ‘girl food’ Paris and you look out onto a beautiful herb garden. There are lots of lovely fresh salads, soups and organic juices that are hard to find on the menu in Paris.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
4. Bunker down in a Bistro
I love Paris’s bistrots and there is nothing better to do on a cold, rainy Parisian day than to eat in one of these wonderful, atmospheric bistrots. There are so many glorious ones and if you are lucky to sit in front of someone you love, the memory will be burned into your heart forever. These are two of my favourites
5 rue de la Corderie
Au Petit Fer a Cheval
30 rue Vieille du Temple
5. Picnic on the lawns of the Louvre
Now who would have thought when you are not allowed to lie on the grass in almost all of Paris’s park (except for handkerchief size squares) yet you are able to picnic amongst the hedges of the Louvre. Go figure?? I love it here in Summer, smack bang between the Tuileries garden and the Louvre you feel like you are in the centre of Paris and what a backdrop. Take a picnic, spread out and enjoy the long summer nights.
6. Rooftop Bars – Get up high!!
One of the most fabulous things to do on a spectacular Paris day is go to one of the many rooftop bars around Paris. You feel like you are top of the world and seeing Paris from a different viewpoint feels all so glamorous. The rooftop bar at the Hotel Raphael spoils you with a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe and has serious cocktails. Bring your wallet!!
17 Avenue Kléber,
75116 Paris, France
7. Small Museums
There are so many wonderful museums in Paris but I love the small ones. The Louvre is incredible but I get an anxiety attack everytime I go, I leave feeling guilty that I haven’t seen it all. Instead I discovered the small ones. Galerie Musee Baccarat is irresistible. Housed in ancient Hotel Particulier, France’s most glamorous glass is awe inspiring. I also adore Musee Bourdelle, Antoine Bourdelle’s incredible sculpture museum with monumental sculpture and original artist’s atelier and for photography lovers, the MEP is a must.
Galerie Musée Baccarat
Place des Etats-Unis
18, rue Antoine Bourdelle
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5-7 Rue de Fourcy
(Metro: St. Paul)
One of the most beautiful things I love about Paris is her flower shops. Those sweet little local shops with their fine selection of peonies and sweet peas, lillies and roses and their devoted staff creating bouquets with love.
L’Artisan Fleuriste is in my hood and has been my go to fleuriste for all my flower photos and it fills my heart with joy and beauty everytime I walk in the door. Most markets have a wonderful flower section.
95 rue Vieille du Temple
80 rue Oberkampf
9. Jardin du Luxembourg
Why?? Because it is an oasis of gorgeousness in urban Paris. When I have a giant case of jetlag I cross the river and jog in Jardin du Luxembourg. I feel like calling out ‘silence please’ as I enter this garden. For me it’s a spiritual experience to walk underneath the chestnut trees in bloom and try and discern one perfume from another. If you want to see the world’s greenest grass, this is the place. French attention for detail in every leaf.
10. Le Palais Royale
This is the double whammy.. Whilst all the tourists are circling the Louvre and trying to find space in the Jardin du Tuileries the Palais Royale is left to the locals. Tucked behind the Comedie Francaise it is one of Paris’s most beautiful spaces with a garden to boot and some of Paris’s best shops. If there is one place in Paris you should buy perfume it is in the ultra French space of Serge Lutens in Les Salons du Palais Royale. Oodles of French ambience. This place makes my heart skip!!
Paris has the best desserts in the world. I can’t get excited about the Beef Bourguignon or the Confit di Canard but put a tarte citron or chocolat chaud in front of me and I am purrrringggg.. I love the atmosphere of Angelina’s on rue du Rivoli and they make the best hot chocolate in Paris. Old world Paris, pure rich hot chocolate in silver pots with whipped cream – it could get a girl into a lot of trouble!! ps. go for morning tea and don’t even think about going on Sundays!!
You all know about Laduree and their to-die-for macaroons but there are so many wonderful local places to try in Paris. I live just around the corner from Patisserie Pain-de-Sucre and these guys take cakes very seriously. Lots of original flavour combinations and they have just opened a new shop with a wonderful bench out the front where you can sit and savour them!!
226 rue du Rivoli
18 rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie
Chambelland (Gluten Free bakery)
14 Rue Ternaux,
12. Astier Villatte
If I had a shop in Paris I would love it to be like Astier de Villatte. A little run down, like tumbling head first into a magical Parisian version of Alice in Wonderland. Magical teacups and ceramics all in beautiful white, hand-picked diaries and paper weights that lift a nostalgic heart to new heights.
Astier de Villatte
173 Rue Saint-Honoré
Astier de Villatte
16 Rue de Tournon
I had the great fortune to photograph many Parisian perfumeries and I LOVE THEM! Serge Lutens in the Palais Royale has atmosphere and perfume ‘a go go’. Frederic Malle makes some of the best perfumes in the world and his Carnal Flower full of tuberose is my favourite.
Serge Lutens – Palais Royale
142 Galerie de Valois
13, rue Francs Bourgeois
45 Rue de santoinge
14. Le Haut Marais
You musn’t leave Paris without visiting the top end of the Marais where all sorts of grooviness happens! Between rue Francs Bourgeois and Republique flanked by Bld Beaumarchais and in the heart along rue de Bretange there are divine boutiques, bars, cafes and the fabulous market of Les Enfants Rouges for lunch. It’s where all the grooviness is happening right now in Paris.
15. Wild and The Moon
For my lovely vegan and gluten free friends Paris is tricky to find the right food but one of my favourite haunts is Wild and The Moon. This fabulous eat in or takeaway chain has delicious prepared food that will make your gluten free/vegan heart pound with delight at the choice.
Wild and the Moon
55 Rue Charlot,
Wild and the Moon
9 rue du Plâtre,
You know I love animals so you are probably wondering why I like Deyrolle? Deyrolle is a taxidermist with a difference and one of those old worldly, quirky places that possibly you don’t expect Paris to have. Deyrolle proudly state that all animals have died of natural causes. Polar bears and lions, baby elephants and advarks.. One of Paris’s most fabulous shops is found in the elegant 7th.. As you mount the old wooden stairs and enter into animal fantasyland you will be forgiven for the ‘oh my god jaw drop’.. Out the back you can have your made to order butterfly or bug selection framed. An exquisite present that has a constant line of Parisians queuing..Only in Paris.
46 rue du Bac
17. Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle
I was stumbling around the Jardin des Plantes one Sunday morning when hubby and I decided to enter the above museum. If I have ever had a ‘OMG’ moment in Paris it was here. Holy Dinosaur Batman!! If you are a stylist, a five-year-old boy, a set designer or a lover of beauty run to this fabulous museum. It’s amazing!!! Feels like it hasn’t been touched since they dragged all those bones in here. No interactive screens, no illuminated gadgets just good old fashioned wood, bones and cabinets.. I LURVE THIS PLACE.
Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle
57 Rue Cuvier
18. Go Glam
Paris has some of the most glamorous decors in the world. Walking into a high end, sophisticated bar or restaurant in Paris transports you to another world and another sensation.
If you don’t want to break the budget but still want a super luxe experience you can have high tea at the Ritz or a drink at the swish Le Meurice or possibly my favourite summer lunch at Lou Lou’s at the Art Decoratif where you sit out on the lawns of the louvre under white umbrellas and with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
107 Rue de Rivoli,
228 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
15 Place Vendôme,
19. To Market to Market…
And what is a visit to Paris without a visit to a local market?? I would say it is essential!! As important as standing in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre!! Real Parisian life revolves around the market and all you need to do is to join the crowd at Paris’s biggest market on sunday at Marche Richard Lenoir and you will see just how important food is still in a Parisian’s daily life. Keep moving otherwise you might experience caddy rage!!
The greatest thing about visiting Paris is to take your time, wander the streets, sit in the cafes, push open big heavy doors that lead to secret courtyards to see what is revealed and discover Paris one layer at a time. You will always have your version of Paris, what lit you up, a conversation with a kind person that stays with you or a bite of a choclate fondant that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
I hope you enjoyed my addresses. I would love to hear in the comments section below what you love about Paris or a favourite address that I might like to try next time I’m out and about.
Love and light