Carla’s Ultimate Guide to Paris

Carla Coulson guide to paris

Paris Lettering Merci Copyright Carla Coulson

I was riding along the river Seine Sunday morning on the most exquisite day a Parisian could dream of and I thought about all the things I love in this town and if you were a visitor with limited time what would I recommend.

Some of the things on this list I have blogged about before because they are just too good not to be included but I have some new favourite ‘experiences’ I think are fun.

Here goes:

Carla Coulson guide to paris

 Coutume Cafe Copyright Carla Coulson

1. Coffee

The first thing I hear when I meet up with most Australians in Paris is ‘aghhhh 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 and where UHT milk is banned.

19 rue du Pont aux Choux
Paris 75003
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 and I go for the music. The Australian barista sings along to the great tunes he plays.  This place makes me happy..

Fondation Cafe

16 Rue Dupetit Thours

Paris 75003

Fondation cafe is run by a team of cute boys and they do coffee as though we were sitting in a cafe in Bondi – good. Milk’s great too..The cafe is small and modern and you can choose from a range of cakes and cookies or sandwiches. They open early!
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!


Cafe Coutume

47 Rue Babylone

Paris 75007

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!

Coutume Instituutti

60 rue des Ecoles

Paris 75005

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…


KB Cafe

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.



19 Rue Lucien Sampaix


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….


Ten Belles

10 Rue de la Grange Aux Belles


Owned by a Frenchie who guess what?.. worked as a barista in Australia… Cute modern space in cool corner of Paris. These guys are serious about their coffee. Thomas worked at the Caféothèque (who roast their own beans and was a forerunner in the Paris coffee scene before the Aussie connection turned up). Light food and to die for coffee.

Carla coulson guide to paris

Sunday morning along the Seine Copyright Carla Coulson

2. Sunday Morning on the Seine

You can only do this Sunday morning and better in beautiful weather but the kind folks at the Paris Town Hall close the road along the Seine on Sundays and hand it back to the citizens. Well I am biking, skipping, singing my heart out on Sundays riding up and down this beautiful track (maybe one of the prettiest in the world) car free. From 9am to 6pm on Sunday it is all ours and they have opened a restaurant and cafe at the Pont Marie end to dine by the ‘sea’. Lurvvving…

Carla Coulson guide to paris

Merci Copyright Carla Coulson
3. Merci

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 because it has the best ‘girl food’ in 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
Paris 75003


Serge Lutens Palais Royale small interior 2_MG_0483

Serge Lutens Copyright Carla Coulson

4. Perfume

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

75001 Paris

Frederic Malle

37, rue de Grenelle

75007 Paris

Carla coulson guide to paris

Deyrolle Copyright Carla Coulson

5. Deyrolle.

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’.. Deyrolle is a taxidermist with a difference.. They proudly state that all animals have died of natural causes. Polar bears and lions, baby elephants and advarks.. 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
Paris 75007

Musee Baccarat Copyright Carla Coulson

6. 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.

Galerie Musee Baccarat
Place des Etats-Unis
75116 Paris

Musée Bourdelle
18, rue Antoine Bourdelle
75015 Paris

Pastries Copyright Carla Coulson


7. Dessert……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!! And Terres des Cafe is right next door so you can grab a real coffee to wash them down..

226 rue du Rivoli
75001 Paris

Patisserie Pain de Sucre
14 rue Rambuteau
75004 Paris

Pierre Herme

18 rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie


Flowers Carla Coulson paris

 Flowers Copyright Carla Coulson

8. Florists

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 I can hear them saying ‘stallkkkkkerrr’ each time I walk by and take another pic..Love them. Also my local market has a wonderful selection of flowers every Saturday morning.

L’Artisan Fleuriste

95 rue Vieille du Temple

75003 Paris


Marche Baudoyer – Florist – Carole

Place baudoyer

75004 Paris


Jardin Du Luxembourg  Copyright Carla Coulson


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 is almost a religious 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..

Palais Royale Copyright Carla Coulson
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!!

Carla Coulson guide to paris

Didier Ludot Copyright Carla Coulson

11. Didier Ludot

When and if I ever win the lottery one of my first stops will be at Didier Ludot. Didier is the proud owner/curator of the most important vintage haute couture gowns in Paris and possibly the world. They are all here, Madame GresVionnet, Chanel, Thierry Mugler, Paco Rabanne and the list goes on and on….

Didier Ludot
24 Galerie Montpensier
Palais Royale
75001 Paris

natural history museum Carla Coulson guide to Paris

Copyright Carla Coulson

12. 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

75005 Paris


Le Petit Fer a Cheval Copyright Carla Coulson


13. Le Petit Fer a Cheval.. Possibly Paris’s smallest cafe. I go to enjoy the company of the charming staff and the knockout old world Parisian atmosphere. The tourist books will point you to Cafe de Flore and Les deux Magots but there you will be surrounded by tourists. Drop into my local bar for a quick coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice at the bar and here you will be surrounded by a colourful cast of locals. Otherwise they do a delicious lunch in the restaurant hidden behind the bar..

Le Petit Fer a Cheval
30 rue Vieille du Temple
75004 Paris

louvre carla coulson guide to paris

 Louvre Copyright Carla Coulson

14. 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) that you would  be able to lie and 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.


Canal St Martin Copyright Carla Coulson

15. Canal Saint Martin. I love the canal and the life that has sprung up in the streets around this area. It reminds me of what happened in Sydney around Surry Hills years ago. Daggy and funky mix it up. The canal is where the cult film Amelie was shot so fans will recognise the curvy bridges. So many good local bars and eateries around here with a young sassy crowd.

We meet for apero at Chez Prune
We eat real Italian pizza at Maria Luisa
We eat fresh Cambodian at Le Petit Cambodge
We buy art books at artazart
We buy baguettes and warm chausson aux pommes at Du pain et des idees
In winter we eat French at La Marine

Carla Coulson guide to paris

Rue de Bretagne Copyright Carla Coulson

16. Le Haut Marais

You musn’t leave Paris without visiting the top end of the Marais where all sorts of grooviness happens! Between rue 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.

Buttes Chaumont Copyright Carla Coulson
17.  Buttes Chaumont
When the sun is shining and the birds are singing I join loads of other Parisians for a picnic in Buttes Chaumont in the 19th.. This is one park in Paris where you can stretch out and lie on the grass, bring all your picnic goodies, your guitar, your kids and their balls and bikes. Buttes Chaumont is the Paris park par excellence for a picnic. When the sun is shining their is a carnival atmosphere here and you feel a million miles away from Paris.
Florence Nugue Marche Vernaisonsmall rue des Rosiers_MG_6235
Flea Market Porte de Clignancourt Copyright Carla Coulson
18. Flea Markets
It’s tough to come to Paris without taking something home and if you dream of adding a little French feel to your home you will love the French Brocantes or flea markets.  You could pass an entire day at Les Puces de Saint Ouen or you could get up early with the pro’s and head to Les Marches Aux Puces de Vanves 
Marche Richard Lenoir  Copyright Carla Coulson


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!!

Carla Coulson guide to paris

20. Enjoy

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.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour. If you have anything special that you love doing in Paris let me know..

Please share..xx