Carla’s Ultimate Guide to Paris

Carla Coulson guide to paris

Paris Lettering Merci Copyright Carla Coulson

Updated 1st November 2019


Dearest Paris Lover,

I wrote this blog a couple of years ago for one of my best friends who was coming to Paris and asked me what she would recommend do. I decided to update it today because it is a question that I keep getting asked and although many things have changed this is still my list of favourite things to do.

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.

Here goes:

carla coulson, boot cafe paris, guide to paris, girls guide to paris, carla coulsons paris, le marais, good coffee

Boot Cafe photo 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. 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..
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 Institut

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 they will love as will you!

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.


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….

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 (or any day) 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.

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 great ‘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

13, rue Francs Bourgeois

Paris 75004

Carla coulson guide to paris

Deyrolle Copyright Carla Coulson

5. Deyrolle.

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
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

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 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.

L’Artisan Fleuriste

95 rue Vieille du Temple

75003 Paris


80 rue Oberkampf
75011 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.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 a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe and has serious cocktails. Bring your wallet!!

Hôtel Raphael

17 Avenue Kléber,

75116 Paris, France


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. It’s where all the grooviness is happening right now in Paris.

Buttes Chaumont Copyright Carla Coulson
17.  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.
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
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10 years ago

Such a great list of places. I’m going to put Le Camboge on my list of places to try.

10 years ago

Wonderful fantastic list, Carla! I’m saving it on my desktop for my next visit.
I usually stay in the Canal St Martin area, and have eaten twice at Le Camboge and swooned both times. (Usually a long line, tho!). Prune is like home for us–first for breakfast and again at aperitivo time.
Thanks again.

Peggy Braswell
10 years ago

this tour is heaven!+ the photos. thank you.

La Contessa
10 years ago


MILLIE GRAZIE!Especially the coffee spots!

Do you know I drive a little mint green FIAT 500 just like your photo?!!Mine is a new one but I just LOVE IT!


10 years ago

Love the list. I hope to get a flat for at least a month to spend more time in Paris. This summer I had a short visit a fell deeply in love with the pace of the city. Your photos as well as your choices inspire.

10 years ago

Fascinating post. I too love paris. I think my favourite place is Sacre Coeur as the views are spectacular.

Debra Kolkka
10 years ago

How I would love to be wandering in Paris right now! Thank you for the lovely tour.

10 years ago

Oh,I got a bit homesick for Paris reading your gorgeous guide. We have been there every year since 2004, and had a few days enjoying it again this year. Your photos are as beautiful as ever, and we cherish our Paris photos taken by you in 2011. Anne and Rob

Noelle H
Noelle H
10 years ago

Thank you for these great ideas! I’m going to Paris next week am going to check out Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle.

10 years ago

Have copied your list and will check it twice, although I’ve already checked off a few from my trip to Paris last October. I particularly enjoy #20 and hopefully on my return visit to Paris next spring, I will check off a few more. Great list!

Heather in Arles
10 years ago

Carla, I already pass on your previous versions of this list as I truly think that they are the best insider’s Paris lists ever…thank you for the update. 🙂

10 years ago

Love paris! Great guide as always perfect photos!!

This is Belgium
10 years ago


9 years ago

Bonjour Carla, Thanks for some great ideas. I will be visiting Paris in December and whilst the park ideas are fantastic for summer, I am not sure I could handle a picnic in the winter. Can you recommend anything Parisian to do for the chillier months?
Thanks in advance for any ideas,
Bisous Georgie

Mark Harrison
Mark Harrison
9 years ago

Great advice Carla.
Will pass it on to my daughter who is booking a trip to Europe this weekend, including a few days in Paris.

I still remember going to Angelina’s three years ago – unforgettable!

Grazie mille.


9 years ago

The view from the terrace atop galleries Lafayette on Haussmann is to die for. And there is a bar up there. I also go crazy for the Bon Marche.

Llyane @FrenchOnSkype
9 years ago

Wonderful collection, thank you so much!

9 years ago

Merci de tout for sharing! Paris is always full of surprises and never disappoints. I LOVE your guide and, plan to check out some of the places you’ve recommended here on my next visit there.

9 years ago

What a great guide, definitely keeping this for my next trip….gorgeous photos too!!

9 years ago

We are enjoying many of these this week in paris.

9 years ago

though I love all these pictures, I love the guy with the huge bouquet of flowers wrapped in brown shipping paper ~ I would love to have that car to drive around on Santa Rosa Beach, Fl., over here, it is perfect ~ so love your site, I have viewed everyday for years, though I have not commented much ~ it’s fun to join in ~ have a nice trip ~ xo

Kaye Williamson
Kaye Williamson
9 years ago

Thank you Thank You. Merci. Will be in Paris in April….now have my agenda planned out, thanks to you.

9 years ago

This is an absolutely brilliant list!! So very useful – the best I’ve ever seen.
And as an Antipodean caffeine addict -I really appreciate the coffee recommendations. This post has prompted me to book, today, a Parisian trip next year. My Christmas gift to me. Merci

Kaye Box
Kaye Box
9 years ago

Paris! So many experiences that we have not had. Next time! Thank you for the great ideas.

home renovation shows
9 years ago

Howdy jus wated to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the
pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a
linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet
browsers and both show the same outcome.

8 years ago

Oh Carla, you just made me very homesick! xx