Carla’s Ultimate 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.
Boot Cafe photo Copyright Carla Coulson
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.
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!
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 as will you!
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
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.
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.
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
Serge Lutens Copyright Carla Coulson
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.
142 Galerie de Valois
13, rue Francs Bourgeois
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
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
18, rue Antoine Bourdelle
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
18 rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie
Flowers Copyright Carla Coulson
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
L’Arrosoir80 rue Oberkampf 75011 Paris
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..
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 Gres, Vionnet, Chanel, Thierry Mugler, Paco Rabanne and the list goes on and on….
24 Galerie Montpensier
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
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
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.
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!!
17 Avenue Kléber,
75116 Paris, France
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.
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.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour. If you have anything special that you love doing in Paris let me know..