Planning a trip to Paris? Ooh la la! Here’s an insider’s guide on the best places to eat, drink, and stay in Paris, plus what you must see and do.
I’ve called Paris my home for the past four years and it breaks my heart when visitors fall for tourist traps (which often leads to awful food, which should never happen in this city). No, you don’t want or need to eat overpriced pizza on the Champs-Élysées. Here are some of my best kept secrets on where to eat, drink, shop, and stay in Paris.
Where to Eat & Drink
Mokonuts is a restaurant, coffee shop, and bakery run by chef duo Moko and Omar. They have created a cozy space with delicious food that is beloved by literally everyone. Lunch reservations are absolutely required by phone or email but breakfast is walk in. Morning options include the labneh toast and sweet and savory variations of their sourdough waffles. For cookies, pop in around 10:30 a.m. to get first dibs on all of Moko’s genius creations (flavorwise, think coffee with coconut, and miso sesame sweets). The lunch menu changes often but everything will have you licking the plate. It’s important to note that they are only open on weekdays, excluding French school holidays.
Address: 5 Rue Saint-Bernard, 75011 Paris
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In Paris, traditional French bistro fare is definitely having a comeback moment. One of the best places to try classics such as escargots (that’s French for snails) and filet de boeuf swimming in a sauce poivre (steak in pepper sauce) with a side of frites (fries) is La Poule au Pot, where the ambiance makes you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. Decorated Chef Jean-François Piège wanted to keep the space true to its origins, but he’s also earned it a Michelin star. Reservations can be made online and are encouraged.
Address: 9 Rue Vauvilliers, 75001 Paris
Le Rigmarole is indescribable in the best way possible. Chefs Robert Compagnon and Jessica Yang—with French, Taiwanese, and American roots between them—have created the perfect menu that consists of vegetables (mostly fried or pickled), yakitori, and pasta. If you’re looking to drink wine with your eclectic selection, you’re in luck as Cris, who will probably take your order, has compiled a killer wine list. And don’t tell anyone, but the plates here are all handcrafted by multi-talented Chef Yang. The exquisite sweet treat that you get with the bill? That’s also made in-house. Reservations are required and can be made online. If you can, try to get a seat at the chef’s table so you can see them work magic in the kitchen.
Address: 10 Rue du Grand Prieuré, 75011 Paris, France
Hearty breakfast options are harder to find in Paris than you would think but luckily we have Echo to fill that void. Owner Matthias, a true Parisian, fell head over heels for Los Angeles and decided to bring Angeleno cuisine and Californian brunch culture to the City of Light. The Crispy Rice Bowls are the best seller but whatever you order, make sure to add a side of their bacon (vegetarian substitute available).
Address: 95 Rue d’Aboukir, 75002 Paris
From the best cinnamon buns in Paris (fresh out of the oven all day) to vegetarian sandwiches at lunch and delicious pizza on most evenings, Circus Bakery, a sourdough only bakery, is totally worth the Instagram hype. You’ll also find coffee made from Hexagone roastery beans (the best roaster in Paris) and refreshing kombucha. This isn’t widely known but they make their own butter and most of their cheeses too. A lot of people find this bakery expensive but you get what you pay for—Circus only uses the best ingredients and produce available, and you won’t regret it.
Address: 63 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, France
One of the newest additions to the dynamic Paris dining scene, Pastore has created a lot of buzz and for good reason. The trattoria-like restaurant with chic interiors, an impeccable wine list with only Italian wines, and a simple yet delicious menu has Parisians at the edge of their seats trying to make reservations! The focaccia and Sardinian olive oil sampling at the beginning of the meal helps set the tone for a delicious Italian spread. The lobster spaghetti is an absolute winner and I’ve never ordered a starter I didn’t like. The desserts change often but you’ll usually find one with a mixture of fruits, vegetables (yes, you read that correctly), and a frozen treat of some sort. The fixed lunch menu is a steal for 21 EUR.
Address: 26 Rue Bergère, 75009 Paris, France
With cold pressed juices, nut milks (or mylks), smoothies, and plant-based snacks to boot, Wild & the Moon has taken Paris (and Dubai!) by storm with several locations scattered throughout the city. I love coming here for a little afternoon pick-me-up. My favorite drinks are the Chocolate Chaga (iced or cold), Hollyweed (cashew mylk with a dash of orange blossom), and Matcha Mylk (almond milk with matcha).
Address: Several locations.
The specialty coffee scene here in Paris is very young and it took years before I finally found a roaster I liked. Hailing from Seattle, I take my coffee very seriously. My favorite roasters, Hexagone, have a humble shop in an area that usually isn’t on the radar for tourists but fear not, you can find their beans at other places (like Circus Bakery, Fragments, and Echo). The partners of Hexagone are all incredibly passionate about coffee to the point that they have authored books and educated professionals. If you happen to be there when Chung-Leng (one of those partners) is in, you can try his kakigori, Japanese shaved ice, which he spent years perfecting.
Address: 121 Rue du Château, 75014 Paris
This stunning shop, known for their Moroccan gazelle pastries (which are named for their shape, not their filling), also offers freshly pressed almond milk, Moroccan teas, and lemonade. What I love about the almond milk here is that you can pick from a few different types of almonds—it’s freshly squeezed—and you can get your milk lightly flavored with cinnamon, honey, orange blossom (my favorite), or turmeric. If you’re looking to indulge a bit, their almond ice cream is not only gorgeous but also delicious, served with crumbled gazelle (the pastry, again) and edible flowers from Terroirs d’Avenir (an artisanal produce shop).
Address: 2 Rue Jean-Macé, 75011 Paris, France
It goes without saying that the wine in France is (mostly) good. If you’re looking to taste some of the best natural wines out there, head to Early June in the trendy Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood. Their small-plate food pairings, which go beyond just cheese and charcuterie, are also all excellent (their eggs, Œuf mayo miso to be exact, are legendary). If you’re looking to drink by the Canal, Early June is also a shop! For dining and wining in, reservations are encouraged.
Address: 19 Rue Jean Poulmarch, 75010 Paris, France
What to See & Do
Women of Paris is a walking tour company that celebrates the often overlooked women who helped shape Paris into the city it is today. My favorite option is the Sugar and Spice Tour that walks you through the Saint Germain-des-Prés area where many influential women writers lived, while taking time to visit all the best sweet shops in the area too.
One of the reasons why food tastes so good in France is because of the terroir. Manger Citoyen helps French people understand where their food comes from through an online educational course (MOOC) but they also host dinners where a select number of guests can enjoy a meal provided entirely by a selection of the best producers in France. The produce is brought to Paris and then prepared by some of the best chefs in France as they work in partnership with Le Collège Culinaire de France, a respected gastronomy organization.
Most of the seating at these dinners is communal so mingling with strangers is encouraged and the best part is that the producers dine with you and introduce their products, so you really get to appreciate what’s on the plate. Dining with strangers in another language might sound scary but the whole idea behind the project is to learn new things and meet other food lovers. You’ll leave with new friends, French food facts, and a full stomach! Tickets to dinners sell out pretty quickly but there is always the waiting list.
With over several hundred different types of cheeses (anyone remember that famous quote by French President Charles de Gaulle about cheese and France?), it’s almost impossible to pick favorites when you visit a cheese shop in Paris! Luckily we have Le Cheese Geek to teach us everything about French fromage. A class here involves a lot of cheese (naturellement), unique drink pairings with each cheese (from wine to beer to cider and more), and even some small bites. You eat and drink so much, in fact, this class can replace dinner. Fabrice (the owner and lead Cheese Geek) and all the other cheese geeks are incredibly knowledgeable and can tell you cheese facts and stories until no end. This is one of the food experiences I absolutely swear by in the city.
In France, going to the theater is a common weekly activity; you’ll often see people queuing up in front of movie theaters for the latest releases. In Paris, most movie theaters will play movies in the original language with French subtitles (just look for VOSTF which indicates this). But for those who want to see French movies, there’s Lost in Frenchlation, which shows films throughout the city in historic theaters with English subtitles. French cinema is important (hello, Cannes Film Festival) so seeing a French movie in Paris will be an experience you won’t forget. Advanced booking is often required as they often sell out. Come early to grab the best seats!
Where to Shop
Culinary-focused bookshops are the best and in Paris, we are lucky to have Appétit. In addition to cookbooks and books on food, you’ll find spices, chocolates, plates, food-focused artworks, and more. The books here are mostly in French and English so there is absolutely no excuse not to visit while you are in town. They often host book signings too, so you might just get lucky.
Address: 12 Rue Jean Ferrandi, 75006 Paris, France
The fanciest and most expensive grocery store in Paris is La Grande Epicerie, a huge space with high quality ingredients and produce from around the world. It’s hard to walk down the aisles without buying anything but this is a great place to see what produce makes its way to France (they have aisles dedicated to different regions of the world including the US). Additionally, this is a great place to buy food souvenirs and to stock up for a nice, French picnic as they have a whole apéro section!
Address: Two locations in the city, one on each side of the Seine.
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I used to tell people to avoid the Champs-Élysées at all costs but with the new Galeries Lafayette addition, I tell people to run there. This new Galeries Lafayette location is unlike any other. Here, everything is curated to perfection, from the clothes to the rotating store displays to the food court (aka, “Le Food Court”) downstairs. Le Food Court is a collection of some of the best food offerings in the city, from À la Mère de Famille chocolates to Maison Verot charcuterie. French designer Jacquemus even decided to combine his love for food from Provence with fashion at Café Citron. Here you can drink real lemonade and snack on food inspired by the south (of France)—think fresh vegetables like tomatoes and crudites, and tapenades. This Galeries Lafayette location also hosts events, from concerts to meet and greets and even workshops, so make sure you follow their feed on Instagram to stay in the know!
Address: 60 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
No visit to Paris will be complete without experiencing an outdoor market. The biggest market in Paris can be found at Marche d’Aligre. You’ll find absolutely everything for your food needs here (I love to shop for butter, stone fruits, fresh herbs, and spices). The prices are friendly, more so on weekdays than on weekends, and you’ll see people from all over Paris stocking up on their kitchen needs.
Address: Rue d’Aligre et, Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris, France
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Where to Stay
Without a doubt, Le Pigalle is the coolest hotel in all of Paris. The rooms are comfortable with tastefully sexy details everywhere. They offer delicious food (including room service) all day until 2 a.m. which always comes in handy when you’re jet-lagged or exhausted from a busy day of exploring. Located in the heart of Pigalle, one of the trendiest neighborhoods right now, you’ll have countless options for dining, drinking, shopping, and partying nearby too.
Address: 9 Rue Frochot, 75009 Paris
Have you ever been to a speakeasy? How about a speakeasy hotel? Oh La La is just that! You’ll get a kick every time you enter your room because they are only accessible through a hidden door in a bookcase in the cocktail bar. The rooms are spacious and simple and you are a stone’s throw away from Place de la Bastille.
Address: 6 Rue de la Roquette, 75011 Paris
A hotel that provides macarons in the room at check-in is a hotel I want to sleep in. At Le Lapin Blanc, a tiny door brings you into a whimsical hotel with a tasteful “Alice in Wonderland” theme. The rooms are clean and minimal but all on-theme with soft pastel colors. The open dining space allows you to grab snacks during tea time which is always nice after a long day of exploring.
Address: 41 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75005 Paris, France
If you’re looking to splurge on the Left Bank, look no further than Relais Christine. Located in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés inside a 17th century mansion, this luxury hotel has some of the best rooms in the city plus a spa with free access to guests that is worth the expensive price tag alone. The breakfast buffet spread is one of the best ones I’ve seen and is worth getting out of the plush beds for.
Address: 3 Rue Christine, 75006 Paris
Those looking to immerse themselves in Paris’s thriving theatre scene will delight in Hotel L’Echiquier’s simple pleasures. From a Willy Wonka-esque elevator to a lounge bar (Bar Le 38) with live music, the property is a magical respite from the hustle and bustle of Parisian city life. Opt for a junior suite with adorable Juliet balconies and enough space to stretch your legs, pop some Champagne, and feast on a bevy of freshly-made croissants. The only downside is that you will not want to leave your room and may be late to one of many nearby shows!
Address: 38 Rude de L’Echiquier, 75010 Paris
What are your favorite spots in Paris? Let us know in the comments!
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