We bet you’ve seen this title a thousand times. ”An insiders guide to Paris”, well, we’re sorry to burst your bubble but the Parisians laugh at these Loney Planet-esque guides. Tourist trap restaurants serving escargot, bars filled with English natives all wondering where the locals are at.
But… it’s no surprise. Millions of tourists visit Paris each year and it’s hard to stay up to date with foreign trends. What we’re here to do is give you a proper insight into the city of love, told by real Parisians.
French cuisine is up there with the best in the world. They’ve refined their cooking methods for over centuries and the bistros and restaurants have a lot to show for it. There’s quite literally too many of our favourite restaurants to name, and compiling this list was hard… However, these are our top picks, in no particular order.
Du Pain et des Idées
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
Here you’ll find some of the tastiest croissants Paris has to offer, evident by the lines of hungry locals outside and words by Anthony Bourdain. While everyone expects to walk to a corner store and buy the best croissant they’ve ever had, this really isn’t the case. Reality is, there’s a whole lot of average bakeries selling sub-par pastries, so do yourself a favour and head here!
76 Rue des Tournelles, 75003 Paris, France
Set in a small street north of Le Marais lays fragment, a cafe that offers a simple and small menu with quality roasts. Seriously, it’s not that easy finding a good coffee in Paris!
4 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75016 Paris, France
An institution in Paris, with arguably the best macarons in town. They’ve also got a huge selection of pastries, a sweet tooth’s heaven, and a decent breakfast menu. Grab something to go and explore the Tour Eiffel and Palais de Tokyo, or sit down outside and people watch the passers-by.
39 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris, France
A gastronomic delight tucked in a small street of Montmartre. They were recently awarded a Michelin star and we can see exactly why. On the exterior, you wouldn’t think twice – It’s extremely understated where the focus is on the food and service. The lunch degustation is perfect, but if you’re up for it, opt for the 5 (actually 7) course tasting. It’s a ‘’surprise menu’’ where you simply tell the waiter your allergies and distastes, letting them choose the menu for you. By far one of our favourites in Paris. The catch is that it’s only 21 seats, so be sure to book in advance to secure a table.
22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
A newly opened French restaurant with a seriously traditional menu, think boeuf bourguignon and blanquette de veau. They don’t take bookings, so unless you’re interested in waiting up to 1 hour for dinner, just after the lunch hour is the best. The interior is fresh and modern, flooded with plenty of natural light. They also have a beautiful terrace, so try nab some seats up there! Oh, and did we mention this was probably our cheapest eat in Paris?
33 Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris, France
Another hidden gem in heart of Paris serving modern French cuisine. Head during the week for their incredibly affordable 35eu, 3-course menu, probably the cheapest Michelin starred meal in Paris.
20 Rue Saint-Martin, 75001 Paris, France
An institution of Parisian dining with the menu helmed by world-renowned Alain Du Casse. Benoit has been around since the 1920s serving traditional and incredibly flavoursome French dishes. It’s quite expensive (what did you expect), however, if you head during the week, their lunch special can be had for a tad under 40eu- not bad for a Michelin star!
60 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris, France
A neo-bistro & wine bar reinvigorating traditional French cuisine. A focus on fresh, local and seasonal produce with a menu that’s ever-changing. What started out as a small wine bar across the road, has since expanded due to it’s huge popularity amongst locals. It’s only a 30 seat restaurant, so book in advance. Also be sure to pair your meal with their incredible selection of only natural and organic wines. Ask the waiter for some tips, they’d be more than happy to help!
5 Rue Charles-François Dupuis, 75003 Paris, France
Some of the best meat in this side of town. Locals love it and we did too. The Cote de Boeuf is to die for and comes with either frittes, salad or both. Be sure to wash it down with a red from one of the numerous regions of France.
7 Rue des Écoles, 75005 Paris, France
A traditional French bistrot serving fresh and seasonal produce. While the menu is quite simple, as you’d expect from a bistrot, the quality is phenomenal and deserves a mention here. They’ve also got a large selection of local wines in their bottleshop adjacent.
82 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris, France
Atelier Vivanda is another superb restaurant serving high-quality meats in an atmospheric setting. It’s a tad more costly than L’aller Retour, but it’s pretty damn good! They’ve got a couple of restaurants across Paris, so check out the closest one to you.
Where to shop
Paris is a shopping mecca. Whether it’s local boutiques serving new designers, or high end and luxury department stores scattered throughout the city, there’s a shop and a place waiting to take your hard-earned Euros.
19 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris, France
A seriously cool boutique stocking a finely curated selection of high-end streetwear with brands like Marni, OFF WHITE, Alexander Wang and more. The fit out is phenomenal, installed in a former art gallery. We seriously loved this space!
The Broken Arm
12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France
Located on a quiet street in the Marais, The Broken Arm offers a thoughtful and extremely well-curated selection of clothes, plus thoughtful details to ensure you have an experience, not just a shopping trip. The store also features a cute little café that stocks it’s own coffee blends, a favourite amongst fashionable locals.
24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, France
Probably the best department store in Paris with a ginormous selection of high end and designer goods. Everything from Maison Margiela to Rolex and Louis Vuitton. You’ve probably seen the famous elevators on every basic person’s Instagram before.
If you’ve made some serious purchases, it’s worth claiming your VAT (GST) back at the airport. It’s a bit of a painstaking process but made easy in department stores like Galleries Lafayette and Bon Marche. If you’ve purchased from the department stores, you need to claim back the tax on the same day.
What to see & do
Aside from the obvious, here’s a list of our favourite things to do in Paris.
A jaw-dropping building designed by Frank Gehry and Bernard Arnault on the outskirts of Paris. Inside you’ll find numerous exhibitions and art installations, supporting French and international contemporary artistic creations.
Centre Georges Pompidou Beaubourg
Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
This stunning building houses the National Museum of Modern Art. It’s one of the largest museums in the world for contemporary and modern art. You can easily spend half a day here or more, be sure to head to the top for a spectacular view over Paris and look out for the numerous cool exhibitions going on.
Palais de Tokyo
13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France
Another beautiful building dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life. It’s situated in the 16th arrondissement, a beautiful neighbourhood only a stone’s throw from Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower.
Rent a boat
37 Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris, France
If you’ve got a crew, or a special someone else, rent a small electric boat and cruise along the Canal Saint Martin. You don’t need a license, and it’s a super cool way to see Paris. Be sure to head late in the afternoon, picking up some charcuterie and rose for the ride.
Where to drink
30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 Paris, France
Set beneath a newly renovated design-focused hotel lays this swanky terrace and bar. It’s filled with trendy locals and internationals alike, so be sure to dress the part. The interior is beautiful… and very Instagram worthy.
51 rue Faubourg Saint Denis
Located in a cool area, Le Syndicat is a celebration of all things French. They only stock French spirits, as well as a French-focused food menu. The crowd is young and trendy, we guarantee you’ll love it.
Prescription Cocktail Club
23 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris, France
Two levels of seriously cool deco with just as trendy clientele. The bottom level is perfect for pulling up a stool while the second level holds a hidden bar behind a bookshelf. Definitely a go-to for Paris!
Where to dance
The dance scene in Paris is constantly changing. Regular club nights are hard to give recommendations, as locals prefer to follow events run by collectives like BP and Ott010. However, if things are aligned, La Station and La Concrete often put on stellar shows with big-name DJs.
Where to stay
There’s plenty of beautiful hotels in Paris, however, what we really recommend is renting an AirBnb in the above locations. Red is a more upmarket pretty area, whereas green is more trendy and hipster, with a lot more bars and restaurants. We recommend staying close to these locations. To get an authentic Parisian experience, an apartment on 2 or 5 level (these are the only levels with balconies) would top off the experience.
Taking the metro in Paris is the quickest and easiest way to navigate the city, make sure to download CityMapper and thank us later. Also, Uber’s have become incredibly expensive so it’s wise to hail a taxi if you’re feeling lazy. If you’re heading to/ from Charle De Gaulle airport, taking the train (RER) is the best way as traffic in and out of the airport is insane.
Learning a bit of French goes a long way. Parisians are known to snob off foreigners and we don’t blame them. It must get pretty tiresome speaking another language in your own country all the time. Learn a bit of French before heading over, they’ll love you for it.
This guide was last updated on the 16/07/2018.