A super quick guide to Paris

A super quick guide to Paris

We’ve rounded up the highlights of The City of Light


Views from Place Charles-de-Gaulle / Image: Adobe Stock

Emily Monaco

Emily is a freelance cheese-curious journalist and culinary tour guide based in Paris. Her work has appeared in the BBC, Atlas Obscura, and Fodor's.

Paris is a city that needs no introduction. Who doesn’t know at least a little about the French capital, a city synonymous with literature and art, with romance and revolution? But while some would relegate Paris to a museum version of herself (or perhaps a rose-tinted iteration à la TV-show Emily in Paris), the real Paris is a lively, diverse, modern city, home to a rich culinary scene as historic as it is cutting edge, and a wide range of unique neighbourhoods. From the sumptuous Champs-Elysées leading to the pristine Tuileries and the opulent Louvre to the Latin Quarter, with its echoes of the Lost Generation; from the hip and hipster 11th arrondissement to the gentrifying grunge of the Canal Saint-Martin, this city is ripe for discovery.

Grand Pigalle Hotel is an urban escape / Image: © MR. TRIPPER / Experimental Group

Dreamy decor / Image: © MR. TRIPPER / Experimental Group

Stay here: Grand Pigalle Hotel

This charming hotel on the edge of picturesque Montmartre would be worth a stop if only for its beautiful rooms and exquisite views over the city, but it doesn’t hurt that room service is helmed by the Michelin-starred team of Frenchie’s Chef Grégory Marchand. Snag a room with a balcony and enjoy your dinner paired with one of the restaurant’s house cocktails or a bottle from the varied wine list boasting natural and sustainable choices from all over the country (and a handful from further afield).

29 rue Victor Massé, 9th

If you have a passion for pastries, head to Sain Boulangerie / Image: Sain Boulangerie

A Jenga tower we can get behind at Sain Boulangerie / Image: Sain Boulangerie

Brunch here: Pastries at Sain Boulangerie

With its stalwart croissants and cafés crème, Paris is not known for the copiousness of its morning meals. And while the capital now boasts a host of more Anglo-inspired brunch menus (usually prix fixe and pricey), we maintain that simple is best. Grab a scrumptious sourdough croissant from Sain Boulangerie before taking your spoils to the picturesque Canal Saint-Martin to indulge. Or swing by neighbouring Ten Belles (10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 10th) for some of the city’s best coffee (sustainably sourced and roasted in the Parisian suburbs, a mere 20 kilometres away), and snag a scone or a creative viennoiserie, like a croissant base topped with cheesecake filling and strawberries.

15 rue Marie et Louise, 10th

Sparkling wine, vermouth, whisky and walnut in a drink / Image: Aron Farkas

Le Riz cocktail, made with whisky, plum, perrier and Camargue rice aperitif / Image: Aron Farkas

Drink this: cocktails at Little Red Door

Behind this speakeasy’s eponymous little red door awaits a sumptuous and cozy space decked out in blue velvet, wood and stone. Regularly changing menus inspired by art, nature and anthropology feature truly boundary-pushing drinks. Botanical spirits are married with cachaça and topped with chantilly cream infused with buckwheat from Atelier Soba in the Pyrenees; a house-made aperitif made of AOP Camargue rice is paired with whisky, plum and Perrier for a drink with a sparkling hint and a rich, smooth finish.

60 rue Charlot, 3rd

Le Plomb du Cantal / Image: Alamy

Instagram this: the cheese pull at Le Plomb du Cantal

Aligot is a specialty, not of Paris, but rather of the Auvergne, in the heart of France, where dormant volcanoes are carpeted with lush green grass to provide ample food for the russet Salers cattle that the region has long been known for. At Le Plomb du Cantal, the region’s fresh tomme cheese is worked into velvety mashed potatoes to create the stretchy, oh-so-’grammable texture of the purée, here served tableside from copper pots alongside the protein of your choosing.

3 rue de la Gaîté, 14th

Kandinsky at Atelier des Lumières / Image: © Culturespaces_Eric Spiller

Get smart here: Atelier des Lumières

Paris is home to dozens of storied museums, but its historic collections get a modern twist at this foundry-turned-immersive art space, where artworks are projected on the walls and set to music. The ever-changing exhibits run in pairs and generally take an hour, all told, to see. Book your ticket in advance and feel free to linger longer to witness your favourite pieces a second time.

38 rue Saint-Maur, 11th

Good vibes at Supersonic / Image: Emilie Mauger

Party here: Supersonic

Known for free concerts and rock nights, this former factory in the heart of the lively Bastille area is a must-visit for anyone looking to keep their finger on the pulse of the French live music scene. With a choice of leather couches in cosy nooks or high tables on the mezzanine with a view over the dance floor below, it’s the perfect spot for any music lover to get their groove on.

9 rue Biscornet, 12th

Get in the swing of things at Caveau de la Huchette / Image: Caveau de la Huchette

Boogie on down here: Caveau de la Huchette

For a nighttime choice that stretches a bit further into Paris’ romantic past, the Caveau de la Huchette, rendered famous on-screen in La La Land, is the perfect destination. Home to jazz and big band music since 1946 (and secret Masonic meetings long before), the underground cavern continues to welcome Parisians and visitors alike to swing and shimmy the night away.

5 rue de la Huchette, 5th

Have dinner at: Le Mermoz

Paris is home to so many phenomenal restaurants, it can seem impossible to narrow the focus to just one or two. But for a glimpse at what’s so captivating on the modern dining scene in the city, Le Mermoz is a great place to start. Within an authentic bistro setting, enjoy a menu of revisited Parisian classics with a deliciously contemporary spin. French onion soup is transformed into a rich purée topped with a cheese-infused espuma; celery-remoulade sees celeriac sliced into thin spaghetti and seasoned with salmon roe. The menu changes daily, with small plates to share in the evening and a more traditional appetiser-main-dessert formula at lunch.

For something even more rooted in tradition, Bouillon Pigalle (22 boulevard de Clichy) is the local go-to. This reincarnation of a former Parisian staple, the bouillon, serves up excellent beef bourguignon, sausage with mashed potatoes, escargots with garlic butter, and a criminally inexpensive egg-mayonnaise. 

16 rue Jean Mermoz, 8th
Instagram: @lemermoz

Montmartre looks like a fairytale town / Image: Adobe Stock

Make memories here: Montmartre

Once a village adjacent to Paris, Montmartre still retains some of its country charm thanks to cobbled streets and staircases leading to the butte upon which perch its two remaining windmills and the stark white basilica overlooking the city. Start at the Abbesses metro, and after taking a peek at the “I Love You” wall in the small adjacent garden, follow the winding Rue Lepic up to the top of the hill, stopping for sustenance at Les Choupettes de Chouchou (27, Rue Durantin) via a delicious cream puff, filled to order with house-made organic whipped cream. Linger at Place Emile-Goudeau, once home to Picasso, where you’ll frequently encounter buskers playing music to small crowds, and finish on the steps below the basilica with unparalleled views over the city.

Place du Tertre, 18th

Eating too many of these won’t leave mush-room for dessert

Martin Boire et Manger puts sustainable ingredients at the forefront

Meet locals here: Martin – Boire et Manger

Walk along the boulevard du Temple on a Saturday night, and you’ll find that this corner of boulevard du Temple has transformed into a block party of local natural wine fans lingering over a funky glass (or bottle) and sharing a handful of small plates from the seasonal chalkboard menu of choices fuelled by owner Loïc Martin’s sustainable garden in the Loire. Be sure to give house mascot Saucisse a pat: The little dachshund is as famous as the interminable wine list.

24 boulevard du Temple 11th

The fanciest food court we've ever seen / Image: Alamy

Experience this: the food court with a view at Printemps du Goût

Don’t be deterred by the words “food court”: Indeed, you can strike all images of malls from your mind when riding the elevator to the top of historic department store Printemps. Each of the stalls here is manned by a top purveyor in their field, and that goes double for Meilleur Ouvrier de France Laurent Dubois, whose cheese-focused restaurant turns out one of the best croque monsieurs in the capital. Enjoy it at a table by the window for one of the best (and best-kept secret) views of the Opéra Garnier and Eiffel Tower.

59 rue de Caumartin, 9th