Back in February I embarked on my fifth visit to the City of Light and once again I have plenty of ‘things to do in Paris’ tips—despite wanting a more laid-back city break this time, I ended up compiling an 11-page itinerary and we walked almost 100km.
So, after sifting through over 800 photos it’s time to share my bumper guide. If you’re just looking for quick recommendations you’ll find a roundup at the bottom of this post. Now, make a pot of tea then stick this song in your ears—and let’s go to Paris.
Day 1: Friday
Our Eurostar arrived at the Gare du Nord just before midday, so after checking into our hotel and dumping our suitcase (and coats, bonjour soleil!) we headed out for a very French lunch—crêpes, at Crêperie Brocéliande!
Refuelled, we meandered through Montmartre, via an Amelie filming location or three, and headed up the Butte Montmarte to admire the Sacré-Cœur (and peek inside APC Surplus, the outlet store).
It was time to admire a new view and finally tick a department store roof terrace off my Paris must-do list: we headed to Printemps Haussman.
The rooftop is slightly tricky to find (make sure you’re in the beauty and homewares building) but totally worth it. After our longer-than-expected hunt for the roof, and therefore now slightly behind schedule, we ran across town to visit the Louvre with our pre-booked tickets.
Of course, the Musée du Louvre is absolutely bloody MASSIVE (almost 800,000 square feet) so I think it deserves a post all its own…that’ll be up next.
After a couple of hours crammed with art and artefacts, we headed out for steak and bières at Le Louis before getting an early night, ready for another busy day.
Day 2: Saturday
Once back in Paris we finally saw “that bridge from Inception” i.e. Pont de Bir-Hakeim, then found a kind-of ‘street balcony'(?) I’ve been hunting down since seeing it online. To find out where it is, check out my tips for the 15 best places from which to admire the Eiffel Tower!
Next we headed to Trocadéro to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower bathed in golden hour light at sunset. Then it was time to utilise the happy hour offers at FrogBurger before heading to BaaGaa to scoff down burgers for dinner.
As you do, we ended up back at the Eiffel Tower just in time to catch the 10pm illuminations. Cheesy, but utterly heavenly.
Day 3: Sunday
Sunday began as a sunny Sunday in Paris should: with a walk in the Jardin des Tuileries, breakfast at Angelina, and a peek at the Chanel flagship on Rue Cambon (luckily it was closed, not that it would’ve made much difference—my budget would’ve stretched to no more than a bottle of Chance).
Then we finally ticked Place Vendôme and the Palais-Royal, with its famous striped Colonnes, off the Paris must-see list.
The Colonnes de Buren‘s Insta-fame meant they were busy with people posing perched on top of them. Officially known at Les Deux Plateau, this art installation was originally considered controversial due to its cost and (some say) unsuitable location beside a historic 17th century building.
I personally like them, as I do all striped things, but can understand why they might’ve been a shock in the 1980s—even if it was a bit of a tacky-and-I-love-it decade!
Colonnes admired, we wandered in the direction of the Seine then along its banks towards the Île de la Cité and the Notre-Dame.
The Notre-Dame needs little introduction. Completed in 1345, this stunning French Gothic cathedral is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world, in part thanks to Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
During our last Paris city break we climbed to the top of the towers, and I’d absolutely recommend you do so too if you haven’t yet. Maybe do it again even if you already have.
We skipped a proper visit to the cathedral on this occasion, instead hopping across the river to finally have a poke around inside the world-famous independent bookstore, Shakespeare and Company.
It surpassed expectation, with shelves packed floor-to-ceiling with books, a surprise piano performance (and a comfortable couch on which to sit and listen), plus a cat to try to befriend—unsuccessfully in my case.
Then it was time to head back over the river.
Wandering through the Marais we pit-stopped for merveilleux to-go, for breakfast the next day, before hunting down something for lunch. We settled on Bespoke, a place we’d enjoyed a great dinner at a couple of years previously, and it was delicious (if a little heavy on the chilli flakes).
As we headed towards the Canal Saint-Martin it began to cloud over, as it always seems to do when I head that way hoping to take photos. A silver lining was discovering a couple of brocante (bric-a-brac) stalls. Then it was time to head up the hill to Montmartre for drinks at au Rendez-Vous des Ami and a fantastic dinner at La Vache et le Cuisiner.
Day 4: Monday
On Monday we decided to venture north to the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen, a warren of a flea market (apparently the biggest in the world) that looked perfect for a morning rummage.
Unfortunately we got totally lost and the area around Porte de Cligancourt isn’t the best—you’re advised not to advertise the fact you’re a tourist and it really doesn’t feel very safe, so I was reluctant to use my phone to help reorientate us.
We did stumble across another (smaller) market so it wasn’t a total loss but I later established we had actually been mere seconds away from the puces de Saint-Ouen 🙃 Next time.
Back in the centre of town and post-lunch at FrogBurger in Saint-German, we meandered to the Panthéon then back up the Left Bank and across the famous Pont des Arts to the Musée de l’Orangerie.
This little gallery at the bottom of the Tuileries is the perfect way to while away a gloomy hour or two—it’s home to Monet’s Water Lilies, which is even more stunning in person than you imagine it would be, and works by Renoir and Picasso.
l’Orangerie is now my favourite art gallery in Paris and here’s a top tip: if you’ve travelled by Eurostar tickets are 2-for-1.
It was time to hit a wine bar. Our first choice was Legrand Filles et Fils, in the Galerie Vivienne arcade, which was followed by a pint at the more ‘rustic’ Le Rubis near Place Vendôme.
For dinner we opted for Le Champ de Mars—admittedly a total tourist trap since the Obamas visited (there’s even a plaque honouring the occasion) but also absolutely the reason I wanted to eat there. Miss you, BO and MO ❤️
Day 5: Tuesday
On our last day in Paris, we headed into the Marais to get pastries for breakfast, from a Jewish patisserie we stumbled across.
We also ended up grabbing a second breakfast—more merveilleux from Fred, which we enjoyed sat in the park behind the Notre-Dame. When in Paris.
During a ramble through the Latin Quarter, we grabbed baguettes for lunch and munched on them in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Next we popped back through the Cour Napoléon et Pyramide du Louvre and up to Montmartre for our pre-Eurostar dinner at the Sacrée Fleur.
And with that, it was au revoir to Paris again. À bientôt, mon ami…
I hope you liked this mammoth post, check out my other Paris tips if you did—and don’t forget to pin or save this for later! 🙂
Where to stay
This time we stayed at the Hôtel George, a cheerful 3-star member of the Astotel chain (known for thoughtfully-decorated budget boutique hotels in central Paris). The George is a stone’s throw from Montmartre and a short walk from the Gare du Nord, perfect as we travelled by Eurostar.
We redeemed Hotels.com Rewards credit so paid less than £300 for 4 nights (a bargain by Paris standards). Each Astotel has an open bar, stocked with snacks and drinks, and you can utilise facilities at their hotels across the city. We’d definitely stay again.
Of course Paris has plenty of Airbnb options—get £30 off with my link!
Things to do in Paris, and nearby
- Tour Eiffel | Of course! I’ve posted 15 amazing Eiffel Tower viewpoints but you can also visit (and climb) the Iron Lady herself.
- Arc de Triomphe | Following on from the above, here’s a spoiler: this is my favourite place from which to admire the Eiffel Tower—and the rest of the city.
- Notre-Dame de Paris | One of the world’s most beautiful religious buildings.
- Le Louvre | The biggest museum/art gallery in the world.
- Jardin du Palais-Royal and Colonnes de Buren | Historic building plus art installation.
- Trocadéro | For amazing views of the Eiffel Tower.
- Cimetière du Père Lachaise | Burial place of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and the marvellous Edith Piaf, a wander in this pretty cemetery is free (unlike most things in Paris).
- Le Seine | A walk along the river is a must, or you can take a cruise.
- Explore the city | Each neighbourhood has its own unique vibe. My favourite areas are Montmartre and Le Marais.
- Château de Versailles | Day trip to this 400-year-old palace on the edge of the city.
- Provins | Another option for a day out is this medieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Places to eat in Paris
- Aux Merveilleux de Fred, various locations | These light-as-air cakes are actually Belgian but worth picking up anywhere.
- Angelina, 226 rue de Rivoli | Beautiful tearoom founded in 1903. The hot chocolate is world-famous for a reason—there’s a gift shop too.
- Crêperie Brocéliande, 15 rue des Trois Frères | Traditional Breton crêpes at excellent prices, especially if you get the 2-course meal.
- La Vache et le Cuisiner, 18 rue des Trois Frères | Top-quality food and great service.
- Baagaa, 54 rue de Longchamp | Wagyu burgers and perfectly fluffy/crunchy fries.
- Le Fontaine de Mars, 129 rue Saint-Dominique | Honestly, I only ate here because the Obamas once did. Luckily it was actually excellent too.
- Sacrée Fleur, 50 rue de Clignancourt | Home to the best steak ever, this has become our regular pre-Eurostar dinner and is always an excellent last meal in Paris.
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