PARIS – France
48.8742° N, 2.3470° E
This is the place if you are: feeling romantic | celebrating | in love with love
Let it be known, there is nothing I like better than waking up in Paris. Especially waking up in my own apartment on the left bank of the River Seine. Last Spring I lived the Paris life for a week – I swapped a U.S. apartment for a Parisian one through HomeExchange. My thoughtful Parisian host left a plate of macaroons and a list of his favorite neighborhood (6th arrondissement) restaurants for me to discover. I listened to his classical music collection and steeped the delicate French tea leaves from the cupboard. I felt instantly at home. My host’s local knowledge paved the way for an unforgettable trip. Setting out for the day, I took my café crème downstairs at a lovely coffeeshop. The pace is different here. There’s no such thing as a “to go” cup. One must sip from small ceramic cups. One must be present. One is obliged to taste the coffee, to linger, to take in the surroundings.
Eric Kayser I often stopped by the corner pâtisserie for croissants. The closest spot happened to be Eric Kayser. (Kayser has the last word on pain au chocolat – caramelized flaky pastry + warm, melty, evenly distributed dark chocolate.) If buying an artisan baguette, I observed that one must twist off le quignon and devour it immediately. This pointy, dark nipple of bread is somehow irresistible to Parisians. 10 rue de l’Ancienne Comédie
Perhaps the most famous café in Paris. Classique. Good enough for Jean-Paul Sartre, good enough pour moi. Exquisite people watching.
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
The French have a way with tea. Our tea sommelier (yes, sommelier) indicated the Lapsang souchoung pairs perfectly with the smoked duck sandwiche. It was a poem. I watched a mother and daughter use a knife and fork to eat their pastries. They took petite bites, petite sips and it lasted over an hour. It was a lesson in appreciation just watching them.
13 rue des Grand-Augustins
Shakespeare and Company
This place feels like home; I’ve been coming here for 18 years. This is the best English language used bookstore on the planet. Curl up with some poetry. Pet the cat. Talk to strangers. Look out the window at Notre Dame across the street. There are also some great book stalls along the Seine.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie
Le Loir Dans La Théière
As my host said “Huge Lemon Tart; fabulous place.” Besides the kilometre-high lemon merengue, I loved this place because it felt like a sunny, friendly, down-to-earth local hangout. Not a touriste in sight.
3 rue des Roisers
This is the cheese shop of Madame Fromage’s dreams. Everything you could ever want, right in the center of Paris – from aged Comté to fresh chèvre. La Fermette offers a degustation of perfectly ripened cheeses (around five), which you can take home and serve immediately. Plate and all. How utterly civilized.
86 rue Montorgueil
Colette – Named after the French novelist. This must be where the chic, trendy Parisians buy their clothes. The selection is highly curated, very fresh, always changing. I snapped a photo. Le oooops! C’est interdit! I then absconded upstairs to the Le Labo outpost and asked the perfumer to compose a scent (Another 13) while I waited. There’s a très chic Water Bar downstairs. 213 Rue Saint-Honore
Ze Kitchen Gallerie
This restaurant doubles as an art gallery. The highlight – roasted, grilled squab with rhubarb.
4 rue des Grands Augustins
Classic bistro. Duck confit. Boeuf bourguignon. Soufflé. The quintessential French meal. Stellar views of le Tour Eiffel around the corner. I rode a Vélib’ bike to Chez Dumonet and felt very French indeed.
117 rue Cherche-Midi
A lovely bistro. Snagged a sunny sidewalk table for my last bite of fromage in Paris. Prime location for people watching.
9 Carrefour de l’Odeon
- Pack comfortable flats for negotiating the cobblestones
- Stock up on creative flatware from Sabre. I’m in love with the acrylic polka-dot ice tea spoons. Sabre items make great gifts – and they are lightweight.
- Bring back salted caramel macarons from Ladurée for loved ones. (You can purchase a box for the return flight at Charles de Gaulle airport)
What are your secret places to see in Paris? Favorite experiences in the City of Light?