Note: Though COVID-19 has stalled a lot of travel plans, we hope our stories can offer inspiration for your future adventures—and a bit of hope.
Welcome to On Location, AFAR’s guide to exploring cool neighborhoods around our favorite—and most well-situated hotels.
Many of Paris’s best hotels are located on the Right Bank of the Seine River, near Place Vendome in the bustling 1st arrondissement or off the Champs-Élysées over in the 8th arrondissement. But the residential-feeling J.K. Place offers a more intimate side of the city in a quiet corner of the Left Bank, where big-brand hotels are few and far between.
You’ll find the J.K. Place Paris—the first hotel outside of Italy for the brand—in the former European Consulate on the eastern edge of the 7th arrondissement one block from the Musée d’Orsay and the banks of the Seine, and just a short walk to the shop-lined streets of Saint-Germain-des-Près. After checking into this boutique hotel, it may be tempting to hide out in your room for a nap, but you don’t need to wander far to get a sense of local life in Paris, which you can find right at your doorstep. Here’s our guide to exploring the Left Bank on your first day at the J.K. Place Paris.
Coffee at Arabica Paris Beaupassage kiosk
For those whose morning caffeine needs fall into the must consume now category, you can enjoy a cup of coffee on a velvet couch in the living-room-like lobby at the J.K. Place Paris. Eager to get out and about? Go for a 10-minute stroll down tree-lined Boulevard Saint-Germain to the Arabica Paris kiosk inside Beaupassage, a modern take on Paris’s historic passageways lined with businesses. The larger location of this popular Japanese speciality coffee shop is over in the 2nd arrondissement, but the patio setting inside this open-air gallery located between busy Boulevard Raspail and Rue du Bac is a quiet place to gather your thoughts and recharge your battery. If you’re looking for something more than a cortado or if the weather doesn’t cooperate, Beaupassage also has a Pierre Herme café and a Thierry Marx bakery.
Lunch and shopping on Rue du Bac
The western entrance to Beaupassage will leave you on Rue du Bac, a charming shop-lined street that will lead you to Le Bon Marché, the historic Left Bank department store, for those who want to venture a few more blocks south. If navigating VAT tax forms on day one sounds overwhelming, stick to the intersection where Rue du Bac meets Rue du Varenne. For a classic sidewalk café lunch, Café Varenne delivers on ambience and iconic brasserie fare like steak tartare and duck confit. Stock up on edible souvenirs—or snacks for later—across the street at Jacques Genin (go for the chocolates, but don’t skip the fruit jellies) and Des Gâteaux et du Pain (keep it simple with a pain au chocolat or splash out on one of pastry chef Claire Damon’s seasonal cakes). For wearable souvenirs, pop into Chatelles, a Parisian shoe company that makes customizable flats and slippers for women, men, and children.
Culture fix at Musée D’Orsay
From there, you can follow Rue du Bac back up toward the Seine for a stop at the famed Musée d’Orsay, which is just a block from the hotel. Even though the Louvre is also located a short walk away, a visit to this collection of 19th- and 20th-century art housed in a former train station is a must. Inside you’ll find a comprehensive collection of impressionist art from the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh among others. Since this is one of the most popular museums in Paris, it’s best to purchase tickets in advance online—or ask the hotel to secure them for you.
Dinner at Casa Tua
Save important dinner reservations for another night when you’re not struggling to stay up past 8 p.m. (for that, we recommend Maison, which is a little farther afield in the 11th arrondissement). After a long day of traveling and exploring the neighborhood on foot, keep it simple and eat at the hotel’s restaurant before heading back up to your room. But don’t expect boring room service fare at Casa Tua, the first location outside of the United States for the Miami-based Italian restaurant. After eating your fill of pasta or branzino, pull up a stool at the marble-top bar for a nightcap (a negroni, perhaps?) before bed.
>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Paris