It’s an obvious must on any travel bucket list: Paris. Once you’ve analyzed art at the Louvre and climbed to the tip of the Eiffel Tower, move on to the must-see’s as told by the locals.
The Insider’s To-Do List
Whether you go to Paris annually or once a decade, these spots are unmissable.
When it comes to museums, if you like the Centre Pompidou, known as much for its inside-out design as for modern art, try this: The year-old Fondation Louis Vuitton, which looks like a massive glass boat sailing on Bois de Boulogne park.
When it comes to shopping, if you like Merci, a trend hunter’s first stop for bohemian threads and quirky miscellany, try this: Recently opened La Trésorerie, which stocks modern home goods, many made from renewable materials.
When it comes to nightlife, if you like the drinks at Experimental Cocktail Club, a favorite among global bartenders, try this: A Nevez Old-Fashion, spiked with whiskey from Brittany, at Le Syndicat, a new shrine to rare French booze.
The Dinner for You
Be as finicky as you like—Paris has a restaurant right in your sweet spot.
Martin: Go for the terrace and elegant small plates—black mullet ceviche, fried chicken with kimchi, mushroom toast—at bafflingly affordable prices.
Pascade: Pascade raises the bar for the kind of crêpes soufflés you’d find in the Averyon region. The menu’s standouts are the umami asparagus maki and the spicy chicken yassa.
Bistrot Paul Bert: In the hip 11th arrondissement, this is the quintessential Parisian bistro. Everything on the chalkboard menu is wholly satisfying—but the steak au poivre with fries? Unbelievable.
Beyond the Croissant
Pâtissier Philippe Urraca, a judge on France’s equivalent of Top Chef, shares where to find the best pastries in town.
Tarte Aux Pommes: “Renowned pastry chef Claire Damon of Des Gâteaux et du Pain gets the crust perfectly crisp and the fruit juicy every time.”
Paris Brest: “At La Pâtisserie des Rêves, these wheel-shaped treats are sandwiched with a hazelnut cream. Each bite truly explodes with flavor.”
Éclair: “L’Éclair de Génie made a genius update on the éclair au chocolat: half the size, half the sugar, and the highest quality chocolate from Grand Cru.”
Profiteroles: And don’t miss Urraca’s own Profiterole Chérie, where the cream-or ice cream–filled mounds are made to order in front of you.
Paris Avec Bébé? Mais Oui!
Play it right, and the city can actually be a delight with young ones.
Rent an apartment in the central fifth arrondissement. That way you’ll always be close to the Jardin du Luxembourg, a real crowd pleaser with timeless marionette shows, a carousel, and pony rides.
In return for good behavior at the Louvre, promise your kids a morning of splashing, building, and playing TV star at the hands-on La Cité des Enfants.
Capitalize on the city’s fantastic falafel. Or, for a sit-down meal, find a casual café and pack crayons for the paper-covered tables. Fair warning: If you don’t bring a portable high chair, your toddler will wind up in your lap. —Lora Shinn
The Best of Le Marais
This “it” neighborhood still reigns, but the action has migrated to its once sleepy northern tip.
What locals love about Upper Marais is its wealth of stylish places designed for lingering. For instance, Carreau du Temple, a covered market dating to 1863, hosts everything from fashion shows to fitness classes. (Look out for Gym Suédoise, a low-impact workout that’s converted Parisians to exercise.) Nearby, in a robin’s-egg-blue storefront, Boot Café pours lattes made with beans from the highly regarded Belleville Brûlerie roasters. Browse Papier Tigre for a kaleidoscopic selection of notebooks and easy-to-pack accessories. To eat and people-watch, settle in at Les Chouettes, a soaring art deco brasserie with three levels, including a library. Or stop by Maison Plisson. Calling it a supermarket wouldn’t do it justice: The produce is local, the meats are prepared by award-winning butchers, and the selection of chèvre is vast. Stock up on provisions and have a decadent picnic at the nearby Square du Temple garden.
Pitchfork Music Festival, Oct. 29–31, will bring moody, sexy, very French sounds—including shoegazers Beach House and the Sade-like Rhye—to the Grande Halle de la Villette. It’s the perfect excuse for a Parisian long weekend. —Andrew Richdale