The unexplored insider's route of the romantic capital (in 36 hours).
The 'anti-guide' guide to Paris
It is no secret that Paris is the most frequented tourist destination in the world and as such, the internet is plagued with an overabundance of suggested travel itineraries - enough to literally make your head spin. Allow this ‘anti-guide’ guide be the remedy for such commoner guides (resist the tourist traps!).
Let this 36 hour route gift you a different perspective of Paris, seldom explored by the global traveler. Think sipping on a cold brew while floating down quiet backstreets, getting the first taste of the burgeoning neo-bistro culinary scene, while passing through some lesser-visited but equally enchanting museums.
Engage in a more authentic cultural conversation with Paris, à la locale.
FRI 3pm : Check-in : Le Pigalle Hotel (9 Rue Frochot)
Following one of the oldest trends of real estate, Pigalle, known as the former red-light district of Paris, became recently enlivened by an exploding culinary and creative scene. So, out of this new avant-garde neighborhood bred Le Pigalle, an eclectically curated hotel of quirky design mixed with the French ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ casual attitude. Sleep for a night in an artist’s enclave with ample personality, complimented with just the right amount of luxury. (Rates range from 130 euros)
6pm : Apéro o'clock : L'Extra Brut (19 Rue Condorcet)
There is no better way to dive into the Parisian way of life than by enjoying the “apéro” afternoon happy hour..and why not quench this thirst at a champagne bar. The setting of l'Extra Brut is very relaxed, yet head bar man Ben takes a connoisseur’s approach to range of champagnes offered, explaining the origins and variety of flavors in each. Don’t forget to order some their famous taramasalata and eggplant caviar, to help wash down the bubbly.
[10 min walking distance from Le Pigalle Hotel]
8pm : Remastering French Country Food : Polissons (35 Rue Ramey)
In a neighborhood riddled with clichés, from cobblestone streets to the old man playing the accordion in a lively square, the legendary 18th arrondisement of Montmartre is full of charm and warmth. Walk off that champagne buzz up the steep hills towards the Sacré Coeur Basilica and take in unparalleled views of Paris as the sun sinks beneath the Hausmannian chimneys. Continue back downhill to the cosy, open-kitchened neo-bistro Polissons, where you can enjoy the likes of dishes, such as ravioli-filled miso or braised-beef cheeks; all of which readily remind you of being in one of the premier food capitals of the world. (price 35 to 50 euros with wine)
[15 minute walk from L'Extra Brut]
11pm : Nightcap : Le Comptoir Général (80 Quai de Jemmapes)
Wrap up your night by taking a quick cab ride to the 10th arrondisement to the hidden warehouse bar of Le Comptoir Général, a multi-roomed treasure trove that celebrates Franco-African culture through music, art, and dance. It is a most convivial space that balances a find blend of kitch and exotic decor with massive chandeliers and portraits of old African presidents and French presidents hung along walls. Try here the quintessential Paris cocktail – ‘T-Punch’, a few shots of rum mixed with lime and sugar.
[10 minute taxi from Polissons]
SAT 11am : Le P'tit Dej : Du Pain et Des Idées (34 Rue Yves Toudic)
When in the Land of the Baguette: it is always a good idea to coat your stomach with a buttery pastry first thing in the morning. Look no further than the legendary “Du Pain et Des Idées,” celebrated as one of the best ‘boulangerie du coin’ of Paris. Each and every bread or pastry will without doubt be life-changing, but DO NOT leave without the infamous escargot chocolate pistache in hand (or mouth.)
[30 min walk from Le Pigalle Hotel]
12pm : Art + Books : Artazart (83 Quai de Valmy)
After getting lost along the colored streets of the Canal Saint Martin, make sure to peek into this 15 year old creative hub for design and art books. Also features a gallery space that houses local prints and artworks, for sale.
[5 min walk from Du Pain et Des Idées)
3pm : MEP : Maison Européenne de la Photographie (5/7 Rue de Fourcy)
Who knew that Paris also houses one of the largest collections of photographs in Europe? After people-watching and window-shopping around le Marais, make your way to the MEP – a historic mansion concealed under beautifully dreamy green moss. You could be lucky enough to catch a show featuring famed photographer superstars, like Annie Leibovitz, or designer photographer Karl Lagerfeld, alongside other up and coming artists. (8 euros per ticket)
[30 minute walk from Artazar]
5pm : Apéro by the Seine : Maison Maison (16 Quai du Louvre)
Tried and tested: Maison Maison offers some of the finest 'apéritif' drinks and small bites around Paris, enjoyed alongside the lively banks of the Seine. Order some delicious cured meats from Chavassieux, cheeses from local producers, a divine terrine au poivre – all paired with a wide selection of organic wines and IPA beers.
[30 minute walk from MEP]
8pm : French Cuisine with a Japanese Touch : Clown Bar (114 Rue Amelot)
Be among first to experience the new and exciting culinary phenomenon happening in Paris. Chefs from all over the world have bravely been opening their own neo-bistros around town, embracing traditional French cuisine but adding their respective foreign touch to each of the dishes. With their equally admired and respected culinary craft, Japanese chefs have stolen the spotlight in Paris, with Chef Atsumi at the forefront. Winning the award for Best Bistro in France in 2015, Clown Bar will absolutely be one of the highlights of your visit to Paris. Also astoundingly reasonable in price, expect to pay no more than 50 to 60 euros total with wine.
[30 minute walk from Maison Maison]
SUN 11am : Brunch in bed : La Derrière (69 Rue des Gravilliers)
Walk into the entrance of Derrière and feel as if you never left your hotel room at Le Pigalle. Its funky mish-mash decor is a complete over stimulation of the eyes - that is, before taking sight of the incredible brunch spread of local cheeses and cakes from some of the finest patisseries in Paris. Try their house-made terrine or Croque Monsieur for a french kick to your usual weekend brunch routine. And even if you are a non-smoker, make sure to check out the tabaconist’s speak-easy on the second floor (hint: it's behind a false door…) (Sunday brunch is priced at 38 euros per person)
[25 minutes by metro, 20 min by taxi from Le Pigalle Hotel]
2pm : Haute Couture to end : Musée des Arts Décoratifs (107 Rue de Rivoli)
Even though Dior is limited to mostly being consumed as a ‘window shopping’ brand, the “Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve” exhibit will make sure to fulfill your haute couture fantasy of a lifetime. It houses an impressive collection spanning 70 years of the French fashion house's existence, all of highlighted by an exquisite ballroom interior inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at the Chateau de Versailles. (13 euros per ticket)
[20 minute walk from restaurant Derrière]
Un Flaneur à Paris
Be it a romantic trip with your honey or a family trip with your kids, Paris offers an endless stream of cultural, gastronomical, or adventure-filled options to choose from. By no means is Paris geographically sprawling in size, making it a surprisingly easy city to get around, on foot or by taxi/metro.
Tap into your inner wanderer and make Paris your playground for the next 36 hours with “Le Flaneur à Paris” guide. Savor the quiet people-watching moments at the 'bar du coin,' engage in the local food market spectacle while sampling an array of fresh cheeses, and stroll along the Jardin des Tuileries on your way to a wine tasting in a cave beneath Louvre. All activities fit within both family or romance-friendly categories.
3pm : Check-in : Hotel Daniel (8 Rue Fréderic Bastiat)
Although endless in choice and location, Paris hotels too often times fall under the two same style categories of 'old-palace grandeur' or 'minimalist-chic.' Very few combinations exist in between, except for Hotel Daniel - with its beautifully charming east-meets-west decorative theme. Think old Parisian interior, paired with vintage Chinese wall-papers. With impressive views overlooking the Parisian rooftops, this twenty-six roomed boutique hotel will make you feel nestled right at home. (rates start at 225 euros per night)
5pm: A different side of Rodin : Grand Palais
Catch the end tale of this never before seen Rodin exhibit, showing a starkly different collection of work than from across the seine at the Rodin museum in St. Germain. (13 euros per ticket)
[15 minute walk from Hotel Daniel]
7pm: Du Vin et des Tapas : Septime La Cave (3 Rue Basfroi)
This impeccably designed wine bar exudes warmth and cosiness the second you walk in. Indulge in a long list of French-style tapas, all using all locally-sourced ingredients like their creamy ricotta with blueberries or their radishes with smoked butter. Best to be washed down with their impressive selection of natural wines. (Wine by the glass 6-8 euros)
[15 minutes by taxi from Grand Palais]
11pm : Nuit au Jazz : Le Réservoir (16 Rue de la Forge Royale)
Wind down your night with a final 'digestif' glass of whiskey and take in the lively Jazz scene at Le Réservoir. Local crowds tend to pour in around 10pm, so make sure to make a reservation beforehand if you decide to go. (27 euros per person entry)
[5 minute walk from Septime La Cave]
SAT 10am : Market floating : Marché Président-Wilson
To experience Paris in the early weekend mornings (before the tourists arise) is to see it in its purest quotidian form. Take advantage of the generous selection of food samples offered by many of the market vendors - but be prepared to give into at least one or two sweet purchases. Following the market, bring your pastry treats to the Trocadero, only a short walk away, and savor the amazing views overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
[20 minute walk from Hotel Daniel]
1pm : Beaux-Arts Lunch : La Palette
Once frequented by Jim Morrison, Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway, La Palette is arguably the most charming (and least touristy) amongst the Beaux-Arts café in St. Germain. Grab a spot on the outdoor terrace, order a pick-me-up cappuccino and simply people watch for hours. You will see all walks of Parisian life pass through this café - young couples stealing kisses between sips of wine, businessmen drinking their afternoon panaché while reading the Figaro. There are a number of lovely boutique art galleries along this street to pop into once you are ready to head to the next spot..
[15 minute taxi from Marché Président-Wilson]
4pm : DIY Wine : Les Caves du Louvre
Built by Trudon, the sommelier of Louis XV, these ancient 18th century wine cellars are located only a short walk away from the Louvre Museum in the 1st arrondisement. Over the course of two hours, with the help of a certified wine maker, you’ll get to choose the grape varieties and personalize your own bottle of wine. But it doesn’t stop just at the taste, you even get to design your bottle’s label. Walk out of this experience with a bit of a buzz and your own bouteille du vin. (75 euros per person)
[15 minute walk from La Palette]
8pm : On Se Goinfre : Bistro Paul Bert
This lively menu will be sure to please any and all who are lucky enough to snag a table here. Try classic french dishes like a runny omelet with fresh porcini mushrooms or a thick steak au poivre. To reward yourself after a long day of walking, look no further than the Grand Marnier soufflé - truly one of the city's most famous deserts.
[15 minute by taxi from Les Caves du Louvre]
SUN 11am : Paris' own Spaceship : Foundation LV
The disruption Frank Gehry's latest masterpiece has made on Paris' architectural front is undeniable, yet the Foundation Louis Vuitton's striking facade is indeed brilliantly designed. The intricate weavings of the buildings structure is mind-perplexing and the museum's 11 gallery interior is nothing short of ambitious. Take in the latest exhibit of Art/African, while occasionally slipping outside to take in the expansive views of the city of lights. (14 euros per ticket)
[10 minute taxi from Hotel Daniel]
2pm: The MVP of Chocolatiers: Patrick Rogers
After opening his own chocolate company at the young age of 29, Patrick Roger was awarded the prestigious "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" (best shop of France) award in 2000 and continues as one of the most celebrated chocolate artisans in France. His chocolate concoctions are what set him apart from others; with chocolate from over 25 different origins (Madagascar, Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia etc), he pairs bold flavors with his chocolate base, such as lemongrass, yuzu, or Sichuan peppercorn mix. A perfect gift for other loved ones back home, or simply for yourself - you can even purchase one of his many impressive chocolate sculptures.
[10 minute taxi from Fondation LV]
The Eiffel-Tower Love Affair
There's nothing quite like your first time in Paris; the first time you were hit with the smell of freshly baked croissants wafting from down the block, the first glance over at the twinkling Eiffel Tower as you made your way home from dinner. These are timeless memories of Paris that can and should be re-lived - this time, with a tweak in planning so as to add to the richness of these experiences.
Teleport yourself back in time overlooking the balcony inside the famous 19th century Paris Garnier Opera House, awaken your palette by participating in a wine and cheese tasting, and marvel over Haussmannian architecture from the Seine while on the Bateau Mouche.
Allow this 36 hour guide to whisk you away on this quick trip to Paris, tap into your nostalgic affinity towards this dreamy city of lights and rediscover a whole new side of your romantic self.
Hotel Balzac (6 Rue Balzac)
Situated in a quiet section of Champs Elysées, the Balzac hotel rooms embodies classic luxury in bright red hues with sepia and cream notes. Custom bedside tablets allow you to control every thinkable convenience, making your stay after a long day of exploring as comfortable as possible. (regular room rate 300 euros)
5pm : Evening at the Opera : Opéra Garnier
Used as the setting in the famed 'Phantom of the Opera' novel, the spectacular Opera Garnier is as subtle in decoration as Versailles with gold-leafed cealing and colored marble lining the architectural masterpiece. Catch an early evening ballet, let your imagination step back in time and enjoy the decadence from the 1800's. (tickets start at 100 euros per person)
[10 minute taxi from The Balzac Hotel]
SAT 10am : The Macaron Innovator : Pierre Hermé (72 Rue Bonaparte)
Although the rivaled Ladurée is known for its Belle Epoque branding and store décor, Pierre Hermé is celebrated for his daringly innovative macaron creations, such as olive oil & vanilla, or yogurt & lemon. Grab a small box of macarons and make the short 5 minute trek to enjoy them in the garden oasis of Jardin du Luxumburg.
[15 minute taxi from Hotel Balzac]
8pm : The True Local Hang : Le Stella (133 Avenue Victor Hugo)
It is difficult to stroll along Avenue Victor Hugo without catching sight of Le Stella's bright red awning and neon sign buzzing for attention. The chic brasserie dates back to the 1950's and is known for its palatial towers of seafood served at your table. Wonderfully entertaining for people watching too, ladies in fur coats eating their flan in unison with their tweed-wearing partners is the usual scene.
12pm : French Impressionism at its finest : Musée D'Orsay
If the crowds are any indication, the Musée D'Orsay's impressionist collection from the works of Monet, Renoir, Seurat, Degas is worthy of a whole host of superlatives. But do not let the long lines deter you from going, you can reserve tickets online that allow you to whip right through to the entrance, or opt in going on the hourly guided tours. (12 euros per ticket)
[20 minute walk or 5 minute taxi from Pierre Hermé]
3pm: Cheese Indulgence : Paroles de Fromagers (39 Rue de Bretagne)
Housed in a 17th century cheese maturing cellar in the heart of Paris, le Marais, les Paroles de Fromagers (literally, the voice of cheesemakers) will give you an informative tour of the cheese making process, followed by a divine wine and cheese tasting pairing. You will learn about the small taste subtleties that are involved when tasting high quality French cheeses, as well as the explosion in variation of flavor when paired with a selection of wines. (70 euros per person)
[10 minute by taxi from Musée d'Orsay]
6pm: Grands Boulevard : Hop on, Hop off Bus (Auber bus stop)
After a long day of museums and cheese tasting, I'd say it was time to see the rest of Paris at a more leisurely pace. From Auber, jump on the yellow Hop on, Hop off bus and learn about the city from an aerial view. This 80 minute loop will take you to the northern parts of the Paris, where you will get to see the surrounding areas of Moulin Rouge, Sacré Coeur, and République.
[10 minute taxi from Paroles de Fromagers]
8pm : Dine like a King : Le Train Bleu (Place Louis-Armand)
Although located to the side of the famous Gare de Lyon station, Le Train Bleu is anything but a place to grab a quick snack before catching the train. With its grandiose, Versailles-esque interior, Le Train Blue is a beautiful example of the Belle Epoque's 'recherche du temps perdu', or remembrance of things past. It's interior is so breathtaking, you almost feel a natural inclination to speak in whisper-tones as if you were entering a sacred church. But indeed, the restaurant is filled with lively energy and the quality of the food is very much in par with the decadent décor.
[20 minute taxi ride from Auber - last stop on Hop on, Hop off bus route]
SUN 11AM : Bid Paris Adieu : Bateaux Mouches (Port de la Conférence)
For over sixty years, les Bateaux Mouches have helped tell Paris's love story from a beautiful passage over the Seine. Catch one final glimpse of the towering Notre Dame or the mesmerizing Eiffel Tower before bidding this romantic city another goodbye.