In early July 2022, we spent 5 nights in Paris. We stayed in St-Germain at Hotel de Buci, which we absolutely loved! Below are some recommendations and insights as to what we did during our short stay in Paris!
Food & Drinks
Macaroons & Crepes: We don’t have a specific place to recommend, but we definitely recommend eating lots of macaroons and crepes while in Paris!
JJ Beaumarchais: This was recommended by a few people. The restaurant serves seasonal dishes that revolve around vegetables, fish, and beef. We went here for our first dinner in Paris and it was a great introduction to Parisian food.
CINQ-MARS: This spot was so cozy, the food was absolutely delicious, and the staff were beyond friendly (even though they spoke little English and we spoke even less French).
Frenchie: This restaurant is very popular right now and it is very, very hard to get a reservation. Luckily, we logged in a few weeks before exactly when reservations opened and were able to snag a reservation for the earliest dinner seating. We went with Jessie and Aaron for Jessie’s 30th birthday. The food was delicious and the ambiance was great. We did the wine pairing with the tasting menu and definitely recommend it! If you’re unable to get a reservation, Frenchie has opened up a few other restaurants which you can find here.
Ellsworth: This snug and romantic spot has a super delicious menu. The restaurant has become popular recently since it is listed as one of Ina Garten’s favorite spots to eat in Paris. We recommend getting the fried chicken and the panisse.
Chez Janou: This place was SO good and is very local! We weren’t given an English menu when seated, but the French couple next to us saw us struggling and helped us figure out what was on the menu. Cody was very, very happy with the steak that he ordered and Melanie was very happy with her big bowl of greens!
Un Zèbre à Montmartre: This was recommended by Harry, our Montmartre tour guide. This restaurant was a nice change of cuisine since we were eating a lot of French bistro food and baguettes. Here, we ordered some Thai dishes and vegetable bowls.
La Palette: We stumbled upon this and it was a great bistro in a great area!
Septime: Similar to Frenchie, Septime is very popular right now and hard to get a reservation. The tasting menu and vibe of this restaurant far exceeded that of Frenchie, and the waiters were so, so friendly. We will 100% try to go back the next time we are in Paris! Next time we are in Paris, we really want to try Septime’s sister restaurant named Clamato.
Things to Do
Walking Tours: We always aim to do a free walking tour on our first day in every city we visit. In Paris, we did Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour. The tour was rather short distance-wise and we covered Notre Dame (although there was not much to see since there is still a lot of construction from the 2019 fire), Le Palais des Congrès (which is now a courthouse where the terrorist trial dating back to 2015 had just wrapped up a week prior), the Louvre, and the Tuileries Gardens. The tour guide did a great job connecting the each location’s history with its modern relevance.
Moulin Rouge: Moulin Rouge is a cabaret in the neighborhood of Montmartre. It is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance evolved into a form of entertainment and led to the introduction of cabarets all across Europe. For Jessie’s 30th birthday, we decided to surprise her with a late night show at Moulin Rouge. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!!
Versailles: The Palace of Versailles is a former royal residence and is located in about 12 miles west of Paris. There are several tour operators that provide full day tours to and from Versailles, but we decided to do it on our own. The train near our hotel got us there in ~40 minutes. Upon arrival, we found a local market to pick up lunch and snacks for a picnic. Since we had the Paris Museum Pass (which we highly recommend for convenience and cost if you plan on visiting 4+ museums), we were able to easily enter the palace and then pay a few extra Euros to access the gardens. The gardens are HUGE! In fact, they are more than twice the size of Central Park for comparison. We had a lot of fun exploring and wandering aimlessly through the gardens for a few hours. The visit was absolutely worth it, but it’s important to note that visiting Versailles is most definitely a full day adventure.
Jardin des Tuileries: The Tuileries Garden is a public garden located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement. We had such a great time strolling through this garden many times during our stay in Paris. It was especially lovely to walk through the garden during sunset while getting a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
Pont Alexandre III: We went here to meet up with our friend, Alex, who has been living in Paris for a few months now. This area is very crowded and full of clubs that get super lively at sunset and after sundown. We met up with Alex at Le Flow and had so much fun!
Place des Vosges in Le Marais: The Place des Vosges is one of the oldest squares in Paris, and also one of the most beautiful. We definitely recommend visiting it while also making sure to bop around Le Marais, which is known as the Jewish quarter and also known for its focus on fashion.
Walking Tour of Montmartre (including Sacré-Cœur): Not only did we do the free walking tour with Sandesman on our first day in Paris, but we also booked a walking tour of Montmartre with Sandesman for our third day in Paris. While this tour wasn’t free, it was only 16 Euro each and well worth it! Our tour guide, Harry, was amazing! We started outside Moulin Rouge which seemed a bit touristy at first, but he explained the relevance. Moulin Rouge translates to Red Windmill, representing the 13 windmills which once stood on top the hills of Montmartre in the historically agricultural parts of the city. Moulin Rouge was created for the World Fair in 1889 and has since become a landmark of the city. Harry led us from Moulin Rouge to the Sacré-Cœur, which sits atop the tallest hill in the neighborhood. The neighborhood of Montmartre is very artsy, was once home to several world famous artists, and has since largely become a gentrified hipster neighborhood. We visited the only vineyard in the city (a small city block that produces horrible wine which sells at high prices for charitable causes), as well as several small bistros. We learned that the name bistro comes from the Russian term “bistra” which translates to “hurry up” in English. When Russians began immigrating to the neighborhood in the 1900s they were annoyed with the slow French service, hence the development of French “fast-food” bistros.
Shop in Saint-Germain: Given that we were staying in such a beautiful neighborhood with great shopping and because the 1 USD = 0.99 EUR right now, we had fun walking in and out of a bunch of boutiques throughout the neighborhood and doing some shopping.
Musee D’Orsay: The Musée d’Orsay is a museum in Paris on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. We enjoyed seeing Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Cezanne, and Degas. They also had a temporary Gaudi exhibit, which we very much enjoyed and appreciated after knowing a bit about Gaudi from our trip to Barcelona in fall 2018.
Musée Rodin: The Musée Rodin opened in 1919 and is primarily dedicated to the works of the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. We enjoyed seeing the famous Thinker!
Louvre: Since we were in Paris, we, of course, had to go to the Louvre! That being said, we spent very little time inside (as it was hot and extremely crowded, as expected).
Musée de l’Orangerie: The Musée de l’Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris. We really enjoyed our time here. The water lilies are not only beautiful, but also so meditative and relaxing. Melanie spent some extra time walking through here and thinking of the last time she visited this museum with her Nana.
The Liberation of Paris Museum: We don’t have any photos from the museum, but we very much liked our visit to The Liberation of Paris Museum. The museum takes you through the timeline of WWII through the lens of Parisians. There were several exhibits that showed the role of the French Resistance in WWII and how they were severely prosecuted by the Nazis for illustrating any support for the Allies. The museum was centrally located and a great 1-2 hour visit if you have the time!
Arc de Triomphe