Oh là là, Paris.
Maybe more than any other city in the world, the French capital is the kind of destination dreams are made out of. Mention Paris to people from all over the world, and they will start fantasizing. The city conjures up vivid images in everyone’s head.
Thoughts of the Eiffel Tower. Of the worlds best fashion. Baguettes fresh out of the oven, tucked away under the arms of the locals. Cute French girls and boys, colorful characters – fictional or real – like Amelie, Serge Gainbourg, and Jane Birkin. Romance. The art and the rich history, the famous artists and the beautiful showgirls. And – of course – the amazing food.
A lot has changed in this city in recent years. A booming new bistro scene has taken the stuffy dining experience and transformed it into something new and exciting. Finally, there is no shortage of good coffee to be had anymore (more on that later and in one of our blog posts here). And the famous Bobo lifestyle, a bland of the words and the attitudes bourgeois and bohemian, is still going strong.
So our day in Paris will be a busy one. As always, spending only 12hrs in a city as big and as diverse as this is an almost impossible task. But it is one that we tackled with lots of delight and excitement. We love this city, and we have been lucky enough to get to spend quite some time there in the past years. If we only had one day to spend in the City of Light, this is what we would do. Join us and let’s spend a wonderful 12hrs in Paris together!
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. It is situated on the Seine River and also referred to as the ‘City of Light’ or the ‘City of Love’.
Population (metro area): 12.1 million
Currency: Euro (€)
DO & DONT’S
Do: Buy a piece of marvelous pastry in one of the many bakeries
Don’t: Forget the pickpockets. Keep an eye on your stuff!
10am – Trocadéro
Starting the day with the best view
Call us romantics, but the Eiffel Tower melts even the most cynical hearts. And so we start our day with a glorious view of this world famous landmark. Instead of visiting the tower at its home on the Champs de Mars, we look at it from the other side of the river Seine, right at Palais de Chaillot next to Trocadéro. The big square is framed by the Musée national de la Marine and the City of Architecture and Heritage, and it is our first stop today.
That way, we avoid the masses of tourists. And we get to admire the architectural marble in all its full-sized glory. With the statues on both sides of the museums next to us, this might be the best photo opportunity you will get all day. So snap away, if you like.
10.30am – Place de la Concorde // Jardin des Tuileries
Taking in some sights
Hello // Salut
Thank you // Merci
Yes // Oui
No // Non
Maybe // Peut-être
The subway system is Paris is one of the oldest and most efficient in the world. Buy a pack of 10 Metro tickets at a machine at one of the stops to get through the turnstiles fast. The Metro shuts down around 1 am on weekdays and 2 am on weekends.
Have you bought a ten pack of Metro tickets yet? If not, now is the time to do it. You’ll always have a ticket handy while we explore the city. It’s also cheaper than buying single rides. Take the Metro from Trocadéro to Concorde.
On our way to our next destination, we might as well squeeze in some sight seeing. So cross the giant square and have a quick look into the Tuileries. This giant public garden that was created by Catherine de Medici stretches all the way from Concorde to the Louvre. It’s also where a lot of the shows during Paris fashion week take place.
Arriving from Concorde, head left to our next stop.
10.45am – Rue Saint-Honoré
Luxury shopping (of the window variety)
We are in the first arrondissement of Paris. This part of town houses the Louvre and all the impressive buildings that go with it. It also feels like the center of posh Paris.
Walking down Rue Sain-Honoré, you’ll see what we mean. A bit further down on your left you can catch a glimpse of the famous Place Vendôme. Luxury boutiques line the street. Every major fashion house seems to have a store here. Even if we can’t afford a thing here, the window displays are fantastic and a lot of fun to watch.
Continue down the street until you reach Colette.
11.15am – Colette
The mother of all concept stores
The first shop we visit today is a special one. Colette is perhaps the most famous concept store in the world. Something that you can find in many big cities around the globe today started right here. It is considered by many to be the first shop that combined carefully selected designer pieces, high-end tech gadgets, art books and wonky accessories.
Colette is either loved or hated by Parisians and visitors alike, and arguments for each side are made easily. The fashion on the upper floor is amazing, the street wear on the first floor is lots of fun, and the beauty and skin care products they sell here are hard to get anywhere else. Colette also has tons of different collaborations with numerous brands throughout the year and sells a lot of exclusive limited editions, so you can often see long lines of fashion fans outside the store before it opens at 11 am.
But the staff here is also notoriously brisk and sometimes even rude, and some things sold here are just ridiculously expensive. Don’t try to take photos inside, you’ll be asked to stop immediately.
Don’t forget to look down the stairs. There’s a bar that sells more than a hundred different brands of bottled water.
Colette // 213 Rue Saint-Honoré // Mon-Sat 11am-7pm // website
11.45am – Maison Kitsuné
Cheeky French fashion with lots of flair
DRESSING THE PART
Want to dress like a Parisian? Go for simple and elegant clothes. Girls can do no wrong with a men’s style shirt and red lipstick, boys should put on skinny jeans and a beard.
A ‘Surf in Paris’ sweater from the shop Cuisse de Grenouille.
French pharmacy products.
Cheap Eiffel Tower key hangers from one of the many street vendors (5 for 1 Euro!).
Continue to walk down Rue Saint-Honoré and then turn left into Rue de Richelieu. On the other side of the buildings is the famous Palais Royal with its many old-school shops and fancy modern boutiques. So if you prefer a bit more of the luxury shopping, go there.
If you’re like us and in need of something a bit more down to earth, continue to Maison Kitsuné. Casual fashion doesn’t get more Parisian than the designs of this label with a friendly polar fox in the logo (Kitsune is the Japanese word for the animal). Kitsuné is not only a fashion brand but also an ultra cool electronic music label. Their compilations give you a great taste of contemporary French music.
But back to the clothes sold here. The fashion you see on the streets of Paris tends to be understated and simple, with a strong focus on quality and timelessness. The designs of Kitsuné are exactly that. A quite hefty price tag is attached to them, too. But if you want to invest in some classic clothes that will stand the test of time, this is your place.
Once you leave either Palais Royal or Maison Kitsuné, find the Bourse Metro station and take the M3 to Republique. There, switch to the M5 for just one stop, Jacques Bonsergent. You could walk this last part, but since we are on a tight schedule today, the Metro might be better.
Maison Kitsuné // 52 Rue de Richelieu // Mon-Sat 11am-7.30pm, // website
12.15am – Lunch
A lot to choose from!
We’ve really earned us some lunch! The area around the Canal Saint-Martin is home to some of our favorite spots to eat during the day. The waterway stretches through the 10th, 11th, 12th and 19th arrondissements (sometimes under the ground). But if locals refer to the canal, they most definitely talk about the part of town we are in right now.
A bit off the Place de la République, this area has become a hotspot for young creatives. So we are not the only ones that plan on eating lunch here, you might have to wait a bit to get a table at lots of these tiny places. Service and turnover are fast, though, so don’t worry.
Walk around and choose a place that tickles your fancy. Two of our favorite lunch options are Holybelly, an Australian-run cafe with great food and a super relaxed atmosphere, and SAaM, a small place that serves very tasty Korean Bao Buns.
But you can also find Thai Food, Tacos, an Indian restaurant and of course lots of Parisian Bistros in the area. Have your pick!
12.45pm – Ten Belles
A coffee to go
WHAT TO ORDER
Food: Baguette and paté. Onion soup. A piece of marvelous pastry from one of the many bakeries.
Drinks: Wine or Pastis, an anis-flavored liqueur.
GOOD TO KNOW
There is only one stop sign in the entire city of Paris.
The Eiffel Tower is repainted every seven years.
Napoleon wasn’t short. He was actually a bit taller than most of his countrymen.
Just a few years ago, it was really hard to get a good cup of coffee in Paris. This city with all its amazing restaurants and century-old food culture somehow had forgotten the coffee. And what you got in most of the bistros and cafes was a bitter, watery concoction that wasn’t worth the steep price tag.
Fast forward to today, and all that has changed. A few passionate coffee lovers are shaking up the scene. Many of them have traveled a lot and learned to love the third wave coffee culture that holds a grip over lots of big cities around the world. Since early this year, there is even a roastery in Belleville.
A lot of Parisian coffee lovers would probably say that all this started at 10 Belles. And since this cafe is only a very short walk from Tuck Shop, let’s have a delicious coffee there. Many of the people that open new coffee shops all over town have trained as baristas here.
10 Belles // 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles // Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat/Sun 9am-7pm // website
1.30pm – A walk to République
Exploring the neighborhood
Before you make your way to the Place de la République and, ultimately, to the Marais, consider exploring the area around Canal Saint-Martin a bit more. There are some great stores and cafes here, and new places pop up on the map every month.
Some of our favorites in this area are Craft, a design-heavy co-working space; Artazart, an almost legendary design and art book shop; and Liberté, the super stylish new bakery and pastry shop by famous pastry chef Benoît Casel with its giant white marble counter.
After exploring the streets along the canal, find your way back to the Place de la République. From there, head in the Marais. See you there!
2pm – The Broken Arm
Le Marais has always been a favorite part of Paris for us. And we are certainly not alone with this opinion. Small streets are winding through this historic part of town. Here is where the aristocracy lived for centuries, something that is still very evident when you discover all the beautiful town palaces and their gardens.
When the nobles eventually moved on, the Marais became one of the centers of Jewish life in Paris. To this day, the Rue des Rosiers is lively proof for that. We’ll stop by over there later. For now, let’s focus on another one of the main characteristics of the area: the fashion.
Other than around Rue Sain-Honoré, the brands that have their home here tend to be younger, edgier, and also much more affordable. This is a meeting point for the Jeunesse Dorée, the ‘golden youth’. Rich kids, affluent creatives, but also those that aspire to be part of the crowd. But no worry, it’s only half as posh here as it sounds. Le Marais has many amazing shops and cafes to discover, so let’s dive right in.
One of our very favorite shops in the whole city is The Broken Arm. It’s also a concept store, but one with a very different approach than Colette. The atmosphere in the beautiful old building is much more relaxed, the staff happily chats with you about their latest offerings, and the selection of items, while still very fashionable, is a bit more down to earth.
The Broken Arm sells younger brands like Carven, Christophe Lemaire, and Kenzo and offers a great selection of accessories like bags, shoes, and sunglasses for both women and men. They also regularly stock the latest hyped Nike sneakers, so if you’re looking for a specific pair, have a look.
The cafe in the front of the shop is one of the most beautiful hangouts we know, and it is almost always very crowded. Their coffee and cake are fantastic!
The Broken Arm // 12 Rue Perrée // Mon 2pm-7pm, Tue-Sat 9am-7pm // website
2.15pm – Café Charlot
Where the fashion crowd mingles
Cross the square with its beautiful old buildings and head over to Rue de Bretagne. On your way, you’re passing by Nanashi, another favorite spot for lunch that sells the best Bento boxes in town. Continue down the street to Café Charlot.
This place is famous among the fashion crowd, and when art events happen in the city or during fashion weeks you’ll be hard-pressed to get a seat anywhere on the terrace. Maybe you can spot somebody famous in there? This place is quite expensive and offers traditional bistro fare without a lot of variation, but it’s still worth seeing. Let’s continue on.
Café Charlot // 38 Rue de Bretagne // Mon-Sun 7am-2am // http://www.cafecharlotparis.com/en/
2.20pm – Le Marché des Enfants Rouge
Food shopping, the Parisian way
10 Days in Paris: The best parties and events in the next 10 days. Link
Le Fooding: Reviews for the best restaurants in town. (French only) Link
Paris Metro App: A free App for all your public transport needs. Works offline! Link
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
Directly opposite of Café Charlot lays the entrance to Le Marché des Enfants Rouge (‘The market of the red children’). The name might sound creepy, but it’s actually just a reference to an orphanage that used to be located here that dressed the children living there in red coats.
This is Paris’ oldest covered food market still operating (it was opened in 1628!). The vendors sell everything from wonderfully smelly French cheeses to Moroccan Tagine dishes, and during lunchtime, it’s a popular spot for people working nearby.
Walk through the aisles and get a taste of French food culture. Then, exit on the other side.
Le Marché des Enfants Rouge // 39 Rue de Bretagne // Tue-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 9am-3pm
2.35pm – FrenchTrotters
Checking out the scenery.
Just a minute away is the Marais location of FrenchTrotters, one of Paris’ most-loved local brands. They do sell other brands in their stores (and even have their own children’s wear shop close to Bastille), but the main draw here is definitely FrenchTrotter’s own collection of the same name. Both the clothes for women and men could function as kind of a Parisian uniform. You’ll spot their blouses, leather jackets, and boots on folks all around town.
Their selection of accessories and design objects is equally well thought out. There is Mast Brothers chocolate imported from Brooklyn, Byredo perfumes and the latest editions of magazines like Kinfolk and Monocle. The shop is really beautiful (and smells so good!), so don’t miss it.
FrenchTrotters // 128 Rue Vieille du Temple // Mon 2.30pm-7.30pm, Tue-Sat 11.30am-8pm, Sun 2pm-7pm // website
2.45pm – Cuisse de Grenouille
Surfing in Paris
Not far from here lies Cuisse de Grenouille, a shop catering to ‘the gentleman surfer’ according to their charming mission statement.
We love the wooden interior that reminds us of surfboards lined up on the walls (there are some actual ones in the corner, as well) and the cheeky men’s clothes. Their sweatshirts with the slogan ‘Surf in Paris’ make great souvenirs.
Next door is the beautiful Acne flagship store. So if your heart beats for this Swedish brand, head in there instead.
Cuisse de Grenouille // 5 Rue Froissart // Mon 2pm-7pm, Tue-Sat 11am-7.30pm // website
2.55pm – Isabel Marant
A French design legend
French superstar designer Isabel Marant has one of her many Parisian shops in the house on the other side of the streets. The window displays here are always worth a look, and if you have been longing to buy one of her iconic designs, now is the time.
Isabel Marant // 47 Rue de Saintonge // Mon 11am-7pm, Tue-Sat 10.30am-7.30pm // website
3pm – Merci
Shop ‘til you drop
No visit of Le Marais is complete without spending some time at Merci. It might look like your regular high-end concept store at first glance, but Merci is actually much more than that.
Inside, you’ll find some great furniture, fashion and lifestyle products. We also really love the affordable jewelry here! There are also two cafés that serve healthy and very delicious food and drinks.
But it’s the concept behind it that makes this shop truly unique. Merci was founded by Marie-France and Bernard Cohen, the people behind the luxury children’s clothing brand Bonpoint. After selling their company at the height of its success, they decided to give back and founded Merci (‘Thank you’). All profits the store makes go directly to a charity that gives back to underprivileged women and children. Buying fabulous things has never felt so good!
Merci // 111 Boulevard Beaumarché // Mon-Sat 10am-7pm // website
3.20pm – French pharmacies
Stay beautiful – the French way
Let’s walk back to the Rue Vieille du Temple to the old Jewish quarter. On your way (and, really, throughout the whole day) you’ll notice that Paris is full of Pharmacies. The reason is quite simple: Apart from your regular Aspirins, French pharmacies are stock-full of amazing beauty products, and there’s a big market for that here. (You know something is popular when Gwyneth Paltrow writes about it on her website.)
If you are looking for a unique souvenir or want to make someone at home very happy, head into one of the many pharmacies and stock up on some of the amazing products that are quite hard to find in other parts of the planet. Your cheat sheet: Everybody goes for Bioderma Crealine H2O Micelle Solution, arguably the best makeup remover in the world; Embryolisse moisturizer and Homeoplasmine cream. Don’t worry, this won’t break your bank, these products are actually very affordable.
3.40pm – La Perle
Hot spot spotting
We’re passing by La Perle now, a charming bar and bistro that gained notoriety when designer John Galliano was recorded here makes hateful remarks and thus lost his position as head designer for Dior.
As you might expect, La Perle is huge with the fashion crowd, and at night it’s a great spot for people watching with a side of wine. But for now, let’s continue our tour of the area.
La Perle // 78 Rue Vieille du Temple // Mon-Sun 6.30am-2am // website
3.45pm – Repetto
Continuing down the street, have a quick look into Repetto. This company started out as an exclusive producer of dancing clothes, and to this day, dancers everywhere love their high-quality designs. But that is not the reason we point this shop out.
You could argue that Repetto was also the company that introduced ballet flats as everyday shoes. To this day, if you see a French woman wearing them, chances are she got her shoes from here.
Repetto // 51 Rue des Francs Bourgeois // Mon-Sat 10.30am-7.30pm, Sun 12pm-7.30pm // website
3.50pm – Rue des Rosiers // Place des Vosges
Les Marais at its best
We finally arrived at Rue des Rosiers, the center of Jewish life in Le Marais. It’s a fascinating glimpse into old traditions when you walk around here, with old bookshops, specialized bakeries, and traditional shops. Lots of people swear that you can get the best Falafel in town here.
Find your way to Place des Vosges for a little bit more of sightseeing. One of the five ‘royal squares’ of Paris, Place des Vosges is often called one of the most beautiful squares in town. We can see why…
Let’s leave Le Marais and head over to a very different part of town. Once again, your stack of Metro tickets will come in handy. We have quite a ride ahead of us. Take the M8 from Chemin Vert, just a short walk from Place des Vosges. After four stops, you arrive at the station Strasbourg Saint-Denis. There, change into the M4 and go all the way north to Château Rouge.
5pm – A.P.C. Surplus
From the Metro stop, find your way to the Rue André del Sartre, it’s not far at all. We are up north now, and very close to Montmartre. Before we head up the hill, though, there is one more shopping destination on our list.
Tucked away in this quiet neighborhood street is one of the best-kept secrets of fashionable Paris. A.P.C. has always been one of our favorite brands coming out of France. Like Maison Kitsuné, what’s on offer here is quintessentially Parisian. The clothes for women and men are simple and easily stand the test of time. And A.P.C.’s leather accessories are very popular. Collections change every season, but the essence of the styles stays pretty much the same. And that is what makes A.P.C. Surplus such a treasure.
It’s an outlet store of the brand, selling previous collections at a fraction of their original price. Since their designs aren’t painfully trendy, you can easily get away with past seasons looks and still look super fresh. Take some time to go through the racks (there are separate shops for women and men side by side), you never know what you might find.
A.P.C. Surplus // 20 Rue André del Sartre // Mon-Sat 12.30pm-7.30pm // website
5.30pm – Montmartre
As Parisian as it gets
Continue down the street for a few more meters until you reach the trees. On your right, you’ll see a steep set of stairs leading up the hill. That’s your next task!
We’re climbing up to Montmartre, that famous hill overlooking the city. This area is famous for so many different reasons, and we’ll try to lead you to some of them. Once you made it to the top, you’ll probably end up in a massive crowd of tourists. Don’t let that discourage you, though. Admire the famous Sacré Coeur cathedral instead and soak in the incredible view of Paris. If you walk a bit away from the crowds to where the trees are, you’ll even catch another glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
Then, explore the streets behind the church. This is the Paris of the artists, the painters, and the bohemians. Countless historical figures have lived and worked here, from Picasso to Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. Today there are still painters at work here, although they tend to draw caricatures of famous people or watercolored copies of the great masters. Still, it’s definitely worth a stroll.
Before you start your descent, you might want to check out another secret of this area. Many people might not know this, but Paris actually has three vineyards that produce grapes for wine making. One of them is right here. The ‘Clos des Montmartre’ is hidden from view, you have to look for it. Behind the basilica, walk in a western direction into Rue Cortot. Pass the museum and turn into Rue des Saules. On your right, a tall wall gradually opens up the view of the vines. This vineyard was founded by the city of Paris in 1932 and produces up to one thousand kilos of grapes every year!
It’s been a long, long day. Let’s head back to the hotel to get some rest. Make your way down to the Metro stop Anvers and jump on the M2. Get off the train at Alexandre Dumas and walk to Mama Shelter.
7pm – Mama Shelter
Rest your tired feet
Our hotel is something of a local celebrity. Mama Shelter was one of the first hotels that offered truly great design for affordable prices. A night in other design hotels of this caliber easily costs triple as much as here (you can get a double room at Mama Shelter from 89 Euro).
Designed by Philippe Starck, Mama Shelter keeps things affordable by being a bit off the city center in an area called Ménilmontant. This part of town is what you would call up-and-coming, with a diverse group of people living here. In the past years (in part due to the hotel itself), artists and creative types have swarmed Ménilmontant and the neighboring area of Belleville. There are some amazing restaurants here, cool clubs and tons of galleries and museums.
The rooms at Mama Shelter are great, with comfy beds and comic hero masks next to your pillow. There are big Apple screens and of course fast Wi-Fi all throughout the building.
Rest a bit and freshen up for dinner, then drag yourself up again and go back to the area around Canal Saint-Martin. Go by taxi or public transport. You can take the Metro M2 from Alexandre Dumas to Belleville and switch into the M11 there. Get off at République and walk the rest of the way.
Mama Shelter // 109 Rue de Bagnolet // website
8.30pm – Dinner
Time to eat!
Instead of picking one restaurant for you, we’ll let you have your pick today. There are several great and affordable places in this area, and we can wholeheartedly recommend all three. All of them are in walking distance from each other, and each one offers something different. What do you feel for? French food? Pizza? Or fancy vegetarian food? Have your pick!
Piccoli Cugini offers traditional Italian food, especially the Pizzas are worth a bite. The restaurant is cozy, service is easy going and the prices very moderate.
Soya Cantine Bio is a vegetarian restaurant that has become super popular in the past year. If you eat here, definitely order the mixed appetizers. It’s a giant plate full of delicious veggies, spreads, and salads.
Next door to Soya lies L’Agence. Pick this restaurant if you want to eat something traditionally French and want to enjoy some amazing wines with it. The small dishes are meant to be shared, so order a few of them and enjoy your ‘French Tapas’.
Piccoli Cugini // 34 Rue des Vinaigriers // Mon-Sun 12pm-3pm & 7pm-11pm // website
Soya Cantine Bio // 20 Rue de la Pierre Levée // Mon-Fri 12pm-3.30pm & 7pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-4pm
L’Agence // 36 rue des Vinaigriers // Mon-Fri 6pm-1am
10pm – Going out
Nights in Paris
What a day! We almost can’t believe we managed to squeeze so many great places into only 12hrs, but somehow, we did it. If you feel for some celebratory drinks after dinner, start off at one of our favorite bars, Zelda. The small place is close to all the restaurants we suggested above. It’s run by some very passionate owners that make amazing cocktails. Each of them costs 10 Euro, a very decent price for nightlife in Paris. Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash here, so plan accordingly!
If you want more, find your way to Paris’ nightlife hub Pigalle. Sure, the showgirls are still there (oh, hello, Moulin Rouge!), but the neighborhood has transformed itself into a veritable place to be recently. Really good bars and restaurants open up all around, going out here is a lot of fun.
Start out at Dirty Dick, a true Tiki Bar complete with giant smoking cocktail mugs and bartenders wearing Hawaiian shirts. Then cross the street and enter Glass, a tiny club that plays great music and has a dance floor that lights up in true Michael Jackson/Billy Jean music video style.
If you care more for civilized drinks in a hidden city garden, enter Hotel Amour. This former sleazy hotel has made the transition from seedy to sophisticated and is now another Pigalle hotspot.
A santé and Congratulations! You just sent 12hrs in Paris. Thank you for coming with us, it’s been a blast!
The sound of Paris in 12 songs.