The Ultimate Guide to Doing Paris Like an Insider
Want to know how the real Parisians spend their time in the beautiful city?
Charles de Gaulle is the easiest airport for access to the city. Flights to Beauvais or Orly may be cheaper but you’ll spend the balance getting to and from these airports and have twice the hassle. Bypass the taxis outside the CDG arrivals gate (we’ve seen Taken) and head straight for the Métro. Hop on the RER B and sit tight for 40 minutes until you reach the city centre.
How to Get Around:
The Métro is one of the easiest ways to navigate the city. You can buy single tickets for €1.80 or a carnet (book of 10 single journey tickets) for €14.10 from any of the machines in the station. These tickets will also work for buses within the city. The best way to explore Paris however, is on foot. Some of the greatest discoveries are to be made after a few wrong turns, plus it will help balance out the croissant consumption.
Where to Stay:
The brand spanking new Hoxton Paris, on Rue de Sentier in the 2nd Arrondissement, opened in 2017 as the latest addition to the Hoxton Hotel group. True to its ethos of style and substance without astronomical price tags, the hotel’s 172 bedrooms are divided into four categories; Shoebox, Cosy, Roomy and Biggy. We love the attic rooms from which you can catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower… loo with a view, anyone?
The standout features however, are the communal spaces. Restaurant Rivié, Jacques Bar and the courtyard are popular spots for locals as well as hotel guests and are a great place to mingle. Keep an eye on Hoxtown, the events programme detailing fitness classes, workshops and exhibitions taking place throughout the year.
Rooms available from €99, thehoxton.com
DAY 1: Rive Gauche:
Start by tackling the Left Bank. The Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement is one of the oldest areas in Paris and is home to the Sorbonne University. During term time students fill the surrounding cafes and bars, giving it a relaxed, bohemian feel. The Luxembourg Gardens are a beautiful place to ease yourself into the city before strolling up Rue Soufflot to the Panthéon.
Insider tip – A trip to Paris is not complete without a raspberry croissant from nearby Boulangerie Moderne.
Next, walk down Boulevard Saint-Michel towards the Seine. Pay Quasimodo a visit at the beautiful Notre Dame before crossing Pont de l’Archevêché to admire the love locks. Couples can write their name on a lock, declaring their love for one another in the world’s most romantic city, attach it to the bridge and throw the keys into the water below. If that level of PDA isn’t your cup of tea, head directly for Shakespeare and Co., a literary institution of the Left Bank. Ask the friendly staff to stamp the inside cover of any purchases for a souvenir or present. Lunch is just across the water on Île Saint-Louis. Café Saint-Régis on the corner is the perfect place to stop and catch your breath. On a sunny day, a jazz band will often play on the bridge so sit outside under the striped awning and drink in your surroundings – along with a pichet of rosé.
DAY 2: Rive Droit:
You could spend years trawling through the museums of Paris and never see the rest of the city. We prefer to pick one or two and rise bright and early before the rest of the hordes, and tourist buses, descend. Our vote? Musée de l’Orangerie, home to Monet’s breath-taking Water Lilies and a more manageable and peaceful option than most.
Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli was Coco Chanel’s favourite tea-room and is our go-to for a cup of their famous hot chocolate. Get one to take away and head for the Tuileries Gardens.
Pull up a green chair by one of the fountains and try not to have outfit envy while watching the exquisitely dressed Parisian children play with toy boats on the surface of the water.
As evening approaches, march up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and climb the Arc de Triomphe. Queues are much smaller than those at the Eiffel Tower and the views of the city are just as good. Bonus points and Instagram kudos for reaching the top in time for golden hour.
Book tickets in advance for whatever is on in the Palais Garnier. Whether ballet, opera or orchestra, it will likely elicit a tear from even the hardiest of cynics.
DAY 3: Le Marais:
There is nowhere else to be in Paris on a Sunday other than Le Marais. The Jewish quarter comes alive while the remainder of Paris closes up for the day of rest. Walk or take the Métro to Saint-Paul and get lost wandering the maze of little streets packed with antique shops, vintage clothing stores and Jewish bakeries. Follow the crowd to Rue des Rosiers and L’as du Fallafel. Don’t be put off by the queue or enticed to a less busy vendor, this is the best falafel in Paris and everyone knows it. Take your lunch to the nearby Place des Vosges, making a pitstop at Sacha Finkelsztajn for the best Jewish pastries. You’ll likely be able to smell them before seeing the yellow shop front, so just follow your nose.
Check out the upmarket area of Saint-Germain-des-Prés for the afternoon, relaxing in style at either Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots. These cafes were a favourite haunt of the literary and artistic glitterati in the 1940’s and 50’s and are synonymous with their famous clientele of Picasso, Hemingway, and Joyce amongst others.