So by now you’ve no doubt seen Emily in Paris and if you’re anything like me are waiting for the day you can get the first Eurostar the hell outta here and selfie along the Seine and lounge outside the Louvre, soaking in the couture and croissants (Paris is under its second national lockdown until December 15th).
Paris is as glamorous and romantic as Instagram and Emily in Paris will make you believe, BUT it is also very overwhelming, and so are the articles, blogs and insta images which you will gain your Parisian inspiration from. So, in an attempt to cut through the noise, here is my guide to a whirlwind weekend in Paris… tres ringarde, non?
|DO||-Walk! This is the best way to see Paris|
-Walk up the Eiffel Tower (and book well in advance of your trip!)
-Visit the Louvre
-Visit the Arc de Triomphe
-Brunch at one of Paris’ amazing street cafes and watch the world go past
-Souvenir shop along the Seine
-Take it all in at the Tuilleries Garden
-Picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower
-Take a river cruise down the Seine
|TOURO HOTSPOTS||-Eiffel Tower|
-Arc de Triomphe
|EAT||-Brunch at one of Paris’ many street cafes, they shouldn’t be hard to spot (for best atmosphere go to Le Marais or along the Seine)|
-Jules Verne (inside the Eiffel Tower! Book well in advance!)
-La Tour d’Argent
-La Coupole (breakfast)
-Cafe des Flores
-Les deux Magots
-Oursin (by Jacquemus)
There is an undeniable to buzz to Paris… soak it all up! If you are a Paris virgin (as I was) I would recommend being as ringarde as they get and going full touro, because the landmarks are as breathtaking as your year 7 french lessons would have you believe. The best way to do this is to walk it, and despite the effortlessly chic Parisians who somehow make cobblestones and stilettos look like NBD, definitely wear your most comfortable shoes! I wore heeled boots and walked 15km mainly in torrential rain – it was neither chic nor comfortable.
With all credit to my Dad, here is a walking tour which you can do yourself and ticks off most of the abpve:
- Start at the Quai d’Orsay or Quai Branly (in the St Germain area)
- Walk eastwards to the ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine River – this will take you past the George Cinq Hotel, the house of Rudolph Nureyev and the Musee d’Orsay (which used to be one of the finest train stations in the world and is now a museum)
- At the Ile de la Cite, go left over the bridge to the Ile, but don’t cross the first bridge (the Pont Neuf) cross the third bridge (Rue de la Cite), by which stage the Notre Dame Cathedral (or what remains of it) will be in view
- Turn left off the Rue de la Cite into Rue de Lutece and walk straight ahead to the Boulevard de Palais – the Palais de Justice (law courts) should be right in front of you
- Turn right into Boulevard de Palais and keep walking over the bridge (Pont au Change) that is one block in front of you
- Turn left once you reach the other side of the bridge
- Continue walking along the river – 5 or 6 blocks along you will come to the Louvre
- Cut across the forecourt of the Louvre with its famous pyramid, pose for a few selfies then walk towards the Tuileries Garden
- Continue walking straight and after 200 metres head to the right and you will reach Rue de Rivioli
- Turn right off Rue de Rivioli into Rue de Castiglione – at the end of Rue de Castiglione you will reach Place Vendome wiht its column celebrating Napoleon’s victory at the battle of Austerlitz, as well as the Ritz Hotel where Princess Diana departed before her fatal car accident
- Continue walking and you will reach L’Opera – the Paris Opera House, then turn around walk back to Rue de Rivioli and walk several blocks to the Place de Concorde, where the revolutionaries guillotined the French aristocracy
- From here, you can look straight up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe
- Walk up the Champs Elysees (which was formerly one of the most important shopping districts in the world) where you will eventually be met by the Arc de Triomphe
- Wind your way back through the streets of the 8th Arrondissement to end up at Palais de Chaillot – just across the river from the Eiffel Tower.
Outside central Paris, other highlights are the Sacre Coeur Cathedral in Montmatre (home to the famous bed scene in Emily in Paris) where there is a beautiful cafe that will forbid you from taking photos, the Palace of Versailles and Luxembourg Palace and Gardens.
Hot tip: give up the Paris fashion week dreams… wear your most (chic) comfortable shoes!
Otherwise, book well in advance to visit the Eiffel Tower and do the walking tour rather than taking the lift (provided you don’t have a fear of heights). This is a real bucket list experience and the views over Paris once you reach the top are phenomenal. And hey, even if you don’t love them, at least you got a workout out of it, non?
It goes without saying that Paris is home to some of the world’s best restaurants and together with that, the highest prices but treat yourself girl (or guy) – if we only learnt one thing from COVID it was that we should live every day (in Paris) like it is our last, because we may never make it back again!
My recommendation would be Girafe. In the day time, this place has incredible views directly over the Eiffel Tower (it is unrivalled from this perspective), but also boasts some of the coolest decor and finest fusion food to boot.
We arrived late on a rainy night and were greeted by a very long line of hopeful diners being turned away. The fact that it was raining and the terrace was closed meant the restaurant had even less capacity than usual. By some stroke of luck, we managed to snag a table at the bar (I was truly living out my best Paris fashion week dreams that night and I am going to tell myself that that was the cause of our good fortune).
Girafe, 1 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75016 Paris, France
We also ate at L’Avenue, which you may recognise from Gossip Girl. L’Avenue is one of those places where you go to be seen although the Parisians are very discreet in this sense. We had to beg to be seated outside with the cool kids. Wear your best and book well in advance.
L’Avenue, 41 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France