An American Girl In Paris

 

Paris is one of those cities that inspires you to travel down a Pinterest-fueled rabbit hole of research, only to emerge 3 hours later even more confused and with no actual plan or itinerary for your trip. Trust me, I know first-hand.

When my mother-in-law surprised us with a trip to the City of Light to celebrate my father-in-laws 70th birthday I was equal parts excited and terrified.  While I wanted to spend time taking in some of the classic sights, I didn’t want a trip filled with only tourist traps (i.e, Laduree) that have been Instagram-ed to death. I was looking for that perfect balance of insider favorites and those “you can’t come to Paris and not” spots.

So the journalist in me got to work and after way too much time online, cross fact checking, and interviewing everyone around me that knows someone who knows someone that lives in Paris, I curated a trip that my husband and I will never forget. I hope that if you’re lucky enough to live la vie en rose, even just for the weekend, that these picks will complement or guide your trip.

Manger et Boire

Le 6 Paul Bert // A total locals-only bistro, this is where to find French favorites in a very, almost too-authentic setting. The menu is NOT available in English so close your eyes and pick or ask your waiter for guidance. After dinner, stroll around this fun neighborhood in the 11th arr.

404 // Just like you can’t go to London and not eat Indian food, you can’t come to Paris and not try a little North African cuisine. This place is delicious and a meal you won’t forget…but share entrees, they’re huge! Tip: Make a reservation for the outdoor garden!

Monsier Blue // Across from the Eiffel Tower in the Palais de Tokyo, this is where the beautiful people in Paris go, so don your best outfit and take in one of the best views of the twinkling lights over a truly special meal which combines classic French fare with modern twists.  Tip: Book an outdoor table for 8:30pm so you get to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle twice and then you can “sneak” in to the cocktail bar next door!

Avenue // Power shopping requires a power lunch and this spot does not disappoint. For the fashion-obsessed, the location leaves you right on Ave. Montagne and literally across the street from the Dior Atelier so you can do some serious window-shopping.

Merci // For a mid-afternoon refreshment, the ginger lemonade at this cafe (right outside of the infamous concept store) can’t be beat. It’s a treat for the eyes and mouth!

Chez Alain, Marche des Enfants Rouges // Go here. That’s it. No questions, no why’s or really’s? It’s the best sandwich (or “galletes” as the French say) I have ever had in my life. Order it just the way Alain designs them or face his wrath!

Le Souffle // It’s so touristy, but it’s sooo good. If you’ve never had a real French souffle make this your first stop of the trip. They have savory and sweet options but if I were you, I’d save my calories for the sweet ones!

Costes // This was one of my absolute favorite places to visit in Paris – the hotel is home to a restaurant, a killer courtyard bar, a perfume shop, great live music and the most incredible rose boutique all on the Rue St. Honoré. And while most of us can’t afford to actually stay at the hotel, you can still enjoy the uber-chic scene by popping in for lunch, dinner or my pick, a cocktail or glass of rose. Tip: Dress to impress!

Activités

Bike About Paris // The only tour I would ever endorse. This is the best way to see the city and Ben (our guide) made learning about the city so fun and unpredictable. It takes about 4 hours but it was one of the best things we did during our entire trip.  I could not recommend this more!

Le Comptoir General // I’m not really sure how to describe this “space” other than it’s one of the strangest and most memorable places I have ever been. Think of it like a clubhouse with mini-shops, bars and a touch of taxidermy. It definitely ranks high on the weird scale but if you want to hang with the locals, you have to check it out. FYI – this was my husbands favorite sight and it puts you smack dab in the middle of one of the coolest and very un-touristy neighborhoods, Canal Saint Martin which feels a little like Williamsburg five years ago.

La Cuisine Paris // I have to be totally honest, I like macarons, but I don’t love them, so the last thing I’m going to do is spend hard-earned euros on over-priced treats a la typical tourist. The way to do macarons in Paris is to learn how to make them for yourself and no one makes it easier to master than La Cuisine. Jane the owner is American and as obsessed with French sweets as the rest of us. Spend a half-day in their kitchens trying your had at pastry – you won’t regret it and you’ll go home with more macarons than you could ever eat! And think of all the IG moments!

4 Roues sur Parapluie // There’s nothing like Paris at night. The lights are so beautiful and the city is awash in those moody, yellow lamps that just scream romance. For our last night,  I wanted to do something really special and show my husband just how gorgeous Paris is, so I turned to the team at 4 Roues sur Parapluie for an unforgettable ride around the city of lights. They dispatched a vintage, convertible Citroen CV2 (named James) to take my husband and I for the ride of our lives. We had incredible views of all the classic sights and traveled down tiny back alleys that seemed to be untouched by time. This is a 15 on the romance scale and like nothing I have ever done before.