So, what’s the best way to see Paris? Ask a local, of course! …No, I do not have the audacity to mean myself, after visiting a only handful of times. I asked a real local for recommendations – one who grew up in the city.
On my last trip to Paris, her city guide opened up a whole new realm of Paris to me. While I do recommend visiting the monuments, museums and tourist hotspots, combine them with a few trips down the Parisian backstreets to find some local restaurants and hidden bars. It’ll be worth your while, I promise.
The Local’s Guide to Paris by Neighborhood
1. Saint Germain des Pres
- Le Poch’tron: Rue de Bellechasse, lovely and very typical french restaurant with excellent wine
- Le Petit Prince de Paris: Rue de Lanneau, in a tiny back street that feels a bit like a Woody Allen movie. It serves old school, authentic French food for good value and feels like being at someone’s house.
- Le Comptoir du Relais: Carrefour de l’Odéon, brasserie by day and a gastro restaurant by night. The owner was one of the first chefs to open a gastro bistro.
- Cafe de Flore: Boulevard Saint Germain, for early drinks, this place is swanky and pretty overpriced but it’s a legendary place where all the Parisian intellectuals have to go, so worth a visit.
- L’Echelle de Jacob: Rue Jacob, for late drinks, this old cabaret is a legendary place with very nice cocktails and a jazzy decadent atmosphere.
- Les Etages Saint Germain: Rue de Buci, for a more chilled atmosphere
- Musee D’Orsay: Expect long lines but it’s the world’s biggest collection of early 20th century art, so if you’re into impressionism, you should definitely go.
- Palais de Tokyo: Not on the left bank but it’s the 16th so almost the same, It’s dedicated to contemporary creation, and the library is great. You can also enjoy a great view on the Eiffel Tower from the big terrace (that could count as “doing the Eiffel Tower”, which is otherwise rather painful), and the brunch is good, which makes it a nice Sunday place.
2. Le Marais
- Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Rue Vieille du Temple, Rue de Turenne, Rue des Archives: Some of the best shopping spots in Paris. You’ll find plenty of gorgeous clothes, decoration items, shoes, make-up, books, teas and food
- Mercimerci: Boulevard Beaumarchais, This concept design store in aid of charity offers style, substance and something to eat all in one virtuous location, with various fashion and home style concessions by ethical designers, with 150,000 wall-to-wall books in French or English. It’s a great pause point in your shopping day.
- Le Bouledogue: Rue Rambuteau, for great tartare
- Chez Chartier: Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, an amazing place completely impossible to describe. It’s huge and used to be popular in the 19th century and nothing has changed since – the menu, the place, even the prices are still the same. A loud and interesting experience.
- Chez Robert et Louise: Rue Vieille-du-Temple, for the best meat on the planet and great atmosphere. You sit down together on big wood benches while they cook your food in an open fire at the back of the room.
- Chez Julien: Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis, in a beautiful art deco building and it’s classified as one of the only remaining pure “nouille” (noodle) pieces of architecture. Very typical French food, quite good, decently priced.
- Le Petit Marché: Rue Bearn, for a classic French bistro tucked away on a back street of the Marais. An eclectic selection of portraits line the wood paneled walls with small wooden tables. The look is old school but the food is actually quite modern (French with an Asian influence). Reservations required for dinner but you should be safe at lunch.
- La Candelaria: Rue de Saintonge, one of the coolest hidden bars in town. It’s a little Mexican joint selling burritos and cheap beer. Don’t worry – walk in and head to the white door at the back. This is a place for cocktails. It gets a packed late at night, so get in early for a decent spot.
- Café Jeannette: Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, an old cafe which used to be only filled with locals and it’s a pretty rough bit of town. But the place still has a good vibe, the staff are really nice and it’s authentic, so don’t expect trendy cool, expect slightly grubby, random mix of people.
- Le Georges: Rue Rambuteau, on the top of Beaubourg with great location.
To Go Out:
- Favela Chic: Rue du Faubourg du Temple, a classic
- La Perle: Rue de la Perle, in the heart of the Marais, for a little bar that plays great music on weekends and usually gets pretty packed
- The Tango: Rue au Maire, you won’t find any tourists in here.
- The Social Club: Rue Montmartre (which is not in Montmartre), newer place but impressive reputation built so far
- Rue Lepic, Rue des Abbesses, Rue Caulaincourt, Rue Custine: You’ll find everything from fine food, teas, clothes, beauty products
- Farmer’s Market: Rue Du Poteau, A nice marche behind the town Hall on Saturdays and Sundays
- La Mascotte: Rue des Abbesses, an institution with local celebrities, great seafood and wine list in the little bistro room at the front, proper brasserie at the back.
- Bistro des Dames: Rue des Dames, for lovely food. The place is nice – better in the summer because of the garden.
- Le Bar a Thym: Rue Ramey, for good food and very nice service
- La Famille: Rue des Trois Freres, for innovative food in a trendy setting, book in advance especially for a Saturday nights.
- Le Potager du Pere Thierry: Rue des Trois Freres, very gemutlich and informal. You’ll be crunched in between other people but it’s all quite friendly and good spirit, and you definitely need a reservation
- La Maison Mere: Rue de Navarin, for brunch or lunch. It’s not fancy, but it’s very cool. Relaxed atmosphere with pretty Parisian décor. Order steak tartare if you like it – they make it perfectly there.
- Chez Francis: Rue Caulaincourt, a local institution, but No one really ever understood why. Everyone still goes though
- Au Rendez-Vous des Amis: Rue Gabrielle, in a very typical Montmartre hill labyrinth, very chilled and cheap hang out that is owned by a bunch of college friends. There’s often interesting concerts or discussions
- Relais de la Butte: Rue de Ravignan, you have to climb all the way up the hill, but the view is worth it. Rose wine is good there.
To Go Out:
- La Boule Noire: Elysee Montmartre
- Le Bal: Impasse de la Défense, Retro electro music, check out whether it’s on the day you’re going – usually on Saturdays
- Le Divan du Monde: Rue des Martyrs
- Chez Moune: Rue Pigalle, a trendy club which can be hard to get into because it’s quite small but it’s always fun.
4. Other Notables Around Paris
- Rue de Beaurepaire in Canal St. Martin: Along the Canal, lots of cute little shops and boutiques
- La Bellevilloise: Belleville Area – Rue Boyer, for dinner or brunch, this place is extremely ambient and popular among locals and visitors alike. Walking in is like traveling back in time and yet the place has real arty modern twist as well.
- Maria Louisa: Canal St. Martin Area – Rue Marie et Louise, for pizza in an unassuming atmosphere. They often draw a line outside due to their expansive menu of pizza types. Cute restaurant.
- Le Cambodge: Canal St. Martin Area – Rue Richerand, for great Cambodian food. Unexpected perhaps in the city of lights, but surprising authentic and good Asian fusion here. Try the Bubon Special Mixte noodles.
- Madame Shawn: Canal St. Martin Area – Rue de Lancry, for authentic, well-priced Thai food.
- Rosa Bonheur: Belleville Area – Parc des Buttes Chaumont, a new place, great for an impromptu night out, people will start dancing on tables here at 8:00 pm though so come prepared
- Mama’s Shelter: Belleville Area – Rue de Bagnolet, Could easily be a part of the Soho House chain, without the pool. Great for a proper night out
- Hotel du Nord: Canal St. Martin Area – Rue Albert Thomas, Shabby chic hotel with a great little bar inside
- Experimental Cocktail Club: Bastille Area – Rue Saint-Sauveur, If you want cool and trendy, head to this bar. It’s been opened by the same guys who opened it in NYC. Cant go wrong there
- La Pinacotheque: Opera Area – Place de la Madeleine, for the Van Gogh exhibit
- Gagosian gallery: Opera Area – rRue de Ponthieu, part of the world’s biggest commercial gallery network. Built in a transformed hôtel particulier, this state-of-the-art contemporary gallery offers Parisians interesting exhibitions such as Rodin and Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Prince and Jean Nouvel.
There. Everything you need to know for the best trip to Paris you can ask for. This guide coupled with the major monuments and sights, outlined in my post here: Paris Je t’aime Toujours will keep you falling in love with this amazing city over and over again as many times as you choose to come back.