A friend of mine recently reached out about visiting Paris and when I asked where he and his wife were planning to stay, I just couldn't restrain myself and wrote a lengthy e-mail with recommendations of more restaurants and places to visit than one could possibly have time to see in one weekend. You are now the beneficiary of that email. Make sure to put everything in google maps so you can potentially pop in if you're in the area. Most of these are located in the 4th, 5th, and 12th Arrondissements of Paris. Enjoy!
See Paris Like a Local in the 4th, 5th, and 12th Arrondissements of Paris
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Very cool “high line” walking trail and nice place to picnic. You can get a fresh baguette at a bakery for around $1, buy ham, cheese and cornichons, and perhaps a nice bottle of inexpensive organic (biologique or bio) wine at a grocery store (carrefour) for a lovely Parisian afternoon.
Make a reservation at this resto. Highly recommend. Stepping inside the space transports you from the heart of Paris to a quaint, modest home in the French countryside. The owner is nearly in his 90s and still insists welcoming and serving his visitors. Do you want to know what it would've been like growing up in a French family where your mom or dad or grandparents cook exceptional dishes for you? Then eat here.
Rue Cremieux is located close to the restaurant, Le Quincy, and is lined with fun, colorful buildings making it an instagram influencer's dream street. We non-influencer status people enjoy it, too.
Photo by Charlota Blunarova on Unsplash
I loved taking my kids here. There are 4 fountains (that somehow double as swimming pools for children in the summer time), a play ground, and plenty of space for picnicking. It is enclosed within a nice colonnade shopping area, and was once the home of Victor Hugo. Definitely worth a peek.
A cute coffee shop located close to Place des Vosges.
Neat little (very little) coffee shop with good (albeit slightly overpriced) food, coffee and killer ambiance.
There are several locations of this traditional French restaurant in the city. It's not too expensive from what I remember and you can get a nice taste of old school France.
We were never able to make it there, but it's marked on my map with the note “must try chocolate mousse, cute interior/exterior”.
This is a very good bakery. The pistachio/chocolate “escargot” were a favorite in my family, as well as the Kouign-Amman, chocolate/butter croissants…well, just everything.
Nearby Du Pain et Des Idées is a book store that I adore— lots of cool art books, my favorites being the children's books found in the back of the store.
If you're up for the walk (which I highly recommend), I suggest strolling from your hotel (in the eastern 4th arrondissement) to Luxembourg Gardens in the 5th.
On the walk:
It was always closed when we tried to go, but Le Village St Paul is supposed to be a cool brocante/antique area.
You should of course get an ice cream at Bertillon— the salted caramel is my favorite.
Walk down pont de la Tournelle and there’s another boulangerie with delicious Palmiers and chausson aux Pommes.
Walk next to the Seine by quai de la tournelle. You can look at all the bouquinistes and pick up some cute souvenirs: books, magnets, paintings…
Since you’re walking in that direction, you could walk over to île de la cite to see Notre Dame and go inside a cool old building called Hotel Dieu.
You’ll also be close to Shakespeare and Co. A good place to pick up a copy of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, and make sure they stamp it for you.
Not really must stop restaurants but very good anyway: shiso burger (the bulgogi burger is amazing IMO), sourire tapas, le polidor (traditional French), beaurepaire, and chez gladines. (We didn’t visit the last two, but chez gladines is popular and I think I read about beaurepaire on a blog or two).
You can make your way down blvd st Michael (the fountain st Michael is interesting to see— watch your pockets at all the big monuments).
Eventually you’ll come to Jardin du Luxembourg. If you like rocks, the museum of mineralogy has a very extensive collection and I think admission is something like 6€. It’s a little tricky to get to, but to me, that made it all the more exciting to visit. Walk around Luxembourg— my favorite garden! Make sure to see the Medici fountain, maybe catch a puppet show…it’s for kids but still so fun to see if they’re having shows. Also a great place to picnic! There is a special lawn where you can sit on the grass.
Afterward, you can wave at our old apartment down the street on Rue Gay Lussac. There’s a little crêpe stand right across the street that has good crêpes. We would always get a crêpe complet for a meal. (If you actually visit, please send pics)!
Coffee shop and vegetarian cafe. Say hello to our friend Nour. He is incredibly nice and speaks very good English, French and Egyptian. Always impressed with Europeans.
The baguettes here (tradition) were our favorite…they don’t have great pastries, but for enjoying sandwiches or grabbing bread for your dinner, we thought they had the best tradition in the neighborhood.
This fromagerie has a great selection of well cared for cheeses. If you’d like to try some French cheese while you’re in Paris, I would ask for “les fromages doux”…mild cheeses. Comte is typical (the French love it as much as Americans love cheddar...well, maybe not that much, but it's the most common cheese on a cheese board). I would also suggest trying a goat (chèvre) cheese. Mothais du Feuilles is a good one, but that might be too much cheese for a weekend trip. One of my husband's and my favorite cheeses was a Truffe du Thome, a black truffle cheese that might prevent you from ever leaving Paris and going home because it is sooo good.
A neat little cafe. Maria comes up with really creative plates and makes delicious pastries. Fun fact, when my husband I were searching for apartments, we had our very first (very impressive) brunch in the city at her place. Little did we know we would eventually live a short walk away. Please say hello to her for me if you pop in!
This boulangerie was featured on Emily in Paris and is as good as they portray it to be. If you've never had a chocolate croissant in Paris before you will legitimately say, "OMG". They have great pastries, but not our favorite baguettes— good baguettes, but a little too well done for us.
At this point, you’ll be right next to the Pantheon (where I used to take French classes with the red cross).
Off of one of the side streets of the Pantheon is a coffee shop called:
Say hello to our friends Adrienne and Jérôme. They both speak English well (always helpful for any friends who have limited French skills). Say hi to them for us too!
Our friends Samuel and Francesca own this restaurant, slightly tucked away, on the same street.
They’re usually closed during the day, but you could knock on the door and say hello. They would love to meet you.
If you’d be interested you could google map “marché” and take note of the outdoor markets that happen regularly in the different neighborhoods. Marché Maubert is one I went to often as well as Marché Monge. The rotisserie chicken and potatoes make a great inexpensive meal. There’s also all kinds of fun things you could potentially take back as souvenirs.
This is a nice place to walk, lots of shops and some street art. People usually like Au P’tit Grec— Greek crêpes. I thought it was tasty. The best gelato I’ve ever had is on this street— at Gelati d’Alberto. The Ali baba flavor is my favorite. Droguerie Mouffetard is a good place to buy inexpensive French market bags.
If you like tea (and maybe even if you don't), you definitely should check this place out. They have an amazing rooibos tea that I still crave.
Also has some nice teas…I once tried one called bourbon at the cafe, Mamie Gateaux.
This garden falls into the shadow of Jardin du Luxembourg and the Tuilleries, but I love, love, loved visiting this place. They have a beautiful rose display in the spring and there's plenty of entertainment for children and adults alike. I basically lived at the Menagerie right after we arrived because I needed some place to entertain my two little ones while my husband was working and looking for an apartment.
If you're an artist, know an artist, want to try artsy things, or just like old Paris buildings, stop by this shop across the street from the Seine River. They’re well known for their pastels, and it’s just a cool, old shop. It's also pretty close to the Musée d'Orsay, which you know you want to visit.
I know this is an overwhelming post, but better to be overwhelmed now than to get to Paris without a clue about what to do!
Super side note: If you're practicing French, Uber drivers are very nice to speak with. They were always very friendly when I would attempt conversations with them.
And finally, I love giving tips on where to visit from an insider's perspective! If there's a certain area in Paris that you're staying in, wanting to visit, or are just curious about, please send me a message and I would love to help you around the city.
Happy exploring, friends! xoxo