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The M Dash

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What to Eat, Drink, See, and Wear When You Visit Paris

The travel expert behind Paris, Perfected shares her ideal itinerary.

By Meghan Donovan

“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.” —Ernest Hemingway

I first fell in love with Paris when I was a little girl. At the age of 10, I had never seen a place more beautiful. More than twenty years later, I still find myself marveling at Paris’s beauty—so much so that I created a business around it. 

Paris, Perfected was born out of my love of sharing the best of Paris on my lifestyle website, wit & whimsy. I create bespoke travel plans for those heading to the City of Light so they can maximize their time and budget with recommendations tailored to their travel preferences. 

Read on to get a peek at some of my favorite Parisian addresses—and the outfits I rely on when I’m there.

Where to Stay

This boutique hotel, located in Paris’s 1st arrondissement, is a longtime favorite of mine. I work with them regularly through Paris, Perfected, and when my clients stay here, they’re treated to complimentary breakfast and a welcome gift! The property is cozy, charming, and so chic. Touches like heated towel bars, the most delicious in-room petit dejeuner, a kind staff, and a complimentary afternoon teatime make it feel extra special. The best part? The location. It’s tucked away on a quaint street and is within walking distance to the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Palais Royal, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and so many other sites.

What to Wear: Many American visitors arrive in Paris on a red-eye, but most hotels aren’t able to offer check-in first thing in the morning. Because of that, I always wear an outfit on the plane that lets me hit the ground running. A black trouser paired with a great tee, a sweater, and a coat is my go-to plane uniform.

Other Favorite:
Hotel Grand Powers — Situated on a bustling street amid shops and restaurants, this elegant 1920s-era hotel is just a 10-minute walk from cultural exhibitions at the ornate Grand Palais. It’s also a 5-minute walk from George V metro station, which connects to Central Paris, making it easy to get to the Louvre and the Marais. My Paris, Perfected clients are treated to complimentary upgrades (subject to availability), daily complimentary breakfast, a $100 food and beverage credit, and late check-in and check-out (subject to availability).

Where to Eat

Top Pick: Shosh

Romantic and cozy, Shosh is a new casual dining concept with excellent Israeli food. I recommend ordering lots of plates to share. Don’t miss their dips platter, which comes with some of the fluffiest bread. I loved the dinner I had here, and it’s also open for lunch.

What to Wear: You can’t go wrong with a pair of versatile black pants, like the Mejias. Dress them up or down, depending on the venue. I love the flattering fit of this pair—and they look great with the machine-washable, easy-to-pack Nejvi top.

Other Favorites:
Frenchie Wine Bar — I prefer this spot to its sister restaurant, Frenchie, which serves an upscale prix fixe menu that I found to be a bit disappointing. The wine bar across the street, however, has a full menu that is always changing, and the food is absolutely excellent. It features interesting flavor combinations and portion sizes that allow you to order a little bit of everything. Their wine menu is excellent as well.

Cafe Charlot — A longtime favorite of mine for lunch or dinner in the Marais. Get the warm goat cheese salad or steak frites. Divine people-watching and a classic Parisian cafe setting on a great corner.

Where to Drink

Top Pick: Bar Hemingway

Bar Hemingway at The Ritz is a great spot for a special-occasion cocktail. It’s famous for its storied past during World War II, and many well-known names have enjoyed a drink in its snug interiors—including Ernest Hemingway, for whom the bar is now named. Plus, the cocktails are gorgeous. If you can’t snag a spot at Bar Hemingway, there’s also the newly opened Ritz Bar.

What to Wear: The Emily is the perfect little black dress for a dressed-up night out in Paris. I love how you can style this dress for daytime with sneakers and a cute belt and then dress it up at night with heeled booties or a great pump.

Other Favorites:
Les Ambassadeurs — This is a gorgeous bar in the famed Hotel de Crillon, right off Place de la Concorde. The painted ceilings make you feel like you’re drinking in a museum, and the bartenders serve up playful cocktails. Can’t decide what to order? Roll the dice and be surprised. (No, seriously—they have dice!)

Candelaria — This hidden, low-lit spot is a favorite among Parisians. Enter behind the door in the taco spot up front, then head toward the back for inventive cocktails and a cool vibe.

What to See

Top Pick: Arc de Triomphe

Often overlooked in favor of the Eiffel Tower views, this monument offers incredible 360-degree views of Paris—once you scale the 284 steps. Fun tip: It’s free on the first Sunday of the month between November 1 and March 31! It’s particularly beautiful as the trees start to get their leaves in the spring and then again as they change in the fall.

What to Wear: I have built an arsenal of O’Hara blazers in different fabrics and patterns and always have one with me in Paris to pair with the Curie pants. A blazer always makes me feel put-together and pairs well with sweaters, silk tanks, or tees. Given Paris’s unpredictable weather, the O’Hara ends up being a great wardrobe staple year-round. To me, the Curie pants are an ode to Audrey Hepburn and her love of Paris and timeless wardrobe staples. They’re comfortable and pair perfectly with a ballet flat.

Other Favorites:
La Galerie Dior — Newly opened and really beautifully done, this extension of the brand’s famed Avenue Montaigne store features a unique scenographic narrative about Monsieur Dior’s rise and the establishment of the DIOR label. La Galerie Dior captures the spirit of Parisian Haute Couture and celebrates the memory of this historic address.

Bateaux Mouches Seine River Cruises — While the Seine is a popular tourist attraction, I never tire of its boat cruises. It is a great way to see a lot if you’re short on time and a lovely way to acclimate yourself to Paris. I like to go at dusk, because the Eiffel Tower is sparkling when I return.

Printemps and Galeries Lafayette Department Stores — See Paris from above—without the price tag of a hotel with a rooftop view—when you head to the rooftops at the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores. Sweeping views on clear days, and completely free!

Visit the Markets — Nearly every day across Paris, different open-air markets come to life. You can shop the amazing goods from various vendors offering delicious cheeses, produce, charcuterie, and flower bouquets. It’s a feast for the eyes!

Where to Shop

This store never disappoints! They always have a cool, conceptual installation in the front of the store, and they boast womenswear, menswear, and a killer home selection that always has me leaving with special dishware and glassware. Don’t miss their French linen kitchen towels, either. I’ve amassed quite a collection for my home.

What to Wear: I always pack a midi skirt, and I love that this one is made from washable silk. It pairs well with a boot and a leather or tweed jacket in the evening, but for daytime exploration and shopping, I love it with a sweater or tee and a sneaker.

Other Favorites:
Kerzon — They have a great little shop in the Marais, and I always pick up a candle when I pop in. I love that they have select candles named after popular spots in Paris, like Place des Vosges and Palais Royal. They make for perfect souvenirs!

E.Dehillerin — This famed cookware store offers an amazing shopping experience. If you want to level up your kitchen, this is the spot to visit for professionals and amateurs alike (and has been for decades). They’re famous for their copper pots, along with their knife selection.

Fragrance Stores — I love fragrance as a souvenir for myself. I like to browse the selections at Le Bon Marché, Galeries Lafayette, and Nose. Plus, many French-made perfumes are more reasonably priced in Paris.

La Grande Épicerie de Paris — I always, always visit La Grande Épicerie de Paris. This spot is a wonderland of upscale grocery items. Enjoy exploring the aisles and shopping for treats that you can share with friends when you return home. (Be sure to shop their home goods as well, located on the upper floors.)

Written By

Meghan Donovan

Meghan Donovan is the creator of wit & whimsy, a lifestyle blog established in 2006, and the founder of Paris, Perfected, which offers bespoke travel planning services. She splits her time between New York City and Paris, is always in pursuit of good croissants, and loves photographing her travels.

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