Published: October, 2019
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Paris, France

"La Rentree"- when the tourists go home and when the thousands of Parisians return from their long summer break and transition back to city life.
— Sterling Boyd
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Solo, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: Two Days

to & from

Spring and Fall are my favorite times to visit Paris. They are beautiful bookends to the long summer months. Below is a walk I do when I am on my own through Les Marais.

Where to Stay

Stay in Les Bains ~ a 1980’s night club turned into boutique hotel. Picture Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson mixed with Booka Shade, Le Labo and Philippe Starck. I like it. If you were lucky enough to go to Les Bains before it shut down as a nightclub in 2010 – then some of the graffiti still on the walls will remind you of the hidden places in the building.

What to Do

Day 1
Walk the streets of Les Marais. If you use these shops as anchors, you will walk through my favorite parts of Les Marais. Stop in for some shopping at Fleux home goods and Cire Trudon. Make sure to visit Merci concept store on Boulevard Beaumarchais. If you want to bring a goodie back for your kiddos, find something special at Mandorla Palace. Have lunch at L’Ebouillante ~ sit on the steps in the sun overlooking the the Seine. The salads are my favorite. Enjoy a desert at Aux Merveilleux on Rue du Poet Louis-Philippe (the white chocolate cream mini cake is perfection) and walk across to the Seine to enjoy a view of Notre Dame from the tip of Ile Saint Louis. Sit and have a cocktail by “Place Des Vosges” and walk home by Le Labo on Rue Fruissart to get something special to remind you of your trip.
Have dinner at Le Chanard on Rue Saint Paul for classic french or wander to Frenchie on Rue du Nil. If you can’t get a reservation at Frenchie, go early and eat next door at the bar. Have an after dinner drink at Le Derriere or Ristorante National.

Day 2:
Start with art and then walk the streets of Saint Germain des Pres. Walk through Jardin des Tuileries and visit Le Orangerie and Musee d’Orsay. If you have never been – you should. Walk from the Seine to Le Bon Marche (I make a stop at Le Bon Marche every visit. The home goods in the second building with all the food are my favorite). On your way to Garden Luxembourg, find your favorite wine and cheese shop and get everything you need for a picnic on the grounds. Bring an extra blanket to wrap up if it is a sunny, but a cool fall day. For a fancier option, a fellow Oliver Guider sent me to Divellec. It was brilliant for a Parisian seafood lunch. For dinner, explore an area with no plans and find what looks best. It is the best way to find hidden gems in Paris. Enjoy!

inside scoop

Find her eyes – Danse a la campagne

skip it

Paris Metro – WALK INSTEAD!

What to Pack

Wear your sneakers. Put a nice pair of shoes in your purse to be ready for whatever you find.

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Published: December, 2017
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Paris, France (Kara Schwabauer)

We ended up buying my son a scooter on the first day in London and he used it everywhere... Many kids his age and older are on scooters, so we felt a little bit like a local.
— Kara Schwabauer
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 4-5 Days

to & from

Chunnel from London, travel first class. We traveled with our 3 1/2 year old son and 18 month old daughter.

Where to Stay

We stayed in the Vendome area, perfect location!

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Le Relais de l’Entrecôte-various locations, best steak and frites, ever! Although it has become more popular and now they have locations in the US, it's still a real treat! Go for a late lunch, order a bottle or red wine and request a table by the window, oh so Paris!
  • Bistrot Vivienne-cozy little Fresh bistro. The owner is great, don't miss the duck foie gras.
  • Chez Flottes-we brought the kids, great food and service, we all enjoyed the cheese plate.
  • Ladurée-a can't miss, we stopped by one at least once a day to keep the little ones happy!
  • Yannick Martin Gustative Corner-beautiful, but small, bakery with amazing bread and sweets. Seemed to be a local favorite, many school aged children stopped by in the morning.
  • The Bar at Hotel Costes-beautiful people, beautiful waitresses, and they are SO young!

What to Do

  • With small kids we didn't over plan, one thing a day.
  • Bateaux Parisiens for a boat tour, sit up top, open deck. Great views of the city, loved seeing the different angles of Notre Dame. Didn't hurt that it was a perfect spring day without a cloud in the sky.
  • Walk around the Louvre, didn't want to venture in with little kids, but they had a great time running around the pyramid.
  • We rode the carousel at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, kids loved it, my husband and I were dizzy and happy to skip going up the Eiffel Tower with little kids.
  • Rodin Museum, small museum with beautiful gardens, don't miss the Gates of Hell.
  • Marmottan, small museum in a cute neighborhood. It is all of Monet's personal artwork.
  • Notre Dame-easy to do a quick walk through with kids if you don't stop and read everything. My son loved lighting a candle. So much history in the process of building it.
  • Jardin du Luxembourg-beautiful for a nice walk, but even better with little ones, the playground is amazing! My kids didn't want to leave.

inside scoop

  • Check out thefork.com.
  • UBER everywhere!
  • Speak French as much as possible, if you it's only hello and thank you, the French do appreciate it.
  • When traveling with kids, get a babysitter!

skip it

  • Champs-Élysées

What to Pack

more...

See Rachel Wynn’s Paris Guide here.

See Nina Smallhorn’s Paris Guide here.

See Megan Escher’s Paris Guide here.

See Amy Blake’s Paris Guide here.

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Published: December, 2017
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Paris, France (Amy Blake)

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.
— Amy Blake
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: AT LEAST 4 DAYS OR FOREVER

to & from

  • Any US city direct to Paris

Where to Stay

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Hotel Costes: (Right Bank, 1st/8th)Trendy hotel/restaurant/bar with snobby girl service but worth visiting property for drinks, tea, lunch or dinner. The Ahi Salad rocks! Dress stylish. Central location by place Vendome.
  • Café Marly: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) For incredible view of Paris, also owned by Costes (above) but located outside the Louvre.
  • Brasserie Flottes: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) Fresh seafood and oysters, good to snuggle here for quick meal day or night, casual, across from Tuilleries gardens.
  • Maison de Truffle: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) Should you like truffles, small restaurant with all kinds of fresh truffles on the menu.
  • Maison Caviar Kaspia: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) Cozy place to snuggle for caviar, salmon and more, nicer decor, just next door to Maison de truffles (above).
  • Kinugawa: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) Japanese restaurant in a trendy environment, go upstairs.
  • Ferdi: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) A small hilarious place for tapas, Argentine-Spanish style, or hamburgers, all while you wait around small tables surrounded by toys.
  • Restaurants around Place Marché Saint Honoré: (Right Bank, 1st/8th) This quiet square has many casual places in case you want cafés, Italian food, bagels etc.
  • Breizh Café: (Right Bank, 3rd/4th) Authentic crepes from salty to sweet with apple cider. Order the green salad with Japanese dressing! Reserve or wait in line.
  • Le Marché des Enfants Rouge: (Right Bank, 3rd/4th) Outdoor market where you order different foods to eat on picnic tables. Italian, Asian, Lebanese etc. A Parisian experience.
  • Merci Cantine: (Right Bank, 3rd/4th) Downstairs of the Merci Store, organic salads and simple plates are served for lunch.
  • Le Sergent Recruteur: (Right Bank, 3rd/4th)Newer fine dining experience in a relaxed manner on isle Saint Louis, after Notre Dame church. Closed on week-ends and Mondays.
  • Table: (Right Bank, 11th/12th, Bastille area) A newer foodie restaurant, industrial design, casual fine dining experience. Started by chef and famous food critic- awesome neighborhood restaurant.
  • Chateaubriand: (Right Bank, 11th/12th, Bastille area) World-renowned fine dining yet casual and inexpensive located in a young hip neighborhood. Book 1 month in advance or do a walk-in after 10pm.
  • L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) One of the best eating experiences in the world, try the mash potatoes if you can. Only two times to reserve or just walk-in.
  • La Société: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) Also owned by Costes, their last big restaurant in Saint Germain, decor by Christian Liegre who did some of Orly's furniture.
  • Ralph's: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) Only if you want an expensive hamburger in beautiful outdoor setting in Saint Germain, Not worth it otherwise, but look at property either way, Ralph Lauren.
  • Le 21 Rue de Mazarine: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) Small unique restaurant, owner speaks English, homemade products and food in cute decor, close to galleries.
  • La Fontaine de Mars: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) Just because it is well known, you can sit outside or inside on ground floor. Bistro style food and décor.
  • Café de Flore: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) An institution in Saint Germain and in Parisian culture, stop here in the morning orfor a coffee break or a little drink.
  • Café Les Deux Magots: (Left Bank, 6th/7th) If you read The Paris Wife, this is where Hemingway and his first wife hung out. Typical French bistro- similar to Café Flore (above).
  • L'Avenue: (Left Bank, 8th) Another owned by Costes, easy menu and people watching.
  • Orient Extrème: (Left Bank, 8th) For a quick Japanese lunch. A spot for the will who's who working Paris in Fashion.
  • Le Stresa: (Left Bank, 8th) An Italian institution day or night, fun ambiance (but not early for dinner) closed on weekends.
  • Market: (Left Bank, 8th) Convenient location for good menu, business style decor, from pizza to fish to truffles.
  • Le Meurice: (Fancy hotel restaurant) Very beautiful space though a bit pricey. Worth a stop for drinks. This historic hotel, situated across the Tuileries Gardens, was built in the 1700's to cater to the British and then moved to the current location in 1835. Known as the "Hotel des Rois", all royal families stay here as well as many movie stars and musicians.
  • Four Seasons, Le Cinq: (Fancy hotel restaurant) Famous Chef. Well known.
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee: (Fancy hotel restaurant) Have drinks at Plaza Bar or tea in Hallway, not dinner.
  • Le Bristol, Epicure: (Fancy hotel restaurant) One of the best fine dining in hotel restaurants in the world…if you want to eat in a hotel.
  • Apicius: (Michelin star/fine dining) Beautiful property, go early for a drink in the bar and check out the courtyard. Dine in contemporary decor restaurant, love this place.
  • Lasserre: (Michelin star/ fine dining) An old institution in an adorable building in central location. Roof opens and closes throughout evening, known for macaroni and all silverware décor. Another love. http://www.restaurant-lasserre.com/fr/index.php
  • La Tour d'Argent: (Michelin star/fine dining) Fine dining with a view at its best: http://www.latourdargent.com
  • Le Grand Véfour: (Michelin star/fine dining) Located in the Palais Royal, also an institution, beautiful decor and service.

What to Do

skip it

Don’t be bothered with Champs-Elysees unless you are on a bike-too touristy.

What to Pack

more...

See Rachel Wynn’s Paris Guide here.

See Nina Smallhorn’s Paris Guide here.

See Megan Escher’s Paris Guide here.

See Kara Schwabauer’s Paris Guide here.

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Published: December, 2017
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Paris, France (Rachel Wynne)

Paris is always a good idea.
— Rachel Wynne
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 9 DAYS

to & from

  • Boston to Paris on Air France.

Where to Stay

We are fortunate to stay with friend while in Paris. My suggestion is to find an apartment/flat so you have space and a kitchen. There are tons of great short term rentals in Paris.

Where to Eat and Drink

There are so many great spots to dine that range from really high end to picnics in a park.

 

  • Monsieur Bleu Palais de Tokyo: Beautiful restaurant with amazing views of Eiffel tower. Great date night spot. We brought our kids there at lunchtime and sat on the patio. They loved the desserts.
  • Pastavino (18 rue de Buci): This is a 'hidden' italian restaurant that is above a small shop called Pastavino in Saint Germaine. This small quaint restaurant was fantastic- they only seat about 18, so reservations are recommended. The best course was the starter: Burrata, Tomato, Basil.
  • Le Comptoir Général: If you want to experience something really different, without kids, this is the spot for you. "The spot leading the way in bringing African vibes to Paris is undoubtedly Le Comptoir Général. The name translates to something like ‘standard drinking post’, a major (and of course deliberate) understatement for what it really is: an important Parisian institution showcasing a subtle, original and compelling side of Africa."
  • Flow Paris (4 Port des Invalides): Great for an afternoon drink on the Seine. Super casual and often crowded (watch your bag)- fun place for kids to run around. There is a kids climbing wall right near there on the river.
  • Restaurant Café Georges: The restaurant on top of the Centre Pompidou. The food is okay but you really come here for the view and a glass or two of rosé. Once again the kids gave the desserts high ratings.

What to Do

Our Paris trips with our kids are very art centric. I try to combine an art excursion with a fun trip to a park or patisserie. While we have seen most of the major museums in Paris, I find the smaller ones more approachable and kid friendly.

  • Musee de l'Orangerie: An art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The two oval shaped galleries with Monet's Water Lilies are spectacular. The kids can run in Tuileries Garden after the visit.
  • Musée Rodin: (79 Rue de Varenne): Contains most of Rodin's well known creations, including The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell. Many of his sculptures are displayed in the museum's extensive garden. The gardens alone are worth the visit. We walked through the neighborhood to Musée d'Orsay from here.
  • Centre Georges Pompidou (in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles, rue Montorgueil, and the Marais): Even if you just go to ride the escalators it is worth it. We saw a great interactive show where images of our kids were projected on Paris cityscapes. From here you can head to the Marais (Picasso Museum if you are not too tired).
  • Marais: So much to love about the Marais- in particular, the lifestyle store Merci (111 Boulevard Beaumarchais) where we always buy their signature necklaces as presents.
  • Fondation Louis Vuitton: An art museum and cultural center sponsored by the group LVMH. Make reservations before you go. The building designed by Frank Gehry was like walking in a waking dream. Daniel Buren installed color panels around the exterior-- the translucent colors lit the entire interior- pinks, blues,oranges. We ate at the café which was not super remarkable except for their artful display of food. The Fondation is surrounded by a huge park where there is an old fashioned amusement park. Something for everyone.
  • Eiffel Tower: Years back we did the Fat Tire tour, which was too long for my then six year old but it was thrilling to go to the top. This trip I went with my 13 year old at midnight to see it lit up-- it was a really cool experience.

inside scoop

Greet in French. More often than not you will be answered in English but interactions will be more pleasant.

skip it

Louvre if you are traveling with small children.

What to Pack

more...

See Nina Smallhorn’s Paris Guide here.

See Megan Escher’s Paris Guide here.

See Amy Blake’s Paris Guide here.

See Kara Schwabauer’s Paris Guide here.

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Published: December, 2017
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Paris, France (Nina Smallhorn)

Paris is always a good idea. — Audrey Hepburn
— Nina Smallhorn
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: NEVER ENOUGH TIME IN PARIS... 1 WEEK IS A MUST

to & from

The way to get to Paris is by train. Eurostar from London to Paris….DIVINE. Definitely spend a little more on the Premier seats with a meal. Views of the countryside are picturesque with little steeples and villages along specs of green.

Where to Stay

Le Saint Hotel: Family Rooms are beautifully appointed.

Where to Eat and Drink

What to Do

  • Buy a Paris Pass. Allows access to most museums and sites. Offers fast track to many. Do note that once you activate it, the days are consecutive.
  • Musee d'Orsay is closed on Monday and the Louvre closed on Tuesday.
  • When traveling with young ones, plan on having a little down time or plenty of stops of Chocolat Chaud or Macaroons. There are Laudurees everywhere that can solve that.

inside scoop

  • UBER is the best way to "cab" around. They are plentiful, affordable and very nice.
  • Always try to speak French- even if you can't speak well.
  • Greet everyone with a Bonjour Monsieur/Madame. Bon Soir and A bientot.
  • Always keep you personal items close and zipped in.
  • While the lights are festive at Christmas time, we much prefer visiting Paris in warmer weather when we can walk, walk walk and sit in the park with a ham and cheese baguette.

What to Pack

more...

See Rachel Wynn’s Paris Guide here.

See Amy Blake’s Paris Guide here.

See Megan Escher’s Paris Guide here.

See Kara Schwabauer’s Paris Guide here.

Paris, France (Nina Smallhorn) - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Nina Smallhorn Says

    Dinner: La Bonne Excuse on rue de Verneuil behind the Musee D’orsay. Outstanding food with a husband and wife team running the show. Friendly and beautiful setting.

    Cinq Mars also on rue de Verneuil. Casual and rustic vibe with delicious entrees and the BEST Chocolate mousse.

    DO: contact Stephanie at Voie-Privee and arrange a private tour custom to your group. We had a private tour of Versailles and the private apartment of Louis the XV. Our guide Louise was amazing.

    If you are in town for Bastille Day watching the jets fly over from the Quay at Musee D’Orsay is a special spot.

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Published: December, 2017
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Paris, France

Walk
— Megan Escher
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: 5 DAYS TO ONE WEEK

to & from

Any way you can! We took a morning train in from Ruffec about two hours south of Paris. Getting around we did the metro, bus, uber, taxis and a lot of walking!

Where to Stay

So many options – On this trip we took a flat in the Marais in a very typical building full of Parisians. We like having the option of preparing meals at home so usually choose flats over hotels. VRBO, Air B&B, One Fine Stay & Paris Perfect are all great to research depending on the no. of guests, budget and desired area.

Where to Eat and Drink

A few of our favorites:

 

  • Clamato - Clean Modern Seafood in the 11th and part of the Septime group - can’t go wrong with them. After MUCH deliberation, we decided this should be the first culinary experience for our children in Paris and it was a lovely lunch that led us into an afternoon of adventuring. Clamato is on the same block as the shootings in Paris in November 2015, so be mindful of those events if you pass through.
  • Cinq Mars (near Musee D’Orsay) - was a great lunch after a morning at Tuileries and Place de la Concorde
  • Frenchie to Go and Frenchie - in the 2nd not far from L’Opera Garnier (a must walk by, even if you don’t go inside). The Sentier district seems to be getting more polished and is a mix of older a little run down businesses and bright shiny new spaces - I would call Frenchie to go a French take on a California Cafe - was perfect for a quick tasty lunch. Frenchie Wine Bar and Restaurant is higher end and you will need reservations in advance. You can see their kitchen from the street so it is fun to watch the action for a bit if in the area.
  • 6 Paul Bert - This was recommended by a local at Clamato who heard us discussing options. We were most grateful and had a delightful family dinner before our late evening walk through the lights of Paris.
  • Claus Cafe - near Palais Royal - breakfast / lunch only - gorgeous space.
  • Le Sant Regis - Cafe on Île Saint-Louis. Île Saint-Louis is a must wander around area and we had a beautiful breakfast here, before walking the short distance to Notre Dame to start our day.
  • Late night Falafel on Rue de Rosiers in the Marais - such a fun scene up until midnight. Many options but we loved the Red Stand that was across from the famous L’As du Falafel. .
  • Ladurée kiosk if flying home from Charles De Gaulle - we forgot about them on the plane, so the children were thrilled when they got to have them for breakfast on our first jet lagged morning home.

What to Do

The options are endless but we chose 1 “thing” to do a day and spent the rest of the time wandering and seeing what we found along the way. Our goal was to orient the children enough to know which landmarks were where so they got a sense of direction and quartier as we explored. We hope this was the first of a lifetime of adventures in Paris for them. We mainly did a lot of walking around to see what Paris revealed to us.

  • Sunset Concerts on the Seine: just walk around the Seine at Sunset and you will find wonderful gatherings of people playing music, dancing, just living and sometimes organized concerts. What we experienced in these moments was my absolute favorite part of this trip.
  • Palais Royal – My mother took me here on my first trip to Paris and it has always stayed with me. It is stunning in its simplicity and beauty and the perfect place to just let everyone wander and relax and take in the grace of this city.
  • Playgrounds and Gardens – just pop in whenever you find them tucked away like jewel boxes throughout the city. Our children loved the Square Jean XXIII, a small park, with a small but modern playground, just on the back side of Notre Dame. Also the bigger gardens like Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin De Luxembourg are an absolute must! I vote for Tuileries if you have to choose because I love the layout of it and its proximity to so many places to see, but they are both lovely.
  • Centre Pompidou – Our son loves modern art, so we chose this as our “big” museum day. One of our favorite spaces was Cafe Little Boy – which is an interactive evolving installation inspired by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (project was named “Little Boy”). The children loved this room. There is also also have an amazing gift shop with incredible books and art supplies.
  • Ballet de Paris – I love to see local ballet companies when we are traveling. If they are performing, I would highly recommend making this part of your experience.
    Plage de Paris – every summer the city sets up “beaches” along the Seine – if you happen to cross paths it
  • Place des Vosges – Classic. one of my favorites squares in Paris, near Musee de Carnavalet and the Musee Picasso. Also near great shopping and can walk to Place de la Bastille.
  • Palais de Chaillot /Trocadero – I think this is the only way to really “see” the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Of course you can see it from most of the city, but we walked from Arc De Triomphe to Chaillot /Trocadero so the first time the children saw the full effect was from this perspective. We used to live nearby so am a little partial to that perspective, but the video we have of the children seeing it for the first time like this is priceless to us.
  • La Tour Eiffel – If you do this – Go at night (much less crowded than during the day) climb the stairs and time it so you are inside the tower during the light show (hourly).
  • Shop: Tom Greyhound

 

Saved for next time:

So many things!  We did a lot of “pass by” visits of tourist sites on this trip. For instance we opted not to go to the Louvre but we walked around outside and picked up our rental car in the Louvre garage so they got to see the vast underground city that churns beneath the artwork. Next time we will add in some of the below choices.

inside scoop

Follow these Instagram accounts as part of your research for your trip: Paris in Four Months, My Little Paris, Parisianly Yours, Cecile Moli, Mimi Thorisson – this girl is a global Oliver type girl – she is often in Paris but lives outside of Bordeaux with her husband Oddur and seven children – they are great to follow for many locations in Europe.

skip it

I would not have done the Eiffel Tower if our children had not requested multiple times.

What to Pack

more...

See Sterling Boyd’s Paris Guide here.

See Rachel Wynn’s Paris Guide here.

See Nina Smallhorn’s Paris Guide here.

See Amy Blake’s Paris Guide here.

See Kara Schwabauer’s Paris Guide here.

To add a suggestion login or join