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Weekend in Paris: Our guide to the best things to do in Paris

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Megan Murray
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Spending the weekend in Paris? Here’s Stylist’s guide to the best hotels, restaurants, bars and more…

Paris – aka the city of lights – is a mixing pot of art, attitude, romance, culture, history and, above all else, magic. Countless attempts have been made to try and capture the full colour of its charm (you name the medium and we’ll find someone whose been inspired by this beating heart of France), but there really is no better way to experience Paris than by going there and living it for yourself… preferably as a local. 

Of course, if you haven’t been to Paris before (or even if you have), it’s difficult to imitate the effortless elegance of true Parisians, let alone track down the chicest bars, hidden treasures and tricky-to-find venues. 

Thankfully, we are here to help you explore the French capital in true Parisian style. Here, we’ve pulled together an edit of the best places to stay, eat, drink and explore in Paris. 

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Best places to stay in Paris

There are plenty of gorgeous boutique boudoirs to choose from, but here’s a small selection of the best and most luxurious hotels in Paris…

Grand Amour Hotel 

Grand Amour Hotel in Paris

The Amour Hotels group has two utterly on-trend hotels in Paris for you to choose from. The smaller Amour Hotel is situated in the 9th arrondissement, an area known for its up-market elegance, adorned with beautiful theatres and the famous Galleries Lafayette (the French version of Harrods). Room sizes range from single to duplex and the decor style is undeniably quirky; think disco ball lights and floor-to-ceiling pink walls.

Over on the right bank of the River Seine, in the 10th arrondissement, you’ll find the Grand Amour Hotel. The bigger sister to the Amour, this venue ups the ante with a terrace filled with flowers, birds and tropical fish. With 42 rooms, it has nearly double the space of its petite companion and a slightly more sophisticated edge, swapping playful football tables with modern art. As you can see from the photo above, it’s the stuff Instagram dreams are made of. 

Average rate for a single room is listed at €87. Find more information here.

The Hoxton

The Hotel in Paris

Here to crank up the luxe factor a knotch is The Hoxton. It’s located very centrally in the 2nd arrondissement, in a gorgeously quirky 18th century building. As well as 172 rooms that are spread over four floors, the hotel has a bar, restaurant and meeting room space that is popular with guests and locals alike. 

The decor style is very ‘of the now’, mixing jewel-toned velvet sofas and mid-century furniture with authentic features and modern touches, with a lot of plants. Being an international brand, it may not be quite as authentic to Paris itself, but there’s no doubt you’ll feel a million euros staying here and left wanting for nothing. 

The Hoxton say rates can go as low as €99 but on average you’re looking at around €150 for a small room if you book in advance. Find more information here.

Hotel des Grands Boulevards

Hotel des Grands Boulevards in Paris

Hotel des Grands Boulevards history reaches back into some of the most famous stories of France, and indeed Paris’, rich tapestry. The original structure for this hotel was erected shortly before the French Revolution and built on the foundation of an old garden, which now acts as a secret botanical oasis, and can be reached through a long passageway into the building.

The boutique accommodation only has 50 rooms, each one individually designed by Dorothée Meilichzon, with thought and style to reference the trends of Louis XVI without feeling clichéd. Inspired by the hotel’s history, she aimed to creates a journey back in time with pastoral aesthetics alongside sumptuous colours and fabrics, which act as an escape from the frenetic streets of the city. The result is lavish and considered, with delighting touches both modern and historic. 

Room prices can vary wildly depending on the date of booking, but the least you can expect to pay is around the €170 mark. Find more information here

Best coffee shops and cafes in Paris

Here’s some of the best independent coffee shops and cafes in Paris. 

Ten Belles 

Ten Belles coffee shop in East Paris

Ten Belles is a teeny, tiny cafe in the hipster area of Canal Saint-Martin, known for its tip top coffee. If beans are your thing, head here and sample their selection of hot drinks, and look cool as a cucumber doing it. The space is small, so you’ll often find a line of people queuing down the street for their caffeine fix. But, if you’re lucky, you might snag a stool outside where you can sip a smooth-as-you-like latte and watch the world go by, Parisian style. 

Find more information here

Boot Cafe

A post shared by Boot Cafe (@bootcafe) on

The history behind this fashionable coffee spot is referenced in its iconic ‘Cardonerrie’ facade (that means ‘shoe repairing’ in French, for those who don’t speak the lingo!). And, inside, the Boot Cafe is adorably ramshackle. Its walls are adorned with notes, pictures, magazine cut-outs, and a few small plants and stacks of magazines decorate the corners of the small space, which can only house a few customers to drink-in. But this doesn’t stop hordes of clued-up Parisians from visiting, either taking a stoop on the pavement outside or at least taking a cool snap before enjoying their flat white on the go. 

Find more information here

Best places to eat breakfast in Paris

From a light pastry petit déjeuner to the best brunch in Paris, try these breakfast spots out for size.

Peonies Paris 

Peonies Cafe in Paris

If the moniker of this pretty cafe doesn’t draw you in, the on-point decor and story behind its owner certainly will. Clémentine Lévy – once a model and DJ, now a barista and florisr –  founded Peonies herself, and is has made a name for herself as a seriously impressive businesswoman after learning every aspect of her business to create her dream venture. If you spot her, be sure to say ‘bonjour’: she’s every bit as likely to be found behind the counter as she is behind her laptop. 

This bien brunch spot offers up a mix of pastries, healthy granola and fruit combinations, alongside pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches. Bon appetit!

Find more information here

Holiday Cafe

Holiday Cafe in Paris

Travel magazine Holiday isn’t just a very fancy publication: it has a chic Parisian cafe under its belt, too. The classic outdoor terrace is the perfect place to people watch – especially on a sunny day, with one of the cafe’s simple, yet flavour-packed, dishes placed in front of you.

The cafe prides itself on curating a menu that focuses on good food, that hasn’t been messed around too much. It invites customers to taste “an eclectic assemblage of necessary luxuries: simple dishes of the highest quality” – délicieux!

See more information here

Best places to have lunch in Paris

From cool Japanese fusion to more traditional French fare, here are some of the best places for lunch in Paris.     

The Cod House

Best restaurants in Paris The Cod House

This Japanese restaurant serves up an intriguing mix of tapas-style dishes with a focus on fish, in a space that will have you instantly feeling like someone in the know. Sitting in the airy, multi-layered restaurant space towards the back of the venue, you’ve got great views: the lower level gives you exposure to the chefs, whipping up a storm in the kitchen; upstairs, meanwhile, allows you to look down on your fellow diners from lofty heights. 

The cocktails are also not to be missed, with the owners priding themselves in their diverse selection of Japanese ingredients, from yuzu and macha to sake and homemade syrups – à votre santé, we guess.

Find more information here

Balagan 

Best restaurants in Paris Balagan

Foodies rejoice, for we have found the alter at which you need to kneel. Balagan is a collaboration between three of the city’s most notable restauranters, and two of Israeli’s most famous chefs, taking a lot of inspiration from the culinary richness of the Middle East. Think interesting starters like shrimps with strawberries, basil, sorbet and pistachios or mains like octopus, coriander cream, lava beans, peas, yougurt and corsican brucciu. 

Find more information here

Clown Bar

If you like your chosen venue to have a bit of history, you’ll love the kooky story behind Clown Bar. As the name suggests, this bar and restaurant has a strong link to the circus, and used to serve as an eatery for the clowns that once performed in the Cirque d’Hiver next door. 

The colourful tiles which show off the place’s history have been preserved by the new owners, while the rest of the restaurant has been given a contemporary twist, including the seasonal menu. 

See more information here

Best places to have dinner in Paris

Some of the best restaurants to dine out in Paris. 

Pink Mamma

Pink Mamma more than lives up to its moniker, being housed in an entirely millennial-pink tiled building, with kitsch, pastel touches scattered throughout its restaurant space. We particularly love the flowery wall plates you’ll find near the bar.

Spreading out over four floors, this is a fabulous place to go to soak up the varying atmospheres and admire the changing decor throughout. The menu covers a range of cuisines. It specialises in meats grilled on a three meter BBQ, but there’s a delicious selection of pastas, pizzas and salads too. 

Find more information here

Frenchie Restaurant 

While working with Jamie Oliver in his London restaurant Fifteen, the famous chef gifted Gregory Marchand with the nickname, Frenchie. It’s a title he took with him back to Paris where he opened his own restaurant, and promptly named after himself. Frenchie restaurant offers an authentic experience, with a detailed wine list and five-course carte blanche menu.

Find more information here

Best bars in Paris

Stuck for somewhere to sip cocktails? Try some of these Parisian cocktail bars out for size. 

La Passerell

La Passerelle is the perfect place to enjoy the summer sun’s rays and relax in a bohemian setting. Sitting on the River Seine, this bar and restaurant gives you views of Paris’s most iconic landmark, The Eiffel Tower, as well as boats and canoes floating along the water next to you. 

Find more information here

Le Très Particulier

Le Très Particulier is an eclectic (and, at times, secretive) bar concealed within Hotel Particulier Montmartre. Mixing open, bright leafy spaces like the above with darkened corners, hidden doors and unlikely passages into other parts of the venue, the bar’s designers aim to keep you on your toes. And it works. 

If you get peckish, try the tasty tapas menu while nursing experimental cocktails and basking in the humming atmosphere. 

See more information here

Le Comptoir Général

Located out of view, just off the Canal Saint-Martin, Le Comptoir Général is a bar and dance space that manages to create a feeling of ramshackle elegance with its mismatch of vintage furniture and plant-y touches. 

The central bar serves up a mix of tropical cocktails that will slip down ever-so-smoothly, and while you sip them we recommend grabbing a seat in one of the many nooks: they are perfectly placed for observing the interesting mix of people that flock to this cult hang-out. As the evening gets later, the music gets louder, with a mix of well-known RnB beats pumping through the speakers. We recommend you bring your dancing shoes…

Find more information here.

Best things to do in Paris

There are so many things to do in Paris, from tourist spots to unknown walkways. Here are just a handful of our favourites.      

La Promenade Plantée

This beautiful walkway sits three storeys high, atop of a disused railway line, giving you unique views of Paris from the sky. La Promenade Plantée is three miles long and looks across to some of the city’s most archetypal architecture, putting you at perfect peering height next to grand balconies and rooftop terraces. 

Winding through some of Paris’ quieter neighborhoods, it’s a pocket of calm in this cosmopolitan setting. And yet, despite being surrounded by botanics, you never feel far from the urbanism which is still going on in the streets beneath you.

Read more about it here.

Take a river cruise 

Best things to do in Paris

Day or night, The Seine is a spectacularly beautiful way to see Paris. There’s a selection of river cruises that operate, most of them cost around €15 for an hour’s trip that will probably depart from the Eiffel Tower. 

If you’ve got your learning cap on, you can ask for a free audio guide and listen to the history of the buildings you’re passing. Otherwise, you can simply sit back and watch the world go by. In the evening we recommend taking a few drinks with you and waving to revelers sitting on the banks.  

Find more information here

Walk the streets of Canal Saint-Martin

Best things to do in Canal Saint-Martin in Paris

This canal, which runs through the east side of Paris, has become a known hipster hang-out, positively surrounded by quaint coffee shops and cool concept stores. Located in the 10th arrondissement, it’s slightly off the beaten track of tourist spots and monuments, and offers a chance to experience the city as a real Parisian. 

Walking the full length of the canal will give you views of pretty, pastel coloured shops and plenty of people watching but mark down a few places to visit as you go to anchor your route. We suggest tying in a visit to the previously mentioned Ten Belles coffee shop and the Babel Concept store

Images: Ludo Martin / Instagram / Courtesy of venues

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