Ahhh Paris. An exquisite city
filled with touristy, romantic clichés and at over 16.06 million visitors, one of the world’s most visited offering almost every kind of experience to the foot-weary tourist. With the typical Eiffel Tower, Bateaux Mouches rides on the Seine or un café or demi-litre of white wine on cozy, cobbled corner cafés experiences, you may be restricting yourself to the usual, touristy things to do in Paris. Explore some usual and unusual things to do in Paris with Hélène Avril, the former Public Relations Manager at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, and now head of PR at White Alpaga Communications, who shares her personal ‘Paris Musts’ with followsummer’s ‘Like a Local’ City Guide: Paris.
Paris Must Stay: Hélène offers both traditional and trendy hotels to lay your head:
Four Seasons Hotel George V (of course!) “classic and elegant Parisian palace in the golden triangle of Paris.” La Reserve (recently opened) in Paris “a new hip / trendy place.” Le Grand Hotel du Palais Royal “Pierre-Yves Rochon’s decor, spa, restaurant, ideal location with the Louvre, rue Saint-Honoré for shopping and the Tuileries Gardens for a nice walk.” Hotel Particulier “charming and different hotel in Montmartre with a very delightful garden for a peaceful environment.”
Paris Must Eat: Hélène serves up her favourite spots for traditional and snazzy new Parisian food:
Restaurant Chez Leon “one of my favourite places to have dinner for its very fresh products, its quality and the “fait maison” cuisine.” Restaurant le Petit Poucet sur l’ile de la Jatte “a favourite places to enjoy a new ‘vaste terrasse’ at the edge of the water. A very relaxing environment to have lunch or dinner with family or friends. French contemporary cuisine with products handpicked from the Parisian markets.” Diep “I appreciate Chinese and Thai cuisine, so this is a must eat for something different than French food with delicious Eastern flavors and spicier aromas.” Renoma 75008 Paris “is a trendy place I like going to with friends after work for a good drink and a good meal – it is a real hub of social activity and people watching.” Monsieur Bleu “another trendy place with a more gastronomical cuisine and one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower sitting on the terrace outside the Palais de Tokyo.” Le Restaurant Bon “Asian restaurant which a very contemporary style and exotic cuisine designed by Philippe Stark, a great place to have dinner with a great group of friends.”
Paris Must Café Culture: Here are Hélène’s favourites to ‘prends un verre’ or ‘coffee ‘flat-white’ and people or celebrity watch:
La Société “trendy and chill place to hang out for a coffee or a glass of champagne.” Ladurée – – for tea time or coffee with some lovely macaroons or pastries.” Hotel Costes “for people watching / good, hip place and cocktail sipping on the terrace.” Chez Castel “a famous ‘members only’ regular clientele club where you can mingle with celebrities over dinner or a drink.”
Paris Must Shop: What are Hélène’s favourite fashion finds?
Window Shopping: Avenue Montaigne 75008 Paris “to get inspired by the beautiful gowns and international brands on Saint Germain 75006 Paris for a different and unique look with exceptional pieces from independent stores.” Real Shopping: “My favorite Brands: Maje, Tara Jarmon, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel“. Shoes: “absolute must – Christian Louboutin ‘Simple Pump Vernis’ If else, I also like shopping on rue de chartres in 92200 Neuilly for independent shops offering unique styles than the other big-brand boutiques.”
Paris Must Visit: Does Hélène have a typical tourist spot or something hidden away and ‘insolites’?
“As a tourist or a French person visiting Paris, I would recommend Montmartre to walk around the hidden streets of Paris with the most incredible views and stairs. Jardin du Luxembourg for a nice walk around the beautiful garden to feel relaxed and peaceful. A must is the Eiffel Tower, without it Paris is just not the same. You should see it or visit it during the day and the nighttime as they are entirely different. Something a little more gothic and underground is the Catacombs of Paris holding the remains of about six million people. Incredibly historic with its reputation as the ‘World’s Largest Grave’. Museums: Musée D’Orsay, Quai Branly and must include the brand new Fondation Louis Vuitton.”
Paris Must Explore: a special neighborhood? The Napoleon Rooms at the Louvre? A Flea Market? Canal St Martin?
“My favourite Flea Market is Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is the best shopping place for vintage furniture, vintage collector pieces of jewelry or fashion, and also just to enjoy bargaining with dealers in the little streets and alleys of the market. The Canal St. Martin is indeed, a charming place to walk around and feel serene just sitting down at a small neighborhood café. During the weekend, walking around Le Marais while shopping and have ice cream in the afternoon with the kids and share a lovely and happy time in a wonderful neighborhood.
Paris Must See View: favourites? Anything hidden away?
“A place I do not go often, but love is the Fondation Claude Monet in Giverny to be able to see and enjoy where Monet was inspired by his beautiful water garden and its water lilies. Sacrée Coeur for one of the best views of Paris.”
Our own followsummer ‘Paris must’ is the sumptuous Afternoon Tea at Hélène’s very own Four Seasons George V where we indulged our luxuriant side in Four Seasons serenity and loved their outstanding service, opulent surroundings, and white glove attention.
World Traveler, Writer, and Blogger, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the followsummer.com travel blog. Come, travel the world with me and my experiential eye!