WHY VISIT THE RIGHT BANK OF PARIS?
This question seems like a no-brainer, however, if you need some convincing on why you should be visiting Paris’ Right Bank, it makes sense to start with a bit of history. The Right Bank used to be the bank of power, luxury, and business, whereas the Left Bank was known for students, artists, and intellectuals. While today, some of the dynamics between the two banks are a bit antiquated, to some extent, the general sentiment remains true. The Right Bank is generally perceived as a bit more trendy and sophisticated, which contributes to the allure.
When you visit Paris, there is not doubt you should explore both sides of the Seine, but there are a few hallmarks on the Right Bank that will likely make it your first stop: the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Opera Garnier, and the impossibly cute Montmartre. Personally, most of my favorite restaurants, cafes, and cocktails bars also happen to find themselves situated on the Right Bank, and isn’t that like 80% of why you go to Paris anyway?!
WHERE TO STAY
In the 9th Arrondissement, LAZ’ Hôtel Spa Urbain sits on a quiet street in the areas of Saint Lazare & South Pigalle. The property serves as a nice reprieve for jet-lagged travelers and those who may want to relax after a morning of exploring. Featuring cozy rooms, a chic bar, a courtyard perfect for cracking open a book or catching up on correspondence, pool, and hammam, this boutique hotel packs a serious punch for a traveler who wants to have a little bit of everything included in their stay. Their staff is made up of mostly expats, meaning you’re greeted with a smile at all hours of the day, and they’re generally quite helpful – something that I’ve found sparingly in other more corporate properties. If you find yourself coming in after a long night, treat yourself to the spread of candy that they leave out after dinner; I found myself grabbing a handful of gummy sharks most evenings ;). It’s little touches like these that remind me of why I like to generally stay in smaller hotels when I travel.
The location of LAZ’ is great travelers who prefer to either walk or use Uber to get to different points in the city. We took Uber to nearly everywhere we wanted to explore that was more than a 20-25 minute walk, and nothing was more than €8-€10. If you’re more keen on staying in the middle of the hustle and bustle, this may not be the property for you. But, because I prefer to be slightly off the beaten path, this was a perfect option on my most recent trip. Within walking distance, you have some tasty dining options, and cute cafes that aren’t teeming with tourists – I’ll get to those in the next section of this post.
Rates for the property are quite affordable. In the slower seasons, rooms start around $150 and go up to about $400+ for a higher category (lofts with a terrace) during peak travel times.
WHERE TO EAT
Before I dive into some of my favorite spots, keep in mind, I like sensational food, elevated dining experiences, and attentive service. If that’s not your vibe, you may not be into my recommendations, and that’s totally cool! However, if it is, keep reading.
Recommended by several locals who love good food and wine, Septime offers a 5-course lunch and 7-course dinner tasting menu daily. This definitely isn’t a dining destination for the traveler looking to grab some grub on a budget, but if you’re looking to enjoy a delicious meal in an unpretentious setting, I can’t recommend this spot enough. Be sure to book as far in advance as possible because reservations fill up quickly – I recommend doing so before you travel. Pro tip: get the wine pairings. Just do it.
Carbón (€€ – €€€)
In Marais, this memorable dining experience focuses on fire – with a plethora of grilled items, paired with a tasty cocktail program. If you don’t have a chance to make a reservation, they do take walk-ins. You’ll most likely be pointed to their downstairs cocktail bar until they’re ready to fit you in at a table (that is likely a result of a no-show reservation). Starting with small plates to share is a must; if the cuttlefish is available, I highly recommend giving it a try. The veal bavette is a mouthwatering main course, and I would go back just for that dish. Again, if you can, make a reservation in advance of your trip, that is ideal. Not everyone is lucky to get a table as a walk-in, and I’ve seen quite a few people turned away, especially later in the evening.
Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton (€€€)
Ahhh yes. A good afternoon tea situation is very on brand. This is not the first, nor the last, afternoon tea you will ever hear me talk about. I’m always down to skip a traditional lunch in exchange for a pile of carbs, a glass of champagne, and some caffeine around 3PM on any given day of the week. Sit down in Salon Proust and enjoy lingering conversations with your travel companion, while taking a moment here and there to people watch. These reservations absolutely need to be made in advance, and be prepared to spend a pretty penny on some petits fours; starting price for Afternoon Tea is €65, and add a glass of champagne for a total of €85. In my opinion, this experience is entirely worth it. The service and offering more than matches the price tag. Pro tip: If you find yourself in Paris last minute, or planned to fail ahead, fear not! you can still have a tasty afternoon experience at the Ritz Bar. Tucked away in the back of the hotel, this room maybe has ten tables, and a bar with five or so seats. Scoot back there for snacks, cocktails, and don’t leave without trying dessert.
Relais de L’Entrecote (€ – €€)
This no frills steak frites spot is touristy, but a staple. Get there early, prepare to wait in line, and then enjoy the hustle and bustle of this joint that only serves one dish. Options outside of their standout main course are limited; the two drinks you can order are either coca-cola or red wine. You’ll start with a salad, tell the server how you want your steak cooked, and the only big question will be whether you have room for their crème brûlée at the end of the meal. The answer is yes, yes you do.
Le Bon Georges (€€ – €€€)
Looking for a more authentic French dining experience? This is the spot. Make like a true European and grab a table outside (any time of year), and scan their wine list until a bottle calls your name. The menu screams quintessential Parisian bistro, and you should eat accordingly. Don’t leave without trying the steak tartare with beef is carefully sourced from Polmard. If you have room for an unpretentious, but equally tasty dessert, take the server’s recommendation of whatever they’re currently fawning over that day. Ultimately, if you want to feel like you’re living inside a post card, this is the place that you want to find yourself dining on a Friday night. No reservation needed at this spot, but expect tight quarters, as this little bistro does their best to use every square inch of the space.
Ellsworth (€€ – €€€)
Last, but certainly not least, is this little treasure near the Louvre. Gracious service accompanied by quality, but not over the top food, makes this an ideal restaurant to stop for lunch in the mid-day between exploring some of Paris’ more popular sites. One downside, because of its location, is that you will likely be surrounded by tourists. However, their fried chicken is worth the touristy vibe, and frankly, it is one of the better spots to post up in the area.
WHERE TO DRINK
Downstairs at Pink Mamma (€€)
This Instagrammable restaurant is mostly known for their view off of the top floor and the inevitable line that forms around this pink building in the middle of the 9th. The cocktail list in their downstairs bars is fun, creative, and approachable. This is the type of bar that is made for someone who is cocktail curious, but not pretentious about what they want to drink. You’ll be surrounded by a lot of tourists, but the vibe is still cool enough that it warrants stopping in for a drink before a night out. Feeling like having a tame night instead? Put your name on the list for dinner upstairs, where the price is just right for a pizza or pile of pasta.
Le Syndicat Cocktail Club (€€)
So you want to hang with the cool kids, huh? The menu at this industry spot changes up every few months, and you can request just about any concoction that suits your fancy. Expect sparklers, perhaps a few shots of obscure aperitifs, coupled with a hipster crowd. This spot is found on a popular street full of good spots to duck into for a drink or two, and definitely a good stop if you want to mingle with artsy expats and locals who love a healthy combination of grunge and glam.
Sister Midnight (€ – €€)
One of Pigalle’s latest cocktail spots is a bit rock ‘n’ roll with a edgy sense of humor; think leg lamps meet Mich Ultras and hard-to-find champagne. Perfect for it’s location. Walking into this spot, I was having flashbacks to the scene in Labyrinth where they’re clearly tripping on acid and Sarah’s hair is an absolute vibe – I mean this as the highest praise!! If you don’t get the reference, I encourage a quick Google search. It paints a serious picture. This dark little bar tucked away in plain sight is perfect for a date, or a final nightcap before stumbling back to your hotel.
Experimental Cocktail Club (€€€)
Want to stay out until 4AM? ECC is a fantastic late night bar where the cocktail revolution really began in Paris. Traveling solo? Grab a seat at the bar and you’re bound to chat up with someone who has a good story to tell, or just a recommendation of their favorite cocktail on the ever-rotating menu. In the back, you’ll find tables more suited to groups or sitting with a date. Both nights I was there on my last trip, a DJ was spinning artists like Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon and Alma Negra; setting a tone for a good time. Don’t stress too much about which cocktail to pick off of their list – they’re all good. And, if you find yourself craving something a bit more specific, the talent behind the bar will be sure to whip it up without question.
A byproduct of the Experimental Cocktail Group, Nico de Soto recreates all of the feels of LES (NYC) or Shoreditch (London) in this joint attached to hotspot Daroco, or easily accessible from Passage Vivienne. In the early evening, the place is usually filled with folks waiting for their table at the adjoining restaurant, but the post-10PM crowd is a healthy combination of the transient cocktail bar hoppers, or couples looking to post up at a table for the night. Either way, you’ll be greeted with a smile, relatively expedient service, and will be hard-pressed to complain about whatever combination of flavors ends up in your glass.
Lulu White Drinking Club (€€€)
Around the corner from Sister Midnight on Rue Frochot, this well-trafficked cocktail bar, paying homage to New Orleans, is filled with a healthy mix of locals and cocktail aficionados from around the world. Get in early enough to grab a booth if you have a group of four or more, or try to find a seat at their Art Deco bar. I encourage you to order anything that includes absinthe, and try to go on a night where they have live music (usually Saturday through Monday).
WHAT TO DO
Shop at L’Appartement Sézane
Did you make the mistake of packing stilettos that will get absolutely destroyed on the cobblestone streets, or have you been searching for that absolutely perfect sweater that works for just about every month of the year? Look no further. This massive shop in the 2nd is your one stop shop for all the wardrobe staples.
Take an art class at Pauline Fraisse
If you’ve ever had an opportunity to mindlessly stroll through the hills of Montmartre, you may have seen a group or two with a sketchbook in hand studying a scene and putting their artistic skills to work. Most likely they were talking a class, and you can, too! Initially I assumed that this was more of an activity catered to locals, or those on an extended stay in the city, but the classes are largely full of visitors who want to see Paris through a more specific lens. This is a fun activity if you’re traveling with kiddos, or you want to do something a little different with your travel companion. A 3-hour class will cost you €90, but you can also book several if you’re in the city for a while at a discount.
Explore the Petit Palais
Frankly, there is not enough time to see every museum in Paris, and unless you have two full days to explore the Louvre alone, you may be better off picking this art museum across the way from Grand Palais in the 8th. Check their website in advance of your visit to scope out which temporary exhibits look interesting, and focus on one or two permanent exhibits. The sculptures and paintings from the 19th Century have always piqued my interest, but there’s much more to be seen if that’s not your cup of tea.
See the Eiffel Tower sparkle
One of the most commonly seen art installations in Paris is only visible after sunset until 1AM (2AM in the summer). At the top of the hour for five minutes, the Eiffel Tower sparkles, and for as many times as I’ve seen it, it’s always pretty. freakin’. magical. In the warmer months, grab a bottle of wine and a blanket and plop down for a few hours to enjoy a couple rounds of this enchanting light show. Yes, it’s cheesy, but boy it doesn’t get much better than that.
Walk around Le Marais
Want to live your best Parisian life? Feel like a local walking around the fashionable Marais district situated in the 3rd and 4th. This corner of Paris, which was once the city’s Jewish quarter, is teeming with chic boutiques, galleries, and bars. Le Marais has a truly fascinating history, which manifests itself in a maze of small side streets and takes a full day to explore most corners. Step into shops, like Merci, even if you’re just looking for a little inspiration for your own home, and don’t leave without grabbing a crêpe at Breizh Café.
Catch up on a good book at Café de Flore
Rub elbows with tourists and locals at one of the oldest coffee houses in Paris. Skip the lattes for a cup of their famous hot chocolate, and don’t be afraid to really embrace café culture and crack open your current read, while trying to guess the language of the ever rotating guests around you.
BEST SPOTS FOR WORKING REMOTE
If you’re like me, travel is intertwined with work, and finding a reprieve to sit down and crank through emails for a few hours is necessary to keep my company running like well-oiled machine. One downside of Paris is that they take their café culture super seriously, meaning most spots don’t have WiFi, or will kick you out after an hour. I put together a small list of places that either are free or charge a small fee that can serve as your office away from home during your next visit.
The Hoxton Hotel (Free)
Known for it’s stylish interior and as a popular meeting spot for afternoon meeting among expats, you can usually get away with doing a bit of work in their lobby, or other rooms that flank their entryway for a few hours without being a guest. Grab a coffee at their café, and you likely won’t be bothered.
If you are in need of more of an office vibe, or a place to take a few calls, Le Laptop is a good choice. They allow you to “hot desk” by the hour or day. A day rate is 30€. The only drawback is that it is a bit outside of the city center i the 19th, but if you need to hunker down and get some real work done, this is a perfect location to do so.
At 5€ an hour, or 20€ for a day, this coffee shop/co-working space is a nomadic professional’s dream in the 3rd. Once you check everything off of your to-do list, head across the street to Arts et Métiers to unplug. They also have meeting rooms that you can rent by the hour; perfect if you’re traveling with a friend or two who needs slightly more privacy, or don’t want to worry about bugging your neighbor.
Want to be surrounded by creatives, students, or those who aren’t necessarily relegated to their laptops to get work done? Then this is your joint. It will run you 5€ an hour, or around 17€ per day, and is right on the edge of Le Marais, so when you decide to be done for the day, you can take your hard earned cash and do some shopping or indulge in some tasty eats 😉
Blackburn Coffee (Free)
In the 10th, you’ll find a coffee shop that feels more London than Paris, which is perfect if you’re trying to get work done. The service isn’t always *spectacular*, with some pretty long wait times for food. But, since you’re there to work, it doesn’t really matter, right?
MY FAVORITE PHOTO SPOTS
Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75116 Paris
There are lots of different spots to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but the most popular is probably Trocadero, and for good reason. Get there early in attempt to beat the engagement photo shoots, but be ready to wait for those few coveted spots on the ledge (where the above shot was taken).
Arc de Triomphe
Intersection of Place Charles de Gaulle & Avenue Carnot
There are eleven, yes eleven, roads that lead to the Arc de Triomphe. About three are absolutely crowded with tourists, but if you make the 10-15 minute walk to the other side, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that your viewpoint is virtually clear.
La Maison Rose
2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir, 75018 Paris, France
Prepare for a hike up to what feels like the tippy top of Montmartre to get this photo of a pink maisonette that has become increasingly popular with tourists.
26 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France
Before popping over for tea at the Ritz, make sure to snap a photo in front of these quintessential blue doors in one of the most beautiful squares in the 1st. If you walk around the square, make sure to have a look at the (158 different) mascarons!
8 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
Another spot that you’ll want to get to early is this 17th-century arcade, with the very photogenic striped columns in the courtyard by Daniel Buren. If you come on an off-peak time mid-week, you’ll likely be able to get a shot without other onlookers. I recommend first thing in the morning if you can rally that early.
Raining in Paris? Find reprieve in one of the many covered passages around the city. One of the prettiest, in my opinion, is Passage Jouffroy (pictured above), where you discover your new favorite antique book shop or splurge on some sweets. But there are plenty others, such as Passage des Panoramas and Passage du Grand Cerf.
Don’t have the budget to spend on Ubers everywhere? That’s alright! The public transportation system is super easy to figure out. Purchase an Easy Navigo card to make getting in and out of the metro seamless, and so you don’t lose the tiny tickets that they give you for one-way trips.
Staying in Paris on a Sunday? Do your research before to make sure the places you want to go are indeed open, as many are closed or operate on limited hours. Same goes for the month of August – a lot of places close up shop.
If you’re dead set on going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, reserve your tickets in advance. You can do that here.
And, my favorite tip of all: allow yourself to get lost. Paris is massive, and meant to be explored on foot. You’re bound to make a wrong turn, or stumble into somewhere unexpected. Just got with it.