Where can you find the best pastries in Paris? What’s the coolest new boutique hotel in the city? Where do Paris’ art crowd hang out? If you’re looking for Paris travel tips, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve found the hottest hotels, the must-see exhibitions and the best restaurants to grab a bite in with our guide to Paris for 2019…
Paris Travel Guide 2019
‘Paris is always a good idea,’ or at least that was the form prior to the challenges brought to the city in 2015. Tourism is only beginning to bounce back (after a painful lull) with a host of design-led hotel openings and renovations, a cosmopolitan gastronomic facelift and museums harnessing the capital’s fashion legacy with headline shows.
Never mind the modern likes of Maje, Sandro or Claudie Pierlot, the museums promise a trip to the ‘glory days’, when Paris was the glittering epicentre of the fashion world. It’s the stuff of sartorial reverie, a retrospective of codemakers, fierce talent and the noise of showbiz, politics and culture surrounding these fashion power houses.
Where to Eat in Paris
Pastries at Le Meurice
French pastry chef Cédric Grolet of the Dorchester Collection’s Le Meurice was named “The World’s Best Pastry Chef” at The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Ceremony 2018. Pay a visit to his pastry boutique at the exclusive hotel and check out one of the unique desserts, such as his signature trompe-l’œil sculpted fruits. Oui, s’il vous plaît.
Dinner at Hôtel Plaza Athénée
Choose between the luxury of Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, a Michelin starred restaurant serving contemporary French Haute Cuisine or enjoy a more relaxed affair at the excellent Le Relais Plaza, a cosy grill-room inspired by the roaring thirties. In the latter expect live music, perfectly wine-matched modern French dining and a bustling, lively atmosphere. Try the pan-seared scallops to start and save room for dessert – the ‘all about vanilla’ can be devoured in five glorious seconds.
Lunch at L’Étoile du Nord
If you’re travelling by Eurostar, arrive for your lunchtime train a little early and grab a bite at L’Étoile du Nord, a brasserie by two Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx. Expect modern French buffet classics like chicken supreme, egg mayonnaise salad and even British bites like fish and chips with a tasty twist. www.letoiledunord.fr
And we know you wouldn’t consider it, but forgetting to visit Pierre Herme for a macaron or two would just be rude, wouldn’t it? www.pierreherme.com
Dinner at Shang Palace
Shang Palace is one of three restaurants that the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris has to offer, two of which are Michelin-starred. In contrast to Chef Christophe Moret’s two Michelin-starred restaurant L’Abeille, a gourmet French restaurant, Shang Palace sets the best of Asian and French worlds under one roof. From Sunday 9 September Shang Palace will open seven days a week for lunch and dinner; where Chef Samuel Lee transports guests on a gastronomic exploration to the Middle Kingdom in France’s only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant. As an alternative to wine Maître Tseng’s tea, served according to the traditions of Gong Fu Cha, pairings will be served thought out to the meal making the guests’ dining experience truly unique. And what is France without wine? Ask the sommelier who will suggest a noble and ancient liqueur or cases, vintages that bring a touch of sophistication to the mouth-watering banquet.
Where to Stay in Paris
For when you can’t decide between a rental flat and a hotel: Sweet Inn Apartments
Booking a holiday from scratch can be an arduous process, with countless apartments on holiday home renting websites and an overwhelming number of hotels, each with opposing reviews on TripAdvisor. Enter Sweet Inn – an innovative travel concept like no other, providing a cross between an independent holiday home renting service with the style and quality you would expect of a luxury hotel stay. From start to finish, the process is simple, with constant guidance available from the Sweet Inn team right from the get-go up until you check out, and everything in between.
Booking where to stay on your holiday with Sweet Inn is super simple. Start by scanning and choosing from their succinct yet diverse list of available destinations which includes Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Lisbon and London, and further afield, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to name a few. Enter your check in and check out dates, how many guests, and receive not hundreds of unedited options of below-par apartments and by contrast, overly-priced central stays, but instead a concisely curated selection of top-notch homes, each with its own quirky vibe and character and perfect for either short or longer stays.
Each apartment has the same rich list of amenities you would expect from a top hotel – complimentary Wi-Fi, luxury bathroom products, and beds so comfortable, topped with the finest linens, it might well be a challenge to leave. The list goes on to include more services unique to Sweet Inn, such as a fully stocked Nespresso machine in every apartment, a dedicated member of the team to meet you when you arrive, show you around and answer any questions. Other services are available such as a city tour by one of their professional guides, a private chef, a pre-set smartphone for local calls and browsing, your grocery shopping done for you, a daily breakfast delivery and so on
Each of the Sweet Inn apartments are in prime locations, however the very reasonable prices don’t reflect this. Here are a few ideas to whet your wanderlust appetite – a three-bedroom flat in the centre of Rome with modern lighting, plush sofas and a cow-hide rug; a one-bed loft villa on Barcelona’s Olimpica Beach; an achingly cool beachside apartment in Tel Aviv; the list goes on.
When planning your holidays this year, use Sweet Inn to find your perfect place to stay, where the apartments look even better than they do on the screen, the team are around 24/7 for anything you need, and the overall experience is – well – sweet.
+33 1 84 88 33 20; sweetinn.com
Classic romance in the heart of Paris: Le Meurice
With a history stretching back to 1771 and a list of guests from across the years including Salvador Dali (who spent about a month of each year in the Royal Suite), Rudyard Kipling, Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minnelli, Le Meurice is instantly recognisable in the heart of Paris. With views all across Paris (request a park view for sights over the Louvre and Eiffel Tower), it’s centrally located and perfectly positioned for exploring the city.
With distinctive luxe Arabesscato marble bathrooms (some with views over the Tuileries Garden), playful interiors details by Philippe Starck and two Michelin starred restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse on site, it would be understandable if you wanted to spend your entire 24 hours in Paris within the walls of this hotel. But try and leave at some point. If only for a stroll around the Tuileries Garden and to pop your head inside the world’s largest art gallery, right on your doorstep, (for an hour or 10). We would visit this hotel again and again (and again).
The hip crowd are going east: Boutet Hotel Bastille
With 2017’s art deco revival in full swing, the first five-star hotel to pop up in the east of Paris is worth checking into. This former wood factory mixes gold mosaic tiling and attractive green metalwork. The swimming pool is pretty, too.
New luxury in the heart of Paris: Hotel de Berri
Just moments from the Champs-Elysees and the Triangle d’Or Fashion District, the newly-opened Hotel de Berri is the perfect choice for when you want bold Parisian luxury right in the heart of the action. Styled by designer and artistic director Philippe Renaud, each of the 75 guestrooms, including 35 suites, has a unique and bold design, from muted modern elegance to romantic 19th-century Parisian extravagance.
The façade has been maintained from the 1970s-era office building, while the more-is-more interiors are inspired by the luminaries who once resided at the Triangle d’Or address on the historic rue de Berri, from aristocrats and royals to prominent cultural visionaries.
The hotel also features an incredibly rare private garden spanning three-quarters of an acre for guests to enjoy. Onsite restaurant Le Schiap serves up excellent Italian cuisine masterminded by Tuscan chef Michele Dalla Valle (and formerly of Plaza-Athénée and Le Meurice). The walls of the restaurant are adorned with a colourful fresco painted by French artist-illustrator Hippolyte Romain. In a city overflowing with luxury hotels, the Hotel de Berri still manages to set itself apart from the crowd and create a case for trying some new… marriott.co.uk
Petit Luxe: Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal
Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal from the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. Right by the Louvre but hidden from the crowds in an idyllic courtyard, this fresh, design-led hotel lives up to the city’s culinary expectations, their subterranean spa is an ideal post-shopping indulgence. Doubles from £325.
Contemporary romance: Brach
Contemporary romance descends on Paris’ 16th arrondissement with the opening of Brach Paris. With a signature nonchalance and mission to both redefine and cater to Paris’ new groove, Evok Group has stirred the sleepy 16th arrondissement (not least to mention the city) with their latest marvel, Brach – hot on the heels of Avenue de l’Opera’s Nolinski. Read the full C&TH review here
The perfect art base: The Peninsula
At new-gen palaces of Parisian deluxeishness such as The Peninsula – so cossettingly comfortable that it’s a shock to sit on an unheated loo seat after a stay here – there are puffy down duvets so light they almost float around you, perfect facials from Bérénice in the sumptuous little spa, and giddily romantic booths in the Chinese restaurant; rates remain wince-making but include bonuses such as a 9 am check-in and 7 pm checkout, room upgrades and free breakfasts. But the mega-treat is browsing the city’s marvellous permanent collections – at the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso, Musée Rodin and so on – without queuing or crowds. Review by Adriaane Pielou. Doubles at The Peninsula, from £762. (peninsula.com). Return fares on Eurostar, from £58 (eurostar.com)
Secret Paris: Best Hidden Gems
Like the ‘bobo’ Parisians themselves, who love nothing more than a secret boutique or undiscovered café, Rosalyn Wikeley unearths a few hidden Paris gems.
Best Coffee Shops in Paris
Café Oberkamp is a Middle Eastern- cum-French café tucked down a side street in the Marais. What it lacks in space, it makes up for in piccolo lattes and shakshuka breakfasts.
The Hood is a hipster sanctuary for those after more than a coffee and croissant with its various talks, exhibitions and live music.
Le Fumoir’s jazz age spirit and moody interiors serve up cappuccinos and kir royales with as much yesteryear elegance as the white tablecloth dinners.
Best Museums in Paris
‘Musée Bourdelle is a true undiscovered gem,’ says Parisian Marion Rabate, founder of athleisure brand, Ernest Leoty. The house and workshop of sculptor and Rodin pupil, Antoine Bourdelle, typifies the artistic spirit of early 20th century Montparnasse.
Musée de la Vie Romantique, once home to Dutch artist Ary Scheffer, now houses artefacts and exhibitions celebrating the Romantic period. Few know about this charming villa with its rose- and wisteria-clad gardens.
The Pagoda Paris, a six-storey, bright red pagoda, awash with Sanxi lacquer panels and glass art deco ceilings, is worlds away from 19th-century Haussmann Paris.
Best Shops in Paris
Merci is a concept store typifying Paris’ new groove with three storeys of books, fashion, design, a florist and café.
La Boutique de Cara pulls in finest pre-loved Hermès belts, Chanel coats and Yves Saint Laurent clutches.
Le Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. Head to the 18th arrondissement for what is considered to be the world’s largest flea market, selling everything from enchanting antiques to contemporary lighting.
Best Alternative Restaurants in Paris
Bellota-Bellota may be a chain but its authentic Spanish tiles, unassuming entrance and Iberian tapas would suggest otherwise. Locals gossip over fine Rioja and a kaleidoscopic table of smoked cuts and fresh seafood.
Beefbar’s growing herd of restaurants has just arrived in Paris, satisfying carnivorous desires in its art nouveau interiors, restored under the scrupulous gaze of architects Humbert & Poyet.
‘La Closerie des Lilas is one of my authentic favourites,’ says Laurence Coste, jewellery designer. This brasserie and literary landmark is old world Paris at its best.
Best Bars in Paris
Best-known for its iconic outdoor pool, the five-star Molitor hotel has a stunning open-air roof-terrace and restaurant, perfect for alfresco drinks. This year marks the hotel’s 90th anniversary, marking almost a century of being a landmark in the 16th Arrondisement. Cocktails are served up alongside stunning views across the city with the Eiffel Tower on the horizon, plus the famous Art Deco outdoor pool. mltr.fr/en
Hôtel Particulier Montmartre is a typically Parisian mansion wrapped in a secret garden, awash with quirky interiors that would make Wes Anderson blush.
Hôtel La Réserve’s ornate but cosy library promises exquisite cocktails, soft piano music and a hidden cigar room for afters.
Little Red Door is the brainchild of Experimental Cocktail Club protégé Timothée Prangé with Dotan Shalev, serving up cocktails that test the bandwidth of all its fans’ imaginations.
What to Do
For a ‘nose’ workout and education on centuries of Parisian fragrance, visit the Musée du Parfum. Book a class with ‘un nez’ for an expert rundown of scent pairing and have a go at creating your own.
Where to Work
Travelling for business? If you need to be in the heart of the action, check into Meliá Paris La Défense which is 15 minutes on the Metro to the city centre. Have a drink at the Skyline Paris Lounge & Bar, which has panoramic views of the city including the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the soaring architecture and attractive interior design by Jean-Phillipe Nuel, the brainchild behind the revamp of Paris’ iconic Molitor Swimming Pool. www.melia.com
For more information, visit The Paris Tourist Office.
READ MORE: The Most Romantic Hotels in Paris