city of croissants | paris

Paris is just one of those places that’s captured my heart entirely. It’s hard to really sum it up in one blog, nor could I write an extensive guide to Paris. It’s a metropolitan city and truly what I love the most is the food. While I’ve spent over a fortnight in Paris, all in all, I could not fully recall all the places I’ve been nor did I stick to any particular schedule. It’s one of those cities that’s best to wander and spend some time soaking in each district. This is organized the best I could, highlighting what I know and enjoyed most. There’s plenty of other wonderful blogs out there, but this is just my take on Paris!

Overview of Paris


These are the 20 neighborhoods in Paris. They each have a name and the lowest numbers start at city center winding its way in an outward spiral. They begin at the famous Louvre. In general the nicest parts of town are in the center, which also coincide with most of the tourist areas. However, you can still find some quieter parts of each neighborhood. My personal favorites happen to be the 1st Arr with Palais Garnier and Musée du Louvre, 6th Arr with Jardin du Luxembourg, and 18th Arr holds a sweet spot for me at Montmartre and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Now I shy away from saying anything is the best, having not visited everything properly. But based on research and then personal experience, this is simply my opinion. I’ll include some of the things I didn’t visit but was higher on my list in this blog!

Tourist Areas

A word on touristy areas. Yes, please do check out the tourist destinations in terms of museums, monuments, architecture, public gardens, even the mall and the Seine tour boats. But these are the places to be careful for pick-pocketing and being scammed. And please for food, venture just a few blocks away from the most populated areas for true French food instead of tourist food.

A little story about safety: Overall as long as you’re aware of your surroundings and don’t get trapped in your little bubble, it is fairly safe getting around. People mind their own business. But I took the liberty of wandering nearby Tour Eiffel early morning for photography. But as I wandered through the Champ-de-Mars, a park extending from the tower, a lady came up to me asking for a petition signature. She didn’t seem to know too much English. She kept saying that it was for the kids at the hospital but wouldn’t explain more what exactly they were petitioning for, nor did she say why I needed my phone number etc. It started getting fishy the more I stalled and the more questions I asked. I soon noticed the 3 other names on the list were all in the same handwriting. As I refused the clipboard and tired to pass it back to her, she got increasingly annoyed and aggressive to the point she had grabbed my arm. Thankfully, I was the wrong bait for her since I was both taller (somehow!) and athletic to outrun her. As I escaped her grasp, another lady started running towards me. I didn’t stop running until I got a very far distance away and even saw some police guards, not that I knew if they’d be any help. But at least I was around more people and the tourist lines up to the Tour Eiffel. Looking back, I think that they probably weren’t trying to get money from me, but it was likely a way to distract me as I wrote on the clipboard so they could steal something off me. Amazing how they worked in a pair. It was shocking, but they sure did pick the wrong person to attack! Anyway, needless to say, be on guard in these areas!

French Food

At first I was suspicious of french food. I didn’t like it at all! Well, other than their bread and pastries of course. It took until the most recent trip that I figured out what french food I personally enjoyed. Overall, French food (and European food) is known to be so much better than food in the US because of their quality ingredients and dedication to cooking techniques. But seriously, I think that they don’t mass produce food like we do and you truly can taste the difference. It’s astounding. And I mean, the french are known for their excellence in cooking.

Somehow french food can elevate simple dishes. There’s plenty of lists of dishes to try, and definitely go for them. But be sure to avoid the “tourist” traps. Those are often ones that are chains and ones right on the edge of any tourist destinations that seat an overflowing amount of people on the outside of the restaurant, as if they were trying to forcibly show how popular they are. They’ll often have giant menu boards outside and menus in many different languages. They’re subpar at best. Also any restaurant that opens all day, don’t go there! Plan to eat lunch around 12-2pm and dinner around 6-8pm. This almost always guarantees you a restaurant that is for the locals.

In terms of specific food, I was honestly most impressed by the way that they cook chicken, so tender and juicy. Lots of menus will have “suprême poulet” which just means a specific cut, but to me, it also just means the best! I avoid dishes with too much cheese because it doesn’t sit as well with my stomach. But the French do an amazing job with their cream sauces. Also their melt-in-the-mouth potatoes. If there’s any french words you should learn, it’s food terms! Understanding what the methods and words mean will help so much if you’re reading a french-only menu. Unlike in Italy, a side of baguette pieces is always free in France! And tap water is free as well. I was also impressed with the white fish, usually branzino (European sea bass). They don’t do a lot of veggies if you just order a main dish.

A special note on crepes. There are specific crêperies that are sit-down where you eat it with a fork and knife. Often the savory ones come as buckwheat crepes. But there’s also ones you can walk up to a counter and order to-go and eat it as you walk. Both are equally good I think!

Usually people order several courses but if you’re cheap like me, you order just a “plat”. Often times for lunch especially, you’ll find deals for 2-3 course meals. These are my favorite places! Usually at restaurants called brasseries, but plenty of others will have them too. Sometimes the pricing is different but the options generally are 1 entree + 1 plat ou (or) 1 plat + 1 dessert. And sometimes it’s all 3. Usually you get a choice for each, but it’s not a huge variety. Good enough to beat indecision though, especially when sharing with a friend. They often cost around €20, which seems like a pretty good deal for how good the food is.

A note on other cuisine. I would say to avoid American food and burgers and such, but it’s likely that you could find some pretty amazing American-style food there! Just again, make sure it’s not at a tourist trap restaurant that serves everything. The smaller the menu, the better. The french are deeply into food, so all their restaurants are incredible, even the non-French ones. I personally didn’t get to explore too many, but the one cuisine I keep coming back to is Japanese ramen. In 1st Arr, there’s a huge triangle of ramen shops. It’s cornered by the Louve, then bordered on the east by Jardin du Palais Royal, the the north by Rue du 4 Septembre to the top corner at the Opera house and back down on the west side by Av. de l’Opéra. Randomly pick one with a good rating on google, and nothing can go wrong! The best ramen I’ve had (sans going to Japan) is in Paris! Los Angeles, NYC and Seattle have not stood a chance so far, if that says anything.

Here’s my shortlist of places to check out:


  • Du Pain et des Idées
  • La Patisserie du Meurice par Cedric Grolet
  • VG Patisserie
  • Stohrer
  • Maison Aleph
  • Bo&mie
  • Bouulangerie Utopie
  • Sain Boulangerie
  • Fermentation Generale


  • Laize
  • Brouillon
  • recto verso
  • gramme
  • Matcha Ochaya
  • Noir


  • Septime
  • Mokoloco
  • Mokonuts
  • Le Sergeant Recruteur
  • Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie
  • Restaurant Plume
  • Le Servan
  • Hakata Choten
  • Kodawari Ramen (Yokochō) and (Tsukiji)
  • Yatai Ramen
  • Nouilles Ceintures
  • Yam’Tcha (also Boutique Yam’Tcha and Lai’Tcha)
  • La Droguerie (crepes)
  • café Berry
  • Un Zebra A Montmartre
  • Vavin
Streets of Montmartre


Wow, there are probably way too many details to get into. But here are some highlights to get you started.

Getting to Paris

Depending where you’re traveling from, it’ll look different. By train, you’ll likely end up at one of the main train stations in Paris. But if you’re traveling from the airport, you’ll need to take another train ride into town. The RER B train will take you directly from the Charles de Gaulle airport to Gare du Nord, only a few blocks and/or indoor walk to Gare de l’Est. Plan for 40 minutes to get there. The other main airport is Orly. I’m not sure why you’d take Le Bourget airport, the third in the city. From Orly, there is a shuttle train called Orlyval that you can take to get to the RER B line. Otherwise there’s plenty of busses as well. Sometimes Orly is a preferred airport to CDG because it is smaller and more local to Europe.

The RER lines are the train system that takes suburban folk into the city. If you’re just staying in town, it’s unlikely you’ll need to use a RER train unless going to CDG. There’s 5 main lines, but each line has several different end points. This was reminiscent of the T subways in Boston. So if you are going further away from Paris, such as Versaille, make sure you catch the right train!

Getting around Paris

There’s also the Metro lines, the actual subways running underground. I always preferred to use them because it’s easy and you can get anywhere with just the subways. The busses are a little more confusing since there isn’t just an easy map to see where everything goes. If you get a chance, try to get on a tram! They’re the street version of the subway. One of the best views though is the Passy to Bir-Hakeim section crossing the Seine with a gorgeous view of the Eiffel.

And then obviously there are ride share options you can use, as well as taxis. Often taxis are more reliable than services like Lyft and Uber. They are held to a higher standard and they show up, but you might pay a little more for that. And honestly google maps has come a long way and does a great job at showing what transit you’ll need to take! You might even find yourself on the same lines during your travels.

To get a ticket, just go to any train station (this is why I preferred subway over bus) and you can buy one or more tickets at a time. There’s no price difference, but you might as well buy 10 at a time. That saves you the hassle of wasting time to get tickets. Be careful though, don’t let your tickets be too close to your phone because from first hand experience, it will zap off the magnetic strip and render them invalid. At the airport, they’re nice enough to reprint, but not the case with all of them.

And finally, I love just using my legs to walk around town. There’s now scooters and bikes to rent if you want a speedier travel. Some of my favorite walks are going between Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. And then thoroughly wandering Arrondissement 1 between the Louvre, the opera house, and Tuileries. There’s no section walking along the Seine that stood out to me more than others, but go across to Île de la Cité, where Sainte-Chapelle and the Notre-Dame reside. It feels extra rich in waterways and somehow extra French there. And then obviously Tour Eiffel is a must-see wherever you are. It’s fun to go across the river or just wander around the greenery and maybe even towards Hôtel des Invalides. Now we’re getting too nitty gritty so let’s address each of my favorite neighborhoods next!

Palais Garnier

What to Visit

Paris Center (Arrondissements 1-4)

Obviously this is a hugeeee highlight of Paris! There’s a whole lotta touristy spots, but remember, if you go a street off the main busy parts, you’re already in a local area. Let’s start with the gorgeous Palais Garnier. If you can get a show, do it! There always seems to be construction along Avenue de l’Opéra and the opera house itself. One of the best views actually is from the mall next door. Galeries Lafayette is definitely one to visit even if you’re not much of a shopper. In December, it’s decorated spectacularly for Christmastime, but go to the highest floor and you’ll get up close to the Palais Garnier. Sometimes they let you go outside on the patio too. One of my favorite parts is the Japanese district (or so I call it given all the ramen shops). Google it and you’re sure to find them all (see above as well).

In terms of museums and touristy spots, I personally did enjoy the Louvre. And do yourself justice by checking out the park next door, Jardin des Tuileries, especially pretty in spring and fall time! Right across is Musée d’Orsay, which has some of my favorite type of paintings – French impressionist. Pompidou is another art museum but has a funky, modern style to it. Lots of cheaper eats here! Plus the Les Halles mall is nearby for a quick fix. I haven’t been there, but there’s an European photography museum right on the edge by Port Marie.

While you’re in city center, you obviously have to check out the Notre-Dame, even if it’s in restoration. Sainte Chapelle is also on the island if you want a fuller experience checking out a cathedral. Cité is a fun walk to see what you might describe as very French. Sans walking all along the Seine, you can opt to take one of the many tourist boats that offer tours. Ones that don’t have commentary are still good because you get to experience it for yourself.

Some little sort of hidden things are the covered walkways called “passage”. Some of the best ones include Galerie Vivienne, Passage du Grand Cerf and Passage des Panoramas.

Luxembourg (Arr 6)

Mostly want to share this for the main park, Jardin du Luxembourg. I found quite a few fun restaurants around here, but didn’t get to check them all out. It’s got less of a tourist vibe here and it’s easier to find more local haunts.

Palais-Bourbon (Arr 7)

You truly can’t visit Paris without the Eiffel tower. No, you don’t have to go up, but yes, you’re bound to see it at some point, so you might as well make an effort to really see it. One of the best views at sunrise is across the Seine at Place du Trocadéro. The bridge, Port de Bir Hakeim is also a great unique view if you’re going for artsy. One of the metro trains actually runs on this bridge, giving you one of the best views on train.

View from Arc de Triomphe

Élysée (Arr 8)

This is worth mentioning because of the Arc de Triomphe and Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This is a super fun walk! And if you can get a ticket to the top of the Arc, you’ll get some amazing views of the city. This road is actually quite commercialized, so avoid, if you’re looking for more historic looking buildings and shops. It’s one of the more high end areas, including the fancy Pierre Hermé pastries and Ladurée.

Popincourt (Arr 11)

This area has a place in my heart, maybe for the time I spent looking for bakeries and delicious hole in the wall places. Maybe tenchically also 10th Arr, by République and Goncourt stops, there’s so many shops to find! Obviously check out the famed Du Pain et des Idées bakery shop and Utopie and BO&MIE. And for drinks, Brouillon is so cute!

Montmartre (Arr 18)

While originally further arrondissements were looked down on, Montmartre is making its comeback! The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre has one of the best sunset views of Paris and the Eiffel tower. There’s even a fun funicular you can take to get up and down the steep hill. But as touristy as it is, be careful where you decide to go for food. I’ve had a mixed bag here, but if you look carefully, you’ll be surprised all the local places you’ll find! Rue Lepic and Rue des Abbesses is pretty decent!

View from Montmarte

Day Trips

The nice thing about being basing yourself in Paris is taking advantage of the trains, especially the high speed trains to other towns for a day. Some are definitely worth a longer trip, especially the South of France like Nice or Marseille and Montpellier, which are a relatively short ride away if you get on the TGV trains. For example, you could get from Paris to Lyon in 2 hours instead of a 5 hour car trip. It’s probably worth a bit more than a day trip, but Lyon is so many people’s favorites. If you’re visiting around Christmastime, you have to check out Strasbourg, home of the oldest Christmas Market in France. It’s 1:45 hrs from Paris. If you have extra time, check out Colmar, a quieter but pretty Christmas Market south of Strasbourg. For just 2:15 hrs, you can get to the heart of Luxembourg and then it’s also 1.5 hours from Brussels.

If you’re looking to visit wine country and Champagne, visit Reims, Épernay or Châlons-en-Champagne golden triangle. And if you’re on a mission to see castles, try a bike tour through the Loire Valley between Blois, Amboise, and Tours. For the climber, Fontainebleau is merely a 45 minute train ride away. For the coast lover, I’d highly recommend the white alabaster coast of Normandy, specifically Étretat. It takes a little longer to get to but so worth it! For luxury, Versailles is actually outside of the city, almost an hour local RER ride away.

Gardens of Versaille
Étretat beach town

Well there you have it, my definitive guide to Paris!


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