“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote in his acclaimed memoir, A Moveable Feast. Very wise words. Call it whatever you like: The City of Light, The City of Love, The Fashion Capital of the World, Paris is steeped in history and utterly charming at every turn. And now that low-cost airline French Bee has routes between Paris and U.S. cities like Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and, most recently, Miami, it’s gotten a whole lot easier to make your Emily in Paris moment happen. The flights land at Paris’ best airport (Orly, only 20 minutes from the city) and offer two classes of travel—Economy and Premium Economy—both of which are affordable options for anyone not wanting to splurge on airfare.
Whether you’re people-watching at a café, scoring vintage Chanel at a secondhand shop, or drinking wine by the carafe (no judgment here), there’s simply so much happening in Paris that you’ll never, ever want to leave. Without further ado, here’s our roundup of insider, can’t-miss picks. Bon voyage!
What to See
The Art District Gallery at Le Royal Monceau
The Bel Air Fine Art group partnered with Le Royal Monceau to create a sumptuous modern art gallery open to the public, featuring French contemporary art exhibited under themes that change throughout the year. All art is on sale there, so it’s very possible that you will never see the same version of the gallery twice. But that’s the charm for art lovers, as there are always new pieces to be inspired by and new artists to discover in the gorgeous palais space. Be sure to stop in the hotel’s La Librairie des Arts after for one of the most elevated art gift shop experiences of your life: full of art books and gifts organized by color (and curated with care by the hotel’s art concierge), there’s something for everyone…and every budget.
Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées
Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées has recently added over 30 brands to its offering, including Insta-viral labels like The Frankie Shop, By Far, and Staud, none of which are French, but all of which are chic. With interactive displays and a curated selection of sustainable pieces, it’s a far cry from your average department store.
If you’re on the hunt for that impossible-to-find item you just can’t get anywhere else, scope out Bobby. Featuring rare designer pieces the likes of Chanel, Sandro, and Celine, the vintage store is a veritable treasure trove of fashion finds. (The tagline is “Buy now or cry later” for a reason.)
Where to Eat
Café de la Paix
Since its opening in 1862, this famous café in the historic InterContinental Paris – Le Grand has served everyone from Oscar Wilde to Marlene Dietrich. We’re fans of the breakfast in particular, but the hotel’s celebratory anniversary cocktail, the InterContinental75, a creative riff on the classic French 75 with Piper-Heidsieck champagne, The Botanist gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and honey water, is definitely worth trying.
Bright Lights Paris author and self-described Francophile Angie Niles swears by Bontemps Pâtisserie for its bite-size desserts and quiet, uncrowded tea salon in the back, appropriately dubbed “Le Jardin Secret” (translation: The Secret Garden).
Located in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs overlooking the Louvre, Loulou is a see-and-be-seen spot, not to mention a favorite among the fashion crowd. Fortunately, the food is just as good as the views and the hype. On its menu of French-Mediterranean fare, you’ll find grilled calamari, homemade veal, and chouquettes, a.k.a. French puff pastries filled with vanilla cream. In case you weren’t aware, Loulou de la Falaise was a muse of Yves Saint Laurent.
Where to Drink
French jeweler Messika teamed up with Printemps to open a stunning café pop-up on the department store’s “7ème Ciel” floor terrace, open through October. Overlooking one of Paris’ best rooftop views, Café Messika makes luxury an edible and drinkable experience. Cocktails like Le D-Vibes (which includes a giant diamond-shaped ice cube, pomegranate-infused vodka, hibiscus syrup, and rosé) and innovative gin and tonic Le Move (with gin, lime, and Paragon Timur berry cordial) are showstoppers in terms of presentation and taste. Even the citrusy, aqua-hued mocktail Le My Twin, with its own diamond ice cube, will have you snapping photos as it arrives at your table. Finish off with an order of Cookidiction chocolate chip cookie sticks; its founder Charlotte Zeitoun formerly worked at Messika, making the collaboration extra sweet.
Pay tribute to the legendary writer by enjoying a drink at his namesake haunt inside the Ritz Hotel. Plastered with photos of notable visitors and staffed with servers in white suits, the cozy bar is a piece of history—Hemingway’s typewriter is in full view.
Le Perchoir Marais
On the rooftop of department store BHV Marais, Le Perchoir Marais is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and mingle against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, and the Hôtel de Ville. Emily would be proud.
Where to stay
Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris
With recent visits from Selena Gomez and Cardi B, Le Royal Monceau, located right off the Arc de Triomphe, is a rightful celeb favorite. Visually, the five-star hotel, from its suites to excellent four bars and restaurants (Il Carpaccio, Matsuhisa Paris (France’s first Nobu location), La Cuisine, and Le Bar Long), is an Instagram-ready dreamscape. That’s thanks to its masterful redesign by designer Philippe Starck, its abundant contemporary art on display, and the hotel’s commitment to their art program, with a dedicated art concierge on staff. But what makes a stay at the Royal Monceau unforgettable is the team’s thoughtful service and excellent, exclusive experiences available for guests. Be sure to inquire in advance about the possibility of having a private art museum tour or Le Printemps shopping experience arranged or a decadently-catered picnic in the nearby Parc Monceau. With a spa, cinema, and pool inside as well, the hotel offers something for everyone—and will truly make you feel of royal importance during your stay in the City of Lights.
Hôtel Plaza Athénée
Remember that iconic scene in the finale of Sex and the City when Carrie is swept off her feet at a reception desk after breaking her necklace? It was filmed at Hôtel Plaza Athénée, along with many other major moments in cinematic history. The pinnacle of luxury, the property has long been and continues to be the go-to place for the fashion set and celebrities alike; in fact, it’s celebrating its 110th birthday this year. Bonus: it now boasts two restaurants by French chef and former Top Chef winner Jean Imbert: Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée and Le Relais Plaza.
Absolutely nobody goes to Paris to lock themselves inside a hotel all day, but this is the first one we’ve ever stayed in that’s made us want to. Situated within a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower in the chic 16th arrondissement, the Shangri-La is sophistication and luxury at its finest. Whether you’re sipping champagne from the jardin while watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle or eating a fantastic plate of pad thai from their restaurant La Bauhinia, you’ll feel like royalty—which makes sense, since the building was originally the personal palace of Napoleon’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte.
Claire Stern is the Deputy Editor of ELLE.com. Previously, she served as Editor at Bergdorf Goodman. Her interests include fashion, food, travel, music, Peloton, and The Hills—not necessarily in that order. She used to have a Harriet the Spy notebook and isn’t ashamed to admit it.
Jessica Roy is the Site Director of ELLE.com. Previously, she worked as the News Editor of TheCut.com. She likes baking, running and Instagrams of your dog.
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.