How To Spend A Weekend In: Paris
Paris is truly one of my favourite cities in the world, and for me, it never gets old. When we visited earlier this month, it was our third time in the City of Light and it was just as magical as ever. We've stayed in a different arrondissement each time we've travelled to Paris, and this time our location of choice was the chic Saint-Germain district, so I'm sharing my advice for how to spend a weekend in Paris when you're based in the stylish Sixth...
Whether you're flying or taking the Eurostar, Saint-Germain is a seriously simple location to get to. There are plenty of chi-chi hotels in the area, but for a more authentic (and budget-friendly) experience, choose an AirBnb. We stayed in this one, which slept four people and was utterly charming.
Dump your bags and head straight down Rue Cassette for a Friday night feast; if you're feeling laidback and in the mood to chill, Pizza Chic has a huge selection of delicious handmade pizzas - and the most beautiful interiors of any pizza place I've ever visited! If you're feeling a little fancier and want to celebrate your first night in style, Cafe Cassette's food is fabulous, prices are reasonable and service is impeccable - plus, if you're speedy, you can grab a table under the gazebo outside and watch the city pass by as you tuck in.
For post-dinner cocktails, La Rhumerie is wild! Expect a huge range of seriously potent rum-based cocktails, and plenty of young Parisians letting their hair down inside. Cocktails aren't really cheap anywhere in Paris, but this is a relatively inexpensive bar with a fantastic atmosphere - the ideal place to kickstart your weekend!
Whether you're feeling the effects of the night before or not, there's only one way to do breakfast in Paris - and that's to hit the nearest boulangerie. Le Petit Lux on Rue de Vaugirard does the most fabulous patisserie, be sure to try the croissant amandes aux chocolat for some serious indulgence. Grab your pastries to go, and head across the street to Cafe Madame for strong coffee and some very Instagrammable floors.
Saturday mornings are made for strolling in Paris, in my opinion, and a late morning stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries is the perfect way to while away the hours. This beautiful garden backs on to the Louvre museum, and is positively packed with sculptures, statues and water features, all with the backdrop of the lushest greenery - and of course the famous Ferris wheel is there too.
And when you're done strolling, head over the road to the L'Eglise de la Madeleine, which is a breathtakingly beautiful cathedral on the Place de la Madeleine (where else?). Head here for imposing architecture and the most dramatic beauty of any church in Paris - it offers something different to more obvious choices such as Notre Dame or Sacre Coeur, and there are never any queues!
To finish off your morning in style, make your way to the original Ladurée Paris Royale salon on Rue Royale, just across the street, for elevenses unlike any other. Yes, you can have Ladurée in the UK, but being in the original salon is extra-special.
Work up an appetite by walking down into the 7th, taking in views of the Eiffel and the iconic Champ de Mars as you go, and make for Rue Cler, which is vastly growing in popularity as a foodie hotspot in the French capital. Head to L'Eclair for lunch (I recommend the steak haché) and make sure you order the wine here too, it's cheap and it's pretty damn fabulous.
Post-lunch, have a stroll through the Rue Cler food market; there are dozens of stalls where you can pick up some post-lunch treats, find out more about fresh French cuisine or just take home a huge bundle of blooms from the beautiful Cler Fleur flower shop.
Then, take yourself back off to Saint Germain for a few hours of exploring; if you follow Rue Grenelle from Rue Cler, it's basically a straight line all the way back into the heart of Saint Germain. This chic little district is so packed with beautiful boutiques that it would be a waste to skip them - think The Kooples, Agnes B, Maison Kitsune, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Claudie Pierlot... Bliss.
Cocktails in Paris is a must, and Au Vieux Colombier has a fabulously cheap happy hour! You can happily spend a few hours in this chic little bar and only spend twenty Euros - an ideal scenario in my opinion.
For dinner, book a table at Les Editeurs on Carrefour de l'Odéon; the food is wonderful, service is great and the surroundings are so Instagrammable - think actual gold walls. Could you ask for much better? I highly recommend their French Toast for your dessert (even if you, like me, ordered the Club Sandwich for mains and you're fit-to-bust from too much bread); it was one of the most delicious desserts I've ever had. Try to get there for around 9pm if you can, as it gets much quieter and you can be as raucous as you like - you'll probably get seated in one of their prime little corner tables, instead of being out in the main section.
To finish off your evening perfectly, the Tiger gin bar is nearby, and has been named one of the best bars in the world, never mind Paris. On Rue Princesse you'll find this little tropical retreat tucked away, serving some expertly-curated cocktails that are pretty unforgettable, however many you manage to sink.
There's only one option when it comes to *the* place to be seen in Saint Germain: Cafe de Flore. This pretty little cafe is famous worldwide and with good reason; everyone from Picasso to the editors of Vogue has dined here! Head here and get a little table by the window to people-watch and recover from your wild evening; order the chocolat chaud if you really want to ease yourself into the day in pure luxury.
Parisians seem to flock to the Jardin du Luxembourg on Sunday morning, so head here to feel like one of the natives. It's a beautiful garden, with more of those breathtaking statues and sculptures scattered about, as well as the famous boating pond where the locals race remote-controlled miniature boats. If you're feeling delicate, pull up a chair to the waterside and unwind for a while, you won't be bothered here.
For a special Sunday lunch treat, I loved Le Dome du Marais. You'll need to traipse over to Le Marais for this, which is about a half-hour's walk from the Luxembourg Gardens, but it's well worth it. This restaurant is housed in a stunning building, complete with a beautiful glass dome, wild greenery growing inside and plenty of unexpected details. Expect fresh, exciting and delicious food that will leave its mark on you; I last dined here three years ago and regularly think about the food we enjoyed!
Exploring Paris' wealth of vintage stores is one of my favourite pastimes, as you can never be sure what treasures you might uncover. Le Marais is full of quirky and kitsch vintage boutiques, and the trend for 'kilo stores' really kicked off here, so make sure you've left plenty of space in your suitcase if vintage fashion is your thing!
When you've had your fill of food and fashion, you can walk back down to Saint Germain, via Notre Dame and Saint Michel. Stroll along the riverside and stop off at Pierre Herme for macarons on the way! Pro tip: buy more macarons than you think you want, as you'll inevitably decide you absolutely need a macaron mid-flight home...
Sadly, your time in Paris has come to an end, and it's time to head home. But do things the Parisian way - don't struggle with public transport when a taxi is far easier and more sophisticated. Alpha Taxis are friendly, reliable and reasonable, so you can enjoy a drive through Paris back to your airport or train station of choice without a care in the world!
What's your favourite thing to do in Paris?