A Complete Guide to the Weekend in Paris of a Lifetime
Paris. The city everyone wants to see at least once. A sprawling metropolis whose heart beats in 19th-century and early 20th-century architecture with Art Deco charm thrown in for good measure. The city of light that’s home to some of the world’s most treasured artworks. The birthplace of chic fashion, food that looks as delightful as it tastes, and wine you would always choose to celebrate the most important events in your life. Visiting Paris for the first time can be either overwhelming or too easy. You can see some landmarks and call it a day or you can explore the city without a plan. Our third option blends the relaxed pace of the first scenario with the immersive nature of the second. From chic apartments to coffee shops loved by locals, here is your Gessato guide for a weekend in Paris.
The first thing to do after booking flights, is finding the best place to stay. Paris has an amazing range of high-end hotels and budget options, but you can make your weekend in Paris extra-special. The Sophisticate, Luxembourg’s Neighbor, Rue des Récollets III, Cavalier, Palm Balcony, and Lawn Views offer the opportunity to get your own Paris apartment, even if its just for a few days. These locations provide all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel and they also have gorgeous views of the city skyline.
If you prefer the classic hotel experience, Paris has plenty of hotels with character to choose from. For example, the stylish Le Narcisse Blanc Hotel and Spa pays homage to the glamour and free spirit of early 20th century actress, artist, ballet dancer, and artists’ muse Cléo de Mérode. Lovers of industrial style can choose between Generator Paris hostel and Hôtel Fabric. Le Pigalle celebrates the vibrancy of the Pigalle neighborhood with art and objects created by local artists and artisans.
After waking up refreshed on your first day in Paris, you’ll probably want to try out some fresh croissants and artisan coffee. Many hotels on our list offer pastries sourced from local bakeries, but you will need to refuel your batteries throughout the day. Luckily, Paris has many great cafés to choose from. Stopping by a new one every day is a fantastic idea, but you will probably fall in love with the coffee and vibe of a couple coffee shops in our guide and remain faithful to them throughout your weekend in Paris.
For artisan coffee, you can’t go wrong with a coffee shop that has an on-site roastery, like Lomi and Partisan. Café Loustic source their coffee from one of the best independent coffee roasters in Europe, Caffènation, while Radiodays Café and La Fontaine de Belleville get their beans from well-known KB Coffee Roasters and Belleville Brûlerie, respectively. Every café on our list offers a menu that includes both sweet and savory treats.
Bakeries and pastry shops
No weekend in Paris is complete without a stop – or two, or three – at a pastry shop. You can visit the oldest bakery and patisserie in Paris, Stohrer, which first opened its doors in 1730. Ladurée Paris Royale is a great choice for their famous macarons, whether you want to treat yourself or a friend back home. For chocolate, drop by Alain Ducasse or Chloé Chocolat. For pretty desserts that taste divine, visit high-end pastry shop Des Gateaux et du Pain or Carl Marletti. At Chambelland you can find gluten-free bread, pastries, and cookies. If you’re more of an artisanal bread fan, you can choose between Du Pain et des Idées, Boulangerie Utopie or Le Petit Grain.
Museums and art galleries
Every Paris visit must include at least a couple of museums and art galleries. If you have a few free hours, go to Louvre to see some iconic artworks and discover new ones. While you’re there, you can also visit the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in the western wing of the Louvre. Centre Pompidou is another must-see museum, and not only for its collection, but also for its avant-garde architecture. Grand Palais’ glass dome stands out in the Paris cityscape. This monumental building is divided into three sections, with art exhibitions held in the National Galleries area.
You can find a treasure trove of impressionist and post-impressionist art at Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay, while at Palais de Tokyo, Fondation Cartier, Centquatre-Paris, and Maison Européenne de la Photographie you can immerse yourself in contemporary art and photography. For those traveling with children, the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie is a great choice as it has plenty of areas with fun activities.
Visiting museums for hours can make anyone hungry. And you’re spending your weekend in Paris, which means that you should definitely organize a picnic with French cheese and wine. If you think choosing just one cheese shop from our list is easy, think again. Every one of these cheese shops is a gem, with some stores offering a more traditional selection of products while others add an imaginative twist to French cheese. You can also buy wine, crackers, jams, and other food items in most of these shops.
Androuët, Barthélemy, and Chez Virginie each have ranges of matured and fresh cheese sourced from all over the country. Each of these shops is a fantastic introduction to the world of French cheese. Fromagerie Beaufils offers a more international selection of cheeses, while Fromagerie Goncourt has a fresh dairy section that includes cheese, raw milk, and dips. At Ferme Saint-Aubin and Laurent Dubois you can find some inventive – and delicious – creations like Roquefort with quince jam or cheese with truffles.
Before leaving, you’ll want to buy something to take back home, whether as a keepsake or as a gift. Shakespeare and Company is one of the most renowned bookstore in the world and it offers a fantastic selection of books. After you shop here, drop by their café next door for a cup of coffee in a great atmosphere.
There are some amazing home decor shops you can visit on your weekend in Paris. Among them, Bien Fait that offers a collection of French wallpaper designed with Japanese and Scandinavian influences. At Galerie kreo you can find exclusive contemporary furniture and lighting along with vintage items, while at La Trésorerie you can browse through a treasure trove of home accessories and practical objects sourced from France and Europe. Artazart has a great selection of eco-friendly accessories, including Freitag bags. Marché d’Aligre is a great outdoor market filled with everything from antiques to tableware and fresh produce. For foodies and those who love cooking, a stop at Épices Roellinger is a must, as this spice shop offers an impressive selection of spices from all over the world.
If you want to go all out, drop by Majestic Filatures. This high-end brand makes t-shirts, shirts, sweaters, and jackets with a timeless style and only premium quality materials like Italian cashmere and hand-dyed cotton. Every item in the collection is handmade in Europe and is designed to be a wardrobe staple for years to come. For one of the most stylish hats you’ll ever own, visit the Chanel-owned hat shop Maison Michel. Their range features a huge variety of styles, colors, and materials, to suit any preference.
End your weekend in Paris on a high note with a dinner you’ll remember fondly for a long time. Enjoy a fine-dining experience at Michelin-starred restaurants like Guy Savoy, Astrance, David Toutain, or Septime. Getting a reservation at these restaurants may be more challenging (for obvious reasons) but it’s worth it. Safe to say, they’re ideal for a special occasion, even if that occasion is celebrating your first visit to Paris.
Meat lovers will love Robert et Louise where they can find dishes made on a wood-fired grill, while vegetarians will welcome the sight of the vegetable-focused menu at Verjus. Ober Mamma is a great choice for Italian food, while Candelaria brings the flavors of Mexican food to Paris. At Kunitoraya and Dersou you can indulge your love of Asian cuisine and discover combinations of French and Japanese influences. For a more laid-back vibe, stop by Le Mary Celeste, Buvette Paris, Ellsworth, or Le Petit Marcel. These eateries are a great choice for dinners with friends.