Place des Vosges
Start your day with a coffee and croissant in the Places des Vosages, the oldest square in Paris located in the Marais district. It’s a great place to people-watch, and you’re close by to the Maison de Victor Hugo and French luxury tea shop Dammann Frères.
Top tip: buy your tickets in advance for the Louvre to avoid the (inevitable) lengthy queue. You could spend multiple days at this sprawling museum which used to a royal palace and contains 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art. But if you’ve only got one day (or a few hours) head to the big-hitters. Delecroix’s Liberty Leading the People, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo are all must-sees.
All that culture-soaking works up an appetite, so head to restaurant-of-the-moment Eels (and yes, eel does feature on the menu). This neo-bistro leaves behind the usual fussiness that’s often associated with French cuisine. There’s a pared-back interior, hipster waiters and items such as a chic praline millefeuille and smoked eel with nuts and apple.
The beret may be dead, but still nothing epitomises French style as much as a hand-crafted headpiece. And at this new-style milliner’s on the Leftbank (nearest metro is Saint-Sulpice) you can choose the colour and shape of your hat as well as a contrasting ribbon. Think chic trilbies in eye-popping colours – the ideal accessory for summer.
Fashionistas flock to this lifestyle concept store in the Saint-Martin neighbourhood of Paris. Up-and-coming French brands rub shoulders with new designer labels from Denmark and Britain in this cool but compact shop. Check out Suzie Winke’s African print clothing, Aurelie Lecuyer’s no-fuss utility dresses with block heel shoes from Anne Thomas.
When the sun shines, hit the Canal Saint Martin with the rest the Parisians, who bring a picnic and bottle of wine to sit with legs dangling over the water. There’s always something going on at Point Éphémère, a cultural arts centre and exhibition space which hosts gigs and club nights most days of the week. There is covered outdoor seating on their terrace right next to the canal.
It’s best to go later to this white-domed basilica on the top of the hill of touristy Montmartre to beat the crowds. It’s also, conveniently, the best place in the city to people-watch, watch the sun setting with musicians busking, kids breakdancing and a spectacular view over Paris from the highest point in the city.
This Parisian restaurant group have queues out of the door every night of the week at all of their branches – for good reason. So arrive here early and head downstairs into what looks like the industrial store room, through the restaurant’s working freezers to a dim-lit hidden underground cocktail bar serving drinks inspired by different regions of Italy. The restaurant itself serves the best steak frites in town as well as other Italian dishes – order the creamy burrata to start.
This multi-level restaurant-bar-club is open until 2.30am every night of the week, so end your night by heading to their top-level bar where there’s usually a DJ spinning tracks, outdoor balcony area and dancefloor that overlooks the Paris metro line.