Destination Debrief: Paris

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Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


  • Paris

  • France

  • Arts & Culture

a brightly patterned couch near a draped floor-to-ceiling garden window

Image courtesy of Relais Christine

Paris is a diverse, vibrant collection of neighborhoods. The city is separated into 20 arrondissements, or districts. Depending on your travel style and preferences, you’ll likely spend most of your time in a select few of them. 

There are the central islands — Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis — and notable landmarks like Notre Dame and the Louvre in the 1st. The up-and-coming 9th has a hip, edgy, boho-chic vibe. The trendy 11th has experienced a similar renaissance of sorts — especially when it comes to gastronomy (expect unassuming, coolly decorated eateries serving Michelin-worthy food; no white tablecloths here). 

There are the tourist hits — the Eiffel Tower et. al. If it’s your first time, such bucket-list essentials are well worth it. But also consider getting off-the-beaten-path, reserving ample time to channel your inner flâneur or flâneuse. If any city was ideal for wandering and delightful spontaneity, it’s Paris. Linger a little longer. Savor your food a little more. Pause. Talk to locals (the French are actually quite friendly). There are so many things to do and see, but you’ll get a lot more out of the city if you commit to slowing down — if only a little.

Below is a mere sampling of all this worldly city has to offer. Connect with Fora for a tailored itinerary. We'll help you whittle down your options so you get the most out of your trip — seeing everything you want to see, while also allowing time for the occasional delightful surprise.

Need to know:

Currency: €, Euro (EUR)

Languages: French

Airport: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris-Orly Airport (ORY)

Transportation: The Paris Métro and Réseau Express Régional (RER) are the city’s equivalent of the subway. Both are relatively easy and convenient to get around the city proper. 

Best time to visit: Spring and fall tend to be the sweet spots: crowds are milder, as is the weather. June and July are sunny, hot and crowded. Parisians vacation in August, and many restaurants and boutiques close for the month. But if you don’t mind a quieter stay, August can be a surprisingly lovely time to visit.

Ideal length of stay: Paris never gets old, and you’ll never run out of things to see and do. You can cover a lot of ground in four to six days. For a bit of a slower pace (highly recommended), consider something closer to the six or seven days. 

Signature dishes: Paris excels at bread; you must sample at least one fresh baguette and croissant. The city’s culinary scene is always evolving, with elevated, modern takes on bistro classics (a type of hip dining called bistronomie) becoming increasingly popular. Paris is also a city of immigrants: you’ll find tons of stellar Japanese, Israeli and Chinese food, for instance. But the classics aren’t going anywhere. Sample warming soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup, but they omit the “French” part), warming coq au vin (chicken stewed in wine), crispy pommes frites, paper-thin crêpes (try Brittany region’s iteration, made with buckwheat) and tarte tatin (caramelized apple tart with a flaky puff pastry crust).

Key words & phrases: bonjour (hello), salut (informal hello, suh-loo), merci (thank you), s’il vous plaît (please, see-voo-play), santé (cheers, sahn-tay)

Dress code: Don your chicest ensemble (stripes are always a yes). Effortless simplicity and tasteful understatement are the name of the game. 

Left Bank (Rive Gauche)

The south of the Seine is steeped in history and intellectualism. You’ll find the city’s top learning institutions and its student population here, as well as historic cafés and tons of shops — antiques and high-end alike.

a walkway with black-and-white checkered floors and white statues

Image courtesy of J.K. Place Paris

Where to stay in Paris’ Left Bank

Relais Christine: A charming boutique hotel tucked away in a leafy courtyard. Fora’s VIP partner perks include €90 spa credit, a welcome amenity, an upgrade and late check-out.

J.K. Place Paris: This five-star boutique hotel is a study in taste — the epitome of chic. Fora’s VIP partner perks include $100 hotel credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Hôtel Dame des Arts: Hip and contemporary, with a youthful, sleek aesthetic. Fora’s Preferred Platinum perks include $100 hotel credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Hôtel Lutetia: The Left Bank’s only luxury palace hotel, with a luxe, exclusive feel to match. Fora’s VIP partner perks include €90 hotel credit, a welcome amenity, an upgrade and late check-out.

Hôtel Bel Ami: An intimate boutique gem from B Signature’s portfolio. Fora’s special Diamond Club perks include $100 food and beverage credit, a welcome amenity and breakfast daily. 

Pavillon Faubourg Saint-Germain: 47 spacious, stylish rooms compose this historic hotel, once frequented by the likes of James Joyce and T.S. Eliot. Fora Perks include €90 hotel credit, welcome treats and an upgrade based on availability.

What to do in Paris’ Left Bank

Interior of Paris' Musée d'Orsay, with its arched glass ceiling

Musée d’Orsay

Luxury shopping abounds in the posh Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, in the 6th arrondissement. After perusing the designer shops, people watch in the Jardin de Luxembourg, with its idyllic manicured greenery, fountains and picnicking locals. You’ll find some of the city’s top landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, next door in the 7th: the Musée d’Orsay, a perfectly sized museum housed in a former train station, and the Musée Rodin (don’t miss its sculpture garden). 

Wander along the streets of the youthful Latin Quarter, home to La Sorbonne. For a more residential feel, consider heading south to Parc Montsouris. It’s a leafy oasis in the 14th arrondissement, near the global Université Paris Cité. Also in the 14th are the Paris Catacombs, a unique, if spooky, experience. The city’s primary Chinatown and charming, street-art-filled Butte aux Cailles await in the 13th. 

Where to eat in Paris’ Left Bank

Locals flock to the chic, casual Racines des Prés, whose open kitchen churns out a curated seasonal menu of elevated bistro fare. Le Christine is another neighborhood gem in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The historic Café de Flore and its neighbor, Les Deux Magots have hosted many a French luminary; they were the go-to places for artists and intellectuals to lose themselves in dynamic, probing conversations. A bit touristy perhaps, but nonetheless iconic. 

Head to the sexy, see-and-be-seen Coya for refined Peruvian and Latin American fusion in a hip and happening space. Le Voltaire is perfect for traditional French cuisine — escargot, endive salad, côte de bœuf — in warm and cozy environs. Savor classic, locavore country cuisine with a gourmet flair at homey L’Assiette. For Italian, La Felicità is a fun, hyper-casual opinion with hip cafeteria vibes. And Poilâne is a must for artisanal sourdough bread; there are several locations throughout the city. 

Right Bank (Rive Droite)

North of the Seine, you’ll find trendy local neighborhoods, several green spaces and many of Paris’ most famous landmarks, gardens and museums. There’s a little bit of everything on this side of the river.

plush pink chairs surround a round table in a colorful dining room

Images courtesy of La Fantaisie

Where to stay in Paris’ Right Bank

La Fantaisie: A tastefully eclectic gem of a hotel with vibrant decor, a restaurant helmed by Dominique Crenn and a rooftop bar. Fora’s VIP Reserve perks include €100 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome bottle of Champagne, an upgrade and extended check-in/out for stays two nights or more.

Château Voltaire: A discreetly luxurious stay with handsomely pared back decor near the Jardins des Tuileries. VIP Fora Reserve perks include welcome amenities, a complimentary aperitivo, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

Hôtel L'Eldorado Paris: Retro and exclusive, with bold patterns and tons of vintage charm. Fora’s Reserve perks include a welcome drink, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

Kimpton St Honoré Paris: Playful and effortlessly chic, with a rooftop bar offering panoramic city views. Fora’s IHG Luxury partner perks include $100 hotel credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily, an upgrade and late check-out.

Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel: Timeless, tranquil and elegant, in true Rosewood fashion. Fora's Rosewood Elite perks include €95 food / beverage or spa credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hôtel Pulitzer Paris: An inviting 44-room gem with a warm, hip aesthetic. Fora’s partner perks include welcome amenities, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

Hôtel Adèle & Jules: A stylish, effortlessly cool 60-room gem with a bright personality. Fora’s partner perks include welcome treats, breakfast daily and an upgrade. 

Cheval Blanc Paris: A discreet, ultra-luxurious hideaway right on the Seine (courtesy of LVMH, no less). Fora Perks include complimentary round-trip private airport transfers, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Ritz Paris: A regal, legendary icon of luxury. Fora’s VIP partner perks include complimentary roundtrip private airport transfer, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

​​Le Bristol Paris: An elegant, tranquil retreat with a sprawling garden and rooftop pool. Fora’s Oetker Pearl partner perks include €100 food and beverage or spa credit, breakfast daily, ​​access to the best room in the requisite category and priority access to a courtesy car.

Le Petit Moulin: A funky, 17-room charmer with modern design courtesy of fashion designer ​​Christian Lacroix. Fora Perks include welcome amenities, breakfast daily and an upgrade.

Le Pavillon de la Reine & Spa: An enchanting, discreet and luxurious hideaway in the Marais. Fora Perks include $100 hotel / resort credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Cour des Vosges: An art-filled 12-room mansion on one of Paris' oldest squares. Fora Perks include $100 food / beverage or spa credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Grand Pigalle Experimental: Hip and trendy, with 37 well-designed rooms in a youthful, up-and-coming neighborhood. Fora Perks include welcome amenities, breakfast daily and an upgrade whenever possible.

Hôtel Le Grand Mazarin: A fun, ultra-stylish, playful newcomer to the Marais.

Saint James Paris: A three-Michelin-Key stunner (with a three-Michelin-Star restaurant, no less) housed in a regal château estate. Fora’s partner perks include breakfast daily.

Sofitel Paris le Faubourg: A high-end stay in an 18th-century mansion. Fora's Accor Preferred by HERA perks include $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

InterContinental Paris - Le Grand: A five-star central stay with unmatched views of the Opera Garnier. Fora’s IHG Luxury partner perks include $100 hotel credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily, an upgrade and late check-out.

Hôtel Plaza Athénée: A Parisian icon on the fashionable Boulevard Montaigne. Fora's Dorchester Diamond Club partner perks include 100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily and an upgrade whenever possible.

What to do in Paris’ Right Bank

a woman stands in a white modern room

Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Right Bank is notably larger than its left counterpart. Those seeking a nature retreat will delight in the numerous green spaces of the 19th arrondissement. The 16th’s Bois de Boulogne is a sprawling verdant playground complete with botanical gardens, waterfalls, lakes, horse-racing tracks and paths primed for wandering. (Stade Roland Garros sits on Bois de Boulogne’s edge.) It’s also home to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which shows various excellent exhibitions in a modern building that resembles a mini Sydney Opera House made from glass and metal. The green Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, in the 20th, hosts the tombs of numerous luminaries, including Marcel Proust, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

You’ll find the famed Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe in the regal 8th arrondissement, with its wide boulevards. The central 1st arrondissement is home to hits like the Louvre and its Jardins des Tuileries. (The Louvre is overwhelmingly large; you can’t see everything in one day. Prioritize a select few exhibitions that align with your interests.) Additional tourist hits — Notre Dame, Centre Pompidou — are found in the 4th.

In between shopping in the ever-popular Marais and its selection of boutiques and designer shops, consider leaving time for a hammam session at Les Bains du Marais. The hip, more local Haut Marais boasts a variety of charming shops and cafés as well, plus the Musée National Picasso

The 9th arrondissement has had a bit of a resurgence in recent years. It’s traditionally ‌known for its theaters, including the famed Palais Garnier. But it’s also home to Pigalle, Paris’ former red light district, which sits right on the border with the nearby 18th arrondissement, where you’ll find the charming Montmartre. (The 9th’s Musée de la Vie Romantique is a hidden, intimate gem of a museum.) Pigalle — especially South Pigalle — and Montmartre both have a more local, authentic feel. (Montmartre also offers some of the city’s best views.) The 11th, too, is hotter than ever. It’s also a foodie’s paradise, with casual, cool restaurants serving elevated, exquisitely prepared dishes.

For additional local flair, the Canal Saint Martin is a must. It’s a bustling area with bars, restaurants, cafés and shops begging to be explored. Check out the neighborhood’s Battling Club, a welcoming boxing gym that also hosts classes exclusively for women. 

Where to eat in Paris’ Right Bank

a colorful restaurant dining room with patterned wallpaper and drapes

Image courtesy of Vincent Leroux for Boubalé & Le Grand Mazarin

It can be hard to snag a table at the world-renowned Septime, but its masterful tasting menus are well worth the extra effort. If you can’t get in, try your hand at its no-reservations sister restaurant Clamato, which focuses on seafood. Reservations are also a must at the perennially popular Mokonuts, owned by a husband and wife who expertly imbue their food with their Lebanese and Japanese heritages. It’s open for breakfast and lunch; the former is walk-in only. (Don’t sleep on their cookies.)

Boubalé, in Hôtel Le Grand Mazarin, is fun and vibrant, with an excellent Eastern European menu — schnitzel, pierogies and challah. The restaurant is helmed by the same ultra-talented chef behind the sexy Israeli hotspot Shabour and the much-missed Balagan. Additional elevated Israeli cuisine can be enjoyed at the vegetable-forward Tekés

Vantre, Korus, Aspic and Le Richer serve carefully sourced, French fine-dining menus in sleek, neighborhoody atmospheres. The teensy Vivant 2 is special and intimate, with a killer wine list. For additional wine and good vibes, Frenchie Bar à Vins is always abuzz. If you’re after something more formal, try the tasting menu at the Michelin-Starred Frenchie, just across the street.

Grab breakfast or lunch at the lively, youthful Holybelly, then head to the nearby Du Pain et des Idées to grab a baguette or pastry for later. Expect a line; it’s there for a reason. Vegans will delight at the organic, down-to-earth Sol Semilla. For a craft cocktail in an exclusive setting, Le Très Particulier, in the exquisite five-suite Hôtel Particulier Montmartre, is a must.

Bonus: Paris markets

Le Marché aux Puces Saint-Ouen de Clignancourt: Arguably the world’s best (and largest) flea market, consisting of numerous separate markets spread across various streets.

Marché Couvert des Enfants Rouges: Paris’ oldest food market, right in the heart of the Marais.

Marché biologique des Batignolles: An organic farmers’ market open Saturdays from 9 to 3 pm.

Bio c’ Bon, La Récolte & Bien Epicerie Bio: All-organic grocery stores with fresh produce, breads and natural home products.

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