I spent two weeks over Christmas and New Years in Paris, France with two of my best college buddies. We exhausted the tourist attractions and bakeries in Paris. Honestly, you can find good food anywhere. Just go down to the local bakery and pick up some fresh croissants, baguettes, butter, and/or sandwiches and have an outdoor picnic. Drop by the daily markets where locals shop for fresh groceries from fruit to meats to nuts. Here are my top highlights:
What to See & Do
- Eiffel Tower: Named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, the wrought iron tower on the Champ de Mars was erected for the 1889 World’s Fair.
- The Louvre Museum: One of the world’s largest museums and located in the 1st arrondissement, this museum can take days to finish the exhibits and has the Mona Lisa inside. She’s tiny and far away.
- Musée d’Orsay: Opposite the Tuileries Gardens, this museum was a former railway station that now displays the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist artwork by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, and more. Can you say gorgeous?
- Musée Rodin: Housing sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works, drawings, and objects, the museum has the works The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell. Check out the gorgeous garden it’s located in!
- Palais Garnier: You must tour this beautiful opera house! The interior is stunning and luxurious. No need to go to see an opera show if you’re not interested.
- Dôme des Invalides: The tomb of Napoleon I is inside this small royal chapel and there is a museum nearby to learn more about the man buried below.
- Moulin Rouge: In the 18th arrondissement, this famous caberet is marked by the red windmill on its roof and known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance.
- La Grande Epicerie: Imagine a gigantic, beautiful department store, now imagine it doesn’t sell anything besides quality, delicious, gorgeous food – a gourmand’s dream. If you like this place, try Hediard and Fauchon too! These are great food marts to buy gifts.
What to Eat Sweet
- Laduree: This luxury bakery and sweets maker house invented the double-decker macaron.
- Angelina: A salon best known for its amazing hot chocolate. Go get a hot chocolate that is renowned and unlike any other.
- Mariage Frères: Tea doesn’t get better than this high quality teahouse and brand. Tea extraordinaires
- Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki: Tokyo-born but later trained in Paris, this chef lives up to his reputation of delivering some of the top notch pastries and sweets in town.
- La Pâtisserie des Rêves: Pastry time? Look no further than to one of Philippe Conticini’s joints. The talented pastry chef made this shop in 2009 to revisit and modernize classic French pastries.
- Pierre Herme: The French pastry chef Pierre Hermé aka “Picasso of Pastry” is famous for his macarons with unusual but amazing flavors. I like these better than Laduree as they are much richer in flavor combinations.
What to Eat Savory
- Epicure at Le Bristol: Three Michelin stars and the best meal of my life (also my first three Michelin star experience). The ambience of the restaurant is luxurious yet comforting.
- Restaurant Le Beau Jolais: Delicious rotisserie chicken that French know how to cook best!
- Moroccan Food: I first had cous cous and tagine on my Paris trip and you know what. I insisted and continued to have it the rest of the trip. Lots of great ethnic food in this urbane city.
- Crepes: I don’t remember the amazing crepes I had were but, man, were they crazy tasty.
What to do Outside of Paris
- Palace of Versailles: Just a short train ride away from Paris, this royal château is beautiful, symbolic, and memorable. Go in the summer and you can row some boats in the lake among the gardens!
- Visit Brussels, Belgium for liege waffles and the Atomium. Just a quick train ride away for the perfect day trip.
- David Lebovitz: He is a Berkeley gourmand who knows his pastries and lives in Paris. Smart, smart man.
Anything in italics is a recommendation I’m going to try.