This incredible city was never on my radar. I grew up in Quebec, which is French-speaking Canada. So yes, I’m bilingual in French. Paris is such an obvious place that so many people in Quebec vacation to, that I guess I always thought of it as a bit of a yawn. Well, I’m big enough to admit I was wrong. SO wrong. Everything everyone says about Paris? They’re right. It’s just as magical as they say. I expected to be disappointed. I was, instead, dazzled.

We originally had planned this trip to happen in 2020. And, well… we all know what went down that year. We had to wait until 2022 to pull this off, and even then—I was trepidatious. Afraid of flying safely in a post-pandemic world. Afraid of letting go of all my anxieties, really. But this trip was exactly what I needed, and it reminded me of who I am.

We did two stretches in two different regions of the city. So let’s kick off with our first stint: our experiences in St Germain and Le Quartin Latin, which is pretty much the oldest preserved region in town. As in, a lot of medieval preservation level historic. Let me show you around this neighborhood.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

As you can see, historic, while also featuring plenty of modernity and plein, plein plein des charmes. The Metropolitain (the metro, aka subway) uses the old art nouveau signage in a lot of these areas. And that alone is magical. Our hotel was a teeny tiny one with a gorgeous view of the Eiffel tower, called Hotel Le Petit Belloy. Top floor? WORTH IT. The view of the Eiffel tower is so worth the extra cash. But since we landed early morning after a weird redeye, we slept our first day away a little bit, and decided the next day we’d get “touristy” things out of the way. I honestly thought I wouldn’t care about the Eiffel tower. I was so far from correct.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

I feared it would be a boring, unimpressive experience, super touristy and annoying. But going early in the morning is so extra-magical. Nobody in Paris gets up early, so beat everyone before 9am and you experience a very mellow city. The Eiffel tower IS as huge as it seems (unlike, say, the Statue of Liberty) which means that you can see it from all the surrounding neighborhoods and parks, and that means it’s a joy to wander around all the nearby areas and see how it impacts the views.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

Now, we HAVE to talk about the food of Paris. OH GOD the food of Paris. This is the type of city where even stopping at a random hole-in-the-wall is likely to produce delicious results. We learned the hard way, however, that fine dining in Paris at the most popular or recommended places really does require advance bookings. Like, well in advance. So while there were plenty of places we couldn’t secure a booking for within two weeks, we still felt like we ate like kings. It helps if you’re willing to eat at a “weird” time like 6pm and can get squeezed in before things get hopping. Parisians tend to eat a lot later.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

Okay so some of our absolute faves places to eat:

  • Dinner at Boullion Racine – fine traditional french dining in a GORGEOUS art nouveau preserved historic restaurant
  • Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner at Cafe De Luce – This understated Montmarte bistro was so good I had breakfast here twice. Their croissant sandwiches make me swoon and we had the very best creme brulée here as well.
  • Drinks and bites at Le Perchoir – They have locations in the Marais (amazing historic views and the eiffel tower at night) and in the 11th (cool chill local vibes) that we both went to and both have amazing views and spectacular cocktails
  • Coffee & Pastries/ Croissants at Boulangerie Mulot – I’m drooling thinking about it. This is how to breakfast in France correctly.
  • Drinks & Snacks at Le Prince Racine – A block away from the hustle-bustle streets, this stumbled-upon spot was perfection. Have their apérol spritz.
  • Bread from Liberté – Literally go pick it up, buy some cheese from a local fromagerie and go have a picnic in the park like the French do. Recommend bringing it to the Jardin de Luxembourg and sitting at the Fontaine Medicis and all your problems melt away. No but really french bread and cheese make my heart skip 100 beats.
  • Ice Cream from Berthillon – We agreed it’s the best ice cream we’ve ever had in any country. They have a few locations, but cutest is on Ile St Louis. You can walk the bridges and enjoy the view of the Seine
  • Lunch at Les Deux Magots (or Cafe De Flore a block over) – My god even the simplest things here are delicious and this is CLASSIC Paris bistro sitting on the sidewalks people-watching
  • Drinks at Pub Le St Germain – weirdly enormous place for Paris. Occupies multiple levels and sits on a quieter street from all the other popular fare around here.
  • Brunch at Le LouLou – Relaxed breakfast fare run by Australians, so it’s sort of aussie-meets-french energy
  • Champagne Cruise from the Bastille – Any of the boat companies will do, they all offer a similar experience. You must do this at night so they float by the Eiffel Tower when it does the sparkle thing. Don’t look it up in advance, let the sparkle thing dazzle you.
  • Drinks at Brasseries Barbes in the 10e – This area is less polished but full of surprising little gems. This chill brasserie’s drinks were flawless and the view from the top level was delightful.
  • Lunch at Les Enfants Perdus – Perfect French life, near the park and the canal, delicious, ’nuff said.
  • Ice Cream at Amorino – Do you want a cone of ice cream that is shaped like a rose? To grab and eat by the canal? Of course you do. It’s Paris’ 2nd best.
  • Drinks at Le Taquinerie – Could do food here, too, it’s a more mellow area, more local, more chill, and the drinks here were flawless, though it was tough to nab a table outside.
  • Drinks and Food at Le Bouquet Du Nord – The vibe of this unfussy bistro at a fantastic people-watching intersection is exactly what Les Deux Moulins from Amelie should be (except it’s gotten touristified and kinda losing its lustre, not kept well), so this is a better alternative for authenticity. We of course went to les Deux Moulins as well. :P
  • Fine Dining & Beer at Le Fin Mousse – A fancy beer-paired dinner for the gods. Beer honestly isn’t as major in Paris so finding the truly excellent gems is worth traveling a little out of the way. And this spot is a block from the Perchoir so you can make a whole evening of it!
  • Sandwiches (or just bread) from Pain Pain. Gottdamnn.
  • Coffee at Two Doors – It’s in the 18e so slightly out of the way being north of Montmartre but this is such a fun and chill neighborhood and the coffee was flawless. Backup closer to the 10e: Devotions Cafe.
  • Drinks and snacks at Dunkerque – It’s in Le Pigalle and we shopped at a paris vintage street market before stumbling into this spot and we had great beer and delicious charcuterie.
  • Brunch at the Hardware Society – Excellent breakfast, and that’s that. Plus it’s like, basically right next to the Sacré Coeur if you’re heading there to explore!
  • Les Fondus de la Raclette – I mean, Fondu, helllllllo.
  • Crepes & Cider at Breizh Cafe – We skipped this at first because they have multiple locations and we figured a chain wouldn’t be that good, except that they totally are, my god. The galette, oh god.
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

If there is one thing you absolutely must do in Paris, it’s go see the catacombs. Holy shit, I was not fully prepared for this experience. It’s absolutely wild and solemn and somber and meaningful and strange. If you don’t like being in small spaces and you don’t like skeletons, well, don’t go. But otherwise, this is among my most favorite experiences.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

Of course, another dazzling experience of Paris is taking a champagne cruise up the Seine at night. Do this at the start of your Paris experience to get a sense of the city as you kick off. You leave at sunset, and they time it so that you go past the Eiffel Tower at a very magical moment. It’s everything it’s cracked up to be. You leave from the Canal St Martin at the Bastille which is a totally delightful area to explore as well, prior to kickoff. It seems super touristy, but it’s, in fact, 100% worth it. Grateful to my bestie for booking me this as a birthday present. I wouldn’t have done it for myself but it was so wonderful!

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

Our second week in Paris, we switched areas. Instead of the old world of St Germain and Le Quartier Latin and the islands, we moved up to the 10e to be closer to the art vibes of the 9e, Montmartre, and le Pigalle, as well as walking distance from the Canal St Martin. This half of our trip felt a lot more relaxed and felt more like living like locals. We stayed at Maison Barbes and we felt this area is a little more run-down. Not sketchy, but you’re more likely to see people experiencing homelessness and a much more blue-collar crowd. But it’s a real mic because it’s literally a 5-minute walk to Montmarte and the Sacré Coeur.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

I mean this view from the Sacré Coeur is just out of this world magical, right? It’s a VERY touristy area up in that zone so I recommend going ealry morning. We did it together one day in the afternoon and it was nuts. I went at 8am the next day and it was so quiet and chill and charming.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

If I was to literally move permanently to Paris I think I’d probably look at a place in Canal St Martin (the neighborhood not the canal itself) or the 18e. Very close to everything, but just far enough that they are significantly less touristy and feel way more authentically local. Just good chill vibes.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without visiting the Louvre. We actually didn’t do the Louvre, though, we just explored the exterior. Ultimately, we decided that we’d prefer to go at a less busy time of year, next Paris visit. Instead, we did the Musée D’Orsay, which I honestly adored with every fiber of my being. It’s a truly incredible space since it’s a former train station, and the art there is just absolutely wonderful.

Nonetheless, I don’t regret exploring the Louvre, L’Arc de Triomphe, or the Jardins Des Tuileries. The exterior of it is just as wonderful (I imagine) and the wonder that surrounds it in the neighborhood can’t be beat.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

Paris is full of absolutely famous nooks and crannies, shops, and restaurants (many of which I mention in my list), and touring those was a thrill to me to do on my own, since Scott doesn’t get as much out of photo-touring as I do. From Shakespeare and Co to Aux Vieux Paris to Cafe Odette to Notre Dame to the Hotel de Ville, I took the metro and busses around Paris on my last morning just to take in these famously darling sites without actually stopping for a bite, and I regret nothing.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

The argument for best bridge over the Seine is unwinnable but I think the Pont Des Arts or Pont Alexandre III would be my faves. It;s tough though, the list is long. If you like Bridges, Paris kind of offers an endless array, and they all have wonderful views.

An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together
An Aventure Magique en Paris – Photo by Let's Frolic Together

What else can I say? I have left out SO MUCH. There is so much joy and texture in literally spending whole days just walking in Paris neighborhoods. You could skip every single touristy thing and still have a dazzling experience. I regret putting it off for decades, but better late than never. Paris, I love you, and I shall return.