An Insider’s Travel Guide to Paris

As Paris gears up for the Olympics, it’s never been a more exciting time to visit the City of Light—especially as the capital welcomes a crop of new design-forward hotels, starred eateries, and world-class exhibitions. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler to the glamorous French capital, here are some of the best things to do, places to see, and luxe spots to stay on your next trip. 

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Where to Stay:

Le Grand Mazarin

A much-needed addition at the mouth of the Marais across from the Hôtel de Ville and Le BHV department store, the first of Maisons Pariente’s properties made quite a splash when it debuted in Paris last year. Swedish superstar designer Martin Brudnizki gave his whimsical signature touch to the pastel-hued 61 rooms and suites, whose design nods to Paris’ 18th-century literary salons. Michelin-starred chef Assaf Granit is behind the Eastern European-influenced cuisine at the lively ground-floor restaurant and bar Boubalé, while artist Jacques Merle painted the Cocteau-esque murals lining the 14th-century building’s arched ceiling over the pool and hammam.

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Credit: Stephan Julliard

Hotel Hana

Reimagining a former office block near Opéra in Paris’ “Little Tokyo” neighborhood, this project is the first hotel venture of Olivier Leone, cofounder and art director of Paris shoe brand Nodaleto. Designer Laura Gonzalez (behind the restoration of Cartier New York) integrated the culture of the surrounding area into the 26 rooms—which includes one suite—whose walls are swathed in straw and natural iroko wood. Japanese minimalism is the driving philosophy behind the subdued design that’s rich in earth tones like terracotta, mustard, rust orange and prune, the hotel’s signature shade.

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Where to Eat and Drink:


Reservations open three weeks in advance and fill almost immediately, so set a reminder. The seasonally driven menu is one of the top in town, and even though Septime holds a star, the neo-bistro fare won’t weigh you down like more traditional Michelin spots. The industrial-inspired interiors (massive mirrors, exposed concrete, factory-style lighting) nod to Copenhagen’s pared-down, minimalist chic dining, while the natural-leaning wine list celebrates vino from more unexpected corners of the continent, like Croatia and the Czech Republic.

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Ogata Paris

The 17th-century hôtel particulier, or private mansion, is hidden away in the Haut Marais and opens up to Tokyo-based multi-hyphenate designer and restaurateur Shinichiro Ogata’s combination tea shop, salon, restaurant, bar, pastry shop, and gallery. The degustation-style dinner menu of Japanese homestyle and regional cuisine is prepped and served from the slate-gray bar of the open-kitchen restaurant.

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Le Bon Georges

A haven for wine lovers (the list is Bible-thick), the cozy French bistro champions classics done in the most gastronomic of ways. Think œuf mayonnaise, pâté en croute, steak tartare, and a cheese platter you’ll want to indulge in every day of your trip. 

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Where to Visit:

Fondation Louis Vuitton

While it’s slightly out of the way in Bois de Boulogne, the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton is worth it for the architecture alone, which draws on late 19th-century glass-and-garden design for its 12 glass-paneled “sails.” Artists have created site-specific pieces that sit alongside temporary modern and contemporary exhibitions like the upcoming Matisse: The Red Studio, which will bring together pieces for the first time since they left Matisse’s studio in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a southwestern suburb of Paris.

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Canal Saint-Martin

The 19th-century waterway is crowned with a series of arched, cast-iron footbridges that are so photogenic they were the backdrop of cult French classic Amélie. Locals post up on the cobblestone-covered quais, or banks, picnicking with bread and pastries from nearby Du Pain et des Idées and natural wine from bistro and cave Le Verre Volé—which is open every day, a rarity in Paris. Head to Holybelly for Australian-style brunch, El Nopal for takeaway tacos, or Early June for small plates served up by guest chefs. Shop designer vintage at Thanx God I’m a V.I.P. or more contemporary labels and streetwear at concept store Le Centre Commercial, a boutique created by the duo behind French sneaker staple VEJA.

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Whether it’s your first or fifth time in Paris, a spin around the well-heeled quartier of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a must—if only to sit on the terrace of fashion favorite Café de Flore and people-watch. Another ritual: stocking up on French skincare at two-story Citypharma. Plan a full day at the world’s first department store, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche (there’s even an oyster stand in La Grande Épicerie food hall), before sipping wine at the terrace of Au Sauvignon or trying tapas at Yves Camdeborde’s standing-room-only L’Avant Comptoir de la Terre.

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Palais Royal

A quick stroll from the Louvre, Palais Royal is a less-crowded alternative to the nearby Tuileries, with benches placed between the symmetrical gardens perfect for posting up with a matcha latte from Café Kitsuné, one of the popular residents lining the square. Tucked on the backstreets, Verjus and Juveniles are two wine-focused favorites, but you’ll find fantastic Japanese and ramen joints (Kodawari is a standout) along neighboring rue Sainte-Anne.

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The Paris Basics

First-timers may want to cross off landmarks like the Tuileries, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Jardin du Luxembourg. After you’ve done the basics, stop into more boutique museums like the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, located inside the former haute couture house, or Musée Picasso, which unfolds inside the Hôtel Salé, dubbed “the grandest, most extraordinary, if not the most extravagant, of the grand Parisian houses of the 17th century.”

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