There is no “right” way to do Paris. Especially if this is your second or third trip (lucky you), your days aren’t limited to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tour, and Notre-Dame. So you can skip the tourist crowds and finally see Paris the way Parisians do.
Café and gallery hop in St.-Germain-des-Prés; explore the lesser-known museums in the Marais; shop the best vintage boutiques in the city; and people-watch on the fancy Avenue Montaigne. I’d argue there is no other city whose cultural and visual splendor blends so rhythmically, and if you explore by foot (as you should) the city quickly becomes your own.
Here’s what to see, eat, and wear to do the City of Light like a local.
What to Wear for a Shopping Day
(clockwise from top left)
Jennifer Behr bow, modaoperandi.com, $128
Saks Potts jacket, matchesfashion.com, $1,411
Wolford bodysuit, net-a-porter.com, $210
Amélie Pichard basket bag, ameliepichard.com, $365
Topshop skirt, topshop.com, $65
Falke tights, matchesfashion.com, $34
Carel shoes, carel.fr, $390
Levens earrings, levensjewels.com, $68
Paris is practically synonymous with style. You’ll want to designate an entire day for visiting the best local shops throughout the city. While famed department stores Bon Marché and Galeries Lafayette are musts, it’s worth venturing to the local boutiques to find the brands (and chic French vintage) that no one will have back at home.
Many of the coolest French boutiques can be found in local neighborhoods on the Right Bank. In the Marais alone, you have Merci and the Broken Arm, multi-brand boutiques with chic curations and coffee shops in-store. Nearby, you’ll find French accessories designer Amélie Pichard’s new eponymous storefront, which just opened this year. A visit to her whimsical shop is like walking into a Jean-Luc Godard film; it doesn’t get much more French.
Venturing over to the 9th and 10th arrondissements, noteworthy stores include Centre Commercial and Rose Market Vintage. There, you’ll also find CristaSeya, a Parisian lifestyle brand that sporadically releases new editions of timeless pieces — free from trends. You could spend an entire day winding through the city’s best flea market, Marché aux Puces at Porte de Clignancourt, where you’ll find endless vendors of vintage and antique treasures.
And Citypharma, on the Left Bank, is the local beauty scene’s best-kept secret. The city is a mecca for major beauty names, and at Citypharma, you’ll find all the best French brands for half their U.S. price.
What to Wear for a Culture Day
(clockwise from top left)
Blazé Milano coat, matchesfashion.com, $2,787
Kotn tee shirt, kotn.com, $25
Isabel Marant cap, net-a-porter.com, $155
Saint Laurent silk choker, net-a-porter.com, $395
Foundrae pendant, net-a-porter.com, $1,995
Alighieri pendant, net-a-porter.com, $225
The Great jeans, net-a-porter.com, $265
By Far boots, byfar.com, $676
Start your walk vintage book browsing along the Seine in the Latin Quarter where you'll find independent vendors selling first editions of De Laclos and Flaubert. Visit the famous Shakespeare and Co. bookstore which has been open for a century as of next year. After that, gallery-hop on Rue Mazarine and start your café tour in the quaint, cobbled streets of Passage St. André, leading you into the ultimate café society scene of St.-Germain-des-Prés. Voltaire, Diderot, and Simone de Beauvoir’s storied haunts like Brasserie Lipp, Café de Flore, and Café Procope are all worth a stop. Drop into the famous Assouline bookstore, then have a bite to eat at Le Comptoir du Relais.
You could opt instead to head to the Marais, the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Musée National Picasso-Paris and the Maison de Victor Hugo in Place de Vosges followed by a visit to L’as du Falafel on the famous Rue de Rosiers for lunch. Though, make sure to save some energy for an evening of bar-hopping along the lively Rue de Oberkampf.
What to Wear for a Dressed-up Day
(clockwise from top left)
Isabel Marant blazer, net-a-porter.com, $990
Loren Stewart hoops, matchesfashion.com, $395
Être Cécile tee shirt, nordstrom.com, $95
Wandler bag, matchesfashion.com, $354
Isabel Marant pants, net-a-porter.com, $595
Acne Studios sneakers, net-a-porter.com, $400
When in Paris, do as the bourgeoisie do — that includes window shopping at Place Vendôme, drinks at the new Hoxton’s Rivié bar and late-night eats at a long-time fancy favorite Caviar Kaspia. Paris’ most elegant neighborhoods can be found on the right bank — in the 1st, 8th and 16th arrondissements.
Begin with a stroll down the high-end shopping street, Saint Honoré, followed by a stop into Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens to marvel at Monet’s famous water lilies. Continue along, passing Place de la Concorde, to the Champs-Élysées and Avenue Montaigne and stop into L’Avenue for optimal people-watching and a trés chic — albeit pricey — bite to eat.
If you’d prefer a more local and casual spot, grab a croissant at Chez Joséphine. And if a cocktail is what you’re craving, visit Le Matignon. With the Arc de Triomphe as your backdrop, you’ll be drinking wine with your pinky up all day.