“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote in his acclaimed memoir, A Moveable Feast. Very wise words. Call it whatever you like: The City of Light, The City of Love, The Fashion Capital of the World, Paris is steeped in history and utterly charming at every turn. And now that low-cost airline French Bee has routes between Paris and U.S. cities like Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and, most recently, Miami, it’s gotten a whole lot easier to make your Emily in Paris moment happen. The flights land at Paris’ best airport (Orly, only 20 minutes from the city) and offer two classes of travel—Economy and Premium Economy—both of which are affordable options for anyone not wanting to splurge on airfare.
Whether you’re people-watching at a café, scoring vintage Chanel at a secondhand shop, or drinking wine by the carafe (no judgment here), there’s simply so much happening in Paris that you’ll never, ever want to leave. Without further ado, here’s our roundup of insider, can’t-miss picks. Bon voyage!
“Azzedine Alaïa, Arthur Elgort. Freedom.” at Fondation Azzedine Alaïa
Courtesy Arthur Elgort
Didn’t snag an invite to Paris Fashion Week? This new exhibition at Fondation Azzedine Alaïa may be the next best thing. With rare photographs by Arthur Elgort of models dressed in the couturier’s classic designs (think: Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford…the list goes on), you’ll take a very fashionable walk thorough time.
Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées
Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées has recently added over 30 brands to its offering, including Insta-viral labels like The Frankie Shop, By Far, and Staud, none of which are French, but all of which are chic. With interactive displays and a curated selection of sustainable pieces, it’s a far cry from your average department store.
Courtesy of Bobby
If you’re on the hunt for that impossible-to-find item you just can’t get anywhere else, scope out Bobby. Featuring rare designer pieces the likes of Chanel, Sandro, and Celine, the vintage store is a veritable treasure trove of fashion finds. (The tagline is “Buy now or cry later” for a reason.)
Hermès Lift Profile Scarf 90
Celine Cat Eye Sunglasses
Rouje Kiki Wallet
Café de la Paix
Since its opening in 1862, this famous café in the historic InterContinental Paris – Le Grand has served everyone from Oscar Wilde to Marlene Dietrich. We’re fans of the breakfast in particular, but the hotel’s celebratory anniversary cocktail, the InterContinental75, a creative riff on the classic French 75 with Piper-Heidsieck champagne, The Botanist gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and honey water, is definitely worth trying.
Courtesy of Bontemps Pâtisserie
Bright Lights Paris author and self-described Francophile Angie Niles swears by Bontemps Pâtisserie for its bite-size desserts and quiet, uncrowded tea salon in the back, appropriately dubbed “Le Jardin Secret” (translation: The Secret Garden).
Located in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs overlooking the Louvre, Loulou is a see-and-be-seen spot, not to mention a favorite among the fashion crowd. Fortunately, the food is just as good as the views and the hype. On its menu of French-Mediterranean fare, you’ll find grilled calamari, homemade veal, and chouquettes, a.k.a. French puff pastries filled with vanilla cream. In case you weren’t aware, Loulou de la Falaise was a muse of Yves Saint Laurent.
Balmain Frayed Tweed Blazer
Chanel Crystal Ribbon Barrette
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See by Chloé Emily Flared Denim Trousers
Harry’s New York Bar
Reminiscent of an Ivy League clubhouse and decorated with college pennants, Harry’s New York Bar is an institution for tourists and locals alike. The wood-lined space with a basement piano famously claims it invented the Bloody Mary, French 75, and Sidecar, best paired with its New York-style hot dogs. Don’t miss the Rowing Blazers merch for sale downstairs.
Pay tribute to the legendary writer by enjoying a drink at his namesake haunt inside the Ritz Hotel. Plastered with photos of notable visitors and staffed with servers in white suits, the cozy bar is a piece of history—Hemingway’s typewriter is in full view.
Le Perchoir Marais
On the rooftop of department store BHV Marais, Le Perchoir Marais is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and mingle against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, and the Hôtel de Ville. Emily would be proud.
& Other Stories Turtleneck Mini Knit Dress
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Almasika Sagesse Universum Petite Studs
Maje Knee-High Boots
Hôtel Plaza Athénée
Courtesy Hôtel Plaza Athénée
Remember that iconic scene in the finale of Sex and the City when Carrie is swept off her feet at a reception desk after breaking her necklace? It was filmed at Hôtel Plaza Athénée, along with many other major moments in cinematic history. The pinnacle of luxury, the property has long been and continues to be the go-to place for the fashion set and celebrities alike; in fact, it’s celebrating its 110th birthday this year. Bonus: it now boasts two restaurants by French chef and former Top Chef winner Jean Imbert: Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée and Le Relais Plaza.
Absolutely nobody goes to Paris to lock themselves inside a hotel all day, but this is the first one we’ve ever stayed in that’s made us want to. Situated within a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower in the chic 16th arrondissement, the Shangri-La is sophistication and luxury at its finest. Whether you’re sipping champagne from the jardin while watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle or eating a fantastic plate of pad thai from their restaurant La Bauhinia, you’ll feel like royalty—which makes sense, since the building was originally the personal palace of Napoleon’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte.
Stepping into Le Meurice is like stepping into another world, one that is gilded, ornate and very, very chic. The legendary five-star hotel recently renovated its suites to feel like a “modern-day” Versailles, with views overlooking the Tuileries and a to-die-for menu at the downstairs, Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse. This place is fit for the likes of Marie Antoinette…and Jay-Z, of course.
Araks Waverly Underwire Bra Terracotta
Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag XL
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Instead of grabbing a heavy foundation, let your skin breathe on vacation with a French-based tinted moisturizer that is SPF 50. Even, hydrated, and protected skin? Oui, oui.
Violette FR Frange Puff Dry Shampoo Brush
Now 32% Off
The ultimate French girl, Violette, now has an eponymous line. If you want an easy, tousled hair look, grab this dry shampoo. You’ll have more time to explore the sights and less time to worry about your hair.
Chanel Eau de Parfum Spray
Why fight it? Go classic. A spritz of Chanel Number 5 is always a good idea.
Claire Stern is the Deputy Editor of ELLE.com. Previously, she served as Editor at Bergdorf Goodman. Her interests include fashion, food, travel, music, Peloton, and The Hills—not necessarily in that order. She used to have a Harriet the Spy notebook and isn’t ashamed to admit it.
Jessica Roy is the Site Director of ELLE.com. Previously, she worked as the News Editor of TheCut.com. She likes baking, running and Instagrams of your dog.