As a kid I would dream of Paris, thinking everyone ate croissants all day long and wore berets everywhere (I think I watched Ratatouille a few too many times). It may not have been what I dreamt of exactly but boy did it exceed my expectations. I was lucky enough to get the best tips and advice on places to go and things to do plus I did a lot of my own research and thought I'd share them with you so you can have an amazing experience like I had in the "city of love".
The first one that was my favourite for the trip and is an absolute must is the Hardware Societe. Located opposite the Sacre Coeur, it is an Australian born cafe with a French twist. It's brunch was honestly to die for! I got the fried brioche and my boyfriend got the pork belly something or rather but all I can say was it was unreal.
It's a refreshing change from the usual brunch that you get at most places as it has loads of unique options so I'm positive you'll be able to find something you like. The coffee (Padre Coffee) was so beautiful I had to buy two flat whites in the end along with a bag of their beans just so I could have more back in London.
Moving on to another great cafe, Holybelly 5 located in the 10th arrondissement serves a cracking brunch with a Canadian twist. They hit the pancakes scene hard with both savoury and sweet pancake options. They also offer eggs three different ways where you choose two sides to accompany it which is a cool idea as it offers heaps of variety for each customer to choose from. Also serve a great coffee so it's hard to be disappointed. The staff here were lovely as well and were so motivated and cheery considering it was a Monday morning and the cafe was chock a block so hats off to them.
For those Vegan/Vego lovers, Wild and the Moon Cafe Charlot is a beautiful spot to enjoy a wholesome breakky. Packed with all natural, healthy alternatives to the usual brunches you find around town you'll definitely be pleased with menu options here. I had the Acai bowl and my boyfriend had the pancakes and both were delish. For drinks, we tried the chai latte and the filter, both quite nice. I'd say the food is definitely more of there strong front but the coffee was decent too.
All of the cafes above do get relatively busy most days so be prepared for a queue, especially on weekends.
Moving on to the little coffee spots for a quick stop in sit down coffee. Most of the cafes below are quite small so keep that in mind especially if you're with a big group.
Cafe Ob-La-Di is definitely one of the hidden gems I was talking about in Paris' beautiful area Le Marais. The decor is lovely with the tiled floors and cute seating area. The coffee was beaut, especially the filter! Perfect if you're in the area and have a shop around at all the cool vintage stores.
Another one to pop in to is Boot Cafe also in Le Marais. This is definitely a shoe box cafe which makes the experience even better. The coffee was beaut and there was a large array of pastries which I definitely wanted to get my hands on. It has a really cool interior with a collage of stickers and unique merch across the walls and stacks of magazines lined up. The exterior is definitely your typical French design with the most gorgeous pastel blue facade. It's definitely a cafe I'd recommend to visit if you're in the area.
If you're out near the Champs-Elysees, have a stroll over to Honor cafe, tucked down a little side alley along the gorgeous Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, a very expensive shopping street. It is an outdoor specialty coffee store and one of the only of it's kind in Paris. It was opened by two Aussies and serves plenty of sweet treats, yummy brunch options and of course, beautiful coffee. They also have some cool merch you can get your hands on (I'm a sucker for some merch). Their banana bread with espresso butter is definitely worth a try. You won't be disappointed.
Finally, located in the 11th arrondissement, Cafe Oberkampf is one to add to your list. Regulars along with tourists sit in this small cafe embracing their morning coffees and devouring their brunches making you feel like you're living the Parisian dream. This area has a decent handful of unique restaurants and bakeries from different ethnicities scattered around so definitely have a stroll around as you'll be sure to find some cool spots. The coffee at cafe Oberkampf was lovely, having a freshly made V60 made the experience even better! The brunch looked amazing and I wish I had got my hands on some!
Obviously the Parisian bakeries are going to be amazing, it's their trademark, and so I did some research and got some tips from the locals to find some great ones that are worth a visit.
The first is Du Pain et Des Idees which is a located on the corner of an intersection in the 10th arr. It really feels as though you're in a classic movie, sitting on the seats outside, eating your traditional baguette soaking in the culture. The pastries and bread are some of the best you'll find in Paris and even the locals vouch for that. Beware of their opening hours however as they are usually closed on weekends!
For those sweet treats, The French Bastards has you sorted, and also takes the cake for the best name. If you've read about the cafes above, cafe Oberkampf is located just around the corner from this bakery so you can definitely hit two birds with one stone and head to both. They had a large selection of pastries, desserts, breads, of course I grabbed myself their homemade chocolate mousse (bit random for a bakery but it's my guilty pleasure) and oh my god was it good. Their stuffed donuts are insane as well so if you're a sweet tooth this will be your sanctuary.
And finally, in Le Marais, Chez Manon does the best traditional baguettes in the area. Their choccy croissants are a must have too! P.S don't call them choccy croissants to the French, you will look like an idiot (I know from experience).
For the meat lovers out there, you cannot and I mean, cannot miss this restaurant. Le Relais de l'entrecote is a real Parisian bistrot and a truly unique experience. Basically you sit down, wait for a menu, realise you aren't getting a menu as all they ask you is how you like your steak cooked. Next, you get a salad starter then, out of no where they bring out the most beautiful cooked steak to your liking, cut it beside you and chuck in a load of golden thin cut fries. Once you've finished your plate, they top it up with MORE steak and chips. It is such a cool concept and is so simple which makes it even better. To top it off, their desserts are delicious. You have to try their creme brûlée!
If you're in the mood for seafood, L'ilot in Le Marais is a good option. Plenty of different seafoods to choose from. We spoilt ourselves and got the seafood platter which came with a huge serving of crab which is a favourite of mine so I was definitely pleased. It's a cute little restaurant and is a good in-between for casual and classy.
Chez Alain Miam Miam is more of a lunch spot and serve some of the biggest sandwiches I've ever seen. They are known for their amazing hospitality, the owner being the biggest legend ever. There is always a long queue and you'll understand why if you go there. They make the sandwiches from scratch, covering them in whatever you'd like, cheese, prosciutto onions, mushrooms, lettuce, there's plenty to choose from and by covering I mean they literally pile on, so make sure if you ask for something be prepared to get a lot of it!
While wondering through Paris we discovered a few speak easy, tucked away bars that serve some of the best cocktails you can find.
My favourite was Mezcaleria. A little speak easy bar hidden through the kitchen of Inka Restaurant. Make your way in through the doors of the 1K Hotel, ask reception where Mezcaleria is and they will guide you through the kitchen to the entrance. It's definitely got a Mexican vibe inside with the colour scheme and interior design. The DJ is cool especially if you go an a weekend the dance floor goes off.
Next up, Candelaria. Similar to Mezcalaria, you enter through a little restaurant where people are seated eating and go through the back door to head into the bar area. It's a dim candle lit space with brick walls similar to an old cellar. Plenty of seating and standing space but be prepared for it to get very busy later on, even on weeknights. The cocktails here were beautiful and the staff were really friendly and warming.
Little Red Door was another fave. Obviously by the name, you'll be looking for the entrance as a red door, which it is. It is located in Le Marais and is definitely a classy cocktail bar. The menu concept is really cool and involves all different cultures and languages for each cocktail but I'll leave it to the experts from the bar to explain it to you if you head there. It is quite large so you shouldn't be waiting too long for a seat but it does get a line out the door sometimes so be prepared!
Finally, for the wine lovers, head to Le Barav. It's a really cool French wine bar that has all different wines to choose from and you can either stand at the bar, outside, or grab a table. They also serve little nibbles to accompany your beautiful glass of red or white.
If you're heading to Paris and not sure where to stay, I highly recommend Le Marais. LGBT friendly and forward thinking, the area makes you feel really safe. Plenty of shopping, bars, restaurants and cafes along with convenient Metro stations you're in a prime position. Walking distance to everything (if you like walking) or you can easily train it around Paris. We stayed in a beautiful loft AirBnB on Rue de Bretagne which is one of the main streets in Le Marais so it was always buzzing with people and never felt dodgy at all.
Hope these tips helped and you have a dreamy Parisian experience!