Boasting some of the best grape-growing and wine-making regions in the world—from Burgundy to Bordeaux—France feels like heaven to serious oenophiles. Even if you’re not a wine aficionado, no trip to Paris is complete without a sampling of the grapes. That’s why a wine tasting is the perfect Paris activity. O Chateau (68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau) offers wine courses with a bilingual master sommelier. If you’d prefer to sample wine flights on your own, Paris is full of many excellent wine bars. We like Verjus (47, rue Montpensier, 1st arrondissement) as it boasts a cozy interior, an international clientele, and delicious food to accompany the extensive wine list. Lavinia (1, Blvd. Madeleine, 7th arrondissement) is another great wine shop with a bar and restaurant. It has three stories of wine.
The French culinary tradition is unparalleled. The acclaim and the accolades it has received are so numerous. French cuisine itself has earned a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. One of the greatest pleasures of your Paris trip will be dining at top-flight restaurants and luxuriating in classically-prepared dishes from some of the best chefs in the world. If you’re here for the classic treatment, Café Constant (139, rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arrondissement) and Les Cocottes (135, rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arrondissement – no reservations) are a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower and offer deliciously rustic bistro food courtesy of Christian Constant, formerly the Executive Chef at The Hotel Crillon’s Les Ambassadeurs. For the ultimate splurge, Le Jules Verne is Alain Ducasse’s restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower. Brilliant French cuisine overlooking all of Paris from the city’s most iconic landmark is hard to beat. Another way to delve deeper into French culinary tradition is by taking a cooking class. Learn how to make everything from macaroons to delectable duck at the Franco-American cooking school La Cuisine Paris (80, Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville). Team Traterra will be happy to make dinner reservations for you at the restaurant of your choice.
Bakeries and Cafes
Du Pain et des Idees at 34, Rue Yves Toudic in the 10th arrondissement and close to the Canal Saint Martin should be where you stop for French baked goods. This bakery uses real apples rather than jam in their chaussons aux pommes (apple turnovers) and the l'escargot chocolat pistache is simply divine. For hot chocolate, we like the chocolat L'Africain at Angelina, located at 226 Rue de Rivoli across from the Tuileries Gardens. Angelina is a bit touristy, but it’s worth the trip there anyway as the hot chocolate is so thick and delicious it should count as dessert. Angelina’s tea room is opulent and grand as well, if you want something more formal and substantial.
Undoubtedly part of what makes France’s cuisine so stellar is the fresh, quality ingredients. Visiting a real Parisian market offers a sneak peek into what goes into classic French recipes. Each neighborhood has its own market, but the Boulevard Raspail Market (on Boulevard de Raspail in the 6th arrondissement) is particularly good. It’s completely organic on Sundays. Check out meats from the butcher, all kinds of cheeses, fish, and colorful produce all plucked fresh from the French countryside. Rue Mouffetard Market, known as “La Mouffe” to locals, is another great one. Located in the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement, you can pick up a few items for a picnic lunch or just enjoy some croissants from a café as you walk along the stalls selling everything from fruits, vegetables and meats to gadgets for the kitchen.
Extended evening hours at the must-see museums:
- Louvre: Open until 9:45 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays
- Musée d’Orsay: Open until 9:45 PM on Thursdays
- Centre Pompidou: Open until 9 PM most days and 11 PM on Thursdays
Home to some of the world’s most famous museums—including the Louvre (with the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, among others), the Musée d’Orsay (best known for its extensive collection of Impression and post-Impressionist paintings), and the Centre Pompidou (the largest contemporary art collection in all of Europe)—Paris is a top destination for art lovers. This also means the museums are often crowded. What many visitors don’t realize, though, is that there’s any easy way to avoid long lines—go at night! Most museums offer extended evening hours on certain days of the week. Besides being less busy, nighttime visits feel a bit mysterious and forbidden—in a completely wonderful way. Remember though, some sections of the museums will be closed during evening hours, so there are trade-offs to consider when avoiding the crowds.
For more cutting-edge art, try Le Palais de Tokyo (13 avenue du President-Wilson, 16th arrondissement), always open until midnight. In the right wing of the building, you will find the Musée d’Art Moderne which stays open until 10 PM on Thursdays.
The Marais is one of the most beautiful and historic districts of Paris. It is home to numerous cafés, art galleries, trendy restaurants, and specialty boutiques. From aristocratic mansions to a large Jewish community and a thriving nightlife, The Marais contains an interesting, lively mix of influences. The Musée Carnavalet (23, rue de Sévigné, 3rd arrondissemont) details the history of Paris in its collection and boasts a lovely garden inside. Best of all—and why we like it—this neighborhood leaves time for spontaneous surprises.
Another popular pastime and top tourist attraction in Paris is the Père Lachaise Cemetery (on rue de Repos, 20th arrondissement). The final resting place of many historic luminaries—from Abelard to Chopin, Edith Piaf to Marcel Proust—Père Lachaise offers a meditative and surprisingly beautiful and life-affirming space away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enter from Blvd. Menilmontant near the Pere Lachaise metro stop and purchase an unofficial map from one of the local shops or news kiosks nearby.
Paris is a fashion capital and French style could easily be considered one of the wonders of the world. There is something almost mystifying about how the French pull it off. What is not confusing, however, is the French emphasis on elegance and quality. The Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
is famous for designer fashion boutiques. Hermès at #24, Yves Saint Laurent at #38 and Ave. Montaigne, Lanvin at #15 and #22, and Chanel at #21 are just a few names you’ll find here. For edgier styles, try Colette at 21 Rue Saint Honoré. For even more concentrated shopping, Printemps #64
and Galeries Lafayette #40
(reserve in advance with Team Traterra to attend the complimentary Friday fashion show at 3 PM) are the big department stores that grace Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement. Bon Marché (at 24 rue de Sevres, 7th arrondissement) can be an even better bet over on the Left Bank.