How to make the most of your time in Paris
Getting the best out of a trip to Paris means making the days last a little longer. Arrive in the evening, and there’s still time to sip a cocktail near your hotel, or score a table at the buzzing, must-try bistro round the corner. It’s the same story on the way back, when taking the train leaves you free to enjoy the city for an extra hour or two. Head for breakfast, get spruced up at the barber’s, or stock up at the market; there’s always space in the suitcase for a take-home hunk of comté.
To make it even easier, we’ve found suggestions close to four hotels; whether you’re arriving late or leaving early, here’s how to make every moment count.
Stay at Hôtel Le Marcel, Gare de l’Est
First thing: breakfast at Mamiche45, rue Condorcet, 75009
It’s a relatively new kid on the block, but this neighbourhood bakery’s a standout. The breads are superb, from chestnut honey-laced loaves to the nutty miche muesli, while the counter’s stacked with pastries, from crisp, buttery palmiers to sticky cinnamon buns. Its chocolate-marbled babka is possibly the best in Paris; grab a wedge to take away, or perch on the bench out front.
Last thing: drink a demi at Chez Jeanette47, rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010
Hip Parisians flock to this sweetly scuffed Saint-Denis address, which has kept its original cherry-red banquettes and curving neon signage. It’s a crowded, convivial spot for a beer or a nightcap, with a handful of pavement tables under the red-and-cream awning. If you’re peckish, a short, inviting menu riffs on brasserie classics, from an oozy croque monsieur to salads, steaks and snails.
Stay at Hôtel Mademoiselle, Gare du Nord
First thing: browse the Marché Saint-Quentin85B, boulevard de Magenta, 75010
Dating from 1866, this imposing, glass-and-iron market hall is ideal for a morning stroll. Follow your nose to its artisan cheese stalls, then swing by Nos Jours Heureux for flaky croissants and a box of pastel-hued macarons. Regulars swear by the Portuguese deli and snack bar; if it’s too early for octopus and salt cod, the pastéis de nata are first-class and the coffee reliably strong.
Last thing: boldly go to Gravity Bar44, rue des Vinaigriers, 75010
This Canal St Martin address has a sleekly space-age vibe, with a curving plywood cocoon wrapped around its circular bar. The cocktail list is restlessly inventive, often riffing on unusual ingredients (tonka bean-infused vermouth, say, or fragrant kaffir lime). There’s a polished dinner menu, but the snacks are equally accomplished; don’t even try to resist the cloud-like chorizo gougères.
Stay at Villa Beaumarchais - Le Marais
First thing: get groomed at Grizzly Barbershop80, boulevard Beaumarchais, 75011
You – and your beard – are in the safest of hands at Grizzly’s original outpost. It’s like a secret portal to Brooklyn in the heart of the Marais, with its tin tiles, tattooed clientele and retro, red-leather barber’s chairs. Its services run from haircuts to beard trims, via traditional wet shaves. In need of some serious TLC? Book the ‘Gentleman Grizzly’, complete with cosseting hot towels.
Last thing: dinner at Au Passage80 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75011
The decor may be scruffy and the music loud, but the food here is sublime. Squeeze in amid the cramped, lively tables, then see what’s chalked up on the menu. From marbled slices of saucisse sèche to cod with salsa verde, its carefully-sourced small plates always hit the mark. An epic list of natural wines fuels the night-owl crowd; the last bookings are at 11pm, and it closes at half-one.
Stay at Adèle et Jules, Grands Boulevards
First thing: a stroll on rue MontorgueilRue Montorgueil, 75002
Back when the city’s famous food market, Les Halles, was just around the corner, this cobbled street was known for its oysters. These days, it still draws a foodie crowd, with cafés, bakeries, kitchenware shops and first-class fromageries. Check out the historic l’Escargot Montorgueil, guarded by a gilded snail, then pay your respects at Stohrer. Founded in 1730, it’s the oldest pâtisserie in Paris.
Last thing: lobster pasta at Pastore26 rue Bergère, 75009
Two minutes’ walk from the hotel, this Italian newcomer is an elegant spot for supper. Retro orange chairs add a touch of warmth to its pared-back dining room, while every dish has earned its place on the strikingly short menu. The dishes evolve with the seasons, but look out for tried-and-tested hits: the silky Apulian burrata, say, or generous lobster spaghettini.
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