An Insider’s Guide to Paris

Published on  

July 12, 2024

From its Haussman architecture to its world-class dining and shopping scene, few cities are more refined than Paris. Here, a rich tapestry of European history and culture is woven with an undeniably romantic edge that touches all those who visit.

The City of Light

Few can resist the magnetic allure of Parisian romance with its enhancing Belle Époque architecture, glamorous fashion scene and culinary landscape ranking among the finest in the world. Not to mention its plethora of iconic landmarks, cathedrals, and palaces, crowned by the majestic emblem of the Sacré-Cœur.

Yet despite the city’s many tourist hotspots drawing visitors from around the world, to live like a local in the City of Light is the best way to discover its true romantic soul. Skip the crowds and unlock access to Paris’ hidden gems, secret hotspots and local haunts with our August insider’s guide which unearths the essence of Parisian life…

Shop

A fashion capital since the 17th century, no trip to Paris is complete without retail therapy. While luxury shoppers delight in an endless list of department stores, equally as enticing are the city’s independent boutiques, workshops and vintage stores. Here are some of August’s favourites…

Astier de Villatte

An interior haven and artisanal workshop popular with Parisians. The perfect place to source a thoughtful gift or secure a handmade ceramic souvenir. It also sells unusual fragrances and elegant stationery.

Charlotte Chesnais

This Parisian jeweller, designs her pieces to be both sculptural and simplistic. Stores also double as contemporary art spaces for a fully immersive shopping experience.

Charvet

Established in 1838, this shirtmaker and tailor is also renowned for its slippers and pyjamas, impeccably made from the finest of fabrics.

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

Gastronomes will be right at home in the historic market halls of Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - perfect for grabbing a bite on the go or sourcing ingredients to create a fine French feast at home.

Merci Boutique

A lofty, three-storey treasure trove stocking unique pieces from independent retailers with something to suit all budgets.

Officine Universelle Buly 1803

A French beauty brand first founded by Jean-Vincent Bully in 1803. Stores are wood-cladded, styled as old school apothecaries, with each formula available with hand calligraphy engraving, free of charge.

Pep’s Maison

A charming umbrella repair shop on Rue Saint-Martin with a vibrant facade, where skilled craftsmen breathe life into old umbrellas.

Eat & Drink

Paris' food scene dates back centuries, to the iconic bistros of the Belle Époque era and the birth of haute cuisine by chefs such as Auguste Escoffier who redefined modern cooking. Today, as one of the world’s culinary capitals, it brings diners from across the globe who seek French classics, avant-garde experimentation and of course, the buttery pastries of its 1,000 bakeries.

Arpège

This restaurant in the 6th has held three Michelin stars since 1996 thanks to chef Alain Passard, who transforms humble vegetables into a 100% plant-based menu… almost too pretty to eat.

Bistrot Instinct 

Where the menu of the day is written on a black chalk board and features French signatures such as Chateaubriand with pomme noisette and rack of lamb with red wine jus.

Kodawari Ramen 

A break from bistro tradition, the 6th arrondissement’s Kodawari Ramen transports diners to a Japanese Yokochō with its warming bowls of authentic ramen.

L’Art Brut Bistrot

For a lighter, more casual bite, this tiny local tavern serves generous plates of cheese and charcuterie - the perfect way to spend a laidback summer’s eve.

La Poule au Pot

A storied Paris bistro offering warm service and Bourgeois cuisine in authentic surroundings. August recommends a nourishing bowl of onion soup followed by a classic baba au rhum.

Le Vin en Bouche

Small and well hidden, Le Vin En Bouche (literally translated to ‘the wine in mouth’) welcomes wine enthusiasts. Regular tastings are also held in its underground cellars.

Parcelles

A must-visit for classic French cooking - think rich, homemade pates, elegant carpaccios and moreish scallops with parsley butter - all served in a vintage, 1930s setting.

Plénitude

A short walk to the 1st leads foodies to one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. Here famed chef Arnaud Donckele is responsible for putting his own spin on classical French cuisine. The pinnacle of fine dining.

Prescription Cocktail Club 

Tucked away in the 6th arrondissement, the Prescription Cocktail Club echoes a bygone era with its moody ambiance and experimental cocktails.

See & Do

Beyond the postcard cliches, Paris’ lesser-known treasures lie in its residential neighbourhoods, alternative museums, and tranquil parks, waiting to be explored.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Nestled in one of Paris' most picturesque neighbourhoods, the Luxembourg Gardens beckon with their blooming flowers, elegant statues, and tranquil water fountains. A perfect alternative to the Louvre Garden crowds, the verdant grounds are ideally suited to a summer picnic within easy reach of August’s Prime Collection homes.

Canal St. Martin

Located in the 10th arrondissement, Canal St. Martin is a little further away than the famed River Seine, but worth the trip to access almost five kilometers of waterways. Spend time soaking up the local ambience here, whether experiencing its waterfront bars and restaurants or taking a leisurely stroll along its picturesque banks.

City Tours

When it’s time to give tired feet a rest, August recommends two alternative ways to explore the city. With Bike About Tours, traverse its backstreets on two wheels with the Hidden Paris Tour which covers Roman ruins and secret gardens with expert tour guides sharing stories along the way. Alternatively, embark on a private boat journey with My Paris River. Best seen from the water, pass the city’s major sights along the way while avoiding crowds with a tour at dusk recommended for spellbinding views.

Maison du Faucheur and Maison du Mouton

Dating back to the 14th century, these half-timbered houses are architectural marvels offering a glimpse into Paris' past, without the crowds.

Monnaie de Paris

The French capital oozes a wealth of alternatives beyond its renowned landmarks. One such gem is the Monnaie de Paris, established in 864 by Charles the Bald. As the world's oldest continuously-operating mint, it boasts over 1,150 years of history.

Musée de la Vie Romantique

A hidden home in Pigalle - seemingly known only to Parisians - that transports visitors back to 1830 with its vintage furniture, artwork and beautiful gardens waiting to be explored.

59 Rivoli

Once an illegal artist squat, in 1999 59 Rivoli it transformed into a vibrant art studio and gallery, showcasing the works of 30 artists and hosting lively weekend concerts, well worth booking in advance.

Pack

Packing for a trip to Paris demands consideration of both style and practicality. While a pair of comfortable trainers is a must for pounding the city’s cobbled streets, sharp and chic evening wear also doesn’t go amiss. Fill your suitcase with versatile layers in a muted palette to blend in with the local crowd, not forgetting to leave space for a journal to capture the romance of the Seine and a hearty appetite for its culinary delights.

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