One of the things I enjoy when traveling is to visit the same place during the different seasons of the year and experience the changes. A short time ago I was lucky to explore fall in Paris during a weekend with two of my closest girlfriends.
I had never been to Paris in fall and I found the city to be extremely beautiful. Even though it was cloudy most days, the many trees lighted up the city with beautiful yellow leaves.
Where to stay
I have stayed at various locations in Paris and I must say that Le Marais is my favorite.
Everything is nearby; breakfast spots, lovely Parisian bistros, pretty buildings and excellent shopping.
We spend an entire Sunday in the neighborhood just strolling around the area (bonus is that the shops are open on Sundays in this area). We stood in line half an hour for a falafel (read more below), bought cashmere blouses in the newly opened Uniqlo shop (100% cashmere for 60 euro!), relaxed in the parks and had macaroons and Madeleine cakes at a local bakeries.
TIP: Shop last year’s collections from Sandro and Claudie Pierlot at reduced prices in their Stock stores on Rue Sévigné in Le Marais
We stayed in an apartment in Le Marais via AirBnB. I cannot take credit for finding this perfectly located and beautiful designed apartment as it was my friend who found it for us. I can definitely recommend it to anyone travelling to Paris (max 3 persons though).
Getting there from the airport is not the easiest, but we managed by taking the train to Les Halles Station, changing to a metro line and walking for aprox. ten minutes. We spend around two hours on the entire journey.
The owner Ruben, wasn’t there himself to welcome us, but one of his friends were. She was nice and welcomed us warmly. As our departure flight wasn’t until 21:00, we asked for a late check out on the last day. We expected one or two hours of flexibility, but as no other guests were checking in on that day, we were allowed to stay in the apartment until 18:00 at no extra cost which was just perfect.
Just outside the main entrance to the apartment you have the popular burger place Paris New York and 5 minutes away are the most delicious breakfast Places
Find the apartment on AirBnB here
I cannot recommend any hotels in Le Marais, but we had a look at Hotel Emile when we organized the trip, and I will probably stay there next time I go to Paris if I don’t go for an apartment again.
Getting around Paris
Like other European capitals, there is a well connected metro line system in the city, which makes it easy to get around. An even better and faster way to get around Paris though, is by bike! It is a great way to explore the city with a lot of flexibility to stop at the interesting sites you pass by. Just be aware of the traffic as there is a lack of proper bike lanes many places, so you really have to be attentive.
Paris has an excellent biking rental system. There are bike stations all over the city and the system functions well. You just have to use your credit card the first time you take a bike. You get a ticket and use the ticket number every time you take a bike and you only pay for the time you are actually riding the bike.
Less than 30 minutes is free, so if you manage to get from A to B quickly and put the bike back into a station before the 30 minutes have passed, it’s free!
Where to have lunch/dinner
We passed this place by coincidence. We hadn’t reserved anything one night, so we just took a stroll around the neighborhood (Le Marais). As everything was crowded, we looked for a place with a bar so we could at least have a cocktail while waiting for a table.
We found Café Charlot and took place in the bar and enjoyed some cocktails for 30 minutes until there was a table ready for us.
We had burgers and steak frites. Everything was tasteful at decent prices. It is a true Parisian bistro with a great atmosphere and a local vibe.
Location: 38 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Visit their website here
Zébulion is a relaxed and intimate restaurant with wooden décor and menus displayed on blackboards. The food is delicious and the location is near the Louvre, making it easy to get there by public transportation. We had three course menus and especially my starter (gnoccis with a twist) was extremely delicious. We payed aprox. 200 euro for the three of us, for three-course dinners and a bottle of white wine. Definitely worth a visit.
Location: 10 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris
Elsworth is located in the same area (actually on the same street as Zébulon). It is a tiny and very cosy place with an intimate atmosphere. The concept is small plates to share. We ordered 8 dishes in total plus two deserts which was very suitable for three hungry girls who had been wandering around Paris all day.
Unfortunately I did not bring the camera on that night, so I have no pictures to share.
Location: 34, rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris
Link to webpage here
L’As Du Fallafel
We had to stand in line for 30 minutes to get a falafel to-go at this place! Best falafel in the city and a very organized queue made it worth the waiting time. As you queue up a guy will take your order and set the bill and once you get to the counter you will simply have your falafel and beverages delivered. The falafel was mouthwatering and a perfect lunch for a lazy day in Le Marais.
Location: 34, rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris
You eat here for the location rather than the food. Not that the food isn’t good – it is good, but the main occupancy here is to enjoy the view to a nice square with chick parisiennes passing by.
Location: 42 Rue Bonaparte, Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Where to have breakfast in Le Marais
Season is located just 6 min by foot from the above mentioned apartment. It is nicely decorated and it seems to be a place where people come to hang out, but also to work, as there were various persons sitting alone with a laptop. The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff very friendly.
We had avocato tartines, banana tartines and small pain au chocolats. The banana tartines were the most delicious I have ever had. They might not look super delicious on the picture, but I promise: they melt in the mouth.
Location: 1 Rue Dupuis, 75003 Paris
Link to webpage here
The Broken Arm
The Broken Arm is a shop and coffee shop. It is quite small (aprox 6 tables), but feels spacious thanks to the large windows and simple decoration. The food is simple, but delicious. We opted for avocado toast (again!), yoghurt and croissants. Everything was very tasteful. Newspapers are available and the long sofa makes it the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee, a croissant and the newspaper.
Location: 12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris
Link to webpage here
Le Pain Quotidien
This is a classic one and available worldwide almost. However, it is and will remain one of my absolute favorite breakfast spots. If you don’t do dairy products like me, you might be quite challenged in Paris (or maybe I just didn’t do my research good enough!) and end up drinking a lot of Americanos instead of delicious lattes. At Le Pain Quotidien you just know that soya milk is available, there are yoghurts made of almond or soya milk, chiapuddings with almonds etc etc. We took our last breakfast here, and I had a giant soya latte – very needed.
The one at Rue de Bretagne is very cosy and has tables inside and outside. I would say it is medium size, which makes quite spacious, but still intimate. Wooden interior and their cookbook is available to buy or just to read in while eating. My favorite.
Location: 8 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Link to webpage here
What to do
After several visits to Paris, these are my recommendations on things to do on a weekend in the French capital:
See Paris from atop Au Printemps
Visit the department store Au Printemps and enjoy the fabulous view over the city from their roof top. It’s free and you get a beautiful birds eye view of Paris including the Eiffel Tower.
Visit The Eiffel Tower and take pictures from Trocadero
Although I’m not really into standing in line to explore the same as anyone else, I must say that a visit to The Eiffel Tower is worth it. Who wouldn’t like to say that they have been at the top of The Eiffel Tower? I was up the for the first time at the age of 12 with my parents. Later at the age of 18 with some girlfriends and latest 5 years ago with my the man who is now my husband.
Besides from visiting The Eiffel Tower it’s a must to take some nice pictures. I can recommend doing it from the Trocadero square, which was what we did on this trip.
Buy macaroons for friends and family at Ladurée
There are outlets of Ladurée all over the city (and the world now – I was surprised to find one near the beach in Dubai last year!). However I prefer the large shop on Champs Elysées. It’s the real one to me. The boxes the macaroons are sold in are so beautiful and can be used for storing jewelry afterwords.
Do some shopping in the many beautiful department stores
When in Paris you want to do some shopping (or at least I do!). The department stores are amazing and beautifully decorated. Amongst the most popular ones are Galeries La Fayette, Au Printemps and Le Bon Marché. Every one has it’s own feature; La Fayette has an amazing glass ceiling, Au Printemps a fantastic view over the city from the roof top and Le Bon Marché some iconic staircases, which we wanted to picture.
Stroll in the Jardin Des Tuileries
Stroll through the Jardin Des Tuileries, take a seat in the green chairs that are all over the park and do some people watching.
Walk along The Seine
Take a walk along The Seine and watch the beautiful houses one can only dream of. Especially the Seine is changing every season due to the many trees along the sides.
Sip wine and do some people watching in Saint-Germain-des-Prés
The houses in this neighbourhood are gorgeous with beautiful balconies and flowers. Sit on a terrace and sip wine while watching the stylish Parisiennes pass by.
Stock up on pharmacy items
No trip to France without stocking up on items from the French pharmacy. They have all kinds of cosmetics and body products from face water, dry shampoo, make-up remover to hairbrushes and health products from popular brands like Nuxe, Caudalie, Vichy, Bioderma etc. And the best is that everything is offered as full size products and as travel size products, perfect for a weekend get-away.
City-Pharma in St.-Germain-des-Pres has the lowest prices on cosmetic products in Paris, which is also why it is super crowded. So don’t go there if you are in a hurry or hungry, as you will need lots of time and mental resources to enjoy the shopping there.
Location:26 Rue du Four
Eat éclairs from l’Éclair de Génie
2015 was the year for éclairs on Instagram. They appeared everywhere, at any time and in all colors. It is a massive piece of chocolate/cream/profiterole pastry. If you are hungry for sugar, then you should definitely pass by the little shop l’Éclair de Génie and try one. Or at least enjoy the view of these beautiful pastries in all colors.