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The Ultimate Guide to Paris

photo: Alina Sepp
For some, Paris isn’t a city but a world. A world where haute couture and cuisine mix companionably with winding, cobblestoned streets and open air flea markets. It’s underground beats set to Edith Piaf on vinyl. It’s a city that celebrates the past while maintaining a cutting-edge grasp on what’s coming next, like a perennial ‘Pantone color of the year.’ Whether it’s a stroll down the Seine, spending a day in one of dozens of world-class museums, visiting a perfectly curated shop or simply enjoying an afternoon at an open air cafe, Paris is always a good idea. What to know before you grab your pals and go? This is the comprehensive guide to the coolest places in Paris to check-in, check out and check off your bucket list.

Reporter: Katie David
Photo: Henry Do
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See: Arc de Triomphe

Paris, France
A stroll down Avenue des Champs-Élysées is always a must in Paris, considering it’s plethora of luxury shops, theaters and cafes. It happens to be one of the most famous streets in the world, hosting the Bastille Day parade as well as the finale of the Tour de France. It’s also home to the Arc de Triomphe, over 50m high, inaugurated in 1836 by French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. Head to the top of the Arc for one of the most sweeping, stunning and panoramic views of Paris in the entire city.
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Photo: Hervé Goluza
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Stay: Hôtel Doisy

Paris, France
After having spent a few months getting a facelift, the Hôtel Doisy is proud to show off its new look, the heart and soul of which are entwined with the old spiral staircase rising up through its’ six floors. Discover the many vibrant and varied ambiances throughout this stylish hotel within and surrounding the 33 bedrooms designed using only the best natural materials.
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Visit: Musée Picasso

Paris, France
Even though Picasso was a Spanish-born painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, stage designer, poet and playwright, he considered Paris his home. This stunning museum is home to over 5,000 of his carefully preserved works, giving visitors a very real glimpse into his artistic process. Inside tip: Follow iridescent aluminum ribbon up a staircase to the cafe on the roof. Perfect for a group, you’ll take a leisurely gourmet break surrounded by natural wood, white lacquer, stone and slate with views of Hotel Salé.
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Dine: Pink Mamma

Paris, France
At Big Mamma’s Pink house, you’re grilling your own T-Bone’s and Tomahawks on a three-meter long grill under a glass roof and surrounded by an overgrowth of perfectly wild greens. Pink Mamma is a big and warm trattoria, covering four beautifully designed floors, each with it’s own personality. Inside tip: Don’t miss the top floor glass greenhouse or the speakeasy basement.
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Photo: Pauline Egge
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Stay: Hotel Grands Boulevards

Paris, France
Part of a new generation of four-star lifestyle hotels helmed by the Experimental Cocktail Group, Hotel Grands Boulevards has a time-worn provincial aesthetic with upscale, modern amenities. Housed in a pre-French Revolution building, there are dreamy canopy beds and well-worn woods, hand-crafted espresso and a quaint landscaped courtyard and cocktail bar for an after-hours tipple or two.
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Photo: Nina Bergh
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Visit: Musée National Gustave Moreau

Paris, France
It isn’t often one comes across a museum, developed by the artist himself, nurtured over time to be a direct reflection of his life’s work… and housed in his former home. That’s right, Moreau bequeathed his entire catalogue and home to France to maintain and showcase his efforts as an artist throughout his life. To walk the halls where the artist himself created such magnificent works is worth the price of the ticket. Good to know: Open every day except Tuesday, it's free to those under 18 and for everyone on the first Sunday of every month.
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See: Eiffel Tower

Paris, France
There may be no more recognizable monument in Paris than the Eiffel Tower, worth every first, second or twentieth thrilling trip to view. Named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower, it was constructed from 1887–89 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. Opt to picnic at the Jardins du Trocadéro, an open space lit by the famous Fountains of Warsaw, or take a ride to the top. You’ll clink glasses with your guys and gals at the champagne bar or tour Eiffel’s secret apartment he kept at the top of the tower.
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Coffee: Le Nemours

Paris, France
Le Nemours is the quintessential upscale, chic Parisian cafe, just steps from the Louvre and Palais Royal. Culture, fashion, politics, tourists and locals intersect at this uniquely French outpost, which makes for massively interesting Parisian people-watching.
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Photo: Stacy Wyss
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Tip: Get the Paris Museum Pass

Paris, France
Without question, if Paris means museums to you, the Paris Museum Pass is a must purchase. You’ll have automatic entry, without waiting in long lines, to over 50 museums and monuments, allowing you to go back as many times as you wish. You can purchase activity on the pass for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days and you simply present it at checkpoints at your museums or monuments of choice. It’s 48 Euros for a two day pass, about $60 USD. For this pass, it’s less economical (although it will save you some cash) and more about saving time as you bypass what can be very long lines at some of the more popular museums.
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Photo: Romain Ricard
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Stay: Hotel Panache

Paris, France
Deliciously sophisticated and located in the center of Paris' artsy Grands Boulevards neighborhood, Hotel Panache is 40 perfectly unique rooms, some boasting bathtubs and balconies with views. Awash in a mix of perfect pastels, what was once the old Opera Madrid where Josephine Baker headlined, is now a heady mix of vibrant geometric patterns and art deco accents. Inside tip: Book the “surreal” first floor garden apartment for a real “Parisian home away from home” gathering spot with your group.
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See: Pigalle Basketball Court

Paris, France
Like a 1980’s Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper come to glorious neon life, Pigalle Basketball Court is a collaboration between fashion brand, Pigalle and Creative Agency, Ill Studio, with the support of Nike, nestled between the neutrals of classic French apartments. First painted in 2009 as a work of art come to life, it's been reimagined multiple times as it explores the relationship between sport, art, life and culture.
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See: Montmartre

Paris, France
Montmartre is a large hill in Paris's 18th arrondissement that lends it’s name to the surrounding district in it’s shadow. It’s primarily known for it’s artistic history as well as the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit. Soak up some of the most inspirational space in the world, at the turn of the twentieth century, famed artists had studios in Montmartre, including Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh just to name a few.
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Tip: Get a Paris Metro Pass

Paris, France
Without question, the best way to travel around Paris is the Metro. It’s cheap, easy and will get you around quickly and for the most part, fashionably, as it’s stations are influenced by Art Nouveau architecture. Starting at $40 USD you’ll get a Metro pass for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days which allows you to go almost anywhere in Paris on the Metro or bus, including Montmartre. Don’t let an unfamiliar transportation system intimidate you and spend all of your money on taxis – challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone and after reading the map a few times, you’ll feel like a Parisian local.
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Photo: Robyn Lea
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Stay: Ritz Paris learn more

For a bucket-list stay, there is nothing remotely like the classic sophistication of the Ritz Paris. It's quite possibly the most renowned five-star hotel in the world. The hotel’s rooms and suites bear the names of Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Marcel Proust — all of whom considered the Ritz “like a second home.” Besides housing the world’s only Chanel spa, enjoy a leisurely afternoon under the shade of a linden tree in the Grand Jardin, then light up the night after a culinary masterpiece of a meal at La Table De L’Espadon.
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Visit: The Louvre

Paris, France
The Louvre needs no introduction as it’s the world’s largest art museum and pyramidal, historic monument of Paris. Get out that bucket list, babes. Located on the Right Bank of the Seine, it’s also the world’s most visited art museum with over 8 million people walking through it’s doors last year. What was once the Louvre Palace, built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II, it was abandoned as a royal residence under Louis XIV who chose to move to the Palace of Versailles. Don’t miss: A stroll through the Tuileries and Carousel Gardens, listed since 1991 as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 
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Coffee: Café Kitsuné

Paris, France
Located in Paris’ impossibly chic Palais Royal, a former royal Palace opposite the Louvre, Cafe Kitsune is an offshoot of popular clothing brand Maison Kitsune, selling delicious coffee in a sweet, small spot. It’s neighbors with Stella McCartney, Acne Studios and Marc Jacobs so it’s the perfectly cool spot to refuel during your Parisian shopping spree.
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Stay: Le Narcisse Blanc

Paris, France
In the heart of a historic Parisian neighborhood lies the elegance and sophistication of the five-star Le Narcisse Blanc Hotel & Spa. Inspired by Cléo de Mérode, artist, dancer, actress and muse of the artistic Paris of the 1900’s, the hotel is warm neutrals, in-room fireplaces and vibrant views. Inside tip: Ask the concierge about the “Night at a Vineyard” special where you’ll tour and stay at Le Domaine de la Soucherie, a special vineyard two hours from Paris’ center. 
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Photo: Pauline Egge
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Dine: Season

Paris, France
Season is a coffee shop, juice bar and all-day breakfast-serving restaurant, with plenty of gourmet and no gluten. Sacre bleu! It’s also referred to as a “neobistrot” a culinary trend in Paris launched by young, progressive chefs, trying to reinvent the classic French bistro in a more contemporary and less conservative way. With a menu for each season and signs of neon lighting up sleek white subway tiles, we’d say Season is sending conventionality out to pasture.
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Stay: The Hoxton, Paris

Paris, France
Set in an 18th century residence in the 2nd arrondissement, The Hoxton is 172 rooms spread over four floors alight with terraces, chevron timber and a reasonable price tag. The lobby bar is perfect to re-group for cocktails or coffee around the clock, while the restaurant, Rivie, offers all-day French-inspired dishes.
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Photo: Pauline Egge
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Coffee: Ob-La-Di

Paris, France
A tiny white and turquoise shop with three blonde wood tables and four barstools bellied up to a marble bar is Ob-La-Di, one of the sweetest coffee shops in all of Paris. Small, sweet and impossibly hip, serving upscale American fare with a French twist.
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Photo: Merci
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Shop: Merci

Paris, France
Stepping into Merci is like walking into a department store where all your favorites are continuously stocked and you want to stay all day. It’s the best of the world of fashion, design and household goods with lovely, unique cafes on every floor. Have a fresh juice overlooking the garden at La Cantine du Potage, then maybe a scone at the Used Book Cafe on the ground floor. Wrap up your day of shopping at La Cine Cafe, open on the terrace, for a plate of charcuterie with classic films projected on the walls.
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Shop: Galeria Vivienne

Paris, France
Another iconic, beautifully preserved covered walkway in Paris is Galeria Vivienne, built in 1823. Located behind the Bibliothèque Richelieu and near the Palais-Royal, its covered by the most beautiful glass roof which lets in the loveliest of light. You’ll find plenty of ready-to-wear boutiques, tea rooms, gourmet food boutiques, wine cellars, grocery shops, old bookshops and treasures just waiting to be found.
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Visit: Notre-Dame

Paris, France
Notre-Dame de Paris, meaning "Our Lady of Paris” is a medieval Catholic Cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. The real draw? The Cathedral treasury contains a reliquary, which houses some of Catholicism's most important relics, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails.
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Photo: Amastan Paris
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Stay: Amastan Paris

Paris, France
Touted as a “new kind of boutique hotel,” Amastan Paris manages to be the traveller-on-the-go’s home away from home by focusing on comfortable, well-curated, stylish and convenient spaces. Situated adjacent to the hotel is Pop-In, a project space dedicated to temporary installations, showcasing creative expression from around the world. Inside tip: Make good use of the bar, the perfect place to meet for a coffee or a fresh juice and catch up during the day. In the evening, the bar becomes Anouk, a nightspot accessed through its own separate entrance with a carefully curated selection of rare spirits alongside a light menu of seasonal snacks for sharing.
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Dine: Marcelle

Paris, France
“Healthy bakery” are two words that don't often go together in Paris. Chef Ophélie Barès has created Marcelle, a cafe & bakery that makes beautiful use of all the fresh produce and ingredients France has to offer. It’s set in a space that’s resplendent with wicker, whitewashed hardwood floors and mirrors framing a big communal table alight with bouquets of country flowers.
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Visit: Musée d'Orsay

Paris, France
The Musée d'Orsay houses one of the most prolific collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Located on the Left Bank of the Seine, it’s housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built in the 1800’s. Good to know: Closed every Monday and open late on Tuesdays, keep your ticket for a week following your visit for reduced rates at Musée National Gustave Moreau, Palais Garnier and Jean-Jacques Henner National Museum.
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Photo: Lauren Harris
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Dine: La Crêperie

Paris, France
If you find yourself wandering the Latin Quarter, famous for the Sorbonne and Pantheon, a beacon for beautiful Parisian thinkers… stop for crepes? You read that correctly. We know crepes are a dime a dozen on street corners the world over, but not done so deliciously or properly as at La Creperie where omelettes, crepes and frites are sheer, simple perfection.
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Visit: Panthéon

Paris, France
The Pantheon is a building in the Latin Quarter of Paris, originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve. Besides the utterly fantastic view of almost the entirety of Paris, the gothic and neoclassical architecture is stunning. But here’s the clincher for your bucket list: shortly after the Pantheon was built came the French Revolution and the Church became a place to bury exceptional Frenchmen who sacrificed their lives for their country or who had done something great for France. It is the final resting place for Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marat, Emile Zola, Jean Moulin, Soufflot, Louis Braille and Marie Curie.
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Coffee: Fragments

Paris, France
Fragments is a beautiful cafe in Le Marais dedicated to serving the best coffee in the world from small, high quality roasters and food grown seasonally and locally. Swing open beautiful hunter green doors, sit at weathered wood table and sip a delicate, hand-poured coffee that will make you think you’ve never had anything like this in your life.
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See: Eiffel Tower Light Show

Paris, France
Like a sparkling champagne flute come to lovely life, those desiring to experience the Eiffel Tower without the ascendent price tag should do so at night. There is an hourly evening "light show" that sees the already-bright iron monument burst into what appears to be effervescent sparkles for several minutes. Each night, from sundown to 1:00 am, at the beginning of each hour, the special illuminations bursts into view. Inside tip: for a true bucket list experience, sign up as a Nike+ member with Nike Paris and join one of the weekly run clubs which takes you for the coolest workout of your life along the Seine and underneath the Tower as it bursts into lovely light. 
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Dine: Carbón

Paris, France
For the perfect spot to share a special, delicious meal with your friends, Carbón is the stylish, well-worn corner of Le Marais to do it in. Dishes are meant to be shared and celebrate the raw beauty of each ingredient. After dinner, head to La Mina, the basement speakeasy, where you’ll imbibe hand-crafted cocktails paired with an intimate smoke room.
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Shop: Passage des Panoramas

Paris, France
Passage des Panoramas is considered the first covered walkway in Paris. Built in 1799, it has some serious old-world Parisian charm. Sheltered by a magnificent canopy, eateries share the space with craftsmen – you’ll find everything from chocolatiers to Indian restaurants and tea shops alongside printing houses from the 19th century.
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Visit: Petit Palais

Paris, France
The Petit Palais (small palace) is an art museum in the 8th arrondissement and architectural gem in the 17th and 18th century Beaux-Arts style on the Champs Elysees. Boasting over 1,300 works in a range of styles, visitors will find French artists of the 19th century well represented with works by Delacroix, Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Courbet. Leave time for a quiet break at Le Jardin du Petit Palais, an outdoor walled garden and cafe surrounded by exotic plants and blue and gold mosaic pools.
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Shop: Librairie Galignani

Paris, France
It’s said Paris is a city to be both lost… and found in. There is no better place to do just that, than Librairie Galignani, the refined and elegant elder statesmen of Parisian bookstores, as distinguished as its location on Rue de Rivoli. It’s a lovely, quiet space in a city with a loud heartbeat. Fun fact: Karl Lagerfeld is counted as one of it’s most loyal customers, popping by for it’s selection of inspirational art books.
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