As travelers, we’ve all done it: we venture to a new city, our guidebooks recommendations in hand, only to find out later that we missed out on some good stuff that never makes it into those books, so when my friend, Kim, asked me what she should do on her first trip to Paris, I started a list that just keeps on growing, and includes both some must-see’s and some good stuff. She has just one week in the City of Light; I think she should spend at least two. Just sayin’. The Eiffel Tower light show is, of course, a must-see. The show begins after sunset and twinkles every hour on the hour until 1AM, and until 2AM in the summer. On the grass in the Champs du Mars on a blanket along with your sweetie and a bottle of wine is the recommended viewing method. No matter the level of your shopping addiction, a visit to Galeries Lafayette is a must-see. When you need re-feuling, head to the new Terrace Restaurant where you can dine on a menu by Fumiko Kono with desserts by Pierre Hermé while you enjoy a panoramic view of Paris. Definitely a part of the good stuff. Near the Odéon theater, L’Avant Comptoir is a narrow, standing-room only, hors d’ouevres bar owned by Yves Cambdeborde, chef/owner of Le Comptoir du Relais next door. Order a savory or sweet crepe from the sidewalk window and head to the Luxembourg Gardens for an al fresco lunch while you enjoy the serene Medici Fountain and the beautifully manicured gardens. Good stuff. The gourmet shops and the lovely cafés of the Rue Cler are a favorite of both locals as well as tourists. The selections available in the cheese shop will make any frommage lover swoon.
A wine tasting is a popular event to attend no matter where you are, and Juan Sanchez of La Dernière Goutte/ The Last Drop offers a variety of tastings in a relaxed setting located in the 6th arrondissement.
For your foodie friends back home, a stop at Le Grand Épicerie next to Le Bon Marché is a must. The selection of fresh ready-to-eat foods is also amazing, with choices from all over the globe. In its current location, Le Bon Marché opened as the first department store in Paris and was designed in part by Gustave Eiffel.
After some serious haute couture shopping in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Angelina’s across from the Tuilleries Gardens is the perfect place to enjoy the French tradition of the quatre heures/ four o’clock snack. The hot chocolate is divine and, together with the house special, the Mont Blanc, is a sugar lover’s fantasy pairing. Definitely good stuff.
The Orsay Museum hosts a fantastic Impressionist exhibit, located on the fifth floor along with its iconic clock window. Its Restaurant on the first floor offers a delicious menu in a truly magnificent setting.
Chef Christian Constant has become well-known for his three popular restaurants on rue Saint Dominique. What many people do not know is that he offers a cooking class at Café Constant on Monday evenings just prior to opening. Run by Chef Eduardo (right), it’s really more eyes-on than hands-on, as this picture taken from the doorway of the kitchen reveals. The place is tiny. Best of all, you eat what they made plus enjoy carefully chosen wines with each course. Good stuff.