The French capital is one of the most popular cities in Europe and rightfully so. From the baroque, historical monuments to the beautiful cobblestone streets, Paris is undoubtedly a WHOLE vibe (ooooooooouuuuiiii!).
I’ll NEVER forget my first time in Paris pre-COVID. It was just as magical for me as it’s been hyped up to be.
I stayed in an affordable studio through Airbnb. For five days, the famous Le Marais in the 4th arrondissement was my home (shoutout to my Superhost, Jean-Pierre!). It was the perfect Parisian neighborhood and within walking distance to several charming cafes, hip boutiques, world-renowned museums, and trendy shops. Most importantly, it felt safe.
Getting Around & Seeing the Sights
Paris is made up of 20 different arrondissements (aka districts). They form a spiral, with the 1st arr. being the heart of Paris. That’s where the Louvre is located, which is home to one of the world’s most famous paintings - The Mona Lisa. It’s best to stay in a lower number arrondissement, as that’s where the most popular attractions are located. This also makes Paris a pretty walkable city (with the right shoes, of course). Uber is also very clutch. Since this was my first time, I spent it wandering the city and hitting the popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend venturing out early to the Palace of Versailles, the royal residence of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XIV. With its over-the-top gold and lavish decor, it's definitely a sight to see and worth the trip.
Le Moulin Rouge
82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
There was NO WAY in hell that I was going to miss the world-renowned cabaret while visiting Paris, so I made it my business to purchase a ticket in advance. I opted for the ticket that came with champagne and was so glad I did because sis needed SEVERAL sips during this show. It was nothing at all like I expected and left me thinking “what did I just witness?” Needless to say, I was definitely ill-prepared for the overall experience. Since we’re all friends here, let me be transparent in saying that in the depths of my mind, I foolishly thought I was going to get some magical mash-up of the musical Chicago combined with Cirque du Soleil and fierce Lady Marmalade vibes. #sueme Somebody cc: Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya AND Pink because I have questions.
It was vibrant, bizarre, impressive, hilariously cheesy, suspenseful and all with a healthy dose of nudity. This is truly the only way I can describe it. I’d go again with a first-timer JUST to see their reaction in real-time.
If you’ve been thinking about traveling to Paris, you’ve probably heard through the grapevine by now that the food… leaves a lot to be desired (womp womp). Since food is life for me, I did some heavy research BEFORE leaving, and thank goodness I did. Below are some of the standouts – thank me later (*wink*):
Mama Jackson – Soul Food
(12 arr.) 12 Rue Claude Tillier, 75012 Paris, France
Coming from a city like Chicago, we have some pretty amazing food. So subconsciously my expectations were high. I was pleasantly surprised with Mama Jackson, from the chill ambiance to the food. It’s a very small place, and upon entering, I was immediately blessed with 90s hip hop playing in the background. #homage
The menu is limited, but let’s be honest, we all know why I came – the chicken & waffles. The chicken was fried to perfection and nicely seasoned. The waffles were also fresh and flavorful. If you look up this place, you’ll likely run into mixed reviews. Did I go on a “good night”? Maybe. Would I try them again? Yep! Overall, I’m happy to report they delivered!
Au Bourguignon du Marais – Best Creme Brûlée
52 Rue François Miron, 75004 Paris, France
You ever touchdown where you’re vacationing and been so hungry that you’re willing to try whatever?? That’s how I ended up at this place. But babeeeee, I was pleasantly surprised! The food was great, but the highlight was definitely the crème brûlée. Life has never been the same. I have a mean sweet tooth, so when I tell you that it was DELICIOUS… whew! I’ve been on the hunt to replicate the experience, and sadly, nothing has come close. The next time I’m in town, I’ll be stopping here for a fix.
Le Relais de L’Entrecôte – Steak & Frites
101 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France
If you don’t try steak and frites while in Paris, did you really even GO?? If you Google “best steak and frites in Paris,” this place comes up as an option and rightfully so. There are several locations, but I chose to patronize the Montparnasse location, situated in one of the oldest artist districts in Paris. It has a single course menu (salad + entree), and they don’t take reservations. Now you know if they don’t take reservations, it’s poppin! You choose how you want your steak prepared, and they bring it out covered in their secret sauce. I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the secret sauce looks like something from a baby’s diaper, but hear me out. If you can get past the visual appearance, you’ll get the reward. It’s delicious!
Angelina Paris – A Chocolate Rendezvous
226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
When I walked into the famous Angelina Paris (located in the 1st arr.), I’m pretty sure I died and went to confectionary heaven for a bit. In addition to my mean sweet tooth, I have a second stomach for dessert, and this place single-handedly satisfied the desires of both. After a short wait, I was seated in the tearoom, which was very charming with touches of art nouveau details throughout. The waitstaff was polite and service was quick, but I never felt rushed (pet peeve). They also have a super-cute souvenir and bake shop where you can purchase items to go, like powdered hot chocolate, macaroons, cakes, candies, etc. Angelina is a must for your Paris hit list if you love sweets like me.
Holybelly 5 – Cute, Relaxed Brunch Hotspot
5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris, France
Breakfast at Holybelly came by way of recommendation. It’s located in the 10th arr., and they serve breakfast all day long. I tried the Savory Stack, which consisted of pancakes, bacon, and their house-made bourbon butter and maple syrup. Ya girl looooves coffee, so I washed it down with their house latte. Spoiler alert: on the menu, there’s a drink called the Flat “Walter” White (no meth). Shout out to all my Breaking Bad fans! It’s one of my favorite shows of all time!
Overall, I truly enjoyed my experience and would definitely go back. Don’t let negative reviews or experiences of others taint your perception or desire to visit this amazing city. Things may look a little different due to the pandemic, so don’t forget to do your research before you go to get the latest information!