Someone on Twitter was looking for recommendations for Paris, and I remembered that about four years ago I made a guidebook full of the things I loved (places I went often when I lived in France) for J. We went to Paris together and had a huge argument about Foucault while walking through the 14th arrondissement, which is the main thing I remember about that trip. However, he does still have the little book, so I can tell you precisely what I recommended. Most of these recommendations reflect the fact that I rarely have any money.
Pâtes Vivantes (46 r.d. Faubourg Montmartre/9th/métro Le Peletier; 22 Bld. St Germaine/5th/near Pont de Sully). Chinese food, very good, mostly noodles. Long wait times; definitely make a reservation.
La Boutique Jaune (in the Marais). Jewish deli. Good sandwiches.
Rue Ste. Anne (near the Louvre). Lots and lots of Japanese restaurants, ranging in price, mostly high quality.
L’As du Fallafel (34 r. des Rosiers, Marais). Excellent falafel/etc. Often busy. Closed Saturdays.
La Pizzetta (22 ave. Trudaine/9th/métro Anvers). Slightly upscale Italian. Good.
Pho Dong-Huang (14 r. Louis Bonnet/11th). Vietnamese food. Good prices!
Le petit prince de Paris (5th). Gay-friendly restaurant, prices are reasonable.
Rose Bakery (9th/3rd). British-style, slightly rustic-crunchy breakfast/brunch/lunch.
Macarons at Pierre Hermé (72 rue Bonaparte in the 6th; 185 rue du Vaugirard in the 15th; 4 rue Cambon in the 1st) or at La Durée (21 rue Bonaparte in the 6th; 16 rue Royale in the 8th). Aki Boulanger (on rue Ste. Anne) is a Japanese-French bakery; there’s a write-up here. Sadaharu Aoki has four boutiques in Paris and although I have never eaten his pastries I have it on good authority that one ought to. Berthillon for ice-cream to eat by the Seine is a favorite of mine.
To do and see:
The Parc Buttes Chaumont is the prettiest in Paris, or so they say, although I really love the Jardin des Plantes (which has the benefit of being relatively near Austerlitz, my favorite of the Paris stations). The area around the Canal St Martin has nice shops and an art bookshop. Galleries Lafayette has a roof garden that’s free to visit; so does the Institute du Monde Arabe (and there’s a great view). The best view of Paris I’ve ever had was in the restaurant on the 55th floor of the Tour de Montparnasse. A cup of tea will set you back about €8, but it’s cheaper than the observation deck (one floor up), and the view cannot be beat.
The Louvre is free to EU residents under 25, as well as on the first Sunday of every month (and July 14). Hôtel Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris, is free to visit; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France also has free exhibits (and a bookshop, cafeteria, and garden). The Palais de Tokio had, the last time I was there, an old but working photobooth.
For small objects and presents and general beauty I love the shop at the Paris Japan Center (métro Javel/a couple of blocks away from the Eiffel Tower), and if you’re in the market for stationery or just unusual postcards, I’d recommend both Mélodies Graphiques (on the edge of the Marais, rue St de Pont Louis-Philippe) and Éditions Cartes d’Art (9 rue du Dragon, in the 6th). Merci, at 111 blvd. Beaumarchais in the 3rd, is a charming shop that will probably make any lover of pretty things die of desire. Rue François Mirron in the Marais contains some of the best shops in Paris, in my opinion—especially Petit Pan.
And when in doubt, I recommend using Joshua Clover’s poem “Ceriserie” as your guide to Paris both historical and contemporary.