According to trade body, the World Travel & Tourism Council, Paris is the world’s most powerful city destination with, a travel sector worth almost $36BN USD in 2022, in terms of direct GDP contribution to the city. Likewise, Euromonitor named the French capital the world’s top city in 2022. Paris’s gastronomy, culture and grand palace hotels are of course legendary but if you’re looking for alternatives to the obvious attractions, here are a few suggestions for a short visit.
Where to Stay
Hotels near train stations are not always the most salubrious but 25 Hours Hotel is certainly an exception. And if you’re arriving by train, this hip boutique hotel is ideal as it’s directly across the road from Paris’s Gare du Nord and the Eurostar. A playful jumble of bright street art-style murals decorate rooms and public areas. The rooms are in colors and shapes inspired by the neighborhood with its African and Asian roots. Most of the 237 rooms are a decent size and suites have balconies overlooking the historic station. Room categories range from Small for single travelers, Medium, Large and open-plan Extra Large rooms which have a freestanding bathtub. The food and drink options are good and mostly open to non-hotel guests too. Try the popular Neni restaurant with Israeli-Mediterranean cuisine and the lively Sape Bar with a large counter, colorful seating and nightly DJs.
What to Do
Essential for any culture buff, a major new Paris exhibition of Picasso’s masterpieces at the Musée National Picasso, is a lively, inventive collaboration with designer Sir Paul Smith. Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Spanish artist’s death, Picasso Celebration: The Collection in a New Light! spans the artist’s long career, with 152 works on show, many of which have not been seen for a long while. In a radical departure from traditional exhibitions of paintings hung on white walls, Paul Smith has used colorful walls, patterned wallpaper and his trademark stripes as background for Picasso’s works. The use of color around the works invites the viewer to look at them in a new way.
An evening in Paris means jazz and the famous Rue des Lombards is where to go. Sunset/Sunside and Le Duc des Lombards are both excellent and don’t miss the brilliant “salty kiss,” Le Baiser Salé. The petite club above a bar presents superb international jazz acts nightly. A recent gig with a quartet led by Danish-French saxophonist Simon Spang-Hanssen thrilled serious jazz fans.
Paris’s famous historic shopping mall Galeries Lafayette has just introduced new experiences including learning how to create your own authentic sweet “macaron” in a fun French bakery class. And for history buffs, go behind the scenes on a heritage tour of the 19th century art nouveau style building and see the beautiful stained glass coupole up close.
Indulge in a wine tasting with winegrowers at La Cave du Château, one of Paris’s top wine shops on the ground floor of 2 Michelin Star ** restaurant Le Clarence. The superb shop and vaulted cellar has 2400 fine wines and champagnes, French spirits and aperitifs, alongside other rare bottles, old vintages, and world-renowned labels.
Where to Eat
The breakfast buffet at Neni at the 25 Hours Hotel is substantial and excellent and is open to non-hotel guests too. Along with classic breakfast choices like scrambled eggs and sausages, expect a full range of French cheeses, baguettes, croissants and pain chocolate. Dinner offers a mezze menu influenced by Persian, Arabic, Russian and French traditions. Curry Mango Hummus, popcorn falafels, charcoal grilled cauliflower and grilled prawns are few of the delicious options.
Ideal for lunch after a visit to the Picasso museum, La Petite Place, on rue de Parc Royal, is a cute bistro with classic French dishes like onion soup and croque monsieur.
Passage Jouffroy, a charming covered arcade on the Grands Boulevards has quaint shops and Le Valentin, a tea room with delicious cakes and pastries, all made on site. On the other side of the boulevard, built in 1799, the Passage des Panoramas was the first covered walkway in Paris. Today it’s eateries share the space with craftsmen. They work alongside many postcards, coins, autographs and old stamps collectors. Admire the remaining ancient architecture, such as the Chocolatier Marquis and Stern printing house, symbolising the ambitious planning from the 18th century. Inaugurated in 1807, the Théâtre des Variétés is still active, programming concerts and plays, it has enlivened the walkway for two centuries, with celebrities always present. Gyoza Bar Gyoza dumplings, sides & Japanese beer at a sleek, narrow bar with counter seats & outdoor tables.
Modelled on an American Diner, Chef Hélène Darroze’s new Jòia Bun opened this March. Jòia Bun offers Hélène’s vision of a burger cuisine following the same principles of her gastronomy: produce of excellent quality; respect for the season; authenticity of taste; generosity in the offering; and a combination of her signature flavors – brought from the Basque-Landes, her home region. The moreish menu features fried chicken; mac and cheese croquetas and seven burgers: three with Aubrac beef; one with wagyu beef; one with Landes yellow chicken; one pescetarian and one vegetarian. All are accompanied by crispy potatoes sprinkled with fried rosemary and Basque sheep cheese.
English chef Edward Delling-William’s Le Grand Bain in the hipster Belleville area was rightly one of the most popular bistros in Paris and remains so under the new Chef Canadian Emily Chia (ex-St. John). The cheesy lardo gougères are still on a menu that includes a lot of vegetarian options too, like mushrooms on brioche too. Chef Delling-Williams still owns the fantastic bakery le petit grain (go there for an authentic baguette) and recently opened The Presbytere in the Normandy countryside.