Things to Do
Musée des Arts Décoratifs — Fashion museum with a design bent, like the Cooper Hewitt or Brooklyn Museum but… better. I usually skip the Louvre and go here instead. Excellent special exhibits on leading couturiers (Dior, Dries, Mugler, and more).
Palais de Tokyo — Cutting-edge contemporary art museum that stays open late almost every night—great for a solo traveler to Paris. There’s a terrific onsite restaurant, too, and awesome views onto the Eiffel Tower.
Grand Palais — Massive art space, usually with something outstanding on. Have seen some of the best art, anywhere, here. ☞ A newer space, Grand Palais Éphémère, opened across the Seine in late 2021 for special installations; the Eiffel Tower views from the 2nd floor are postcard perfect.
Paris Ballet — A truly divine company. Look for tickets in advance, as things often sell out. And seeing a performance at the Palais Garnier… oof. The ornate space is jaw-dropping gorgeous.
Le Corbusier’s Paris Studio & Apartment — Recently opened to the public, and far from the center of town, but if you’re into architecture (like me) very cool to see. Reservations required.
Museum of Natural History & Paleontology — Weird, wonderful, very French. Hundreds of shelves and display cases full of perfectly documented animal, insect & fish skeletons.
Musée de la Chasse et La Nature — Incredible animal taxidermy and Insta-bait in a handsome Marais hôtel particulier.
Musée Rodin — Absolute gem of a museum tucked away in the 7th, with lush gardens studded with Rodin statues (and a nice café on site, too.)
Fondation Louis Vuitton — Modern, Frank Gehry–designed museum way out in the Bois de Boulogne. Worth it for the architecture alone.
Dior — The newly expanded and remodelled flagship at Christian Dior’s original 30 Av. Montaigne address is a dream. It also has a permanent gallery of vintage Dior everything, including sketches, a replica of his desk, and a smashing white spiral staircase lined with jewel-toned designs. ☞ There is a fee to enter the gallery portion; it’s worth it.
Shops & Markets
Marché Bastille — Massive Sunday farmer’s market in the 11th. Someone’s usually shucking oysters, in season. Highly recommended stop if you’ve rented an apartment.
Bio Raspail — Organic French market every Sunday in the 6th. Also highly recommended if you’ve rented an apartment.
Merci — Trailblazing concept store in the 4th (up the street from Maison Plisson, below).
Maison Plisson — Gourmet food market with fantastic croissants, baguettes, and various sundries. Woman owned. Locations in the 4th and 1st.
Bon Marché — The world’s first department store (now owned by LVMH), has a gourmet food hall, upmarket togs from global and French designers, and a terrific French books & stationary section. ☞ My go-to manicure place, Kure Bazaar, is on the 2nd floor. The manicure takes forever, b/c… it’s French… but lasts a long time and I’m obsessed with their non-toxic polish in urban shades.
The Red Wheelbarrow — Woman-owned indie English bookstore in the 6th, right across from the Jardin du Luxembourg, with an A+ selection of new hardcovers and paperbacks. Also hosts book-launch events.
Thanx God I’m a VIP — Well-curated vintage shop, with clothes organized by color. Take your time going through the racks—you’ll definitely find pieces by Yves St-Laurent, Alaïa, Pucci, Burberry, and more, jammed in, all offered at quite affordable prices.
Les 3 Marches de Catherine B — Vintage, museum-quality handbags especially strong on Birkins and Chanel bags. Pricey. Exquisite. But sigh don’t qualify for VAT back, because they’re sold second-hand.
Deyrolle — Fabulous, one-of-a-kind taxidermy store that dates back to 1831. Their incredible collection spans stuffed animals (peacocks! ibex!), pristine fossils and shells, and insects (the butterflies, oh my). They also ship.