Paris wins us over with its iconic attractions and well-known museums, but there’s much to see beyond the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.
To better experience the French capital, we sought help from Adrian Moore, assistant chef concierge in Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Paris. Though Moore has lived in Paris for two decades, he says, “I still feel like a perpetual tourist.”
The perpetual tourist gave us his inside tips on where to shop, where to taste the best crepes and why it pays to befriend the concierge.
What is the best way to spend one day in your city?
Paris, known as the “museum city,” is full of magnificent houses of culture and some of the most delectable dining establishments in the world.
A good day might begin with a fresh brewed coffee and savory stack pancakes at Holybelly — the best Anglo/French petit dejeuner around — followed by a stroll along the Canal Saint-Martin, a shipping canal built under the reign of Napoleon III.
Another pleasant place to stroll is the historic Marais district, once the seat of royal power — the Place des Vosges was its heart — now one of the creative centers of Paris. The rue Vieille du Temple is an excellent shopping street, full of galleries and hip shops selling niche streetwear from up-and-coming designers.
I love the crepes at Breizh Café, washed down with a glass or two of organic cider.
What is new in Paris?
Paris is becoming more citizen friendly and repurposing what were once highway underpasses along the Seine river. Just under the Alexandre III bridge is a collection of riverside bars and cafés, very popular with locals, especially Rosa Bonheur.
What are your city’s most underrated attractions?
The Musée du Montmartre is much underrated and a pure joy to visit to see what a turn-of-the-century atelier was like. The Renoir Gardens are pleasant — Renoir himself used to live nearby and come frequently — and this is a great starting point for a stroll around this charming hilltop village.
What are the hottest restaurants right now?
Balagan, a new Middle Eastern restaurant from the Experimental Cocktail Group and Israeli chef Assaf Granit (of London’s The Barbary and Palomar restaurants) is a great new place with a funky ambience, delicious cooking and just steps away from our hotel. Hint: if you’re not a big group, eat at their open kitchen bar.
Les Grands Verres, the new restaurant in the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art center is eco-friendly and, while offering delicious creative cocktails and seasonal organic food, keeps an eye on their carbon footprint. It is sure to be one of the season’s hottest openings.
Shirvan, the newest address from young Michelin-starred chef Akrame, has been drawing foodies from around the city for spicy cocktails and a menu that follows “the spice route” from North Africa to Azerbaijan. The food is light and delicious with many veggie options and a fun ambience.
What are some great bars that you recommend?
There are so many amazing bars in Paris lately, with something for everyone, from low-end artisanal dive bars to high-end temples of mixology.
Our Bar 8 is the headquarters for local designers, hipsters and international jetsetters. Outside of the hotel, if you’re adventurous, the drinks at Le Syndicat are amazing. The neighborhood surrounding it is a bit gritty, but the high-quality, French-only ingredients are superb and the ambience is super funky.
Le Forvm, one of Paris’ first cocktail bars, recently moved from the Place de la Madeleine to the Etienne Marcel neighborhood. For classic cocktails, it’s hard to do better than this third-generation, family-run establishment.
Another favorite, on a hidden Marais side street, is Sherry Butt, a confidential cocktail bar with creative cocktails and a wonderful selection of Japanese whiskies.
Give us your favorite insider tip.
Take it easy, don’t overplan, book at a quality hotel — hint, hint — and find a concierge you get along with. Writing ahead of time and sharing your likes and dislikes can save you a lot of time and help the desk team figure out what establishments are good for you. It can also be the beginning of a relationship that can last years, and open many doors to new and delightful experiences.