I think a guide to finding happiness in Paris couldn’t be more needed right now. I’ve put together some new and old favourites for finding that joie de vivre again…
1. Take a Ride in a Retro Sidecar
Picture the wind in your hair, racing down the Parisian boulevards and whizzing through little-known streets, guided by a time-travelling gentleman sidecarist!
Choose your own tailor-made route or discover their “Great Escapes” and tours by night, grab a friend, bundle up and all aboard for an unforgettable voyage.
Have you ever take a ride in a motorcycle sidecar? Do something you’ve never done before, discover a side to Paris you’ve never seen, meet the happiest Parisian gentleman in the city…
Smiles from ear to ear guaranteed. Discover Retro Tour here (English and French).
2. Eat a Giant Soufflé
Paris-based American chef David Lebovitz recently alerted me of the most perfect soufflé in Paris at the jovial bistrot of the 9th arrondissement, Le Bon Georges.
Call ahead to reserve and check they’re serving the soufflé that day (45, rue St-Georges, 75009 PARIS, +33 1 48 78 40 30).
3. Take a Stroll down the Most Colourful Street in Paris
Find it here.
4. Have Fresh Croissants Delivered to You in Bed
Fix a time and the next morning, a full French breakfast will be knocking at your door. Choose from buttery breads, scrambled eggs au foie gras, salmon blinis, Nutella brioches, homemade cookies and of course your coffee, all for consumption under the cozy duvet. Sophie la Parisienne is delivering gourmet breakfasts and brunches starting from 10 euros. Her ‘extras’ include roses, champagne, the newspaper and exotic teas. Sophie la Parisienne website
5. Time Travel to a 1920s Cabaret Hidden in the Forest
In an old Belle Epoque pavillion nestled in the Parc de Buttes Chaumont, things are heating up at the Pavillon Puebla this winter with a weekly cabaret night of live bands, showgirls, cocktails, contortionists, dancing and all that jazz. Every Friday night unless stated otherwise, hosted by the Pavillon Puebla.
6. Turn Paris into a Wes Anderson Movie
Find the Guide here.
7. Gather friends, Play a rowdy Game of Baby Foot (FoosBall)
Five of my favourite spots to get your game (and your happy) on:
- La Divette de Montmartre (pictured above) – Happy rock’n’roll dive bar.
- Le Mama Shelter – A Philippe Starck designed clubhouse in the 20ème.
- Le Fantôme – Arcades and pretty young things.
- Le Mansart – Hipster hangout in Pigalle.
- Le Derrière – A restaurant set up like a bohemian Parisian apartment.
8. Wine from a Baby’s Bottle and Cheese Fondue
You get what you see at this “Resto Rigolo” (funny restaurant). A seriously good time. Le Refuge des Fondus.
9. Sweat It Out
Nothing gets your happy endorphins going quite like a spin class. No memberships needed, book a class and just show up at Dynamo Cycling. If you’d rather exercise for free, try the perfect running route along Paris’ Park in the Sky.
10. Discover a New Neighbourhood
Took a morning stroll around Provence✖️sorry PARIS 🙊, today in the Butte aux Cailles neighborhood in the 13eme. Escape to the little local village in the city with so many cute authentic bistrots with red chequered table cloths to choose from for lunch. Chez Gladines on Rue des Cinq Diamants smelled the best today. After lunch go on a treasure hunt to find the hidden Cité Florale 👀🌿🏡🌸 #Paris #walking #local #neighborhood #provence #escape #france
More neighbourhoods to discover:
11. Watch Old Movies in a Vintage Parisian Cinema
Le Desperado picture house in the Latin Quarter, specialising in old American cinema since 1977. I go mostly for the joy of buying tickets from that old-fashioned ticket booth. Show times and info here.
12. Splurge on a Romantic Time Capsule Date
A table for two at La Petrelle this way.
13. Go Toy Shopping for Yourself
My favourite shop in Paris of the moment is called Le Petit Souk. It’s not particularly new, I just never thought to go inside because it looked like a children’s toyshop from the outside. I’m so glad I did because it was full of whimsical knick knacks for all ages: from strange snow globes and vintage lunch boxes to Frida Kahlo trinkets, kitschy string lights and charming gifts. Stop by Le Petit Souk among the boutiques of Rue de Charonne and also around the corner, don’t forget to seek out my Secret Paris Toy Shop.
14. Sing-a-long to La Vie en Rose
Here since 1967, this little bistro hidden deep in the Paris flea market, is the highlight of any visit to Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. Hungry antique hunters and dealers crowd around little tables to eat lunch (mains €15 to €20) and hear old-time singers belt out numbers by Piaf and other classics, accompanied by the accordion; you might even be tempted to get up and dance with a fellow diner.
Find Chez Louisette inside the oldest market of les Puces, Marché Vernaison at 99 Rue des Rosiers, (+33 1 40 12 10 14).
15. Start Collecting a Cabinet of Curiosities
Five Addresses to start collecting:
- L’Objet Qui Parle: Window shopping in Montmartre isn’t complete without checking in on L’Objet qui Parle and its curious objects that really do speak to you
- La Galcante: My Secret Paris Archive
- Rarissime: The Tiniest Antique Shop in Paris
- A L’Oriental R.V.K: One of the oldest shops in Paris, “A L’Oriental R.V.K” open since 1818, a wonderful old pipe shop hidden amongst the gallery boutiques of Palais Royale that could also moonlight as a mini museum on the subject
- Tombée du Camion: Literally translates as “fallen off the truck”, for 1970s jewellery, old photographs antique buttons and novelty items.
16. Be the Kid in the Candy Store
Visit the “Time Machine Sweet Shop” at Le BonBons au Palais at 19 Rue Monge in the 5th arrondissement.
17. Get Your French Soul Food on
When I need a truly comforting meal in Paris, my mind always turns to Le Chat Ivre without fail.
Vibrant, locally loved spot in Bastille, fabulous tapas at good prices, beautiful wine, family style service, what more can you ask for?
A personal favourite of Nessy’s.
Le Chat Ivre, 11th arrondissement.
18. Mexican Wrestling in an Underground Bar of the Latin Quarter
It’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever done (I should have taken a picture for you of me in the giant padded wrestling suit), but my jaw ached the following day from laughing so much. Details here. Reward yourself after by heading over to Mexi & Co, a more charming Mexican bar in the area where they make perfect frozen margaritas.
19. Bring Summer Back to Paris
A portal to a Provençale courtyard, Havana nights in Paris, a picnic under a Parisian palm tree and more in 5 Places to Fake an Endless Summer in Paris.
20. Fight the Blues with the Blues
The oldest jazz club in Paris, Le Caveau des Oubliettes is remembered as a hotspot of post-war jazz, where Parisians went went to forget the troubles of war…
Blues jazz– you know the kind that consists of a soulful harmonica player, a dirty electric guitar solo and lyrics like, “woman you ain’t no good for me”– is seriously seductive and oddly uplifting music. On Sunday nights, Le Caveau des Oubliettes, is exactly where you need to go to be seduced by the best live blues in Paris. A 12th century underground wine cellar that draws in the music-savvy crowd, be sure to get there before 9pm to get a seat.