Paris is a city that caters to every one of our senses, a city where experiencing every single emotion in a single day is possible. Locals are the best brand ambassadors for introducing their captivating home city of love. Experiencing Paris like a local means diving into the best experiences that only time spent living in a place can uncover: Those hidden fashion and shopping gems. Those pastries worth queuing for. Those luxury hotels that offer special perks.
Like famous French author, Honoré de Balzac cleverly said, “Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.”
Through local friends, I have learnt of the places that represent true Parisian style at its best. Here is a guide to experiencing top-quality luxury hotels, exclusive shopping facilities, high-end hotspots, glamorous nightclubs, and elegant restaurants and cafés.
Luxury Hotels in Paris – Experience Paris Like a Local Through Stylish Accommodations
Paris is without a doubt a not-so-hidden gem with a touch of grand old luxury that cannot be found anywhere else. So, it’s no surprise that Paris offers a generous selection of the world’s most exclusive urban luxury hotels where you can literally smell the elegance once you step in.
But what are the best luxury hotels that local Parisians have recommended?
The Hôtel de Vendôme – One of the Most Phenomenal Luxury Hotels in Paris
A modern but very original and elegant luxury 5-star hotel in Paris, located at a prestigious address, Hôtel de Vendôme was once owned by the famous Vendôme family. This Parisian style luxury hotel has a unique history since the 1700s. It was built by Pierre Perrin, who was the secretary of the Sun King, Louis XIV. This tiny but high-end luxury hotel is situated in the heart of Paris, near The Louvre and Opera Garnier. The neighbourhood itself is all about fascinating art galleries, haute couture and cute antique shops. This is the area where you can sense sophisticated French elegance at its best.
Address: 1 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris
La Maison Champs Elysées – A Very Special Parisian Style Hotel
A hotspot for people who are passionate about fashion and art, La Maison Champs Elysées combines French chicness with mind-blowing interior décor and rich history. Elegant in every way, this hotel provides a combination of extraordinary art and luxury. Entering it is like entering the inner world of fashion designer Martin Margiela, who has designed this exceptional Parisian luxury hotel.
Address: Maison des Centraliens, 8 Rue Jean Goujon, 75008 Paris
Intercontinental Le Grand – A Leading Luxury Hotel Chain
Despite my strong passion for boutique hotels– they tend to deliver local ambience better than international brands–the charming Intercontinental Le Grand hotel just in the heart of Central Paris is an exception. This hotel impressed me at first sight. Paris is a city of somewhat grand faithfulness and significant dramatics, and Intercontinental Le Grand delivers this Parisian style most clearly.
If you prefer grand old glamour rather than contemporary modern designs, this is definitely the place for you. To get the real old-fashioned feel, you can live like a royal in one of its Great Ambassador Suites.
Intercontinental Le Grand’s elegant Café de la Paix and La Verrière serve the best of French cuisine. There are also magnificent views of Paris from the rooms. Here, you will get the feeling of being in the middle of something extraordinary and luxurious.
Address: 2 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris
Best Shopping in Paris – Experience Paris Like a Local Through Fashion & Urban Culture
Le Marais – Neighbourhood for the Best Shopping in Paris & Hip Urban Culture
Rule number one: If you visit Paris, you must explore Le Marais which is a dynamic neighborhood for those seeking the best shopping. Le Marais is a trending area with cool concept stores, fashionista cafés and various designer showrooms with a bunch of history, culture, rainbow colors and hipness.
Known as the most famous Jewish Quarter in Paris, it has become one of the trendiest areas in the city, often described as the “The West Village” of Paris.
This neighborhood, which is also known as the LGBT center of the city, has lively and vibrant bohemian streets packed with cozy bars, cool restaurants, trendy boutiques, designer shops, museums, art galleries and of course, traditional bread and wine shops.
It is definitely one of the must-visit areas in Paris as recommended by both locals and tourists.
Tip – Café Charlot is one of the best brunch places in Le Marais and is a favourite among Parisian fashionistas and trendsetters. A great menu consists of a combination of healthy delights and treats, most particularly its famous fromage blanc.
Address: Café Charlot, 38 Rue de Bretagne, Paris
Rue Saint Honoré
Stroll along Rue Saint Honoré, which is the street of upscale fashion stores as well as smaller more quirky boutiques with edgy fashion gems. It has everything for everyone – the original Parisian boho clothing shops, chic outfits, cool streetwear, artisan home decors, high-end shoe boutiques and other concept stores, alongside trendy foodie spots. It is a must-visit for people who want to explore shopping in Paris like a local.
Tip – One of the top stores to visit is the popular barefoot Parisian store called AMI. It is founded by Parisian designer Alexandre Mattiussi. AMI offers a wardrobe of stylish, chic and casual clothing. By the way, did you know that AMI means ‘friend’ in French?
Proper Parisian Department Stores – The Best Shopping in Paris in a Grand Old Way
Situated right next to Opera Garnier, Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann
is one of the world’s most famous department stores. A flagship branch of the global department store chain Galeries Lafayette, this iconic and rather majestic department store holds pretty much everything that shopaholics would love.
Also called the ‘Harrods of Paris,’ Lafayette offers everything you will ever want watches across seven floors – from clothes to jewelry and fine. Lafayette covers all the world’s most prestigious brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Chanel, Céline, Cartier, and Hermès, to name a few. In here, you can also experience the best delicacies of the quintessential French kitchen, paired with trendy drinks and cocktails.
Address: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Le Bon Marché
Paris is a city laden with history, and when it comes to the history of shopping, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is the ‘mecca.’ Le Bon Marché opened in 1852 as the first department store in the world. It offers a personalized shopping experience for its customers and is conveniently open all year – 7 days a week. The staff are happy to help you find what you need within the store and guide you in the right direction if you would like to go sightseeing.
Address: 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
Taste Paris Like a Local
Hotel Costes – The Restaurant & The Terrace
This somewhat hidden gem located in Hotel Costes is something you wouldn’t at first think of finding in a hotel. You might be surprised to hear that the very best cheesecake in all of Paris is served in a chic hotel restaurant, rather than a hip boutique café.
Address: 239-241 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
Although the so-called unwritten rule is that locals and tourists typically don’t prefer the same places – especially in cities like Paris – there are always some exceptions that connect everyone. One such example is Ladurée at the beautiful Champs-Élysées. Given their popularity, expect to wait for a while before you are served or even seated, but it is all worth the wait!
Their candy- colored macarons are known all around the world. The original, one and only Ladurée is only a walking distance from the iconic Arc de Triomphe. Whether you are sitting down to enjoy a macaron, or strolling along the city, it will be worth the expected queue.
Address: 75 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris
Nightlife in Paris
When in Paris, you must also explore the Parisian nightlife. Situated conveniently by Arc de Triomphe, the exclusive L’Arc Paris is famous for being the club choice of VIPs. It welcomes guests on weekends from midnight to sunrise. You’ll most likely spot local and international celebrities, as well as the trendiest fashionistas hanging out here. Needless to say, this is a spot you don’t want to miss.
Address: 12 Rue de Presbourg, 75016 Paris
All in all, there are so many ways to explore and experience Paris. In a city that offers so many possibilities and opportunities, you will never have a dull time. Study a few French phrases in advance. Dive into true Parisian style through its urban vibe. Indulge in its unique gastronomy. Follow these tips and you can experience the city like a true Parisian.
And while you’re in Paris shopping and eating, you can be earning SAS EuroBonus points on all of your purchases. Download the free digital wallet called SAS Travel Wallet, load Euros, and go!
by Otto Lilja