The 12 Best Spots in Paris, According to a Cool Lady Who Lives There
By Diane Rommel / January 25, 2019 9:00 am

It’s not a bad job: dedicated foodie Emily Monaco, who writes about the Paris culinary and hospitality scene for the BBC and other outlets, knows the best addresses in the city for an ultra-plus, five-star hotel (in a 16th-century mansion, no less), a superior Seine-side picnic and a cup of coffee that will meet exacting American standards. (She can also tell you where to drink Champagne right next to the vines, if that’s more your thing.)

With round-trip winter fares from the U.S. to France under $300(!), consider this your food-centric bucket list for a weekend. Maybe this weekend. (Pourquoi pas?)

Best place to cuddle up when it’s gray and gloomy outside …
“As much as people hate to believe it, Paris is actually gray and gloomy most of the time. Luckily, there are a few great places to get out of the cold. My current favorite is probably Coffee Spoune, an Anglo-inspired coffee shop where you can sip surrounded by books and, often, bright flowers in vases. If you’re looking for a more classically Parisian vibe, La Contrescarpe, a café on the picturesque place of the same name, has a sitting room in the back with cushy leather chairs where you can sit for hours.”

Best hotel when the bonus check just came in …
“If I could stay at any hotel in Paris, it would undoubtedly be the Relais Christine. Located down a quiet street just off boulevard Saint-Germain, the 16th-century former private mansion has been transformed into a sophisticated hotel complete with a Guerlain spa.”

Best cheese shop to raid before packing it into a suitcase for the flight home …
“Hands down, Laurent Dubois. This Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) fromager is particularly well known for his aged, almost sweet Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese as well as his rich aged Comté. Free samples all around the shop will help guide your selections, and the salespeople will be happy to vacuum-seal anything you want to bring back to the States to keep your suitcase from smelling of gym socks. It’s also worth mentioning that Dubois is the cheesemonger at Printemps du Goût, aka the fanciest food court you’ve ever seen, located at the top of the Printemps department store. His aged Comté croque monsieur is my current favorite in the city.”

Single best spot for a late-summer-night Seine-side picnic …
“Undoubtedly the stretch of Seine by the Square Tino Rossi, in the 5th arrondissement. On summer evenings, people meet here for tango lessons followed by free dancing. Even if you’ve got two left feet, enjoying the music and the dancers makes this the perfect spot.”

Best place to get coffee when you’re American and you know how coffee should be made, damnit …
“Coffee is a thorn in the side of many Anglo expats in Paris. For as much as Parisians love their cafés, the coffee itself leaves something to be desired. Luckily, a number of coffee houses are doing things right (at least as far as this former New Yorker is concerned): Belleville Brûlerie is my number-one, but you can also find great coffee at Café Lomi, Ten Belles, Fondation and Boot Cafe, among others.”

Best foodie day trip out of the city …
“Food lovers should absolutely take the time to head out of the city to try some Brie. Long touted as the local cheese of Paris, AOP Brie is made around the cities of Meaux and Melun. Fromagerie Ganot is a must! If you’re willing to travel a bit further, spend a day exploring the Loire Valley chateaux (and tasting some local goat cheese and Sancerre wine).”

Single best way to drink Champagne …
“If you want a classic Champagne experience, the Champagne houses in Reims are the place to be. But I’m a huge fan of pét nat (‘natural sparkling’), which you can find at quite a few Parisian establishments. My current favorites are Le Saint-Sébastien and Septime la Cave.”

Single best solo meal in Paris …
“If you’re eating solo, grab a seat at the bar! I love Korus, where the amiable husband-and-wife team are sure to point you in the right direction on their varied bar menu (though the five-course tasting menu is hard to pass up)!”

Best place for a typical Parisian breakfast (and how best to do it) …
“Parisians tend to keep breakfast super light, so the best way to have a truly typical local breakfast is to pick up croissants and enjoy them at home with a petit noir (small black coffee). If you’d rather eat out, though, Cyril Lignac’s La Chocolaterie is a chocolate-focused café with a fantastic chocolate croissant (chocolatine, in Lignac’s southern parlance).”

Best hotel restaurant …
“The hotel known only as l’Hôtel is the 6th arrondissement address where Oscar Wilde passed away (allegedly warring with what he deemed ugly wallpaper). Today, it’s home to the sumptuous Michelin-starred le Restaurant, which is my favorite spot for a special occasion lunch.”

Best garden for croissants on a warm spring morning …
“The Marais’ Place des Vosges, the city’s first planned square, overlooking Victor Hugo’s former townhouse.”

Best countryside destination a couple nights outside of the city …
“The team from Septime recently launched D’Une Ile, a countryside inn and restaurant in Normandy. Located within the Parc naturel régional du Perche, it’s an amazing home base for when you want to get out of the city, enjoy the French countryside and still dine impeccably.”