Clara’s Guide to Paris

April 26, 2018

by apaparis

Today while I was procrastinating starting one of my five (five!!!!!!!) papers due next week, I decided to instead start writing a guide to the city of Paris. And now I share this list with you, cos I love you.

Things to see:  


  1. Museums
    1. Musée de l’Orangerie
      1. Giant Monet water lily paintings covering the walls of oval-shaped rooms
      2. Monet made these works as a gift to France and designed the rooms himself
      3. This is an incredibly beautiful reflective space, there is nowhere else like it
    2. Centre Pompidou
      1. One of the most important museums of modern art in Europe
      2. The modern collection is better than the contemporary collection and the rooms are organized into artistic themes rather than time periods or artists, which makes for a very cohesive viewing
    3. Musée Nissim de Camondo
      1. An 18th-century house decorated painstakingly with 17th-century beaux-arts furniture
      2. It’s never crowded and the entire house is perfectly staged so you feel like you’re walking through the house exactly as it was
      3. This is amazing and you could only see it in Paris
    4. Musée d’Orsay
      1. An old gare converted into a beautiful, airy impressionist museum
      2. Not overwhelmingly large, you can see the whole museum in an afternoon
      3. Houses all the Monet/Manet/Degas masterpieces that you can imagine
      4. Sculptures down the center of the museum when you walk in so that sculpture doesn’t get forgotten
    5. The Louvre
      1. This museum is huge and overwhelming so you must go in with a plan and a specific wing you want to see
      2. The hall of Greek and Roman sculpture is amazing — it has super high ceilings and trees planted inside
      3. Look for a painting called “Gabrielle Estrées et une de ses soeurs,” it’s the most iconic painting in Paris
    6. Palais de Tokyo
      1. Contemporary art museum with really weird but really cool temporary exhibits
      2. It’s called Palais de Tokyo after the name of the street it used to be on, not for any sort of Japanese influence


  1. Monuments
    1. Arc de Triomphe
      1. It’s absolutely worth climbing up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe on a clear day
      2. You can see the entire city
      3. You will understand the plan of the city, with the six main boulevards branching off of the Etoile
    2. Eiffel Tower
      1. At night, the tower sparkles for 5 minutes on the hour until 1am
      2. The best view is from Trocadéro, where you can treat yourself to a delicious crèpe from one of the stands
    3. Sainte-Chapelle
      1. An insanely beautiful, completely stained glass chapel that makes you feel like you’re inside of a jewel box
    4. Hôtel de Ville
      1. I think this might be the prettiest building in Paris
      2. Right across the river from Notre Dame
    5. Rue Cremeuse
      1. A tiny street where all of the houses are painted bright pastel colors
      2. A nice change of pace from the beige and slate buildings you see everywhere
    6. Sacre Coeur
      1. Go in the morning when there aren’t a lot of tourists around and watch the sun rise
      2. Beware of any vendor who approaches you, especially if they’re holding bracelets or a Chinese finger trap


Places to study:

  1. Libraries
    1. Bibliothèque Forney
      1. Art history library that looks like a castle
      2. Pro: never crowded, outlets, pretty
      3. Con: limited hours, slow wifi
    2. Gaité Lyrique
      1. Free study space in Le Marais
      2. Pro: never crowded, good hours, free
      3. Con: no air circulation
    3. Bibliothèque Diderot
      1. Diderot’s university library
      2. Pro: free, right on campus, fast wifi, view of the Seine while you study
      3. Con: limited to Diderot students, far away from everything
  2. Cafés
    1. Anticafé Beaubourg
      1. Anticafé near the Pompidou
      2. Pro: awesome snacks and coffee, fast wifi, productive ambiance
      3. Con: costs 5€/hr




  1. Parc de Sceaux
    1. Beautiful chateau and grounds 40 minutes outside Paris on the RER
    2. If you go in the spring, there is a grove of thousands of pink and white cherry blossoms — les cerisiers
  2. Parc Montsouris
    1. A great park for hanging out or running
    2. Within walking distance of APA (20 minutes)
  3. Jardin de Luxembourg
    1. Another excellent picnic location
    2. Beautiful flowers and a giant grassy lawn
  4. Parc de la Turlure
    1. Tiny park in Montmartre
    2. Never crowded and full of tourists like the steps of Sacre Coeur usually are
  5. Tuileries
    1. The best example of a typical French garden in Paris
    2. The Louvre is on one end and the Orangerie is on the other
  6. Bois de Boulogne
    1. Come in the springtime with a picnic and rent a little boat to take out on the lake for 8€


Places to shop:

  1. Shakespeare and Co.
    1. The largest English-language bookstore outside of an English speaking country
    2. All of the great writers passed through here in the 1920s — Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald
    3. The books are stacked to the ceiling in a labyrinth of tiny rooms, and there’s a cat that lives on the second floor
  2. BHV Marais
    1. Basically French Nordstrom — a bougie department store, but they’re guaranteed to have anything you could possibly want
    2. Go during the soldes in late January/early February and get amazing deals on shoes, wallets, and bags
    3. I’ve bought watercolor supplies, a wallet, books, sneakers, and stationary here




  1. The boulangerie on Rue d’Alésia
    1. Not the one just around the corner from APA, but down the street in the opposite direction of the metro
    2. Amazing croissants and a delicious barbecue chicken sandwich
  2. Chez Justine
    1. Delicious thin-crust pizza in the 19th along Oberkampf
    2. Affordable pizza and drinks
  3. Rotisserie chicken from a boucherie
    1. The rotisserie chicken you can buy off the spit on the street tastes as good as it smells
    2. Make sure to ask for sauce to ensure that your chicken is moist
    3. Sometimes you can buy potatoes from the bottom spit that have been roasting in chicken fat all day




  1. L’Attirail
    1. Cheap bar in Le Marais
    2. Cocktails are 5,50€
    3. They bring you free delicious potatoes
  2. Rue Mouffetard
    1. Fun street to go bar hopping, lots of small dance-y bars
    2. Cute cobblestone street with a fountain at the end that you can sit at with a bottle of wine
    3. Entire street is lined with crepe stands so if you get hungry you’re all set!
  3. Faust
    1. Outdoor cocktail bar along the Seine, right under Pont Alexandre III
    2. Good music and turns into a club inside at midnight
  4. Wall Street Bar
    1. The drinks change prices on the board like stocks, so it’s fun to wait for things to get cheaper and place your order
  5. Mecano Bar
    1. Fun bar on Oberkampf that turns into a dance floor at midnight
  6. Le Perchoir Marais
    1. Bougie rooftop bar on top of the BHV
    2. Amazing views and nice ambiance
    3. Sheep shaped chairs and fun music at night
  7. Drinking wine along the Seine
    1. Cheaper than a bar
    2. If it’s nice out, a wonderful way to spend a night


Off to finish the remaining items on my Paris Bucket List!

Clara (or as the French still say when I try to introduce myself, “Ohhh, where are you from?”)


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