Travel Tips

Ask the Locals City Guide: Paris, France

Locations in this article:  London, England Paris, France

France TGV trainPeter is broadcasting his radio show live from onboard a TGV train (that’s Train à Grande Vitesse, or high-speed train) in Paris, France.

Join us for a whirlwind tour of Paris, European travel, and high-speed trains.

To celebrate, since Paris is the Holy Grail of shopping and food, we tracked down some tips from the locals on the best places.

Suzy Gershman, expert shopper and author of Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop Paris: The Ultimate Guide for People Who Love to Shop

Shopper extraordinaire Suzy Gershman has covered where to shop in Paris in her Postcard from Paris: Winter Sales, Hotel Deals and Fashion Trends. She explored even more options in her Postcard from Paris: The Encore. So now check out her advice on how to shop in Paris.

Paris fabrics saleDo a survey day but buy nothing. Then go to one of the biggest department stores like Galeries Lafayette and register for the tourist discount card which will give you 10 percent off the top.

Then buy everything you wanted on one day and then get your détaxe (VAT refund of 12 percent) if you spend more than €175.

While the dollar is low, one of the things Paris is great for is the “it” bag at a low price. Forget about handbags that cost thousands of dollars. For $200-400 you can get top-notch fashion and the ability to say “Oh this, I got it in Paris!”

Check out Suzy’s Memo From Paris: Luxury Hotels at Discount Prices.

Reine ParisShop grocery stores for wonderful gifts to bring home: confiture (jam), flavored salt, etc. These items are small, inexpensive, easy to pack and exclusive to France.

Consider the factory outlets. Just outside Paris there is La Vallee—you can get there on the train (it’s about one hour) or take a tour bus.This is an outlet village much like those in the U.S.; it’s clean, it’s adorable and it has over one hundred French designer brands at 50 percent off, or more.

Go to the Welcome Desk, tell them Peter sent you, and get a discount coupon book for even better discounts.

Meg Zimbeck, Paris-based freelance food and travel writer

Restaurant FrenchieFrenchie is a top choice for locals. This new bistro in the Sentier neighborhood is intimate and cozy (with only about 18 seats), run by Greg Marchand, a chef who trained with Jamie Oliver in London and at Gramercy Tavern in NYC (that’s where he earned the nickname “Frenchie.” The menu only features two choices per night per course but every plate is impeccable: bright and fresh flavors, perfectly executed and creative without being frivolous.

Racines, located in the 2nd arrondissement, is a wine bistro inside the city’s oldest (and very picturesque) covered passageway. Reservations are definitely required for this table that’s frequented by the local chefs and editors from the nearby media headquarters. Run by the bilingual and adorable Pierre Jancou, it’s a great place to sample vins naturels—small-batch, untreated organic wines along with simple but carefully prepared and delicious food.

Bistro signThe unassuming Bistrot Paul Bert in the 11th arrondissement features a cracked-tile floor, flea-market decor, a dog sleeping by the polished bar, and (almost every critic agrees) some of the best, most reliable bistro cooking in Paris. 01-43-72-24-01La Garde Robe is relaxed, almost divey wine bar located just a few blocks from the Louvre. It’s a great place to sample various vin naturels with lovely charcuterie, cheese and their special “haute” croque monsieur (all to mop up the wine of course). 09-66-12-47-23

Alexander Lobrano, the Paris-based European correspondent for Gourmet magazine and author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s Best Restaurants

Paris Subway - Le MetroHidden away in a quiet residential corner of de la Croix-Nivert in the off-the-beaten track 15th arrondissement, Jadis offers a perfect example of the new wave of modern French bistros. Chef Guillaume Delage takes his inspiration from the recipes of such great gourmands as Escoffier, but renders them in a lighter and more vivid contemporary version. His oyster soup with Cantal cheese shavings and roast shoulder of lamb with white beans, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes are a perfect example of his style. 011-33-1-45-57-73-20

Le Baratin is tiny noisy bistro in the rough-and-tumble Belleville neighborhood on rue Jouye-Rouve, where you’ll find Paris’ top chefs on their nights off. They come for self-taught Argentine-born Raquel Carena’s superb home-style cooking. Her chalkboard menu changes all the time, but look out for the tuna tartare with black cherries and miso.  011-33-1-43-49-39-70

Don’t miss our Off the Brochure Travel Guide to Paris, written by a local.

French pastries, not from patisserie des revesPhilippe Conticini has created a sensation with La Patisserie des Reves, a new pastry shop on the Left Bank. He makes impeccable versions of such classic French pastries as millefeuilles and eclairs, and his Paris Brest, a round puffy choux pastry filled with hazelnut cream is worth the price of a plane ticket. Go early, since he sells out very quickly. 011-33-1-42-84-00-82.

Hotel Particulier Montmartre, a charming hotel tucked away in a dead-end lane of avenue Junot in Montmartre on has the hippest and most romantic bar in Paris. Cocktails are served in a salon furnished with cutting-edge contemporary pieces, and reservations for drinks are advised.

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