When traveling to France, I have been able to stay in different neighborhoods and during each visit I always find something new about Paris. If you only have three days, here are my suggestions for a memorable trip.
Most flights from the U.S. leave in the evening and land in the morning in Paris. Staying in a boutique hotel is my choice. Le Dokhan, in the Trocadero district with its Louis Vuitton elevator (arguably one of the most Instagrammed in the world), has a lovely salon-style bar for evening cocktails. Hotel JoBo in Le Marias is also a favorite, with rooms decorated in the style that Josephine Bonaparte would have adored. Hôtel D’Aubusson in Saint Germain-des-pres, with its jazz club in the lobby, has lovely guest suites. Getting around in Paris is so easy when you have a digital map in your hands. Using Google Maps to find directions, I love to ride the metro like a local—je ne sais quois attitude is not required but it is fun to pretend.
A good strong café crème and a croissant at any outdoor cafe is perfect for beginning the day. This allows me to sit and people-watch—one of my very favorite pastimes in any big city, but especially Paris. My favorite is Le Nemours in the area known as Palais-Royal. It sits right on a square between the Musée du Louvre and Palais Royal Gardens. In Saint Germain-des-pres, on the main avenue, there is Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots. Whichever neighborhood you land in, take some time the first afternoon to get to know the lay of the land. All of the neighborhood streets in Paris can meander from district to district—go ahead and get lost in the architecture and feel of the city. Be sure to look for the Eiffel Tower above the rooftops; it’s always a pleasant surprise to me when I see the grand iron lady peeking from above to greet me and encourage me on my adventure. I take thousands of pictures of places I want to come back to on my wanderings. Window pictures are my favorite memories of Paris. Have an early dinner, perhaps a bowl of onion soup, and do not skip the baguette!
On day two, the Musée du Louvre is a wonderful place to get lost, but with only three days, I would be very specific in choosing which galleries to visit. If you are desperate to see the Mona Lisa, get to the museum before opening to secure a place early in line. The museum at Foundation Louis Vuitton is a treasure of a building with a restaurant (sit at the bar and enjoy a cocktail) and the roof-top terrace with views of Paris is not to be missed. The Yves Saint Laurent museum is a treat for fashion historians with Monsieur’s office perfectly preserved, just as if he were expected at any moment for a couture appointment with a social maven needing a gown for her next charity event.
Walking around the districts, there are quite a few boutiques to explore. Be sure to go in and see the ones that you would not find at home, most are owned by interesting people with lovely stories of how they became shopkeepers. A heartfelt “Bonjour, Madame” is always appropriate no matter what level of French you are comfortable with. Shopping in Saint Germain-des-pres is like Main St. USA - Parisian style. The boutiques, vendors, and coffee shops are amazing to wander in and out. Eleanor Emaldi’s current fashions, with her beautiful choice of fabrics, are precious. Le 3 Marche is museum-like for vintage Chanel or Hermes. You might meet the designers or someone of note in any one of these boutiques.
Day three can begin at the YSL museum, and Avenue Montagne for window shopping is a great place for a stroll. I adore having lunch on the terrace of Le Avenue for a lobster club sandwich and of course pommes frites; enjoying a glass of Champagne to toast the day is a must. The Trocadero district, with its view of the Eiffel tower, is also a wonderful place for lunch. Café Carette has the best macaroons in Paris. A walk to Rue de la Pompe's resale and vintage shops is essential. You can find treasures here for reasonable prices if you are willing to take the time to look.
There are so many places to dine in Paris. For a special treat if the weather is nice, head to Le Bristol for lunch in the garden. Brunch at Claus or Trieze au Jardin are a trendy treat, and Trieze is owned by a Southern belle from Charleston—be prepared for biscuits Parisian-style. In the evenings, the Crystal Room at Musée Baccarat shines bright, Bistrot du Sommelier offers a dinner with wine pairings for each delectable course, or the beautiful La Librairie in Place Chopin where you dine surrounded by books are three of my favorites.
I keep a diary of my visits to Paris. My book is full of notes and anecdotes of my time in this beautiful city with my friends. We have created memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.