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JJH Guide: A Weekend in Paris

JJH Guide: A Weekend in Paris

Posted on March 07 2024, By: Jonathon Hawes

JJH Guide: A Weekend in Paris

Paris has always been one of Triet and I's favourite places to travel to together. In fact, we've been so often that it's starting to feel like a second home to us...  and who knows, maybe one day it will be! But until then, we'll continue to visit whenever we can… even if it's only for a weekend. 

Now, I know what you're thinking... crossing the Atlantic from Vancouver for only a few days is quite the ambitious getaway but over the years, I've gotten it down to a science. So, in honour of my birthday (and my upcoming trip to France), I thought I'd share my tips, tricks, and recommendations for a fabulous weekend in Paris.  

Making the most of your arrival

Anytime we fly to Paris from Vancouver, we almost always arrive in the morning, which can be a challenge when checking into a hotel due to the afternoon check-ins. After a few trips, Triet and I said, "Hey, wait a sec… what if we booked our hotels for the day before so we can check in when we land in the morning?" And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since!

Once we make our booking, I’ll email the hotel concierge just to inform them what time we plan on arriving at the hotel so they don’t cancel and consider us no-shows. Now when it comes to the actual hotels in Paris, we’ve stayed at a few so let's dive into those next. 

Hotels, hotels, hotels 

Listen, if you’re rich or just feel like splurging a little for a special occasion like we do every now and then, here's a few of our favourites higher-end hotels:

Le Crillon - A timeless and unabashedly elegant hotel that overlooks the Place de la Concorde. How bad can that be?

Le Meurice - In the heart of historic Paris, Le Meurice is the very epitome of quiet elegance and boasts an incredible artistic spirit. 

Le Bristol - With one of the city's most prestigious addresses on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Le Bristol is as gorgeous as it is vibrant. And who doesn't love being only a few steps away from the Champs-Elysées?

Ritz ParisIf you know me, you know how much I love the Ritz. Let's just say, if you want to experience the pinnacle of Parisian luxury, look no further than Ritz Paris. 

From the restaurants to the bars, the hotel staff and the rooms — every detail in each of these hotels is just absolutely incredible. Regardless of which one you decide to stay at, trust me when I say that you're in for a fabulous weekend.  

Now, the hotels I listed above are certainly a treat so, if you don’t feel like spending your first-born's tuition on a hotel, here are some other wonderful hotels we’ve enjoyed in one of our favourite neighbourhoods, Saint Germain des Prés.

Da Vinci Hotel & Spa - Not only is this hotel in a great location, it has wonderful charm and great value.  

Hôtel Pont Royal - Located just a few steps to Le Bon Marché, this hotel is bright, spacious, and has beautiful rooftop views of the city. 

Hôtel Académie - Another excellent option in Saint Germain des Prés with charming rooms and beautiful décor. 

Morning rituals, shops, & lunch

When we are at home, I'm the one who tends to sleep in whereas Triet is always the first one up (with Ru, of course). But for some reason, when we're on holidays, I find myself up at the crack of dawn every day... I suppose that's what happens when you know there's a freshly baked pain au chocolat and a cappuccino at Les Deux Magots waiting for you. 

Slow mornings have become a ritual for me when I'm in Paris. I love to enjoy my coffee while I people watch and wait for Triet to join me. Once he's had his chocolat Chaud, we're ready to begin the day. 

We usually start with a stroll around Saint Germain, with stops at shops like the iconic Ralph's and diptyque boutiques. One of our favourite shopping streets in Saint Germain is rue de Rennes, which is filled with charming food shops, clothing stores, bakeries, and wonderful bistros.

Some of our other favourite stores include E. Dehillerin for every classic kitchen gadget imaginable and Muriel Grateau for fabulous table linens and dishware. 

If we’re still in Saint Germain for lunch, La Coupole never misses. It’s a rather large restaurant, and there always seems to be a table when we waltz in, although a reservation is certainly recommended. 

Here are a couple of other places we love in Paris for lunch: Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Bon George (also a wonderful spot for dinner), Miznon is a good spot for Israeli with a French twist, and Le Chardenoux, to name a few. 

The most wonderful place on earth

After lunch, we visit a little place that I like to call heaven. But it's more commonly known as the Grande Épicerie de Paris. You might be wondering, a grocery store? Really? Really hunny. 

This is not your average grocery store. Picture this: your biting into one of your grandmother's cherry tomatoes that she grew in her backyard. Or maybe it's the strawberries you picked on the perfect summer day with friends. At the Grande Épicerie, every single fruit and vegetable taste like how they’re supposed to. Delicious and perfectly ripe. Now I won’t lie to you, you’ll certainly be paying for the best produce — and it’ll be worth every penny.

Their cheese counter is also wonderful, and so are their prepared foods, pastries, and seafood. And if you get overwhelmed easily like I do, not to worry, you can enjoy a fabulous glass of Chablis while you shop, and you can even enjoy some fresh oysters while you’re at it — all the while keeping an eye on your grocery cart. The French certainly know how to live! 

Triet and I always, and I mean always, end up shipping a large (and very heavy) box home of all of the groceries we purchase here. We fill our cart with teas from Marriages Frères which make the most wonderful gifts, jams and other fruit preserves, and of course, all the mayonnaise and mustards you can dream of — amongst other things like caramels au beurre salé, crackers, and chips.

The nice thing about this marché is that it can literally be a one-stop-shop — grab a delicious pre-made sandwich, chopped fruit, a bottle of wine and a pastry from their pastry counter to head to the Seine for a picnic or to enjoy in one of Paris’ many gorgeous parks, like Le Jardin du Luxembourg or Jardin du Tuileries.  

Experiences & afternoon pick-me-ups

Marché aux Puces (Porte de Clignancourt) to me is the greatest flea market in the city. And luckily, most vendors will ship any items you purchase directly to your home so there’s no need to worry about how you’ll get the new gilded mirror you just purchased or a silver Champagne bucket in your carry-on… 

Hotel de la Marine has to be one of the coolest museums we’ve been to lately. I’m not one for audio-guides at museums, but this one was captivating. If you end up staying at the Hôtel de Crillon, you’re just steps away — as the museum is in an identical building next door. The museum displays the restored 18th-century apartment of Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville-d’Avray (whew what a mouthful), the King's Intendant of the Garde Meuble. I'll be honest, I had no idea who the hell that was and still don’t really know, however, the apartment was absolutely gorgeous and to me, a million times more interesting than Versailles. 

After sightseeing, you'll need a little pick-me-up. If you’re in the mood for a fabulous afternoon cappuccino and treat - check out Le Comptoir at the Ritz Paris. Maison Aleph also has some wonderful pastries, Poilâne certainly has the best bread for a picnic and a chausson au pommes for the walk home, naturally, and Pierre Hermé for an Ispahan (their specialty). 

The main event: Dinner in Paris

When it comes to Triet and my favourite spots for dinner, I’m going to shake things up a bit and start with the more fine-dining spots and then slowly work my way down into more casual bistros. 

Verjus - This is our favourite restaurant in Paris at the moment. Their service and menu are exquisite, and although they have a set menu, they were able to make adjustments to cater to our taste which was wonderful. 

The couple that owns Verjus, Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian, also own Ellsworth which is delightful, and the 22-Club, which we haven’t been to yet, but is number one on our list when we head back to Paris in June. I’d highly recommend visiting at least one of their restaurants while you’re in town! 

Le Voltaire - The minute you walk in the door, you’re treated like a regular that’s been going for decades, which is something I adore each time we visit. Their menu is very traditional French, so expect to leave feeling very full. Portions are enormous — so we often will skip lunch and have a later breakfast! Or vice versa. And for the love of god, try their profiteroles, and whatever you do, you must order a side of fries for the table. 

Chez l’ami Louis -  This restaurant is a very special treat (if you can get in), and don’t bother looking at their prices. Just order what catches your eye, and melt away once the food arrives. Their dishes are sublime.

Ralph's - Another must for mostly aesthetic reasons, is dinner on the terrace at Ralph's. Their patio is one of the best in the city, serving comforts from “home” like the famous Ralph’s burger or lobster Cobb salad. Wonderful service and cocktails in the most romantic setting. And make sure to call for a reservation as they’re almost never available online. 

Racines - On the more casual end, this is a very tiny and intimate space, and reservations are necessary. Dishes are meant to be shared and are each equally delicious. Now I need to be honest with you, I am not a fan of natural wines (cue the Vancouverites that will come for me), but Racines does have some drinkable ones ;)

Early June by the Canal Saint-Martin is also a very charming little spot with a small menu that rotates constantly.

L’Ami Jean is also wonderful and make sure to save room for their rice pudding for dessert. 

Some others worth mentioning - Bistrot des Tournelles is great, Les Arlots for the best saucisse-purée you’ll ever have, and Aux Crus de Bourgogne is lovely too. 

Nightlife

Now when it comes to nightlife, Triet and I love a good jazz club. La Cave du 38 Riv is a cute one, but I particularly love a good cocktail bar. Like I mentioned above, there’s a very cool bar at the Ritz called Bar Hemingway that makes an amazing dirty vodka martini amongst many other delicious sippers.

mon pitou jonathan hawes guide to paris

Another cute spot is Bisou, but beware Karen’s, there’s no listed menu — you just ask the bartender what you’re in the mood for and they do a fabulous job crafting the coolest cocktails. Another spot we love is the Bar 228 at Le Meurice. They make the best whiskey sours I’ve ever had! 

Preparing for the flight home

On our last day in Paris, there's a few spots we like to stop at to grab some goodies for the flight home. In my experience, no matter what class of travel on any airline (primarily Canadian or American Airlines), digging into your carry-on for an amazing sandwich and strawberry tart or pain Suisse, just hits you in all the spots that really needed that spank. 

Pain Pain - We adore Pain Pain. They have great coffee & fresh orange juice, and even better sandwiches and pastries. Also, all of their branding and packaging is to die for. 

French Bastards - There's a few of these in the city, so you certainly cannot go wrong with stopping at any of them. 

Now I could keep rambling on but there should be enough information in this little guide to enjoy a splendid weekend in Paris. I plan on posting a more in-depth guide with the launch of my new website JonathonHawes.com, so stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram at @JonathonHawes with any questions or must-see spots as we visit often. Now, go and enjoy yourself in Paris! 

Warmest Regards,

JJH