The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Paris

Where to stay, shop, and more.

Photographs by Alasdair McLellan, Styled by Edward Enninful

Ah, Paris. The magical city that holds a special place in every fashion girl’s heart. No, not because of the French designers or classic French style icons like Brigitte Bardot. Paris, specifically at the end of September/early October, signifies the end of Fashion Month. After having already trekked all over New York, London and Milan, the City of Lights is literally the light at the end of the tunnel for the fashion set. Whether you’re there for the front row or on holiday, here’s W’s ultimate guide to Paris.

Where to Visit:

Make Palais Royal, the classic french courtyard featuring black-and-white painted columns, one of your first stops. After getting the typical tourist photo standing on a column, take a stroll through the Tuileries Gardens and then make your way to the Louvre. Carve out some time for The Centre Pompidou. The building itself is a must-see, with colorful pipes on the outside. Other highlights include the modern art, impressive library, as well as the stunning panoramic views. Next check out Musée Picasso, which is also located in the Marais district. Another Paris staple is Musée Yves Saint Laurent. Get a closer look at YSL’s autumn/winter 1965 collection, which is on display until January 2020. For a classic view of the Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars is the ultimate spot to take in the scene. A picnic on the lawn is the perfect background for a stellar photo of the view. In need of a workout after endless treats? Give Reformation Pilates a try. The studio is bright, plant-infused and oh-so-chic.

Where to Eat:

Start off your day at Buvette— yes it’s the same owner as the West Village location. As in New York, the vibes are cozy and the food is delicious. Another breakfast option? Fragments. Known for their avocado toast and endless sweets, this inviting espresso bar is also ideal for people watching. For lunch, Jacquemus’ restaurant, Café Citron, is a must, not to mention Instagram-friendly. Don’t forget to pack your le petit Chiquito! Head to Breizh Cafe for a crepe —an essential afternoon pick-me-up. And in the evening, try out the Middle Eastern restaurant Balagan for dinner. Between the delicious food made by Israeli chefs and the fun atmosphere, this place is a Paris staple. Another must-try is Derrière. The superb food, quirky decor and lively crowd make for a fabulous evening. (While you’re there, don’t forget to open the Narnia-esque wardrobe that takes you into a lounge.) Celebrating in Paris? Make a reservation at LouLou, and be sure to eat alfresco. The outdoor seating area overlooks the courtyard of the Louvre. In the mood for a little adventure? Stop by The Little Red Door, a speakeasy in the the Marais. Once inside, guests are offered a storybook drink menu full of specialty cocktails. They do not disappoint. Finish off the night with drinks at Cravan, one of the most charming bars in all of Paris.

Where to Shop:

Shopping in Paris can be overwhelming. There are, of course, the classics like Sandro, Iro and Isabel Marant. But, you can shop all of those brands anywhere. In France, you want that je ne said quoi—and you’ll find it at Merci. As a fashion lover, this is already on your list. As an avid Instagrammer, you’ll recognize the little red Fiat. Shop here for homeware, up-and-coming designers, and everything in between. A department store may not be where you expected to go on your trip, but Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysée is like no other, featuring everything from emerging designers to classic luxury brands. Vintage lovers rejoice: La Mode Vintage and Nice Piece are bound to offer hidden gems. Next up is Jeanne Damas’ sister’s boutique, Atelier Couronnes. From beautiful stationery to chic boots, Louise Damas has curated the quintessential Parisian boutique. Shopping for something a little more trendy? Stop by The Broken Arm for a fabulous selection of Rick Owens, Prada and more. And if you’re looking for that classic French girl style, Montaigne Market has everything you want, plus more. With labels such as R13, Ulla Johnson, Magda Butrym, and the chicest Nick Fouquet hats, you’ll find your dream new wardrobe in seconds. Of course, after a trip abroad, gifts are a necessity. Don’t fret: Astier de Villatte is your one-stop-shop for all things souvenir. From equisette porcelain to colorful agendas, you’ll want one of everything for yourself.

A general view at the ‘MERCI’ store on December 9, 2013 in Paris, France.

Photo by Marc Piasecki/FilmMagic.

Where to Stay:

Whether you opt for a room or splurge for a signature suite (Karl Lagerfeld designed the Grands Appartements), luxury is guaranteed at the iconic Hôtel de Crillon. Between the spa and the Yacht Club Terrace, you won’t want to leave the hotel. Still, shopping on the Champs-Élysées, frolicing in the Tuileries Gardens and museum-hopping are all easy access.

Vue prise le 16 juin 2004 place de la Concorde à Paris, de la façade de l’hôtel Crillon. La façade a été dessinée au XVIIIe siècle par l’architecte Jacques-Ange Gabriel, sous le règne du roi Louis XV. La famille Crillon y établit un hôtel particulier, devenu palace en 1909. Photo taken 16 June 2004 Place de la Concorde in Paris, of the Hotel Crillon. The building was designed 18th century by architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel, commissioned by Louis XV. The Crillon family acquired the building and transformed it into a palace hotel in 1909.

Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images.

Where to Escape:

If you’ve had a magical time in Paris, but still have a day to spare, take a quick train to Versailles. Get your tickets at the door or purchase ahead to avoid long lines. On the estate, you are free to explore all the gardens, roam inside The Chateau, visit Marie Antionette’s abode and more. The spectacular architecture, gilded interiors and très magnifique gardens will keep you inspired until your next visit.

An artwork named ‘Your sense of unity’ by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is displayed in the hall of mirrors of the Chateau de Versailles on June 6, 2016, in Versailles, France. This exhibition takes place from June 7 until October 01, 2016.

Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images.