I'm an Editor Who Has Just Moved to Paris—Here's What You Need to Know About the Stylish City

Welcome to Out of Office… Who What Wear UK's chic travel guide that provides you with the most stylish take on any given destination by tapping creatives who know where to stay, what to eat and, more importantly, which items to pack. This month, Who What Wear UK Contributing Editor Avalon Afriyie shares her tips for a memorable trip to Paris. 

Paris travel guide 2024

(Image credit: Avalon Afriyie for Who What Wear UK)

I know the appeal of Paris all too well. My deep affinity with the city started at age eleven when my favourite pastime was frequenting HMV, in search of films with any mention of Paris in the blurb. Regular readers may be accustomed to my incongruous “throw caution to the wind” migration tale, though if not, after two decades of being enamoured by French culture, a devoted viewer of French film and reader of literature, in July 2023 I packed my bags for my favourite city and have fallen deeper in love ever since. It’s had its challenges, but each day I wake up indebted to it and grateful to be in one of the most rousing and fruitful cities in the world. Dubbed the place for creatives, the city of love and lights, it’s one of the most aspirational destinations for travellers and at a mere Eurostar journey away from London, it’s certainly plausible for a long weekend break. Since uprooting, I’ve amassed something of a directory—places to see, shop, and eat, many of which are hidden treasures. Scroll on to discover my ultimate guide to Paris.

1. Where to Stay

Paris travel guide 2024

(Image credit: Avalon Afriyie for Who What Wear UK)

Hôtel Dame des Arts: A home-from-home situated in the voguish Latin Quarter boasting a contemporary elegance and generously sized bedrooms complete with Diptyque toiletries. Its in-house restaurant Dame overlooks a botanical courtyard with resident chef Othoniel Alvarez Casteneda at the helm. Casteneda has cultivated a menu with seasonal ingredients to reflect the taste of his heritage, albeit with a refined twist. Expect zingy tuna tostada, fresh seafood caldo and Mexican-inspired deserts —  the mole chocolate ganache being a personal favourite. Here, you’ll be walking distance from Jardin du Luxembourg, Panthéon, Shakespeare and Company (a longstanding bookstore for anglophiles) and Le Caveau de la Huchette — a bustling underground jazz club where you’re guaranteed an unforgettable night.
Grand Pigalle Hôtel: Nestled in the heart of SoPi (an acronym coined by locals for South Pigalle) lies Grand Pigalle Hôtel, an unassuming boutique hotel in a lively artistic district. You’ll recognise it for its navy lacquer which directly contrasts the stone-hued Haussmann buildings. The establishment boasts 37 rooms, with homely characteristics — many with a wraparound balcony, from which you can take in the charm of Pigalle and neighbouring Montmartre. Whereas many tourists make a beeline for central spots, here you’ll have an authentic taste of Parisian life.

2. What to Pack

Since moving to Paris, I've become well-versed in the nuance of French style and elements that constitute the (what feels like) inherent nonchalance French sartorialists exude. Through said observations, I've grown increasingly discerning and I've honed in on my sense of style, which welcomes many French elements, whilst feeling individual. As we ebb towards spring, I'll be reintroducing gabardine trench coats, flounced dresses and celebrating natural fabrications. For travel to Paris in the coming months, consider packing a streamlined collection you can wear in myriad ways — a crisp poplin shirt, rattan accessories, and longline pieces (of which there are plenty on offer this season). I've piqued the endearing way tourists don Parisian style garb (namely berets, mid-wash denim and Breton stripe t-shirts) on their jaunts to the capital but where packing is concerned, I recommend prioritising comfort, layering pieces, interchangeable items and accessories aplenty. Save space in your luggage for French retailers, such as Rouje, Sézane, Jonak and Lou Lou Studios...the list continues.

Shop my Wardrobe:

3. Where to Shop

Paris travel guide 2024

(Image credit: Avalon Afriyie for Who What Wear)

Le Marais is one of the city's most popular shopping destinations, however, there are pockets and destinations dotted around the city where you'll find hidden treasure. For a varied shopping experience in spectacular buildings, head to Le Bon Marche, or Galleries Lafayette and seal your visit with a trip to the rooftop for an undisturbed Eiffel Tower view. The gamut of labels to be accustomed to can feel overwhelming, so here's a reference point of some of my tried and tested French brands.

Sézane: I recommend Sézane's Rue Saint Fairce store to everyone. You'll enter an apartment-style store housing Sézane's iconic and expansive colour wheel, in addition to vintage-style homewares.
Bobbies and Jonak: For quality French-inspired footwear. Rouje: Visionary Jeanne Damas comprises a rotating capsule of Gallic women's favourites. Here you'll find, fuzzy cardigans bias-cut dresses and wrap minis for all ages and styles.
Centre Commercial: You won't have to hunt far for the likes of Baserange, Aede and Veja!
Soeur: An independent French brand to become accustomed to.
Frankie Shop: Expert minimalism and a laid-back shopping experience, courtesy of Franco-American, Gaëlle Drevet.
La Vallée Village: A discounted designer outlet in Serris, a short train ride away from central Paris. La Grande Epicerie: A magnificent establishment for store cupboard French provisions and plenty of butter to boot, of course. Pharmacie Monge and City Pharama: For generously discounted French skincare.

For vintage shopping, I recommend paying Bobby's Vintage, Celia Darling and Chinemachine a visit. For a dedicated vintage shopping day, take a stroll in Le Marais on the weekend, where you'll likely find plenty of vintage pop-ups starting from Rue de Turenne, 75003.

4. Where to Eat

Paris travel guide 2024

(Image credit: Avalon Afriyie for Who What Wear UK)

Birthplace of the Michelin Guide, France has become synonymous with gastronomy, thus home to many fine dining establishments — making devouring your way through the city a sensational experience. With a varied, multicultural population, it’s also a melting pot of cuisines from which to take your pick — from Vietnamese’s signature banh mi (in the crusty French baguette, no less) or soothing pho, to Middle Eastern Street food. Of course, leave room for French classics like French onion soup, and the steak frites experience. Longstanding establishments such as Le Relais de L'entrecote, Angelina, L'Avenue and Café Flore have well-earned cult status but it would be a shame to stop there. Before dinner, let's start with breakfast.

I like to think that training myself in the art of a good croissant comes with the territory of being a Parisian in the making. To the untrained eye, a croissant is a croissant, however, a perfectly laminated pastry can set your day on an upward trajectory. You'll be hard-pressed to find an unsatisfactory pastry in Paris but one thing I've learned is that recommendations wouldn't go amiss. With that said some of my favourite boulangeries, pâtisseries and cafés can be found below:

Des Pain Des Ideas: At approximately €5.50 for my favourite pastry (escargot pistache chocolat) it's not for the faint-hearted but with every bite, you begin to appreciate the reasonings for its many
accreditations plastered on the exterior.
Mamiche: Three words — decadent chocolate babka.
The French Bastards: Contemporary, innovative and filled bakes and many enriched chocolate doughs.
Pain Pain: With a north-facing view of  Sacré Coeur, Rue des Martyrs is coined one of Paris' most aesthetic streets also known for its myriad delis, café and boulangeries. Pain Pain is by far my favourite in that quarter.
Sain Boulangerie: For a chausson aux pommes two parts caramel and one part chunky fruit, make a beeline for San Boulangerie, dotted in many of Paris’ popular districts. Serving artisanal and decadent bakes, it's a favourite of many Parisians. Land & Monkeys: A haven of plant-based bakes. Bo & Mie: The pain au chocolat praliné is a must-try!Buddy Buddy: Creamy nut-infused coffees. It's a new favourite of mine.
The Coffee: For a wide variety of coffee and a sleek experience. Le Bon Moment: A cosy café where you can also enjoy homemade onigiri. W³ wcube: I've been on something of an iced matcha crawl and this cafe has the most silky offering.

With my newly coined foodie title, I've dined everywhere from Le Privé de dessert (a concept restaurant serving main dishes disguised as desserts) to Kodawari Ramen a spot disguised as a fish market in the Tokyo metropolis. Lately, I dined at Daroco Bourse (Bourse being a premium shopping destination for the likes of Polène) and sampled a three-course dinner of pesto trofie, langoustine tartare (an excellent alternative for non-meat eaters craving the tartare experience) finished with a generous portion of tiramisu and whipped chocolate mousse.

You'll find more recommended spots below:

Shang Palace: While you may be familiar with Shangri-La’s exquisite establishments (of which its Paris location has been coined something of a palace), its on-site restaurant Shang Palace is the only Chinese restaurant boasting Michelin-star credentials in France. The à la carte menu includes a variety of dishes inspired by the culinary customs of Southeast China. Examples include organic sauteed Obsiblue prawns (of New Caledonia), to deep-fried sea bass with sweet and sour sauce. Bouillon Pigalle/Republique: Conceived with the idea of feeding workers with laborious jobs nutritionally dense and filling meals, The Bouillon (not to be confused with broth) became a longstanding concept transformed for public dining.
Bambou: An example of culinary excellence.
Chez Janou: A quaint bistro tucked in the backstreets on Le Marais. It's worth visiting for the decadent chocolate mousse alone.
Le Vieux Bistrot: A friendly family-run establishment known for its speciality fromage. Once you finish dining, take a stroll down Rue Mouffetard.
Faubourg Daimant: Many French dishes are decadent and rich with dairy, however, Fauborg Diamant's plant-based menu is entirely inspired and borrows the original Parisian bistro form with slow, thoughtful meals highlighting vegetables.
Les Refuge des Fondus: A lively eaterie serving meat and cheese fondus. The little red door opens to eclectic decor and a bustling atmosphere. Typical dining etiquette is left at the front
door in place of a jovial, rambunctious atmosphere with bubbling frontage. It's become a renowned spot for wine served from baby bottles (to prevent spillages) and tables you may just have to climb over to be seated.
Early June: Finally, situated on the left bank of Canal Saint Martin you'll find Early June — a quaint wine bar and restaurant with a completely innovative concept.  The establishment hosts a rotation of travelling chefs per few weeks, subsequently refreshing the menu. 

4. What to Do

Paris travel guide 2024

(Image credit: Avalon Afriyie for Who What Wear UK)

Paris' rich history and cultural influence make it one of the most aspiration cities in the world and weaving in around the city's Haussmann buildings whilst attending the many exhibitions the city has to offer is one of its selling points. Luckily for museumgoers like myself, there are plenty to choose from. The Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Musée Rodin and Musée de l'Orangerie are beloved by many, however, it's worth researching based on your vested areas of interest as there are many private galleries. For lovers of fashion, La Galerie Dior is currently showcasing a new exhibition, through May 2024.

It's worth noting that each month Musee d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie have free admission with booking every first Sunday of the month.

Bookmark the following entertainment venues:
Oh My God She's Parisian: You may be familiar with Julie Colas' Instagram profile and outlandish humour that plays on French stereotypes. Her one-woman-play is currently showing at Théâtre BO Saint-Martin.
Lost in Frenchlation: Lost in Frenchlation brings French cinema to internal communities with screenings of acclaimed French films with English subtitles. It's a non-intimidating way to immerse yourself in the culture. Atelier des Lumières: A unique immersive video exhibiton. I'll be visiting the Orientalists exhibition showing the works of Ingres, Delacroix and Gérôme.

Parks: One of my favourite pastimes in the city is taking a book and coffee to a green space. My favourites include: Palais Royal, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Jardin du Luxembourg and Place des Vosges.

Rue Mouffetard
: A bustling shopping street.
Quai Valmy: Stroll alongside the canal and dip in and out of the neighbouring boutiques and cafes.
Place Vendôme: a grandiose atmosphere where you can take in Louis XIV's masterpiece.
Rue de l'Abreuvoir: Coined Paris' prettiest street. At the top, you'll see La Maison Rose, infamous for its pink and green hues.
Rue des Martyrs: From the top to the bottom, you'll find vintage stores, eateries and delicatessens. I'île de la Cité: Home to a dear place in the city for me, Square de l'Île-de-France, it's an apt location to take in the full scope of the landscape. Finish with ice cream at Berthillon followed by a short walk to Pierre Hemme for the most decadent of macaroons. It is Paris, after all!

Freelance Fashion Editor

Avalon Afriyie is a freelance writer and storyteller based in London. She specialises in sustainable fashion, health and the narratives of marginalised communities. She has a background in fashion show production and styling, having previously worked on The Clothes Show and with the Lyst Group. Since graduating in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in English and contemporary media, she’s worked as a feature writer for an independent publication and a contributor for Quill’s creator network. She now marries her passion for words and style, writing for some of the most esteemed fashion and lifestyle publications, Who What Wear UK and Stylist. Avalon also provides copywriting services, creative consultancy, and visual media for independent businesses, including travel guides, interviews, press releases and blog posts. Her work has been featured on Lush, Contiki, Youswim and Ohne. She spends her days writing to her heart’s content for business and pleasure, shooting on film and dreaming of residing a stone’s throw away from the ocean with her love and a pup (clad in a sweeping frock, of course). She’s currently penning ideas for a book of personal essays and free verse poetry on love, life and the stages in between.