A Field Guide to Paris' Most Classic Destinations

Where to stay, what to do, and what to wear in a city fond of tradition.

Marie Claire's guide to classic Paris
(Image credit: Future)

Paris excels in the classics, from its globally acclaimed architecture to its roots as the birthplace of fine cuisine. Wherever you turn, the city offers a timeless backdrop filled with historical museums, manicured gardens, and bustling markets that have long inspired some of the greatest writers and artists in history. These same qualities draw visitors from around the globe, and like all destinations, you can choose your adventure in the City of Lights, but the classics are dubbed so for a reason: they've earned their stripes. If traveling like a local is more your speed, there are plenty of classic places to explore off the beaten path, too. Ahead are the places to stay, dine, and explore for a traditional (but never dull) trip to one of the world's most iconic cities. 

Marie Claire's guide to classic Paris

(Image credit: Future)

A room at Hotel Barriere Paris

(Image credit: Hotel Barriere Paris)

Staying on the Champs-Élysées centrally located in the 8th arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine and within walking distance of the city's most renowned museums, cafés, and luxury fashion houses, the Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet's Paris—attached to the legendary Brasserie—is a five-star Paris institution, founded in 1989, and a quiet respite from the bustling streets outside. Just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, the 101 rooms and suites are designed by the renowned architect Jacques Garcia whose known for his trademark Parisian design. You'll feel like you've stepped into a polished French apartment with all of the intimate comforts of home: deep soaking tubs, plush bedding, and floor-to-ceiling views of the city's Haussmann style architecture and blooming french garden.

A city well-known for its swimming pools (often offering a place for social gatherings throughout the city), Hôtel Barrière's has received acclaim for having one of the best, with not only a lap pool, but a heated lagoon, steam room, and sauna where you can jumpstart your day or unwind in the evening. 

Marie Claire's guide to classic Paris

(Image credit: Future)

The opera of Paris

(Image credit: Ballet Opera de Paris)


After you've taken a walk around the 8th Arr., passing by the Arc de Triomphe, the Petit Palais, and the Fontaine de Mers, pay a visit to La Galerie Dior, a unique museum experience chronicling the life of Christian Dior and his six successors, with creations that embody the spirit of Parisian Haute Couture. Have you been to The Louvre? In the name of fine art, you should stop by.


There's also no better place to just stroll than in Paris— a feast for the eyes filled with bountiful food and flower markets at every turn. The Marché Raspail on the 6th is a great one, as is The Marche Bastille on the 11th. Rue Cler is one of the most famous markets streets in Paris, filled with boulangeries, open-air markets, and specialty shops galore.


Fashion fans must make a stop at one of the city's iconic department store destinations, Le Bon Marché in Saint Germain de Pres, or the century-old department store Les Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in the 9th, housed inside a steel-framed glass dome— an architectural marvel in itself. Marin Montagut, just steps from the Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th, offers a trove of Parisian treasures and curiosities, from books to tableware to vintage pharmacy jars, and Collector Square in the 7th is a one-of-a-kind destination for vintage lovers, with an excellent selection of luxury bags, watches, rare jewelry, and art.


Lovers of dance should book a ticket for the Paris Opera, the oldest national ballet company located either at The Palais Garnier or The Bastille Opera, or visit a jazz club, like Le Bal Blomet in the Montparnasse neighborhood, dating back to 1924 and frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Joan Miro, and Josephine Baker.

Marie Claire's guide to classic Paris

(Image credit: Future)

Restaurant Chez Allard

(Image credit: Allard Restaurant)

There's something for every foodie in Paris—from elaborate multi-course Michelin-starred restaurants to quaint, cozy cafés. For an old-school bistro featuring classic gourmet fare (think steak bearnaise, roasted duck, and escargot), visit Allard— a haven for regulars and return guests who tuck into the intimate candle lit dining room. For a no nonsense casual lunch or dinner,  sit outside at the café tables at Les Marchés for comforting coq au vin, steak tartare, and pomme frites. For a taste of non-French fare but authentic Italian instead, book a table at Restaurant Siena, conveniently located in the famous Place du Marché Saint Honore, with a menu boasting local products sourced from small Italian purveyors. Order the Tuscan classics, like pasta, pizza, and risotto. Wash it down with an Italian (or French) red.

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.