5 Things: A Travel Guide to Paris, France

Today’s “5 Things,” looks a bit different than our regular series posts. Typically, we ask some of our favorite locals, in cities all over the world, to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). But today is special as we welcome back Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Co. in honor of her forthcoming, beautifully inspiring book, Paris by Design. Several years ago, in preparation for a trip to Paris, Eva searched for a book focused on the art and design of Paris. With her background in fine art and stationery design, she wanted an intimate look at the creative life of the city—a practical guide with beautiful places to visit that someone with an artful aesthetic would appreciate. Turns out, she couldn’t find it! So she decided to find a great team of collaborators—including some of the city’s most fascinating residents—and create it herself! In honor of the book’s launch on April 9, we are honored to have Eva share some of her secrets to this magical city with us today!

5 Things: Paris, France
Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Co. and Paris by Design

When I was a kid, there was a process to bedtime. Showers and books and prayers and back scratching and finally, lights out. If I was lucky, while my mom was scratching my back, she’d tell me a story from her childhood. And if I was really lucky, it would be from her time in Paris. As I got older, I realized that so much of my mom’s sophisticated aesthetic was influenced by her former life in that place. And because of her, I’ve been a Francophile my entire life. Just like that Hemingway quote predicts—the City of Light stays with you. It really does.

Although I don’t live there yet, I’ve been lucky (and scrappy!) enough to spend extended periods of time there on several occasions—on study abroad, for an internship, as a volunteer, and most recently, on sabbatical with my husband and two kids. I was just there again for a week in February, and will return in June. Basically, I go as often as I can! And I am an endlessly curious researcher (for better or for worse). Ask my friends and family and they will tell you I am always consuming the latest book or article or movie or Instagram account about Paris—marking places on the map to check out the next time I’m there.

The locations I picked to share with you are all places I’ve been personally and absolutely loved. Most of them aren’t famous tourist attractions, just places that make me happy and that would be fun to share with a friend.


If you’re like me, the first things you think about when it comes to food in Paris are all the bakeries and pastry shops. My absolute favorite is Du Pain et des Idées. You can’t go wrong with anything they make, but my two favorites are the escargot aux fruits rouges et fromage blanc (a flaky, snail shell shaped pastry lined with berries and cream cheese) and the hearty pain des amis (a hearty peasant bread).

I break up all the bread and pastries with some green juice and a salad for lunch from Wild & the Moon, a vegan café and juice bar. Everything is fresh and they have several locations scattered across the city. I also love Yemma for its mediterranean sandwiches made with homemade flat bread, fresh vegetable side salads, and homemade lemonades and iced tisanes. Boutique Yamt’cha is a fun and cozy spot that serves steamed Chinese/French buns paired with tea. Arrive at 12 PM sharp to get a spot or order from the takeaway window and head over to the nearby Palais Royal to picnic.

All of the above are kid friendly, but for a nice dinner out sans little ones, head to the neo-French restaurant Semilla. My husband and I walked in one night without a reservation and they sat us at the counter overlooking the kitchen. We felt like we got the best seats in the house—so fun watching them prepare the food! The fresh starters in particular were like like little pieces of art.


I always tell people that if they only choose one shop to go to in Paris, it should be Merci. It’s pretty famous by now, but the fame is well deserved! A tiny red Fiat greets you in the courtyard entrance and then you enter to find an emporium of beautiful things—clothing, stationery, home goods, and more.

A few more favorites (it’s so hard to narrow it down!) are Bonton for stylish children’s goods, Buly 1803 for gorgeously packaged beauty products made with natural ingredients, Astier de Villatte and Solques Bruno Boulangerie for handmade ceramics, Papier Tigre for paper goods in bright modern colors, Maison Chateau Rouge for clothing made from African wax textiles, the hidden passageway, Passage des Panoramas, for paper ephemera, and of course, the Paris Flea Market! (Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen).


On my most recent trip to Paris, my husband and I went to the Musée Bourdelle and it’s now one of our favorite museums we’ve ever visited! Antoine Bourdelle was a sculptor who assisted Rodin for many years but also found his own style and success. The museum is scattered across a hodgepodge of rooms and buildings connected by gardens—to charming effect. My favorite part is his preserved studio. White sculptures pop against the dark wooden floors and a whole wall of north facing windows lets in the most beautiful slanted light.

Some other museums I love are the Musée Jacquemart André (a house museum), the Palais de Tokyo (contemporary art), the Musée Gustave Moreau (house/studio of the painter), the Musée des Arts Décoratifs(decorative arts)… I could go on and on.

I love taking my kids to museums, but when I’m with them I also try to balance museum visits with time outdoors where they can run around.

The Luxembourg Gardens are amazing with kids—they can ride ponies, see a puppet show, play on the playground, play with toy sailboats, and more. (Just know that you have to pay for all these things, including playing on the playground!) A lot of people may not realize that there are fun things to do with kids in the Tuileries Gardens, too. A playground, a carousel, and even trampolines! The Parc Monceau, the Parc aux Buttes Chaumont, and the Jardin des Plantes are other favorites.


We don’t usually have a huge budget for accommodations, so I’ve tried out some great, more affordable options on my stays in Paris.

Hôtel du Temps is in a non-touristy yet central location, right around the corner from rue Poissonnière, which has lots of restaurants to choose from (especially convenient when you’re with kids). It’s also around the corner from my favorite record shop in Paris, La Violetera, which specializes in 60’s French pop or Yéyé. The rooms are small but bright, cheerful, and stylish.

Hôtel Esmeralda is a kooky yet charming choice, with original art on the walls from the 60’s and an antique spiral staircase. Our room was spacious by Parisian standards and we could open our windows to see Notre Dame. The kids loved knowing that we stayed in the same hotel as the little girl in Linnea in Monet’s Garden. Plus, it’s about two steps from the Shakespeare and Co. bookshop and its café in one direction and Odette (a cream puff bakery) in the other, which are worth a visit.

The pink facade of Hôtel Des Grandes Écoles is hidden away in an enchanting garden courtyard in the Latin Quarter. The rooms are papered in florals and toile and they serve a delicious traditional French breakfast every morning in the dining room, or when the weather is nice, outside in their beautiful garden. (Sadly, the weather was not so nice when we stayed there, but I think I need to go back in summer to experience it!)

We’ve also loved staying in apartments from Kid & Co and AirBnb. If you’re with little kids, I’d try to make sure the apartment is very close to a park, a boulangerie, and a metro stop. (Speaking from experience, ha!)


An inspiring guidebook to Paris—which hasn’t always been so easy to find!

Paris by Design: An Inspired Guide to the City’s Creative Side is on preorder now until it launches April 9. You can read more about it here, on my book landing page. Plus, I created a free thank you gift to everyone who preorders—a cheat sheet of my 50 personal favorite spots in Paris with an accompanying Google Map. To get the freebie just take a screenshot of your receipt and upload it here.

We are so grateful for Eva’s uniquely stunning guide to Paris and we can’t wait to see Paris by Design in print next week. The allure of Paris never fades and new hidden spots are always unexpected. What secret or special spots might you add to Eva’s list?

Eva and her husband, Kirk, formed their paper goods company, Sycamore Street Press, in 2007 and expanded in 2017 with Sycamore Co., a full-fledged creative agency. The company guides brands in their creative ventures to tell their own unique stories. Sycamore Co. can be found through the following outlets: Instagram, Pinterest, newsletter, and their website.

All photos are courtesy of Chaunté Vaughn for Paris by Design with the exception of the following: lead photo and children playing in park are courtesy of Eva Jorgensen; “Stay” room photo is courtesy of Hotel du Temps; and “Play” window photo is courtesy of Meta Coleman. Thank you to Molly Coyne for her help with this series.

P.S. Our Paris travelogues—part one and part two—with thoughts on visiting with a toddler, and all of our 5 Things Travel Guides.

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