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Paris: A Design Lover's Guide to Architecture, Museums, and Of Course, Wine

Whether your first exposure to Paris was An American in Paris (1951) or Emily in Paris (2020), you probably have a romanticized view of the City of Light. While many of us may project a fantasy onto Paris (croissants! crepes! berets!), the reality is that it is one of the few places in the world that 100% lives up to its hype. The food really is that good. The fashion really is that good. The architecture, the museums, the wine… really are all that good.

Paris is broken up into 20 arrondissements, or neighborhoods, and your best bet is to pick one or two to explore deeply on your trip. Trying to see all of Paris in one trip is just setting yourself up for exhaustion and burnout. Instead, take it all in slowly and leisurely like the French do. Enjoy your food, letting yourself linger at the bistros and brasseries for hours. Drink your coffee sitting at a sidewalk cafe instead of on the go. And walk everywhere — the best of Paris is seen on the street, between here and there, instead of at any specific destination.

We’d recommend spending most of your time in Le Marais (mostly 3rd arrondissement), Bastille (11th arrondissement), and Montmartre (18th arrondissement.) Le Marais is full of vintage shops and design shops, whereas Bastille is the best place to find small wine bars and bistros that are ritzy without being too expensive. My friend who lives in Paris said, “Montmartre is everyone’s favorite; even I can’t completely resist the Amélie charm of the quaint streets and the grittiness of Pigalle at night.”

Your best bet is to visit Paris in the spring or early fall — not too hot, but warm enough to stroll around the cobblestone streets and people-watch from one of the cafes while drinking wine. Just try to avoid visiting in August when most locals are away on holiday and the city is overrun with tourists!

Last updated
August 15, 2023
The Palace of Versailles
Pierre Hermé
Officine Universelle Buly 1803
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Maison et Objet
Le Loir dans La Théière
Kodawari Ramen
Jardin des Tuileries
Hôtel Rochechouart
Hôtel Providence
Hôtel Les Deux Gares
Hotel Petit Moulin
Galerie kreo
Eiffel Tower
Du Pain Et Des Idées
Clown Bar
Café de Flore
Boullion Julien
Atelier Brancusi
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If you want a place that feels handcrafted, Hotel Providence is it. Every piece in this hotel was hand-picked by its owner and restauranter, Pierre Moussie.

spoak team favorite

Designed by Christian LaCroix, this place is exploding with patterns and personality. Each room is fun, loud, and busy.

Not for pets
spoak team favorite

This area (and the colors in this hotel) are not for the faint of heart – you need to embrace the loud train station and the busy streets if you stay here. A nice change of pace from the more traditional Parisian hotels.

Not for pets
spoak team favorite

Eat & Drink

Iconic, absolutely full of tourists, and yet… still worth it. If you go super early, you can grab the coveted corner seat that looks out onto Boulevard St. Germain.

spoak team favorite

Go for the pastries, stay for the historic, 19th-century interiors. Get the pinwheel-shaped chocolate-pistachio pastries and stock up on the pain des amis that you can bring around the corner and eat along the banks of Canal St. Martin.

spoak team favorite

Circus performance has a long and rich history in Paris. If you want to appreciate circus aesthetics in a refined way while enjoying a cocktail, Clown Bar is your place. It’s way cooler than it sounds (I promise).

Not for Kids
spoak team favorite

A little teahouse in the Marais neighborhood with elaborate pies and cakes to choose from. Get what speaks to you, but the meringue pie is comically oversized and fun to eat, even if you can’t finish your slice.

spoak team favorite

For anyone who wants to experience French staples (escargot, steak frites, crème brûlée) without the extreme fine dining prices.

spoak team favorite

Delicious ramen for whenever you need a break from French food.

spoak team favorite

Do & See

A must-see design exhibition for anyone who loves home goods, unique furniture pieces, and spending hours wandering around an expo.

spoak team favorite

Dig into the history of interior design by learning from the greats like Jean Prouvé, Le Corbusier, and Charlotte Perriand. Leave ready to fill your next mood board with French architects and furniture designers.

Hour or two
spoak team favorite

This furniture gallery pushes the boundaries of contemporary furniture design. Kelly Wearstler follows them on Instagram — if that’s any indicator of their influence in the design world.

Hour or two
spoak team favorite


This fragrance and beauty brand was founded in 1803. As in… it’s more than 200 years old. Pick yourself up an engraved comb and bring one back as a luxe gift for a friend.

spoak team favorite

These shops feel as if every Spoak Sign decided to create its own shop in Paris. Fleux consists of five different shops (four permanent and one pop-up.) Each shop is called a “flow” and has its own theme ranging from “whimsical” to “nature” to “furniture and lighting.”

spoak team favorite

A concept store in the Marais district of Paris, full of home decor, clothing, books, and furniture. Start here and then just wander around the Marais — you’ll find plenty of vintage stores and design shops where you can easily spend your time… and money.

spoak team favorite
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