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Local Concierge Tips… Paris

Travel Intelligence

Paris welcomes over 30 million visitors each year, more than any other city in the world.

But with a popular city comes maddening crowds, so we spoke with David, our Local Concierge in the capital, on his secret - and not-so-secret - hotspots, from local favourites that will make you feel like a true Parisian to some of the city's best sights.

What is the best address for morning coffee and croissant?
Café Saint-Régis on Ile Saint-Louis. It is a great place to start the day! Eggs Benedict is my favorite, but there are many items on offer. The waiting staff are not only professional but entertaining as well.

Where is your favourite place to watch the world go by?
Marché aux Puces on the northern edge of Paris. Sneak in the back side so as to miss the schlock on the front side. Have a browse around one of Europe's biggest flea markets and then pick a nice table in the sun to enjoy a casual lunch with a bottle of wine and just watch the people go by. Do a little more looking around before you call it a day… There are some really great finds to be had.

When is the best time of year to visit Paris?
Without a doubt, the months of May or October. The kids are back to school and the weather is the best.

Where would you say serves up the most authentic/delicious French cuisine?
My go-to place for a memorable meal is Au Bougnat on Ile de la Cite. It has been around for a long time. The staff speak English, prices are competitive, and the atmosphere is very friendly. It will also give you the chance for a quick visit to Notre Dame de Paris which is only a five-minute walk away. Also, just across the street is an interesting building that houses a maintenance group for the Paris Metro. It was designed by Eiffel.

If you had to pick three landmarks to see during a day in the city, what would they be?

1. The Eiffel Tower
Starting from Trocadero and crossing the Seine. Going to the top is nice but not necessary. Just seeing the scale of the landmark is awe-inspiring. Built as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair and almost torn down in 1909, it still stands today in all its glory, 130 years later.

2. Notre Dame de Paris
It was sadly damaged recently, but still stands proud. Pass by to show your support. You'll be part of history to say you visited during the reconstruction.

3. Wallace Fountains
These public drinking fountains are scattered around the city and were designed and paid for by Sir Richard Wallace as an offering to the inhabitants of Paris so they would have clean drinking water through tough times. It is great to find them on your own but if you are in a hurry, one is located in front of the Shakespeare and Company on Rue de la Bucherie in the 5th arrondissement. They are a true symbol of Paris and a great piece of history.

What is your favourite area/district of Paris and why?
Le Marais. It is the oldest part of Paris, particularly the northern part or the 3rd arrondissement. It is home to the largest number of hotel particuliers in the city and full of small art galleries. It is also an up-and-coming area for Asian restaurants and a little mini-Chinatown.

Do you have any secret hotspots you wouldn't usually find in a guide book?
Marche d'Aligre located in the 12th arrondissement. It is a 'real' market that I frequent regularly. It has items from around the world, with an emphasis on North Africa, and is open every day but Monday. Cheese, fruits, veggies, and even roasted chicken! A flea market is added on the weekends. Amira, a nice lady in one of the permanent shops there (17 Rue d'Aligre), makes the best stuffed flatbread (including chicken, beef, veggie, spinach and merguez) you'll find anywhere!

The Marmottan or Monet Museum. Located on the west side of Paris in a hotel particulier, the permanent collection is certainly impressive. It's also intriguing to think about what life was like living there before it was a museum…

Are there any places nearby and outside of the city that are worth travelling to?
Giverny is the village where many impressionist painters visited and lived, with Claude Monet being the centre of activity. The water lilies that he painted are there for you to enjoy. There are also walking paths in the area. You can take a train from central Paris; if you are into flowers and nature, it is definitely a good day out of town.

Audrey Hepburn once said 'Paris is always a good idea', and we couldn't agree more!

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