46 Rue du Bac, 7th
A devastating fire nearly destroyed Deyrolle in 2008, sending nearly 90 percent of its rarefied inventory up in smoke. Everyone rallied: Customers donated animals purchased in years past back; Christie's held an auction; Hermes reissued their "Plume" scarf to raise funds; and ultimately Deyrolle reopened its doors to a collective sigh of relief. Founded in 1831, it's one of the most special stores in the world, after all, since it's essentially a shoppable natural history museum. As you move past the gardening boutique that occupies the ground floor and climb the stairs, you'll come face to face with lions, tiger, bears, and thousands of exotic birds, butterflies, and beetles—all carefully preserved, and even more meticulously displayed. We love the reissues of the 19th century pedagogical prints (horse breeds, the anatomy of the eye, the trees of France), which are more affordable—and packable—than a giraffe.
27 Quai Voltaire, 7th
Situated right on the river, you can opt to take a seat in the front café for lighter fare (coffees, drinks, and classic sandwiches), or in the back, where they serve full meals. We love the grapefruit and avocado salad, but we particularly love the excellent people watching at lunch.
51 Rue de Verneuil, 7th
Unpretentious and laid-back, this is the sort of restaurant that’s the perfect reprieve after a few days of big, loud brasseries. The food is simple but well-prepared and nicely affordable, too.
135 Rue St. Dominique, 7th
The only thing that outshines Les Cocottes’ brilliant use of glass jars and Staub cast-iron cocottes is the menu itself. Chef Christian Constant has developed a robust offering of salads (a nontraditional Caesar salad), soups (pumpkin, seafood bisque), and mains (ratatouille, langoustine ravioli) that satisfy without breaking the bank. And then, of course, there’s Constant’s famous chocolate tart. Those who fly by the seat of their pants will appreciate the no-reservations policy, even though there’s almost always a wait—which isn't bad, as it’s conveniently located near the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Eiffel Tower.
Les Vins de Bellechasse
20 Rue de Bellechasse, 7th
In Paris, charming little eateries are a dime a dozen, but this bistro is a true standout. Located just steps from the Musée d’Orsay on the left bank, it serves reasonably priced French fare (duck breast, eggplant, tarte tatin), excellent wine, all against a backdrop of a lipstick-red banquette and a caricature wall. This is a neighborhood spot that gets pretty packed with locals in the evenings, so don’t expect to run into too many tourists.
18 Rue Jean Nicot, 7th
This cozy little Spanish shop and restaurant serves up great tapas and solid selection of Spanish wine, but their real specialty is the store’s namesake charcuterie. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, which comes from acorn-finished hogs, is the crème de la crème of cured meats. Their gift baskets, with include a few different varieties, make great gifts for fellow foodies.
La Laiterie Sainte Clotilde
64 Rue de Bellechasse, 7th
La Laiterie (translation: the dairy, which is what this tiny spot used to be), is located in a section of the Left Bank that’s particularly popular with tourists—the Musée Rodin and Musée d’Orsay are both within walking distance. Though the staff here will happily explain the dishes (leek soup, poached eggs, steak with new potatoes) in near-perfect english to out-of-towners, a good portion of the patrons are locals, which really speaks volumes for the pared-down, comfort-food-centric menu.
Hôtel Saint Vincent
5 Rue du Pré aux Clercs, 7th
Boasting a central location and really nice rooms, this hotel offers a chic and understated stay. It’s also a great deal in an otherwise overpriced area, and the rooms are clean and cozy.
3 Rue de Montalembert, 7th
Over the years, we’ve built a lot of wonderful memories here, in part because this is the sort of unpretentious and unfussy hotel that focuses on comfort rather than flash. While it’s fronted by an old-world, Beaux Arts exterior, the rooms are chic and modern.
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