Paris has long topped many a travel bucket list, and for good reason. Dreamy images of the Eiffel Tower at sunset, rows upon rows of divine fashion houses, the grandeur of the Louvre, and impossibly perfect macarons make for a myriad of girlish delights in the City of Love. But how to explore it, right? By doing it the VIVA way, with this local Parisian's guide to the city's most iconic spots (read: that are actually worth going to), hidden gems and more.

Perfect Pastries

Un Dimanche à Paris

4-6-8 Cours du Commerce Saint-André

For chocoholics, Un Dimanche à Paris is a genuine dream come true. Behind glistening cases, you’ll find every temptation imaginable: hazelnut chocolate mousse, dark chocolate soufflé, and chocolate caramel éclairs, to name just a few. You can even spice things up with a cheeky wine tasting – oh là là.

Christophe Roussel

5 Rue Tardieu

If any of your friends have been to Paris, they’ve probably raved about “les macarons”, because these little confections are to die for (and by "die", we mean "screw diet"). At Christophe Roussel in Montmartre, you can get a box of 12 for only €19 ($21 USD), and there are a nearly intimidating number to choose from. The dark chocolate cherry macaron really stands out, but the lavender apricot makes for a delectable second.

Pain de Sucre

14 Rue Rambuteau

At Pain de Sucre pastry shop in the Marais, each confection has been artfully handcrafted to enhance both your tasting and photographing experience. Take the bright green 'Bollywood' pastry for example, with a tiny violet perched atop a sculpted mound of creamy pineapple mousse. Need we say more? This is the place for those who like to eat their cake and admire it too.

Dreamy Boutiques

The House of Dior

30 Avenue Montaigne

Dior comes first, always. The boutique is like a dream wardrobe of ever-stylish fashion goodness. Walls of handbags, pearl earrings and sleek high heels are next-level gorgeous, as is the crystal décor. On your tour of temptations, take time to sink into one of the store’s luxurious sofas, and simply let your eyes feast for a moment.

Hayari Creations

1 Cour du Commerce Saint-André

No boutique does feminine refinement quite like Hayari Creations — a scented paradise in Saint Germain, run by acclaimed fashion designer, Nabil Hayari. Each delicate perfume bottle is shaped like a precious jewel, with a trademark “H” painted on the front, while the floral fragrances inside are subtle yet complex. If you’re lucky, Hayari might even be there during your visit (his personality is as irresistible as his perfumes, so don't be intimidated). 

La Jolie Garde Robe

15 Rue Commines

If you're in search of luxury brands at a decent price, make a beeline for vintage gem, La Jolie Garde Robe. Think super cute Chanel suits, silk Hermès scarves, and Charles Jourdan bags. For a little something that really pops, the shop also collects chimera dresses by Thierry Mugler and space-age apparel by Paco Rabanne. #OOTD coming right up.

Top Image Credit: Thomas van de Weerd CC BY 2.0

Fine Dining

Le Cinq

31 Avenue George V

In the mood for a fancy schmancy French dinner? Of course you are. On the Champs-Elysées inside the George V Hotel, Le Cinq serves a seven-course meal on gold-rimmed plates, inside a room fully decked out with roses and chandeliers. The real miracle is that none of it feels pretentious. Well, like, not super pretentious...

Le Ciel de Paris

33 Avenue du Maine

Meaning “the sky of Paris,” Le Ciel de Paris restaurant will take your French dining experience to a whole new level, literally. On the 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse, it’s the only place in Paris higher up than the Eiffel Tower. But instead of a tourist trap, you’ll find a private space with brilliant bay windows overlooking the entire city.

Terrass Hotel

12-14 Rue Joseph de Maistre

In the heart of Montmartre is another restaurant that will have you sipping signature cocktails among the clouds. On the seventh floor of the Terrass Hotel, there awaits a rooftop restaurant with balcony tables and swing chairs facing the glittering stretch of Paris. Designed like an artist’s loft, the space has an enchanting vibe that's worth featuring in your next FB profile pic.

Culture Crawl

Comédie Française

1 Place Colette

Comédie Française is a legendary theater house that's one of Paris’s most prized cultural institutions. Built in the 17th century, it's still as stunning today, with rows of red velvet chairs poised behind its gilded balconies. Tours are available, but to get the real experience, you need to see one of its shows. You literally don't even need to be able to speak French, as it’s a spectacular experience whatever you do.

Saint Chapelle

8 Boulevard du Palais

If you only have time for one church in Paris, pick this gem. Saint Chapelle has some of the most exquisite stained glass windows in the entire world, yet so many tourists go for Notre Dame instead. Built in the 13th century, it comprises 15 panels of mosaics that soar 50 feet high, featuring all kinds of beautiful colors and biblical tales. Insider's tip: visit on a sunny afternoon for the most breathtaking views.

Musée de l’Orangerie

Jardin Tuileries

On the banks of the Seine, Musée de l’Orangerie museum is a definite must for art lovers. Away from the tourists, inside a vast oval room, it'll be just you and Monet’s famous water lilies paintings arcing across the entire circumference of the wall. Stunning stuff.

Bottom Left Image Credit: Mark Mitchel CC BY 2.0 Bottom Right Image Credit: Cegeste CC BY-SA 3.0

Chic Stays

Le Bristol

112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Owned by a family of art collectors, Le Bristol is sooo gorgeous with its authentic décor that recreates the look and feel of a classic French château. Behind the hotel, you’ll find a French-style garden and rainbow-colored pavilion where you can go for evening cocktail parties. There’s also a pool on the sixth floor, facing Sacré Coeur. It’s been designed like a giant sailboat, so you’ll actually feel like you’re floating past the city. Pretty cool, right?

The Ritz

15 Place Vendôme

The Ritz is another hotel with the atmosphere of a royal residence. If you want (read: can afford), you can even reserve one of the rooms where famous clients like Chanel and Elton John have stayed. You’ll have an amazing view of the Place Vendome, especially at night, when the entire courtyard is lit up in gold. You should also check out the hotel’s signature Chanel spa, home to a pool surrounded by dreamy classical paintings.

The Dream Airbnb

A centrally-located apartment with a chic lounge, ornate bedroom and, most importantly, a balcony just next to the Eiffel Tower – this is the Airbnb you’ve been waiting for. The beautiful hideaway offers a really pretty space to call your own, and with Paris's most famous landmark just next door, you’ll feel like you can touch it. Spoiler alert: you can't – but you can Snapchat it.

Hidden Gems

Parc Buttes-Chaumont

1 Rue Botzaris

While tourists flock to the gardens at Versailles, Parisians prefer to take their picnic elsewhere. Buttes-Chaumont is a local fave – its hilly terrain full of places to dine en plein air. There’s also a mystical-looking cliff overhanging a lake and if you climb to the top, you’ll find a little Greek temple that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the park below.  

Bar La Vue

3 Place du Général Koenig

From the 34th floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Bar La Vue rooftop bar promises a suitably brag-able night out. Bask in the bar’s scarlet glow and sip some of the best cocktails in town, while gazing through giant windows to Paris’s glittery monuments. The cocktails may be pricey, but they’re so worth it.

Batofar

11 Quai François Mauriac

We can all agree that most boat tours on the Seine are waaay too touristy. So, how about clubbing on the Seine instead? Batofar (French for “lighthouse boat”) offers dance parties on its deck with the latest electro bands and DJ after parties. Parisians know how to enjoy themselves, so come for happy hour then make a night of it.