Paris

You guys! This is it! I'm writing my first real post! Why start now? Well, 2018 is going to be such an exciting year (you know, getting married, touring the world, moving), and I want a way to document and share it. Also, I'll be traveling a whole lot, and I thought I'd take this chance to give you some tips and tricks on the cities I visit and other travel (and packing) hacks I might pick up on the way.

Let's start off with my trip to Paris. Mohammed (my amazing fiance) and I had the incredible opportunity to spend Christmas through New Year's in Paris this year. My dear friend has lived there for the past 5 years, so I really try to make a point to go at least once a year. This year, we had lots of friends and family coming through, which created a really magical experience. Scroll through some of my favorite photos, and find some recommendations below!

Now for the recommendations!

To stay: literally anywhere! The city is not very big and the metro makes things so accessible. This year, we stayed near the Champs Élysées in the 8th arr., whose neighborhood is surprisingly quiet and residential yet very close to many of the touristic spots. You can also stay near Bastille or the Marais if you want a more vibrant and funky touch.

To eat: literally my favorite thing to do in Paris (obviously).

Le Grand Bain is a wonderful nouveau bistro near the Belleville metro. We had an absolutely fabulous meal there, and I would highly recommend. The menu changes regularly, and we loved absolutely everything we ate.

Askini, also near Belleville, is a beautiful and cozy restaurant with the most delicious modernized Mediterranean food I've had to date. I can just imagine myself coming in for a za'atar-spiced croissant (haven't tried yet), spending an afternoon being taken care of by Lorenzo & his staff and waiting to eat the falafel fries, foie gras kibbeh, tabbouleh or the mouth-watering roast lamb with rice at night. Chef Karim Haidar really pulled this together as a solid and globally-inspired choice in Paris. The kinafe takes me right back to a cafe in Bethlehem where I had the original with the one-of-a-kind nablousian cheese. If you get sick of binging on bread and cheese (I know, who would?) and need a little break, this should be on your list.

Holybelly. I know, you must be asking yourself, "Brunch in Paris? I don't travel to Paris so I can brunch." I hear you, but I love this place. I don't really eat much brunch in the U.S., but I make a point to come here every time I'm in town. It's one of the few places offering brunch in Paris, so you know it's done right. I always say that the simpler the menu, the better, and this place is a prime example. They have an assortment of eggs and sides on the menu (all perfectly done) and will add some specials each day, which are always great. Don't sleep on the pancakes when you come! Come during the week to avoid long wait times.

Maison Aleph in the Marais is literally to die for! The name comes from the first letter in the Arabic alphabet (aleph) yet also pays homage to the owner Myriam Sabet's home town (Aleppo). It's a beautiful, modern little shop combining Middle Eastern and French Pastry. Think baklava-inspired by mille feuille (1001 feuille) and other delectables in the most interesting of flavors. They also have ice cream in the summer! Lemonade with rose water! And hot chocolate in the winter! She also made a special buche de noel for the holidays, which we brought to our New Year's Eve party. I would eat it everyday for dessert if I could.

If you're in the mood for some steak, Le Relais de l'Entrecote and Robert et Louise are my favs. Aint nothin' wrong with that.

Coffee: my other favorite thing. A bunch of really great coffee shops have popped up around the city in the past few years. My favorite thing to drink is a latte with oat milk, which you can get at Holybelly and also at Blackburn and Fragments. I hear the food is also very good at Blackburn.

To do: it very much depends on the season, but something you can do just about any time of year is walk around and find a little cheese shop, buy an assortment (ask what's good right now), find a boulangerie and buy a baguette tradición and dig in. It's also wonderful to pick a neighborhood and walk around to get a feel for the air. But if you must have an itinerary, aside from the typical tourist attractions (which you should definitely see), my favorite things to do are:

  • Visit the Ópera. It's an incredibly beautiful building and one that most people miss!
  • Go to the rooftop of Printemps Haussman or Galerie Lafayette to get an amazing view of Paris. You might as well get a macaron at Pierre Herme (in the cafe of Galerie Lafayette) while you're there.
  • Visit the Institut de Monde Arab
  • Visit a smaller and lesser known art museum. Every time I visit, I'm always surprised to find out about more, and this is something I definitely don't do enough of.
  • Take a cooking class. I learned a ton about French food and eating culture after taking one!

I hope this is helpful to you for your next visit! I hope to go back again really soon. Tell me, what are your favorite things to do in Paris? What should I go visit next time I'm there? Any other tips you want to know to help you with your travels? I'm all ears! Comment below!