By Michelle Lyn

I know what you’re thinking: Paris for the weekend? If you do it right, you can certainly have a memorable experience in three full days. Trust me, I just did it. In fact, I’m writing this from a brasserie along the Seine River, people watching and drinking wine. If that description didn’t entice you, keep reading … and then book a ticket.

There are so many good hotels in Paris, you can certainly find one to fit your needs: budget, luxury, trendy, small and cozy … the list goes on and on. On this trip, I decided to try something new and rent an apartment through A la Carte Paris. Prices range, but each apartment in their portfolio is stunning and in a desirable location so you’re sure to enjoy your time living like a local.

On this trip, my apartment was located in the

7th arrondissement, near the Eiffel Tower. A nondescript door on Rue Jean Nicot opened up to a small courtyard with apartment buildings on both sides. Three flights up an uneven, winding staircase and I was quickly brought back to my college days living in Spain. Wood-beam ceilings and balcony doors with wrought iron lining the living room made me feel like a true Parisian, as I leaned out the window to smell the local patisserie and view the Eiffel Tower just down the road.

Each morning of my trip started with a petit déjeuner (breakfast) at the local café, Bar du Central on Rue Saint-Dominique. A croissant served with berry jam, fresh squeezed orange juice and a café crème was the perfect way to start the day. If you’re feeling ambitious, spend your morning like a local, hitting the markets with Cook’n With Class and compiling ingredients for a lovely five-course French meal among a small group of cooking students. Chef Constance Deledalle has a 5-star pedigree and brings her experience to the tour, complete with American slang and jokes to keep you on your toes. If you’d like to meander down the river in between coffee breaks, put some time in with the bouquinistes, the booksellers of used and antiquarian books, who ply their trade along large sections of the banks of the Seine. Another great morning option is the three-course Sunday brunch in Le Marais district at Le Café Livres that will leave you full and ready to hit the trendy shops like Fleux’ and SHOES in this bohemian hood.

If it is your first time to Paris, you must make the requisite museum visits … Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, Musée de l’Orangerie and the newly reopened Picasso museum should be on your list of top choices. For a splurge worthy lunch, book (in advance) at Le Jules Verne, the Alain Ducasse restaurant located in the Eiffel Tower. Sweeping views of Paris accompany this bucket list meal to remember.

Do save time for shopping. You can easily spend a fortune in Paris but to find a wide variety, hit the world’s first department store, Le Bon Marché, at the corner of Rue du Bac and Rue de Sèvres. Along with its culinary counterpart, La Grande Épicerie de Paris, they are the cornerstones of shopping on La Rive Gauche (or The Left Bank).

Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement of Paris is also an area you must visit. The center for the existentialist movement and home to some of the most famous cafes frequented by Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Sartre (Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore), the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area has an air of nostalgia and artistry that is incomparable.

Tuck into Le Bonaparte for a classic Parisian lunch before hitting the local bookstore next door, La Hune, the Parisian version of Restoration Hardware, Flamant, and treat yourself to the most divine choux pastries at Le Maison du Chou, where they fill their decadent cream puffs to order. Warning, you can easily eat a whole box on the spot, so make sure you go hungry. It will be the best thing you eat in Paris on this trip. Easily.

Paris by night … ah, where to begin. If you need a relaxation break before getting your second wind, slip into the Dior Institut spa at Hôtel Plaza Athénée. Dinner at Le Violon d’Ingres or Thoumieux are classic options for a lovely Parisian dinner. A nighttime view of the Eiffel Tower is a must, even from afar. Cruise the Avenue des Champs-Élysées for a vibrant peek at Paris’ main drag, chock full of shops, restaurants and theaters, ending at the Arc de Triomphe. End the night with a casual nightcap at Le Caveau de la Huchette, a jazz club in the Latin Quarter, or go swanky at the sultry Hotel Costes.

Eat. Drink. Shop. Repeat. Enjoy!

To maximize your time and comfort for a long weekend in Paris, hop on a red eye from United and fly their Business/First Class if you can. You’ll arrive well-rested and fed and feeling like a VIP. Being able to sleep in a chair that fully converts to a flat bed as you fly through the skies will change your life. You’ll be able to hit the ground running and get three very full days. You can sleep on the way home.

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