Paris: What to see and do for first timers

Written by on April 9, 2018 in Expats in France, Paris

We talk to Sandra Iskander, Editor of Where Paris Magazine. She reveals how she moved from Australia to become a Parisienne, and she shares an insider’s view of where to go and what to see in Paris…

When was your first visit to Paris?

It was back in 2004 that I visited Paris for the first time. I intended to stay for a year. I was always obsessed with Paris and the idea of living here and so I resigned from my job and decided to give it a go.

Just before I was to head back home to Australia (I was aching to get back into working with magazines and working in publishing proved a little bit difficult in Paris) I came across an ad for an editor’s role at Where Paris and so I applied. I think it was fate that I saw the ad when I did or else I would have gone back home. I got the role and I have been here ever since.

What’s a typical day for an editor of a Paris magazine?

I am lucky that I get to do what I love and that every day is very different. I could be in front of my computer all day today replying to emails, writing articles or editing and approving layouts, and tomorrow I could be running around all day discovering new things for my readers, from the coolest bars to the season’s must-have accessory.

What are your favourite bars in Paris?

I love Manko, they make the best Pisco Sour, and Hotel Costes for the great people watching.

I also like Le Perchoir bars, both in the 11th and on the rooftop of BHV (which by the way is open on Sundays), they make great cocktails and they both boast great views of the city.

What are your favourite restaurants in Paris

I love Loulou, Daroco and Le Coq because it’s just near my place, so when I don’t want to venture out far I just go there, the food is good and on the way there and back you have the best view of the Eiffel Tower.

For a more refined dinner I would have to say Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée, I am a huge fan of his cuisine and the restaurant itself is exquisite.

Coming to Paris for the first time – what should visitors see?

Definitely seeing the Eiffel Tower is a must. I think visiting Paris without seeing the iconic monument would be an incomplete trip to the French capital.

Get lost in Montmartre, visit the Sacré-Coeur and just sit on its steps, taking in the view of the city.

Spend a day at the Louvre.

Laze an afternoon away at Hotel Costes (it’s very Paris), sitting in the courtyard and enjoying a glass of white wine.

Visit Versailles. (Take the train – RER Line C, which takes around 1 hour though may take longer depending on where you’re getting on. It’s a 5-minute walk from the station)

Walk around the Marais district and drinking in the sight of the Place des Vosges.

Shopping! At Lanvin on Rue Saint-Honoré and at the famous Chanel boutique on Rue Cambon. Shopping at the most luxurious boutiques in the city is a must and returning home with a new bag or a beautiful pair of heels from the fashion capital is just priceless…  And, stocking up on make-up at Sephora on Avenue des Champs-Elysées and Dior on Avenue Montaigne.

More on things to see in Paris

Quirky and secret Paris sites including the medieval house of an alchemist who appeared in a Harry Potter story!
Top ten visits in Paris for first timers
The best rooftop hot spots in Paris
Promenade Plantee – the most unusual park in Paris, it’s very pretty!
Sainte-Chapelle, the 800 year old church that feels as if you’re standing inside a jewel box


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