Where to Stay
If money is no object the Hotel Costes is THE place to stay. French/Eastern red velvet curtains beautiful, fabulous
My real favourite on a budget is Le General Hotel. Its off to the side of the Marais but really great rooms and common parts. Fabulous staff and fantastic value for money. http://www.legeneralhotel.com/
Area-wise The Marais is clearly the place you want to be if you aren’t staying at the Costes or General. There are a number of boutiquey hotels there. Rooms are SMALL though so be warned.
Try the Caron de Beaumarchais (always booked up as they only have a handful of rooms, featured in Hip Hotels Budget, play on a chintzy vibe but a bit much in my opinion) http://www.carondebeaumarchais.com/
Or try the Axial Beaubourg http://www.axialbeaubourg.com/ which is in a great location.
Outside of the Marais try Saint Germain for more expensive but shopping-located accommodation (L’Hotel http://www.l-hotel.com/ or Artus http://www.artushotel.com/fr/ ) or on the left bank but to the sides, Bel Ami http://www.hotel-bel-ami.com/en/index.php or Pershing Hall http://www.pershinghall.com/ . Most are on the v pricey side.
Where to Eat
Food wise book Georges on top of the Pompidou Centre for a meal one evening. Amazing views of Paris, live DJ’s and v cool modern décor, always a winner.
Kong in the LVMH building also has amazing views. The bar used to be terribly sceney, but I sent some people recently and they said it had become rather "bridge and tunnel" now
For full French café society you kind of have to go to Cafe de Flore or Les Deux Magots for lunch though they are v touristy.
Angelinas is way more French for outrageous hot chocolate and patisseries.
Go to Berthillion for the best ice cream in Paris – its on the Iles de la Cite and is a legend – tiny place, but you see their ice cream pop up all over. This is the original.
Go to Maison du Chocolat too for an indulgent chocolat chaud
Totally random and weird, there is a café at the Renault Showroom on the Champs Elysees. Its incredibly cool for lunch, but only worth going if you’re on the Champs which I wouldn’t really bother with myself
Where to Drink
Buddha bar is very old hat now, but there’s still something fabulous about the décor at this oh-so-copied original. Clientele is not very Parisian at all
Hipper but not quite as beautiful is Man Ray (owned by Johnny Depp)
Nirvana was THE place about a year ago, don’t know if it still is.
Kong as listed above, the bar is impressive, opulent and very sceney
Where to Shop
For French eateries to take home, check out the food hall at Bon Marche (La Grande Epicerie) the whole place is a Parisian Harvey Nicks. V cool indeed
Fauchon for food is also a Parisian Institution
Collette is infamous as a concept store, the first of its kind in the world.
If you’re into antiques then the Puces out at Clignancourt is a must. Thousands and thousands of vendors. Not that cheap anymore, and quite touristy but the stuff for sale is the real deal
Where to "art"
If you’re into art there are two places you really must go aside from the Impressionist museums (of which Musee D’Orsay is the best – get entry tickets in advance if you can or you’ll queue for HOURS literally).
The first is the Pompidou which has really great modern art – the French Tate Modern or MOMA
The second is the Rodin museum. Tucked away in a grand old house it is beautiful, and on sunny days has THE most stunning garden with a glorious café
Louvre is hateful. Go see the Mona Lisa if you must but other than that is impenetrably enormous and frustrating
Out of town, the single most fabulous place to go (forget Versailles) is Monet’s Gardens at Giverny. Totally amazing