I'm Here on Business

How to Plan the Fun Part of a Business Trip to Paris

by Juliana Jaoudi
Photo: ktylerconk/ Flickr

PARIS – You meeting was over at 4 p.m. and you don't have to be at Charles de Gaulle until 11 a.m. You might as well have some fun in Paris, worker bee. Here's what to do if:

You Don't Want to Socialize with Work Folk

Plan A: Unwind with a drink at a great bar.

Le Fumoir - The classic Right Bank post-work spot for a drink.

Le Petit Fer à Cheval - The tiniest but coolest bar in Le Marais. (30 rue Vieille du Temple, 4th arrondissement; +33-1-42-72-47-47)

Hôtel Amour - Where the hipsters hang out. Stroll up to Montmartre via Pigalle if you're in the mood for an uphill walk and gorgeous view.

Pershing Hall - A luxurious, beautiful, jetsetter lounge adjacent to a delicious restaurant. Handy if drinks might turn into dinner.

Hôtel Costes - A chic bar and lounge on Paris's most fashionable street, rue St. Honoré. Filled with Euros, chic expats in town on business, and wannabe celebs.

Plan B: Eat dinner at a buzzy resto and get a contact high from the scene.

George - Dine on the rooftop of the Centre Pompidou for gorgeous panoramic views, super cool design and decent food.

Market - Part of the Jean-Georges Vongerichten empire. It's pricey but worth it: You'll feel as chic as the restaurant's design, decor, and delights.

Le Comptoir du Relais - Super buzzy Left Bank spot with excellent bistro fare. Don't underestimate the menu or its popularity and get there early. They don't take reservations.

Au Bon Accueil - Cozy, simple, and very traditional (for better or for worse) restaurant on a tiny street behind the Eiffel Tower. You just might run into a seasoned expat or two.

Anahuacalli - Feeling like Mexican in Paris? This Left Bank hacienda will curb the craving.

You Want Your Colleagues to Think You're a Local

Les Itineraires - Fresh and vibrant ambiance and cuisine in the 5th. Run by a young couple with inventive yet reliable palates. After dinner, go to Curio Parlor around the corner for a nightcap with cool locals.

Le Pantruche - An example of the neo-bistro movement, it's well liked and reviewed. Bonus: It's in the 9th, a total locals' neighborhood.

Caffei dei Cioppi - A tiny Italian restaurant nestled in an alleyway off a busy street in the 11th. It's hard to find but is beloved by everyone. They only seat twelve at five tables and two countertop spots).

La Régalade St. Honoré - Excellent modern bistro centrally located in Les Halles/Louvre. Tell your co-workers the original was in an unsavory part of the 14th, but you chose this location for its buzz and convenience.

You Need to Work through Dinner in Your Hotel Room

The local traiteur (more than a deli, but not quite a restaurant) should be your eat-in meal of choice.

If that's too hard to figure out, Lafayette Gourmet, located upstairs near the Men's Galeries Lafayette, has loads of options.

You Want a Shot of Culture

BilletReduc.com is the site for last-minute tickets to everything cultural. Don't speak French? Your concierge can certainly sort that out.

The Bataclan is the best spot for alternative, pop, and rock concerts in a smaller venue. They speak English.

You Want to Impress a Client

Dance: The Paris Opera Ballet is a safe, language-neutral, and tres Parisian choice for connecting with your client.

Dinner: Restaurant Le Meurice is always a gastronomic and special affair.

You Want to Spend the Money You've Earned (aka Souvenirs)

For major Paris trinkets, stroll Rue de Rivoli from Palais Royale down to the last block of the Louvre. The north side of the street is littered with tchotcke shops.

For antiques, check out Le Drouot auction house in the 9th arrondissement. It's located in an entire neighborhood of antique shops. If you have time for the largest flea market in the world, Marche aux Puces de St. Ouen sells everything from quirky socks to valuable antiques.

For food and pantry, La Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche on the Left Bank, Fauchon near La Madeleine, or any of the Monoprix grocery stores for quotidian French favorites.

You Want to Stretch Your Legs

Gym: What gym? You're best bet is to book a hotel with a great gym. If you're really curious and dedicated, L'Usine is beautiful and well equipped.

Yoga: Yoga Rasa, the best yoga in Paris, has ashtanga, iyengar, and vinyasa classes daily.

Bike: Hire a Vélibe' ("Velo-Liberte") public bike to get around, then hop on and off at will and for cheap. Depots are everywhere around the city. (It's so fun!)

Running: Jardin de Luxembourg and Bois de Boulogne are the local favorites for good, long runs. Be careful in the Bois at night: You might stumble upon some friendly "activity." Another option: Run the Seine along one bank, cross a bridge, and return on the other.

You Want to Escape from It All

The Ultimate Chateau: Take the train RER C (or hire a driver) to Versailles and spend the day at the always stunning chateau.

The Exquisite Garden: Take the train from Gare St. Lazare to Vernon and explore Monet's gardens at Giverny.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.