Twelve Hours in Paris

Note: For more Paris recommendations, see this follow-up edition.

My friend Adam has just had what I think is a brilliant idea of a meme, named Twelve Hours in Dot Dot Dot: if you had only twelve hours left to spend in your home city/town/village/oasis, what would you do with them?

Because I lived abroad for a while, I have, on several occasions, spent twelve semi-final hours in Paris, and I admit they usually involved a combination of the following activities: 1) buying several months’ worth of my then-favorite face cream, 2) trying to locate my passport, 3) spending time with people I knew I was going to miss, simply enjoying the normalcy of being in the same time zone.

But I posit cosmetics, traveling documents, and companionable silences weren’t what Adam had in mind for this meme, so I came up with a more suitable — and food-oriented — timetable for my hypothetical last twelve hours in Paris.

It goes without saying that difficult choices were made, and that for every item I included, there were about ten more looking at me with a crestfallen expression. Most of these places are included in my Paris book, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, in which you’ll find many more options to fill however many hours you get to spend in Paris (more info here).

I should also note that I chose to assume these weren’t the last twelve hours before I die, first of all because that would be a little depressing, and also because I worked in a few opportunities to buy things I would want to take with me wherever I was supposed to travel next, and who knows what customs policy they have in the afterlife.

Without further ado, I give you my Twelve Hours in Paris, which I’ve decided would take place on a Thursday, from 12:30pm to 12:30am. And of course, if you want to chime in with your own Twelve Hours in Dot Dot Dot, in the comments section or as a post on your blog, I’ll be curious to read your take!

Note: You’ll find addresses and phone numbers at the bottom of the post, and I’ve created a Google map to help you situate the places I mention.

French Food Cheat Sheet

{12:30pm} I will start with lunch at Rose Bakery. I’ll order their assortment of salads, and eat it with a slice of the Poujauran bread that is served with it. I’ll resist ordering dessert to save my appetite — you’ll understand the wisdom of this soon enough — or perhaps I’ll have them wrap up a slice of orange-polenta cake or a serving of sticky toffee pudding for another day.

{1:15pm} After lunch, I’ll cross the street and get a small cup of ice cream from Caramella, which I’ll eat it while strolling around the neighborhood. [Update: unfortunately, Caramella no longer exists, but there is now a Belgian waffle stand across the street that is just as amazing.]

{1:45pm} I’ll drop by La Ferme Saint-Hubert to say hello — Madame Voy is the sweetest shop owner you’ll ever encounter — and buy a few of their finely aged cheeses (say, a thirty-month-old comté, a reblochon, and a raw milk mothais) that they’ll vacuum-pack for me.

{2:30pm} I will then find a Vélib’ that’s more or less in working order (yeah, good luck with that) and ride toward the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, where I’ll spend a couple of hours walking, getting lost, finding my way again, sitting on a bench, reading, and people-watching. When I’m done with that, I will visit Véronique Mauclerc’s bakery and buy a loaf of organic bread baked in her century-old, woodfire-burning oven.

{5pm} Hopping onto the metro, I will go to La Petite Rose, a pastry shop and salon de thé run by a Japanese woman. I’ll sit down and have a pot of tea (or hot chocolate) with a macaron or two, and I’ll buy some of their chocolates to go. Optionally, I will walk up and down Rue de Lévis to do some food shopping.

{6:30pm} I will then walk towards Lafayette Gourmet, the food section of the Galeries Lafayette department store, where I’ll do a little more food shopping and trend-spotting, and perhaps buy a few gifts for the friends I hope I have wherever it is I’m going next.

{8:30pm} For my last meal in Paris, I will want a simple, homey one and some good wine, so I’ll have dinner at Autour d’un verre, and sample whichever unfiltered wines Kevin, the owner and chef, is most enthusiastic about.

{11pm} And after dinner, I will celebrate in style at the Experimental Cocktail Club, where I’ll have their all-organic cocktail, the Strawberry Alarm Clock.


This Google map will help you situate the places I mention.

Rose Bakery, 46 rue des Martyrs, Paris 9ème, +33 (0)1 42 82 12 80.
La Ferme Saint-Hubert, 36 rue de Rochechouart, Paris 9ème, +33 (0)1 45 53 15 77.
La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc, 83 rue de Crimée, Paris 19ème, +33 (0)1 42 40 64 55.
La Petite Rose, 11 boulevard de Courcelles, Paris 8ème, +33 (0)1 45 22 07 27.
Lafayette Gourmet, 50 boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9ème.
Autour d’un verre, 21 rue de Trévise, Paris 9ème, +33 (0)1 48 24 43 74.
Experimental Cocktail Club, 37 rue Saint-Sauveur, Paris 2ème, +33 (0)1 45 08 88 09.

  • ardnaxela

    Brilliant! I’m close to my last 12 hours in Paris…I’m actually down to my last 12 days! I too need to make a list, thanks for yours.

  • Alden

    Perfect! I am hoping to swing by Paris on my way back from a conference in Scotland in the spring (any excuse to get to Paris…). I’ll have a little more than 12 hours, but these sound like great suggestions.


  • Wow, that’s a really interesting question. Made me think. I’m going to save your “twelve hours” so if I’m ever in Paris, I’ll know what to do!

  • Thanks so very much. I’m planning my first trip to Paris and will be sure to visit some of your favorite places. What an interesting idea. Its got me thinking about what I would choose where I live.

  • Actually, Twelve Hours in Paris sounds like a movie… a really great movie too. Or a novel…a romance, maybe even a rom-com.

    Clotilde, staying for a few days in Paris could be expensive, but you’ve just given me a great idea. Go to a foreign city for only 12 hours and then move on to the next one. Your 12:30 am to 12:30 pm sounds perfect too. You’d have to time it to catch the train to the next city, but that’s my next holiday planned!

    Thank you!

  • rw

    Thank you! We’re going to spend three days and two nights in Paris in a week and you’ve just struck “have some places to eat in mind” from my to-do list! Now can you do one for Antwerp?

  • This is a fun idea. I love your day. I’d also throw in:

    – Quick snack pick up at the gourmet food store Le Notre
    – Eat that snack on a stroll through the Jardin de Tuilleries
    – A bit of browsing on the Ile St Louis
    – Salted caramel ice cream at Berthillon (Il St. Louis) followed by a walk along the Seine
    – Food and gift shopping at Le Bon Marche
    – Dinner at L’Epi Dupin (lots of Americans go but it is wonderful and such a deal!)

  • Love it. But I’m a bit worried for you that it’s pretty much all food!

    Although – I am definitely going be checking out some of those addresses…..

  • My 12 hours in Seattle have changed drasticly since moving back. I have so many new favorites!

  • Last time I was in Paris I happened upon a crepery (all I know is it was near a subway stop). To this day it epitomizes Paris for me – the flavors, the no nonsense service, the overall experience. Just wish I could remember the name. . .

  • Not sure my 12 hours could be printed….but it involves lots of food, alcohol and sport..

  • It’s very interesting that you should post this question. My sister, whom I traveled with to France on my past 4 trips, visited me this weekend and I posed the same question to her and my daughter who also joined us on these trips. The only difference was, I said what would you do if you had just 24 hours/one day in Paris. I think we’re all still grappling with it. It was a hard question to answer… at least for Paris. I think I’d just head out in one direction and walk, walk, walk and just take in as much as I could. My sister said we’d have to go to Le Grande Epicerie. No argument there.

  • Hooray! We’re coming to Paris in November, and I’m printing out this list to bring with us.

  • Your belly is going to be so full . . . of such wonderful things!!

  • mady

    Merci, Clotilde! Ça ca être très utile pendant mon séjour à Paris d’ici deux semaines!

  • How fun! It has been so long since I was in Paris…. I miss it. Your photo is perfect. Maybe I can think of a post for 12 hours in OC… Southern California!

  • nora t. baua

    thanks, clotilde, for the tip on caramella. i have been to rue des martyrs twice in the past and i will definitely go to caramella on my next trip to lovely paris. nora

  • Sharon

    If I had 12 hours in Perth Australia (where I live), I would start at 8am. First I would go down to Cottesloe beach for a swim and then lie on the beach and dry in the sun, and then head up to the Blue Duck which looks over the beach for breakfast. Champagne is not optional.

    Next I would head to Leederville, firstly to the New Norcia Bakery where I would buy bread cooked in the woodfired ovens onsite for a picnic… and also grab some of their wonderful fig and fennel bread for breakfast the next day.

    Head a little further down the road to the Re Store, which is an Italian Gournet wonderland, with the idea to buy more picnic food and end up with a car boot load of wonderful smallgoods, cheeses, antipasto, nougat and vino. (as usual)

    Leaving with a espresso coffee in the hand, we would then head up to Kings Park for our picnic lunch overlooking the beautiful Swan River. Food, wine, a good book or friends at hand lying under the wonderful Karri trees. (opposite where I heard Clothide talk at Frasers).

    Done with the siesta, then its time for a nice cold beer, so across the river to South Perth to the beer garden at the Windsor Hotel, where the micro sprays mist the hot air.

    The afternoon done, its time to head down to Fremantle to have another coffee along “the cafe strip” before we get peckish and head across to Little Creatures Microbrewery. Here we can sit out on the deck overlooking the fishing boat harbour with a choice of beers made on site, REALLY COLD like us Aussies like it and pig out on the Frites and Herb macadamia crusted local mussels. Its 8pm and the sun is thinking of setting… who said only 12 hours???

    Pure hedonism… I dont normally do this all in one day but if pushed I could ;)

  • Barry

    Have to agree with the commenter about taking a stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries: my wife and I fell in love with Paris on a cloudy November morning walking up the center promenade from Place de la Concorde to the Louvre. I play that memory over and over in my head all the time…

  • Rose’s Lime

    Who’s going to chime in with 12 hours in London? I’ll be there the first week of October, arriving on the redeye in the morning and have a full day before I have get to work.

    Last time there, I rented a bicycle, rode around the city. Stopped in at St. Paul’s. Had coffee in front of the Tate Modern, saw the whole Tate Modern. Great morning.

    Then I headed over to King’s Road for lunch at a cafe and some shopping but had a disappointing time.

    I’m told London’s become a great eating city, but have yet to experience it (not including Wagamama which doesn’t realy count).

  • Dawn in CA

    I’ll have to think about my own list for 12 hours in… . For now, just wanted to come out of hiding to say welcome back! Missed your posts while you were on vacation, but happy you were able to enjoy what I’m sure was a much-needed break.

  • Just lovely. My twin sister and I are planning a trip to France together. This is a great itinerary–a fresh change from the more well-known spots to tourists (La Duree, Fauchon).

    P.S. Part of my list would be staying home to make your recipe of “Sorbet Chocolat Noir” to deliver to a friend before I leave.

  • Mark

    Even before I read Clotilde’s list, I thought of a picnic at Buttes Chamont. I was there on 7/7/07, for a picnic next to the lake, eating finger foods picked up in the neighborhood, including an assortment of Véronique Mauclerc’s bread, watching an endless parade of wedding parties, as it seemed that everyone who got married at the town hall proceeded to the park for wedding photos. An amazing day in a beautiful setting.

  • I loved your twelve hours! Mine would have to include Jean-Paul Hévin, Pierre Hermé, Des Gâteaux et du Pain and Ladurée (for a macaron caramel au beurre salé!)As you can notice, I’m crazy about sugar!!! I loved your Edible Adventure in Paris, which I bought last month in New York.

  • mim

    We’ll be in Paris November and December this year, so I’ve made a list of your fave places. Now to think of what I’d do here in my little city for the 12 hours before I leave for Paris….

  • Great list – you’ve covered all my favorite things that are so hard to find (at this level of yum) outside of Paris: wine, cheese, bread, and pastry!

  • Great idea thank you, which inspired me to produce my own version, Twelve hours in Tenerife.

  • Voilà un programme alléchant!

  • Florence

    If I had 12 hours in New York, I would spend them as follows :

    9am Get a cup of coffee and croissant at la Bergamotte 169 Ninth Avenue @ 20th St

    10 am Do some browsing at Chelsea Market 75 Ninth Avenue
    and buy from my favorite places there : black and sticky rice from the Thai place; fruit,veggies, dried fruit and nuts, may be some shiso leaves from Manhattan Fruit exchange; monkfish at the Lobster Place and just a quick stop at Bowery Kitchen supply. I would also get some lunch : Italian gourmet sandwich from Buon Italia (and may be get tempted to get Italian cured meats) and some cookies from Amy’s bread.

    1pm Walk to catch the 1 uptown and stop at 79th St.

    1.30 Go to Fairway 2127 Broadway bet. 74th and 75th and buy everything I couldn’t find or buy at Chelsea market because it just didn’t look fresh enough. Of course not to forget buy smoked nova salmon, cream cheese and poppy seed bagels (my favorite) a lemon or two and a pound or two of baby octopus. I’ll ask them to deliver.

    2.45 Walk to the Museum of Natural History on Central Park W and 74th

    4.00 Take a stroll in Central Park and walk South East

    5.30 Get some fresh wakame at Katagiri 224 E 59th and walk westwards to Fifth Avenue

    5.50 Stop for a cup of tea at Takashimaya 693 Fifth Avenue bet 54th and 55th

    6.30 Walk down Fifth Avenue to 34th st.

    7.15 Have an early dinner at a Korean bbq restaurant

    8.15 Just enough time to take the 1 train down to Battery Park and enjoy the Waterfront

    Too bad I didn’t even get a chance to go to the Broadway Panhandler my favorite kichen equipment store or grab the most delicious cup of hot chili spiced chocolate at Jacques Torres in Dumbo or even go to Ali Baba’s Cave Kalustyan.
    Also if it was still around I would have had dinner at Union Pacific on 22nd st.

  • harpo

    This is actually a really fun icebreaker / get-to-know-you question. I like the culinary spin on it.

    In addition to darting around on food excursions, I would probably add in a stroll to the farmer’s market or a walk to my favorite flower shop to admire the beautiful arrangements that are waiting to be delivered to that someone special.

    My last 12 hours in any given place would inevitably include visiting an eatery where the chef is kneading bread or tossing a pizza pie or preparing some other kind of food through an open window. In Japan, at some of the smaller soba shops, you can see the chef making fresh soba noodles. It was the best form of advertising. Also, in Sausalito, I loved watching the hamburgers through the window of “Hamburger” rotate on their round grill, enticing lunchgoers to give in.

  • Clothilde!
    I bought your book and used it when I was in Paris in june. I visited a lot of places and restaurants in it, and your descriptions of the stores and restaurants are so accurate. My favourite was at Veroniqe´s bakery. I had their brunch menu and was so well treated by their staff, especially one of the bakers who is the best english speaking frenchman I ever met. He told me everything about how they made their bread, about organic ingredients etc. and the bread was amazing. I bought half a bread with different nuts in it and took a plea that I will never use yeast when baking again.
    Thank you for sharing

  • Great challenge and post! We’ll be in Paris in November and I have already made note of your lovely choices. Thanks!

    I was inspired to write Twelve Hours in Barcelona.

  • Aissa Galoso

    What a novel idea!

  • Brilliant idea! And you made me homesick for my days in Paris. I’ll be working on the meme 12 Hours in Austin over at The Schell Cafe later this week. How fun. Thanks to you and Adam.

  • Dana

    Just spent a week in Paris and pretty much all we did was eat. I don’t think we ate anywhere that wasn’t in “Edible Adventures in Paris” and everything was wonderful! For some reason I can’t get to your website from home, only from work. It’s very sad.

  • SAS

    Delicious Day! Count me in. Great Meme idea from Adam and I liked your adaptation very much.

  • I am going to save this perfect 12 hours for next time that I am in Paris.

    I live in London and so I have just posted on my ideal 12 hours in London – my “must do’s” include afternoon tea, a stroll through Borough markets and a delicious dinner at Vinoteca.

  • M.

    I met a (very enthusiastic) local who told me about Rose Bakery. We were sitting next to each other at Brasserie Wepler, where I would/will be going for a platter of oysters and other sea goodies! After that, I would stroll down av Saint-Ouen and vist all of the food vendors (especially the cheese lady) who don’t mind my horrible pronounciation of French because they understand my entusiastic smiling and pointing at their wares.

  • mary

    Hi, I am taking my neice to paris for her 12th birthday.we will be there for 3 days but alas will miss the C&Z 5th B’day party by a whisker(12 hrs). any suggestions to suit a trendy 12 year old and a food loving aunt?

  • i love this list! we have something similar over on my site – it’s an entry on three perfect days in Paris ( – obviously a bit longer, but you can look at them as three different lists:

    * Merrily Meandering in the Marais
    * Bread, Roses & Fashion (All the Basics) near the Luxembourg Gardens
    * Fall in Love with the Louvre (Even if You Don’t Go In)

    congratulations your 5th anniversary clotide!

  • Jay Vos

    About 10 years ago, during a 10 day stay in Paris, most days I’d just leave the Hotel Esmeralda (Left Bank, near the Church of Saint-Séverin, around the corner from Shakespeare & Co) and head to the open air markets and stock up (bread, crudités, sausage, fruit, cheese, beverage) for a picnic in various parks. I would meander through the back streets of Paris and find a park. My best picnic was in the Parc de Belleville with its fabulous vineyard and views of the center of the city!

  • Marcia

    This will be a nice addition to what students are doing at school. “What would you take with you in a backpack if you had 24 hours to prepare”. We are about a 30 min trip south of downtown ATL when traffic is moving smoothly.

    There are so many things to do in Atlanta, GA that 12 hours would not be anywhere near enough. Mine is for 24 hours.

    I would start with 12 noon to 12 noon, and begin with a trip to DeKalb Farmer’s Market. I’d also eat lunch there, and perhaps it is a day that curried goat is on the menu. I’d come home with wonderful fresh herbs, Maytag bleu cheese, small organic Oregon pears, and plenty of produce and organic bread to last at least a week. I would bring home coconut and chocolate chip macaroons, that are about the size of a baseball and were 99¢ this summer. (Add a cup of hot Earl Gray tea and that would be breakfast the next morning)

    I would stop at FernBank Museum and walk off that food–so I could go on to Whole Foods and pick up some BBQ and a plate to go for dinner. I would take that dinner and eat at my favorite park just 3 miles from my house. It has a lighted walking track and I would have to make at least 10 laps = 2 miles after I eat!

    Next morning, I would go to The High Museum of Art and be sure and buy a few Christmas gifts, including a calendar in the gift shop. Teachers get 20% off.

    For lunch, I would have the Seafood Cobb Salad at McCormick and Schmick in downtown ATL. I had it last summer in Washington, DC and it was wonderful with crab, shrimp, and scallops. I have a $25 gift certificate and if I add a dessert, I would spend it all in one visit.

    On the way back home, I probably would stop at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library do a little Christmas shopping, and then spend some time walking on THE PATH. After all that food, I would need an extra hour or so. I can access it from the Carter Center parking lot.

    Once, again, I’d stop at Whole Foods and take a picnic to eat while I walked at the Zoo. I would take a peek at our tiny baby boy Panda born in late August. He is beginning to show his black and white color. His big sister is 2 years old.

    That would finish my 24 hours in ATL. I would need a full week to visit all my favorite places. This coming Saturday, I have a 5K Night Walk for Leukemia at Centennial Park with a trip to the Varsity afterwards to eat. With luck, I will stay even with all that eating and walking!

  • Tammy

    Just finished a trip to Europe, and I used this blog as a guide for our portion in Paris. Unfortunately, we were able to visit only La Ferme Saint-Hubert, but it was amazing in there! I ended up choosing a couple cans of foie gras, a block of munster, and a block of reblochon. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m excited to. Thanks for the tip!

  • Katie

    I remember working hard to enjoy my last 12 hours in Nairobi.

    Wake up at 9AM and walk over to Java House for a cup of intoxicating coffee (especially good after months of nestle) and a bowl of yogurt and granola. Sit there with a book and a journal for a few hours and watch people walk by.

    Wander over the Masai Market and get inundated with people asking me to buy their merchandise. Haggle until I find the perfect scarf.

    Walk through the fabric sellers, street merchants and matatu station until I again find the restaurant with the best east Indian, vegetarian food in the world. If you wander down a nameless alley in central Nairobi, you will find a restaurant with high ceilings and unadorned tables, and scattered Indian diners from Orissa. You will be presented with a four course, amazing, vegetarian meal for less than $10 USD. And there is a chance to speak with some wonderful people.

    Around 3PM, I’d find a matatu and take a thirty minute trip to Kibera to meet my friends who are still working there and to promise myself that I’ll never forget.

    At 5:30PM, we’ll grab another matatu to Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant, to linger with some injera and chickpeas and some sweet wine. I’d stay until they kick me out.

  • Carol

    Recheck Autour d’un Verre.
    Closed temporarily?

  • arlene

    We are just back and greatly appreciated book and blogs. You mentioned Pierre Herme but did not discuss the incredible, cakey Kuglehopf that is a necessity for breakfast every single day!! Do not imagine that it is anything like the dry, bready variety that everyone else makes. We agree with the Butte Chaumont, both pastry and parc. We adored L’Ami Jean (rue Malar, 7th) and Les Papilles (5th). Disapponted with L’Astrance, Le Fernandaise and Ze Kitchen Galerie. Lest you think that all we did was eat, we had two incredible “cultural” experiences. Children of Paradise ballet at Opera Garnier (words fail at the beauty and opulence of this building and Salle Playel for an exciting concert. Since we stayed in the 7th, all events and many restaurants were walked to–highly recommended if one is intent upon eating at least 2 meals a day supplemented by caramel chocolate bars for snacking.

  • This is brilliant! I’m doing one thing each day as if I’m living each day as my last. It gives me more time to fit everything in – but when I go back to NY in a month I just might actually devote 12 hours to doing my fave stuff!

  • Hi Clotilde! hope all is well!
    I’m going to France this Thursday! yay yay yay!
    I’ll be with my 5 year old son – we’re off to EuroDisney on Friday, & then Saturday will be spared for exploring the city of Paris. Though, I’m not gonna go crazy since he’ll be with me! (And my brother too.)
    I’m planning on going to:
    MAMIE GATEAUX for lunch, GALERIES LAFAYETTE to buy Christine Ferber jams as gifts, then MORA & E. DEHILLERIN for serious shopping – probably end up with bags & bags of goodies.
    I was wondering, do you have advice for where is good for dinner with children? Somewhere easy going? Or a good park with playground?
    My brother lives between Pernety & Mouton-Duvernet, so if you knew of somewhere near there will be great!
    We’ll be leaving before 2pm on Sunday, so we might have a bit of time to do more exploring – do you know of a great breakfast place that is open on Sunday? I thought maybe Rose Bakery, since it’s near Gare du Nord, but I think I’ll give that one a miss…
    t xxx

  • I’ve just been looking at your google map bookmarks! WOw! Really useful. Thanks. But it makes me wish I had more time there…!xxx

  • I am glad you posted about the gourmet section in Galeries Lafayette. I went to Paris for the first time in May and bought some gifts there. My mother has a unique addiction of eating fruit preserves out of the jar on a spoon. I bought her a french marmalade at Lafayette for Mother’s Day. The other part of that gift was a row of pate de fruits (fruit jellies being another mother addiction) from a chocolate shop. She loved me very much for all that;-)

  • Hi Clotilde,
    I love your blog and have been following for a long time. I am currently traveling in paris and will definitely visit the places you mentioned above! Thank you for so much good info on your blog!

    By the way, do you mind recommend a few good cheese to bring back to USA? I am thinking to get some and have them vacuum-packed for me. I’d really appreciate any suggestions!

    have a great day!


    • Good cheeses that travel reasonably well include Comté or Morbier, but I don’t recommend bringing them back into the US: customs regulations forbid it, unfortunately, and if customs agents find some in your luggage it’ll be confiscated.

      • Thank you for replying me so quickly! I forgot i can’t bring cheese to USA. That’s too bad. oh well… now I’ll have more room in luggage for other goodies :) Thanks and have a great day!

  • Patricia

    Your book Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris was very helpful to us when we visited Paris for the first time last April. I came across this page while looking up some resources for a friend who will be traveling there soon. Are there any updates to your 12 hours list?

    • Thanks for your kind words! The info contained here is still up to date, but your comment is making me want to draw up a new version of this, with recent favorites. I’m adding your suggestion to my list of future post ideas!

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