ALL PHOTOS BY MELANIE FOWLER. 

Paris is a favorite destination for Virtuoso advisor Richard Bruce Turen. After many trips to the French capital, he revealed some of his best insider tips for travelers. And he didn’t hold back.

  1. Stay in Paris for a week or more. Anything less will make you feel that you fell in love and then immediately ended the relationship.
  2. Never ask a Parisian for directions. Instead, frame it as you “have a problem.” The French don’t particularly care if you’re lost, but they do consider themselves to be great problem solvers, and they’re happy to help you solve yours.
  3. I’ve learned that Parisians begin salivating 20 minutes before each meal in anticipation of what’s to come. I envy that.
Enjoy classic french onion soup at Café de la Paix.

4. Have breakfast in bed or stand with locals at a café, but never sit for breakfast, if you want to live like a Parisian.

5. With that said, plan on at least five dining moments in Paris every day: a stand-up light breakfast, a mid-morning coffee stop (with people watching), a proper lunch, a short afternoon stop at a great bakery, and even more proper dinner.

6. Avoid the Champs-Élysées and, instead, wander the more colorful and trendy Marais.

7. Stay on the Left Bank at the small, lovely Esprit Saint Germain, owned by Laurence Tafanel. Have her take you to her favorite bakery – it’s just down the street.

8. Ride in an open-air antique car on a night tour of Paris. The city (along with Budapest) has the best night lights in Europe.

9. Dine later than you would at home for dinner – and don’t ever eat in a restaurant recommended in a book, unless the book was written by Anthony Bourdain.

10. Choose your restaurants based on the “local look” – if the place isn’t filled with locals, move on.

11. Reserve the best dinner cruise on the Seine. Yes, it’s touristy, but you don’t want to miss gliding past the Eiffel Tower at night.

12. Have your travel advisor arrange an evening helicopter tour of the city with wine and canapés as you fly over the City of Light.

13. Visit the Louvre in the evening – you will see why she [Mona Lisa] is smiling. 

Discover why Mona Lisa is smiling.

Top photo: Shopping at a lively Parisian food market.