Much of the charm of Paris is immediately apparent. One of the world’s greatest cities, it’s very much on the up. A new wave of chic bohemianism is washing the streets and the world is flocking there in droves. While a foundation of good planning is key, we don’t stick too rigidly to our notes, looking on our target destinations merely as a series of way-points to other discoveries. Let us guide you.
The City of Love, The City of Lights. Call it what you will, with its grand boulevards and pretty cafes, Paris is a city that’s open for rediscovery on every visit. Here’s our take…
Retail: don’t expect to go to Paris and not shop. For many, it’s the prime reason for going (don’t let it be, there are plenty of other charms to the city than this). Search beyond the well-known areas around the Avenues des Champs-Élysées and Montaigne. Here are a few hip places where we’ve noticed that an appreciation for traditional crafts and artisanal skills are still to the fore.
Lemaire, Le Marais. Lemaire is a collective, independent project led by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran, bringing together a team that is united by a shared work philosophy, with clothing at its core. The collections are designed and developed in the Marais district of Paris nearby the 28 rue de Poitou historic shop.
Also try: Hollington, Latin Quarter / Ami, Le Marais / Charvet, Place Vendôme / Inès de la Fressange, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Each, a very stylish emporium.
Hospitality: the days of rude and impatient French waiters has long since passed. Today, go to the right places, and you’ll receive service second-to-none. Sleep in the right places, and you’ll be assured of a choice of pillows, scents and even have the city’s finest spa just a robed-walk away.
Where to stay: top of the list, the city’s Mandarin Oriental. The brand is a global guarantee of a good time, and the chain adds a certain Gallic charm to its unique French outpost – read more of this here.
If you’re looking for something rather more ‘boutiquey’ in style, something altogether authentically French, check in at Le Pigalle, Pigalle – its 40-rooms offer a more than generous nod to 19th century Pigalle.
Also try: Mama Shelter, Pére-Lachaise / Hôtel Grand Amour, Gare du Nord / Hôtel Henriette, Croulebarbe.
Where to dine: despite the great reputation of French cuisine, it’s still not impossible to dine out poorly in Paris. Number one tip – stay clear of the most densely touristed areas and head to hidden corners. Second tip – pick any from our favourites.
A top spot is Ma Cocotte, Saint-Ouen. Within a converted warehouse at the centre of the city’s best flea market, it’s huge. Designer Philippe Starck was inspired to open the restaurant, and over two floors he’s installed 250 seats. It’s huge, but has quality to match.
Other places that will tickle your palette: Café Ineko, Le Marais / Anahi, Le Marais / La Bourse et la Vie, Bourse / Bontemps Pâtisserie, Le Marais / Chambelland, Oberkampf. Check out too Le Clown Bar in Oberkampf – once the haunt of performance clowns from a nearby circus.
Get caffeinated: perhaps surprisingly, a good cup of coffee isn’t always easy to find in Paris. The new wave of coffee culture barely has a toe-hold in France – coffee is still widely regarded as a cheap, end-of-meal drink rather than one worthy of artisanal focus. Bravely though, we walked the streets and, one huge caffeine-high later, reflected on some great coffee that would stand amongst the best in any of the world’s capitals.
Favourite choice – Partisan Café, rue de Turbigo. The latest addition to the city’s limited roster of good roasters and cafés (it opened at the beginning of May 2018), Partisan hit the street with a hipster vibe and a clear vision of clean flavours and fresh roastings. A café in the purest of senses – it places its coffee front-and-centre rather than kale salads and avocado toasts – do yourself a favour and visit.
Where else? Fragments, Le Marais / Loustic Café, rue Chapon / Boot Café, rue du Pont aux Choux – super cute place.