Best of Paris
Looking for the ultimate guide to the capital of French style? Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni has done the legwork so you can hit the ground running.
Paris has been my home for the past 16 years. My first job here, in 1989, was working for Karl Lagerfeld in the Chanel design studio. Next came W magazine, and then Harper's Bazaar. Consequently, I'm always being called upon for advice—where to go, where to eat, what to do. Delighted as I am to help, such questions are a lot to take on, because Paris is a different place for everyone. For some, Paris is about throwing all caloric caution to the wind. For others, Paris is where you can dress up in Lanvin or Balenciaga, layer on the chicest accessories, and don the highest of Christian Louboutin heels. For still others, Paris is about sightseeing and checking out the latest exhibitions.
One key to understanding the capital is knowing that its denizens take their politics as seriously as they do the quality of their daily tartine (buttered baguette) and tasse de café. The 2007 presidential elections, for example, have already been seized on by le tout Paris. The big buzz is the rivalry between Dominique de Villepin, the devastatingly good-looking conservative prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the diminutive but charismatic interior minister. The potential candidates are wildly different, both more than 20 years younger than the current president, Jacques Chirac, and are the subject of passionate arguments. They're just part of the general excitement and optimism of Paris these days.
Suddenly, the City of Light is smoldering again. After years of being mocked for being too traditional and taking its civic pride too seriously, Paris—with its unique mix of the old and the new—is proving to be the perfect antidote to globalization. Where else could you find popular boutiques specializing in ribbons, walking canes, dollhouse furniture, and taxidermy? On the other hand, any of Paris's 20 arrondissements (really a cluster of little villages) can dramatically metamorphose from one year to the next. For instance, when the Canal St.-Martin area became the new place to live, the 10th was transformed. When renowned art galleries such as Emmanuel Perrotin moved to Rue Louise-Weiss, the 13th Arrondissement became le "it" neighborhood. The once sleepy First Arrondissement, where my husband and I moved back in 1997, was turned into a destination when the trendsetting store Colette opened on Rue St.-Honoré. Sometimes, I pine for our old diner with its cracked-leather banquettes, for a time when I could slip out to buy fresh croissants in the mornings with just my coat on over my PJ's.
However, adapting is essential to life in Paris. As is being in the know. So, I've dug deep into my little black book and badgered all my stylish Parisian friends for this exhaustive guide to a town of a thousand faces. Just remember: Come with an open heart, don't forget to say "Bonjour" when you enter a shop or to hold the door when exiting the Métro. That, and the following recommendations, should put you on the right track.
Where to Stay
SIX TO BANK ON Choosing a hotel in Paris presents a delectable dilemma. Do you opt for the grand hotels of the Right Bank—the George V, the Bristol, the Plaza Athénée—for their excellent service, or do you cross the Seine for the historic charm of Left Bank establishments such as L'Hôtel Duc de Saint-Simon? There's no question that there's plenty to choose from, but the following list focuses on the Rive Droite, where new hotels have been popping up quicker than you can say room service. Christophe Pillet, who cut his teeth working for Philippe Starck, has designed Shahé Kalaidjian's new 27-chambre Hotel Sezz (6 Ave. Frémiet, 16th Arr.; 33-1/56-75-26-26; www.hotelsezz.com; doubles from $370) in a bachelor loft-meets-Blade Runner style. Platform beds in the center of guest rooms and the latest state-of-the-art bathrooms, which can be seen through a glass wall, give an impression of a loft-like space. All direct-dial room telephones are mobile—a thoughtful detail, so you can take business calls from the U.S. as you have your petit déjeuner downstairs.
If slate-gray walls sound too familiar or too masculine, Hôtel du Petit Moulin (29/31 Rue de Poitou, Third Arr.; 33-1/42-74-10-10; www.hoteldupetitmoulin.com; doubles from $220), in the heart of the Haut Marais, is the perfect alternative. The rooms, dreamed up by Christian Lacroix, are both comfortable and a riot of color, much like the designer's clothes. Walls are adorned with vast carnations, carpets are polka-dotted, curtains get a style infusion with Marimekko patterns.
Discerning travelers looking for a central location should head to the Hôtel Meurice (228 Rue de Rivoli, First Arr.; 33-1/44-58-10-10; www.hotelmeurice.com; doubles from $732). Loyal guests, including actor Rupert Everett, have been staying here since the early nineties. The classic rooms are well-padded and quiet, a bonus for light sleepers. Ask for a room overlooking the Tuileries gardens, bliss out in the spa, and, at night, chill out with a vodka martini in a leather armchair at the Bar Fontainebleau.
Many American highfliers swear by Ed Tuttle's Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme (5 Rue de la Paix, Second Arr.; 33-1/58-71-12-34; www.paris.vendome.hyatt.com; doubles from $712). The glass conservatory dining room's natural lighting, elegant but easy mahogany chairs, and stunning display of potted orchids alongside works by contemporary artists such as Llyn Foulkes and Ed Paschke set the tone at this modern palace hotel.
Been yearning for a pied-à-terre of your own? Designer Azzedine Alaïa has done all the hard work with 3 Rooms (5 Rue de Moussy, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/44-78-92-00; www.3rooms-10corsocomo.com; doubles from $550). The interiors are a study in understated perfection, with white walls, flattering lighting, and furnishings by Marc Newson, Arne Jacobsen, and Jean Nouvel. And since Alaïa insists on crisp, starched linens, the sheets practically crack when you climb into bed.
Though Le Relais St.-Honoré (308 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/42-96-06-06; www.relaissainthonore.com; doubles from $228) stands opposite the über-hip boutique Colette, it feels like a quaint manor house in the Normandy countryside. Each of its 13 rooms and two suites has oversized bathrooms and is furnished with painted beams and charmingly cozy ﬂoral chintz.
Where to Eat
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK These days, the de rigueur dress code for an evening out is a pair of designer jeans (like the French brand Notify), so it stands to reason that casual restaurants are all the rage. Though they vary in ambience, these meat-and-potatoes places always have quality and authentic charm on the menu. With unadorned wooden tables, naïve painted murals, and a sound track of seagull cries, you might as well be in a simple fish shack in Brittany as at L'Écume St.-Honoré (6 Rue du Marché-St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/42-61-93-87; dinner for two $55). That's what owner Jacques Godin, who was raised in Normandy, had in mind. Order a dozen oysters (they have endless varieties), served with sliced rye bread and creamy French butter, or try the signature plateau de fruits de mer.
For a delightful lunch on the Rive Gauche, Le Comptoir (9 Carrefour de l'Odéon, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/44-27-07-97; lunch for two $48), run by Claudine and Yves Camdeborde, is unbeatable. This thirties-style bistro (complete with mirrored walls) seats just 20 inside and—in warmer months—another 16 on the sidewalk, and doesn't accept lunch reservations. But take this from a veteran: it's worth the hassle of waiting and not taking non for an answer. Order the grilled tuna, which comes with the crispest vegetables, or opt for succulent souris de gigot (lamb knuckle) served with semolina. Round out your meal with an indulgent cheese plate or double-sized pots de crème au chocolat.
For an affordable alternative to Le Voltaire (27 Quai Voltaire, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-61-17-49; dinner for two $160), which parfumeur Frédéric Malle calls "the most grown-up jet-set bistro in Paris," head next door to the restaurant's café, "Le Petit Voltaire" (lunch for two $60). Aim for a corner table by the door and order the excellent, creamy vegetable soup and fluffy omelettes filled with morels and Swiss cheese.
Penelope Cruz has declared that Ferdi (32 Rue du Mont-Thabor, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-82-52; lunch for two $75) serves "the best cheeseburger in Paris." The tartare-worthy ground sirloin, cooked medium-rare and topped with a thick layer of cheddar and Cheshire cheese, is available only at lunch, but don't worry if you don't make it till after sunset. In the evenings, the fashion-heavy crowd returns, its attention focused on Ferdi's tapas-style small plates and potent mojitos and margaritas.
Isabelle Adjani and Inès de la Fressange make a beeline for Farnesina (9 Rue Boissy d'Angla s, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/42-66-65-57; lunch for two $100) for excellent Italian food (think risotto with heaps of shaved truffles). The mozzarella di buffala is flown in from Naples every Monday and then ferried to town in a chauffeur-driven car.
HAUTE CUISINE, REINVENTED This city has always had a host of heavyweight restaurants: Taillevent, L'Arpège, L'Ambroisie, Le Grand Vé four. But a new breed of chef is rethinking the genre and has all of Paris talking. Dining at the Hôtel Crillon's Les Ambassadeurs (10 Place de la Concorde, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/44-71-16-16; dinner for two $490) is one of those flawless experiences. First, the 18th-century dining room feels otherworldly with its generous helpings of marble and gilt, flattering candlelight, and exquisitely laid-out silverware. Then there's the discreet service and the lavish array of delicious frothed-up sauces by chef Jean-François Piège. The cold and hot foie gras, served with peach compote or infused with hot peach tisane, is a winter must.
The tiny chocolate-covered ice creams served just before dessert are enough to melt even the most dyed-in-the-wool luxury-phobes.
Its caramel-and-muted gold décor gives Joël Robuchon's La Table (16 Ave. Bugeaud, 16th Arr.; 33-1/56-28-16-16; dinner for two $300) a Zen-like atmosphere. As at L'Atelier, his jam-packed tapas-style restaurant on Rue de Montalembert, portions here are small and ideal for the curious "I want to try everything" foodie. Thankfully, unlike L'Atelier, his newest offering takes reservations. Order the silky gazpacho of tomato, fresh almonds, and croutons topped with basil oil, or the succulent langoustines en papillote.
Making a reservation at Pascal Barbot's Astrance (4 Rue Beethoven, 16th Arr.; 33-1/40-50-84-40; dinner for two $360) needs to be done months in advance; the chef who earned his stripes at L'Arpège is that hot. Barbot takes the simplest ingredients and coaxes out their natural flavors with staggering results. A zucchini-and-feta tart becomes unforgettable, a dish of crab "ravioli" is deconstructed: paper-thin slices of avocado sandwich pristine crabmeat dressed with ginger and almond oil. And who would ever have thought that a combination of sweet clams with guinea hen could be such a triumph?
CLASSIC BISTROS: FIVE NOT TO MISS Retro-seventies red banquettes, brass lamps—what is it about the look of the traditional Paris bistro that makes you want to eat food that's hazardous to your health? This list of favorites covers everything from foie gras to steak frites to croque monsieur. Josephine Chez Dumonet (117 Rue du Cherche-Midi, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/45-48-52-40; dinner for two $120) is the place for seared escalope de foie gras cooked with white grapes and served with creamy mashed potatoes; the crispest confit de canard; and delicious desserts, such as the unctuous chocolate mousse and extraordinary Grand Marnier soufﬂé. The ﬂuorescent lighting is not for the vain, but the food never disappoints.
Don't be deceived by the décor at Le Duc (243 Blvd. Raspail, 14th Arr.; 33-1/43-22-59-59; dinner for two $200), which resembles the interior of a badly lit boat. Start with the delicate tartare of sea bass and salmon, followed by fresh langoustines served with ginger and fennel gratin, and ﬁnish with light-as-air île flottante. It's easy to see why this was President Mitterrand's favorite restaurant and why it continues to have a power-broker atmosphere, attracting regulars like French tycoon François Pinault and designer Diane von Furstenberg (a.k.a. Mrs. Barry Diller).
Christian Louboutin raves about the sophisticated cuisine at Petrelle (34 Rue Petrelle, Ninth Arr.; 33-1/42-82-11-02; dinner for two $130), such as ravioli stuffed with crayfish. Perhaps he's also drawn to the charming Victorian furnishings, age-defying light, and that just-stepped-into-a-château ambience.
La Coupe d'Or (330 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-43-26; drinks for two $18), bang opposite Colette, is the place to hang out, eat croque monsieurs made with Poilâne bread, drink café, and watch droves of gazelle-like fashionistas. Make them envious: order a scoop (or two) of the cult-status Berthillon ice cream.
In the Canal St.-Martin area, La Marine (55 Quai de Valmy, 10th Arr.; 33-1/42-39-69-81; dinner for two $75) turns on the charm: attractive turn-of-the-century interiors and a drop-dead gorgeous clientele. Try the red-mullet and baby vegetable mille-feuilles or the hearty, garlic-infused fish stew in white butter sauce.
POST-MUSEUM NIBBLES Lunch is the ﬁrst thing to suffer in any museum-packed itinerary of Paris. Here, five restaurants to remember so you can avoid tourist traps serving last week's steak at next year's prices. The family-run Little Italy Trattoria (13 Rue Rambuteau, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-74-32-46; lunch for two $55) is across the street from the Centre Pompidou and an affordable alternative to the museum's Georges restaurant. Order the spaghetti carbonara or the orecchiette alla siciliana (zucchini, capers, and garlic in a creamy sauce) and be prepared to share: portions are generous. Hip regulars include Rochas hotshot Olivier Theyskens and the new favorite designer of the ladies who lunch, Andrew Gn.
Savy (23 Rue Bayard, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/47-23-46-98; lunch for two $62), a traditional bistro a few minutes from the Grand Palais, is the perfect destination for stick-to-your-ribs lentils and lardons, veal served with shoestring fries topped with the meat's jus, and the darkest chocolate mousse. Those in the know request the front room.
For an inexpensive choice within minutes of the Musée d'Orsay, try Le 20 (20 Rue de Bellechasse, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/47-05-11-11; lunch for two $55). The daily, market-based menu (steak tartare or decadently buttery sole meunière) is written on a blackboard. Cigarette-haters beware: Sit near the door.
Lunch at L'Épi d'Or (25 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, First Arr.; 33-1/42-36-38-12; lunch for two $70) is a terriﬁc reward after a grand tour at the Louvre (only ﬁve minutes away). Try Christian Louboutin's favorite lamb, cooked for seven hours, or kidney served with skinny french fries.
Chez Gramond (5 Rue de Fleurus, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/42-22-28-89; lunch for two $96) is ideal after a visit to see the Phillips family's private collection of Cézannes, Picassos, and Hoppers at the Musée du Luxembourg. Order the house specialty, roasted squab, and catch a glimpse of chef Jean-Claude Gramond working the room in his signature clogs.
After admiring the more than 250 sculptures at the Musée Rodin, it's time for the ultimate French lunch: entrecôte with frites or mashed potatoes and a carafe of vin rouge, followed by crème brûlée, at Café Varenne (36 Rue de Varenne, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/45-48-62-72; lunch for two $74).
What to Do
GALLERIES AND BOOKSHOPS Just as visiting museums is essential to understanding Paris, so is grazing in the rarefied atmosphere of the antiques stores and bookshops. Antiquarian Pierre Passebon, the curator of Galerie du Passage (20–22 Galerie Véro-Dodat, First Arr.; 33-1/42-36-01-13; www.galeriedupassage.com), has impeccable taste and stocks the best 20th-century French furniture, made by the likes of Jean Royère and Emilio Terry, as well as works by contemporary artists such as Wendy Artin.
Karl Lagerfeld devours books at a daily rate. The tomes at Librairie 7L (7 Rue de Lille, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-92-03-58) are mostly photographic and are laid out like jewels on browse-friendly tables. The designer glibly describes the selection as "artistic Left Bank," but it's much more cosmopolitan than that. Recommended titles, many unavailable outside of France, include Raphaëlle Saint-Pierre's Villas 50 en France, Paris by the thirties photographer Moï Ver, and Inughuit, photographs of Eskimo by Tiina Itkonen.
Palais de Tokyo (13 Ave. du Président-Wilson, 16th Arr.; 33-1/47-23-38-86; www.palaisdetokyo.com), across the Seine from the Tour Eiffel, is a huge space with mile-high ceilings that exhibits the works of artists such as Vanessa Beecroft, Jeff Koons, and Kara Walker. Other highlights include a bookshop and BlackBlock, the groovy boutique.
Galerie J. Kugel (25 Quai Anatole-France, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-60-86-23; www.galerie-kugel.com), in the Palladian Hôtel Collot, is run by brothers Nicolas and Alexis Kugel, whose clients include countless Rothschilds, Hubert de Givenchy, and Henry Kravis. The mansion's four ﬂoors are full of superb antiques, among them mirrors from the throne room of the 18th-century Saxon king Augustus II (the Strong) and an eye-popping collection of Renaissance jewelry.
Where to Shop
PRÊT-À-PORTER No need to limit your buying strictly to Saint Laurent, Vuitton, and Louboutin. These boutiques stock a well-edited selection of lesser-known and equally bright talents. The stylish Mona Blonde picks only the crème de la crème of the latest collections for her eponymous store Mona (17 Rue Bonaparte, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/44-07-07-27). You'll find trousers by Chloé's Phoebe Philo, skirts by Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, suits by Alexander McQueen, and shoes by Marc Jacobs.
Madame André (34 Rue du Mont-Thabor, First Arr.; 33-1/42-96-27-24) sells the Gilles Dufour collection plus a mix of inexpensive items, such as perky underwear by I. C. Pearl and colorful bangles from India, displayed in a candy-pink interior.
If you're heading to Paris to ﬁll your trousseau, look no further than Fifi Chachnil (231 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/42-61-21-83). Fans of the lingerie designer's fifties-pinup style (push-up bras, marabou trimmings, lacy negligees) include Victoire de Castellane, Christian Dior's fine-jewelry designer.
Follow the lead of savvy Parisians to L'Habilleur (44 Rue de Poitou, Third Arr.; 33-1/48-87-77-12) for last season's designer clothes—both men's and women's—at exceptional prices.
Inès de la Fressange calls Calesta Kidstore (23 Rue Debelleyme, Third Arr.; 33-1/42-72-15-59) the Colette for kids. This sparse concept store sells the trendiest European accessories and clothes, including T-shirts by London's No Added Sugar and hippie pieces by Belgian designer Pilar.
SHOES, HANDBAGS, AND JEWELRY Accessories can make or break an outfit, especially in Paris, where ethnic baubles from Africa and India are currently all the rage. To find the season's status-symbol shoe, go to Roger Vivier (29 Rue du Faubourg-St.-Honoré, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/53-43-00-85). Parisiennes are smitten with la Belle Vivier, a high-heeled black satin court shoe with an oversized silver pilgrim buckle. You can while away an afternoon in the pampering atmosphere of this airy boutique.
20 Sur 20 (3 Rue des Lavandières St.-Opportune, First Arr.; 33-1/45-08-44-94) is every chic local's secret weapon. Bakelite charm necklaces jingling with cherries, along with other costume jewelry dating from the forties to the sixties, can be had at serious bargain prices.
One of those rare gems for which the Left Bank is famous is Adelline (54 Rue Jacob, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/47-03-07-18), where Adeline Roussel creates understated and infinitely wearable necklaces, bracelets, and dangling earrings out of unpolished gold set with opaque ruby, smoky topaz, and lemon quartz from Brazil.
Find sumptuous estate pieces—necklaces made of enamel pansies, intricate diamond rings, chunky gold bracelets—at Lydia Courteille (231 Rue St.- Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/42-61-11-71).
It is hard to resist the jewel-colored wallets, belts, watchstraps, and agendas in ostrich, crocodile, and shagreen at Atelier du Bracelet Parisien (7 Rue St.-Hyacinthe; First Arr.; 33-1/42-86-13-70; www.abp-paris.com). Everything is handcrafted and remains in pristine condition, even after years of use. Having artisans sur place means quick turnaround for bespoke orders for out-of-towners.
Channel your inner Jackie O. or Kate Moss and check out the sunglasses at the celebrated E. B. Meyrowitz Opticiens (5 Rue de Castiglione, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-63-64; www. meyrowitz.com). Although they carry plenty of fabulous designer frames, ask for the more exclusive Meyrowitz line.
PRESENT PERFECT: PERFUMES, GIFTS, AND FLOWERS A gift from Paris has magical connotations—as does a ravishing bouquet hand-delivered to your hotel. Here's an essential list that guarantees each and every cadeau you send will be well received. The flagship Guerlain (68 Ave. des Champs-Élysées, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/45-62-52-57; www.guerlain.com) boutique has been superbly spruced up by style arbiter Andrée Putman. Take the gold mosaicked stairs, designed by Maxime D'Angeac, to the first floor for unfettered access to the house's more than 70 scents.
Editions de Parfums (21 Rue du Mont-Thabor, First Arr.; 33-1/42-22-77-22) is renowned for putting sultriness back into scent: Frédéric Malle's brand-new space and most recent creation, Carnal Flower, lives up to that expectation.
Talmaris (61 Ave. Mozart, 16th Arr.; 33-1/42-88-20-20) is the destination of choice for Dior's de Castellane and YSL's Stefano Pilati for their engraved personal stationery. Heavy stock is available in virtually every color of the rainbow. Owner Alain-Paul Ruzé also has an unbeatable selection of china, glassware, photograph frames, and children's toys.
For a truly one-of-a-kind gift, visit Claude Nature (32 Blvd. St.-Germain, Fifth Arr.; 33-1/44-07-30-79; www.claudenature.com), a taxidermist's treasure trove of pink flamingos, foxes, and deer's heads. The spare boutique's glass cabinets display exotic shells, framed butterflies, scarabs, and the deadliest of scorpions.
Fashion insider Amanda Ross recommends Papier+ (9 Rue du Pont-Louis-Philippe, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/42-77-70-49; www.papierplus.com) and never leaves Paris without stocking up on lavender diaries, simple blue notecards, a stash of colored pencils, and photo albums.
The packaging at Fouquet (22 Rue François 1er, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/47-23-30-36; www.fouquet.fr)—glass jars with dark brown-and-white labels—makes for an amazing presentation of this store's very expensive (and addictive) bonbons, caramels, and truffles.
For a great selection of coffees, teas, tisanes, and housemade jams, Comptoir Richard (145 Rue St.-Dominique, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/53-59-99-18) is a sure bet. Two must-have items: the licorice-ﬂavored Anis-Réglisse tisane and wild strawberry confiture.
Nouez-Moi (8 Rue Clément-Marot, Eighth Arr.; 33-1/47-20-60-26) is the only place from which renowned hostess Comtesse Jackie de Ravenel buys her sheets. The shop will embroider your initials on petite pillows, bathrobes, and towels.
For the past several years, Odorantes (9 Rue Madame, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/42-84-03-00) has cornered the market on roses and other ﬂowers known for their alluring scents. Each bouquet is wrapped with a poem tucked inside. Clients include Catherine Deneuve and the fashion houses Chanel, Givenchy, Gaultier, and Céline.
Vanessa Elia sells the best orchids in town at Au Nom de l'Orchidée (67–69 Ave. Paul- Doumer, 16th Arr.; 33-1/40-50-08-08). The exotic beauties are delivered in plain white vases nestled in tissue paper and purple-and-lime green bags.
NATASHA FRASER-VACASSONI is based in Paris and is the author of Sam Spiegel, a biography of the Hollywood film producer.
Au Nom de l'Orchidée
Opened by French-American Vanessa Elia in 2004, this high-end flower retailer on Avenue Paul-Doumer has a single overriding passion: to bring 150 varieties of the popular orchid flower to its Parisian devotees. Delivered in plain white vases, purple-and-lime-green bags, and a well-chosen collection of baskets and pots, Au Nom de l'Orchidée's orchids range over a wide variety of shapes and colors. Extreme quality and durability—along with healthy prices—characterize all of Elia's well-bred blooms, unfailingly arranged by the proprietor into tasteful compositions.
Enjoy a dozen high-quality roses from artisan small producers at Odorantes near the Eglise St.-Sulpice, a floral boutique patronized by a who's who of celebrities. (Catherine Deneuve, Sofia Coppola, and the houses of Chanel and Givenchy are all clients.) Not your average florists, proprietors Emmanuel Sammartino and Christophe Hervé craft bouquets of remarkable artistry and aroma (hence the shop's name), each wrapped stylishly in black paper. Odorantes' black roses, white lilies, and lavender sweet peas contrast with the floral boutique's matte grey interior.
Just around the corner from Avenue Montaigne, this popular source for embroidered fine linens made in France offers its wares at a third of the price of similar Paris retailers. An ideal stop-in for tasteful wedding gifts, Nouez-Moi sells its sought-after linens internationally (orders are accepted in-store or by phone) and ships regularly to the United States. For a personal touch, names or initials may be embroidered by request on linens and bath towels. King-sized sheet and pillowcase sets average around 300 francs, and Nouez-Moi also offers upscale housewares.
This high-end retailer with seven Paris locations takes its coffee seriously. At home on Paris' grandest shopping streets, Comptoir Richard is part of a tradition dating to 1892. The shop's selection is impressive; coffees, teas, tisanes, and homemade jams are hand picked from countries spanning five continents. Perfect pairs for a hot drink, the shop's freshly made sweets include biscuits, pralines, shaped sugars, and chocolate-covered marshmallow bears. Openly embracing whimsy, the popular shop's front windows display pink teapots and paint-by-numbers tea sets in an engaging still life.
A family-run business for nearly 100 years, Fouquet sells various candies from this antique-store-turned-confiserie (candy store). At home on Rue Francois and one of the oldest candy stores in the city, this brown storefront is home to quality chocolates, caramels, and assorted sweets handmade with all-natural ingredients—and all created on-site, a rarity among Parisian sweet shops. Signature creations include dark-chocolate-coated gingersnaps and caramelized almonds. Also, browse the array of confections, candied fruits, and fruit jellies, as well as milk and dark chocolates, which are each wrapped by hand.
A few blocks from Notre Dame and the Hotel de Ville, this uncommon stationer in the heart of the Marais district is appreciated for the craftsmanship of its wares. Located on one of Paris' premier shopping streets, Papier+ offers handmade papers, binders, notebooks, and more in a variety a colors, paper types, and sizes. The shop's electric hues and high-gloss lacquer finishes are especially noteworthy. Favored by patrons worldwide since the 1970's, Papier+ keeps its emphasis on quality, using acid-free paper to guarantee the preservation of its products.
Not your average Parisian boutique, Claude Nature on fashionable Boulevard Saint-Germain feels part natural history museum and part curiosity shop. (Where else in Paris does an enormous stuffed bison stalk the entryway?) Captivating the attention—if only as an effective cleansing of the palate between more typical Parisian boutiques—Claude Nature features exotic delights including stuffed rhino heads, live cockatiels, and do-it-yourself entomology kits. A selection of stuffed and mounted wildlife is for sale, as is a full range of taxidermy services. The owner is quite knowledgeable about customs requirements, making it easier to ship items internationally.
A labor of love assembled by owner Alain-Paul Ruzé, this chic boutique on Rue Mozart has been called the world's smallest department store. Ruzé compulsively scours the globe six months out of each year looking for one-of-a-kind finds and then displays his wares at a popular showroom frequented by the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg. The wandering proprietor's tastes run to the eclectic: A 1700's-era American flag coexists easily beside a Faberge egg. Talmaris is favored by the social set for its quality home goods. Designers Tom Ford and Victoire de Castellane pick up engraved note cards here.
Editions de Parfums
Founded ten years ago by master pefumer Frederick Malle, this perfumerie on Rue du Mont-Thabor keep its emphasis on the fragrance. Malle is the grandson of Dior Perfumes founder Serge Heftler and packages each of his 17 fragrances with a biography and picture of its designer. With a half-dozen outposts opened in just a decade, Malle's emphasis on composition appears to be paying off. Editions de Parfums' designs have been called "wearable art" and easily fetch $100-350 per bottle. This stylish location features framed photography of his "noses" and pieces from the perfumer's art collection.
In business in the city of lights for nearly two centuries, this iconic perfumerie dating to 1912 is one of the world's oldest perfume houses. A bit of old-style glamour at home on the Champs-Elysee, Guerlain occupies an uncommonly beautiful space merging Art Deco decor with designer Andrée Putnam's handcrafted gold mosaic. The perfumer's 300+ scents feature compositions taking inspiration from sweets: Vanilla and amber are often included ingredients. Dusky L'Heure Bleu is among Guerlain's most iconic perfumes, an original composition dating to 1912. But the popular unisex Jicky scent, which was created in 1889, is the oldest continually produced fragrance.
E. B. Meyrowitz Opticiens
An optician of choice for fashion-conscious Parisians, this high-end eyewear retailer on Rue Castiglione sells premium brands and its own handcrafted designs. Frame choices run to the run the gamut of luxury buffalo horn, ebony, and 18-carat gold as well as more traditional options like metal alloy and high-quality acetate (in both vibrant colors and neutral hues). A multilingual staff and on-site optometry shop make selection and customization easy. Along with the spectacles, Meyrowitz Opticiens also stocks stylish prescription sunglasses, sports glasses, and high-powered binoculars and magnifying glasses. Appointments are suggested.
Atelier du Bracelet Parisien
Located on an old-school market street in Paris, Atelier du Bracelet is a tiny leather crafts business directly across from the modern all-glass home décor building at Place du Marche St.-Honoré. In this tiny studio space, proprietors Régine and Jean-Claude Perrin skillfully make one-of-a-kind watch bands for various timepieces. Customers choose band color, texture, thickness and material such as crocodile, buffalo, and goat. The band is then hand-crafted in the atelier using living heritage methods as classified by the French government. Classic watches, pre-made bands, belts, and other small leather goods are also on display.
Lydia Courteille is a haute couture jewelry designer with just one boutique on the ever-chic Rue St.-Honoré. Just around the corner from the dramatic Place Vendôme, the boutique is quite unassuming outside with royal blue wainscoting and a brass Lydia Courteille sign. The inside, however, is filled with both antique and newly-made jewelry. Known for her enormous cocktail rings and use of glittering precious stones, Lydia Courteille manages to fuse dead and living symbols such as skulls, animals, and bones into wearable, collectible objects d’art.
Haute couture jewelry designer Adeline Roussel runs her bauble business from both this boutique and her atelier in Jaipur, India. Located on Rue Jacob in the St.-Germain-des-Prés district, Roussel’s tiny shop is recognizable from the outside with its chocolate brown wainscoting and simple terracotta orange awning. Inside, glass cases are filled with rings, necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories, all made from gold, silver, and precious and semi-precious stone. The India-inspired designs are known for having large, cabochon-cut, bright gemstones such as amethysts and emeralds.
20 Sur 20
20 Sur 20 is a tiny costume jewelry shop in the 1ère arrondisement. Located on a narrow street just one-half block from the Seine river, the store’s gray and white façade has Art Deco lettering and large picture windows looking to welcoming to those who love les bijoux. The inside is stocked full of reasonably-priced costume jewelry pieces from the 1930’s-60’s, including everything from necklaces to anklets and bracelets, even charms.
Roger Vivier (the man who invited stilettos) was a legendary French shoe designer with a fashion house that still bears his name. Vivier’s flagship boutique on the 1ère arrondissement’s Rue Faubourg St.-Honoré has a simple exterior with glass doors and a large silver buckle door handle. The stark all-white theme continues inside where les produits are showcased on two floors. Today, creative director Bruno Frisoni oversees Vivier’s latest creations, including heels, flats, boots, purses, evening bags, luggage, and other accessories. Vivier shoes and boots come in both classic styles and more fanciful designs with beads, rhinestones, and feathers.
L’Habilleur may stock last year’s designs, but legions of shoppers don’t seem to mind since the store offers serious discounts (around 40% to 60% less than original prices). Located in the ancient north Marais district, the store is recognizable from the outside by its large wooden front and gold lettering. Inside, L’Habilleur stocks just about everything in men’s and women’s clothing from designer jeans to evening dresses to business attire, but frugal shoppers come to the store especially for the reasonably-priced designer shoes.
Lingerie designer Delphine Véron sells her 50s-inspired unmentionables under the Fifi Chachnil pseudonym. With three boutiques in the city, Fifi Chachnil’s Rue St.-Honoré outpost is perhaps the most chic with its pretty picture window and pink awning. Inside, the shop feels more like an intimate boudoir with pink satin drapes, plush patterned carpets, and antique furniture. The bras, panties, teddies, and other accessories are reminiscent of burlesque-era innocence via lace, polka dots, bows, and satins. The designer’s signature Fifi perfume is encased in a decidedly feminine pink-and-gold bottle.
Mona is a fashion-forward women’s designer clothing boutique. Located on Rue Bonaparte in the heart of the Sixth Arrondissement, Mona sits at the base of an ancient stone building on the corner of pedestrian-only Rue Visconti. Inside, designer Christian Gavoille (a Phillippe Stark protégée) set up the shop to resemble an intimate fashion show with viewing chairs, red carpets, and white walls. The shop handpicks classic-meets-trendy clothing, as well as bags and shoes from such designer lines as Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Stella McCartney, and Pierre Hardy.
Galerie J Kugel
Galerie J Kugel is one of the most distinguished antique dealers in the city. The galerie is housed inside Hôtel Collot, which is a palatial neoclassical Louis Visconti-designed building along the banks of the Seine in the 7ème arrondissement. Shoppers walk up a double flight of stairs to land on the terrasse for sweeping views of the river, the Tuileries, and Place de la Concorde, only to then promenade through a series of rooms where a broad range of antiquités from ancient Rome up to 1850 are displayed in neo-Renaissance opulence. The gallery also has a 20,000-volume art library.
Palais de Tokyo
Le Palais de Tokyo is not a Japanese palace but an experimental gallery space for avant garde artists. Housed inside the west wing of a 1937 Art Deco building (the east wing holds the Musée d’Art Moderne), Le Palais only showcases temporary exhibits. The vast interior looks industrial with exposed ceilings, bare columns, and fluorescent lighting. Still, the exhibits here are some of the most creative around, including Olaf Breuning's 2011 exhibit, Art Freaks, which involves 15 banners suspended from the ceiling, each with an image of person whose body is painted in the style of an artist like Vincent Van Gogh or Andy Warhol.
Legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld opened Librarie 7L as a space dedicated to his two other obsessions: books and photography. Lagerfeld conveniently located his boho bouquiniste at the base of his personal studio near Musée D’Orsay in the gallery-laden 7ème arrondisement. Inside, new and old edition coffee table books mostly on photography, fashion, art, and architecture sit on chic tables for easy flipping. The shop is also known for its collection of limited or hard-to-get books.
Galerie du Passage
Housed in an 1826 Neoclassical retail arcade, Galerie du Passage has been visited by the likes of auction-house chairman Simon de Pury and Princess Caroline of Monaco. From the “Ghosts of Furniture” exhibit by Pol Quaden to childhood-inspired watercolor paintings by Wendy Artin, Pierre Passebon’s Galerie du Passage has been a treasure trove for this dedicated collector of modern and antique pieces. While Passabon's store is best known for its 20th-century French furniture selection, which includes pieces by Jean Royère and Emilio Terry, don't overlook the objets d'art, with photographs, sculptures, and more from the early 1900’s to the present.
Café Varenne is more like a convivial brasserie rather than a typical Parisian café. Sitting on an ancient coin at the corner of Rue de Varenne and Rue du Bac in the seventh arrondisement, Café Varenne’s aging wood exterior matches the interior’s utter simplicity with few decorations, not-quite leather booths, and common tile floors. The food, however, is comforting French classics made using high-quality ingredients and traditional preparations. Some of the restaurant’s signature dishes are steak tartare and l’entrecôte steak with béarnaise sauce served with hand-cut Belgian fries or mashed potatoes.
This tiny, traditional, 20-seat bistro-style restaurant in the Sixth Arrondisment, just outside the Hotel les Jardins du Luxembourg, is not just old school, it’s old world. An admitted royalist, chef Jean-Claude Gramond prepares classic French dishes without any of the accents or fusion of the modern restaurants featured in most travel guides—just dishes like fried mushrooms with parsley, roasted squab, Burgundy snails, and a Grand Marnier soufflé. Gramond’s wife Jeannine serves as hostess, waitress, and conversationalist, but will call out her husband if properly charmed.
Located in the Les Halles area, known as the belly of Paris, the establishment was built in 1880, based on the glass and iron buildings built by Victor Baltard. Although L'Épi d'Or (the golden spike) has seen many owners through the centuries, the food and décor have remained true to the original vision at the restaurant’s inception. Full of traditional French cuisine, the menu includes dishes, such as pork stew cooked in wine sauce and d'agneau a la cueiller (leg of lamb slow-cooked in wine).
Le 20 de Bellechasse
Named for its own address at 20 Rue de Bellechasse in the Seventh Arrondissement, Le 20 is a crowded, noisy, Art Deco-style bistro run by the young owners Jean-Phi and Tristan. Large-portion dishes (from the blackboard menus) include oeuf meurette, egg prepared in wine sauce, lard, and onions; noix de saint Jacques au beurre noisette, scallops in a brown butter sauce); and the popular steak frites. Le 20 de Bellechasse provides visitors a place to dine after visiting the nearby Musée d’Orsay.
Chez Savy hasn't changed much, if at all, since its inception in 1923. Located near the famed Champs-Elysées in the Eighth Arrondissement, this quintessential French bistro serves original cuisine from Auvergne among traditional Art Deco touches of Jazz Age Paris. Moleskin banquettes sit atop mosaic tile floors; mirrors line the walls. High end clientele fill the narrow dining rooms (one of which is known as Le Wagon, the dining car). After the bread basket and accompanying rillettes (duck spread) have been savored, signature farçon aveyronnais (herb fritters) and aligot boeuf aubrac (beef with potatoes and cheese) take center stage.
Little Italy Trattoria
A modern interior with blond wood and translucent plastic chairs sets the stage for trendy Parisians and tourists who might want a switch from traditional French fare. The family-owned and operated Little Italy Trattoria serves generous portions of fresh pasta and salads in Le Marais. Usually overflowing with people, the rather small restaurant is a more economical alternative to Georges in the Centre Pompidou across the street. Large portions of Bolognese specialties are usually shared by boisterous crowds, such as spaghetti carbonara and orecchiette alla siciliana (pasta with vegetables in cream sauce).
Set on the corner of a leafy street across from the Canal St. Martin, La Marine is a classic neighborhood brasserie serving reasonably priced, traditional French fare. The interior evokes images of Hemingway’s Paris, with red velvet curtains, gold-framed mirrors, a small zinc bar, and intimate tables. When the weather is pleasant, seating is also available outside at a handful of tables that provide great people-watching and views of the canal. The menu includes such authentic dishes as boeuf bourguignonne and blanquette de veau (veal ragoût), which are complement by selections from the well-priced wine list.
La Coupe d'Or
Essentially a hip neighborhood bar in the chic First Arrondissement, La Coupe d’Or is all about people watching from a sidewalk seat on one of the city’s most fashionable street corners. Located on Rue St. Honore amidst the myriad boutiques and marchés (markets), La Coup d’Or serves the Parisian version of pub food: croque-monsieur (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and chicken or steak frites, with éclairs and lemon tarts for dessert. It’s an ideal spot to fuel up before a shopping trip or take a break when your bags are full.
With its Victorian candlesticks, whimsical paintings, chandeliers, and a house-cat that roams the restaurant, Petrelle has an elegant-yet-homey feel. This little ninth arrondissement eatery has only nine tables, one waiter, and one chef, who cooks with vegetables and herbs grown in his own garden. Petrelle's menu includes fresh fowl, fish, and produce that are handcrafted into dishes, such as crayfish-stuffed ravioli, crème anglaise, and country-style roasted lamb with eggplant. The restaurant is even popular with likes of Christian Louboutin and Madonna.
Located right by Cimetiere du Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement, Le Duc restaurant has been frequented by the likes of Diane von Furstenberg and the late President Mitterrand, who come to sample the fresh seafood. Despite the wood paneling and somewhat kitschy nautical decor, the establishment is known for expertly cooked seafood. Menu options include langoustines with ginger and fennel gratin, tartare of sea bass and salmon, grilled sea bream, and Provençal fricassée of monkfish. For dessert, there is baba au rhum whipped up by chef Pascal Hélard.
Josephine Chez Dumonet
Known for its large portions and friendly atmosphere, Josephine Chez Dumonet greets guests with joking waiters that speak a little English, and kitchen staff that will gladly stand for a picture. Chef Jean-Christian Dumonet visits the tables while diners eat cassoulet maison that has been simmering all day to blend the ingredients to perfection. Other options include the pan-fried foie gras, monkfish with white beans, and foie gras topped with black truffles. While some wines may seem a bit expensive, the staff will gladly recommend a less expensive option.
La Table, Paris
A note on the door states in three languagues: Good food takes time. We have the food. Do you have the time? At Ferdi, owners Alicia and Jacques Fontanier take good food seriously. Alicia reigns in the kitchen, serving up things like ratatouille and whitefish salad marinated in lime, while Jacques mixes drinks like his invention le pompadour —vodka with wild strawberries. The place is also known for its cheeseburgers made with cheddar and Cheshire cheeses and sirloin. Named after the Fontanier’s son Ferdinand, the restaurant is decorated with his old toys and framed family photos.
Much like the iconic landmarks nearby, Le Voltaire is a classic Paris bistro that stands the test of time in the chic 7eme arrondisement. Perhaps the restaurant’s riverfront location, emerald green awning, and shiny wood paneling outside gives rise to the high prices. Still, patrons return for the high quality food and the romantic interior (wood paneling, golden lighting, intimate tables). Some come for the entrée-sized les salades with delicacies such as lobster, avocado, and deviled eggs. Other mains include the beef tenderloin au poivre, roast chicken, and herb omelette.
A folksy bar des huîtres near the Opera House, with cheesy murals of Mont Saint-Michel and piped-in recordings of seagulls. Sophisticated it is not, and yet you'll rarely find Belons so pristine. They give you a pail for discarding the shells-a reminder that in France oysters are still an informal, workaday food. (The French eat 4.4 pounds of oysters per person per year, more than any other Europeans.)
Le Relais St.-Honoré
Le Relais St.-Honoré has an enviable location along Paris’ most famed fashion street and near Le Louvre and Les Tuileries in the 1ère arrondisement. Sitting amongst designer boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, this 13-room hotel is almost unseen with its sage green wood paneling at the building’s first-floor entrance and common ancient stone building above. In contrast, the lobby at le relais is sumptuous with silk drapes, Persian rugs, period furniture, and cozy striped sofas. Although the room décor is more toned down than the lobby, rooms in this three-star hotel are still modern and inspired by classic Parisian decoration.
3 Rooms, Paris
In 2011, the cuisine of head chef Christopher Hache earned a Michelin star for Les Ambassadeurs. This gourmet French restaurant, located in the Hotel de Crillon near the Champs-Élysées and the Jardin des Tuileries, offers seasonal menus with dishes like turbot meunière (sautéed fish) and roasted hen breast. The Louis XV-style dining room has tall white-framed windows with opaque draperies, crystal chandeliers suspended from a high, frescoed ceiling, and marble of different colors and patterns on the floor and walls.
Le Comptoir, Paris
Chef Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir on the Left Bank seats only 20, so reservations for the single-seating prix fixe dinner must usually be made several months in advance. Fortunately, the restaurant also operates as a more casual brasserie during lunchtime. Behind the bright red façade, the bistro’s interior has blue and yellow tile floors, small white-clothed tables, and a large mirror displaying handwritten daily specials. Known for his inventive and surprisingly affordable head-to-tail cooking, chef Camdeborde serves entrées like cochon au lait (slow-cooked pork over stewed lentils) as well as a signature charcuterie plate and wines from nearby Loire Valley.
Decorated by Philippe Starck–trained Christophe Pillet, the new, 27-chambre Hotel Sezz is phonetically named after the 16th Arrondissement it calls home. The lobby, lit with Murano-glass fixtures, doesn’t have a front desk—that’s been replaced by an itinerant team of personal assistants, one of whom remains at each guest’s beck and call—but it does have La Grande Dame, its Veuve Clicquot champagne bar. Rooms are accented with bright, acid colors that pop against textured stone walls and stainless steel furniture, like the lits de camp, or camp-style beds, fitted with painted wooden drawers.
Hôtel du Petit Moulin
Fantastically located in the trendsetting Upper Marais, this former boulangerie in a 17th-century building has been redone by Christian Lacroix. He has decorated each of the 17 compact rooms with his signature palette of vivid colors and an eclectic mix of contemporary India Mahdavi Bishop tables, blown-up sketches from the designer’s notepads, trompe l’oeil wallpaper, black-and-white claw-foot tubs, and antique chairs upholstered in bold, modern fabrics.
There is a subversive element of wit about the temporary Nomiya restaurant—a small glass box installed until July 2010 on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris. The dining room, which seats 12, offers remarkable views of the city and nearby Eiffel Tower; it also recasts the restaurant experience as a kind of interactive architectural happening, a meditation on permanence, transience, and style.