There are some things in life we all know to be true: Never wear white while eating a chili dog; you can never have too much chocolate; the sun will always come out tomorrow; and a trip to Paris never gets old. The City of Lights holds a special place in many hearts, and Paris will always be Paris. If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you will hear it calling in the distance: “Hold me close and hold me fast, the magic spell you cast, this is la vie en rose.”
WHERE TO STAY
Paris is synonymous with glamour, and if there is one hotel that oozes style and sophistication, it is The Ritz Paris. First opened in 1898, this hotel has been the epitome of luxury and has been called home by some of the most notable figures of the 20th century, including Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Maria Callas, and Audrey Hepburn, to name a few. Following a four-year restoration, its majestic wrought-iron doors opened once again at the Place Vendôme, undoubtedly the most anticipated hotel opening of the year.
The facade of the newly reopened Ritz Paris
Not far down the road are two more chic hotels where to hang your hat. The classic gem of French luxury hotels, Le Meurice is one of five Palace Hotels in Paris and is ideally located between Place de la Concorde and the Musée du Louvre. All of its rooms and suites are decorated in the fashion of Louis XVI. Recently, the hotel commissioned Philippe Starck to update its welcoming areas, which now combine exceptional decoration with contemporary chic while preserving the special atmosphere of this establishment. For those looking for a contemporary residence, look no further:
The Mandarin Oriental Paris on rue Saint-Honoré is surrounded by history and fashionable shopping. Offering a stylish Parisian experience, the rooms are among the most spacious in Paris, and the inner courtyard camellia garden provides a wonderful respite in the city and is a popular dining and cocktails destination.
Inside a Mandarin Oriental suite
Another premier location for a luxurious escape is the Hotel Plaza Athénée. With its Dior Institut spa and three-Michelin-starred restaurant by Alain Ducasse, this Parisian property is ideally located between the Avenue des Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower, at the crossroads of fashion, entertainment, and business.
The courtyard at Hotel Plaza Athénée, between the Avenue des Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower
For those who prefer staying on the Rive Gauche, the chic boutique property Hotel Recamier designed by Jean Louis Deniot in the heart of Saint-Germain-des- Prés is our pick for both location and style. If an extended stay is your intent, Haven in Paris has a well-curated roster of luxurious studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments located throughout the city.
WHERE TO EAT
To come up with an exhaustive list on Parisian dining favorites would be an impossible task. While Michelin-starred restaurants abound, this capital is filled with many small eateries that will please even the most discerning of gastronomes.
It’s difficult to beat the breakfast view at the Restaurant Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse, although an assortment of croissants, pain au chocolat, and other viennoiserie is very enjoyable at the intimate Ladureé tea room on rue Bonaparte. Claus seems to be the breakfast place on everyone’s lips these days, and with good reason—the bright and airy space for petit-dejeuner offers a late and great breakfast and brunch menu. If you are up early and willing to stand on the queue, make your way to one of the best bakeries in town, Du Pain et des Idées. Make sure to try and take home a few flavors of its famous Les Escargots.
The dining room at Restaurant Le Meurice by Alaine Ducasse
Although Parisians rarely have meals on the run, Frenchie-to-Go (sister to the famed bistro Frenchie) with its fine sandwiches and a killer lobster roll, and Café Breizh— renowned for the crepes and galettes—are both popular, tourist-friendly places that are frequented by locals as well. If falafel is what you seek as your make your way through the Marais’ store-lined streets, head over to L’As du Fallafel or Chez Marianne.
Frenchie-to-Go is famous for fine sandwiches and lobster rolls
Bistronomy has been the food movement of choice for the past few years. Leading the pack is the kitchen of “bad boy chef” Stephane Jego, Chez L’Ami Jean. Guests are welcomed to his cozy restaurant with a selection of charcuterie. The menu is seasonal but the legendary rice pudding can be enjoyed anytime of the year. There are the classic cult favorites like Josephine Chez Dummonet, where the handchopped steak tartare is made tableside and the single order of a luscious millefeuille can feed four. It’s at Bistrot Paul Vert where one can enjoy the equally epic côte de boeuf or steak au poivre and cap off with one of the city’s best Paris-brest. For a pre- or post-prandial aff air, check out La Cave du Paul Bert, the bistro’s new wine bar. And if you can’t secure a table at the popular Le Comptoir de Relais of Yves Camdeborde, have a drink and some tapas at the adjacent L’Avant Comptoir where it’s elbow to elbow, standing-room only, or enjoy some oysters at his newest eatery, L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer. Another great option is to head over to the charming La Crèmerie and enjoy a bottle with some duck rillettes, cheese, country paté, or an open tin of some of the best sardines you’ll ever have. Close by is one of the prized left-bank modern bistros, Semilla, where the atmosphere is casual and convivial, and the food toes the line between comfort and creative. Other similar restaurants serving small and inventive plates created by dynamic young chefs are Le Chateaubriand, Spring, Ellsworth, and Septime. At each of these establishments, the cocktail selection and wine flights often warrant accolades of their own. If you are in the mood for a slightly fancier affair, book a table at Passage 53, Restaurant David Toutain, Spring, Verjus, or Akrame, all serving their renditions of modern French food. If haute cuisine is what you seek, we’ll never tire of Atelier Joel Robuchon or Alain Passard’s L’Arpege, Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Georges V, L’Ambroisie, or Pascal Barbot’s L’Astrance. After hours, head over to Babylone Bis for a memorable poulet braisé.
Enjoy tapas and drinks at the standing-room-only L'Avant Comptoir
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we would never shy away from the tried and true patisseries like Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, Gerard Mulot, and Angelina, but we would definitely add La Pâtisserie de Rêves and Meert, home of the best vanilla waffles, to the mix. If you crave a great kouign amann, check out Georges Larnicol that makes them in bite-size portions they’ve aptly named kouignettes. For a selection of the finest caramels and chocolates, head on over to Jacques Genin and stay for a pot of hot chocolate or drop by confectionary heaven, À la Mère de Famille. In the mood for a scoop of gelato? Make your way to the beautiful Il Gelato del Marchese. Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse is one of our favorite chocolate shops these days, and, as one would expect from one of France’s greatest chefs, the offering is topnotch. Patrick Roger and Henri Leroux are also not to be missed and still remain some of your best bets.
The selection at Meert, home of the best vanilla waffles
After a tiring afternoon, a selection of the world’s best coffee can be enjoyed at Cafés Verlet. Another option is to pop in for afternoon tea at Mariage Frères, our favorite shop and tearoom branch still being the original on rue Bourg Tibourg in the Marais.
WHAT TO DO
Walking the streets of Paris is an education unto itself and the sheer number of museums and historic sites can overwhelm even the most focused of culturists. While the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Centre Georges Pompidou undoubtedly deserve your attention, make sure to spend a few hours at the newly renovated Musée Rodin and Musée Picasso or the Musée Jacquemart-André, the opulent 19th-century home of art collectors Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. For a special treat, schedule a visit to the private Louis Vuitton atelier and workshop in Asnières, recently renovated with the addition of a galerie.
Inside the recently renovated Musée Rodin, a must-visit musuem off the beaten path
For many, playing in Paris is synonymous with shopping. While each corner of this fair city is a shopper’s paradise, time is of the essence and the best solution is to spend an afternoon at Le Bon Marché. From food to fashion and fragrance, this still remains a top pick. Another gourmet market that deserves your attention is La Maison Plisson on Boulevard Beaumarchais. These days most French top-end fashion houses and highstreet brands can be found around in major cities around the world, but shopping at the Parisian stores of Roger Vivier extends a very distinct experience. If you’re a fan of Inès de la Fressange, a visit to her new lifestyle store on rue de Grenelle is a must. Trend seekers and setters never fail to visit Colette to get their healthy dose of what’s hip and happening, and for the fashion forward, L’Eclaireur is a go-to destination. The well-curated selection and merchandise installations are also works of art. Buly 1803 is a charming haven for all things olfactory, and we never miss the opportunity to visit the tiny but ultra-chic Astier de Villatte to add a dish or two to our collection. While books may be heavy to carry home, it’s always worth perusing the selection at Assouline or at Karl Lagerfeld’s L Bookshop. Whether taxidermy is of interest or not, Deyrolle is always a fascinating stopover. Wander through the streets of the Rive Gauche if you are looking to furnish a home and stumble into one of our favorite lamp makers, Galerie des Lampes. And whatever you do, do not miss a weekend visit to the Marches Aux Puces.