Paris, La Ville-Lumière or the City of Light, is one of the most breathtaking cities on earth. It’s no wonder why so many literary notables, filmmakers and musicians have long since romanticized this beautiful city. Full of history and mystique, Paris also offers the best in fashion, cuisine and art.
The breakfast of French champions. Some of the best restaurants in Paris, including Frenchie (see below), get their fresh bread from this famous boulangerie. Housed in a gaudy bakery that dates back to 1889, Du Pain et Des Idées (34, Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris) produces some of the best baked goods I have ever sampled. Get there early in order to grab their popular banana and chocolate croissant and a seat at their outdoor table. Don’t forget to BYOC (bring your own coffee).
Get your hair did. A friend used to tell me that she would fly to NYC to visit her hairstylist every four months. She just couldn’t trust anyone else with her hair. I never understood her thinking until I got my hair styled by Fanny at the David Mallet Salon in Paris (14, Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 75002 Paris). Now, I make it a point to fly to Paris several times a year to get my locks tamed at this very special salon. Tucked away in a stunning flat in the posh 2nd Arr. — part museum, part taxidermy gallery and 100% chic — this is the place where celebs get coiffed for the Cannes Film Fest and Paris Fashion Week. Haircuts start at 125 Euros and it’s worth every penny.
From the David Mallet Salon, head east on Rue Etienne Marcel and hang a right on Rue Montmartre. There you’ll find one of my favorite epicurean shops in Paris, Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie (34, Rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris). It’s very much like the Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium for culinary nerds with countless jars of caviar, pâtés and truffles. Stop in next door at their café for some incredible escargots and other tasty bites.
Get your shop on. Merci Merci (111, Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris) is hands down one of my favorite stores in Paris. Overlooking a grand courtyard, this eccentric store has it all: furniture, hip clothes for guys and girls, custom perfumes and much more. Grab an espresso in the cozy used bookstore on the first floor and contemplate buying those $600 A.P.C. boots (or better yet, visit the A.P.C. Surplus shop and get them there at a discount).
Located at the base of the famous Sacre Coeur, the A.P.C. Surplus (20, Rue Andre del Sarte, 18th district, Paris) is the answer to every fashionista’s prayer. The bargains are plentiful and you can walk out with last season’s gems for a fraction of the price.
Sacrebleu! Trek up the steep Butte Montmartre to catch the best view in Paris and watch the sunset. Get intoxicated with the sound of accordions, the sight of aspiring painters and the smell of fresh crepes as you walk around the spectacular Sacre Coeur.
In Anthony Bourdain’s 100th episode of No Reservations, he boldly stated that Frenchie represents the future of French cuisine. He was right. Frenchie (5-6, Rue du Nil - 75002 Paris) is an intimate restaurant — they seat fewer than twenty guests at a time and they specialize in seasonal, innovative small plates. I had the pleasure of hanging with the chefs afterhours and enjoying a post-work bottle of wine with them. It was refreshing to see that all the chefs were under the age of thirty five and had such a wonderful approach and passion for food. It shows in their ever-changing menu. Call way ahead for reservations, Frenchie is one of the hardest tables to book in Paris.
From brothel to bar. Christian Mazzalai of the band Phoenix once told me that Le Baron (6 Av Marceau - Paris 8) was his favorite hangout in Paris. This former brothel, now transformed into a bar and concert venue, offers a dark, intimate setting to get your groove on.
Get your downward chien on. Work off all the gluttonous meals you’ve consumed while in the land of wine and cheese by attending a Vinyasa class at the pristine Rasa Yoga studios (21, Rue Saint Jacques, Paris V). If taking a yoga class in French is too intimidating, they even offer classes in English.
Take a stroll around the Marais, one of Paris’s oldest neighborhoods. Check out some great shops and boutiques, then grab a falafel at L’As du Fallafel (34, Rue des Rosiers 75004 Paris 04) or a scoop of ice cream from the famous Glacier Berthillon (29-31, Rue Saint Louis en l'ile, 75004 Paris 04). Claim an outdoor seat at one of the many cafes that line Rue Vieille du Temple for some good people watching and a glass of Ricard (see below).
Get spiritual. Explore Pere Lachaise Cemetery and walk amongst the graves of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf to name a few. Take the line 3 train to the Gambetta station and enter the cemetery near the tomb of Oscar Wilde.
Cut some cheese. No trip to Paris is complete without stopping in a fromagerie. Visit the mother of all cheese shops in Paris, Barthélémy (51, Rue de Grenelle 75007 Paris) or for a more intimate experience, check out my personal favorite, Cantin (12 Rue Champ de Mars 75007 Paris). The cheesemongers at Cantin do not speak English, so just follow your eyes and your nose.
Eat delicious pizza by candlelight. Grazie (91, Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris) is a great pizza spot run by cool Italians. They also know how to make a mean cocktail. A reservation is highly recommended, but you can usually walk in and grab a seat at the bar.
Where to Stay. Named after Serge Gainsbourg's song, Hotel Particulier (23, avenue Junot, Pavillon D, 75018 Paris) is quietly nestled inside a hidden garden, located in picturesque Montmartre. Be sure to check out their great bar even if you choose not to stay in this boutique hotel.
Good to know:
The French pharmacy is a Parisian woman’s best-kept secret. French brands like La Roche-Posay (their products are on every beauty mag’s 'Best Of' lists), Roger&Gallet (their Savon Liquide Amande Persane smells divine), Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oatmilk (amazing for those days when you don’t want to wet your hair), and Talika (helps grow eyebrows and eyelashes) can cost a pretty penny stateside, but can be found in France for cheap. I also recommend stocking up on Biafine. I once cut my pinkie on a mandolin slicer and as a quick fix, I dabbed some of this magic cream on the wound. Miraculously, I don’t have a scar and I still think Biafine did the trick. It cleans, moisturizes and minimizes scars fast, and best of all costs about $6.
Drink like the French and know how to prepare a glass of pastis, the national drink of France. This anise-flavored liquor is usually served in a small Ricard glass, with a carafe of water and ice on the side. Add water to your desired taste. This will transform the pastis into a milky looking liquid. Ice is optional. Voilà!