Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois Paris, Claude Monet, 1867

Paris

Have a few days in Paris but not sure where to go? Here are our top picks:

 

Shopping: Spree, 16, rue la Vieuville, 75018 (www.spree.fr)

Concept store shopping at its most charming. Behind witty windows, in a small space decorated by doodles of their family out and about in Paris, husband and wife team, Bruno Hadjadj and Roberta Oprandi sell a selection of homewares and clothes so personal, the first pieces of furniture came from their house. There are Notify jeans and Perriand stools, Eames chairs and Marc Jacobs dresses, Christian Wijnants knits and Prouve tables. Worry later about how you’ll manage on the Eurostar.

 

Shopping: Talmaris, 71, avenue Mozart, 75016 (www.talmaris.com)

Purveyor of traditional goods, Talmaris is the place to go for the perennially-chic Parisian. Set in the heart of the BCBG 16th district, it sells everything from Fabergé eggs to Herend porcelain and is where designers Stefano Pilati and Tom Ford order their engraved stationery.

 

Shopping: Deyrolle, 46, rue du Bac, 75007 Paris (www.deyrolle.com)

Taxidermists Deyrolle stuff all creatures great and small. It’s a surreal and magical experience to come face to face with tigers, turtles and tarantulas on the piano nobile of a beautiful building in the bourgeois 7th. Children will be mesmerized by the man-eaters and creepy crawlies and the butterflies and beetles make great stocking fillers.

 

Shopping: G. Detou, 58, rue Tiquetonne, 75002 (gtou.com)

Gorgeous grocer G. Detou sells all manner of edible French classics (moutarde de Dijon, amandes fumees salees, prunes d’Agen) plus all the ingredients required to make the city’s most exotic macaroons (green tea powder, rose or pistachio paste). The packaging is a treat too – exquisite tins and boxes sit amongst pro-sized sacks and bags. Delight both your magpie shopper without, and your would-be chef within.

 

Shopping: Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 (www.merci-merci.com)

This beautifully curated store has a great selection of fashion, beauty and furniture designers that will make you want to buy it all (although be warned, it doesn’t come cheap). There’s also a tearoom and restaurant if you’re after a light and very chic Parisian snack.

 

Discount Outlets: Alaia, 18, rue de la Verrerie, 75004 and A.P.C, 20, rue Andre del Sarte, 75018

Pick your way through shoes and clothes marked down by over 50% at Alaia’s outlet shop – his designs are so classic, nobody will even notice they are last year’s – and fashion favourite A.P.C’s surplus store has recently re-opened, just in time for you to snap up this and past season’s collections at greatly reduced prices.

 

Café Charlot, 38 rue de Bretagne, 75003

This charming hotspot of Bobo chic offers outside dining in summer and low, sink-into armchairs in winter. Open from 7am to 2am daily (the kitchen serves food until midnight), the hamburgers are particularly good and if you have time, swing by the nearby galleries, Fat and BSL, for the best of art and design that Paris has to offer.

 

Restaurants: Le Chateaubriand, 129 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 (www.lechateaubriand.com)

You get what you’re given at Le Chateaubriand – but that’s just fine when it’s five courses of Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s supremely inventive cooking, the friendly and flirtatious waiters seem to be channelling Eric Cantona/ Sebastian Chabal, the surroundings are straight out of a Robert Doisneau photograph, and you can relax, safe in the knowledge you have a table at the eleventh best restaurant in the WORLD!* People can argue whether it’s deserving or not – it’s our favourite place to eat in Paris. *acc. to S.Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants

 

Restaurants: Le Verre Vole 67, rue de Lancry, 75010 (www.leverrevole.fr)

The caves à manger – offies which serve food – are a new trend in Paris. In a vibe that’s assuredly laid back and local, order petits creux or something more substantial with a wine which is usually organic, biodynamic and always good value. La Verre Volee deserves special mention because, quelle joie, it opens on Sunday evening. Be sure to book (9pm onwards, Parisians never eat earlier).

 

Art: Lescot Wing, Louvre Museum, rue de Rivoli, 75001 (www.louvre.fr)

People like to say Paris is stuck in the past, unable to move on from two-hour lunch breaks, Edith Piaf and rude service. But revolution is in the air as illustrated at the Louvre, where exciting contemporary artists have been commissioned to create new permanent installations, none so beautiful as the blue ceiling by Cy Twombly, unveiled above ancient greek bronzes earlier this year. If that doesn’t tempt you, check out the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Centre Pompidou until September 24th and now open to the public, Jean Cocteau’s house in Milly-la-Foret.

 

Hotels: Hotel Recamier, 3 bis, place Saint Sulpice, 75006 (www.hotelrecamier.com)

Wake up in the heartland of Gallic brains and beauty – La Deneuve lives opposite, Roland Barthes lived around the corner in rue Servandoni, Yves Saint Laurent’s Left Bank flagship store has been here since the 60s, and of course de Beauvoir and Sartre mused on existentialism at cafes nearby. Coming back down to earth – the Recamier, renovated by Jean-Louis Deniot, is a beautiful boutique hotel with 24 small rooms from 250€ to 420€.

 

Hotels: Mama Shelter 109, rue de Bagnolet, 75020 (www.mamashelter.com)

No matter how big the buzz, or that rooms start at a very reasonable 89€, if this room service-free, ex multi-storey car park hotel in the 20th arrondissement, required a hair shirt or walking shoes, it wouldn’t do. But the beautiful linen, Kiehls products and iMacs in every room, the Phillipe Starck interior, Alain Senderens restaurant and great bar, plus recognition that Paris is quite small, so wherever you’re headed won’t be too far away, make Mama Shelter a good tip for a budget base camp.

 

And the rest…

With so little time and so many monuments, museums and grandes marques de mode to tick off, it’s easy to forget how lovely it is just to wander or ‘flaner’ in Paris. We recommend the little streets around Canal St Martin. Along the way you might want to take in coffee at Chez Prune (36, rue Beaurepaire), books at Artazart (83, quai de Valmy), pretty jewellery at Dante & Maria (3, rue de la Grange aux Belles) and finish with a well-deserved apero at L’Hotel du Nord (102 quai de Jemmapes).

— Francesca
31st August 2010