I may not have mentioned it (that’s not true- I’m always mentioning it) but I used to live in Paris. Paris is my favourite city in the world. I don’t live there now, which sometimes makes me a bit sad, but it does mean that when I visit I now get to act like a number one Paris tourist mega fan. You can’t do that when you live there, it is terribly unParisienne to show even the slightest bit of enthusiasm f or anything. As it’s Bastille Day I thought I would share with you my perfect stay in Paris. Now, this is quite a long post so I’m splitting it into two parts- places to explore during the day and spaces to get lost in at night.
Paris is the place for wandering from pavement cafés to boutiques at an unhurried pace. Crunching on a baguette lined thickly with butter and crammed with freshly sliced ham and remembering as much as you can from ‘Encore Tricolore’
Take a walk along Canal Saint- Martin (Exit at the Metro République) this is where the gorgeous 'skimming stone' scene in the film Amelie is set. This is a beautiful route and you can stop at one of the lovely bistros by the canal for lunch- my favourite is La Perle for the red wine and mixed charcuterie board/ cheese board.
Rue Vielle du Temple (my favourite street in Paris and where all great wandering strolls stem from and return to) I would spend many Saturday afternoons window shopping around here before going to dinner. Take the time to stroll through Place des Vosges towards St Paul and around Hotel de Ville.
Don’t act like a local- jump aboard the tourist boat. I still get on a Bateau Mouche when I visit Paris. It’s the best way to see the city- it’s beautiful, dramatic, atmospheric- go around dusk and for a 13 euro ticket it’s the most romantic way to see the whole of Paris. You even learn historical Paris facts, what’s not to love about that?
Do not get me started on Merci. Merci on 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais- I would move in there if I could. Imagine your dream home where everything is the best version of itself. The cushions are swanky, the lighting is edgy but warming, the sofas are stylish yet cloud like. The linen is crumpled (but in a good way) That’s Merci. It also has a café called ‘The used book café’ serving boiled eggs and rosemary scones to your small nook between the bookshelves. See, I told you so. Let’s all move in!
Empreintes on 5 rue de Picardie, 75003, This is a stunning conceptual design and craft shop - perfect for picking up “ What these? Oh they’re from a little place in Paris” plates.
Shakespeare and Co- If you’ve not seen the Julie Delpie, Ethan Hawke real-time masterpiece that is Before Sunset then how on earth are we still friends? Anyway, this is the bookshop from the film. It was obviously famous before, but the film has ensured it’s now a must visit for hopeless romantics to get a bit teary in. It’s a beautiful English language bookshop draped in history, festoon lights and typewriters. When you buy a book they stamp the inside with an adorable Shakespeare and Co Ink stamp- so definitely buy a book.
Finally, head to the Marais to dig around the Fripe ( vintage clothes) stores. You think you don’t want Fripe- it smells weird and the shops are too cramped but what kind of tourist are you? The kind of tourist who will pass over the chance to get the perfect Bretton t- shirt from actual Bretton that washes like a dream and only costs 3 euro- because of a little musty smell? No you are not.
My favourite is Free P Star at 61 Rue de la Verrerie- they do great hats.
Roll up your sleeves, get out your wallet and happy hunting.
Bit of Culture
Now, here’s where you ignore everything I’ve previously said about acting like a tourist – life is too short to be queuing for the Louvre. Le Palais de Tokyo is a stunning Art Deco building with exciting contemporary exhibitions. Or go to my favourite which is The Musée d'Orsay, this does get busy but it is one of Paris’s most beautiful buildings on the left bank- a former railway station where the architecture is as impressive as the paintings. There is a gorgeous (but pricey) café behind the clock.
Patisseries and Chocolatiers
The 6th arrondissement is where I was seduced not just by chocolate but by chocolatiers. With their acrylic display cases in neon colours suspended from ceilings, moody nightclub lighting, marble floors that made your shoes squeak and jewel-coloured macarons, pâtes de fruits and painted ganaches. It was in the 6th that I first discovered those tiny gem-sized
Carrés (squares) of chocolate, carefully stencilled with the origin of their cocoa bean, such as ‘Ghana’, ‘Brazil’, and ‘Venezuela’. And when buying a box of chocolates meant unwrapping layers of glossy black tissue that were encased in heavy black boxes (the sort that ‘shoosh’ when you prise of the lid), tied up with a flourish of silk ribbon and handed over in a rope handled carrier bag. Trip hedonistically from one glamorous chocolaterie to the next and don’t be too shy to ask for samples!
Buying confectionery in Paris is as far from gluttonous as you can imagine so go to Karamel 67 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007. With its inky blue shop front and copper light fixtures, this beautiful store looks like a antique bookshop but a million times better because it sells the world’s most delectable caramel treats. Their house speciality is poached pear with a soft caramel middle on a praline shortbread- it’s divine.
Pop in to La Patisserie Des Reves on 111 rue de Longchamp 75016. ‘The Patisserie of Dreams’ here you can find traditional French confectionery but the styling is all neon pink flashes, floating bell jars and glow Perspex accents. They opened one in London but London didn’t ‘get it’ so it closed down not long after. Your loss London.
L’eclair Des Genies 14 rue Pavée 75004 for the most beautiful eclairs- my preference is for the Matcha Bambou- earthy matcha cream filling with topped with dramatic shards of white chocolate.
Visit Pierre Hermé 4 Rue Cambon, 75001 - Pick up a coffee, buy 3 macarons and share them on a bench, overlooking the seine whilst mulling over your evening plans. It’s about now that you’re going to want to find a bar and watch as Paris drops it’s shoulders, pops a cork and begins to unravel. Here are my favourite spots for Paris at night.