As I sit in the departures lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport, I can’t help but reminisce on the past few days in Paris. I love everything about this city, the hot summers, the beautiful architecture, the scents of freshly baked breads and pastries from the patisseries, the luxurious department stores and boutiques.
One of my favourite things to do in Paris is to relax on the outside terrace of a cafe with a glass of chardonnay for a few hours and watch the world go by. People watching in Paris is a different experience than anywhere else in the world. One can appreciate the style of the Parisians from afar, we can watch how the French live their lives while they make a trip from their apartment to the boulangerie or the supermarché, returning moments later with a baguette in tow usually nibbling as they walk.
I was lucky enough to spend the past year living in Paris working with a renowned stylist on shootings for Vogue Paris & American Vogue. I lived like a Parisian, I learned the language, picked up French mannerisms and attitudes and settled into life on Boulevard Saint Germain. It wasn’t until a few weeks after I moved in that I realised I was living in one of the most luxurious neighbourhoods in Paris. I stayed there throughout 2014 and during my time I discovered some of the best spots in the city. I thought I’d share my favourites with you all.
WHERE TO EAT
Brunch is acceptable any day of the week in Paris and my favourite spot is La Favorite on Rue de Rivoli. A friend of mine took me here on my first evening in Paris and we devoured a ‘Salad de Chèvre chaud’. Weeks later and craving my usual Eggs Benedict, I took a chance and returned to La Favorite & was surprised to find it on their menu. Many fun afternoons and evenings have been spent here, I take friends when we’re in Paris and recommend to anyone planning a trip.
If you have a higher budget and are searching for a more exquisite and chic dining experience then I recommend checking out the Emporio Armani Caffe on Boulevard Saint Germain. The restaurant is the brainchild of creative fashion designer Giorgio Armani and Italian chef Massimo Mori. Massimo Mori was chosen by Giorgio Armani to be responsible for the restaurant and is without a doubt one of the best chefs around today. The duo came together in 1998 to launch what is now one of the most lavish restaurants in Paris. I recommend starting with the Burrata Pugliese, I guarantee you will be transported to Italy on the first bite. The Emporio Armani Caffe is a fashionable spot & a place to be seen so dress to impress.
GRAB A GLASS
Café de Flore is an well-known upscale restaurant and cafe on Boulevard Saint Germain. The staff are rude, tables are in-demand, coffee is expensive and the service is diabolical but that’s not what Café de Flore is about. It’s about the view, the clientele, the experience, the people-watching, location and the history. Enjoy the ambience here for an hour or two then pop in next door to Les Deux Magots for a chicken and bacon club sandwich and a Pierre Hermé pastry.
FANCY A SNACK?
I’m a lover of frozen yogurt so of course I tracked down the only self serve frozen yogurt store in Paris. Rosa Kiwi is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, close by my old apartment thankfully. I’m embarrassed by how many times I frequented this store last year, almost everyday. Flavours include Vanilla, Lime, Chocolate, Praline, Green Tea & Strawberry and the toppings are endless. It can get pretty pricey as you will be charged by weight but it’s totally worth it. The interior is funky and pastel coloured, the staff are super friendly and most of all the fro-yo is to die for.
Another place I love to visit when I’m in Paris is Ladurée, which I know is cliché but I can’t help it. Although Ladurée have now branched out to several locations around the world, the Paris store is a must. Treat yourself to a decadent experience at Les Marquis de Ladurée next to Place Vendôme where you can takeaway a macaroon or two or you can just get a whole box, sure why not?
WHERE TO UNWIND & RELAX
A friend of mine lives on Avenue de Breteuil and the view from her apartment is the ‘Esplanade Jacques Chaban Delmas’. When the sun is shining we enjoy taking our wine, cheese and baguette picnics out to the gardens and relaxing for the day. This residential area in the 7th arrondissement is tranquil and beautiful, not many people venture to the Esplanade Jacques Chaban Delmas so we usually have most of it to ourselves!
WHERE TO STAY
This depends on your budget but the areas I recommend are Le Marais and Place Vendôme. Two different quarters with two very different price tags. Le Marais is the hip area of Paris known for vintage stores, brunch spots and high street shopping. A friend from New York who travels to Paris on business recommends staying at Hôtel Bourg Tibourg. The interior is exquisite, elegant and charming.
For those with a higher budget, I recommend checking out Hôtel de Louvre, a Hyatt operated property located nearby Place Vendôme, Place de la Concorde & the Opéra Garnier in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Built in 1855, this five star hotel features more than 170 guest rooms, each one with its own distinguished style. Onsite restaurant La Brasserie du Louvre is renowned for their cuisine.
WHERE TO SHOP
Shopping in Paris, wherever you might be, is an experience. You can opt to shop until you drop around the Opera Garnier area 9th Arrondissement where you will find familiar high street stores such as Zara, H&M and Gap. Also in this area is the beautiful Galleries Lafayette & Printemps department store. Take the elevator up to the rooftop and enjoy the best view of Paris from here. For a more luxurious shopping experience I recommend a trip to the luxurious boutiques on Avenue Montaigne, another place I love to people watch. Avenue Montaigne, located next to the Eiffel Tower, is a place where dreams come true in Paris. If you’re dressed in your finest, it’s a must to pop into Le Bar at the George V Four Seasons Hotel for a George Fizz champagne cocktail.
Paris is without a doubt the most romantic and magical location in the world. A place for adventure and discovery with new restaurants, boutiques, designers and hotspots popping up all over Paris, you will never become bored of with the city. Whether you decide to walk, take a Velib or use the metro in Paris, you’re sure to find something to float your boat. Speaking of boats, you should try one of the tours operated by Bateaux Mouches. Hop on in the evening for a view of the city from along the river Seine.
We’re boarding our flight in Paris now, the trip has come to an end. I’ll be back soon, au revoir Paris et à bientôt!