Parisian Fashion TemptationsBest Bets Goes to ParisThe Best Substitute for the GreenmarketA Guide to the Parisian Restaurant SceneA Walking Tour of Disneyland Resort Paris’ ArchitectureGenre-Bending Art HappeningsGuide to Sales & Bargains London Los Angeles Miami Sydney
France may be suffering from un coup de blues lately (last week’s general strike capped a period in which the country lost the 2012 Olympics, voted non to Europe, watched its marginalized youth set flame to the suburbs, and saw tear gas drifting across the boulevard St. Germain as students in the streets protested diminishing job security). But in some ways, the capital city has never felt more charged. With President Jacques Chirac on the way out, and a female Socialist candidate—Ségolène Royal, who’s got Bloomberg-level approval ratings—saying she’ll run, there’s a nationwide hankering for change that hasn’t been felt in a long time. Things are loosening up at a local level, too. Mayor Bertrand Delanoë is trying to invigorate the street life by bringing back the popular Paris Plage (an organized public “beach” on the Seine) and Les Nuits Blanches (an all-night, citywide chance to go to museums, monuments, restaurants, and galleries) this summer. The fine arts are charging hard, too. In the past six months, the Grand Palais’s Central Hall, the Petit Palais, and the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris have reopened to the public; L’Orangerie and the Museum of Decorative Arts will soon follow. In June comes the opening of the vast, modernist Musée du Quai Branly, dedicated to primitive and tribal arts. Events may get dramatic at times, but never fear; in Paris, eternal pleasures (warm croissants, surly cab drivers) endure even as the next new thing gets ready to burst on the scene.
If you like the modern aesthetic of the Four Seasons, you’ll love the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme.
If you like mingling with the eccentric regulars at the Chelsea Hotel, you’ll love the Hôtel Costes.
If you like ogling the fashion editors at the Bryant Park Hotel, you’ll love the Meurice.
Next: Parisian Fashion Temptations
Temptation x 5
Colette gets all the hype, but L’Eclaireur owners Martine and Armand Hadida have been bringing new names into Paris’s fashion universe for 25 years, and their five boutiques are still the cutting edge. There’s a store each for men (12, rue Mahler) and women (3, rue des Rosiers) in the Marais, with emphasis on experimental and cerebral créateurs (Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons). An outpost at 10, rue Hérold, in the 1st arrondissement is so discreet you have to know it’s there and includes the room of curiosities (pictured). The original shop at 26, avenue des Champs-Elysées, in the 8th arrondissement, features interesting men’s labels likes Marni, Dior Homme, and Dries van Noten. The lofty, light-filled newest store located at 8, rue Boissy d’Anglas, also in the 8th, has exclusives on women’s lines like Basso & Brooke, Ken Scott, Haute, the retro-chic Guaglianone, Gianni Barbato shoes, and Sissi Rossi bags; upstairs, the men’s area has Marni, Haute, Dior Homme, and Bruno Bordese. A bar and restaurant are slated to open in early June.
Next: Best Bets Goes to Paris
THE BEST BET
Marie-Anne Cantin runs one of only two fromageries in Paris that does its own affinage (aging). She’ll not only help you pick out a nice, ripe, unpasteurized Epoisses or one of her famous triple-cream Saint Antoines, she’ll vacuum-seal it for you. The Customs dogs will never know (12, rue du Champ de Mars, 7th; 33-1-45-50-43-94).
A ripe eighteen-year-old apple
Legrand Filles et Fils gives this Calvadosdu Pays d’Auge Privilège by Adrien Camut the highest marks (70 euros; 1, rue de la Banque, 2nd; 33-1-42-60-07-12).
Design your own
Pick out the colors and leather for these flip-flops at Fred Pinels’s atelier, and 72 hours later, they’re yours (200–350 euros; 62, boulevard de Strasbourg, 10th; 33-1-45-23-11-14).
How to fill the extra suitcase?
With several tubes of Klorane’s highlyeffective mango butter hair conditioner (about 8 euros at Euro Santé Beauté, 128, boulevard St.-Germain, 6th; 33-1-43-29-92-54).
Light, spicy, portable
A mini set of Sel de Vetiver from haute perfumer the Different Company will get you through the weekend (78 euros; 3, rue Chabanais, 2nd; 33-1-42-60-12-74).
Pick up odds and ends like mismatched bundles of silver cutlery at the Puces de Vanves (starting at about 30 euros; 14th).
Je t’aime, Serge!On Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited, Cat Power, Michael Stipe, Portishead, and others cover Serge’s hits (16.15 euros, Fnac, 74, avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th; 33-1-53-53-64-64).
Next: The Best Substitute for the Greenmarket
THE BEST …
WAY TO BLOW PAST THE CROWDS
Paris Museum Pass
Tourists who can’t fake the necessary bravado to cut lines like the locals can simply buy the Museum Pass (formerly the Carte des Monuments et Musées). Thirty, 45, or 60 euros for two, four, or six consecutive days gives you the right to muscle in. You can get them at museums, tourist centers, and Fnac stores.
PLACE TO PICK UP A FRENCH BANKER
6, rue de l’amiral de Coligny(33-1-42-92-00-24)
The post-work hangout for financial types trickling home from a hard day trading futures at the Bourse. Conversation tip: The CAC 40 = the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
CULTURAL EXPERIENCE WHILE SHOPPING
Galerie des Galeries
40, boulevard Haussmann
This fall’s second edition of the surprisingly successful Galerie des Galeries—a contemporary-art exhibit started last fall in the main floor of the venerable department store Galeries Lafayette—will take place 10/27–12/9. Done in association with the contemporary-art fair FIAC, it will feature rising talents like Xavier Veilhan, Laurent Grasso, and Audrey Nervi.
SUBSTITUTE FOR THE GREENMARKET
The Marché d’Aligre is the foodies’ favorite destination; it’s open every day except Monday, and the rapidly hippifying but still ethnically diverse neighborhood ensures that you’ll be squeezing tomatoes next to some of the city’s most attractive bohemians. The fresh-shellfish displays at La Marée Beauvau, trucked in daily from the Atlantic Coast, are particularly beautiful.
Next: A Guide to the Parisian Restaurant Scene
Haute and Cozy
The global food- casualization movement has turned up here as bistronomique (a combination of bistro and economique, bien sûr). Some are run by Michelin-star-wearers; others are simply cheap(ish), friendly, and give the chefs a chance to play with comfort food. Here’s the current crop.
Formerly known as Lucas-Carton, this Star Trek–meets–Maxim’s bistro near the Madeleine has a “democratic” menu that’s about 120 euro per person; not cheap, but a good deal for this level of food. If you’re lucky, chef Alain Senderens will still be serving the mini-pumpkin with vegetables (33-1-42-65-22-90).
Les Fables de la Fontaine
The latest by Christian Constant, whose starred Violon d’Ingres is just down the street. There’s no set menu; the fare changes according to the day’s catch; one recent crowd pleaser was wild sea bass with herb ravioli and Parmesan emulsion (33-1-44-18-37-55).
Modernized and copious servings of regulation bistro fare like palleron de boeuf (slow-cooked beef in red wine) are on the 28.50 euro prix fixe menu in this Quartier Latin spot (33-1-43-25-20-79).
Le Comptoir du Relais Saint-Germain
Yves Camdeborde started the bistronomique trend fifteen years ago; now he’s serving an exceptional 40 euro prix fixe five-course dinner in a fifteen-table restaurant near Odéon. If you can’t get in for dinner, go for lunch—just show up by 12:15, and try the charcuterie (33-1-43-29-12-05).
L’Ecaille de la Fontaine
Some think this tiny 2nd arrondissement spot, headed by chef Laurent Audiot, has the best fruits de mer in town. Like La Fontaine Gaillon across the street, it is owned by Gérard Depardieu. Bypass the 8 euro, four-scallop entrée and get an oyster platter instead (33-1-47-42-02-99).
An Alain Ducasse prix fixe lunch for 38 euros. Enough said. Order the cassoulet, a holdover from the bistro’s original menu (33-1-42-72-25-76).
How to Drink Absinthe
At La Perle (33-1-42-72-69-93), the bartenders add absinthe into the Fée Verte cocktail, then set it afire to blend the flavors (and heighten the drama). You can buy spiritueux à base de plantes d’absinthe in liquor stores here, but it’s classified as contraband in the U.S. (somewhere between controlled substances and lying about how much shopping you did). If you decide to sample absinthe on your own, here’s the preferred method. But don’t get too attached, unless you want to spend your vacation feeling like you’ve been dragged down a cobblestone street.
1. Put a shot glass of absinthe into a tall, narrow glass; dip a sugar cube into the liquor and rest it on a slotted absinthe spoon over the glass. Set it on fire.
2. Douse the flaming sugar with water, so that the sugar dissolves and falls through the slotted spoon into the glass.
3. Stir the now-cloudy green mixture with the slotted spoon; drink while still slightly warm to disguise the cough-syrup taste.
The Pastry Invader
Paris had never seen an Eton mess (a creamy meringue and red fruit pastry) until Rose Carrarini and her husband, Jean-Charles, opened a bakery behind an unremarkable façade on the rue des Martyrs. And why would an English bake shop stand a chance in a city that’s wall-to-wall patisseries? Rose does have a very chic following, it’s true—Carrarini is the sister-in-law of Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo, so she’s got an in with the local style elite. But the four-year-old shop wouldn’t be supplying goods to places like Colette, or drawing in celebrity clientele (Isabelle Adjani’s been spotted) if the scones, cupcakes, and pies weren’t irresistibly toothsome. Carrarini’s even got butter-philic Parisians converted to her vegan organic chocolate cakes. -T.I.
Gourmet tapas and the city’s best paella have given chef Alberto Herraiz huge buzz at Fogón St. Julien (33-1-43-54-31-33) on the left bank. The real lure at Black Calvados in the 8th arrondissement is the pretty, fashiony crowd (33-1-47-20-77-77). Trema is a Scandinavian épicerie and restaurant near the happening quai de Valmy in the 10th (33-1-42-49-27-67). Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s move to Le Chateaubriand in the 11th should be interesting for the beloved bistro’s menu (33-1-43-57-45-95). And until June 26, peripatetic New York chef Angelo Sosa is moonlighting at Spoon in the 8th. Be sure to try the gingerbreaded rack of lamb (33-1-40-76-34-44).
Next: A Walking Tour of Disneyland Paris’ Postmodern Architecture
PLAN NO. 2: MARNE-LA-VALLÉE
Skip the rides. See the architecture instead.
You don’t have to be from Williamsburg to appreciate the irony of Disneyland Resort Paris. What might surprise you, though, is that it’s got a singularly impressive collection of postmodern architecture, just a train ride (the RER, it’s called) away from downtown Paris. And if that collection doesn’t satisfy you, there’s a dense population of Important Buildings nearby.
1. Disneyland Resort Paris
Michael Eisner pictured his French Disneyland as a grand projet along the lines of its neighbor Versailles and gathered a team of star architects (Frank Gehry, Robert A. M. Stern, Michael Graves, Robert Venturi) to realize it. Stern designed the Newport Bay Club (think faux New England elegance around a man-made lake) and the Wild West–themed Hotel Cheyenne, while Graves did the Hotel New York. Best of all is Gehry’s Disney Village, done in his pre-titanium vernacular with everything from cyclone fencing to road signs.
2. Château d’Eau, by Christian de Portzamparc
Rondpoint des 4 Pavés, NoisielJust outside Disneyland is the town of Marne-la-Vallée, built in the seventies as one of France’s “new towns.” Everything, including this spiraling, ziggurat-like water tower—the Pritzker Prize winner’s first commission—was designed by the country’s top architects.
3. Centre de l’Enfance, by Jean-François Laurent
29-31, Cours du Danube, Val d’Europe
The children’s school riffs on rounded, geometric de Stijl motifs in modern, monumental scale.
4. Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs en Electrotechnique et Electronique, by Dominique Perrault
2, Boulevard Blaise Pascal, Champs-sur-Marne
Perrault is best known for Paris’s national library; this giant engineering school looks like a steamship laid on its side.
Next: Genre-Bending Art Happenings
Purple People Pleaser
Ffifteen years ago, artists still treated fashion with disdain. Olivier Zahm and Elein Fleiss changed all that with their genre-bending magazine Purple in 1992. Soon, magazine boutiques were crowded with like-minded glossies (Spoon, Dutch). Now Zahm is debuting a Purple-themed pavilion called the Rose Poussière at the triennial La Force de L’Art, France’s take on the Whitney Biennial. In it, he’ll pair artists—Slyvie Fleury, Sturtevant—with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Hedi Slimane. May 9 to June 25 at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais.
Playing the Left
Aalong with the obvious romantic appeal of all those cute, intimate Left Bank hotels comes the unfortunately high risk of getting a damp room, lumpy bed, and c’est pas mon problème service. There are, however, a few that surpass the cliché. Grace Leo-Andrieu’s Hôtel Le Bel-Ami, near Café Flore in the sixth, has 115 bright, contemporary rooms that feel cozy, and a sparkling new fitness room and spa (33-1-42-61-53-53; from 300 euros). At L’Hôtel, groovy tastemakers hang out in the bar, and guests get boldly decorated rooms designed by Jacques Garcia. The Cardinal apartment (Room 62) has a terrace (33-1-44-41-99-00; from 280 euros).
Hôtel Duc de Saint-Simon is far enough off the busy St.-Germain to be quiet, but not so far that it’s inconvenient. All room numbers ending in 7 overlook the garden (33-1-44-39-20-20; from 250 euros).
Next: A Guide to Sales & Bargains
SALES & BARGAINS
Hitting the paris sales, even with the hideous exchange rate, can make your trip worthwhile. And it’s easy to plan for them because markdowns in France are—surprise!—strictly regulated by the state. They take place twice a year, in mid-January and in late July or August, and may last no longer than six weeks. The initial cut is usually around 30 percent, and gets deeper as time goes by. The big designer boutiques on the avenues Montaigne and Saint-Honoré are fun to cruise through, but pretty much every shop in the city will have a soldes sign in the window, so now is the time to buy Petit Bateau in bulk. Leave your extraneous baggage and your body shame at home; your competition will probably strip down right in front of you. The Ministry of Economy releases summer’s sale dates eight weeks before, so start checking the papers online (lemonde.fr, lefigaro.fr) at the end of May.