I’m not a Paris-y girl. I can admit Paris is beautiful, it’s clean, the French are actually so much more pleasant than they are depicted in cartoons. I can see why it is the most popular tourist destination in the world. Everyone loves Paris. I guess it’s that I never know what I’m looking for there – the food is superb, the shopping is world-class, the cityscape views are ridiculously romantic. It just seems almost too easy. There’s no need to explore off the grid, no reason to trek off the beaten path in search of some little-known hidden gem. It seems to me, the best of Paris has already been discovered.
Paris was the rendezvous point for me and my good friend – a journalist who’s been living in Cairo for several months; she was desperate for a European citybreak. I slinked onto the Eurostar with two changes of clothes in my weekend bag, and arrived two hours later at Gare du Nord.
Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais is a gem, though anything but hidden. Fantastically located in the Marais district, it occupies the lovely little Rue Vielle du Temple just off Rue de Rivoli. As soon as you cross the threshold it’s like stepping back into Old World Paris. I love all the charming period details. And how quaint that the room key is actually a key (rather than a key card) which you leave and pick up from reception whenever you come and go!
It was time for a girlie debrief and we both needed to wet our whistles with a little of the good stuff, so a table on the terrace of Tresor was a perfect nearby place to escape the light drizzle. A bottle of chardonnay and a plat du fromage was our first taste of Paris.
The shopping in Paris is insane. It overwhelms me – in a magical way. For high-end Parisian design and tailoring (not to mention accessories) there is only one destination – L’Eclaireur. The vibe here is artsy, futuristic, conceptual – but the clothes are classic, structured, and strikingly feminine. What hangs on the rails here is transformative – these pieces will literally transform you.
For shades, I recommend Marcel Bihan Opticien. They stock so many fun and funky brands, you’re sure to find a pair that will really stand out from the Sunglass Hut mediocrity. I was partial to these round beauts by Linda Farrow for The Row, and these oversized tortoiseshell cat-eye Karen Walkers.
For high street fashion, check out the quirky Eleven Paris. Their tag line is “Life is a joke,” though their designs are anything but. I snagged this sleeveless graphic tee with floral cross for 39€.
With our chip and pin cards all warmed up, we headed over to the glitzy Beaubourg district for dinner at Hôtel Costes. Sure, it’s sceney and the cocktails are over-priced and the food isn’t exactly haute cuisine – but it’s stylish and moody and, like all good things in Paris, it is tried-and-true.
After our meal, we took one of Ladan’s friends up on an invite to the closing party of Pompon on Rue des Petites Écuries. It was bonkers. It seemed like everyone wanted to be there. Ian the bartender welcomed us with some fiery shots called Kalashnikovs.
We lingered for a bit with some fellow DC ex-pats, then left to get some air and stopped by Le Baron for a cocktail. It wasn’t as crazy and raw as it was depicted in the opening scene of “Little White Lies”, but it was unarguably Parisian. Go here for the music, they know what sounds good. Great place to get silly and dance!
Well, Paris, it isn’t love – and it surely won’t last – but if I’ve learned one thing from you, it’s that a time-tested classic never goes out of style.