Paris is the city of light, love, Couture: one-time resident, Chomwan Weeraworawit—who would live in Paris again in a heartbeat—was happy to go back to her old hang-outs and try out new ones for our Dispatch.
Paris is the city of light, love, couture, and...well…everything: all the landmarks contain memories and a visit during FW17 Haute Couture week is a great time to go. One-time Parisian resident, our Editor-at-Large Chomwan Weeraworawit—who would live in Paris again in a heartbeat—was happy to go back to her old hang-outs, as well as try out a new hotel, restaurant, and a shop or two for our latest Dispatch.
Sleep When I lived in Paris I was in the Marais. Back then it did not have a Chanel on Rue Vielle du Temple, which was at the end of my street; I was on the Rue de Blanc Manteaux, a block from Rue Aubriot, Helmut Newton’s old studio, and where that famous YSL Le Smoking picture was taken.
Helmut Newton, Rue Aubriot
I used to spend a lot of time on the Rive Gauche, as my university and many of my friends were around there. The Quartier Latin and St. Germaine was where I spent quite a bit of time. On this trip to Paris, we stayed at the Hotel Bel Ami—the first time I actually stayed on the Left Bank and it was amazing! First and foremost, the Café de Flore was just down the road and I was really in the middle of all that Rive Gauche action.
The Bel Ami was extremely comfortable, with the right amount of bohemian chic that makes you go back. We loved the retro vibe in the rooms, with the light installation and the nod to Piet Mondrian with the cabinet and the Ikat runners. The lobby and café were filled with books—perfect for being a hotel in the middle of the literary haunts of yesterday and where the artists and intellectual congregate. The selection of wild honeys from all around the world at breakfast and the bag of Alain Ducasse chocolate that was in our room upon arrival were appreciated. We especially loved the bed sheets and the colors.
Hotel Bel Ami
Eat Paris is a city of great food and a new French food has arrived of late: seasonal, adventurous, and most definitely French in method but outward-looking. French cuisine that is true to its outside influences yet makes the most with wonderful French ingredients and methods. A great example of this is Au Passage in the 11th. See, the new foodie thing though is now all in the 10th and the 11th where rent is affordable. Au Passage is all French tapas and sharing plates with an interesting twist on just about everything, and a menu of only natural wines. We loved the Polpe Dog and the vegetables. The other place not to miss is Le Clown Bar next to the Cirque d’Hiver. It’s teeny tiny but worth it.
For me, there are a couple old places that I cannot return to Paris without visiting. Top on that list is Chez Georges on Rue du Mail. The pot of geese rillettes is to die for. The sole meuniere is very good as is the steak but save room for the communal chocolate mousse and tarte tatin. The maitre’d can be a bit grumpy but the waitresses in their French maid uniforms are lovely and matron like: they will welcome you with an embrace and make sure you are fed. Love Chez Georges.
Another one of the old guard is Brasserie Lipp, which is consistent through the years and the Belle époque thing through the ages just gets better. Sure it’s a tourist trap but Paris is a city where tourists are simply everywhere so suck it up, have a Kir royal, and dig into the sauerkraut, sausages, and pork knuckle. Le Duc is wonderful for fish–another gem on the Rive Gauche—and if you fancy a bit of refined Japanese, Yen serves soba, cooked fresh everyday. The seasonal specials are amazing especially when you are talking about white asparagus: perfect dashi, some ume plums, and sweet, plump white asparagus.
Yen's Soba with White Asparagus, Ume and Wakame
It is a relief that Pho 14 opened a second branch in Rue Therese and, to complete the going to Paris for noodles situation, we would also recommend Kunitoraya. The queue is worth it, though you can be smart and go early or just after the lunchtime rush. I love the Kunitoraya restaurant: great food, no waits, delicate, and brings udon to the next level.
For sweets, don’t miss Philip Andelman’s new cookie shop in the 2nd Stoney Clove: the Snickerdoodles might be the best you’ve had since childhood. Toraya for the mochis is still a must, especially when you are knocking around the 1st Arrondissement. And finally, whilst it is true that La Duree are ubiquitous around the world now, nothing quite beats getting your macarons wrapped for you at that lovely little branch off the Madeleine or just off the Place de St. Germaine. Alain Ducasse’s new chocolate place on Rue de Benoit is also amazing: best chocolate from a master.
Juice Lab is a new thing in Paris and rather excellent, not bad when it was only a three minute walk from our hotel. If you find yourself in Paris on Sunday, make it over to the Marais: get there early enough (i.e. around 11:30am) to get in the queue for Miznon for the most insane cauliflower and fresh grilled meats or fish. Farm to Table by way of Tel Aviv. Or the perennial favorite L’As du Falafel. Falafels like nowhere else: the tahini perfectly creamy and those tasty eggplants with a drizzle of hot chilli sauce. Divine with a lemonade.
Drink Paris is about old gems when it comes to drinking. The Ritz Bar at the renovated Ritz was the spot then as it is now. The Hemingway Bar at the Ritz is more intimate and so lovely: drinks are strong. Back on the Rive Gauche, a drink at the Flore, La Palette, and Le Bar du Marche are obligatory. Not in that order, but if you start early enough you will be pleasantly merry by your 9pm dinner reservation.
Paris is all about fancy cocktails too—as is the rest of the world—and the cocktail Bar Danico being so close to Chez George is our pick. Andre has taken over Chez Castel: that is where the party is.
Cafe de Flore
Don’t miss To this day, a visit to Colette is still obligatory: it’s always great to see what books and gadgets they’ve picked up. Holiday magazine is my new favorite discovery there, and the selection of clothes is still good fun. La Hune bookstore is the place to get French volumes and browse at book covers.
A trip to Mariages Freres on Rue Bourg Tibourg; granted there is Mariages Freres pretty much everywhere now, but to speak to the tea connoisseur there and have him recommend the perfect blend for you is still a uniquely Parisian experience for me.
Store-wise, Corto Moltedo’s flagship in the Jardins du Palais Royal, Didier Ludot’s vintage store in the same area, and Rick Owen’s amazing flagship, also within the same square, combine for a great afternoon. The gardens themselves are divine. Also, Olympia Le Tan’s flagship is lovely and that's just around the corner.
And then there is the French pharmacie, the best one is the Drugstore St. Germain de Prés: here you will find everything, granted you can get NUXE and Caudalie everywhere now but it’s still a treat to see all that Frenchness in one place. Department Store-wise, being on the Left Bank means being closer to Le Bon Marché: today, the ground-floor themed multibrand makes the store fun and ever-relevant. Museum-wise, Palais de Tokyo always has something great, as does the Centre Pompidou.
Getting Around Uber has changed EVERYTHING in Paris: no more dealing with grumpy taxi drivers. Still, it is the best walking city though so make time for that.