PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA | OUR GUIDE TO THE CITY OF LIGHTS
The City of Light comes alive during Paris Fashion Week. Here’s our checklist for a weekend in the French capital. And if you just do one thing? Visit the Musée Yves Saint Laurent. It’s a fashion pilgrimage worth undertaking.
SLEEP: Hôtel Royal Saint-Honoré
Located in the heart of historic Paris and the emblematic district of haure couture, Hôtel Royal Saint-Honoré is two steps away from the place Vendôme, the Louvre museum and the opera Garnier. Surrounded by well-known stores and luxury brands, the hotel combines elegance and tradition. Rating back to 1924, it has been build on the site of the Marquis de la Fayette’s 18th-century manor house.
The elegant rooms, with modern dark-wood furniture and marble-trimmed bathrooms, can be a little small, but that’s not unusual for Paris. Opt of a Deluxe room for more floor space and a sofa. The luxury is noticeable in the choice of materials: frames, woven metal, rare photos of the 1950s, embroidered details and golden edges.
The oriental-themed Café 221, with its crimson walls and Chinese lanterns, serves a typically French menu of onion soup, croque madame and tarte tatin, which guests can enjoy al fresco on the street-side terrace. There’s also the pretty Salon Louis XVI, reserved for hotel guests only, where a full buffet breakfast of fresh juice, pastries, cold cuts and eggs is served daily.
EAT: Les Fines Gueles
Centrally placed in the fashion area of Place de Victoires, the fine stone building that houses Les Fines Gueules is quite rightly a listed monument, and their terrace catches the sun for much of the day. Even the interior feels lights and breezy, despite a quite low ceiling, with its designer retro look. At first glance, Les Fines Gueules might seem like an ordinary corner café, but a closer look at the menu reveals unusual attention to ingredients, the restaurant only uses the freshest, best quality produce including butter from Breton Jean-Yves Bordier, and meat from star butcher Hugo Desnoyer. Our personal favourites are the lobster ravioli in broth and the tuna tartar, picture by our buying team below.
EAT: Le Petit Marche
A faintly fusion cuisine is what makes this cosy bistro, footsteps from place des Vosges, stand out. Dishes such as raw tuna wrapped in sesame seeds or caramelised duck breast served with roasted bananas lend a welcome Asian kick to a menu that otherwise reassures with old French bistro favourites that have been around for centuries. There’s also a summer pavement terrace.
DRINK: Experimental Cocktail Club
The Experimental Cocktail Club certainly strikes the right notes aesthetically, exuding a minimalist neo-baroque vibe with its black Chesterfields and zinc bar. As the name suggests, original cocktails are the order of the day. These are unswervingly inventive and refreshingly affordable given the setting. Live DJs keep the atmosphere upbeat and the staff are friendly and well-informed about all matters drink-related. After the Experimental Cocktail Club’s mixes, you’ll never go back to the boring drinks that are to cocktail bars what McDonald’s is to Michelin stars. Paris has been slow to host the type of venues that are so fashionable in New York – ‘mixology’ bars that re-invent cocktails with strange spirits, fresh fruit juices and subtle spices.
VISIT: Musée Yves Saint Laurent
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris exhibits the couturier’s body of work on the legendary premises of his former haute couture house where Yves Saint Laurent spent nearly thirty years designing his collections from 1974 to 2002. The same building serves as the headquarters of the Foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent. Across 450 m2, an ever-changing rotation of retrospective displays and temporary thematic exhibitions will present the Foundation’s rich and unique collection.
A concept store mixing fashion and design, Merci was created in March 2009 in the heart of the historic district of Haut-Marais. Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, founders of BONPOINT the children’s fashion label, realized that Paris lacked a place which would bring together the best of the world of fashion, of design, of household goods with welcome refreshment areas. The masterful contemporary space holds several levels of décor, furniture and fashion, in addition to a bookstore, a florist, several cafés and a garden. The setting for the stylish enterprise is a stunning environment of concrete, wood and steel, furnished with a combination of antique and handcrafted furnishings, and lit with tall windows and skylights.
The founders decided that the proceeds of this investment would serve to fund an endowment paying for educational projects and development in south-west Madagascar. Bernard and Marie France Cohen wanted to say MERCI to life, MERCI to the talents and to the designers who made this success possible. It is this success which makes their generosity possible.
WHAT TO WEAR IN PARIS IN FEBRUARY & MARCH