The Insider's Guide to Paris


Who

We asked three Parisian creatives for their musings on the city of light: Lolita Jacobs, an art director and co-founder of the creative agency Jacobs+Talbourdet-Napoleone; Pierre-Marie Agin, a designer known for his whimsical furniture and decor who goes by the moniker Pierre Marie; and Robbie Fitzpatrick, a Los Angeles transplant and the owner and founder of the contemporary art gallery Fitzpatrick.

What

What to Bring

Paris is a city best experienced on foot, or by using its great subway system, so be sure to pack a pair of comfortable shoes. “Waterproof sneakers and grace” are both essential, says Fitzpatrick, and a bucket hat to protect you from our capricious weather. Pierre Marie warns to “ditch the Emily in Paris beret” as it will give you away as a tourist in a second. Also bring a small foldable bag for a spontaneous grocery shopping spree in one of the city’s abundant specialty stores. And don’t forget to download Google Translate. What Jacobs calls the holy trinity—“Bonjour, ​ s’il vous plait, merci”—will help, but for the most part, the French speak only French.

What to Keep in Mind

Politeness isn’t the norm in Paris, so don’t take the locals’ brusque nature personally. When he first arrived, Fitzpatrick quickly learned to keep his voice low and learn a few formalities, such as how “asking a question abruptly without a salutation is considered extremely rude,” he notes. Says Jacobs: “Sales assistants won’t come help you and that’s a good thing, you have your own taste!” Pierre Marie agrees that “Paris certainly has rules, but there is always room for other people’s culture and originality.” Come as you are and trust your instincts.

Where

Where to Stay

The just-opened Chateau Voltaire is ideally located in the center of the city next to all the best shopping, museums and restaurants.

Courtesy of Chateau Voltaire

For something a bit off the beaten path, Pierre Marie recommends Le Pigalle, located in the 9th Arrondissement. “I stayed there a whole week because the heating system in my flat was broken last winter and I needed a warm place close to my own,” he says. “The staff is adorable and made me feel at home. There is also a nice bar, and an all-day restaurant.”

Fitzpatrick recommends the Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon, which is perfectly situated on the left bank and a walking distance from many museums and cafes. If you want to treat yourself, The Ritz is still at the top of everyone’s list.

Courtesy of The Ritz Carlton Paris

Where to Start the Day

Nothing beats a real Parisian croissant for breakfast. The best ones come from the Bar du Moulin, near the Palais Royale. “They get their baked goods from the bakery next door,” says Jacobs. “Their baguette is delicious too, and you can buy a bottle of apple cider as a gift to bring back to friends.” Around the corner, Aki Boulangerie has great matcha, and Kitchen, in the Marais, does great pancakes as well as vegetarian dishes—plus, everyone there speaks English, which is a nice way to ease into the day.

Fitzpatrick loves the dirty chai with oat milk from Café de la Poste across from his gallery on Rue de Turenne. And Komorebi, in the 9th, is a great Japanese bakery: “Ryoko, the owner, cooks everything herself and everything is delicious,” according to Pierre Marie.

Where to Eat

Some of the best new places to eat out these days offer foreign cuisine. Jacobs loves the fashion-world-favorite Italian restaurant Cibus “for all the entrees, especially the fennel, the artichoke and the grilled sardines followed by ragout pasta,” she says. “It only has a few candle lit tables and a warm atmosphere.” Le Hangar is at the top of Fitzpatrick’s list. “It’s my favorite place for a quiet meal and a steak foie gras,” he says.

Pierre Marie likes Saint Pearl on the Rive Gauche, a great place for lunch or brunch that offers classic dishes with a contemporary Asian twist. Kunitoraya, a Japanese udon spot, is well worth waiting in line for.

In the 11th, Le Dauphin serves delicious and simple reinvented French cuisine in decor designed by Rem Koolhaas.

For a snack between museum visits, get the truffle camembert from the Salon du Fromage Hisada. “I sometimes have it in the morning,” swears Lolita. SOMA Saintonge is a small izakaya in the heart of the Marais that serves plenty of small dishes, a perfect lunch spot after shopping and gallery hopping in the neighborhood.

Where to Shop

Paris is, of course, the capital of high fashion, but our guides have plenty of off-the-beaten-path style suggestions. Lolita loves the made-to-measure suits at Husbands and calls it “the wardrobe of my dreams.” For minimalist vintage, she goes to the highly curated boutique Preclothed. Another great vintage source is Dary’s, near the Place Vendôme, where you’ll find vintage jewelry that isn’t overly expensive.

It’s a must after a visit to Charvet, the original Parisian shirt maker beloved for their pajamas and slippers, to wear both inside and outside.

But don’t restrict yourself only to fashion: stock up on specialty cheeses at Barthélémy on the left bank, considered by many to be the best in Paris; wine stores (Septime La Cave is the natural purveyor of the moment); and go visit the Paris Flea Market (Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen) on weekends for unique finds.

Where to Look at Art

The city herself is like a museum, and at every corner you’ll find something historical and special, so keep your eyes open. Pierre Marie loves the Fondation Giacometti, which is “nestled in a house originally designed by the decorator Paul Follot,” Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval, which is dedicated to Art Deco design, and the newly opened Mendes Wood DM Gallery near the striking Place des Vosges. But of course, he also recommends booking an appointment at his space to see what he’s currently working on.

Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM Gallery

Jacobs recommends the Galerie Des Prez Breheret for the best modernist designs. “Minimalist and chic, but with high prices—bring a tissue to cry in!” she declares. She also loves Galerie Lucas Ratton for their precise selection of African art and considers a visit to the Bourse du Commerce obligatory, for their contemporary art program in a historic building renovated by Tadao Ando.

Courtesy of Galerie Lucas Ratton

The Musée Gustave Moreau is a small scale museum dedicated to the works of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau and a unique experience. Fitzpatrick invites you to visit his gallery, Fitzpatrick, on the rue de Turenne as well as Chantal Crousel, considered one of the most respected galleries in Paris for contemporary art. When in doubt, consult the Paris Gallery Map for “an overview of current gallery shows in the city.”

Where to Unwind

Pierre Marie has been doing yoga for over a decade and swears by Yoga Bikram Paris. “They have two studios and classes all day including one at 11 A.M. that’s in English.” A quick stop at the beautiful Grande Mosque de Paris for a hammam and a cup of hot tea is also on his program.

Jacobs swears by the hair salon Adrien Coelho in the Palais Royal, a intimate salon with views onto the garden. She also goes to the pilates studio Reformation, where “coach Johanna Innocenti pushes me like no one else, besides my mother.” If you have been pushed too hard, Fitzpatrick recommends the sound baths at Uman Projects, something unexpected and new in the city.

Where to Get Some Fresh Air

Both Jacobs and Pierre Marie swear by the Buttes Chaumont and Jardin du Luxembourg for a contemplative stroll.

Jacobs takes her son to the latter to play near the observatory playground. Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, likes the outdoor pool at the Hotel Molitor on a hot day—in this mostly air-conditioning-free city, that’s the only way to cool down. Pierre Marie loves the Buttes, as it’s where he met his partner and loves how it is representative of the 19th century idea of a French romantic garden. Jardin des Plantes, in the 5th Arrondissement, is also a must-visit for its spectacular greenhouse. If you want an adventure, Pierre Marie, an avid cyclist, recommends riding through the Coulée Verte du Sud Parisien, which starts at Place de la Catalogne near the Montparnasse train station and takes you south of Paris all the way to the Parc de Sceaux amidst unexpected greenery.

Where to Have a Drink

“I recently quit drinking, but I loved a good sake at Stand Tora or cold beer at the bar of Irashai,” Jacobs says. Café de Flore is a classic for a reason: The iconic cafe on the left bank is still a great place for a late drink and for the best people watching.

Harry’s New York Bar, near Place de l’Opéra, has nothing to do with the Harry’s of the rest of the world, instead it’s an English pub where something interesting always happens.

Le Collier de la Reine has great cocktails. For drinks in a literary atmosphere, try Rosebud in Montparnasse—it is said to have been a favorite of author Simone de Beauvoir—or Le Collier de la Reine.

Courtesy of Le Collier de la Reine

Where to Stay Up Late

Pierre Marie doesn’t drink either, but he still has fun at the club nights hosted by La Creole, a collective started by Fanny Vigier and Vincent Frederic-Colombo that pops up around the city. “I love dancing, so when I feel like it, I follow my friends there who know about nightlife,” he says. Le Tango, the notorious Marais nightclub, reopened last year and is still a great place to go dance, as is Le Silencio, a club designed David Lynch that features a unique set up and sets by from some of the best DJs in the world.

When

Pierre Marie and Jacobs agree that late spring, starting in May, is the best time to visit. “I love sunny Paris. It makes everything easier,” says Pierre Marie. “It’s the perfect time to come out of hibernation and experiment with your outfits.”

Beware that the French are not big fans of air conditioning and that come summer it can get very hot. For Fitzpatrick it’s all about September: “Everyone is back from their holidays, well rested and eager to engage.”

Why

“Paris is for the cynics and the romantics,” says Jacobs. “Parisians have character and opinions.” For Pierre Marie, visiting the French capital is key to understanding European culture and art de vivre, “It is almost magnetic, there is something timeless here,” he says. You come for the food, the fashion and the architecture but you leave it with a deeper understand of the Parisian way of life, something that you can incorporate into your own routine, no matter where you come from. Fitzpatrick says it best: “It inspires you to be more cultivated, to dress better, to eat better, and to surround yourself with beauty.”





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