Paris — the historic hub of counterculture and creativity, known for its food, fashion, fine art, beautiful women, and unique sense of mystery — is undergoing an era of rediscovery. Long respected as a grand city of connoisseurs, she is brimming with opportunities to satisfy every sense as the passion and precision of Parisian excellence, both new and old, evolve. Some of the coolest Parisian shops look and feel like museums. It’s a city that preserves its best traditions, whether they take the form of antiques or architecture, a time-intensive way of making pastries or stitching together leather goods.
And yet on our recent trip to Paris we sensed change in the air. There’s a new batch of high-end menswear brands, with designers who are putting a modern spin on French classics. Just as exciting, they’re having them manufactured on French soil. There’s an obvious Brooklyn vibe happening at the moment, but plenty of boutiques, bars, and coffee shops are giving it their own Parisian twist.
It might be the eating-and-drinking scene in Paris that’s changed most of all. The new cuisine is lighter and fresher, with seasonal produce and simple preparations replacing those elaborate, heavy sauces of yesteryear. And casual dining is in — everywhere, it seems. We found natural wines (vins naturels) and small-plate joints that make it easy for cocktails to turn spontaneously into dinner. That tendency to let things flow, to live in the moment, is another hallmark of French living.
Paris is one of the world’s great cities, and remains full of sensuality and romance. But what’s most exciting is what’s new about it, the charge of young blood and new life, guaranteeing it will maintain its character well into the future. Paris deserves the full treatment. That’s why we chose it as the subject of our newly redesigned Passport section. To make things clearer, we’ve split the city into three main areas. One last piece of advice for exploring: make a point of going down narrow side streets and peeking behind locked portes cocheres. Parisians have a reputation for rudeness, but that’s changing, too. You’ll be surprised how often a stranger will buzz you right into his or her hidden courtyard.
CANAL SAINT-MARTIN & LEMARAIS. A DAY IN ARRONDISSEMENTS 3, 4 & 10
Not that long ago, “Right Bank” was shorthand for the conservative side of Paris. No longer. The Rive Droite has been galloping into a new era, nowhere as dramatically as in Canal Saint-Martin, the leading edge of the city’s Brooklyn-style renaissance. Below there lies the Marais, which we’ve divided into two districts: the Bas Marais, that repository of jewel-box museums and elegant hôtels particuliers, and the Haut Marais, a comparatively undiscovered neighborhood that’s pulsing with bobo (“bourgeois-bohemian”) energy, as dusty old consignment shops become art galleries and imaginatively curated boutiques.
We started our first day along the Canal at (1) Ten Belles, where the barista poured a perfect espresso out of a handsome Marzocco. Owner Thomas Lehoux is a prime mover in the local coffee scene, and his new roastery delivers beans to a bunch of expat indie joints. We stopped at one of them, Holybelly, and then continued along the happening Rue Lucien Sampaix to Bob’s Juice Bar and Tuck Shop.
Next up: shops. The Rue de Marseille has some gems. There’s (2) Centre Commercial, a multibrand store owned by the fair-trade footwear brand Veja that stocks (among other things) excellent made-in-France chinos and men’s accessories of the leather-and-canvas variety. Pickings were just as good down the block at A.P.C. and Balibaris, two French basics brands (albeit at different stages) that get the details right.
East of the Canal, a world-class lunch beckoned. Le Dauphin is chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s follow-up to adjoining Chateaubriand. The Rem Koolhaas–codesigned white-marble dining room is cool enough, but it’s the inventive tapas menu (think crabmeat with pesto-bulgur salad and pearls of horseradish cream) and solid selection of vins naturels that put us in a jolly mood.
We made our way to the Haut Marais via the fast-blossoming Rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth. (3) 0fr., a stylishly disheveled art bookstore, is run by a brother-and-sister duo and draws interesting crowds to its multipurpose gallery in the back. We had books in hand now, and Fondation Café was the perfect place to crack them. Next door we cased the Broken Arm, a contemporary concept store (and café, naturally) from the De Jeunes Gens Modernes tastemakers collective. And a few blocks away we hit up the new-and-improved FrenchTrotters flagship, with its well-chosen, multibrand offerings. This is the largest brick-and-mortar spot yet for its eponymous line, which includes printed shirts made in Paris, as well as some very cool home textiles.
Cutting across the timelessly tony Place des Vosges and into the Bas Marais, we dropped in at L’Eclaireur and leather-goods specialist Isaac Reina. We joined the tourists for falafel on the Jewish Quarter’s Rue des Rosiers, then parked it for awhile in (4) Anatomica, for this is a space in which to spend some time. Cofounder Pierre Fournier gave us a seminar on shoes and fit. He sells hard-to-find Aldens and Birkenstocks, and his label’s museum-quality menswear, beautifully made in France and Japan, has inherited its sporting elegance from bygone days.
Dinner was in the Ninth, which has also been feeling the Brooklyn influence. It consisted of fabulous burrata and melt-in-your-mouth pork cheek at (5) Richer. We followed that up with drinks on the bar-packed Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, taking our time because there was no point in getting to our final stop, (6) Titty Twister, before 1 a.m. With its heady mix of tattooed rockers and decked-out dandies — and scads of models — our verdict is that this is the best club in Paris at the moment.
Balibaris. 14 Rue de Marseille, 75010
The cinema-inspired label turns out of some of the most wearable menswear in France, from white button-downs to chambray boxers.
Fondation Café. 16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003
A former Ten Belles barista pours a mean coffee in this simple space outfitted with concrete and light-toned wood. The menu also includes tasty breakfast items like granola and avocado toast.
Royal Cheese. 113 Rue de Turenne, 75003
The place to go for jeans in Paris, whether from Lee or Levi’s vintage, as well as for outdoorsy heritage brands like Penfield and Barbour.
Gomina. 36 Rue de Saintonge, 75003
Once a place for children’s wear, this shop has expanded nicely into the grown-up market.
Christophe Lemaire. 28 Rue de Poitou, 75003
A great bet for outside-the-box menswear, from the guy who’s also now head designer at Hermès. For fall, Lemaire dialed back the international eclecticism for a more city-oriented look that includes Shetland sweaters and leather jackets.
Galerie Yvon Lambert. 108 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
This landmark contemporary gallery closes in December, following an Anselm Kiefer grand finale. But the attached bookshop, with its great range of niche magazines and art books, thankfully isn’t going anywhere.
Musée Picasso. 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003
This well-situated temple to the Spanish master reopens this fall, following a five-year, $70 million renovation project that has doubled its exhibition space — which means more room for Picasso’s own hoard.
Maria Luisa. 2 Rue Marie et Louise, 75010
The Neapolitan-style pies here (margarita, caprese, and so on) are the best pizza in the district. Easygoing environs perfect for sharing with friends.
Glou. 101 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
This trendy loft-style spot scores points for its lively vibe (aided by communal tables) and excellent wines by the glass.
Le Progrès & La Perle. 1 Rue de Bretagne - 13 Rue de la Perle, 75003
At any given moment, every Parisian neighborhood has a couple fashionable bistros where the elements mysteriously come together to form the perfect apéro spot with a dash of people-watching. In the Marais, these are the ones.
SAINT-HONORÉ, PALAIS ROYAL & ETIENNE MARCEL
There’s a reason it’s called the First. Few cities anywhere have the eternal glitz and grandeur of the Premier Arrondissement, home of the Louvre and the Palais Royal. For decades, many of the finer things in life have been retailed here. It’s easy to see how shopping underneath urbane arcades became basically an art form in nineteenth-century Paris. Amid all this history, there’s plenty keeping the First fresh. There’s consistently on-point Colette, and the hidden Champs-Élysées nightclubs. In the adjoining Second Arrondissement, we loved the Galerie Vivienne, a historic passageway and a highlight of the revamped Etienne Marcel neighborhood.
We started with a macchiato in Village Royal, the elegant shopping district near Place de la Madeleine, then hit the one-and- only Rue Saint-Honoré. We started with two classics, the shirt- maker Charvet and bespoke bootmaker John Lobb. The latter (with the exception of its original London shop) is now owned by Hermès, whose flagship on Saint-Honoré (its biggest store in the world) more than does justice to the family-owned house’s silk neckties and all the rest. We found ourselves transported by the old-world luggage at Goyard and recently resuscitated Moynat. After our fill of French heritage, we moved on to Colette and then to Japanese denim label (1) 45rpm, a purist’s paradise that’s home to some of the most beautiful natural-indigo jeans, scarves, and shirts you’ll find this side of Tokyo.
Our spin down Saint-Honoré complete, it was time for lunch at (3) Restaurant du Palais Royal. No less satisfying than chef Eric Fontanini’s fleshy red mullet was the sense of civilized tranquility in the (2) Jardin du Palais Royal, onto which the terrace and dining room look.
We window-shopped in the vaulted arcades around the gardens. An espresso recharge at Café Kitsuné fueled the trip over to (4) Maison Bonnet for some of the world’s most exquisite handmade eyewear. The high level of personalization and craft is impressive, and under the fourth-generation owners, the firm’s bespoke tortoiseshell frames have more cachet than ever. Our consultation lasted a good hour and a half. The Etienne Marcel neighborhood, in the Second, is home to (5) Harpo, where American Southwest tribal traditions come awesomely alive in handmade belts and beautifully understated turquoise rings. It was definitely worth the trip.
Maison Fabre. 128 Galerie de Valois, 75001
This classic gantier (glovemaker) has employed the same painstaking stitching techniques since 1924. Slip on a pair of the peccary driving gloves.
Derville. Passage des 2 Pavillons, 75001
The semi-custom shoes here wed modern technology and traditional hand-finishing methods. Choose from three basic silhouettes and all kinds of colors and custom patinas.
Bleu de Paname. 68 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
A next-generation favorite, this five-year-old brand turns out updated workwear that’s made in France and honors a certain Parisian spirit, and also pays tribute to France’s workers. Recently opened, this is the buzzy brand’s first shop.
Kunitoraya 2. 5 Rue Villedo, 75001
A noodle shop in a wonderfully restored (and in some cases untouched) turn-of- the-century Parisian canteen. The homemade udon here is a perfect lunch; onigiri and bento are options, too.
Telescope Café. 5 Rue Villedo, 75001
A tiny, convenient coffee shop just off the Palais Royal that sticks to the basics.
Yam’ Tcha. 4 Rue Sauval, 75001
This triumphant Chinese-French fusion concept pairs flavorful teas with dishes like cold noodles with squid and white sesame. A memorable culinary experience.
Le Louchebem. 31 Rue Berger, 75001
The tender spring lamb is one of dozens of carnivore-pleasing menu items at this sizzling, lip-smacking relic of the old working-class markets of Les Halles. Fearless carnivores can try exotic off-cuts.
Hôtel Costes. 239 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
A modern classic, and a centerpiece of the ultra-fashionable Parisian social scene, especially at night. Jacques Garcia’s take on the opulent Napoleon III style — dark reds, deep velvets, plush Oriental carpeting, and an unmistakable house scent — makes this one of the sexiest rendezvous points anywhere. Especially after dark.
The celebrated Ritz (and its Bar Hemingway) emerges from a two-year renovation later this year, with designer Thierry Despont said not to be straying too far from the Louis XV-style décor. The historic Crillon opens from a refresh in 2015 under new management, with a full floor devoted to designer and brand collaboration. Meanwhile, the forty-room La Réserve opens this fall, with a posh spa and belle époque – inspired interior by (who else?) Jacques Garcia.
For better or worse, the boisterous postwar Left Bank of artists and jazz musicians is now a tasteful enclave of the Parisian elite. Off the main tourist drags, collectors of rare books and antiques haunt the medieval-era side streets of the Sixth and Seventh, and the district benefits from a highbrow glamour that is, in our experience, quite unique to Paris.
We launched our tour of the quartier with a caffeine fix at three- year-old (1) Coutume, the city’s original specialty-coffee shop. We took our cold-drip into the charming Jardin Catherine Labouré, a two-acre park that got its start in the seventeenth century as the kitchen garden for a nearby convent, and then we proceeded along chic Rue de Babylone to the Conran Shop. Housed in a building by Gustave Eiffel, this boutique is the real deal when it comes to post-seventies design, and continues to spotlight emerging talents.
Next we hit up the ultimate Parisian department store, Le Bon Marché, and its must-see gourmet emporium, La Grande Epicerie. On the Rue de Sèvres, in what was once the storied Hôtel Lutetia swimming pool, we found a gobsmacker of a retail space. It belongs to Hermès, and the fine mosaic work and installation of latticed wood huts alone make it worth the visit. Tiny Rue du Dragon contains (2) Officine Generale, a French label that launched earlier this year and has already scored high marks for its reworked classics.
At a four-year-old Ralph Lauren outpost, in a beautifully restored townhouse on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, we got a glorious dose of signature Americana. Lunch at (3) Ralph’s, the hot-spot restaurant, was a no-brainer, and we settled into the patio’s wroughtiron chairs for top-notch hamburgers and lobster salad. We ordered cappuccinos at Café de Flore and tried to detect the ghost of that old philosophizing regular, Jean-Paul Sartre.
The Carré Rive Gauche, near the Seine, is the name of a minidistrict of ridiculously high-quality antiques dealers. We could have spent hours here, examining museum-quality pieces from around the world and learning their backstories. To see our favorite vendors, turn the page.
We paid our respects at 5 bis Rue de Verneuil, Serge Gainsbourg’s former home, and rang the bell at Karl Lagerfeld’s bookstore, (4) 7L, where the selection reflects the designer’s omnivorous but discerning taste and is much more about general design than fashion. From there we went to vintage-watch heaven at Romain Réa.
Another one-of-a-kind Saint-Germain shop: (5) Deyrolle, with its 4,300 square feet of natural history curiosities. If you’re looking for a taxidermied polar bear, this is the place to get it. Just ask Philippe Starck.
Farther down the Rue du Bac, we sprang for a chocolate éclair at La Pâtisserie des Rêves. We found ourselves at Le Bar du Marché for that time of day the French call apéro. A leggy hostess led us to our seats at (6) La Société, a see-and-be-seen dining spot from the legendary Costes brothers. Decorated by Christian Liaigre, it serves up fashionista-friendly dishes like tuna tartare and Thai-spiced roast shrimp, but is more notable for its, shall we say, visually stimulating clientele.
Drinks at the Prescription Cocktail Club, a book-lined mixology den, led us into late-night: at Montana, still a good time, even if founder André has decamped with his party crowd back across the river to Le Baron. We ended our night there, amid the bordello-themed environs. You’ll need a solid door strategy to get into either.
Upla. 5 Rue Saint-Benoît, 75006
Born forty years ago in Les Halles, this enduring hippie-flavored brand has since moved to swankier Saint-Germain. Satchels are their hallmark.
Cire Trudon. 78 Rue de Seine, 75006
Hard to beat the scented candles here, handmade since 1643.
Frédéric Malle. 37 Rue de Grenelle, 75007
This elite perfumer grew up in the Seventh, and it is here that he launched his original store for the brand Editions de Parfums. Malle enlists France’s top noses as collaborators, and presents their work in almost clinically elegant surroundings.
Galerie Philippe Guegan. 12 Rue de l’Université, 75007
The contrasts here are part of the fun: eighteenth-century French pieces (marquetry, marble consoles, bergères) are side by side with current work like optical art by Todd & Fitch.
Galerie Hervouet. 40 Rue de l’Université, 75007
The director quit a top job in the ad world to open this shop; the sharp, Surrealist flavor of his pieces suggests he’s having fun.
Galerie Yves Gastou. 12 Rue Bonaparte, 75006
The in-demand owner has done more than anyone to bring back French furniture from the forties; he has a fascinating collection of more contemporary pieces, too.
L’Arpège. 84 Rue de Varenne, 75007
Chef Alain Passard has mentored loads of younger Parisian restaurateurs, and has been instrumental in guiding French cooking toward vegetables. This grandmaster sources his produce from his own organic farms—and his Left Bank restaurant (bearing three Michelin stars) enlivens them in ways that defy belief.
Prescription Cocktail Club. 23 Rue Mazarine, 75006
A speakeasy-style bar that kills it with the craft drinks. Try the minty, rum-based Very Old Cuban—and skip the weekend late crowds.
La Palette. 43 Rue de Seine, 75006
Boasting a legit bohemian legacy, this Art Deco bar is pure, old-school Latin Quarter.
Hôtel Montalembert. 3 Rue Montalembert, 75007
Sleek modernity (and custom-designed Christian Liaigre furniture) comes with a dose of the 1920s building’s Beaux-Arts heritage at this nicely individualistic Left Bank boutique hotel.
SAINT-OUEN FLEA MARKETS
There’s nothing quite like Paris’s flea markets, in particular the treasure trove at Saint-Ouen, near Porte de Clignancourt. Located just northeast of the city limits, this sprawling bazaar is the world’s largest flea market — marché aux puces, as the French call it — with 2,500 dealers hawking their splendidly eclectic vintage wares.
Visiting Saint-Ouen is a Parisian ritual, and a visitor’s special treat. Centuries of worldly taste are on display here, and it’s a bonus to browse and haggle knowing you’ve got designers, creative directors, collectors, and object lovers of every type around you.
The maze of options — covering seventeen acres total — can be mind-boggling. To get straight to some of the best stuff, start at (1) Paul Bert Serpette, at 110 Rue des Rosiers. A recent merger of two separate markets, one more classic and one more on-trend, it’s now the largest of Saint-Ouen’s fourteen markets. They’ve added fifty new dealers in the past two years, many of them on the younger side, and are planning an elaborate travel-themed installation from September 19–22.
That’s not the only fresh injection the puces have gotten lately. The young, well-connected impresario (2) Archibald Pearson is the driving force behind Le 7, a new shop selling furniture from the collections of bakery-café scion Francis Holder and the gallery Downtown. Pearson also has a role with Habitat 1964, a new outpost for vintage originals from the respected design label. Partnering with the shop, with more of a nonclothing slant than usual, are the high-fashion aces from L’Eclaireur.
Finally, (3) Ma Cocotte, a 250-seat bistro designed by Philippe Starck, has become a humming weekend lunch spot since opening less than a year ago. Located in a converted warehouse, with an ivy-draped brick and zinc façade and deco items sourced mostly from the puces, it’s the perfect place for a laid-back lunch between rounds of treasure hunting.
THE NEXT BIG THING: LA JEUNE RUE
It’s the urban-renewal project that has all the Parisian taste-makers talking. La Jeune Rue (French for “Young Street”) just might change the way people think about urban living. That, at least, is what pioneering developer Cédric Naudon is hoping for.
A food-loving forty-two-year-old with a background in real estate and finance, Naudon has spent the last couple years buying up more than thirty storefronts at the intersection of the happening neighborhoods of Canal Saint-Martin and the Haut Marais. His intention is to create a town within a town, one filled with the sort of artisanal-minded specialty shops that proliferated before supermarkets. Alongside these, he’s providing other necessities of the modern bobo lifestyle, including a hardware store and an oyster bar, an art gallery and a movie theater. The food side comes first, with sustainable produce raised in France. Naudon has an agreement in place with a single farm, the idea being that cutting out the middleman makes for fairer prices. And the Jeune Rue storefronts will look cool, too. Naudon has recruited a roster of international designers to guarantee it, among them Tom Dixon, Michele de Lucchi, Brazil’s Campana brothers, and the Japanese studio Nendo.
The first openings — a cheese shop, a butcher/steakhouse, and a cozy Korean street-food spot designed by Paola Navone — happened this past spring. Others include an Italian restaurant from Patricia Urquiola, a speakeasy by Ingo Maurer, and a tapas bar by Jasper Morrison. The final shops should fall into place by the middle of next year. And an even younger street may soon follow: Naudon has already announced plans for a second Jeune Rue, to open in 2016.