Our style charge on the City of Light, ranges from bathing rituals and historic hotels to high-concept fashion and low-key gastronomy
The Marais’ Les Bains started out as a 19th century bathhouse frequented by Marcel Proust before graduating to a hedonistic hotspot in the late Seventies. Its new owner brought in architecture firm RDAI (also favoured by Hermès) and designer Tristan Auer who have collectively turned it into one of the city’s coolest design hotels. In addition to the basement’s mosaic pool, every inch of this property is visually inspiring, from its custom designed furniture, Carrara marble and cubist tiled bathrooms with Le Labo products, in-room libraries and original artworks, mini bars stocked with vintage crystal, and a blue bedside bat phone for anything else that you can possibly think of.
Chef Grégory Marchand’s Frenchie is easily one of Paris’ most in-demand bistros for its low-key gastronomy in relaxed Scando-French environs – which means exceptionally nuanced flavours presented on earthen ceramics and accompanied by an equally stellar wine list. The attentive staff are also happy to work around food allergies (rare in France!), and the whole experience is refreshingly void of pomp and pretence, in spite of the fact that the tasting menu is fit for a three-star Michelin establishment.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: Frenchie is best booked well in advance, which is why Marchand opened a more casual wine bar serving small plates across the laneway. Here it’s first in best dressed from 7pm, so arrive 15 mins early to snag a table. Next door you’ll also find their Brooklyn-style deli, Frenchie-to-Go, where the lobster roll is the signature dish.
Café Charlot is the quintessential Parisian brasserie and our favourite Marais bistro for all-day dining and people watching on the hip rue de Bretagne. Not only is the service reliably quick and friendly, Café Charlot does all the classics from an impressive steak tartare to a delicious chevre chaud salad. There’s also plenty of seating outside from which to watch the world go by or scribble in a journal.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: Across the road sits Marais institution Marché des Enfants Rouges. Established in 1615 it is Paris’ oldest covered market and the place for gastronomes. Wander through and pick up fresh flowers, fruit, vege and cheese, or gather with friends for a casual meal and a glass of vino from one of the many food stall vendors – look out for excellent Lebanese wraps and a wicked black squid-ink tagliatelle. Then your final stop must be the tiny profiterole shop Popelini just down the road.
Paris is a city like no other when it comes to over indulgence, so if you’re feeling like you’ve met your quota of cheese and red wine, book in to spend a few hours at Les Bains du Marais. There are plenty of ritzy spas across Paris, but when it comes to a place where Parisians of all ages go to rebalance their body, mind and soul, it’s right here. This Turkish bathhouse does a great hammam that includes the traditional steam, scrub and massage with plenty of herbal tea on chill-out daybeds in between.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: If you forgot to pack your swimming costume/trunks, fear not; they have disposable shorts and one-pieces available given that the steam room is communal.
It may be true to say that not a lot of actual till ringing goes on at Colette, in the clothing stakes anyway, but if you want to know what’s going to be the next big thing in the world of style and design this is a one-stop shop. The store’s ground floor is always bustling with well-dressed fashion aficionados buying a cult magazine or a new candle, while the basement level Water Bar is in fact the best casual lunch spot in the 1st arrondissement. The tuna salad and ‘Assiette Colette’ – a massive plate of healthy greens – also offers respite for all those fromage baguettes.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: If Colette is a little too high-octave cool for your liking, then try Merci – another destination concept store spread across a three-storey warehouse in the Marais where the focus is on homewares and a variety of delicious cafés.
“The list includes many of the new and exciting places I have discovered in my decade plus of travelling to Paris but also my favourite old trusty spots that I almost never miss.”
“We’ll always have Paris,” says Bogie in Casablanca, because Paris is at once a film set (Grace Jones on the Eiffel Tower, Audrey Tautou in Montmartre, Audrey Hepburn in a St-Germain jazz cellar)