You’ll never find a Parisian up the Eiffel Tower: everyone knows that the city’s iconic monuments and landmarks are only visited by tourists. Parisians would equally never eat at one of the many garish restaurants in the notoriously tourist-filled Rue de la Hachette, where faux-Norman décor surrounds half-arsed Gallic cuisine. Instead, Parisians have their own special haunts dotted around the capital; haunts that seldom get mentioned in the average tourist guide. Don’t visit like a tourist. Breeze through Paris like a Parisian.
Dress like a Parisian
It’s something of a cliché that Parisians exude effortless, enviable style. The look is deceptively simple: seemingly ‘thrown together’ and casual, in fact a lot of subtle contrivance goes into the appearance of the fashionable Parisian male, whose look is as much quasi-intellectual as foppish.
His look combines extravagance and austerity, in the combination of purchasing expensive garments and then wearing them to death. Luxury clothing is artfully ruffled by daily activities; could a creased lapel betray an afternoon of passion?
To match a Parisian’s continental panache, try investing in a few key pieces that will revamp a tired wardrobe, in readiness for a visit to the City of Love:
The Watch: Chanel’s J12 GMT Matte Black
The city’s most popular wristwatch is, fittingly, made by the city’s most famous fashion house. The basic design of Chanel’s J12 GMT has changed little over its 14 year history, and it still gleams with the splendour of its high shine ceramic materials.
The resplendent GMT Matte Black, accordingly, is made from sandblasted hardwearing ceramic. The watch features a GMT movement – as the hour hand can be adjusted independently from the minute hand, it’s great for frequent international travel- as well as a super thin bezel and water resistance to 100m, should you be inclined to take a dip in the Seine.
The jacket: Lanvin
Lanvin is the go-to label for Parisians seeking sleek jackets, and those wishing to steal their style should take a look at the brand. Their Evolution jacket is exquisitely tailored and the dazzling whiteness is perfect for fine spring weather and a stroll along the Left Bank.
Team with a white shirt and a week-old beard to exude Parisian nonchalance – the idea is to be stylishly casual rather than pristine, and this is a versatile piece – you can dress it up for a smart occasion, or dress it down for everyday wear.
Badass alternative: the vintage leather jacket
If a designer jacket isn’t your thing, a vintage leather piece is a badass alternative. As the ultimate throw-on-and-go jacket, it’s perfect for channelling Parisian nonchalance. It’s a great transitional piece to take you through the seasons: perfect for layering over the top on drizzly Parisian winters and looking cool on a balmy Latin Quarter spring afternoon.
A leather jacket looks great with a Breton striped t-shirt if you really want to look like an archetypical Frenchman, or try wearing it with a casual Oxford shirt for timeless style. These jackets really adapt themselves to any look – giving you an aura of effortless style without really trying. Good quality vintage shops proliferate in Paris, but the best are found in the trendy Marais, which straddles the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. From Métro stop St Paul, head up Rue Malher to discover the old medieval streets brimming with art galleries, Lebanese cafés and ramshackle vintage shops.
Slick shod: Berluti boots
Berluti are the world’s best bottier: they simply make the best hand-made shoes in the world. and their shop can be found on Rue Mabeuf. Drop on in for a one-on-one consultation on the ideal shoes for your wardrobe and lifestyle. Part of the company’s allure is its seamless integration of Italian and French culture: a seductive marriage of Italian craftsmanship and French style. Both are essential for the well-heeled modern monsieur, plus you need suitable footwear to compliment those expensive jackets you bought.
Retail therapy: Colette
Save precious time travelling from shop to shop by heading to the place where it’s all under one roof. Trendy boutique Colette, a three floor 8,000 square ‘brick-and-click’ clothing and accessory retailer located on the Rue Saint-Honoré, has an extensive men’s department, featuring designers such as the perennially stylish Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons. A rather ostentatious feature is the Water Bar, which serves over 100 different brands of mineral water from all over the world.
Eat like a Parisian: Gastronomic hotspots
Once the globally-recognised king of cuisine, France has been accused by some of resting on its laurels and lagging behind its continental competitors in terms of innovation. However, reactive to its harshest critics, Parisian restaurants have increasingly been using organic ingredients, catering for vegetarians and vegans, and creating new takes on time-honoured recipes, while the city’s street food has gone from strength to strength. That said, visitors to Paris should be discerning in their choice of bistro. There are many brilliant options, whether you’re after a snack on-the-go or a taste of Haute Cuisine.
Budget lunch: Eric Kayser Boulangerie
While good boulangeries in Paris can be found on every street corner, an exceptional choice is the master baker Eric Kayser, who owns 20 bakeries across the city. He is considered to be one of the best bakers in all of France, and is famous for his unique sourdough breads that use a liquid natural starter instead of commercial yeast.
An insider tip, if you dislike hardened edges on your bread, request ‘une baguette bien blanche’ for a baguette cooked to precisely the point before it gets that eggshell crust. Price wise, Eric Kayser loaves are only a few centimes more than those found in most bog-standard bakeries, and their filled baguettes are all under €5, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer when you’re looking for a budget lunch.
Luxury lunch: Chez Marianne
Chez Marianne is the undisputed queen of Middle Eastern dining in Paris, and a mainstay of the Jewish community of the Marais. Come to share a self-service platter with friends: prices reflect the size of your smorgasbord. You can choose from an extensive assortment of dips and salads, with delicacies including falafel, hummus, vine leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped liver, sesame cream, and taramasalata. Highlights include the eggplant caviar and artichoke salad. The ingredients are beautifully fresh, and of the finest quality. Wash it all down with a good red – you’ll be spoilt for choice, as Chez Marianne has an extensive selection that extends all the way through the restaurant, from floor to ceiling. It can be hard to get a table around lunchtime – especially on the terrace – but worst comes to worst you can get excellent takeaway falafel in pitta bread from the side window.
Casual dining: La Providence’s mussels and beer
La Providence, conveniently located just outside the exit of Parmentier Métro, is a thoroughly pleasant spot to spend a lazy evening after a busy day rushing around the capital. The clientèle is almost uniquely French: it’s one of the city’s hidden treasures, and thus a favourite among the locals of the lively quarter. The café is decorated in the traditional Parisian style, with 1940s furniture, retro enamel adverts and cracked floor tiles, and delightfully, punters buying a beer (at a very reasonable 3 euros for a half) will be treated to a complimentary serving of the Belgian classic moules frites. Dining on a budget, sorted.
Luxury dining: Garanche
A visit to Garanche is de rigueur for anyone looking a taste of high-end French cuisine: while the food is luxurious, the prices aren’t too vertiginous. The dishes are generously portioned, and represent the very best in the Gallic repertoire. . Try the duck confit rubbed with salt – strong, punchy and eminently memorable.
Drink and dance like a Parisian
It’s easy to find a watering hole in Paris: every arrondissement is teeming with lively bars of all persuasions, but with the ubiquity of sub-par pubs serving extortionately priced pints of Bombardier, the adventurous among you may yearn for a different drinking experience.
Budget Drinking: Le Pont des Arts
Take your baguettes, some cheese and a good bottle of red and amble down to Le Pont des Arts, a pedestrianised bridge where locals come to drink on warm evenings. What makes the view from the bridge unique is that it offers you an unparalleled vantage point of some of the most famous monuments in Paris – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre and the beautiful golden dome of the Institut de France are all visible from the bridge, and at night are all lit up. ‘Punters’ include everyone from city workers still in their suits, to philosophy students with guitars. This is a cheap and thoroughly agreeable alternative to most Parisian bars, which charge in excess of 5 euros for a pint.
Luxury Drinking: Le Carmen
Housed in the composer Bizet‘s former residence and named in honour of his best-loved opera, Le Carmen is a sumptuous cocktail bar, with velvet-backed chairs, golden chandeliers, and ornate Rococo plasterwork. It’s one of the most original and eye-opening bars in all of Paris – you don’t find something like this on every street corner. There is no drinks menu – instead, any cocktail can be made to order at the bar, according to your whim and the suggestions of the friendly bar staff. Le Carmen regularly hosts a number of nocturnal events, with everything from classical concerts to book groups taking place within its gilded walls.
Budget clubbing: Afterwork at Régines
At 15 euros, the entrance fee may seem steep for a budget night out, but it includes as much champagne as you can drink, all evening, and for those who’ve come straight from work, the all-you-can-eat buffet of pizza, salads, and cake that lies in wait for you throughout the night is a welcome pick-me-up when you start to flag.
While musically Régines offers some of the best DJs in Europe, the décor is steeped in the ’70s – expect discoball kitsch and a glittering mirrored ceiling and staircase – but with open-bar champagne, your surroundings will soon become a beautiful blur.
Luxury clubbing: Silencio
The hip cocktail bar-cum-private club-cum-bizarre art library Silencio, owned by the unique film director David Lynch, is modelled upon the intensely strange ‘Club Silencio’ in Lynch’s surreal film Mulholland Drive: the director has designed every detail of the club, from the golden tunnels of mini-mandalas, to the bijoux cinemas and the reflective dance floor. The club’s stunning gold leaf décor is crafted by the same technicians who touch up the dome over Napoleon’s tomb.
Doors open at 7pm; however, with private annual membership costing an eye-watering 780 euros, it’s a better idea for infrequent visitors to Paris to roll up after midnight, when Silencio, found on the rue de Montmartre, opens to the general public and the curious.