Top 5 things to do in Paris…
While visiting my daughter abroad last year, we spent an amazing week in Paris (aka, my mother ship) In addition to squeezing in some of the must do tourist attractions such as The Louvre, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur, here are a few of my suggestions to see Paris like a Parisian:
1. Stay in a boutique hotel in the St. Germain Dupre area. This chic district is a charming array of perfectly manicured cobblestone streets lined with unique shops. We found everything from a lucite green chandelier to edgy fashion, fine wine and a tea and macaroon room. I recommend St. Thomas de Acquine Hotel and its sister property next door, Hotel St. Vincent (less pricey and very charming). We wanted to stow our front desk clerk, Edwaard in our suitcase! He was darling and offered in his best English to get us “anything we desired 24/24.” Too cute!
2. Wander the streets without a plan and see what you stumble across. There are so many fabulous finds in that area and one little street in particular, Rue de Dragon, was loaded with charming little eateries one after the other. They were very small and many had a second “loft” level with a few additional tables. They may not be in Fodors (good, no tourist traps!) but they certainly were the gathering places of chic locals that congregated in large parties that practically filled the entire establishment. It was kind of like crashing a cool party, only, we didn’t feel out of place. We also stumbled into a hair salon called “Blonde” and after asking if they can do a cut and blow out they answered simply, “No. Blonde. We only do blonde.” Since we were both blondes at the time, I replied “Well, we got that covered” and we continued on. We finally found a small salon where the most charming hair stylist, Clemont, finger curled my hair to Victoria Secret bombshell perfection (really, no curlers or irons!) Travel tip: The water in Paris makes your hair brittle and unmanageable so I highly recommend finding a gem like this and having your hair did!
3. Spend a day on the Rue Faubourg St Honore. This is the street to shop all the high end labels and, in my opinion, is far superior to the famous Champs-Elysees ~ think Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Via Montenapoleone in Milan. We browsed the likes of the flagship Chanel, snapped a few shots of the silver skull headed mannequins at John Paul Gautier and landed in our favorite French label, Zadig & Voltaire. Their blend of edgy rocker and French bohemian come together in an incredible cool aesthetic. Picture a cross between Free People and True Religion with a dash of McQueen. We coveted the perfectly faded, cut off denim shorts and a soft dusty peach cashmere sweater vest with a subtle beaded skull design on the back. We splurged on some cool wrap bracelets and a black vest trimmed with white feathers for my daughter and a sand/blush skull printed scarf for me. They have stores in New York so be sure to check them out!
4. Still on St. Honore, we popped into Hotel Bristol (an excellent place to stay for a high end indulgence) and had drinks in the Lobby. This is where Rachel McAdams and her family stayed in the movie Midnight In Paris. Its a stunning hotel and the muddled strawberry cocktail was to die for! Rachel Zoe frequents this hotel and I can see why. Everything about it was chic and top notch. We came back the next day and spent the most luxurious day of beauty at the world famous La Prarie Spa for her 21st birthday. Be sure to inquire when booking as there are no prices listed anywhere!
5. Further down on St Honore, we accidentally stumbled across the secret hot spot of the “Whose who” of Paris ~ Hotel Costes. The entry was adorned with a black laquor finish and I decided we would tag along with the attractive group of men and women ahead of us to slip past the doorman that definitely seemed to care who was coming in. Just like the exterior, the inside of the hotel oozes sex appeal and intrigue. Each lavish entryway into the numerous cozy rooms was draped in velvet curtains of deep red or purple. Ornate urns spilled over everywhere you looked with stunning assortments of blood orange and deep magenta roses that I later learned came from the Hotel’s very own rose shop. Every surface was covered with lit tapered candles (that American Fire Marshals would never allow) in baroque style candelabras. The hostess was the most stunning, tall dark Parisian woman draped in a white Grecian dress and gorgeous smile. You might expect snooty or aloof from an establishment of this caliber, but we found here, as everywhere else we visited in Paris, that the service was welcome and friendly. After enjoying the Coco Chanel Martini (the only thing remotely touristy about this joint) we decided to stay and dine in the open air courtyard at the center of the hotel. An odd trip to the ladies room through a private dining room of Arabic business men, down the stairs and to the end of a dark corridor had my daughter convinced we were going to be “taken” and provided a hilarious anecdote for the trip. Later on I discovered not only is this the hippest hotel in Paris, Christian Lacroix hosted his Fashion week party there a few short weeks before!
There were so many other amazing activities like picnic lunching at Le Jardin du Luxembourg, perusing the street art in Montmarte and a Bellini Brunch just off Champs-Elysees but the 5 items listed above should top your list of how to experience Paris like a Parisian. I am available as a tour guide if you’d like!!!