It's Paris Haute Couture week and to make sure the City of Lights doesn't leave you completely in the dark, we have compiled a brief review of the de rigueur places to be seen and heard. Gone is the garlic and Gauloise vision of post-war Paris where customer service was more like a phantom haunting the halls of the Louvre, present only through its perpetual absence. Concept stores, innovative gourmet boutiques, and cozy but super chic hotels now dot the capital offering tourists and locals alike a fresh and invigorating showcase of what the French do best. So ready those Eurostar tickets, pack your bags... allons-y
Nestled deep within the verdant and cobblestone paved streets of Montmartre sits a veritable haven amidst the hustle and bustle of the Parisian streets below. Launches in 2007, Hotel Particulier is not only quaintly contemporary, it is also the smallest hotel in Paris. With only 5 suites, each with its own unique blend of quirky glamour and Parisian chic, the hotel also boasts 900m2 of private gardens, a swank bar and some of the hippest Friday night DJ sets in town. Owner and Managing Director Oscar Comtet is unassuming, surprisingly laid back, and truly the host with the most, but with an entrepreneurial spirit that has transformed the vestiges of this family home into one of the hottest and most sought after hot spots in Paris.
Hotel Particulier Pavillon D, 23 Avenue Junot, 75018 Paris, France T:+33 1 53 41 81 40
When looking at the long and impressive list of French artisanal prowess, one might be forgiven for being distracted by all the crystal, porcelain, silks, fashion, paintings, sculpture, let alone all the produits du terroir and Michelin-starred chefs. But as any self-respecting Parisian knows, the true genius of the Frankish folk lies in their mastery of pastries. From Opéras to Milles- Feuilles, Paris Brest to a cornucopia of buttery, flakey, and lush breakfast treats, Boulangeries and Pâtisseries have been tempting the taste buds of passers-by for centuries. But hidden within this plethora of delight exists the humble but ever so delectable choux, an almost minimalist paste made of flour, water, butter, and eggs. Yet in the guise of profiteroles, the light and airy rounds of puffed dough are filled with decadent amounts of lush cream and drizzled in rich chocolate. Other times they are stacked I to high pyramids and swathed in wispy strands of amber caramel. In 2011 however, the ingenuity of Lauren Koumetz, founders of Popelini, took the simple choux to another level. Named after the inventor of the choux pastry and official chef to Queen Catherine de Medici, Popelini proffers a modern version of this childhood treat. Filled and iced with over 15 different parfums , the Jewel-like balls are bursting with flavourful fruits, chocolate ganache, and velvety vanilla cream. Yet all this gourmet fanfare, rather than drowning the simple choux into non-existence, underscores its vocation as a rich and perfectly baked casing. So ditch the doughnuts, can the cannelles, maroon the macaroons, and when looking for a chic pick-me-up whilst manoeuvring from a front row to front row, have your PA order up a batch of choux.
Popelini: 29 rue Debelleyme 75003 Paris T: 01 44 61 31 44 or 71 rue de Seine 75006 Paris T:01 42 49 86 19
Yet when it comes to multi-brand and cutting edge fashion, nothing compares to the discerning eye of Armand and Martine Hadida, founders of the L'Eclaireur empire of boutiques. Their vision of fashion which ranges from the avant-garde to the outlandish, stylish and sophisticated to gorgeously gothic has become a vetted source of what is in and what is not. Blending technology and contemporary art with a bold dash of Hadida personal style, each boutique is like a Good piece of Baudelarian poetry...bold and audacious, mysterious and sanguine, romantic but anchored in the here and now. This is not fashion for a light-weight. Be prepared for the full frontal fashion experience with brands such as Linda Farrow, Sacai, Comme des Garçons, Balmain, and Rick Owens.
L'Eclaireur: 40 rue de Sévigné 75003 Paris T 01 48 87 10 22
What would Paris be without the English? Well at least when it comes to bookstores, everyone knows the true Entente Cordiale began in 1801 with the establishment of the continent's oldest English bookstore, Librairie Galignani. Though the Galignani family were originally from 15th Century Italy and were amongst the first to use the recently invented printing press, their Parisian story began when a certain Giovanni Antonio Galignani immigrated to Post-Revolutionary France in 1801. He established not only a publishing house and bookstore but also an English reading room- a continental first. The fervor for all things English fueled its success and in 1856 the bookstore relocated to its iconic and present day rue de Rivoli location. Its old world cabinets are replete with impressive titles, limited editions and practically every important source of fashion, architecture, and historical authority. For the past 20 years has also been a well-known celebrity destination from the literary cognoscente to the leaders of the fashion world. Karl buys his books there, as does Tom. Anna has been known to peruse its shelves as does an absolute cavalcade of de-frocked nobles and continental aristocrats seeking the latest biography of their great-great uncles. Coupled with fashionista stocking up on the latest French and English glossies, makes Galignani the perfect pit-stop during Fashion Week.
Librairie Galignani: 224, rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris T: 01 42 60 76 07
OTHER KEY ADDRESSES:
L'Avenue (the incontournable of Avenue Montaigne, perfect whilst nipping into Dior) 41 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 T: 01 40 70 14 91
Le Baudelaire (The Capital's best Cognac Bar) 6 Rue Duphot, 75001 Paris, T; 01 42 60 34 12
Benedict (Post-Show recovery with variations on theme of Eggs Benedict) 19 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 T: 01 42 76 91 37
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (For a glimpse into the origins of the Haute Couture) 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 T: 01 44 55 57 50
Angelina (For the best Chocolat Chaud...ever) 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France T: 01 42 60 82 00