Dublin is my lady but Paris is my mistress and we’ve had a continuing love affair for as long as I can remember. Each time I visit I get the same rush of excitement to see sights and walk streets that I’ve visited countless times before. That first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower when you come up from the Trocadéro metro station never gets old but it’s even more breathtaking when you see it through the eyes of a Parisian newcomer.
This Paris trip was different but not because I was travelling with a first-time visitor. It was because I too was looking at the city with fresh eyes, the eyes of an interior design obsessive. So with that in mind, I made it my business to seek out the best places to stay, eat and most importantly, shop!
3 wallet-emptying places to shop
Fleux’, 39 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4ème
Design and home décor concept store, Fleux’, is a 1,400 square foot interior design lovers paradise in the heart of the Marais. The brainchild of florist Gaétan Aucher and architect Luc Moulin, the name Fleux’ is a mash-up of French words ‘superflu’ (superfluous) and ‘luxe’ (luxurious). And that’s exactly what it offers; everything you could ever want and everything you never knew you needed. Spread between four different spaces, offering hours of entertainment, Fleux’ is home to Muuto, Ferm Living and my personal favourite, GUBI.
And yes, they ship to Ireland! Hooray!
Métro stop: Hôtel de Ville
Les Mille Feuilles, 2 rue Rambuteau, 3ème
Not too far from Fleux’ is ‘Les Mille Feuilles‘, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of curiosities. It reminds me of a living room showcase of the souvenirs of some cultured globetrotter. There’s something to love and want in every corner. It was only a matter of seconds before I was strolling around with a Paris City Edition, Paper Vase Cover by Tiny Miracles. Available in a variety of designs, the paper vase cover turn your empty bottle (typically wine bottle) into the funkiest vase for your bouquet.
Métro stop: Rambuteau
EMPREINTES, 5 Rue de Picardie, 3ème
Further North, in the Upper Marais, is concept store EMPREINTES. I took a stroll up here on a Saturday morning only to have my visit foiled by some electrical fault, I think. I was eavesdropping in French so I wasn’t totally clear why the mini crowd that had gathered outside wasn’t being let in. So for now I shall have to be content to peruse their wares online.
Set over four floors, this gallery/shop/café houses over 1,000 limited edition objects from French craftspeople. Whether you’re looking for something for yourself or a gift for someone else, you will find beautiful mugs, cups, vases and decorative items such as figurines and coral sculptures. You can even see pictures of the artists’ workspaces so you can witness the beginning of their creations.
Métro stop: Temple or Saint Sébastien Froissart
3 stylish places to eat…
Alcazar, 62 rue Mazarine, 6ème
In the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés lies the lush gastronomic oasis of Alcazar. Designed by another local designer, Laura Gonzalez, the restaurant was originally founded by the legendary Terence Conran over 20 years ago.
The main room is like an internal courtyard with a beautiful terrazzo marble floor, copious brass detailing and an abundance of greenery. Mustard velvet banquettes sit across from classic Thonet bistro chairs (a.k.a. The Bewley’s café chair to the Irish), creating a sense of eclectic luxury. It’s what I like to call, Rainforest Chic.
Métro stop: Odéon or Mabillon
Daroco, 6 rue Vivienne, 2ème
An Italian trattoria might not be top of your eaterie to-do list when in the capital of French cuisine but who can ever say no to pizza, pasta and delicious cocktails. It also helps that the design scenery will leave you unable to lock eyes with your dinner companion for at least 30 minutes.
Located in Jean Paul Gaultier’s former flagship store at the entrance to the Galerie Vivienne, one of Paris’ magical passageways, Daroco was designed by architects Olivier Delannoy and Francesca Errico. Royal blue velvet banquettes sit between rough concrete pillars against a backdrop of exposed brick work. Green marble table tops centered among tropical style wicker chairs, all in a cavernous room with an overhanging mezzanine bar and a mirrored ceiling that really adds to the drama of the space.
Métro stop: Bourse
PNY Marais, 1 rue Perrée, 3ème
I’m not really a burger lover but I could be tempted if I got the chance to chow down in surroundings like those of PNY Marais. PNY stands for Paris New York and the Upper Marais outlet is the third establishment in PNY Burger’s quest to offer the best burger in Paris.
It’s almost easy to miss (at least in the daytime) from the outside as the sedate exterior does little to hint at the sickly sweet, candy bright interiors that lie within. Designed by CUT Architectures, this two storey American-style diner is full of milkshake pink and sunny Miami blues. Its big windows, beautiful white terrazzo floor, blonde woods, seriously cool exposed bulb lighting and bare walls, really help create some serious Venice Beach vibes.
P.S. Make sure to visit the toilets, apparently they were designed with bathroom selfie taking people in mind!
Métro stop: Temple
3 chic places to stay…
Terrass Hotel, 12-14 rue Joseph de Maistre, 18ème
In the heart of Montmartre lies the 4-star Terrass Hotel, an iconic destination where artists such as Dali, Matisse and Renoir used to frequent. Just minutes away from the Sacré Coeur and the Moulin Rouge, this 92-room hotel has stunning panoramic views of the city from one of the best rooftop terrace bars you’ll find.
The bedrooms offer a mix of traditional period decor in the mouldings and covings alongs modern light fittings all done in bright and bold colours with geometric prints in the fabrics and finishes. Magnifique!
Métro stop: Abbesses or Blanche
Le Roch Hotel & Spa, 28 rue Saint-Roch, 1er
The next time I visit, I’m definitely going to have to stay at the Le Roch Hôtel & Spa. Closer to the centre than Terrass, this 37 bedroom boutique hotel is just streets away from Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme and shoppers’ paradise, Rue Saint Honoré.
The renovated hotel is designed by Paris-based interior designer and daughter of former editor of French Vogue, Sarah Lavoine, who also created the Elle Café in Tokyo. Elegant but not over the top, Lavoine uses a palette of soft pastels, Carrara marble and solid walnut floors throughout but it’s the on-site restaurant that really catches my eye. Using plush velvet seating from GUBI, including the Beetle Dining & Lounge Chairs and the Modern Line Sofa and the gold edge round 2.0 Dining Table, also from GUBI, the space just oozes glamour and sophistication.
Métro stop: Pyramides
Hôtel Plaza Athénée, 25 Avenue Montaigne, 8ème
The Hôtel Plaza Athénée is the definition of luxury and Parisian haute glamour. Situated on the upmarket Avenue Montaigne, guests have included royalty, celebrities, politicians and of course, Carrie Bradshaw. Its facade is one of the most instantly recognisable in the world with its iconic red awnings and Art Nouveau balconies and the inside is just as breathtaking.
The hotel recently went through a massive renovation project including its onsite restaurant which is home to three Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. Designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku one of the standout features is a stunning ceiling dripping in crystals and expensive chandeliers. With hints of its former décor in the panelling and mouldings, the dining hall gets a serious modern twist with a series of eye-catching stainless steel booths that, in the best sense, remind me of silvery waltzers.
Métro stop: Franklin D. Roosevelt