So our first Perfect Day in Paris was a video, cute, but not hugely practical. So, this is a list of our favourite Paris addresses of the moment…it doesn’t attempt to be extensive or to cover every district in Paris, it’s simply what we like. It started out short and sweet and then expanded wildly (Josephine-Baker like) as thought it had a life of its own – if you want to skip down, you’ll find drinking dens, places for dinner, contemporary art listings and some jaunty seasonal activities and excursions. See here for Hotels We Love in Paris.
Oh, Champs Elysee! (Image by HWL)
Best Coffee Spots in Paris: Loitering on the terrace at a Parisian cafe is pretty much mandatory. The only problem is the coffee. Most cafes serve up something that looks like coffee, but tastes like something that was stored in an old sock for a few years before being put on the stove, burnt, and served up with a dash of some kind of intestinal destroying poison. For some unfathomable reason, fresh milk is not de rigeur in France. Instead they use an ultra processed long-life milk which tastes like sweetened dish-water. Order a cafe au lait and you’ll get the above combined along with a bill for 5 Euros. Thank f%*! the coffee mania which is overtaking the Anglo-speaking world is finally reaching France. (Though why they couldn’t have learnt a trick or two from the Italians by now, we don’t know.) Homesick Australians should go to Coutume Cafe (Do not collect $200, Do not pass go.) Lattes are the closest thing to Melbourne this side of the Dolomites. Though we would skip the slightly unsatisfying menu.
Cafe Madame: offers a cosy retreat from the ‘love for sale’ vibe of the neighbourhood. (Image by HWL)
Alternative coffee places, our current fave is the Franco-American Telescope run by super coffee geeks with a good eye for interior design and a curios owl fetish, though we’re not sure why they stopped doing table service. Over on the Canal St Martin, try Ten Belles featuring food by the dab hands of (or formerly of) Le Bal, they do a good lunch formula but note that the menu only includes ‘filtered black coffee’ anybody who wants anything else (and that was pretty much everyone when we last visited) has to buy a drink in addition to the menu, which makes it less of a deal. Speaking of Le Bal, this gallery cafe is as great for coffee as it is for photography afficionados, lunch and dinner are lovely but avoid the weekend brunch madness. The coffee at Cafe Madame (pictured above) near Porte Saint Denis isn’t always consistent, but the welcoming smiles are like clockwork, if their coffee doesn’t pep you up, there’s always the peep-show next store. We love the flat white, but if you can’t put up with the crush and crumbs at Kooka Boora (a curious experiment in interior design seemingly based on an obstacle course) venture a bit further to Black Market (27 rue Ramey 75018; Open Tues-Sun, 9am-7pm) we love the Scandi-style interior but if you order a single-shot latte, they will look confused and panic. Finally, venture into the Goutte D’Or where you’ll find Cafe Lomi, a diamond in the rough, that offers brilliant coffee and great lunch options.
DRINKING: the French drink often and with enthusiasm, but it usually goes hand-in-hand with food. Wandering around with alcohol in your hand or binge drinking is a no-no – although the habit is emerging among French teenagers who, perhaps, struggle to pay for a drink indoors or have been inspired by their British neighbours. The taking of apero is a cheerful past-time, summer definitely calls for a kir (white wine with blackberry cassis).
Wahloo, it’s rebeu for fun (Image: HWL)
Andy Wahloo: playful pop Arabic in the Marais with happy hour cocktails and the odd knitting party. The courtyard, which backs onto their latest restaurant, Derriere, is lovely in summer (book a table!)
Get a load of this, from Cafe Marly (Image: HWL)
La Perle: Inadvertently retro decor, simple drinks, fun ambiance, international hipsters, low-key locals and the odd legendary fashion designer in need of rehab. It’s both shabby and chic without being ‘shabby chic’. (78, rue Vieille-du-Temple.)
Cafe Marly: Overpriced but quel view! Sunset overlooking IM Pei’s pyramid at the Louvre is magic. Do it once.
Rosa Bonheur: set at the top of the hill in one of Paris’s most scenic parks, les Buttes Chaumont, this bar-slash-pub aka ginguette is a great place for people watching: bobo mums, Jewish families, joggers, retirees, students… The pink and white interior is very pretty and known to go wild on the weekends. Popular with just about everyone, it is also a magnet for glam and leather-clad motorbiking lesbians. (BYO helmet!)
Carmen: Lovely, glamorous and tres cool. Think drinking, DJs and high-brow cultural events that double as flirting opportunities with well-clad hipsters. Befriend them on Facebook to keep abreast of events; but turn up with a Plan B – sometimes it’s guest-list only. (Boring.)
Recent initiatives in Paris include wine bars with snacks, try the off-shoots of fashionable restaurants such as: Verjus Wine Bar and Frenchie’s Wine Bar (6 rue du Nil, 75002) note that in both cases you need to arrive early to score a stool.
Athenee or Hotel Costes: If your idea of a productive afternoon is taking the credit card to Lanvin, then you’ll definitely need a conveniently located address to celebrate your purchases. For this we recommend a glass of champagne amid the modern glamour of Hotel Costes bar on the upmarket shopping strip of Rue de Saint Honore. Alternatively, the Bar at the Plaza Athenee in the 8th evokes images of Monica Bellucci in red suede stilettos toying with a cocktail on a bar stool, though last time we were there it was Bono stepping out of the limo.
Georges: a classic @ Pompidou (Image: HWL)
Georges: walking into George’s on top of the Pompidou centre at sunset can be a heart-stopping moment. A glass of rose on the terrace in summer or a warming red in winter is something everyone should try. (Nb: if you’re going to George’s you can use the designated elevator and skip the queue to the gallery.)
Main d’Or: a hole in the wall in a passage near Bastille, you’ll find this tiny Corsican bar selling wine at old school prices. We once met an elderly and rather decrepit looking gent there who claimed to have slept with 1000 women, which we calculated as being possible if unlikely. (We declined the opportunity to become 1001.) (133, rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine.)
Social Club: combine drinking with dancing at this hipster-friendly nightclub in Montmartre which features an eclectic program of predominantly electronic acts. The zone just got all the cooler with the opening of David Lynch’s nightclub Silencio, inspired by the fictitious club in Mulholland Drive. It’s a member’s club, and despite reports to the contrary it doesn’t seem to admit non-members at any time of the night. At least, not at the moment, we just mention it in the event that you know somebody who knows somebody…