Joie de Vivre
If there's a destination that can serve up a mood boost on a silver platter, it's Paris.
Bonjour, summer in Paris! With a change in season, and after two difficult years, travelers to this European favorite will find a reinvigorated change in scene: Storied shops and restaurants survived for the most part, and new spots managed to open, some with international fanfare. Museum and historic sites have resumed operations with compelling programming. Bars, from hipster holes-in-the-wall to verdant roof decks, have proliferated throughout the city. Your biggest challenge? Trying to cram everything into one trip.
FOOD & DRINK
Cheval Blanc, the new LVMH-owned, Peter Marino-designed, Seine-facing hotel deserves its recent accolades. Expect straw marquetry walls and stone flooring inspired by Parquet de Versailles, while hundreds of modern art works (note the experiential in-elevator installation by lighting designer Thierry Dreyfus) infuse the 1928 Art Deco building with contemporary cool. Four restaurants — all with staggering views of Notre Dame and The Eiffel Tower — are the property’s calling card. There’s Limbar cafe, a patisserie that turns into a cocktail bar at night; Plenitude, a fine dining concept where acclaimed Chef Arnaud Donckele makes sauces, creams, broths, and veloutés (the stars of each course); a French bistro, Le Tout-Paris and on the rooftop, an outpost of Milan’s popular eatery Langosteria.
It may not be new, but 25-seat Yam’Tcha remains a tough booking to snag, a credit to Chef Adeline Grattard, one of the few Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris run by a woman. Grattard’s genius for marrying Chinese and French flavors is spotlighted in dishes like mussel and smoked tofu salad, watercress soup studded with razor clam and foie gras, and bao buns filled with Stilton cheese and Morello cherry. If you can’t nab a reservation, the bao buns are available at a tearoom that Grattard and her husband Chi Wah Chan operate nearby.
For those who pine for old-fashioned bistro fare with classic, convivial milieu, the perennially packed L’Ami Jean remains a best bet. Here, the affably histrionic Stéphane Jego turns out superb roast lamb with smoked oregano, garlicky braised veal cheeks, and insanely fluffy rice pudding.
The Hemingway Bar has always drawn cocktail enthusiasts to the Ritz Paris. The new Belle-Epoque style Bar des Astres is a fine reason to stay for another round. Zodiac-themed potions a la Equilibriste (vodka, pear eau-de-vie, elderflower, green grape, and pine) and Reveur (absinthe, sage, lemon, white almond syrup, verbena) are paired with indulgent nibbles such as truffle croque monsieur stuffed with comté cheese and white ham.
Paris’ liveliest quartier is Oberkampf in the 11th arrondissement, where cool-kid eateries and bars are all about dynamic flavor in groovy settings. Chock-full of coffee shops, boutiques, and nightlife spots, this somewhat gritty neighborhood exudes locals-live-here buzz whatever hour of the day. Essential eating: Le Chateaubriand, Le Saint Sebastian, Le Rigmarole, Le Servan, Septime, and Clamato. For apéro hour try Le Rouge Limé and Le Plein Soleil. After-dinner boites are bountiful. Pop into Dirty Lemon for whimsical, vegetal- leaning cocktails or the Brutalist-veering rooftop of Le Perchoir.
The talk of the town is Bourse de Commerce, an 18th-century grain exchange recast as a shrine for billionaire François Pinault’s contemporary art collection. The Tadao Ando-designed edifice is as exciting as the art; a nine-meter-high concrete rotunda traces the curves of the original structure, creating a striking contrast between old and new, minimalism and opulence. Don’t miss the Charles Ray sculpture exhibition or the gastronomic rooftop restaurant by Michel Bras. After your visit, pop across the street to the new rooftop deck of Madame Rêve Hotel for a cocktail and sweeping cityscape views.
Another nouvelle feather in Paris’ cultural cap is Hôtel de la Marine, the recently restored 18th-century palace on the Place de la Concorde (closed to the public for the past 250 years) featuring sumptuous furnishings and original decorative details. On the museum front, there is a Gaudí retrospective at Musée d’Orsay including pieces of furniture and sketches/models of fantastical parks and churches (Sagrada Familia, the Güel park and palace, the Casa Milà) created by the Art Nouveau master.
A retrospective of Hungarian artist Simon Hantaï’s kaleidoscopic abstract works and pliage (in which a canvas is crumpled, and painted over to reveal a matrix of saturated color with strips of unprimed ground) will be shown at the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Hantaï’s works will be shown alongside other major artists that inspired him, namely Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Michel Parmentier, and Daniel Buren.
Fashion fans will enjoy the catwalk style homage to designer Alber Elbaz entitled “Love Brings Love” at the Palais Galliera Fashion Museum. The show features bespoke works from 45 fashion houses — think Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Gaultier, McQueen, and Gucci — inspired by Elbaz’s unique take on an iconic silhouette.
Palais de Tokyo is Europe’s largest center for contemporary creation and the place for outré art in all of its incarnations. What’s on: a group exhibition called Reclaim The Earth, focusing upon indigenous cultures torn apart by politics; Mimosa Echard’s Sporal installation, part video game, part film projected upon fabric to produce psychedelic effects; A Roof For Silence, a structure representing the void of depth and time created by architect Hala Warde containing works by painter and poet Etel Adnan and sounds designed by Soundwalk Collective.
Seasoned shoppers will, of course, have Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine on their hit lists. What they may not know about is the City of Light’s lively dépôt-vente (which translates to “deposit and sale”) scene, a network of upscale designer resale shops that supply Parisian women with “gently used” luxury goods (Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and lesser-known French brands) for a fraction of retail cost. Cast thoughts of musty thrift shops from your mind. These are airy boutiques brimming with second-hand blazers, blouses, cashmere sweaters, cocktail frocks, bags, shoes, and mountains of impossibly chic scarves.
FAVORITES: Dépôt-Vente Luxe, La Marelle, Le Dépôt-Vente de Buci, and Valois Vintage Paris.
WHERE YOU’LL STAY
Built in 1925, Hotel Raphael is a five-star hotel on Avenue Kléber, just minutes from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées. The Club features two-bedroom suites decorated in classic Louis XVI grandeur. The property reflects its status as a family heirloom, featuring cherished furnishings à la Louis XV and XVI and Belle Époque décor. Amenities include the MAJClub spa and wellness center at MAJESTIC HOTEL-SPA — Raphael’s sister hotel located three blocks away.
THE PENINSULA HOTEL PARIS
Part of the Club’s Hotel and Residence Collections and located steps from the Champs-Élysées, The Peninsula Hotel Paris celebrates Parisian pleasure. Explore the City of Light via chauffeured Mini Cooper Clubman cars or walk to nearby attractions and museums. Superior suites feature ample space, with separated bedroom and living rooms.
LA RESERVE PARIS
As part of the Club’s Hotel Collection, La Reserve’s sophisticated vibe feels more like a private club than hotel. Velvet drapes, herringbone oak parquet, and antique furnishings lend a quintessential 19th-century Parisian style throughout the 26 suites and 14 rooms. The hotel is housed in the former residence of designer Pierre Cardin and known for stellar cuisine at Le Gabriel restaurant.