The Designer’s Guide to Paris
Heading to Paris this September for Maison&Objet? Here are a few of our favorite places to stay, shop, eat, drink and see.
Where to stay
There has been a flurry of new designer hotels opening in Paris in recent years, but we think these are the best picks of where to put your head down when the lights go out in the city of light.
Set in twin low-rise buildings on a quiet street, the Hôtel Adèle & Jules is a discreet gem. Designed by Stephane Poux the spaces feel warm and modern with a classic twist. Make this your base and you’ll be surrounded by some of the best of what Paris has to offer.
Hôtel Bachaumont is proof that designer Dorothee Melichzon is not afraid of colour. Here she has infused each of the spaces with a distinctive palette. The lobby bar is run by the lauded Experimental Group (of Experimental Cocktail Club fame), but aside from moreish cocktails it’s also a place to see and be seen.
First time hotelier Michele Delloye wanted to create a space that felt more like a comfortable guest house, and a platform to showcase French creativity, the result is COQ Hôtel. The acronym stands for Community of Quality. Designed by Pauline d’Hoop and Delphine Sauvaget of Agence Favorite, this petite place has only fifty rooms.
The long anticipated re-opening of the Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, was worth the wait. The team of high profile designers includes Tristan Auer, Chahan Minassian and fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. Grand and stately but not at all pompous the hotel has incorporated an impressive art collection to grace its walls. Four dining destinations mean you have plenty of options — including L’Ecrin, awarded one Michelin star earlier this year. The subterranean pool and comprehensive spa facilities (including a men’s grooming station) makes this one hotel from where you’ll literally never want to check out.
By the Experimental group, and designed by the current doyenne of Parisian design Dorothee Melichzon is Hotel Des Grands Boulevards. With only fifty rooms this hotel has a decidedly more boutique vibe to it. The building is quite historic but Ms Melichzon has infused the rooms with just enough tech and modernity. Our tip: book one of the attic-style junior suites and sleep like royalty.
The newest and maybe the hippest on the list is the latest edition to The Hoxton stables. The Parisian outpost has been designed by the team at SOHO House (the public spaces) and rooms by Humbert & Poyet. Located in the heart of the 2e — location wise it doesn’t get much better. You’ve got four basic room types, all furnished in a simple industrial-hipster chic decor. The Moroccan-themed ‘Jacques Bar’ and the all-day-dining ‘Rivié’ complete the dining options although you’ll be spoilt for choice in the near vicinity.
The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, or JoBo for short, was named after one of the country’s most famous pair of lovers. The interiors, by decorator Bambi Sloan, are as quintessentially French as they come and were heavily inspired by the iconic Madeleine Castaing. Walls are bedecked with toile, animal prints or napoleonic emblems and motifs. It’s a rich, historically imbued pastiche of design elements, but mixed with all the mod cons. Situated in the heart of the le Marais you’re just a quick walk from all that the right bank and the Rue de Rivoli has to offer.
A quiet newcomer to the scene is the Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers. The name refers to the traditions of craft and materials that the French are so highly regarded for. Designer Raphael Navot was charged with the design, a fitting partner as he’s known for “made-to-measure interiors, combining traditional methods with contemporary savoir-faire”. There are only seventy rooms in this boutique accommodation but each of them display the best that contemporary French design has to offer.
Modern French elegance reigns supreme at the Nolinski. Designed by Jean-Louis Deniot each of the rooms has been decorated with his signature mix of custom, antique and vintage and feels more like a very chic residence than a hotel. Even if you’re not checking-in the ground floor Brasserie Rejane is well worth a visit for a stylish dining experience.
Another recent project by designer Dorothee Melichzon is Hotel Panache. Each of the forty rooms are different, all a little bit quirky and fun, and all very chic. Its location makes this new bolthole a short walk from numerous neighbourhood establishments, if you decide to venture out you won’t need to go far. Worth checking out are the groups other properties Hotel Paradis, also designed by Dorothee Melichzon and Hotel Bienvenue designed by Chloé Nègre.
In the heart of the right bank is the new Hôtel Saint-Marc. Designed by Dimore Studio the interiors are as hip, fresh and inimitable as you would expect from the Milan-based duo. No doubt the swathes of pattern and generous lashings of pink have made this an instant instagram favorite. Not just a pretty face though, despite its central location the hotel has also managed to squeeze in a pool and comprehensive spa facilities.
Only thirty seven rooms makes the Le Roch Hotel & Spa one of the smallest of the new boutique offerings. Unmistakenly Parisian, the interiors the lobby, restaurant and bar are dark and decidedly moody, and slightly more casual. While the rooms are lighter and crisper. Designed by Sarah Lavoine, who also resides in the neighbourhood, she’s imbued the spirit of the locale in each of the spaces. True to its name, and despite its central 1e location, you’ll find fully fledged swimming pool and spa facilities to indulge yourself in.
Where to shop
One of the world’s fashion capitals, it goes without saying that Paris is undoubtedly a shopping mecca. You shouldn’t limit yourself to just clothes and accessories, there is a plethora of ultra hip boutiques proffering a highly curated selection of books, home accessories, furnishings, and more.
Karl Lagerfeld is quoted as having once said ‘I have a fatal attraction for books. A disease I don't want to be cured of’. His library at his own Paris apartment is famous, but the bookshop he owns and curates — 7L Bookshop — is lesser known to overseas visitors. This left bank store is well worth a visit for any booklover, particularly those looking to discover a tome or two on art, fashion, design and architecture. Often rare, out of print, independant titles are to be found.
‘For us, books are a matter of intellect and emotion, of heritage and innovation’ say the founders of luxury book publisher Assouline. The maison’s pint-sized Paris outpost is a must see if you’ve got space in your suitcase, because you’ll be sure to want to lug back a couple of these divine books.
Astier de Vilatte’s signature ceramics are hand-made in an historical workshop in Bastille — once home to Napoleon’s own silversmith. Made with black terracotta and then fired with a milky white glaze, each piece is unique. There is charm in imperfection — and you’ll be sure to agree once you lay eyes on their collection of everything a chic home needs from plates to pitchers.
Paris has a few fantastic department stores, but we always find it hard to go past Bon Marche. And even harder to leave the basement food court. In this subterranean space you’ll find all manner of French gourmet delights, from cheeses and cured meats to preserves — the list goes on. Between the lower level foodie paradise, to the top level book and stationery department (heaven for print geeks), you’ll find one of the city’s best selections of clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and the home.
Founded in 1803 Officine Buly 1803 on rue Saint-Honoré by perfumier Jean-Vincent Bully the brand has since opened flagship stores around the world, but the boutique on rue Bonaparte feels like a relic from another time. While the collection has grown and formulas modified, the packaging remains the same charming style making each item a decorative accessory as much as functional products.
French designer Christian Liaigre is the master of a bold, highly-crafted minimalism. No longer the creative director of his namesake company, but his legacy lives on in the new flagship store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Textiles, accessories, home fragrance and the highly covetable furniture collection are available so you can recreate as much or as little of the look at home.
If you really need to pick up some new threads while you’re in town, we’ll forgive you for that. Ex-Hermès creative director Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran are behind the collection, Lemaire, showcased in a beautiful boutique on the right bank. Here you’ll find womenswear and menswear displaying a paired-back simplicity that is modern yet adventurous.
A retail icon since it was founded in 2009, Merci has a carefully curated selection of home and living accoutrement, a fine selection of books, and an insightful edit of mens and womens wear. Set back from the street by a small courtyard, you can’t miss it for the iconic, and now oft instagrammed red fiat parked and often artfully styled. With three cafes on site, you can while away many an hour here.
In a delightful neighbourhood in the 3rd arrondissement, the OFR Librarie & Galerie has a stellar selection of independent contemporary books, magazines, fanzines, posters and other printed matter related to art, fashion and design. They regularly hold exhibitions too
Husband and wife team Ria and Youri Augousti have been working together for decade to produce their own furniture and accessories under the R&Y Augousti label. Their boutique on rue du Bac showcases their range perfectly. Highly inspired by the opulence of the art deco era as well as the decadent materials — these still feature in their work. Expect to see unusual combinations including bronze work with shagreen, exotic animal skins, metal leaf, precious stones and shell — often mixed together.
bars & Restaurants
Where to eat and drink
Burned a few calories on your retail therapy session? Here’s where we think you should revive, imbibe and indulge.
In the heart of one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in Paris, saint Germain des Près, is L’ Alcazar. The space is deceptively large but feels like an indoor garden with lush green foliage and simple elegant furnishings courtesy of local designer Laura Gonzalez. The menu consists of modern cuisine that is fresh and light, with meals served from brunch to dinner.
The place everyone is talking about in Paris right now is Balagan. The name translates from Hebrew to ‘beautiful mess’ — which is an indication of what to expect from the menu. Simple but chic interiors by Dorothee Melichzon are the delightful backdrop to one more establishment from the Experimental Group. Headed by two top Israeli chefs — Assaf Granit and Uri Navon, and new talent Dan Yosha, the menu consists of a fusion of Moroccan, French and Israeli recipes and everything is designed to share.
The French are known to like their food, so it’s really no surprise that something like Beaupassage would be developed in Paris. The only surprise is that it took so long. Officially opening at the end of August is a section of a pedestrian street dedicated entirely to food, wellness and a bit of art thrown in for good measure. Destinations will include a restaurant and wine cellar by Yannick Alléno, a cheese shop by Nicole Barthélémy, a street seafood restaurant by two star chef Olivier Bellin, a boulangerie by starred chef Thierry Marx, a new concept from chocolatier and pastry chef Pierre Hermé, an epicurean outlet by three star chef Anne-Sophie Pic, a Boucherie by breeder and butcher Alexandre Polmard plus a coffee shop by barista Junichi Yamaguchi. Bon appetite!
A quintessentially parisian dining spot, Chez Julien never disappoints. On the edge of the right bank of the Seine (in fact we highly recommend a stroll after dinner to top of the night) this is a place that you can eat alone or in a group and it will be equally special. The decor is old school and cosy and the shabby-chicness only looks more chic when candelit. Another tip — start the night with an apertif at Au Petit Fer à Cheval, another charming local haunt that’s a short walk from the restaurant.
Le Flandrin was a stalwart on the Paris dining scene but looking tired until famed designer Joseph Dirand gave it a makeover recently. Now it’s a picture of opulent decadence, with walls covered in gleaming gold and a heady art-deco influenced mix of furnishings and finishes. Go for a drink, stay for dinner. The menu consists of classic French dishes that don’t disappoint.
The most famous French bakery and patisserie is the 150 year-old Ladurée. Their pistachio green shop facades, dotted around several locations in the city (and now internationally) are instantly recognisable. While the macarons are what they’re known for, we recommend you try the Religieuse (raspberry to be precise). It is as close to a religious experience you can have with a pastry.
Behind the rather non-descript front door at Le Mary Celeste you’ll find inventive cocktails, wine, oysters (they even do an oyster happy hour!) and some of the best bar food in the city. Come for the oysters, stay because of the chilled vibe and because you won’t need dinner after eating here.
Located inside one of our favorite cultural destinations — the musée des Arts décoratifs — is this stylish new cafe designed by Joseph Dirand. The menu at LouLou is overseen by young chef Benoit Dargère and is inspired by the French and Italian Riviera. The space is suitably hip, as you’d expect from anything designed by Dirand, but on a nice day it’s the exterior that we think makes this place a winner.
Another breathtaking cultural food combination designed by Joseph Dirand is Monsier Bleu, this one is attached to the Palais de Tokyo. The American-inspired brasserie style menu has a few classics and a few surprises. You can’t lose dining here — either sit inside and take in the stunning surroundings, or sit outside and enjoy the view of the Eiffel tower. Either way it’s going to be a meal you’ll remember.
If you like your gin (at let’s face it, who doesn’t these days) and feel like a tipple in Paris, then head over to one of our favourites — Tiger bar. It's located on a toursity street, but don’t let that fool you, the crowd here is very local. Inside you can expect an expertly concocted spanish-style gin tonic (with fresh seasonal botanicals, served in a balloon glass), from one of 130 gins mixed with their homemade tonic. No wonder it’s frequently listed as one of the best gin bars around.
What to see and do
Where do we start? Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and there’s little wonder why. Apart from its perennial beauty and charm, there is a list an arm and a leg long of fantastic cultural institutions to visit and other interesting places to see. These are a few of our faves.
The Galerie-Musée Baccarat is worth a visit to see the selection of over 350 pieces from the company’s collection that’s been amassed since it was founded in 1765. An added, oft unknown, bonus is that parchment walls that line one of rooms were designed by Jean-Michel Frank with bronze doors created by architect and decorator Eileen Gray in the 1920s when the building was the home of wealthy patrons Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles.
The controversial design for the Centre Georges Pompidou (a collaboration between several architects including Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers) is often called ugly and brutalist but undoubtedly helped earn Rogers his Pritzker. What’s on the inside is more important, and that’s one of the most progress and avant garde displays of contemporary art, an impressive book shop and that’s not to mention the Atelier Brancusi that’s connected. On a nice day one of our favorite things to do is buy a crème glacée (ice cream à la française) and sit in the square to the rear of the museum and soak it all up.
The Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton is worth visiting for the arresting architecture alone. On the skirts of one of Paris’ largest parks there are a multitude of opportunities for an incredible view of the city and surrounds. But don’t let that distract you from this seriously impressive art collection. The exhibitions are changing regularly enough for a visit each time you’re in town.
Designed by architect Pierre Chareau, Maison de Verre, was built in the early twentieth century for its original owner, Dr Jean Dalsace. The doctor and his family resided on the upper levels, while the ground floor housed his practise. The house has since changed hands and now belongs to former Wall Street magnate Robert Rubin. Mr Rubin has had the building restored and preserved and its now open to infrequent and limited tours. To be eligible to visit you must be a student or professional working in architecture or related fields. To apply you need to email firstname.lastname@example.org 3-4 months in advance of your desired time with a email outlining your interest in the building and your qualifications. Good luck. It’s worth the effort — we promise!
Paris has an impressive litany of grand, tourist-filled museums. We highly recommend you try a few of the more petite and lesser known ones instead. For example, the Musée national Gustave Moreau is in what was the private home of artist and namesake Gustave Moreau. The house itself is quaint and charming and filled to the brim with the artists furniture, books and personal belongings. The two upper levels were once the artist’s studio and now display an impressive selection of Moreau’s more important works.
Another former home turned museum was that which belonged to Moïse de Camondo, a wealthy Ottoman banker and art collector. Now the Musée Nissim de Camondo (named after his son) is open to the public. The mansion contains an impressive collection of French decorative art and fine art from an era considered to be the belle epoque.
While one of the most iconic artists of the twentieth century was in fact Spanish, not French, the Musée Picasso in Paris was donated and bequeathed a collection that includes 5,000 important works of art and tens of thousands of archival documents. This includes Picasso’s own private collection and works donated by his heirs and children. An extensive renovation was completed in 2014 replete with furnishings and light fixtures by Giacometti. For anyone even vaguely interested in art, this is a must see.
For architecture buffs — Villa La Roche was built by Le Corbusier and his cousin and frequent collaborator Pierre Jeanneret in 1925 and later renovated by Charlotte Perriand. Since named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and now open to the public, its managed by the Fondation Le Corbusier. Next door sits Villa Jeanneret, a private home commissioned by the architect’s brother, which houses the Le Corbusier archives. The Jeanneret home is not open to the public but the library is accessible by appointment. After several years of renovation the Studio Apartment of Le Corbusier has now reopened to the public. And if you want to do the full Le Corbusier pilgrimage, then a visit to Villa Savoye is a must. Though technically not in Paris, but in an outlying village called Poissy, lies what many an architect would say is a masterpiece. Designed by Le Corbusier and built in 1927 according to his modernist principles the house was originally built as a weekender and displays a number of unique features that won’t go unnoticed to the trained eye.