SIGHTS in Paris:
Exhibitions and performances, yoga lessons during the weekend, vintage design flea markets, open air film nights, wild parties and dinner on the biggest terrace in the whole of Paris (1,600 square metres!) - life is becoming more vibrant on the left bank of the Seine in Paris since the end of March 2012 in a new creative space. It's called Wanderlust and meeting point for artists and creative heads, designed by architectural team Jakob + MacFarlane - with French cook Benajmin Darnau's cuisine. Wanderlust is part of the Docks en Seine - Cité de la Mode et du Design. The design and fashion district between Gare d'Austerlitz and the library François Mitterand, also designed by Jakob + MacFarlane and likewise coloured in green and white, unites Wanderlust with boutiques, pop-up and design shops. Since 2008 the former industrial grounds are also home to the Institut Français de la Mode.
A stroll over the Champs Elysées is not to be missed. There's countless noble boutiques and trendy people to be seen. Shiny eyes are on the cards, and once you've had enough of looking at the luxury on display, then you've probably already reached the Arc de Triomphe. Only a few take the time to ascend the arches, probably because of the 300 steps involved. However, the view from the Arc de Triomphe is almost better than the Eiffel Tower. The city doesn't seem so far away from the 50 metre height and you can still spot all the sights with ease. Inside the arch, there's a museum dedicated to the city's history and a changing historical exhibition.
A walk up a little alley way and you're at the stairs of the Sacré Coeur. Be careful here. Amongst the souvenir dealers there are also dodgy games of luck and tricky theives out there to make a quick buck. To the right of the Sacré Coeur park is the museum of more naive art. The Basilique de Sacré Coeur is positioned 130m above the city and was built out of brilliant white limestone. The Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre church is unjustifiably found in the shadow of the Sacré Coeur. Founded in the year 1133, the building is an absolute gem. The Place de Tertre is the former town square turn meeting point for artists and tourists alike. Just around the corner, you will find the Musée Dalí, which pays homage to the artist who, just like Toulouse Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste de Renoir, spent time in the artist's quarter of Montmarte. Further down the road is the Rue des Saules, where the Au Lapin Agile is to be found - the most famous cabaret in the city. World-famous artists like Apollinaire and Lautrec used to regularly come here for a drink. Even Picasso was a regular here, and once paid for his bill with a painting, that is worth millions today. Take the time to stroll through the steep alleyways surrounding the Montmarte and soak in the atmosphere of this enchanting quarter.
SHOPPING in Paris:
Paris fashion just as you imagined it: fur doesn't even appear to be too extravagant here, just simply elegant. And that pulls in the celebrities and fashionistas in droves. This charming shop is modelled on an elegant bedroom and possesses beauties from the likes of Hermes Seidenschal, Chanel and Christian Dior. The sortiment here is completed with pieces from the owners own collection. Yukikos fashion is very feminine, with the dominating materials being fur and silk. This store is an absolute hotspot in the scene with the models in the showroom and the nearby café setting the perfect ambience.
By now, Marie-France and Bernard Cohen could also have been lying on the beach of Madagascar and getting tanned. But they aren't: the money they make with their kidswear fashion chain Bonpoint is altruistically poured into a concept store for charity purposes. The whole profit, as the couple emphasises, is donated to a charity project for troubled women and children on the island of Madagascar. On three floors in the Parisian district Marais, the Cohens offer luxury labels like YSL, Marni, Stella McCartney, Martin Margiela, Acne or Alberta Feretti, elegant vintage pieces by Dior or perfume and jewellery by Annick Goutal, Marie-France's deceased sister. You can also simply stroll around the flower shop, rest on refurbished chairs from the 60ies and 70ies in the library that are tagged with price labels, or sip a Café au Lait while sifting through old and new design books. When you leave Merci with full bags, there's another thing packaged as well - the good shopping conscience.
To browse through a fleamarket in Paris should be on your list of things to do. A fleamarket that consistently pulls a young and hip crowd is the fleamarket at the Porte de Vanves. With a bit of luck you might even find a few weird and wonderful items here. Rare items are less likely to be found, but small finds with the licence to become personal treasures are waiting to be found. Think art-deco tables, chairs from the 50's and old prints. And it continues around the corner at the Place des Artistes. Local heroes from the local art scene put their produce up for sale. Leave enough time for this Parisian diamond in the rough, as time flies when you're browsing in the sun.
STAY in Paris:
The Chez Bertrand is a secret tip for families or friends, who like it colourful, original and a bit unusual. It is not often that you see an apartment that is so colourful, yet so tastefully styled as the Chez Bertrand. If you want to take a bit of olour back home with you, then visit the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Clignancourt just around the corner, the biggest flea market in the world, where you will find all sorts of knick-knacks and décor. The loft for up to 5 people is particularly worth recommending, as it features a completely round bed and also a Citroen car-cum-bed. A recipe for an interesting night! With a seperate bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen, the loft is also ideal for families with children. The loft for 1 - 3 people is available from around ?120.
At first, you'll be perplexed, and everything will spin around. But you'll get used to the different patterns, styles and materials in the Hotel Thomieux in Paris after some time. That exactly must have been the intention of the graphic artists Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag who have designed the boutique hotel near the Eiffel Tower. Floral ornaments, leopard patterns and rectangles are mixed together - in all imaginable colours on a minimum of space. The mirror with curved golden frame is placed on top of marble, which in turn - in shape of a delivery table - snuggles up to the green plant wallpaper. But not only the 15 rooms have undergone a crazy mixture of styles. The Michelin-starred restaurant run by chef of the year 2011 Jean-François Piège was designed by India Mahdavi. There are light blue and dark blue fauteuils on the carpet with wire pattern, next to it light green sofas with zebra pattern and heavy wooden tables. No wonder the chef needs a change every once in a while - which he finds in his private library. The latter is also open to guests who've had their fill of wild animals.
The design hotel Bel-ami is found in the western wing of the former Saint Germain abbey. You wouldn't even realise that Pope Alexander III entered the monastery through what is today the hotel lobby. Instead of the dreary monastery atmosphere; modern design, straight-forward style and earthy tones mean that you will never want to leave this hotel again. Placed in the artistic and intellectual centre of Saint Germain, it's the perfect place for those who want to walk in the steps of Satres. A perfect place to philosophise is the remarkable Café de Flore, which is well worth the visit. And head to the brand-new wellness area with gym equipment, a sauna and treatment rooms. Double rooms from ?360 and suites from ?620 per night.
EAT in Paris:
If you've had enough of haute cuisine and endless courses, then maybe it's high time for a pizza. The Pink Flamingo is brightly coloured, kitschy and has the ambience of a neighbourhood snackbar. Even if you're not well known in the local area, you are always welcome here. The pizzas are tasty and creative and are named after well-known personalities like; La Basquiat, La Bjork and La Che. A nice idea is the picnick service. Just order your pizza and wine and the counter. Then take your pink balloon outside and find yourself a spot in the sun. The only restriction: you have to pick somewhere within sight of the pizzeria. But that shouldn't be a problem, as there are plenty of great places o the Canal Saint-Martin. As long as your balloon doesn't pop, your pizza should come to you. Hmmm!
The crystal room in the Baccarat building is simply breathtaking and the waiting list is as long as the grandiose dining table from Phillipe Starck. The villa in which the restaurant is found belongs to a certain Madame de Noailles, who is close friends with Luis Bunuel and also a heiress of Marquis de Sade. The chandeliers are the only thing here to remind guests of yesteryear. Otherwise, modern designers such as Yves Savinel and Gilles Rozé have been allowed to take the restaurant design in new directions. The décor, which is composed mainly of mirrors and glass, provides a perfect playground for incidental light. However, this restaurant doesn't just rely on the laurels of the designers, but boasts a fantastic menu from the kitchen-god Guy Martin.
She has designed carpets for W Hotels and developed graphic concepts for Lacoste. With the Sure Mesure, a restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Paris is added to the portfolio of Norwegian Heidi Winge Ström. Ström wraps the venue on Rue Saint-Honoré - according to Wallpaper*s Design Awards the best new restaurant in 2012 - in white textile walls, structured tablecloths and napkins and creates tableware which is referred to by Mandarin Oriental as high fashion jewel. The concept was provided by the designers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku. For the design on the plates, the restaurant sends Thierry Marx on the catwalk. The chef and Bruce Willis lookalike has been awarded multiple prizes and is devoted to experimental, Japanese cuisine. The result: soy risotto with black truffles or poached fig with Banyuls and ginger sorbet. Likewise some form of design.