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.
At Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse in Paris you can dive into a world of chocolate. Wholeheartedly. Cocoa beans from all over the world - from Peru to Vietnam - are transformed by Nicolas Berger, chef confectioner at Alain Ducasse's worldwide gourmet empire on Rue de la Roquette, into chocolate truffles, bars or ganache. For his restaurants Ducasse wanted his own chocolate line, beyond industrially produced chocolate masses. That's how the manufacture came into existence, where he serves as the artistic mastermind of taste. Berger provides for the sweet fine-tuning. In a former bank branch behind thick steel doors Berger experiments with an old coffee bean roaster. Not only the equipment is ancient which was specially made for the manufacture, also the interior of the chocolaterie has an antique touch. Both Berger and Ducasse are vintage fans. At Le Chocolat they fulfil their chocolatey promise of felicity - at 100 per cent.
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.
EAT in Paris:
Since 2007, the head chef Yannick Alléno has been decorated with three stars. The Ambience here is even deserving of a star itself. It is not often that you find a restaurant that is so kitschy yet so tasteful in style. Between the marble, gold detail and the ceiling frescos there is one particularly noble detail: there's a small stand next to every chair to respectfully cater for ladies handbags, so that the all-important item mustn't touch the floor or hang off the back of the chair. The kitchen is outstanding, there are set menus and also à la Carte dishes to be chosen. The wine list is exquisite, even the selection of open wines is sure to impress. There's an interesting surprise for a restaurant of this class: there's even a children's menu. Hot tip: the best tables are in the conservatory.
If you've had enough of the pomp and flamboyancy of culinary glamour then you should drop by here. It's Le Clou: from the outside you wouldn't guess what culinary delights lie in wait. This bistro is inconspicuous and ordinarily furnished, even a bit retro, but really cosy in any case. Chef Christian Le Clou has evolved from an industry secret to a star that receives praise in many magazines. The master offers specialties from the Poitou-Charentes region and every dish is a pleasure. The three course set menus start at 35 euros and are worth every penny.
Austern & Co.
Eating oysters in Paris is just as important as a visit to the Eiffel tower. It doesn't get anymore authentic than this. Francis Dubourg, the owner of La Cabane à Huitres, cultivates his own oysters and puts them fresh on the table. His son travels to the Atlantic coast three times a week and returns with the fresh huitres. 13 magnificent claire oysters can be yours for just 13 euros. Those who aren't cut out for the slimy consistency of an oyster can opt for foie gras, cheese specialties or cannelles (small caramel cakes). The restauarant is very spartan and ordinary, but the level of service given by Francis and his daughter well and truly make up for it. A small story accompanies every wine and every meal, which is always told with a hearty serving of Esprit.
STAY in Paris:
The Sezz is something different. They word Luxury is re-defined as soon as you walk in the door. Personal assistants instead of receptionists, hand-blown vases instead of Ikea clutter, bathroom palaces instead of shower cubicles and Egyptian linen instead of filthy quilts. If you can prise yourself free and let the luxury wait, then Paris is waiting to be discovered by foot. The Eiffel Tower, the Maison de la Radio and the Champs Elysées are all just around the corner. And don't omit an hour in the spa or the wellness area after your little sightseeing tour! Double rooms available from ?470 per night.
The hotel Square in Paris is easy to find as it is located close by the Eiffel Tower. At the moment the Costes brothers build a new hotel and restaurant on the opposite side of the Seine. And when the Costes brothers build something in Paris the environment will automatically turn hip. And so is the shape of the windows which provided the name of the hotel. Architect Roger Taillibert and owner Patrick Derderian are responsible for that. The latter also had the idea of bringing art near to his guests. In a semicircularly shaped gallery in the reception hall and in the conference rooms you can marvel at sculptures and other works by Luis Tomasello or Scott Slagerman. Hopefully they are safe in the five star hotel with own garage! Absolutely recommendable is the in-house restaurant Zebra Square (the wall in screaming yellow automatically whets the appetite) and the newly designed Nuxe Spa in the basement of the hotel.
The Hotel Pavillon de la Reine, styled like a chateau, is blessed with a remarkably good location on the Place des Vosges. It is in the middle of Marais, which is the heart of historical Paris. Behind the façade of the Place des Vosges is a magnificient garden which hosts a royal pavillion. Gobelin tapestry, avenues of oak trees, wall panelling out of the most exquisite materials, striped antique furniture, oil paintings and open fireplaces evoke a unique atmosphere that permeates the entire house. Breakfast is served in the tastefully decorated cellar-vault, after which guests can make their way to the magnificient sights of Marais within short walking distance. Suites for 4 to 5 people are also available for families. Double rooms are available from ?330 a night
SIGHTS in Paris:
Against all expectations, the Cimetière Père Lachaise is more lively than tranquil, thanks to the droves of tourists. Situated on a hill to the east of Paris, this cemetery is the home to over a million graves, including the graves of many celebrities. The most popular of them all is the grave of the Doors singer Jim Morrison. To this day, his fans are still making the pilgramage here and along with the usual flowers and candles; they leave their cigarettes, joints, beer cans and graffiti as way of paying homage to the rock god. Due to vandalism, Morrison's grave has been fenced-off and surveilled from time to time. Oscar Wilde's grave is also very interesting. His wild love life drove him to prison and then an exile in Paris. His gravestone is covered with lipstick kisses and inaccurate quotes from his body of work. He was always good for a scandal, even after his death. His grave is graced with a larger than life, angelic figure with what once once a penis. The golden piece was stolen and is yet to be replaced. A quiet tip: If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle then steer cleer of the hotspots and take a stroll through the more peaceful parts of the cemetery. Without the celebrities, of course.
In this park you can almost forget you are in the city. Maria die Medici founded the park as she retreated to her country manor following the death of her husband, Heinrich IV, in 1611. Today, it is just as loved by tourists as it is by the Parisians. The public here are very peaceful and take pleasure in the many forms of recreation here; tennis courts, carousels, puppet theaters, chess boards and pétanque pitches. For children and children at heart, the highlight of the park is the lake, where small paddleboats are available for rent. Paris is so romantic, especially here. It's as romantic as it was in the old days, and almost as peaceful, too.
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.