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.
No, it's not about one designer, but about a whole collective of artists, that also brings together designers, stylists and video artists. Making something new out of something old. Second-hand clothing is completely transformed and given a new life. What results os unique, creative and entertaining. In short: there's works of art to be worn here. Andrea Crews doesn't just design fashion, but also serves as a platform for everything. Also on the program are workshops in which clothes are tinkered with, quirky performances and musical projects. Basically anything unconvential. There's always the latest funny and inspiring mini-collection on display, too. Well worth a look!
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.
STAY in Paris:
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.
Bonjour! Come in! There's a warm welcome and a familiar atmosphere here. The rooms are simple, yet lovingly furnished. This hotel is an excellent base for city explorers: just 20 minutes from the Champs Elysées and the opera, between the Sacré Coeur and hte Moulin Rouge, right in the middle of Montemartre. Nonetheless, you will be able to sleep well, as the hotel is located in a peaceful area. So recouperate in one of the 34 comfortable rooms here. For your information, none of the rooms have their own bathroom, but rooms 23, 33, 43 and 53 have their own balconies. Double rooms are available from 142 euros.
In the erstwhile grey working class district Charonne the hotel dynasty Trigano has created a boutique hotel with 172 rooms and Philippe Starck's handwriting. The ceilings in the lobby and restaurant are painted with black crayon and the artists that are immortalised here leave no doubt about the responsible designer. Similarly you find the typical colour contrasts and dimmed lighting. It looks different, however, in the open kitchen. The pots are hanging from the plafond and in front of it huge oak tables with big bowls (from which everybody eats simultaneously, if desired) are standing on the floor. Feels like being at one's mum's. The hidden agenda is to simplify communication which can be continued at the over-sized football table. You can take pictures of yourself at the computer terminal in the concrete wall which afterwards flicker along with a message across flat screens in the whole restaurant and bar. iMacs in the rooms are part of the standard facilities and so is free W-LAN in the whole building. And in the morning there is a navy blue breakfast newsroom with CNN and flat monitors as table tops.
EAT in Paris:
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.
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!
Le Tokyo Eat
What's the current favourite of the Parisian in-crowd? To dine in the city's Museumscafés. And for good reason, as there are many benefits to be had. Most are hip, stylish and serve modern cuisine and also let's one's feasting appear to be cultivated. As a tourist, you should be honest enough to visit the museum prior to grabbing a table, especially as the Palais de Tokyo will fascinate those with an interest for modern art. Once inspired, sit down and enjoy a mix of international and asian food on offer. It's also a form of art. And the dishes are as well thought through as the interior. The extravagant lighting was designed by Stéphane Maupin and is a real attraction. The crowd here is young, hip and beautiful!
SIGHTS in Paris:
The Centre Pompidou is an absolute must! You have to witness this cultural centre at least from the outside. The fascinating blue stems from the pens of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and won the covetted 2007 Pritzker prize. If you take the time to visit the inner halls of the building, then you will be rewarded with the most innovative cultural program the city has to offer. It's all about contemporary art; encompassing theater, music, visual arts, film and literature. Access to the rooftop terrace is also included in the entry rpices. Through the transparent pipes, escalators take you all the way to the top level at a height of 35 metres. Sounds high? The view is well worth the trip!
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.
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.