SHOPPING in Paris:
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.
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.
You should actually keep well-kept secrets like the Shine a secret! If you make your way here, then you've made it to the very inner circles. The location is perfectly fitting of fashion. The store was formely a chemist in the 19th century and it has recently been rehauled by architects Federico Masotto and Regis Larroque. The pieces sold here amount to an interesting mix. They stem from both established cornerstones in the fashion scene and fresh, new designers such as Repetto, See by Chloé, Golden Goose, Rohan, Edun, Cheap Monday und True Religion.
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.
It doesn't get more central than this! The location of the Duo in the heart of the Marais quarter, surrounded by restaurants, bars and boutiques, is not to be beaten. As hard as it is to leave this feelgood-hotel, go out and explore the very urban and unmistakably French Marais district. Out of the once cool design hotel, renovation has turned the Duo into a stylish feelgood hotel. Modern decorations meet old frames and practical furnishings on wood-parquett floors out of the 18th century set the scene here at the Duo. The rooms are fantastic, but the most comfortable thing about this hotel is that shopaholics can drop off their shopping bags before heading off into the next boutique. Well, at least when you are in Marais to go shopping. Double rooms from ?200 a night.
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:
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.
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.
You've got to make it through the mass of tourists here: a visit to Paris is nothing without having seen the Cathédrale de Notre Dame.The proudly gothic construction is on the Ile de la Cité, begun in 1163 and was completed in 1345 and is one of the first gothic cathedrals in the world. We will let you decide for yourself, whether or not the Notre Dame is the house of God. At least this was the intention of Bishop Maurice de Sully as he commissed the cathedral. Many historical events have taken place within these holy halls. Would you like to be an emperor? The Notre Dame is particularly well suited, just as Napoleon once demonstrated. Afterwards, take the opportunity to once again look out on the city: the view from the steeples is breathtaking.
EAT in Paris:
You can't help but suspect that it's impossible to find a restaurant smaller than this on in Paris. More than 30 guests couldn't dine here, at least, not at the same time. It brings truth to the name and creates a very cosy atmosphere. As long as it doesn't distub you that private discussion might have to be saved for another night. We find that it's actually beneficial to be able to clearly see your neighbour's plate. That way you can get a good idea of what interesting creations are on offer, without having to order everything on the menu. How does the ocean perch in chocolate sauce look? 3 courses for ?35 is not to be missed. So put together your own set menu from a range of four entrées, four main meals and four desserts.
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.
Affordable French cuisine? It does exist! The Chartier is a great example, even though you would never guess so at first sight. Entering through the door is like taking a step back in time. The Chartier was opened in 1896, with the mission of offering decent French cuisine at a decent price. Not much has changed since then, the furnishing and ambience included. Back in the day, this attracted both the rich and the poor, but these days the Parisians have to share this little gem with the tourists. A tip for those with a formidable hunger: expect to wait up to 30 minutes at any time of the day, so plan in a wait before the hunger pangs get the better of you.