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Paris

Paris

By madame09
Trip Plan Tags: 
adventure,
arts + culture,
budget,
city,
educational,
luxury,
shopping,
spa + wellness
Destinations: 
10th Arrondissement,
13th Arrondissement,
14th Arrondissement,
16th Arrondissement,
18th Arrondissement,
1st Arrondissement,
20th Arrondissement,
2nd Arrondissement,
3rd Arrondissement,
4th Arrondissement,
5th Arrondissement

I will wonder as I wander Paris and contemplate my life, the meaning of life and anything else those philosophers never gave us the answer to. Cheers!

ITEMS

Eating

Taillevent, France

15 Rue Lamennais
Paris 75008, France
Tel: 33 1 44 95 15 01
Website: www.taillevent.com

Chef Alain Solivérès, a native of Montpellier, has a remarkable pedigree: He trained under Maximin, Thulier, Senderens, and Ducasse. But he won his reputation with the brilliant modern riffs he did on Southern French classics while chef at Les Elysées du Vernet—hence the quiet magic that has animated Taillevent classics since he arrived in 2002. He tempts nervier palates at this Parisian grand dame (which opened in 1946), with new dishes that reflect his lusty but refined style; among them are a crème brûlée de foie gras that's crunchy on top and creamy inside, a coleslawlike crab rémoulade with dill, wild Dombes duck with caramelized fruit, and a luscious upside-down coffee-and-chocolate tart that turns the classic tarte Tatin on its head. Fine oil paintings, including some surprising contemporary canvases, old-fashioned flower arrangements, hushed service, and one of the world's great wine lists make this place meaningfully mythic. Book weeks in advance and, gentlemen, don't forget your jacket.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2 pm and 7 to 10 pm. Closed the month of August.

Eating

Le Comptoir du Relais, France

9 Carrefour de l'Odéon
Paris 75006, France
Tel: 33 1 44 27 07 97

With his 1990s hit restaurant, the far-flung La Régalade, Yves Camdeborde was credited with reinventing the Parisian bistro. Now the cult chef presides over this irresistible neo-bistro—40 wooden chairs atop multicolored mosaic-tile floors, with wood paneling and yellow-and-red-trimmed walls—next to the Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain. A master chef and marketeer, the affable Camdeborde offers two distinct menus: bistro (or brasserie), from noon to 6 pm daily and until 11 pm on weekends; and on weekdays, the phenomenal bargain five-course "gastronomique" menu. Lunch service is sans reservations, meaning a daily free-for-all (come just before noon or after 2:30 pm for the best chance of scoring a seat), and dinner reservations book up months in advance. But it's worth the hassle for Camdeborde's wild cèpes molded with foie gras and flanked by whipped artichoke mousseline, and a neo-tarte Tatin dessert that merges apples and mango, with vanilla ice cream. The secret to getting a dinner reservation? Stay at the Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain, which occupies the same building (33-1-43-29-12-05; www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com) or phone at about 7:30 pm on the evening you hope to go, and ask if, by some miracle, anyone has canceled. The magic word in French is désistement.

Open Sundays through Fridays noon to 6 pm and 8:30 to midnight, Saturdays noon to 11 pm.

Eating

Le Cinq, France

31 Avenue George V
Paris 75008, France
Tel: 33 1 49 52 71 54
Website: www.fourseasons.com/paris

No matter how good the food, a meal at a grand hotel restaurant used to be a yawn or, worse, a parody of obsequiousness. It's places like Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V that are redefining Parisian luxe as an epicurean dream nestled in palatial walls. The maître d' addresses you by name, and a discreet footstool appears from nowhere for your purse, newspaper, or hat. The decor befits a palace hotel, from the moldings and frescoed cupola to the gray-and-gold drapes and plush carpet. Chef Eric Briffard's sophisticated cooking is exceptional in freshness, flavor, and inventiveness without being wild or fussy. Artichoke pie is perfumed with Périgord truffles. Line-caught turbot with watermelon is basted in an aromatic broth of spices and lime. Pantelleria capers enliven the rack of milk-fed veal. For dessert, don't miss the ethereal gratin of strawberries with mascarpone sorbet. At noon expect to see a business crowd peppered with traveling gourmets and blueblood regulars, and a global mix of foodies at dinnertime. Reserve far in advance.

Open daily 7 to 10 am, 12:30 to 2 pm, and 7 to 10 pm.

Eating

L'Avant Goût, France

26 Rue Bobillot
Paris 75013, France
Tel: 33 1 53 80 24 00
Website: www.lavantgout.com

More popular than ever, this contemporary bistro (opened in 1997 near the Place d'Italie), draws crowds because of the superb cooking of Christophe Beaufront and its extremely reasonable prices. The friendly chef and his sassy wife run the restaurant like a kind of open house—generating an aura of conviviality that encompasses regulars from the neighborhood along with many well-advised foreigners. The food varies according to season, but it's all great: cold spinach soup, fresh cod ravioli with a frothy shiitake mushroom nage, long-cooked duck thigh stew with turnips and a dash of piquant anchovy. Among the main courses, Beaufront's signature dish is still the succulent pig-focused pot au feu—off-cuts of pork, fennel bulb, and sweet potato, with side garnishes of cornichons, horseradish sauce, and deep-fried slices of ginger root—served on a plate flanked by a glass of its own flavorful bouillon.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:45 to 10:45 pm.

ALT HERE

Eating

Rue Mouffetard, France

Paris 75005, France

Milk-goats no longer wander up Rue Mouffetard, but this cobbled market street has retained much of its pre-industrial character. A dozen "old Paris" shops sell everything from wicker baskets to salt cod, olive oil, wine, cheese, bread, and chocolate, so it's an ideal place to pull together a picnic. Fruit and vegetable stalls front the Saint M)dard church (where the road abuts the 13th Arrondissement), and few Paris streets have as many good cheesemongers; try Androuet, a Parisian high-end mini-chain founded in 1909 (#134; 33-1-45-87-85-05; www.androuet.com). Stop in Boucherie Saint M)dard for luscious handmade p"t)s and terrines and for hot rotisserie pork roasts and chickens (#119; 33-1-45-35-14-72). Buy wine from a small grower-bottler at La Fontaine aux Vins (#107; 33-1-43-31-41-03), and take your pick of bread from any of half a dozen bakeries nearby. Les D)lices de la Casbah turns out irresistible Algerian pastries (#118; 33-1-43-31-10-13). For handmade chocolates and exquisite Berthillon ice cream, go to Nicolsen Chocolatier (#112; 33-1-43-36-78-04). The best bets for sit-down meals are Sweet Lounge, a neo-bistro with sidewalk tables (#127; 33-1-43-37-60-66), or the street's doyen caf)-restaurant, Le Mouffetard its wraparound terrace with faux cane chairs is fun, especially at breakfast or lunch, when the neighboring shops are bustling. Don't expect gastro-fireworks, just good grub (salads, quiches, duck confit) in a likeable setting (#116; 33-1-43-31-42-50).

Most establishments closed Sunday afternoon and Monday.

Eating

L'Arpege, France

84 Rue de Varenne
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 47 05 09 06
Website: www.alain-passard.com

In 2006, chef Alain Passard's L'Arpege turned 20 years old and, with the reconversion of Alain Senderens's Lucas-Carton, this pear-wood-paneled property in the embassy-studded Seventh Arrondissement might now be the most expensive table in France. Passard is brilliant and idealistic in his maverick way: In 2002 he created his own strictly organic kitchen garden to supply the restaurant, at the Château du Gros Chesnay about 150 miles southwest of Paris. But he's also quixotic. Several years ago Passard renounced red meat in favor of a menu that stars vegetables, fowl, and seafood. Yet because Passard is such a gifted technician, the cuisine's parameters never feel limiting. Deceptively simple dishes, such as a rich, mustard-based gazpacho with ice cream and heirloom Haut-Maine chicken with cabbage, squash blossoms, and baby root vegetables, are breathtaking. Passard's most famous dessert is the tomato roasted with 12 spices, invented in 1986 and on the menu again 20 years later, but the chocolate mille-feuille du mendiant with herb ice cream is just as impressive. The catch? The prix-fixe dinner menu currently runs 360 euros per person without wine (add at least 100 if you order à la carte), making the 135-euro "pleine terre pleine mer" lunch menu sound like a real bargain.

Open Mondays through Fridays 12:15 to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

Eating

Chez Les Anges, France

54 Boulevard de La Tour-Maubourg
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 47 05 89 86
Website: www.chezlesanges.com

Cool jazz on the sound system, a sunny veranda, and a cool, modern bar: That's how Jacques and Catherine Lacipiere—the husband-and-wife team also behind Au Bon Accueil (14 Rue de Monttessuy; 33-1-47-05-46-11)—have reinvented this former Burgundian bastion located within a Champagne cork's flight of Les Invalides. Catherine greets guests and takes orders at lunch; Jacques does the same at dinner. This is pure market cuisine, the daily changing menu punctuated by fabulous wild fish, wild mushrooms, and seasonal game. To start, try escabèche of mackerel with capers and parsley sauce or succulent boned quail with a perfect soft-boiled egg on a bed of fresh spinach. Follow with thickly sliced pan-fried calf's liver with coarse salt and roasted shallot, or an intensely flavorful Bresse hen cooked in its own juices and served with dreamy mashed potatoes. At lunch expect politicians, journalists, and museumgoers (from the Rodin and Invalides), and at dinner, chummy regulars: a mix of ladies in designer jeans and pearl necklaces, gentlemen in blue blazers.

Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

Eating

Café Constant, France

139 Rue St. Dominique
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 47 53 73 34
Website: www.cafeconstant.com

Formerly the executive chef of Les Ambassadeurs, Christian Constant has spun his well-earned celebrity into a mini empire of four restaurants, located practically side by side on Rue St. Dominique, near the Eiffel Tower. His establishments range from the pricey, high-design Le Violon d'Ingres (33-1-45-55-15-05; www.leviolondingres.com) to this unassuming corner café. And they all turn out some of the best food you'll eat in Paris. Café Constant's market-based menu is ever-changing, but the neighborhood regulars seated cheek by jowl on bentwood bistro chairs or burgundy-colored banquettes might be tucking into, for example, house-made foie gras terrines, roasted Bresse chicken, crispy phyllo purses stuffed with shrimp and basil, or plump chocolate dumplings. The wines are affordable—try the flinty Quincy from Philippe Portier or inky Côtes du Rhône from Perrin—and the weekday prix-fixe lunch is an excellent value at about $30. Reservations are not accepted, but if you arrive at noon for lunch, or 7:30 pm for dinner, you probably won't have to wait. Once installed, you can relax: Service is swift yet startlingly courteous, and the staff doesn't rush to turn tables.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.

Nightlife

Paris Social Club, France

142 Rue Montmartre
Paris 75002, France
Website: www.myspace.com/parissocialclub

Paris Social Club's entrance on a corner of Rue Montmartre (one of the second arrondissement's bar-and-restaurant blocks) is unannounced—but that's because this club is in all ways underground. Down the shabby steps, you'll find what is, for the moment at least, one of Paris's best DJ scenes. The space is dark and scrappy, but patrons come for the revolving door of disc jockeys competing for the best set list. The music is wildly variable—from rap to electro-trance to punk and back—but the crowd is consistently serious about the music, and grooving to it.

ALT HERE

Eating

Aux Lyonnais, France

32 Rue Saint Marc
Paris 75002, France
Tel: 33 1 42 96 65 04
Website: www.auxlyonnais.com

For years a seedy neighborhood bistro, Aux Lyonnais is a case study in turning pigs' ears, snouts, and trotters into a silk purse. When Alain Ducasse took over in 2003, he wisely left intact the circa 1890s off-yellow walls with their tall mirrors, tile floors, and wooden tables with iron legs. He trimmed the menu to fit a page, and radically lightened the gutsy Lyonnais cuisine, keeping the variety meats, stewed suckling pig, braised shoulder of lamb, and the classic soufflés and île flottantes. You might not be able to hear yourself think over the convivial noshing of serious French eaters and itinerant gastronauts, but you won't mind, especially if you're chowing on the fried pork rinds and tangy potato salad with garlic sausage on the daily 30-euro prix-fixe menu—a bargain by Paris standards. Miracle of miracles, the pike dumpling—these can be downright leaden—practically levitates in its crayfish sauce. And the old Lyonnais standby of pears poached in Beaujolais, usually lumps of slippery fruit in gluey purple sauce? Here you get one easy-to-eat, lightly winey pear sliced and garnished with a scoop of fromage frais ice cream. Book ahead.

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 12:15 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 7:30 to 10 pm, from September through July.

See More: Alain Ducasse reveals his favorite places in Paris

Paris Paris

Nightlife

Moulin Rouge, France

82 Boulevard de Clichy
Paris 75018, France
Tel: 33 1 53 09 82 82
Website: www.moulinrouge.fr

Before Las Vegas, and even Ziegfeld, there was a time when a visit to Paris meant catching a "show"—where else could frothy underwear look like so much fun? For authentic kitsch, the spectacle at Montmartre's Moulin Rouge, in continuous business since 1889, is still worth the visit. This place genuinely recalls the raucous amusements of the 19th century, though the signature windmill is now outlined in red neon. Sixty "Doriss" girls and countless sequins are featured in Féerie, the new all-dancing show of high-class cheese, which includes a crowd-pleasing cancan. The audience is international, with a hearty dose of French provincials. Avoid the (mediocre) dinner performance and come for the late show at 11 pm; the $120 cover comes with a half bottle of Champagne or two drinks.

Nightlife

La Perle, France

78 Rue de Vieille du Temple
Paris 75003, France
Tel: 33 1 42 72 69 93

At the epicenter of the "new" Marais (the northern end, where the galleries are), this bar and café has nothing specific to recommend it—neither decor, nor drink list, nor menu. Even so, this is the social ground zero for hooked-in bobo scene makers. The decoratively clad crowd of media and art types, architects and artists—basically anyone who looks good in skinny jeans—spills out of La Perle's doors six nights a week. For the neighbors' benefit, posted signs urge revelers to keep the decibel level down, but no one pays them any mind. There's more elbow room at brunch, or for an aperitif before the night owls emerge, but for the full spectacle (the opera of clinking glasses and howls of "mais non!"), head here around midnight on the weekends.

Open Mondays through Fridays 6 pm to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 8 am to 2 am.

Nightlife

Au Pied de Cochon, France

6 Rue Coquillière
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 40 13 77 00
Website: www.pieddecochon.com

During the day, Au Pied de Cochon looks like a tourist trap—a typical Belle Époque brasserie with a multilingual menu of standard fare. Late at night, however, it's a different story. It's one of the few 24-hour restaurants in Paris and the spacious red-leather banquettes are transformed by a new, if pleasantly rowdy, crowd: postprandial clubbers and high-haired night owls. Those with a 2 am appetite should try the soupe aux oignons with cheesy bread, or the famous baba au rhum.

Open daily 24 hours.

Shop

Spree, France

6 Rue La Vieuville
Paris 75018, France
Tel: 33 1 42 23 41 40
Website: www.spree.fr

To stock this well-curated boutique above the Place des Abbesses, Roberta Oprandi oversees the clothing and a collection of unusually comfortable, jewel-toned ballet flats, while her husband, Bruno Hadjadj, hunts down the work of mid-century Flemish and Belgian designers (the kind that Design Within Reach hasn't branded…yet). There may be some familiar labels—one of the more sober, tailored pieces from Comme des Garçons, draped dresses from Prairies de Paris, or a great pair of leather Wellingtons by Pierre Hardy—but the selection is rigorously vetted with a sharp eye, so even the choice of Marc Jacobs bags looks fresh. Plus, the exceptionally friendly sales staff stands ready to give you kindly feedback on how those Notify jeans really look.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8 pm.

Shop

Sabbia Rosa, France

71-73 Rue des Saints-Pères
Paris 75006, France
Tel: 33 1 45 48 88 37

For those who like to be pretty through-and-through, Sabbia Rosa has been nirvana since 1976. Lingerie fetishists the world over crowd into her tiny light-green shop in the heart of Saint Germain to buy her delicate silk slips, camisoles trimmed with handmade French lace, and robes. Her wares are made in more than 30 colors, and the patterned versions are changed each 15 days. Above all, don't leave without a lingerie bag: a generous flower of tied-up silk that doubles as an evening bag.

Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.

Shop

Marie Papier, France

26 Rue Vavin
Paris 75006, France
Tel: 33 1 43 26 46 44
Website: www.mariepapier.fr

Paris loves paper; it's a city where visiting cards are still in use, and graveurs can be found in every neighborhood. Since 1977, Marie-Paule Orluc has been the singular resource for handmade papers in unorthodox and bright colors, including a high-gloss lacquer finish. All are available for engraving using traditional techniques. Her line of supple journals, travel notebooks, and even storage boxes are a writer's dream. Her boutique in the 14th is unfussily stuffed with every sort of possibility for a missive, and her friendly staff will even inspire a convivial note.

Open Mondays 2 to 7 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 7pm.

Shop

Le Bon Marché, France

24 Rue de Sèvres
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 44 39 80 00
Website: www.lebonmarche.fr

Le Bon Marché is a reference for everything a department store (Paris's first) ought to be—from its Gustave Eiffel–designed glass and steel structure to its spacious floors and well-edited selections. You can linger in the ground-floor hat department and consider the millinery confections for the races or a grand wedding, or go up to the second-floor lingerie department for the most delectable display of the best, and frothiest, under-things. And if the shopathon takes its toll, pick up a portable snack at La Grande Épicerie, a tony temple to international food.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 to 8 pm.

Shop

Ladurée, France

75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Paris 75008, France
Tel: 33 1 40 75 08 75
Website: www.laduree.fr

They did not invent the macaron, but they may have perfected it—which is why Sofia Coppola had all the sweet treats for her film Marie Antoinette special-ordered from Ladurée. It's not hard to see why: In a city full of imitators, Ladurée's caramel has just the right amount of salt, and the rose manages to be flowery and not sickly sweet. It may just be worth buying a dozen for the box, which comes in delicate eggy pastels with a black-stencilled monogram. The fashionable Art Nouveau–inspired Ladurée Le Bar, which is adjacent to the Champs-Élysées address, caters to a late-night crowd with cocktail versions of its celebrated pâtisseries. Other shops in Paris include Ladurée Royale (16 Rue Royale, 75008; 33-1-42-60-21-79) and Ladurée Bonaparte (21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006; 33-1-44-07-64-87).

Ladurée Champs-Élysées open daily 7:30 am to 11 pm.

Ladurée Le Bar open Mondays through Thursdays 9 am to 11:30 pm, Fridays 9 am to 12:30 am, Saturdays 10 am to 12:30 am, and Sundays 10 am to 11:30 pm.

Shop

Flea Markets in Paris

The days of true flea-market finds may be long gone, yet aficionados will not be disappointed by the depth and range of Paris's markets, and certainly will be pleased by their still-raucous atmosphere. (For further info, check out www.lechineur.fr, which has a complete listing for all flea markets, temporary or regular, in French.)

The Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen claims to be the largest flea market in the world—and if it isn't true, it certainly feels that way. There are technically 15 markets in the mass of buildings and stalls, though many now sell jeans and sneakers. Six markets deal strictly in "antiques" and follow a kind of lazy logic: Vernaison is the first off the main drag, with smaller stands and a kind of grab bag of items, from walking sticks to silver to lamps. Rosiers and Biron are the most officious: The stands are sturdier and glassed-in, and the objects might include gold-leafed, double-facing love seats known as tête-à-têtes. Marchés Serpette and Dauphine hold everything from pool tables to costume jewelry. It's probably Marché Paul Bert that has the most pleasingly diverse range, often decoratively worn items, including rare industrial lamps and muslin-covered Napoléon III love seats (Metro: Porte de Clignancourt, Porte de-St-Ouen; Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, 9:30 am–6 pm). The Marché aux Puces de Vanves is a true brocanteurs market deep in a residential neighborhood in the 15th, a long meandering line of temporary stalls featuring everything from Porcelaine de Paris and tea towels commemorating D-Day to entire vintage kitchens. There are a few excellent art-book dealers and a satisfying variety of silver dealers (for beautiful bone-and-silver salad servers), as well as stalls featuring a broad selection of lithographs, sketches, and even daguerrotypes (Metro: Porte de Vanves; www.pucesdevanves.typepad.com; Saturdays and Sundays 7 am–1 pm). At the Marché aux Puces de Montreuil look past the shampoo, polyester nightgowns, and used tires, because this is also one of the better places to look for vintage non-designer clothing, with everything from the late 19th century through the '80s (dealers are mostly grouped in the right-hand corner as you enter from the périphérique), or just to absorb the atmosphere of polyglot suburban Paris, where herb hawkers mix with rug dealers and battery vendors. For occasional finds in china or mid-century French café ware, elbow your way to the back by the bridge (Metro: Porte de Montreuil; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 7 am–7:30 pm).

Shop

Colette, France

213 Rue Saint-Honoré
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 55 35 33 90
Website: www.colette.fr

L'art de vivre was practically invented in France, so it's not surprising the country has some of the best, and best-known, lifestyle stores. Colette is an ad hoc destination for gimmicky cool, for everything from the newest portable electronics (ever sleeker and smaller) to obscure trance music and impossible heels; the selection of known and emerging fashion matches the store's hipper-than-thou staff.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm.

Shop

Children's Boutiques, France

Paris, France

Spend a day in the Luxembourg Gardens and you'll see that French children have as much style as their parents. For a good introduction to vêtements pour enfants, explore the streets around the park, such as the Rue Vavin, the Rue de Seine, and the Rue de Tournon in the sixth, or head to the Rue Condorcet in the ninth. Alice à Paris is like a child's answer to A.P.C.: You'll find simply cut basics for ages one month to 8 years that are smart without being too precious or too pricey. The duffel coats with horn closers (just like Paddington Bear's), drawstring harem-style pants (perhaps in paisley or denim), and Nehru-collar shirts are perennials for the smart younger set. When Michelle Obama came to Paris in June 2009, she shopped for her girls at the Bonpoint flagship at 6 Rue de Tournon in the sixth; downstairs, the restaurant, which looks onto a courtyard, serves salads and Italian dishes at reasonable prices. Equally pricey but less prim, BonTon plays Soho to Bonpoint's Park Avenue with more everyday fashions and an eclectic assortment of toys. (Both Bonpoint and BonTon are best for ages one month through 8 years.) The bright aesthetic of Ube Ule, on the Rue Condorcet in the ninth, focuses on imports from Belgium and Holland (best for ages 4 to 10). The shop is deliberately distracting—like a child's playroom—and is filled with lunchboxes, corduroy pantsuits, the owners' handmade line of printed cotton shirts and dresses, dangling mobiles, stacks of Petitcollin dolls (in production since 1860), and a toy crib (for sale) filled with hand-knit animals. Nearby, Marchand d'Étoiles translates to "merchant of the stars"—referring to dreamtime rather than Angelina Jolie. The jaunty cut of the pajamas (in cotton, linen, jersey, and fleece, for ages one month to 12 years) helps them easily transition from night to day. Among the pj's, you'll also find cosmetics, such as alcohol-free violet perfume, and a private line of pantoufles—dashingly pointy leather house slippers. For babies in particular, Tartine & Chocolat is as sweet as its name, while Jacadi excels in adorable things for model girls and boys up to 12 years.

As a rule of thumb, most stores are open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm.

See + Do

Vedettes du Pont Neuf, France

Square du Vert Galant
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 46 33 98 38
Website: www.vedettesdupontneuf.com

Sure, a boat ride on the river is as touristy as an Eiffel Tower hat made of foam rubber, but the fact is that you get a completely different view of Paris, and a very romantic one at that, from the water. Several companies offer Seine cruises, but this one has the advantage of a charming, central, and easily reached location on the northwestern edge of the Île de la Cité, and the boats are smaller than the troop-carrier affairs deployed by most other companies. They don't serve meals, either, which is a good thing: The food on lunch and dinner cruises is unfailingly mediocre, and if it's harmless enough to be a tourist out in the fresh air, it's a sad business in an enclosed stock-pen of a dining room.

See + Do

Vaux Le Vicomte, France

Maincy 77950, France
Tel: 33 1 64 14 41 90
Website: www.vaux-le-vicomte.fr

If you don't have time to visit the Loire Valley châteaux, this gorgeous palace an hour from Paris by commuter train will give you a sumptuous taste of the genre (take the RER D train from the Gare de Lyon to Melun, then a taxi or the Châteaubus shuttle to the château). In its day, the beauty of Vaux le Vicomte, owned by French finance minister Nicolas Fouquet, was so talked about that it got under King Louis XIV's collar and propelled him to massively remodel Versailles, previously a much more modest hunting lodge. Although the castle is lovely, what's really magnificent are the surrounding gardens, a masterpiece of French formal landscaping by André Le Nôtre, who also designed those at Versailles.

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March through November only.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Père-Lachaise Cemetery and Ménilmontant-Oberkampf, France

Paris, France
Website: www.pere-lachaise.com

The winding, cobbled paths of Père-Lachaise spread over 100 acres in the 20th Arrondissement, knotting around thousands of historic tombs, giant old trees, flowerbeds, and romantic ruins. Most visitors come to see the famous residents: Abelard and Héloïse, Chopin, Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Proust, Piaf, Gertrude Stein, and, inevitably, Jim Morrison. The cemetery's southern edge is flanked by Boulevard de Ménilmontant, the spinal column of an up-and-coming, multiethnic neighborhood locals call "Ménilmouche," where bars, cafés, and North African, Asian, and kosher restaurants spill across wide sidewalks under arching trees. Intersecting Ménilmontant a couple of hundred yards northwest of the cemetery, Rue Oberkampf extends the hip zone by several city blocks—you'll find hot spots like Café Charbon (109 Rue Oberkampf; 33-1-43-57-55-13) tucked between Turkish eateries and hole-in-the-wall shops.

See + Do

Musée Marmottan Monet, France

2 Rue Louis-Boilly
Paris 75016, France
Tel: 33 1 44 96 50 33
Website: www.marmottan.com

Only in Paris could the world's single largest collection of Monet paintings (along with works by Pissarro, Sisley, and Renoir) be overshadowed by other museums. But don't ignore this little-known gem, tucked away in the leafy, residential 16th Arrondissement. Housed in an atmospheric old hunting lodge—the area was once wooded—the ballast of the collection came from two bequests. The first was a trove of canvases donated by the daughter of Georges de Bellio, Monet's doctor; the second came from Monet's son Michel. The real prize here is Impression Soleil Levant, a magnificent work from 1873 recording Monet's impression of a sunrise at Le Havre.

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.

See + Do

Musée Carnavalet, France

23 Rue de Sévigné
Paris 75003, France
Tel: 33 1 44 59 58 58
Website: www.carnavalet.paris.fr

Ignore the Mona Lisa's prima donna claim on the world's imagination. The first museum you should go to in Paris is this superb 140-room collection dedicated to the history of the city itself. Once you've been here, you'll have a rough historical scaffolding in the back of your mind and everything else about the city will make sense. The beautiful structure was built in 1548 and turned into a museum in 1866 by that famous architectural busybody Baron Haussmann (did he ever take a day off?). The story of the city begins with wooden canoes used by the Parisii, who fished the Seine in the Neolithic age. The Roman collections are outstanding, as are exhibits devoted to 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century Paris. Whatever you do, don't miss the Carnavalet's weirdest treasure—writer Marcel Proust's bedroom, cork-lined so he could write in silence.

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.

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See + Do

Montmartre, France

Paris 75018, France

The bulbous white-stone domes of Sacré-Coeur (built from 1875 to 1919) are Montmartre's dreamy visual emblem, but its real appeal is far earthier. Lacking a port district as the usual venue for less-than-holy pleasures, mid-19th-century Parisians claimed this hilltop village as a place to escape from the pieties of bourgeois France. Taverns, dives, and dance halls opened—some, like the iconic Moulin de la Galette, occupied the old windmills that crowned this breezy outcrop—and artists (Toulouse-Lautrec, of course, but also Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, and Utrillo) followed in search of provocative and accommodating subjects. Today, nostalgia for the Belle Époque is an industry perpetuated in cafés, clubs, theaters, restaurants, bars, and boutiques centered on the Place du Tertre, the prototype tourist trap that's fascinating precisely for that reason: The Butte (as Montmartre is often called by locals) and the Pigalle–Place de Clichy area below it have been in the kitsch-entertainment business so long they've acquired a historic patina. For something more authentic, try the leafy Place des Abbesses, coiling Rue Lepic, or lower sections of the edgy Rue des Martyrs. On the far side of the hill near the Lamarck-Caulaincourt metro station, real locals hang out in atmospheric joints on serpentine streets. Nearby, the Cimetière de Montmartre is possibly the only cemetery in the world with a century-old viaduct flying over its tombs.

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See + Do

Luxembourg Gardens, France

Entrances: Place Auguste-Comte, Place Edmond-Rostand, or Rue de Vaugirard
Paris 75014, France

On that inevitable day when you don't want to go to a museum and you're sick of shopping, come to the Luxembourg Gardens. Quite simply, there's no better people-watching in Paris, and it changes all day long. In the morning, you'll see joggers, early tennis players, dog-walkers, and students; around 11 a.m. or so, a more mature crowd arrives—elegantly dressed women out for a stroll, men playing chess or checkers in the northwest corner—along with nannies pushing baby carriages and scolding toddlers. At noon, secretaries from the surrounding art galleries and publishing houses come to picnic, followed by academics carrying heavy books and heading for the park's quietest corners. By afternoon, all of Paris is present, and the genius of this park becomes undeniable—you can do everything from riding a merry-go-round or a pony to learning how to keep bees (a beekeeping school produces honey for the French Sénat, which occupies the palace on the park's northern flank). Just south of the park on the Rue d'Assas is in one our favorite little museums: Musée Zadkine, the former home and studio of Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine. Zadkine ran with the wild, absinthe-swilling Montparnasse crowd of the early 20th century; as interesting as his stylized figures in bronze and marble is the studio itself, which rambles around a leafy garden court and gives a glimpse of what the artists' colony of the Left Bank—made famous by Picasso, Modigliani, et al—was like (100 bis Rue d'Assas; 33-1-55-42-77-20; www.zadkine.paris.fr; closed Mon.).

Open daily from dawn to dusk (but never before 7 a.m.).

See + Do

L'Atelier des Chefs, France

10 Rue de Penthièvre
Paris 75008, France
Tel: 33 1 53 30 05 82
Website: www.atelierdeschefs.com

With a convenient location and well-equipped kitchens, this cooking school offers a two-hour, hands-on course taught by working chefs. You'll learn how to cook three dishes—perhaps vichyssoise, chicken breasts stuffed with foie gras, and roasted apricots with Mascarpone—then feast at a communal lunch with wine. Note that the class is in French, but you won't have trouble following along, and your chef may even speak English. For fluent French speakers, a variety of other classes are available, including different ways of preparing potatoes, cooking with flowers, and exploring international cuisines such as Cambodian. Book well ahead of time if you want to wow the gang back home with a gourmet dinner after your trip.

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See + Do

Île de la Cité and Île St-Louis, France

Paris, France

Midstream in the Seine, the Île de la Cité is Paris's birthplace, where a Celtic tribe known as the Parisii built their wattle settlement around 250 BC. The island is bound to the mainland by four bridges, including the city's oldest—the now mislabeled Pont Neuf ("new bridge"). To get a sense of what the island was like before Baron Haussmann totally redeveloped it, visit the archeological crypt (1 Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame; 33-1-55-42-50-10), the pretty Place Dauphine (Between Pont Neuf and Rue de Harlay), and the side streets on the north side of Notre-Dame. Sainte-Chapelle, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is always mobbed for its stained glass; to beat the crowds, try going to an evening concert, especially in summer, when the days are long and the light through the stained glass is gorgeous until 10 p.m. (4 Blvd. du Palais). On the upstream tip of the island, behind Notre-Dame, the Deportation Memorial is a moving monument to French citizens who were deported and died in Nazi camps.

Developed in the 17th century as an exclusive enclave, half-mile-long Île St-Louis is lined by the mossy town houses of the old-money elite (the Rothschilds lord over the upstream eastern side). Plaques identify dozens of the artists, writers, and bigwig politicians who've lived here, from Charles Baudelaire to Georges Pompidou and Ernest Hemingway. Some of the richest, most irresistible ice cream anywhere comes from Berthillon, headquartered at 29–31 Rue St-Louis-en-l'Île (33-1-43-54-31-61; www.berthillon-glacier.fr), and is also sold by a half dozen island cafés and restaurants. And if you want to learn to fly-fish or spin-cast like a true Parisian, head to century-old Maison de la Mouche, on the Boulevard Henri IV, the roadway bridge that crosses the island's upstream end (1 Blvd. Henri IV; 33-1-43-54-60-46). Head to the island's south side for a great view of Notre-Dame's flying buttresses from the Quai d'Orléans.

See + Do

Cinema, France

Paris, France

Even if you speak no French, Paris is the world's best city for going to the movies. On any given night, hundreds of films, both new and classic, are screened—most in their original languages. Check Pariscope and l'Officiel du Spectacle, sold at newsstands citywide, for listings ("v.o." means version originale, or original version, "v.f." often means dubbed). Paris's loveliest vintage cinema is La Pagode, a Japanese pagoda built by a French architect in one of the city's toniest neighborhoods. Look for films shown in the Salle Japonaise, the resplendent faux-Japanese projection room. Also, the café here sells excellent brownies (57 bis Rue de Babylone; 33-8-92-89-28-92). Le Grand Rex, a landmark Art Deco cinema that opened in 1932, hosts movies, star-studded events, jazz and rock concerts, and a big-screen virtual-visit of the theater itself in its 2,400-seat auditorium (1 Blvd. Poissonnière; 33-1-45-08-93-58; www.legrandrex.com). Atop Montmartre, Studio 28 is a much-loved neighborhood spot from the 1920s—Luis Buñuel's surreal Golden Age premiered here in the 1930s. It's still an active movie house (and puts on art shows and theatrical events as well), and the interior is largely unchanged since its glory days (10 rue Tholozé; 33-1-46-06-36-07). Le Louxor, under restoration since 1987, is still closed—but take a look at the crazy neo–Ancient Egyptian facade from 1920 (170 Boulevard Magenta).

See + Do

Centre Georges Pompidou, France

Rue St-Martin
 75004, France
Tel: 33 1 44 78 12 33
Website: www.centrepompidou.fr

When it opened in 1977, the intention of this inside-out modern art museum—the staircases and pipes are famously exposed on its exterior—was to snatch back Paris's role as the art capital of the world, a title it lost to New York after World War II. The Pompidou fell short of that goal (the contemporary art scene in Paris remains puckish), but it has become one of the top tourist attractions in France. Beaubourg, as Parisians call it, has a permanent collection that runs from 1905 to the present and includes such "isms" as primitivism, Cubism, Fauvism, surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. Making the most of those riches, it mounts outstanding exhibits that cover everything from Andy Warhol to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. The complex also includes an open-to-the-public library, cinemas, children's programs, and Georges, a trendy if expensive and slightly snooty restaurant with fabulous vistas from its top floor—it's great for lunch (33-1-44-78-47-99).

Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

See + Do

Canal St-Martin, France

Paris, France

Long a working-class neighborhood with an edge, the Canal St-Martin is the latest quartier to be reinvented by artists and young bohemians. Built in the early 1800s for industrial transport, the canal is spanned by hump-back bridges and lined with cobbled banks, giant sycamores, and warehouses that are being converted into lofts. There are still some seedy surroundings and homeless encampments, but by day, blue- and white-collar locals plus a sprinkling of tourists add normality to the scene. By night, the hipsters take over. Galleries and boutiques are quirky and marginal. The bars, cafés, and restaurants feel like they've followed you from the similarly hip but older Bastille and Oberkampf areas. Near the canal's southern end, off Quai de Jemmapes and Quai de Valmy, you'll find Café l'Atmosphère (49 Rue Lucien Sampaix; 33-1-40-38-09-21), Le Poisson Rouge (112 Quai de Jemmapes; 33-1-40-40-07-11; www.le-poisson-rouge.com), and l'Hôtel du Nord (102 Quai de Jemmapes; 33-1-40-40-78-78; www.hoteldunord.org)—interchangeable hangouts with outdoor tables and an arty feel. Farther north are casual Le Chaland café (163 Quai de Valmy; 33-1-40-05-18-68), Quai Ouest, a cutting-edge new-music venue (167 Quai de Valmy and 1 Rue Alexandre Parodi; 33-1-40-36-54-30), and the laid back Opus Jazz and Soul Club (167 Quai de Valmy; 33-1-40-34-70-00). Further up, near the dicey Stalingrad Métro station, hopping local hangouts surround the mainstream MK2 cinema-theater-café-restaurant-bookstore complex which sits on both canal banks (14 Quai de la Seine and 7 Quai de Loire; 33-8-92-69-84-84; www.mk2.com).

$199 or less
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Hotel

Mama Shelter, France

109 Rue de Bagnolet
Paris 75020, France
Tel: 33 1 43 48 48 48
Website: www.mamashelter.com

Et Dans Mon Coeur Il y a

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Eating

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, France

5 Rue de Montalembert
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 42 22 56 56
Website: www.joel-robuchon.net

Former three-star chef Joël Robuchon was hailed as the best French chef of the 20th century before he retired at age 50. Then, a few years ago, he returned to the limelight with this unlikely vehicle: a New York–style coffee shop cum tapas bar. Ironically, Robuchon wanted out of the Michelin rat race but received a star here in 2006 and a second star at his other Paris restaurant, a somewhat staid sit-down place in the 16th Arrondissement called La Table de Joël Robuchon. L'Atelier is innovative, totally nonsmoking, and fun, as long as you don't mind the counter-only service, high-rise stools, and reservation policy—tables can only be booked for 6:30 p.m. If you choose to dine later, odds are you'll wind up admiring the black and Chinese-red lacquer interior for an hour or more before ascending your stool. Begin with caviar, Spanish ham, or spaghetti carbonara, or perhaps an assortment of little tasting plates. This French take on tapas changes often but might include veal sweetbreads skewered with a bay leaf twig and garnished with creamy Swiss chard, or a tart of mackerel filet, Parmesan shavings, and olives. Then, go classic with a steak or opt for something more inventive like sublime cannelloni stuffed with foie gras and Bresse chicken.

Open daily 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm to midnight.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Hôtel du Petit Moulin, France

29-31 Rue de Poitou
Paris 75003, France
Tel: 33 1 42 74 10 10
Email: contact@hoteldupetitmoulin.com
Website: www.hoteldupetitmoulin.com

In the most happening corner of Paris—the northern edge of the Marais in the 3rd Arrondissement—this 17-room hotel with 17 different interiors by designer Christian Lacroix was an inevitable hit with the international style set when it opened in 2005. Hipsters love the location, the laid-back atmosphere, and the lushly funky Baroque look that is Lacroix's signature. Walls in room 302, for example, are covered in anise-colored leather and chocolate-brown canvas, while others are themed around Lacroix croquis (fashion sketches), Toile de Jouy (18th-century French prints), '60s Pop and Op art, Baroque Paris, and the Opéra. What all the accommodations have in common are Wi-Fi connections, air-conditioning, and exceptionally comfortable king beds dressed up in quality linens and accented with fur throws. They're also uniformly snug—best for people traveling light and probably on their own, since there's hardly room for a suitcase in most standard rooms. Still, few hotels have decor with this much wit and taste. Witness the reception area with its painted ceilings, a holdover from the space's former incarnation—the oldest bakery in Paris.

 

$199 or less
Editor's Pick

Hotel

Hôtel Molière, France

21 Rue Molière
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 42 96 22 01
Email: info@hotel-moliere.fr
Website: www.clement-moliere-paris-hotel.com

Paris used to have dozens of small, independently owned inns with busy floral wallpaper, tiny bedside tables, and curious telephones. However, these good-value places have recently become a rarer breed as they're bought up by chains that modernize them into a state of dull international uniformity. Happily, the 32-room Molière, a delightful spot with a superb location (the Palais Royal, Louvre, Opéra, and Tuileries are all within a 15-minute walk), survives and has even been improved. Almost all rooms now have renovated bathrooms. With faux-marble pillars and a stone bust of Molière in the lobby, this place continues to exude a delightful only-in-Paris atmosphere. Plus, there are lots of excellent, inexpensive Asian restaurants on the neighboring Rue Ste-Anne.

 

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Hotel Verneuil, France

8 Rue de Verneuil
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 42 60 82 14
Email: info@hotelverneuil.com
Website: www.hotelverneuil.com/hotel-paris.html

It's just steps away from hopping Boulevard Saint-Germain and the tourist thrum at Les Deux Magots (6 Place St-Germain des Prés; 33-1-45-48-55-25; www.lesdeuxmagots.fr) and Café de Flore (172 Boulevard St-Germain; 33-1-45-48-55-26; www.cafe-de-flore.com), but the 26-room Hotel Verneuil is a sweet little respite, one of those hotel finds you don't tell anyone about. It's in a 17th-century building on a quiet residential street speckled with antique shops and galleries, and retains a historic feel: The downstairs salon has red paneling and exposed beams, and rooms on the second floor have vintage printed wallpapers. On the other hand, there are private marble baths, Wi-Fi access, and—most important—an Anglophone staff. Rooms can be small and only 15 have air-conditioning, but at rates like this, what did you expect?

 

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Hôtel le Saint Grégoire, France

43 Rue de l'Abbé-Grégoire
Paris 75006, France
Tel: 33 1 45 48 23 23
Email: hotel@saintgregoire.com
Website: www.hotelsaintgregoire.com

Tucked away on a narrow street between Montparnasse and St-Germain-des-Prés, this 20-room hotel, in an 18th-century mansion, is popular with fashionistas, the literati, and stylish French visiting from the provinces. All rooms are done up in a classic Gallic tour-de-force of floral chintz curtains, white-varnished furniture, and embroidered coverlets. Oil paintings, framed mirrors, and Oriental accent rugs abet the impression of being a guest in the private house of some very refined Parisians, and the English-speaking manager is on hand for restaurant and shopping recommendations or information on the latest gallery shows. Wi-Fi is available in all rooms, and breakfast is served in the vaulted stone cellar.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Hôtel Duo, France

11 Rue du Temple
Paris 75004, France
Tel: 33 1 42 72 72 22
Email: contact@duoparis.com
Website: www.duoparis.com

Here's a tale of two hotels: The modest, family-run Axial Beaubourg and the once-seedy Duo Hotel next door were skillfully merged by rising-star architect Jean-Philippe Nuel and reopened in fall 2006. The result is an affordable, high-design property one block from the Hôtel de Ville and the Pompidou Center, edging the Marais neighborhood's lively gay area. The playfully contempo lobby is framed by big windows and rustic ceiling timbers, and furnished with oversize lampshades and boxy armchairs in olive green or black checks. The 39 wholly remade rooms in the Duo are now understated and plush; angular yet comfortably overstuffed armchairs and thick drapes in shades of green and brown trim the living areas, while bathrooms have full tubs and stone-and-tile sinks. But aside from a paint job and new carpets, Nuel didn't touch the Axial Beaubourg's 19 rooms, so they remain unexciting habitats with poky bathrooms; the only accommodations on this side worth booking are the fifth-floor street-side units, for their rooftop views. Like a mating call for the modeling and design crowd, there's a basement fitness center and sauna, free Wi-Fi in the lobby, and a breakfast room that mimics a hip diner-cum-sushi bar, with raw concrete pillars and contemporary photographs. Amazingly, the place is still family-run, unaffected, and friendly—and booked weeks ahead.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.