The city of love: a travel guide to Paris

Visiting Paris? Then read our Paris hot list from the little black books of those in the know and insure you’re armed with the best addresses when in the French capital, writes Mike Dolan.

Easton Pearson
“Place des Vosges is our very favourite place in Paris. It’s full of French charm, especially on the weekend – a wonderful mix of old ladies and their dogs, tourists on walking tours and an array of buskers.”
Pavillon de la Reine
Stay: Pavillon de la Reine (left, www.slh.com) is a four-star hotel in the historic Marais district in the middle of the colonnaded Places des Vosges. It’s like staying at a 17th century palace.
Address: Pavillon de la Reine, 28 Place des Vosges, 75003 Paris.
Didier Ludot
Shop: Didier Ludot (right) is one of the most famous vintage (pre-loved) shops in the world that stocks fabulous pieces – from Hermès handbags to classic Chanel suits. Don’t expect op-shop prices as these are collector’s items.
Address: Didier Ludot, 20-24 Galerie Montpensier, 75001 Paris.
Eat: Gaspard de la Nuit is a classic little Parisian bistro, tiny and intimate with great and well-priced food run by a very eccentric family. And it’s open every night!
Address: Gaspard de la Nuit, 6 Rue des Tournelles, 75004 Paris.
“My favourite places are all in the 1st arrondissement, simply because it’s where most of the fashion shows happen.”
Sleep: Sofitel de Faubourg (left). I love this area and the street. It’s a beautiful, small hotel in the heart of Paris.
Address: Sofitel de Faubourg, 15, rue de Boissy d’Anglas, 75008 Paris.
Shop: Lanvin is where you’ll find clothes from the designer Alber Elbaz, who has transformed this famous French label – it’s on fire. Elbaz does the best dresses in the world.
Address: Lanvin, 22 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris.
Eat: Hotel des Costes has the biggest buzz during Paris Fashion Week – everyone is there and the food is fast, easy and delicious.
Address: Hotel des Costes, 239 Rue Faubourg St Honoré, 75001 Paris.
“Earlier this year, a friend introduced me to rue Oberkampf in Paris in the 4th arrondissement, and it's become a favourite of mine. It's full of great little bars and cafes, where you can have a glass of wine or a bite to eat.”
Sleep: Hôtel de Crillon is where Collette Dinnigan stays when she spends two or three months a year in Paris at the shows. This revered palais hotel, overlooking the Place de la Concorde, is one of city’s oldest.
Address: Hôtel de Crillon, 10 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris.
Shop: Le Bon Marché – the historic Paris department store – because everything is there, from cosmetics and shoes. It’s perfect for a one-stop shop.
Address: Le Bon Marché, 22 rue Sevres, 75007 Paris.
Eat: Chez Omar serves simple affordable dishes from the Mediterranean – it’s most famous for its traditional couscous plate and other Moroccan and North African dishes.
Address: Chez Omar, 47 rue de Bretagne, 75004 Paris.
“Now I’m living in Paris, I’ve fallen in love with my own quartier in the 3rd arrondissement, part of the charming historic Le Marais area.”
Sleep: Hotel du Petit Moulin gives you a whimsical fashionista experience. It’s an eccentric boutique hotel designed by French couturier Christian Lacroix. Housed in an old bakery, the old signage still says “Boulangerie” above the door. Every room has a different décor. It’s often booked out during Paris fashion shows, so visit when it’s quieter.
Address: Hotel du Petit Moulin, 29-31 rue de Poitou, 75003 Paris.
Shop and stop: All around rue de Poitou, rue Vielle de Temple and rue Charlot, you’ll find super hip boutiques for clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery. Take a break, hang out at Café Charlot, and watch the fashion crowd wander by.
Address: Café Charlot 38 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris.
Eat: Le Marché des Enfant Rouges is my favourite place to eat in all Paris. It’s a small covered food market open all week, except Monday. You can also eat at one of several stands: French, Moroccan, Italian and even Japanese, or buy a crepe made on the spot from organic ingredients.
Address: Marché des Enfant Rouges, 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris.
“Paris is the world’s greatest window-shopping city. Home to the most desirable luxuries, the most opulent stationery and the most fabulous shoes, this is the city of temptations.”
Stay: Pavillon de la Reine on Place des Vosges (left, www.slh.com) is an historic, understated and luxurious haven that’s in the prettiest square and perfect for shopping at the Marais.
Address: Pavillon de la Reine, 28 Place des Vosges, 75003 Paris.
Shop: Cassegrain is for every stylish woman who would have her own embossed letterhead. The company has been printing letterheads in copperplate since 1919. See if the helpful staff will blink when you spell out your address in Woolloomooloo or Indooroopilly. If you’re feeling modest, just buy some deluxe greetings cards. Also visit the Roger Vivier shoes store (right) at 29 rue du Faubourg, St-Honoré.
Address: Cassegrain, 422 rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris.
Eat: Le Grand Colbert is a classic brasserie with a magnificent Belle Epoque dining room with globe lamps and ceiling mouldings. What’s never changed is the elderly ladies dining out with their dogs, right there at the table.
Address: Le Grand Colbert, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris.
“In my dreams, I would stay at the Ritz; it’s one of the world’s most iconic hotels.”
Sleep: The Ritz is where Coco Chanel used to live and it’s still going strong. The bar is very popular and visited by a mixture of fashionistas, celebrities and an intriguing mix of French and international high society.
Address: The Ritz, 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris.
Shop: Chanel in the Rue Cambon is my perennial favourite and is probably one of the biggest Chanel shops in the world. It will satisfy any hard-core Chanel shopper.
Address: Chanel, 31 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris.
Eat: Café Ruc is a pivotal meeting point for all the fashion community during fashion week. It has the best French fries in Paris and I can still smoke there.
Address: Café Ruc, 93 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris.

Hot Paris Hotels

Hotel de la Place des Vosges
12 rue de Birague, 75004 Paris
This boutique hotel is located next to the Place des Vosges and is full of character. Housed in a 17th century building and around the corner from an old royal palace, it’s in the heart of the Marais. The rooms are cosy, but furnished with antiques and have old wooden beams and lead windows. The perfect abode to put your head down at night and explore the city by day.
Rooms from €90 ($144).
Le Relais Montmarte
6 rue Contance, 75018 Paris
Located under the white dome of Sacré Coeur, Le Relais is located in a quiet street in the bustling “village” of Montmartre. In winter, guests gather around a roaring log fire in the sitting room; in summer they drink iced tea or cocktails in the courtyard. There are just 26 rooms, some on the small side, but all decorated with charm.
Rooms from €150 ($230).
Hotel Saint-Germain-des-Prés
36 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
On the Left Bank in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this hotel is housed in an historic 18th century building several minutes' stroll from Notre Dame cathedral. Its rooms are larger than most, but the floral décor is dated. However, if you want to stroll to world-famous Brasserie Lipp, with its plain wooden floors and exquisite Art Nouveau interiors, and enjoy the area’s animated street culture, it’s a very convenient place to stay.
Rooms from€190 ($300).
Trocadéro Dokhan’s
117 rue de Lauriston, 75116 Paris
This Sofitel Demeure hotel (right) has been awarded many design accolades for its extraordinary interiors. A corner property close to Eiffel Tower, every room from its foyer to its sitting room recreates a different ambience. The entrance and foyer are styled as a parterre garden and conservatory; its lobby a 19th century gentleman’s club. Moving into the lounge, you’ll find an elegant Regency drawing room, while the Champagne bar is decorated like a Louis XIV salon. In typical Paris style, the bedrooms are small, but beautifully furnished. In fact, what creates such a magical atmosphere in this jewel of a hotel is all the exquisite detail.
Rooms from €235 ($370).
Hotel Edouard VII
39 avenue de l’Opera, 75002 Paris
This family-run hotel is friendly without being familiar. A few minutes stroll away from the Place Vendôme and the gilded dome of the Palais Garnier (the 13th century home of the Paris Opera), it’s a beacon of simplicity and comfort in the heart of Paris.
Named after one of its former guests, King Edward VII, it has 70 rooms and suites decorated and furnished with impeccable taste. Many visitors find the service in Paris aloof. Not so at Edouard VII, where the welcome is always warm. Run by the Corbel family since 1951, the hotel marries informality and impeccable service. Its Edwardian charm comes with all the expected modern comforts of a five-star hotel. Each of the air-conditioned, sound-proofed rooms has a distinct style and, most importantly, its sheets and pillows are among the finest money can buy. Don’t miss dining in the quirky restaurant that serves an innovative East meets West cuisine.
Rooms from €345 ($520).
Hôtel de Vendôme
1 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris
Any hotel with such a prestigious address would face ridicule unless it met the highest standards. H&ocirc:tel de Vend&ocirc:me doesn’t disappoint. It may be a boutique establishment with 19 rooms and 10 suites, but this member of the Small Luxury Hotels of World club (www.slh.com) offers the comfort and service comparable with its more famous palais hotel rivals. Equally important, all of its rooms are spacious and exquisitely fitted out. The beautiful Louis XIV marble in the lobby is also found in the bathrooms; the drapes and soft furnishings in the rooms are as luxurious as any in Paris. Around the corner are the Tuillerie Gardens and the rue de Rivoli. The hotel bar has live jazz and blues evenings and the restaurant serves fine French and Middle-Eastern cuisine. The breakfasts are also unforgettable (right).
Rooms from €620 ($1000).

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