Rituals City Guides: Paris, France

Heading to France? Stop in Paris and enjoy a little of la vie en rose in one of Europe’s most magical cities. 

No matter how many times you have been, Paris never loses its charm. Still one of the most visited cities in the world, numbers will be boosted even more by the Olympics this year, as well as by Netflix’s fourth season of Emily in Paris, which airs in August. Known as the City of Light, as it was one of the first cities to install gas streetlamps, it has impossibly romantic bridges, river walks, pavement cafes for people-watching, cool bars, charismatic brasseries, world-class restaurants and, of course, an extraordinary fashion heritage. And the Parisians are just so – well – Parisian 

 

Each arrondissement has its own character, from the super-cool Pigalle with its nightlife and the boho artsy Rive Gauche, to the impressive museums and monuments and quiet luxury of the Right Bank and Charonne with its exceptional restaurants (see Septime below) and excellent street markets (Place d'Aligre and Place de la Bastille). Bon séjour!  

A LA MODE 

As Christian Dior once said, “Fashion designers, are, in a way, masters of dreams,” and  

anyone who agrees will be in heaven here. For an introduction to the wealth of fashion heritage, head to The Museum of Decorative Arts, where 150,000 fashion pieces have been donated by the likes of Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Lacroix and Cristobal Balenciaga.  For more in-depth insights, wander around the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, set in the Hôtel Particulier in avenue Marceau, where he worked on his creations for nearly 30 years. In the beautifully curated Dior Gallery you can walk past walls of accessories and miniature outfits all arranged by colour like a rainbow, rooms of exquisite dresses and his actual workshop. 

The Palais Galliera houses more than 200,000 pieces of fashion, photography and memorabilia from the 18thcentury to present day, and for the lowdown on Coco Chanel’s Paris, take a four-hour private walking tour of her store in rue Cambon and her favourite haunts. 

BON APPETIT  

It’s an impossible task to recommend just a few places to eat and drink, as everyone has their favourites – but here goes: Paris boasts 121 Michelin-starred restaurants, with Hélène Darroze earning two stars for Marsan par Hélène Darroze. Order the prix fixe or the mind-blowing (but wallet-busting) tasting menu. Table by Bruno Verjus – the food-critic-turned chef/patron – is another Michelin two-star well worth a splurge. He focusses on the best ingredients from hand-picked suppliers.     

Early June is one of Dua Lipa’s favourites, popular for its natural wines, small plates and a roster of visiting chefs. Unassuming Oktubre in Saint-Germain-des-Prés has inventive French fare, and at Le Cheval d’Or, Sydney-native Hanz Gueco offers innovative French/Chinese.  

It is almost impossible to get a table at pricey but stylish Septime but the next best thing (and more purse -friendly), is to have a glass of biodynamic vin rouge and some charcuterie in its hip little sister, Septime La Cave, around the corner.   

 

Named after Arthur Cravan, Oscar Wilde’s nephew, Moët Hennessy’s Cravan, is spread over three floors of an elegant 17th century building in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près. Inside you will find a shop, three cocktail bars, a library in partnership with Rizzoli, and a rooftop music kiosk.  

 

With vintage vinyl (Coltrane, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley) lining the bar, Frequence is more like a record shop than a drinks venue. Expect excellent tunes, exquisite cocktails and dancing pretty much guaranteed. Head to Little Red Door, a cool hideaway on rue Charlot, for eco-friendly farm-to-glass cocktails, and in Barbie-pink Bar Bisou, there is no drinks menu, the mixologists just conjure up something they think you will like.  

SPORT AND WELLNESS 

With breakdancing having its Olympic debut in Paris, and surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding all on their second Games, you might be inspired to try yourself.  

Paris is the last place you would think of learning to surf, but Wave Paris will show you how. See Paris or Versailles on two wheels with Fat Tire Tours, or on water skis along the Seine with Ski Nautique Club de Paris. 

 

For a more cerebral sporting experience, in honour of the Olympics, Musée Marmottan-Monet is showing En Jeu! Artists et Sport 1870 to 1930, a visual history from Impressionism to Cubism, from artists such as Monet, Degas and Rodin; and at Musée du Luxembourg, When Sport meets Design examines the effect of design on performance.  

DON’T MISS 

Textile Tours Designer Alice Prier and textile historian Jane Taylor Bouvard run fashion-based, small group tours in Paris taking in museums, galleries and workshops.  

 

Montmartre en Chansons  Singer Anne-Sophie Guerrier leads a nostalgic two-hour walk through 30 iconic Montmartre locations, with a cappella singing and anecdotes from Edith Piaf days. 

 

Late-night Thursdays at Musée d’Orsay, home to the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, including Monet, Manet, Cézanne and Van Gogh.  

 

The brand-new Rituals store on the Avenue de Champs-Élysées where you can take a relaxing pit-stop in the Mind Oasis. Book in for the Brain Massage and you’ll leave feeling refreshed and ready to take on the city once again.  

Susan Ward Davies

Susan Ward Davies

Susan Ward Davies has been a travel editor and writer for more than 30 years- most of them spent as Travel & Lifestyle Director of British ELLE & elleuk.com, and now as Travel & Lifestyle Editor of thecalendarmagazine.com, where she writes about sustainable travel. She also freelances for a wide range of British publications including The Telegraph, The Times and Good Housekeeping. She is happiest on her way to the airport, suitcase in hand, setting off for an - as yet  - untried destination,  and loves nothing more than seeking out new places and experiences