Given the direct flight by easyjet and simple RER or taxi options into town, it really was just a matter of hours bewteen our desks in Belfast and our dining table in the Marais, with a whole lot of craic and an aperitif or two on the Faubourg St Honore on the way.
With a chic, boutique hotel at the Opera (Golden Tulip Noailles) within walking distance of the grands magasins (Galeries Lafayette & Printemps…) as well as Place Vendome, Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, we were off to a good start.
After a super quick scoot along the cleverly designed windows of the Faubourg St Honore (which we adored and wished all windows at home could emulate) we popped into the Hotel Costes (one of director Cathy’s favourite places, for its beautiful musky perfumed smells, the fresh roses, the terrace and of course the music of DJ Stephane Pompignac).
Then it was off to a random bar with a terrace facing onto the Faubourg for some fantastic people watching over more Kir Royales and salted almonds.
Dinner that night was in Derriere, which is owned by the team who own Momo in London – and it did not disappoint! The restaurant is on the edge of Paris’ Marais district and is a clandestine hideaway that is one of the hottest meals in town.
We ventured through the unmarked door between the 404 restaurant & Andy Wahloo that leads into a courtyard and from there into eccentric Derrière. Dining here is like dining in a friend’s boho-chic home. You choose if you’d like to sit in the living room with the live ping-pong table (where we opted for), the bedroom with the mosaic mirrored ceiling where you’ll sit on the edge of the mattress, the screening room den or a host of other apartment-like chambers.
We discovered a hidden ‘fumoir’ room upstairs inside a wardrobe door – and we mean literally you had to walk through an old wardrobe to get there – and it opened up to a fantastic room full of misshapen shelves with all sorts of weird and wonderful books, with wonky, mis-matching chandeliers and peeling wallpaper (pictured left). There was also a selection of stuffed animals – some bizarre, some more recognisable – and some in some quite silly poses. Plonk in the middle was an old table football game. All tres bizarre, but all very adorable.
Downstairs on the terrace – yes, it was warm enough to sit outside with coats in November – we got chatting to our table neighbours and then moved
downstairs to the Andy Warhloo bar/club where we drank mojitos and danced with the cool female DJ til the wee small hours.
On Saturday we had lunch at the Georges Restaurant, on level 6 at the Pompidou Centre (pictured right). In spite of misty weather it offered great views to the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur chapel at Montmartre as well as across to Notre Dame. The menu is similar to that of the Hotel Costes because it is run by the same people – and it’s not the cheapest place in the world to dine, but is home to a helluva lot of cute waiters. In fact, there were hot guys everywhere in Paris all weekend and there was a whole lotta eye contact going on. This Pharmacy is definitely prescribing a trip for anyone who’s having a self-esteem droop, as the hot French guys we encountered would inject a feeling of ‘sexy lady’ into anyone who crosses their path! Swoon!
We’d advise anyone at this point to get the hop-on, hop-off bus around the city because it does cover so much in such a short time, plus it allows you to stop off wherever you like for a little bit more than some passing history via headphone. We didn’t, because we passed via the shops at this point. More the high street names than the boutiques it has to be said (so little time!).
But even there the merchansiding is so much more sophistacated and chic than at home. It would be such a good idea to take a creative team from Belfast to Paris just for an inspiration trip! And a quick tip for anyone heading to Paris before Christmas, dont forget to take in the windows of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps for their amazing marionettes, but stay away on Saturdays as the crowds at the windows can be up to 15 bodies deep! Sunday mornings are perfect as they are on 24/7. Kids and mums alike will adore – and it’s a welcome break from Disneyland if that’s why you’ve been dragged over!
Saturday evening back at the hotel was a fun, girly, ‘get-ready’ followed by a dinner at La Cantine du Faubourg – a trendy restaurant at the Concorde end of the Faubourg St Honore which is owned by a family that CMPR boss Cathy had met in Marrakech earlier this year. The decor was cool and the food was amazing but we liked the service and the staff the best – directeur Gerald made us feel very special and even offered his chauffeur driven car to take us on to the nearby Arc nightclub. Unfortunately we didnt stay super long in the club as we were feeling the effects of Friday creep in. But at 1000 euro minimum spend on the VIP tables (where lovely Logan the manager had seated us) we felt left out – in spite of his pledge that we werent obliged to spend so much!
Sunday was a gorgeous, gentle day of browsing in Les Marais, where we discovered some gems of vintage stores, our favourite was Vintage Bar, where we discovered Prada shoes and Chanel bags galore as well as a supersoft, grey fur wrap which came home with us *swoon*.
We were also coveting several pairs of original 1960’s and 1970’s sunglasses, in particular a Pucci pair which would not have looked out of place on Elton John. Not many French stores are open in Paris on a Sunday, so in Les Marais, where they are open, it can get quite busy.
As well as the ‘fripes’ (second hand) stores, we also took in some better known labels. Manoush in particular had us all overwhelmed with its kooky style and deliciously rich fabrics and colours.
And to take a break from the browsing, we tucked in to some soupe a l’oignon at one of the many little bistrots, which warmed our tummies as well as our tastebuds. Then we stopped off later for crepes, (real) eclairs au chocolat and some crunchy, oaty florentine biscuits and macaroons.
The very best macaroons to bring home are usually Lauduree, but to be honest, most good patisseries will deliver here – and offer fabulous packaging to carry them home in too (just make sure they dont get squashed in the ‘one bag’hand luggage rule)…
And that’s just about it from us. It’s hard to pack a lot into, but the key is to stay compact & enjoy where you are and try not to cover too much ground at once!
The Left Bank and St Germain area are amazing but we just wouldnt have had time this trip… so maybe we’ll look at going again in Spring!