Someone once told me they didn’t care for Paris, and without thinking, I said, “That’s because you’ve never been to Paris with me,” and that’s the truth.
Sure, everyone knows the cliches, the baguettes tucked under one arm, the leisurely stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg after a long lunch at LouLou’s. You find yourself sauntering around empty Parisian streets with a Marlboro light just dangling off your lips. You might walk past a fresh produce shop or a florist storefront, but the question comes, are you doing Paris right?
Probably not, so, here’s your Cool Girl’s Guide to Paris:
Where To Stay:
Hotel Airelles Versailles
To feel like you’re Marie Antoinette pre-beheading, sneak into Versailles’ first, and only hotel open to the public, on the very same grounds, grazed by Kings and anglophiles a-many. You’ll be greeted with a luxuriant spread of the finest champagnes and decadent treats in the formal living room. You can stroll through the gardens to pretend like you’re a depressed chambermaid sneaking away for a rendezvous with the cook, or take a private tour of Marie Antoinette’s personal quarters, after a full breakfast – fit for a king, of course.
When your feet hurt and your eyes simply can’t take the sight of a single more topiary, treat yourself to a fabulous dinner at The Feast by Alain Ducasse. The 13-course dinner is polarizing; your stomach will be full, and your wallet will be empty.
We get it, only the cool people go to Costes for lunch in the atrium, but when you do that, you miss out on the exclusive, ‘guest-only’ insight offered by the concierge. Yes, the steak tartar is to die for, and I may or may not have had lunch next to several celebrities last time I went; but did you know, when you’re a guest of the hotel, they can also accommodate in-room manicures? Or, that they can set you up with a personal shopper who will bring you to the best IYKYK shopping spots in the 5th arrondissement?
Obviously, Hotel Costes is on Rue de Cambon, so you’re already amongst the glitzy shops with storefronts donned in diamonds.
Where to Eat:
Le Petit Celestin
This place is not for the glamour shots, or the Instagrams unless you’re FoodGod or Anthony Bourdain. This little hole in the wall has got to be the best Oxtail you’ll ever try. The service is friendly and warm. The wine selection and pairing menu will be given to you by the smiling bartender, who might tell you they’re completely out of that evening’s special because Le Petit Celestin is a special little place. If you can manage to swing a reservation there, it’s the perfect spot for first-night-itis; fighting jetlag, and dealing with the lack of motivation to pull yourself together. Share a meal with someone you love here.
If you’re looking to be serenaded by a live singing duo while you graze over French flair, go to CoCo. The juxtaposition of the food, the airy space, live plants, and expansive seating area, will make you feel like you’ve just reached peak chicness. When you waltz up to the bathroom, you pass the steps of the Opera House, which, if you’re daring enough to finesse your way on stage, is a fantastic spot to steal a tiny, Parisian kiss.
Maybe you’ve spent the morning waltzing around the 6th arrondissement, and you’re dying to throw your shopping bags to the side while you hover over a steaming hot bowl of artisanal pasta. Just me? OK. Marcello’s Italian menu offers tasty dishes that will make you feel like you’re deep in the hidden hills, of Sicily. It’s a locals-only spot, so if you look the part, you just might get approving head-nods from the French “Ladies Who Lunch,” in the corner.
This is arguably my most basic recommendation, just because everyone knows LouLou. It’s a fabulous spot to grab a late lunch after taking a tour through the Louvre. If you manage to snag a table outside in the summer, you’ll have stunning views of the Jardin du Luxembourg. During chillier months, when seated inside, you’ll be greeted with snobby, but lovely waiters, who will be sure to keep your Rose champagne brimming to the top of your glass at all times. Be sure to try their caviar shooters if they’re on the menu – or off the menu – wink!