An insider guide to Paris – where to shop, eat and sleep in the city of lights. From the top of Montmartre to the tip of the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre or on the Left Bank, Paris is stylish to its bones: not merely cool and chic, but seriously creative. Between its Gothic cathedrals and grand avenues are flashes of futuristic bravura: the Pompidou Centre and L’Institut du Monde Arabe, proving the revolutionary spirit is alive and relevant. It’s the layers of old and new, privilege and punk, that give Paris its ageless verve – the 8ème and 16ème arrondissements are tops for couture-clad swanking; diehard romantics will always have Montmartre (trendier than ever, these days); and Montorgueil is the up-and-coming area to watch.
Where to shop
For a serious fashion spree, the thoroughfares to scour in the 8ème are Avenue Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, home to Chanel, the Hermès flagship and concept store Colette . In the 1er, head to the Jardins du Palais-Royal for Marc, Stella, Acne and hip boutique Kitsuné. For an amazing constellation of independent boutiques in the Haut-Marais, explore Rue de Charlot, Rue du Poitou and Rue de Saintonge. Go to Porte de Clignancourt to browse the famous fleamarket for clothes and antiques, open Saturday to Monday until 6pm. Splurge with a healthy conscience at Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais; this hip luxury emporium donates profits from its Annick Goutal scents, Baccarat crystal vases, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent clothing and hip homewares to a children’s charity in Madagascar.
Where to sip and sup
People-watch and star-spot as you dine on trad Parisian fare at Benoit on rue St Martin. In Saint-Germain, stop off at Brasserie Lipp for a crème or a Cognac, or pop to Café de Flore, an age-old favourite among writers, artists and philosophers, for a lunchtime omelette or cheese plate. Indulge in pastel-pretty macarons, sorbets and patisserie at Ladurée Royale chocolatier and tea salon. If you prefer a stronger tipple, rendez-vous at Le Bar du Plaza Athénée, in grande dame Hôtel Plaza Athénée, to gossip over cocktails.
Where to stay
Mr & Mrs Smith suggest three boutique hotels in the French capital, including fashion-forward La Maison Champs Elysées from designer Martin Margiela, fabulously feminine retreat La Belle Juliette in Saint-Germain, and ravishing Raffles outpost Le Royal Monceau on upscale Avenue Hoche.