Our 818 Content Editor and resident Francophile, Haas Regen, traveled to Paris during the holiday season. Il vous apporte toutes les nouvelles de Paris: the most innovative cuisine, the most extraordinary museum, the loveliest public space, the coolest private tour, and a Parisian trend you probably haven’t heard of (yet).
The clichés endure: young lovers dream of snapping honeymoon shots on the Champs de Mars, aspiring Hemingways and Fitzgeralds tote their Moleskines to Les Deux Magots, and hopelessly unpolished Sabrinas metamorphose into captivating women of the world. Some plan big summer vacations when the city most resembles Epcot’s version; others are fortunate enough to contemplate a change of season.
Audrey éternelle. via GIPHY
Perhaps you visited Paris when you were too young to really enjoy it — on an “educational” tour, when you didn’t know Bordeaux from Bota — or in your early twenties, alongside other hostel-hunting vagabonds. But when was the last time you visited Paris just for the hell of it, for a weekend or so?
Last month, I took my parents on their first visit in nearly twenty years. We saw the guirlandes de lumières on the Champs-Elysées, did a little Christmas shopping in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and enjoyed once-unheard-of vegetarian fare that would have delighted even Anton Ego.
No matter what your views on increased security, rodents in the streets, the EU’s fin du rêve, or the unintelligibility of Le Verlan, the city of Light and Love never loses its appeal. Everybody still smokes, dogs haven’t stopped eating on tabletops, and berets are actually more fashionable than ever. Sure, the Love Locks have been (mostly) dismantled, but the croissants on Rue du Bac are still mouthwateringly divine, and the disheveled mecs of the 11ème arrondissement remain indubitably séduisants.
Belmondo mon amour. via GIPHY
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We New Yorkers tend to separate our hotspots into one of two categories: touristy or off the beaten track. One should approach Paris’s offerings with a bit more nuance.
For example, Montmartre seems to exist in two worlds: the Place du Tertre, a common tourist trap, is only a few blocks from the highly underrated Jardins Renoir. Meanwhile, the views from the top of the heavily-trafficked Arc de Triomphe are hardly banal.
In the spirit of My Little Paris, I give you this humble list of must-dos in the French capital. I hope it inspires other creative types to hop on Kayak and book a flight ASAP. (Or at least follow @juanjerez.)
Godard’s Bande à part.via GIPHY
Most Extraordinary Museum: Le Musée d’Orsay
It’s not quite fair to call the Louvre overrated, but it lacks the charm of this Left Bank gem. Go for the Impressionist masterpieces, stay for the on-point sculpture collection — or simply to behold the view through the clock!
Most Worthwhile Private Tour: Thierry Le Roi’s Nécro-Romantiques
As long as I live I’ll never forget Alberto’s tour of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Chopin! Molière! Callas! Piaf! Isadora Duncan! Victor Noir! Abélard et Héloïse! (And, for those who may be interested, Jim Morrison.)
Most Innovative Cuisine: Supernature (9ème arr./Folies Bergère)
Some of the best food I’ve ever had anywhere — plus mind-blowing vegetarian options.
Loveliest Public Space: La Place des Vosges
Sit down and take a deep breath, you’re sure to have a fantabulous daydream.
Guaranteed Jaw-Dropper: La Sainte-Chapelle
A picture describes what words cannot.
Most LOL-Worthy Trend: The No-Selfie-Stick Sign
The devastation was palpable.
Shortest Route to Inebriation: Bodega Wine
It costs roughly six euros buy a bottle that would fetch $30 or more in the states, so don’t forget to bring your TSA-approved corkscrew!
Isabelle la reine. via GIPHY
The Gotta-Have Guidebook: Lonely Planet
Toss out the Rick Steves drivel: LP‘s is the only guidebook you need.
Most Unforgettable Moment: Giving Zero Effs
We spent two short hours at the Café La Favorite, on Rue de Rivoli, in the 4ème arrondissement. Subpar-to-tolerable coffee notwithstanding, the waiters all wore white jackets with black ties, the people-watching was superb, and the quality time spent with my family was a rare glimpse at total contentedness.
The Only Must-Do Thing in Paris: Get Lost, Make Discoveries, Suivre le Courant…
Paris is the habitual aha moment. Just go with the flow — and look up!
Fais comme tu veux. via GIPHY
Haas Regen is the Managing Content Editor for 818 Agency in New York City. He’s also a theatre artist. He studied acting, directing, and playwriting at Brown’s MFA program.