A luxurious speed date with Paris

Charisma and character - and just a little bit game-changing. Action!

The City of Light is full of spectacle and surprise. New(ish) is a 2.3km stretch on the Left Bank, given over to cyclists, walkers and families. Foodies have been talking about small, wine-focused neighbourhood restaurants: Bones, Septime, Le Verre Vol, Le Chateaubriand, Monsieur Bleu and L’Atelier Rodier. Artisanal shops are the icing on the gateau.

Here are some starting points for a speed date with the City of Light…

Where to shop
21 Rue Quentin Bauchart, 8th

A shrine to the craft of writing, with the most intricate and elaborate fountain pens and roller ball pens from the elegant and heirloom to those looking like a carriage of the Orient Express or a Cohuna cigar. There are pens named for literary figures: Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald. They are filigreed, bejewelled, jet-sleek in metal and mesh, humble or heroic.

Michel Chaudon
149 Rue de L’Universite, 7th.
+33 (01) 4753 7440.

A little chocolatier with one window cleverly depicting, in chocolate, the rubble of the building site the shop grew from, and in the other, lifelike renderings in glossy or textured chocolate of handbags, horse heads, guns and maps, and an installation of all manner of chocolate moulds. Buy singly or have pretty packages made up. Pop next door to Les Vielles Vignes, a typical French bistro, for confit duck leg, sauted and herbed garlic potatoes and a glass of Provenal ros.

Luxury Paris artisans Limoges china Atelier Le Tallec

Dainty cup and saucer from Le Tellac in the 12eme, hand painting Limoges china since 1928. Photo Rodney Macuja

Where to eat
43 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 11th
 An unassuming space, but queues keep the pressure on. The chef is Australian James Henry. Amuse-bouches arrive: small perfect mussels; marinated mackerel with a dusting of nettle; a morsel that is probably a ball of duck liver; plus sea bass carpaccio and mandolined slices of cured, dried and smoked duck breast; fabulous beef fillet; and a sublime finale of cherry sorbet with sauternes, grassy granita, strawberries and a wave of soft meringue.

Paris food Bones Australian Chef James Henry 11me

Bones, the funky eatery in Paris’s 11th arrondissement, helmed by Australian chef James Henry. Photo William Meppem/

La Cuisine
37 Avenue Hoche, 8th

Laurent Andre received a Michelin star for this establishment in 2013 (as did Le Royal Monceau’s Italian restaurant, Il Carpaccio). The menu slants toward starters – some 16 – that can be shared. On offer when we visited was: an ensemble of intense heirloom tomatoes; Parisian-style gnocchi with Burgundy snails; crab cakes with a tangy coleslaw; and slices of pan-seared foie gras with fresh raspberries. The mains have either a traditional or modern treatment. John Dory can be roasted with artichokes and fricassee of potatoes or served with tapioca, pimientos and semi-dried muscatels in a coconut and curry sauce. The fun continues with an ice-cream wheel.

Monsieur Bleu
20 Avenue de New York, 16th

Located in the new wing of the Palais de Tokyo, Monsieur Bleu, designed by the architect Joseph Dirand, is the go-to eatery for the foot-weary checking out the art at both the Palais de Tokyo and the Muse d’Art Moderne next door, not least because it has a rare full-frontal view of the Eiffel Tower. The bar menu owes its punch to Alix Lacloche. Open noon to 2am, booking has been nigh impossible, but just turning up and settling for a drink at the bar may yield a table.

La Société
4 Place Saint-Germain des Prs, 6th

A buzzing addition to the Costes group, near the legendary Les Deux Magots and Caf de Flore. The waitresses look like models and the menu is more focused on fresh pure produce (entree options are exquisitely simple) than gastro-science. Mains up the ante with perfect crisp-skinned duck and side options including steamed creamed spinach; sea bass is dressed with a Thai-style tom yam chilli sauce. The wine list is extensive and discerning and there are wines by the glass and a small selection of half-bottles. For diners closer to the 1st, the Htel Costes on Rue Saint-Honor has the same menu.

Where to stay

Mandarin Oriental Paris
251 Rue Saint-Honor, 1st

In the heart of the Rue Saint-Honor and its credit-card burn shopping, signature French labels from Christian Louboutin to Herms, Chanel and Colette are at the doorstep. It’s a short walk from the Louvre, the Place Vendme with its A-list jewellers, and the Tuileries Garden. Then there’s the green bubble of its acclaimed terrace. A long, shallow designer water trough through the trees separates Thierry Marx’s one-Michelin-star Camlia restaurant (the langoustine ravioli is a triumph and a fine fixed-price lunch menu is 48 ($69) and Bar 8, which has fabric walls studded with black, green and clear glass Lalique crystals, a curtain of Murano glass rods, and a bar of caramel marble. There are eight Champagnes by the glass and more by the bottle. The spa has seven suites, expert masseurs and skin technicians, personal steam showers and king-sized therapeutic jacuzzis tiled in mosaic pink mother-of-pearl tiles. Hotels in the Mandarin Oriental group tend to nod to their host city: so this one has dove-grey fabric friezes using Man Ray photographs; and, being in the heart of the fashion district,
the motif is the very feminine butterfly. From €895 ($1292).

Paris for art lovers Le Royal Monceau designer hotels luxury accommodation

Le Royal Monceau in Paris is an art lovers delight. Photo courtesy Le Royal Monceau

Le Royal Monceau
37 Avenue Hoche, 8th

Its huge studio rooms have an eclectic mix of photography, china collages, paintings and sketches, often spotlit in unexpected places; cool upholstery with wacky stitching; raised, angled desk tops that might feature under glass an interpretive map of Paris. Even the lamp bases are works of art, while the lamps look like some organic form that has sprouted overnight. The hotel, revamped by Philippe Starck, has a cigar room, a cinema, and the glass altar-like Bar Long. A former monastery, it was this year awarded “palace distinction” by the French government, one step above five stars in the company of Paris legends such as the Bristol, the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Le Meurice and Plaza Athenee. From €625 ($902).

Source Qantas The Australian Way November 2013. Image: Mandarin Oriental Official


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Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.