We took the Eurostar from London to Paris ~ a speeding arrow shooting across the drizzling European countryside on a grey October afternoon. We arrived tired, melting into some underground jazz spot for souped leeks, baguettes smothered in butter, flambéed fish filets and what little wine our drowsy eyes could stand.
Next morning the sun shone bright, rocketing through the gabled pair of double french windows cornering our cozy, brocade-covered room at the Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon. Our first full day in Paris. Breakfast was perfection: patisserie quiche and little lavender pots of yogurt. We rented bikes off the street and pedaled to the outskirts of town, passing under the Eiffel Tower to finally arrive at the new Fondation Louis Vuitton, a Frank Gehry-designed architectural masterpiece that had opened just two days prior. Afterwards, we biked on and on, cycling circles of city. We saw the sun set over the Seine, ate dinner at Chez Julien then tumbled into drinks and dancing at Chez Castel, the newly reimagined, André Saraiva-designed nightclub that’s redefining the art of the grownup romper room. It boasts floor after winding floor of decadent, intimate party rooms, and tucked into the folds of its lowest level, a centuries-old stone grotto hosts a grand piano, around which the French kids gather to smoke Vogues and sing to each other as the evening turns from black to blue. We drank menthol-rich Get 27’s like locals and gave our best shot to (but still badly butchered) every chorus.
ABOVE + BELOW| little moments around the Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon, a perfectly Wes Anderson-esque gem we discovered by way of Waris Ahluwalia’s recommendation on A Hotel Life Day two began with breakfast on the Seine, then a whole lot of meandering around Le Jardin du Luxembourg and the Tuileries, a visit to the Peter Lindbergh exhibit at Gagosian Gallery and shopping along the Rue Saint-Honoré. We stumbled upon O Canto de Paris, a great vintage store where I found the most wonderful Pierre Cardin hat and he picked up an Yves Saint Laurent poncho. We bought magazines at Colette, then slunk off to Le Comptoir Generale ~ a coffee shop-meets-vintage store-meets-revolutionary hideaway-meets temple of ghetto culture ~ to wile away the afternoon reading them. We stopped for a snack afterward at Hotel du Nord down the road, only because we’d seen it earlier in a Lindbergh photo, then joined the 7pm queue for a dinner table at Frenchie’s Wine Bar, arguably the best meal we enjoyed in Europe. Ah, but more on so many of these little adventures in the days to come.
I wore my standard Ray-Ban sunnies, a massive cashmere scarf/blanket/wrap/travel-necessity by Donna Karan, sweater by BCBG, top by Vince, Chanel bag, Michele watch, AYR jeans and Rag+Bone shoes. Can’t go wrong with great basics; they really just work everywhere.ABOVE| an unexpected art installationKELLY WEARS| Ray-Ban sunnies, BCBG sweater, Vince top, Chanel bag, Michele watch, AYR jeans and Rag+Bone shoes ZACH WEARS| Moscot sunnies, vintage Yves Saint Laurent poncho from O Canto de Paris, Rick Owens pantsDay three we gorged ourselves with visual stimulation. We awoke early and commuted out, out, out to Le Marché Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen ~ the world’s most fantastical flea market. We shopped ourselves silly, stocking up on silver fish forks and fromage knives. We ate onion soup from a steaming Le Creuset cauldron and barely made it to the recently-renovated and reopened Picasso Museum in the last wave of entry before closing. Later, at one of those sidewalk cafes that are so quintessentially Parisian, we made friends with a crusty cowboy dance instructor from New Orleans and ate cheese and escargot. It got dark early, so we walked and we walked, criss-crossing the City of Light as it sparkled of night. We accidented upon a showcase of international, up-and-coming photographers, and I bought a print from Russian artist Maria Pleshkova because it brought tears to my eyes. We shared a salad at Café Flore, a bubble bath at the hotel, and a fine night’s sleep in our canopied double bed.
ABOVE + BELOW| Notre Dame at night We began day four with our favorite little lavender yogurt pots and two cappuccinos the size of soufflés. It was a fine day, and we gobbled our way around Marché des Enfants Rouges ~ a food market dating back to the 1600’s ~ eating overstuffed crepes by Alain and a true Moroccan tagine. Afterward, we walked and walked. We ambled around Le Marais, tucking into its abundance of vintage and concept stores, then popped over to the Pompidou Centre for the Duchamp retrospective. We drank Kir Royales on the roof, then moseyed over the Seine as the Eiffel Tower slowly lit up and the sun set behind languid clouds. We were craving a true French coq au vin, so we made a dinner reservation at Le Procope, the oldest cafe in Paris, where they serve that classic dish por deux from a glistening copper pot. We caught the late night burlesque show at Crazy Horse and rode home in a cab as the evening drizzled softly.
ABOVE + BELOW| what skyline can compare to the rooftops of Paris?! This city always reminds me to look UP more often.
ABOVE| Outgrowth, an arresting installation by Thomas Hirschhorn at the Pompidou Centre BELOW| an intrepid (and immensely popular) street performer outside the Pompidou ABOVE| his (Y-3) and hers (Derek Lam) comfortable, colorful walking shoes BELOW| wearing vintage Pierre Cardin hat from O Canto de Paris, Ray-Ban sunnies, Michele watch, Comme des Garcons blazer from Le Marché Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Theory shirt, AYR pants and Derek Lam shoes ABOVE| in the courtyard of the Louvre, wearing a vintage Pierre Cardin hat from O Canto de Paris, Comme des Garcons blazer from Le Marché Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Everlane sweater, Chanel bag, Michele watch, Seven For All Mankind leather pants and Rag+Bone shoesThe fifth day was sadly our last. We picked up breakfast down the street from our hotel, at a boulangerie on Rue du Bac next door to Deyrolle. I can never go to Paris without a trip to Deyrolle; it’s the ultimate cabinet de curiosités. On this trip we were lucky, for the shop was hosting a special exhibition of works and curations by Damien Hirst ~ his chemical-littered ‘dead zoo’ a reminder that, good or bad, nothing lasts forever. With a tinge of melancholy, we wandered to Espace Kiliwatch for more vintage visual stimulation, more indie European magazines to take home and dissect. Our last meal was a cozying tureen of pumpkin soup and a rich Bordeaux at Cinq Mars, then off to the airport as clouds gathered overhead and rain began piercing the sky. We replied in kind, with our own tear-filled goodbyes. Theres’s just no place like Paris.
ABOVE| insects that have turned themselves into walking leaves for protection from predators ~ a wonder of nature! ABOVE + BELOW| installation works by Damien Hirst at Deyrolle