Ah, Paris! Eternally inspiring, at times wildly romantic, always good for a Café Crème, croissant, and the Dries Van Noten store.
I was lucky enough to visit during January fashion and market week and Paris was full of energy. The Schiaparelli runway show made a big splash with surrealist dresses crested with snow leopard, lion and a wolf heads, all based on the story of Dante’s Inferno. Mon Dieu!
“Coco Chanel has very little taste and all of it is good. Elsa Schiaparelli has a lot of taste and all of it is bad.”
— Cristóbal Balenciaga
January 19th, 2023
Flying to Paris tomorrow! Today I’m getting organized, packing and getting my lists together, so excited to travel again. At the same time I’m feeling heartbroken about leaving my two year old. The trip is six days, not long, but I know I’ll miss him like crazy. It’s confusing to feel this way while also being so ready for time alone to work and focus on the new business. I’m not by myself often these days. Mari Giudicelli said in a recent interview “I am a very calm, mellow person. I love silence, and I love being alone.” Reading this lit me up because I realized, right… I’m like that too, I like solo time, it helps me tune into my creativity, balance out, and just feel like myself. I’m still worried about missing my kid, but thankfully friends have sent their favorite Paris spots, so I’m feeling hopeful for the adventure ahead. Skip down to the bottom to see the list.
First though, here are some tools that I’ve found helpful over the years for long flight and adapting to the time change after:
What to pack for the plane and after
I always bring a big warm shawl and love my eye mask for overnight flights.
Probiotics! Seriously, don’t forget this. Long flights, adjusting to a major time change and the rich food in France are a killer combination for the guts. There are two probiotics that I like, one is called renew life everyday probiotic– I got into this after having a gnarly case of covid last summer. The other is called Prescript-Assist Probiotic and Prebiotic, it’s more funky and barnyardy. At first I was skeptical but trust me, it’s so helpful in adjusting over those first few days.
No jet lag, a homeopathic remedy that I swear helps with adjusting to major time zone changes. I used to take it every time I went to Japan and after I got back to the states. Also getting plenty of sunlight, exercise and water during the day helps the body adjust and sleep at night.
Melatonin- really, all you need is a light dose to help pass out over the first few days. I only take 5mg and it works like a charm.
Don’t forget an adapter! France and Germany use the same kind of plug. I got this simple one and was happy with it.
January 20, 2023
Just landed Paris. It’s cold and grey and let me tell you, there’s nothing like starting a trip in a beautiful hotel. I booked a room at the Hotel Rochechouart in the ninth district and it was love at first sight. I couldn’t get enough of the lobby, the bar, the light filled, airy restaurant. Originally built in the 1920s in a Gatsby-esque deco style, last year Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay redesigned the space with an eye for art, furniture and creating spaces that you want to sink into. I did.
The first day jet lag hit me so hard I could barely see straight. Luckily I had my friend Susan Kim’s special dinner at Early June to look forward to. Early June is a hidden gem of a restaurant, intimate, romantic lighting (very important), with a little bar around an open kitchen and a small dining room with a handful of tables. That night Susan and co were serving it, the restaurant was packed, and it just felt great to be there. Possibly the best dinner to be had in all of Paris, with fresh scallops from Brittany, a perfect green goddess Ceasar, and a French/ Korean/ Californian menu that hit the mark with every dish.
A few other highlights from the trip
Woke up to a coffee at Cafe Marlette and the perfect little quiche from Rose Bakery, right around the corner from my hotel. Merci.
I made it into another fantastic guest chef dinner by Ha’s Dac Biet at Bistrot Tontine, with fresh, vibrant Vietnamese flavors in a classic French restaurant setting.
dries Van Noten
Far and away my favorite shopping experience was at the men’s and women’s Dries Van Noten shops. Each space was unique, curated by Gert Voorjans, a Belgian designer. The women’s store was a feast for the eyes, a maximalist dream with floor length chartreuse velvet drapes, bright pink florals, gold and red lacquered Chinese furniture. The men’s store had an interior that felt, not surprisingly, much more bold, lean and masculine. After walking the grey streets of Paris I gasped out loud at the blood red lacquered walls, arched doorways and a giant bouquet with thousands of tiny yellow flowers that spread like a wild tree to the ceiling. Why is everything I adore from Belgium? From painters to chocolate to clothing.
Right around the corner from Dries Van Noten is Officine Universelle Buly. This little apothecary shop is much more intimate, but just as visually stunning as the Dries stores. Where else are shop keepers dressed as nuns? The polished wood alcoves hold perfumes and beauty products from around the world. It was as if I’d been transported to a 1700’s Venetian pharmacy with precious, exotic scents and secret beauty formulas imported from far away silk roads.
January 27th, 2023
Back home in Berkeley again, the air perfumed with new magnolias and sprays of jasmine. This trip gave me time to take in ideas, think about art and culture, and most of all to have a little bit of a romance with myself, tout seul. It’s great to travel, find perspective and inspiration, but in the end there’s no place like home.
The Paris list
Restaurants/ Cafes/ Bakeries
Nordic neo- bistro, for serious food lovers. If you love Noma you’ll love this. Difficult to get a res, bonne chance!
Septime’s sister restaurant, a little more casual and accessible, great seafood and natural wine.
Cafe Merlette and Rose Bakery
Two spots within the same block in the 9th, right around the corner from Hôtel Rochechouart. I loved the coffee at Merlette and Rose Bakery has a great selection of classic french dishes, ready for take out, like meatballs, salmon wrapped in flaky pastry dough, quiche and baked goods.
Ten Bells Cafe
Cosmopolitan cafe with great coffee. Love the wall of curated magazines and books, great to sit and get work done (hint, you can bring your computer.)
An intimate wine bar with small plates next door to the more famous (and difficult to get into) restaurant Le Chateaubriand. Same chef.
Bon Appetit calls this “The nicest natural wine bar on the planète“. Charming, casual spot, recommended for breakfast or lunch, gets chaotic on the weekends.
Historic bar revived in 2019 with a great menu.
Tasting bar and shop for wine and whiskey. Ex Clown Bar chef.
Le Verre Volé
Natural wine bar in the 10th with serious good food.
middle eastern pitas and other delicious offerings. Read David Lebovitz’s review and other lovely writings about Paris here.
I have such a soft spot for Laduree. There are locations all over Paris, including spots to have tea and even brunch. I love the packaging first and foremost, pastel green and pinks with gold embossed laurel details. Bring home delicious macarons of every flavor (i love passionfruit and vanilla) and candy coated almonds as a sweet gift.
Lunch at Hotel COS
Verjus restaurant or wine bar downstairs
À la Mère de Famille chocolates
Merveilleux bakery At Rue du pont louis
La Pâtisserie du Meurice par Cédric Grolet
Musée Marmottan Monet (impressionist museum)
ELSA schaperelli at Musée des Artes Decoratif
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature)
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris
La Bourse du Commerce (museum)
Hôtel de la Marine (museum)
Dries Van Noten Women and Mens shop
I have no words for this sublime experience (since I already wrote all about it above.)
Astier de Villatte
A must for lovers of ceramics and beautifully curated spaces. There are two locations in Paris.
The Broken Arm
The combination of coffee and fashion is always fun. Designer clothing, books, housewares with a little cafe tucked in the front.
Bookstore with a focus on design, art and photography.
Smith & Son bookstore and magazines
Great selection of books and magazines. I was dazzled by the rack filled with vogue magazines for every country.
Paper stores on Rue du Pont-Louis Philippe
For those who love the hunt for unusual journals, notecards, and unique papers. Four paper shops grace this charming Parisian street near the Seine. Located in the in the 4th district, called Le Marais, a fun neighborhood for shopping and eating.
Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
The big flea market that’s north of the city.
Portes de Vanves flea market
Sat and Sunday, smaller market.
Galeries Lafayette department store
Upscale department store, stunning stained glass rotunda. Its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th.
BON POINT Children’s store
Antoinette Poisson decorative artes and paper
La Samaritaine department store
Bon Marche department store
Officine Universelle Buly 1803
my favorite. As I wrote above, it’s a deco revival hotel in the 9th district.
chic, modern interiors.
Hotel Les Deux Gares
Le Grand Quartier
So fabulous! This list makes me want to buy a plane ticket today. Merci! Merci!
La Buvette in Paris is French owned and not associated with Buvette the Parisian outpost of NYC Buvette
Bon Appetit references La Buvette as “nicest wine bar “.
Kathleen I am so happy to see you read my journal! thank you for the correction, will update.