Between the madness of SHOWS, APPOINTMENTS and FASHION WEEK PARTIES, here are some MUST-VISIT restaurants and hotels to squeeze in during your down time, selected by TIM MAGEE …
Paris rules my heart but my belly rules that, so arrive around midday, in time for lunch. And arrive hungry, really hungry. My first stop straight off the plane – bags and all – is to BRASSERIE LIPP, an institution as touristy as it is local. Yes, it boasts an older all-male cast but the devil is in the detail in this town and these silver servers are the least aloof in the city. They actually smile and engage while covering nearly every inch of your pristine bijou linen-topped table with oysters, Crémant, garlicky snails, and the crowning but affordable glory and comfort of choucroute garnie, God’s own bacon and cabbage. Passing through Brasserie Lipp in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is like passing through a carwash and arriving out the far side feeling like you’ve been in-country for a week. Sated, and Parisian again, jump one of the taxis outside the door to the Marais, and Les Bains.
LES BAINS has some work to do with its service – the hotel is still taking some of its hospitality nods from nightclubs like the one it used to be in a former life, when it was seminal, star-pulling Les Bains Douches, the Paris equivalent of Studio 54. But the quiet internal rooms are beautifully finished, and some of the peaceful little oases have tiny private courtyards and balconies, like gold hens’ teeth in the Marais.
After check-in, wander to PLACE DES VOSGES where on the corner of the square is MA BOURGOGNE. Ma’s best kitchen days may be behind her; though the saucisson chaud du Beaujolais is still good, but this remains a front row seat to one of the city’s most sacred hides. Then return to base for a power nap before what’s sure to be a jam-packed evening.
If you have the time and money go to L’ARPEGE for dinner. It is France’s most important restaurant. L’Arpège might be French for “So you think you know something about food?” as Alain Passard is as much a futurist as a chef. A relaxed Jedi chef, his edible lesson on vegetables, flavour and laid-back but extraordinary service is as good as anywhere on this planet.
If you don’t have the funds or the hours for L’Arpege (or just couldn’t be bothered with getting into a taxi) then walk around the corner from Les Bains to the darling Poulette. POULETTE is one room with a zinc bar, a tiled and tiny Belle Époque belle that is as cheap as chips, has the sweetest staff and is always rammed. Try to nab one of the tiny window seats to watch the street drama. The last time I was there one side of me was wall-to-wall Parisians all eating the same perfect steak frites while through the window was a gorgeous rainy, blurry street scene.
After a coffee only breakfast and (if time permits) morning mooching in the MUSÉE D’ORSAY, checking that all is present and correct with one of the greatest art collections in the world, check out and head with your bags to Antoine Westermann’s temple of chicken, LE COQ RICO. This spot couldn’t be in a better place for an overnighter to Paris, waiting patiently at the top of Rue Lepic on one of Montmartre’s steep hills to break the journey on the way back to the airport. It’s the most romantic and delicious departure lounge anywhere. A modern-looking bistro with the oldest of restaurant ideas, perfect roast chicken, in the city that invented the notion of a restaurant.
Savouring the last of the Le Coq Rico’s masterclass I’d have all of the same thoughts as my first time in Paris 25 years ago – mostly how do they make chicken taste this good? – I’ll then head to the airport to leave Paris for home.
TIM MAGEE @Manandasuitcase
This article appeared in a previous issue of THE GLOSS MAGAZINE, for more features like this don’t miss our next issue out Saturday March 4.
Love THEGLOSS.ie? Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.