Paris Transformed

From the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition

Paris, a city known for resisting change, is shaking itself out of its long languid spell. There’s a new energy in the air, spurred by the arrival of a generation of new culinary talent and a movement to breathe fresh life into forgotten buildings and dormant institutions. Gastronomic creativity is coming from restaurants the size of pocket squares, run by young chefs who hail from—or have at least lived—elsewhere. Their imaginative yet unceremonious approaches mean surprising and affordable fare for diners.

Much of what’s cool is happening in the east. The 11th Arrondissement is a foodie hotbed, thanks to new addresses such as the prix-fixe Rino, a buzzing green market–driven modern French bistro. White-hot chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s Rem Koolhaas–designed Le Dauphin serves the kind of tapas-inspired dishes that put his Le Chateaubriand on the map. And Jeanne A—a rotisserie-épicerie concept spun off from the restaurant right next door, Astier—manages to successfully combine high-end takeout with a neighborhood market.

Forgotten buildings are also getting second acts. At the restaurant/gallery 1728 (named for the townhouse’s date of birth) you can now have tea in the Louis XVI-style Salon de Musique. The city’s Neoclassical icon, the 18th-century Hôtel de la Monnaie—once Paris’s official currency maker—is getting a fancy new tenant, with chef Guy Savoy moving his three-star eatery to the landmark. Last month, the soaring salons of Georges Bizet’s former home, a 19th-century landmark, reopened as Carmen, the “hype” spot for nouveau mixology and dancing.


On the lodging front, after a half-century of acting as a government building, a “hôtel particulier” commissioned by Napoleon’s grand-nephew Roland has been restored and reopened as a sumptuous Shangri-La. The Philippe Starck-renovated Royal Monceau hotel now offers amenities like an in-house art library where guests can browse rare tomes and follow live art auctions. (Breakfast is by star pastry chef Pierre Hermé.)

Cafes and Bars
Le Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Paris. The mythical hangout of James Joyce, Coco Chanel and “Papa” himself still endures with head barman Colin Field presiding. He instantly sizes up which cocktail has your name on it—and never gets it wrong. 15, Place Vendôme, 1st,



Maison des Trois Thés. When you enter, you can smell the 100-percent natural aromas of the world’s finest teas. They’re such purists that customers are requested to not wear perfume in their tasting room. 1, rue Saint Medard, 5th,


Carette. Incredible pastries and macaroons and the Sunday brunch at both locations are a people-watcher’s delight. 4, Place du Trocadéro, 16th,

Ladurée. On the Rue Royale, this original location of the circa-1862 tea and pastry salon is so intimate and romantic. They’re renowned for their macarons, but it also makes a great club sandwich. 16, rue Royale, 8th,

Fruit de Mer. This low-key restaurant draws an A-list clientele and art world players, thanks to the minimalist fish dishes like marinated herring and mackerel and shrimp with pasta. 21, rue Mazarine, 6th, 33-1-46-33-76-90

Around the corner, an outpost of La Régalade offers the same generous contemporary fare as the original spot on the south end of town, sans commute.

Prunier. The stunning Art Deco interior is by architect Louis Hippolyte Boileau. Try the eggs in aspic with caviar. 16, Ave. Victor Hugo, 16th,

Spring, one of the most coveted tables in Paris since 2006, has moved to an airier space, with its acclaimed American chef, Daniel Rose, presiding over an open kitchen upstairs and a casual food-and-wine bar below.


Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. The scent of their myrrh candle is that of paradise itself. This fragrance emporium has gorgeous marble floors and precious curio cabinets. 5, rue des Capucines, 1st,

E. Dehillerin. This treasure trove of kitchenware was founded nearly 200 years ago. They have cooking accoutrements—in copper, cast-iron and bronze—you never dreamed existed. 18-20, rue Coquillière, 1st,

Monceau Fleurs. For a handful of Euros, you can pick up here enormous bouquets of iris, freesia, tulips and anemones, arriving each morning. 92, blvd. Malesherbes, 8th (among other locations),

La Maison du Chocolat. There’s always a line at this multiple-location confectionery. In addition to its gourmand boxes, they serve delightful individual pieces—a different sensation each. 19, rue de Sèvres, 6th,

Aubade. This shop creates lingerie of exquisite style and workmanship. A naked woman is beautiful; to see her semi-dressed, and then guess at the rest, is most excellent too. 33, rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 4th,

Librairie Gallimard. A great bookshop because it’s inside a grand old French house that remains family owned. 15, blvd. Raspail, 7th,

People Watching

Jardin des Tuileries. Like Proust, this is also my favorite place to walk hand in hand down the chestnut tree-lined paths. This 17th-century formal garden bridges so many eras—not to mention the Louvre and L’Orangerie museums. Ave. du General Lemonnier, 1st, 33-1-40-20-90-43




Librairie des Jardins. This character-rich, Louvre-owned shop houses over 3,000 books on the world’s most magnificent gardens. Main gate of the Tuileries Gardens at Place de la Concorde, 1st, 33-1-42-60-61-61

Blé Sucré. His shop tops “best pastry” lists yearly. Don’t pass up the orange-glazed Madeleines. 7, rue Antoine Vollon, 12th, 33-9-61-36-09-01

Marché du Pont de l’Alma. What could be more sensual than roaming the markets of Paris for exquisite seasonal produce in a bountiful market? Pont de l’Alma, 16th

Chocolat Debauve & Gallais. It was the official purveyor to the last three kings of France, preceding Napoleon III. Founded more than 200 years ago, the building itself is an historic monument. 30, rue des Saints-Pères, 7th,

Moulie Savart. Originally opened in 1870, this florist is known for having catered to ministers and couturiersm but it’s for all flower lovers too. 8, Place du Palais Bourbon, 7th,


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3 Responses to “Paris Transformed”

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