May 16, 2009

The Definitive Guide to My Little Corner of Paris (Part 1)

Really, I should have started this a long time ago. Over the past couple years I've used this blog (and previous incarnations) to provide unsolicited and rather ill-informed opinions on what to do in New York, California and Australia, and have never taken the time to share my favourite Paris spots.

This shocking state of affairs will now be made right, with this first instalment of the "Definitive Guide to My Little Corner of Paris."

A few ground rules and disclaimers before we start.

1) This guide will be completely random. You will find within its pages recommendations for restaurants, bars, museums, as well as shops, streets, parks, events, times of day, whatever I feel like, really. And in no obvious order.

2) This guide will probably focus mostly (but not exclusively, see rule n.1) on places that are within walking distance of my apartment. This doesn't mean there aren't other nice things in Paris. Or that you should use advanced triangulation techniques to find out where I live and stalk me. That wouldn't be very friendly.

3) Its "definitive" nature is entirely relative. I will feel free to add or subtract to it at any time. And it's going to be broken up into lots of different parts, which means you'll have to keep coming back to find out more. Devious, eh?!

OK, now that we've got that out of the way, here it is:

By Res I(p)sa

BAR: Andy Wahloo (rue des Gravilliers)
Because the deco is loosely based on the very Parisian (and strangely not considered either derogatory or racist) concept of the "Petit Arabe du Coin," North-African style. Because it's tiny and intimate (which makes it a bit too crowded on Fridays and Saturdays, though). Because the DJ is likely to play music you've never heard before but immediately think is very cool. Because the house cocktail with ginger makes you go "Woh."

RESTAURANT: Le Réconfort (rue de Poitou)
Because I've been going here for years, and even though the place has abandoned its cutesy-colourful look in favour of designer-chic, the menu has essentially stayed the same. Because said menu is printed inside second-hand books. Because the food is simple, very French, and yummy. Because it's a fabulous date place, even if you're not on a date.

RESTAURANT: Les Philosophes (rue Vieille du Temple)
Because of the Tarte Tatin à la Tomate. Because it's the best place to bring tourists, without paying tourist prices. Because the outside tables are always full and after you've managed to get your hands on one, you feel cool.

BAR: La Belle Hortense (rue Vieille du Temple)
Because it's a great place to have a glass of wine before having your Tarte Tatin à la Tomate. Because it's actually a bookstore, and having wine in a bookstore is one of those things that has to be done.

BOUTIQUE: Ann Tuil (rue Vieille du Temple)
Because it sells shoes - really nice ones from designers like Sergio Rossi. Because it has a nice, small, neighbourhood feel and the guy running the place recognised me on my second visit.

BOUTIQUE: Prune (rue des Archives)
Because it sells shoes - really nice ones from designers you've never heard of and can't find anywhere else. Because it feels more like an upscale art gallery than a shoe store.

HAIR SALON: Atelier 7 (rue Saint Claude)
Because it's not a chain, but a boutique salon where you can get your hair done by the owner (Sophie). Because it feels fun and friendly rather than clinical and scary. Because I got the best haircut of my life there on a day when I was feeling like crap (so the stakes were extremely high).

MUSEUM: Musée Rodin (rue Varenne)
Because even though it's not in my neighbourhood, it remains my favourite museum in Paris. Because it's beautiful.

to be continued...

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