February 7th, 2013
High fashion indie shops congregate in the Marais alongside to-the-trade fashion, great art, and, like everywhere in Paris, hot girls on bikes! A tour:
Stop for delicious (and affordable) café alongé (Americano) and pain au chocolat at Christain LeCroix’s favourite neighbourhood spot, Le Sancerre. If you have kids, let them run wild in the gated park across the street. 87 Rue des Archives, Paris.
Pick up the best bedding, table linens, Japanese stationery, and maybe even a Vanessa Bruno coat at the famous 3-storey lifestyle store, Merci. Look for special collaborations with the likes of Maison Martin Margiela (trompe d’oeil door, pictured). The adjoining restaurant is known for its healthy fare. 111 Boul., Beaumarché, Paris, www.merci-merci.com
Designer children’s clothes like you have never seen (baby Chloé!) are up to 60 per cent off at the clearance outlet of Fifi de Vem. 17 Rue de Turenne, Paris.
The Lebanese couscous counter at the lively food market dating back to 1615, Marché Des Enfants Rouge is known city-wide. Great for a refueling pitstop at the end of a fun day. 39 Rue de Bretagne, Paris.
Open till 7:30 pm, the flagship store for Isabel Marant does inventory every two hours. Watch the chauffeurs crowding the street waiting for their charges doing serious credit card damage inside. Pale blue leather leggings anyone? 47 Rue de Saintonge, www.isabelmarant.tm.fr
Just a block away is the hush-hush tequila bar housed in the back of the teensy taqueria that everyone is talking about, Candelaria. You mean you went all the way to Paris for cheap Mexican food? We sure did. 52 Rue de Saintonge, Paris, www.candelariaparis.com
December 3rd, 2010
While you would love to dress your children in Parisian frocks everyday, that might cut too far into your own clothing budget.
But thankfully for us, there's Emilie. A French native who worked in lingerie in Paris, she is importing impecible pre-loved French baby clothes (think Petit Bateau and Jacadi) sourced by her mother in markets around Lyon as well as designer samples at 40 per cent off. Specializing in small sizes (i.e. before they are old enough to walk and wreck their clothes), the styles are classic, high quality, often organic, and in mint condition.
A Lili Gaufrette silk/cashmere cardi for $21? A Petit Bateau sailor striped sweater for $15? Et voila.
Beautiful bébé, and beautiful mama!
Shop the store www.apricotculotte.com
July 14th, 2010
Nicolas Sarkozy may have scrapped his annual Bastille Day garden party but that doesn’t mean we can’t still honour the day.
We’ll be kicking up our heels à la française in a pair of Lyon-made Palladium boots (from $70). Constructed from re-engineered rubber and stonewashed canvas, the Baggy Canvas model comes in preppy colors like grape, pale pink and sky blue. In 1947 the French Foreign Legion stomped through the desert in high-top Pampas, but we’ll be storming the Cinema du Parc for its Truffaut retrospective.
At Influence U, 476 Ste-Catherine Street W., Montreal, 514-931-3283, www.influence-u.com
June 3rd, 2010
Sure, we go to Paris to admire the impressionists in the Musée d’Orsay or drool over fashion history in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, but we always end up spending most of our time indulging ourselves in food, drink, and shopping.
Located in the working class 20e arondissement, the Philippe Starck-designed hotel Mama Shelter offers urban-oasis styling on a budget. With quirky touches like plastic masks for bedside lamps (our room had Shrek and Princess Fiona), chalkboard ceilings, and elevators wallpapered with fun facts, as well as hallway mirrors listing neighbourhood concerts and events, it’s clear that this Mama is the loving kind. Rooms start at €99/night. 109 rue de Bagnolet, 75020, Paris, +33 (0)1 43 48 48 48, www.mamashelter.com
Tucked away from the noisy red-light atmosphere of Le Pigalle is the charming garden courtyard restaurant at the Hotel Amour. Far from its old clientele during its by-the-hour days, the restaurant and bar now cater to a chic crowd who like to dine on tartare de boeuf, then play foosball in the basement. Hotel Restaurant Amour, 8, Rue Navarin, 75009 Paris, +33 (0)1 48 78 31 80, www.hotelamourparis.fr
Hidden behind a vine-covered black gate is Le Très Particulier, the private bar at the Hotel Particulier Montmartre. Knock and say you are there to “boire un verre,” and then let David, the New York bartender, fix you one of his original creations. Reservations are a must. 23, Avenue Junot, 75018 Paris, +33 (0)1 53 41 81 40, www.hotel-particulier-montmartre.com
Forget Colette! Merci is the newest lifestyle concept store creating a buzz in Paris. Browse the airy loft for clothes, books, furniture and even flowers. With proceeds going to a foundation helping children and women in Madagascar, designers including Annick Goutal, Yves Saint Laurent, and Stella McCartney offer custom items at 30 per cent off. Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, +33 (0)1 42 77 78 92, www.merci-merci.com
September 24th, 2009
Paris is best enjoyed one neighbourhood at a time, so we settled in the charming pedestrian area of Montorgueil, once painted by Monet, for a week of pâtisseries, bistros and boutiques.
You won’t find many hotels in this quaint Parisian quarter, so opt for the cute and cozy Carroussel rental apartment and its quirky mix of old and new. Up above, old wooden beams, down below, new hardwood floors and a cherry red kitchen that stows a handy washer/dryer. The spot is so quiet, you might be fooled into thinking you’re living outside city limits. €91 per night for seven nights, through Paris Hideaways, http://studio.provaction.com
Your morning ritual must include pain au chocolat from the best bakery on the main market street, La Maison Stohrer (pictured), est. 1730. Its pastries are so good, you’ll seriously consider mortgaging your home to have the pâtissier FedEx you a dozen every day. 51, Rue Montorgueil, Paris, +33 01 04 13 01 61, www.stohrer.fr
The area is brimming with trendy bars inhabited by Paris' young and restless, so make it your aim to stumble into a different establishment every night. At the simply named 2éme Arrt, you find good drinks, tasty tapas and a friendly owner who’ll join your table and chat you up. 49, Rue Montmartre, Paris, +33 01 40 26 75 51.
Down rue Montmartre and its side streets, you’ll find French favourites Cotélac and Zadig & Voltaire. But for those with a shoe fetish, step into 58m for gorgeous soles by French designers Avril Gau, Sartore and Michel Vivien, and soft, sumptuous bags by Jerome Dreyfuss. 58, rue Montmartre, Paris, +33 01 40 26 61 01, www.58m.fr
July 14th, 2009
On this Bastille Day, we’re doing like all French citizens during the summer months: nous allons nous reposer.
Today we’ll be storming the beach at Cap St. Jacques for some sun and sand, à la francaise. Here you’ll find us idling on our Splash Pas de sable eco-towel ($45), listening to Phoenix’s latest oeuvre ($10) and writing cliché poetry in our Metro + Bus Paris notebook.
While the breezes may be more river than Riviera, it’s as close to Cannes as we’re going to get.
Cap Saint-Jacques Beach, 20099 Gouin Blvd W., Pierrefonds, 514-280-6871.
Papeterie Nota Bene, 3416 Parc Ave., 514-485-6587, www.nota-bene.ca
April 20th, 2009
On a trip to southern France we fell in love with a bottle of sweet smelling bath bubbles, and since our supply ran dry we’ve been begging pals to send it by post.
We’re in bath time bliss now that Rachelle-Bery is carrying Le Petit Marseillais here at home. This lovely line of soaps and suds (from $8.99) is infused with essential oils like vanilla, almond and lemon-verbena. We’re filling our tub with extra-mild lavender Foaming Bath ($10.49) and dreaming of warm Toulousean nights….
Rachelle-Bery, 4810 St-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, 514-849-4118, www.rachelle-bery.com
March 11th, 2009
Looking to spice up romantic evenings with your petit chou?
It doesn’t get any more ooh la la than the sensual sounds of Serge Gainsbourg.
His controversial Histoire de Melody Nelson caused quite a stir in 1971 for its Lolita-esque lyrics. So iconic are his duets with hot model-wife Jane Birkin, you’d never know the album was a bomb when it was first released. The re-issue of this classic album comes with 20 pages of background notes including an interview with Gainsbourg, and an English translation of the saucy lyrics.
Now to make the evening complete, all you need is a shag rug and your best come-hither look.
Available March 24 at Amazon.ca, $28.99
January 8th, 2009
Like she was dipped in the sugar plum fairy’s dust, Paris sparkled as we skipped through her streets on our pre-Christmas mini break.
Handily located only steps from the Bon Marché it doesn’t get much better than Le Placide. A true boutique hotel, this 12-room gem is small, private and chic. The rooms are unexpectedly spacious (minimal and white with splashes of Kenzo accents) and the breakfast (artisanal breads, pastries, soft cheeses, cured meats and jams) is a tasty start to the day. From €290 per night. 6 rue Saint Placide, Paris, France. www.leplacidehotel.com
From big name brands to unusual indie labels, shopping in Paris is an experience like no other. Once you’ve fawned over those Frette towels and Goyard vanities, take a stroll over to Cire Trudon for a whiff of the most exquisite candles you’ll ever burn. Established in 1643, this exclusive wax boutique provides candles to churches and castles across France. Leave a corner in your Longchamp for at least one. We’re burning the wonderful ‘Ernesto’—woody, wintery and warm. 78 Rue de Seine, Paris, France. http://ciretrudon.com
At famous Parisian brasserie Relais de l'Entrecôte there is only one decision to make: bleu, saignant, à point or bien cuit. Steak is the only thing on the menu and you can expect plenty of it. The frites are divine as is the tarragon sauce your meat swims in. Various locations, www.relaisentrecote.fr
Enjoy a warm tisane and lemon macaroons or a glass of bubbles at the Hotel Costes. It’s moodily lit and very chic—the perfect post-shopping pit stop. 239 Rue Saint Honoré, Paris. www.hotelcostes.com
For more Paris tips and photos, see Toronto's Editors' Diary.
April 3rd, 2008
Known as La Ville Rose for its pink-hued buildings, the southern French city of Toulouse has far more to offer than just sausages.
You’ll find only the best Euro designers at chic boutique Hall 2. Covet the cotton shift dresses from cult label Les Prairies de Paris, the Golden Goose chemises, and its original selection of lovely chausseurs including a darling pair of black patent leather Mary Janes with grey suede heels by Avril Gau. Sometimes credit limits are there to be tested. Hall 2, 32, rue des Marchands, Toulouse, +33 5 61 52 92 04.
We have a bit of a thing for foreign pharmacies and Toulouse has some of the quaintest in France. Pay a visit to Pharmacy Ozenne (circa 1775) because there‘s nothing quite like buying shampoo in a neo-medieval building. Pharmacie Ozenne, 3, rue Ozenne, Toulouse, +33 5 61 52 70 51.
Built in the 1850s, Le clos des potiers is an elegant boutique hotel with its own private garden. We loved the Philippe Starck ghost chairs set amongst the French antiques and hardwood floors. Be sure to ask for a Junior Suite overlooking the historical centre. Rooms from €100, rue Potiers, Toulouse, +33 5 61 47 15 15, www.hotel-closdespotiers.com
Sweet or savory, Toulousains adore their tartines. Stop for lunch at L’Autre Salon de Thé in the quartier Saint-Georges. With 64 blends of tea and dozens of cakes, you may want to skip the savory and go straight for dessert. Try a bite of its famous Banofi cake sinfully made from banana, toffee, double cream, vanilla and chocolate (€3.50). L’Autre Salon de Thé, 45, rue Tourneurs, Toulouse, +33 5 61 22 11 63.
This city is best explored by bike and there are 2400 available for rent at various VélôToulouse sites around town. Be sure to peddle along the banks of the Garonne River and across the lovely arched Pont-Neuf. €2/per rental plus €1/hour.