A lo­cal’s guide to all things French

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - FRONT PAGE - EL­IZA COMP­TON

Parisian style is not a ques­tion of birth­place or ad­dress; it’s not even a spe­cific look. It’s an at­ti­tude, a state of mind, cool and non­cha­lant. Ines de la Fres­sange, Saint-Tropezborn model, de­signer and au­thor of

Parisian Chic, says it’s some­where be­tween “rocker and bour­geois”.

Which is good news for the rest of us: no mat­ter if home is closer to Potts Point or Perth than the Place de la Con­corde, it is still pos­si­ble to adopt some of that iconic flair.

Bet­ter still, with a few sim­ple tips, even the first-time visitor to Paris can fit right in and nav­i­gate this beau­ti­ful, be­witch­ing, of­ten-con­tra­dic­tory city like a na­tive.


That seem­ingly ef­fort­less style – think ac­tor Char­lotte Gains­bourg, new Chloe artis­tic direc­tor Nat­acha Ram­say-Levi or for­mer Vogue Paris ed­i­tor-in-chief Carine Roit­feld – has strict foun­da­tions.

The key to dress­ing like a Parisian is un­der­state­ment – less is more, bling is out, ide­ally two colours max­i­mum – mix­ing clas­sic ba­sics with vin­tage and lux­ury high­light pieces.

“We don’t re­ally try to fol­low the trends,” says fash­ion jour­nal­ist and film­maker Melinda Tri­ana, whose 2014 doc­u­men­tary The Parisi­enne, shows the na­tives in all their winequaffing, cig­a­rette-wav­ing, im­per­ti­nent glory.

Must-haves in­clude a man-style blazer, trench, navy knit, jeans, leather jacket, bal­le­rina flats and, of course, a lit­tle black dress.

To procure said es­sen­tials, those in the know head to Up­per Marais, where the nar­row streets har­bour im­mac­u­lately edited bou­tiques – es­tab­lished names and ris­ing stars alike – as well as vin­tage, home­wares and gal­leries. For a one-stop op­tion, try one of the city’s his­toric depart­ment stores. And to shop in tran­quil­ity, says Tri­ana, go on Sun­day when it’s quiet.


It’s im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine a Parisian without a per­fectly slung scarf. Even the lan­guage brims with mul­ti­ple words for this ac­ces­sory – whether it’s a silk foulard, cosy echarpe or etole to drape about the shoul­ders.

As stylist Stephanie Mich­e­lotti says, the best are preloved finds picked up for pen­nies from places like Free’P’Star (freep­ or Guer­risol (guer­

If time­less is your goal and your bud­get gen­er­ous, splash out at Her­mes – the Left Bank store (17 rue de Sevres, 75006; her­, trans­formed from a her­itage-listed swim­ming pool, is worth a de­tour for the in­te­rior alone.


Merci (111 boule­vard Beau­mar­chais, 75003; An onthe-pulse con­cept store with beau­ti­ful ba­sics, the lat­est sea­son’s must-haves, plus home­wares, light­ing and gifts.

Soeur (88 rue Bon­a­parte, 75006; Young, cool and bo­hemian.

A.P.C. (112 rue Vieille du Tem­ple, 75003; Time­less and re­li­able for jeans, boots and that per­fect striped tee.

FrenchTrot­ters (128 rue Vieille du Tem­ple, 75003; frenchtrot­ Stocks lesser-known brands, plus can­dles, per­fume and skin­care.

Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche (24 rue de Sevres, 75007; lebon­ A depart­ment store as no­table for its food hall, La Grand Epicerie, as its de­signer fash­ion.


As soon as the sun comes out, Parisians pack a pic­nic and head to a park, or a bridge over the Seine, or the cob­bled edges of Canal Saint-Martin, or a shady bench in Place des Vos­ges. Al­most any­where with space to sit is fair game.

Pop­u­lar spots in­clude Jardin du Lux­em­bourg and Jardin des Tui­leries. The Parc Rives de Seine turns over 10ha of city-cen­tre river­bank, once re­served for traf­fic, to pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and pic­nick­ers. If you pre­fer to sit on grass, there’s the Parc du Champ-de-Mars at the foot of the Eif­fel Tower. You’re more likely to go rug-to-rug with the lo­cals, how­ever, at Parc des Buttes-Chau­mont, in the 19th ar­rondisse­ment, with its green slopes, views and (if self-cater­ing is not so ap­peal­ing) choice of bars, or at the of­fice work­ers’ choice, Parc Mon­ceau in the 8th.


The typ­i­cal spread is a sim­ple af­fair – bread, cheese, charcuterie, fruit and wine – but the art is in the de­tails.

Buy bread, prefer­ably a baguette de tra­di­tion, from an artisan boulan­gerie (bak­ery). To be sure your camem­bert, comte or chevre is pic­nic per­fect, pick up cheese from a fro­magerie (cheese mon­ger). The ti­tle Meilleur Ou­vrier de France (of­ten ab­bre­vi­ated to MOF) in the front win­dow in­di­cates ex­cep­tional skill and crafts­man­ship.

A morn­ing trip to an open-air mar­ket, such as the Marche d’Ali­gre (Tues­day to Sun­day; 75012), Marche Pres­i­dent Wil­son (Wed­nes­day and Satur­day; 75016) or the or­ganic Marche Bi­ologique Ra­s­pail (Sun­day; 75006), is a cost-ef­fec­tive way to fur­nish your bas­ket.

Look for the long­est queues and al­ways wait to be served at pro­duce stands, rather than help­ing your­self.

French su­per­mar­kets have aisles de­voted to wine, but a good cave (cel­lar) also of­fers ad­vice and at­mos­phere. The chain Ni­co­las (ni­co­ is ever-present and re­li­able, or stop into La Cave des Papilles (35 rue Da­guerre, 75014; la­cavedespa­, Lavinia (3 boule­vard de la Madeleine, 75001; or Le­grand Filles et Fils (1 rue de la Banque, 75002; cavesle­


While the cafe ter­race re­mains an iconic spot to sip espresso or a beer (craft or Kro­nen­bourg), rooftop bars are on the up – lit­er­ally. For bobo (bour­geois-bo­hemian) cred, hit Le Per­choir (lep­er­, in the Me­nil­montant neigh­bour­hood, for views of the Sacre-Coeur, or Nuba (, atop the Cite de la Mode et du De­sign over­look­ing the Seine.


Le 43 Up on the Roof, on the ninth floor of the Hol­i­day Inn Paris – Notre Dame (, mixes cock­tails with panoramic views.

For a lux­ury op­tion and a back­drop of the Eif­fel Tower, try the sev­en­th­floor gar­den ter­race at Hô­tel Raphael (lesho­tels­


Ob­vi­ously, a city syn­ony­mous with fash­ion and food ap­pre­ci­ates “la gas­tronomie liq­uide”. The Ex­per­i­men­tal Cock­tail Club (ex­per­i­men­, which brought a new gen­er­a­tion of speak-easy-style bars to Paris, is still one of the best.

New­comer Le Syn­di­cat (syn­di­cat­cock­tail­ puts a do­mes­tic spin on the for­mula, serv­ing only French spir­its (rum sneaks in on the tech­ni­cal­ity of its colo­nial origins) in the buzzing heart of the 10th ar­rondisse­ment.

Paris Cock­tail Week co-founder Eric Fos­sard also lists Dan­ico (face­­i­co­paris/) in neo­clas­si­cal Ga­lerie Vivi­enne, and rum-and-cock­tail den Ma­bel (ma­bel­ For old-school el­e­gance, there’s al­ways the Ritz Bar (ritz­


While part of the Parisian make-up is the abil­ity to say “non”, and to curse with aplomb, so­cial graces are highly prized. Learn to say “bon­jour” on en­ter­ing a bou­tique or ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion. Yes, more peo­ple are speak­ing English due to glob­al­i­sa­tion, a cut­throat em­ploy­ment mar­ket and the on­go­ing “Do You Speak Touriste?” cam­paign, but lo­cals – and savvy vis­i­tors – know this lit­tle nicety can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween smil­ing at­ten­tion and re­tail (or restau­rant) pur­ga­tory.


It’s the age-old ques­tion: to tip or not? The cus­tom in Paris restau­rants is to leave a pour­boire only for good ser­vice (there’s a 15 per cent ser­vice charge al­ready fac­tored into the bill). The gen­eral rule is 5 per cent of the to­tal. In taxis, round up to the next euro or leave the change, and at the ho­tel, tip the porter €1 per piece of lug­gage. At the the­atre, give €1-2 to the usher who seats you.


Sub­urbs such as Saint-Ouen and Mon­treuil are chal­leng­ing the cliche that dyed-in-the-wool Parisians don’t ven­ture be­yond the Pe­riph­erique, the boule­vard that en­cir­cles the 20 cen­tral ar­rondisse­ments. Al­ready a draw for its huge week­end flea mar­ket, with 15 mar­kets over 9ha, Saint-Ouen has re­cently upped its in­sider ca­chet with the open­ing of bou­tique MOB Ho­tel Paris Les Puces (mob­ho­, a des­ti­na­tion in its own right with a huge ter­race, open-air cinema and yoga classes.

The steadily gen­tri­fy­ing eastern en­clave of Mon­treuil boasts its own flea mar­ket, craft brew­eries and vi­brant street art. While in the west, the fu­tur­is­tic orb of mu­sic venue La Seine Mu­si­cale (la­seine­mu­si­ opened in April on the edge of the river be­side the vast Bois de Boulogne.


If you’re fa­mil­iar with the Musee du Lou­vre (lou­, which spans an­tiq­ui­ties to 19th-cen­tury trea­sures, and Musee d’Orsay (, Im­pres­sion­ist mas­ter­pieces housed in a re­pur­posed train sta­tion, why not visit some of city’s other mu­se­ums.

The Musee Rodin ( is loved for its sculp­ture gar­den; while Musee Jac­que­mart-An­dre (musee­jacque­mart-an­ of­fers an eclec­tic col­lec­tion in a Sec­ond Em­pire mansion. Pho­tog­ra­phy fans queue for the big-name ex­hi­bi­tions at Mai­son Europeenne de la Pho­togra­phie ( Find style in­spi­ra­tion at Le Grand Musee du Par­fum (grand­museedu­par­ or the Chris­tian Dior ret­ro­spec­tive at Musee des Arts Dec­o­rat­ifs (lesarts­dec­o­rat­ifs .fr) which opens on July 5.


The 14-line Metro sub­way sys­tem is an engi­neer­ing feat, an Art Nou­veau mas­ter­piece and a daily ne­ces­sity for many of its 1.5 bil­lion an­nual users.

Some tips: avoid rush hour; don’t use the fold-down seats in the vestibule if the car­riage is packed; hang on to your ticket un­til you exit the sys­tem (you’ll also need it to trans­fer to the sub­ur­ban RER trains); and keep a close eye on your things, es­pe­cially smart­phones.

Di­rec­tions are in­di­cated ac­cord­ing to the end of each line, and as sta­tions can have as many as 16 exits (sor­ties), pick one be­fore you leave the plat­form.


Don’t take the gold ring. If some­one tries to hand or sell you a flashy trin­ket, just say, “Non, merci” (or noth­ing at all) and con­tinue to the Lou­vre, or which­ever ma­jor site you hap­pen to be near.

Also, don’t sign the char­ity pe­ti­tion. Both are com­mon scams, and Parisians would never fall for ei­ther.


Ci­tymap­per – get from A to B by public trans­port, bi­cy­cle or on foot. Next Stop Paris – the app from Paris trans­port body RATP has sights, fares, itin­er­ar­ies and use­ful French phrases. Wel­come to Paris – the Paris tourist of­fice app in­cludes walk­ing tours, ex­hi­bi­tions, shows and tick­et­ing. Food­ing – the food­ies’ guide to the lat­est restau­rants, bars and ho­tels. Marches de Paris – a com­pre­hen­sive mar­ket finder plus sea­sonal guide to fresh pro­duce. French Wines by Ha­chette – easy-to-use guide to wines and re­gions.



Feel like a na­tive at this stylish 49room bou­tique ho­tel, tucked in the cob­bled Mon­torgueil mar­ket quar­ter, just a few blocks from the Lou­vre. The charm­ing neigh­bour­hood boasts hip bistro Frenchie (book well in ad­vance) and leg­endary patissier Stohrer. The ho­tel’s own Night Flight bar has be­come a lo­cal favourite. Dou­ble rooms from €180 a night (hotel­bachau­


A quaint cafe in the fa­mous Parisian sub­urb of Mont­martre, also home to the Basil­ica of the Sacre Coeur (main); and Art Deco cafe Le Pe­tit Zinc, near the Abbey of Saint-Ger­main-des-Pres (above right).

Peo­ple re­lax­ing in Place des Vos­ges, one of the most pop­u­lar squares in Paris, in the his­tor­i­cally and ar­chi­tec­turally fa­mous Le Marais dis­trict (main); you’re never far from a boulan­gerie on a walk through the cap­i­tal (be­low); and there are many maps...


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