‘Paris is a city unashamedly fascinated by beauty’
Acouple of weeks ago, I was in a taxi on my way home to my flat in the 14th arrondissement in the south of Paris. “Mais mademoiselle, I can always identify an English tourist in Paris!” the driver told me, as we crossed Pont Notre-Dame. “You see them walking with their velour trousers and backpacks! Ho ho ho.” “Oh dear,” I replied. “Not very chic, eh?” He chuckled, reflecting further on the characteristics of my compatriots as we sped along a near-empty Boulevard SaintJacques: “Oh non, non, ils né sont pas chic les anglais! But they don’t care!” I wasn’t quite sure how to take it.
Perhaps the British don’t care so much when it comes to fashion as our Gallic counterparts do, but we don’t want to be considered a source of amusement. So I was a little apprehensive at the thought of meeting Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide. Their book In Paris, which has just been released in English, comprises profiles (written by Bastide) and photographs (largely taken by Damas) of 20 Parisian women and is, according to the blurb, “a window on the world’s most stylish city by two quintessential Parisian women.”
Damas, 26, is a successful model, founder of fashion brand Rouje and an idol for her one million Instagram followers. Bastide, 38, is a former editor at Elle France; she is also one of the country’s most prominent advocates of gender equality as the creator of chart-topping feminist podcast La Poudre (The Powder) – of which a dubbed English version has just been released.
I meet them both on a warm autumn day at Hôtel Providence, a chic boutique spot – all pretty wicker chairs, vintage-look furniture and patterned wallpaper – in the now-hip 10th arrondissement. The high temperatures, along with an ill-timed cold, mean that instead of arriving poised and well-coiffed as I had Damas says her very favourite cafés are the down-to-earth bar-tabacs “du quartier”. She recommends Le SaintGervais (96 Rue Vieille du Temple; 0033 1 42 77 85 65) in the Marais, and Le Relais de Belleville (34 Rue de Belleville, 75020; 0033 1 46 36 31 73) in the artistic 20th arrondissement. For something “un peu touristique” (“I like to go there to dream of Paris a bit”), she recommends Le Nemours (Galerie de Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 75001; 0033 1 42 61 3414), opposite the Comédie Francaise, by the Jardin du Palais Royal.
Damas and Bastide recommend Aux Deux Amis (45 Rue Oberkampf, 75011; 0033 1 58 30 38 13). The traditional-style bar in the ultra-lively Oberkampf district was an HQ for them as they produced their book and is often referred to in its pages. Damas also recommends The Bottle Shop (5 Rue Trousseau, 75011; 0033 1 43 14 28 04), a British-run beer bar in the popular strip east of Bastille. She advises sampling the weekend atmosphere – and the gratin.
Bastide recommends a stroll up Rue des Martyrs from the smart 9th arrondissement to the bottom of Montmartre. The street is dotted with charming boulangeries and florists, with antique and vintage shops and cute cafés further up. Try Marlette, left, (51 Rue des Martyrs, 75009; 0033 1 48 74 89 73) or KB Café (53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009; 0033 1 56 92 12 41). Damas likes the going-outfriendly parts of the 10th arrondissement (between Gare du Nord and the Louvre, near Canal Saint-Martin) and suggests exploring around Rue de Paradis and Gare de l’Est; try Café A, below, (Maison de l’Architecture, 148 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010; 0033 9 81 29 83 38), or hipster hangout Chez Jeannette (47 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010; 0033 1 47 70 30 89).
For a shortcut to Parisian insouciant chic, try the authors’ preferred salons (if your budget allows). Damas picks Studio 34, above, by Delphine Courteille (28 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001; 0033 1 47 03 35 35), and Bastide favours Blonde By Franck Vidoff (12 Rue du Pré aux Clercs, 75007; 0033 1 42 22 66 33) for subtle Parisian colour. Voilà!
Our expert guide to Paris is at telegraph.co.uk/ tt-parisguide
Few cities have the allure of Paris