‘Paris is a city unashamedly fas­ci­nated by beauty’

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

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

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