Voyages-sncf.com has joined forces with Accor, Galeries Lafayette and the CRT Paris-Ile de France to celebrate the #ParisWeLoveYou campaign, promoting Paris as one of the world’s top destinations with its host of attractions and sites.
With so much going on there’s never been a better time to visit Paris this season and in this fourth and final newsletter, we highlight must-go places for both shopaholics and gastronomes.
From St Etienne to the gastronomic heights …
With 70 Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, Chef Guy Savoy is one of the most famous and is an Ambassador for the #ParisWeLoveYou campaign, designed to encourage tourists back to the capital.
Having trained with the famed TroisGros Brothers in St. Etienne, Guy Savoy opened his eponymous restaurant on the Left Bank in Paris which soon attained three Michelin Stars. He has three more restaurants in Paris – Atelier Maître Albert in Notre-Dame, Le Chiberta near L’Arc de Triomphe and Les Bouquinistes near the Musee d’Orsay. Signature dishes include artichoke soup with black truffles, Grapefruit Terrine, Fondant au chocolat and ‘brioche feulletée aux champignons’.
He trained Gordon Ramsay, won the Legion d’Honneur (France’s highest honour) in 2000 and has established a foothold in the USA. His Caesar’s Palace restaurant in Las Vegas houses the only Krug Chef’s Table in America!
Interestingly enough – Chef Guy does not allow flowers in the restaurant or allow his staff to wear perfume so as not to destroy the aromas of the food.
Metro: Pont Neuf
Don’t miss: Every day for lunch, Chef Guy reserves one table for web surfers who wish to discover – or rediscover – the delights of a French gourmet restaurant but who might hesitate on the threshhold. From the full lunch menu, guests can choose a starter, main dish and dessert for the fixed price of €110 with accompanying glasses of wine from €10.
The original Parisian shopping emporium
With origins dating back to the nineteenth century, Galeries Lafayette is a true Parisian landmark. Now expanded to encompass three buildings on the flagship Boulevard Haussmann site, the store originally opened in 1894 and is still 100% family owned. Today, over one million visitors per day visit their 280 stores both in France and overseas, with this flagship store offering 65,000 sq m of retail space beneath a spectacular Art Nouveau dome featuring 2,500 brands from around the world and 25 restaurants.
Galeries Lafayette has always promoted the relationship between fashion and design and has been instrumental in mentoring new talent including a young Sonia Rykiel amongst other big names. This central credo was cemented with the opening of the Galerie des Galeries on the first floor of the main store, There are four exhibitions per year, exploring the complementary disciplines of fashion, visual arts and design.
Don’t miss: As a key supporter of the #ParisWeLoveYou campaign, spend €70 (approx £56) here and you’ll have a free Seine cruise! (valid until 30th June 2016).
Place de la Madeleine, a street well known to gourmets …
It has to be said, the Place de la Madeleine is a food lovers’ paradise with many shops specialising in truffles, champagne, caviar and hand-made chocolates.
Take Fauchon for example, sometimes referred to as the millionaire’s supermarket and today a leading force in contemporary French culinary culture. With a similar history & feel to London’s Fortnum & Mason’s, Auguste Fauchon first set up business in 1880 with his fruit and vegetable cart before opening his first store in 1886.
Also close by is the delicious Maison de la Truffe for the finest preserved truffles, the Boutique Maille for mustards served in lovely ceramic jars and seasonal limited edition mustards, La Maison du Chocolat for fine chocolates and patisseries, Au Verger de la Madeleine for rare vintage wines and Ladurée serving some of the best macarons in Paris since 1862.
Eat & Drink: Graze in store – there’s no reason to stray away!
Don’t miss: The famous Madeleine Church, Marcel Proust’s childhood home at No 9, Maxim’s in nearby Rue Royale and the Buddha-Bar.
To really understand a city and to meet the locals, it’s always good to go to a market … or two …and these are some non-foodie choices. Perhaps one of the oldest and best known is the flower market on the Place Louis-Lépine on the Ile de la Cité. The Marché aux Fleurs brightens up the world from a Monday to a Saturday, housed mainly in pavilions dating back to the 1900’s and selling everything from seasonal flowers to the more exotic, orchids to plants and shrubs – and everything inbetween.
Metro: St Michel
Eat & Drink: Nip over to BHV Paris department store in the Rue du Rivoli for just about anything you need including an extensive kitchen section and a delicatessen. There’s an Artisan de la Truffe, a Pâtisserie des Rêves and much more.
Don’t Miss: Notre Dame, the Conciergerie, the Pont Neuf (oldest bridge in Paris) among numerous other historic sites.
For philatelists everywhere, head to the Marché aux Timbres on every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday just off the Champs Elysées (where Avenue de Marigny & Avenue Gabriel join) where you’ll find fellow stamp enthusiasts scouring the stalls for that rare find. It’s also known for its vintage postcards too.
Metro: Franklin D Roosevelt
Eat & Drink: La Maison Blanche on the rooftop of the Théâtre des Champs Elysées for stylish contemporary decor and stunning views of the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides & the Seine.
Don’t Miss: Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Grand & Petit Palais for temporary exhibitions, the Lalique Fountains at Le Rond Point – this is really the centre of Paris so too much to mention here!
Could this be the largest flea market in the world? The Marché aux Puces covers seven hectares and boast 3,000 traders with up to 180,000 visitors each weekend. On the outskirts of the city,this is a well-organised market with 15 different sections within this large area – Marché Malassis for toys, vintage cameras and furniture, the Marché Biron for expensive lighting, furniture and bits and bobs and so forth. Best to do some research before travel.
Metro: Garibaldi on line 13
Eat & Drink: Ma Cocotte or the tearoom Le Loir dans La Théiere serving an amazing lemon meringue pie – both on the Rue des Rosiers
Top Tip: Take cash with you but keep it safe.
La Coupole, possibly Paris’ most famous brasserie
Situated in the heart of the Left Bank, the Art Deco La Coupole’s opening in 1927 featured a who’s who of Paris’ literati – artists with their models, the brightest starts of literature, socialites and big spenders. Derain, Leger, Man Ray, Brassai, Picasso mixed with Simenon and Josephine Baker whilst Henry Miller took breakfast at the Bar.
It’s the pillars and pillasters however that people remember – said to have been painted by impoverished artists in return for food. In actual fact, a committee was formed in the year of opening and 27 artists were selected who were “faithful to the spirit of Montparnasse” and they decorated the pillars and pilasters of La Coupole.
It’s retained its allure for a more modern generation with Albert Camus, Yves Klein, Marc Chagall, Gainsbourg and Birkin visiting – even musician Patti Smith came here to play her guitar on the terrace. A few years later, former President François Mitterrand sat at table 82 and ordered his last meal, a lamb curry. In 2008, the interior dome was decorated by four artists to reflect La Coupole’s original spirit – nature, women, celebration: Ricardo Mosner, Carole Benzaken, Fouad Bellamine and Xiao Fan.
Today, La Coupole is one of over 30 restaurants in Paris and the regions operated by the Groupe Flo which is known for the reliability of its excellent French cuisine, all outlets priding themselves on the typical brasserie style of excellent food, mixed with smiling service and the highest of professional standards. It seems to work for over 6 million meals have been served in the restaurants of Groupe Flo this year already.
The original Brasserie Flo near to the Gare de l’Est was established in 1871 with beer arriving every day from Alsace to fill the glasses of the local Parisien population! The character of the place has been maintained to this day with the stained glass windows, gleaming wooden bar and frescoes of the Alsatian countryside. Other brasseries include Bofinger, Termius Nord (opposite the Gare du Nord (Eurostar’s terminus)) Julien in Saint-Denis, and Le Boeuf sur le Toit.
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