Live life as a local: Paris

Paris perfect by Caroline du Pin de Saint André


Live life as a local: Paris

We explore the back streets of Paris, Lisbon and Copenhagen, to taste life among the locals of these three diverse cities, with an emphasis on combining the hip and the healthy.

On the left bank, is the Hotel d'Aubusson on the Rue Dauphine. When I go there, I feel as if I am Marie Antoinette sipping my perfectly chilled glass of Champagne in my boudoir by its humongous chimney. I got this confidential address from a book editor friend of mine who goes there almost every day to read and for the little story: it is where the famous French writer Simone de Beauvoir lived.

Hotel Amour is a real safe haven in the middle of the bustle of the city. With its cute glass veranda, it’s luminous and surrounded by lots of plants and even a little fountain.

Healthy eating in Pairs

Healthy eating is getting trendier by the day in Paris. The newly opened Wild and the Moon in the Marais, is famous for its activated charcoal juices and açai bowls. Season, near the Marais, is fantastic, fresh and hearty too – you’ll love the tea, served with egg timers for the perfect steep. If you want gluten-free food, there is Noglu, located in the most amazing 18th Passage des Panoramas. It is a tiny restaurant that also does takeaways and épicerie.

At Le Marché des Enfant Rouge, you can combine healthy eating and the hip. Finally, there is Bob’s Kitchen, famous for being a pioneer of healthy food in Paris. There are now three versions of these restaurants in Paris: Bob’s Kitchen, Bob’s Juice Bar and Bob’s Bake shop. 

Vegan and vegetarian

The best budget lunch is at La Guinguette d’Angèle on the Rue Coquillière: a tiny counter in the middle of the street, where owner Angèle serves vegan and vegetarian, organic and homemade food with an emphasis on superfoods (juices, lunchboxes, and sweet delicacies at their finest). She is also famous for her visual cuisine, adding edible flowers. Or picnic at the tip of the Square du Vert-Galant and sit by the Seine on the Île de la Cité… Gorgeous views of the Pont des Arts, and the iconic Paris ‘view’.


Find a seat to rest and people watch at the terrace of Le Progrès, a typical French café in the high Marais and a great stop during your busy shopping spree in the neighborhood. Or order a café on the terrace at Café Kitsuné inside the Palais-Royal. Not only a perfect place for people watching, but also for watching your children: no cars are allowed in this courtyard surrounded by unique, trendy and traditional shops. It even has a very small playground for toddlers. Grown-ups can play pétanque.

Hidden gems

Visit the little-known Musée Nissim de Camondo. It is a small jewel of a museum, the elegant home of a rich French banker in the early 20th century, right on the Parc Monceau.

I always bring back a little something from Maille, makers of the finest mustard, on the Place de la Madeleine. You can choose different flavours, from Chablis to truffle, and more from their freshly produced mustard at the counter. Make sure you tell them that you are travelling, and they will pack it accordingly. And be sure to visit Patrick Roger. I think he is the best chocolatier in the world and he has won many awards. Not only is he a genius at making chocolates, but he also does gigantic chocolate sculptures.

There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than the Champs-Élysées. It is always too crowded and is filled with chain stores that you can find anywhere else around the world. Nothing is authentic… I dislike everything about it.

Authentic Paris

I love the little boutique, Galerie Salon, where small luxury houses meet other eccentricities. Galerie Salon carries, for example, the Antoinette Poisson papier dominoté (wallpaper using 18th-century techniques) or Astier de Villatte ceramics, both handmade in Paris. The owner, Carole Borraz, is an antique dealer and artist with the motto: ‘Merchant of all, doer of nothing.’ It is true Parisian chic.

L'Eclaireur at 10 Rue Herold in the 2nd arrondissement, is a real connoisseur’s address. There is no way that you can go there by accident since there is no window display. You just ring a bell, and the door magically opens with a voice saying: “Bienvenue à l'Eclaireur” (Welcome to the scout) – and then the experience starts…

As you enter you feel like you are in a cabinet de curiosité where fashion meets art. There is also a secret room with an ultra-high-tech kitchen, where cooking classes are held by famous chefs (classes by reservation only). It has been named as the number one luxury experience in the world. It is anything but mainstream, and not everybody’s cup of tea (but definitely mine).

Papier Tigre designs its own stationery, origami envelopes, scented notebooks and much more. It also carries one of my favourite brands, Kerzon, designed, scented sachets that remind you of the fragrance of the Parisian places as Jardin des Tuileries or Palais Royal. Another must to bring home as great gifts.

You simply must go to Le Slip Français; just thinking about it makes me smile. It is a French (mainly menswear) underwear company with a great sense of humour. Their logo is ‘Made in France with love’. Their iconic product is ‘Le Slip qui sent bon’, which literally means, ‘the underwear that smells good’. It is actually made out of a fabric with perfumed micro-capsules that are released when you move. Be patriotic and buy your loved one a ‘Slip Français’. I find it hysterical.


If you are alone, go for breakfast at Claus, opposite the original Christian Louboutin boutique. Try to go upstairs, if you can, as it is much cosier, and stop by the Épicerie Claus over the road to stock up on pastries, granola and unique tasty jams. And dine, solo or with friends, at Clown bar. It is in the Marais, next to the Cirque d’Hiver, and is classified as an historic monument, even if it is as big as a shoe box (about 25 seats). The food is excellent and creative but in a casual atmosphere – a real culinary experience and make sure you book.

You cannot leave Paris without a visit to L’Institut Darphin Paris Vendome. It is located in a private courtyard in Napoleon’s old stables. The moment you pass the porch, with its statue of Joséphine de Bonaparte, into the blossoming patio, you feel as if you entered a Haussmannian treasure. After you’ve been touched by the expert hands of a Darphin beautician, you will be planning your return.

Photograph: iStock

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