A more low-key version of the busy Centre Pompidou, the Paris Museum of Modern Art leans heavily on 20th-century art. (Photo: Almy)
Beyond the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées and the Arc De Triomphe, there are still plenty of gems to uncover in the City of Light like local museums, neighborhood bistros and vintage boutiques of the chic 16th arrondissement. Bon voyage!
Fondation Louis Vuitton
A marriage between the famed French fashion house Louis Vuitton and superstar architect Frank Gehry, this sailboat-shaped contemporary arts center was built using steel, wood and gleaming, curved glass. A series of intricate galleries showcase a permanent collection of masters like Rothko and Matisse and a roster of edgy, rotating exhibitions. Leave time to linger on the spacious terraces, where the city views are unbeatable.
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Avenue President Wilson Market
Foodies will love this open-air market, with it seemingly endless rows of vendors hawking regional goods: seafood from the coast of Brittany (shrimp, lobsters, oysters and, of course, escargot), foie gras, flowers, fruits and vegetables, and glorious slabs of artisanal cheeses. Pick up to-go items like a rotisserie chicken for a nearby picnic. (Open Wednesdays and Saturdays).
Paris Museum of Modern Art
A more low-key version of the busy Centre Pompidou, the Paris Museum of Modern Art leans heavily on 20th-century art and has a permanent collection that features Fauvist paintings by André Derain and Matisse, and Pablo Picasso’s early cubism works. The huge, striking Raoul Dufy mural, La Fée Électricité, is a must-see, as is the 100+ piece Painter of Time Pendingcommemorative exhibition for Albert Marquet which encompasses his work from Post-Impressionism to Fauvism.
Chef Akrame Benallal (a Ferran Adrià alum) helms the intimate dining room at Akrame, which is dressed in whites and gunmetal blacks, with photos of heavily tattooed models on the walls. The inventive cuisine leans toward contemporary French and has a daily changing option of three tasting menus. Caveat: There are only 20 seats, so book well in advance.
Inside the modern art temple Palais de Tokyo, Parisian hipsters gather at Tokyo Eat under UFO-shaped ceiling lamps from the 1960s and tables with Eames-style chairs. Chef Thierry Brossard’s unpretentious café offers a seasonal menu of fresh fruit and vegetable juices (such as green apple and celery) and Franco-Asian cuisine, from a quintessential bistro streak with thick frites to grilled lamb chops with edamame, pickled eggplant and peanut sauce. Snag a table on the terrace for a view of the Eiffel Tower.
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Les Deux Stations
You could spend hours lingering at this charming neighborhood spot, which is decorated in red and white checkered tablecloths, wooden chairs, leather banquettes and subway tiles. It also has a bustling terrace where you can feast on hearty classics like beef tartare and traditional dishes like veal olives and andouillette. Whatever you choose, wash it down with a glass of Sancerre.
Bois de Boulogne
Hugging the western edge of the 16th, this former hunting ground of the kings of France offers expansive open spaces, leafy wooded paths, horseback trails and peaceful lakes perfect for a romantic boat excursion. Pack a picnic lunch and head to the fragrant garden, the Parc de Bagatelle, for a scented paradise of roses, tulips, water lilies and peacocks. There’s also an old-fashioned carousel with wooden horses to add to a child’s (or adult’s) delight.
Lorette et Jasmin
This chic retro boutique stocks a well-curated blend of luxury vintage, haute couture and ready-to-wear items. Expect timeless pieces from Chanel and YSL, as well as less pricey items, like refined Repetto ballet flats – worn by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. You can also rent designer handbags for the day – that Hermès Birkin bag makes a bold Parisian statement.
At this old-school, wood-paneled chocolatier, owner Stéphane Douville creates old-fashioned sweets like pralines and Parisian tiles (wafer-thin chocolate squares) in a variety of flavors including the addictive, mouthwatering salted caramel. Take home a box (or two) of classic French confections like dragées, pralines, ganaches, calissons and those delicate, jewel-tone fruit jellies. While you’re there, taste some of their 50 homemade jams before deciding on a few to take home, and don’t miss their dainty macarons, fashioned by Roy’s renowned French pastry chef.
Ground was broken in 1878 to create a space worthy of the Duchesse de Galliera, Marie Brignole-Sale’s personal collection, and trust us–it was no small affair. Construction on the Beaux-Arts-style Palais Galliera was done by none other than Gustave Eiffel, himself. Today, all collections and exhibitions are temporary so you have to catch them while they’re hot.
Coming May 14th is ‘Anatomy of a Collection’ with fashion spanning the 18th century to present day. Chosen garments have belonged to the world’s elite – there’s Napoleon’s waistcoat, Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy dress, Tilda Swinton’s pajama dress, and Marie Antoinette’s corset – and complete unknowns, alike – blouses from WWI nurses, and workers’ aprons and trousers. The exhibition will be running through October 23.
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By and large, the affluent 16th arrondissement has been void of chic new restaurants; but recently, it’s been brought back to life with a contemporary venue courtesy of young chef Mathieu Pacaud, who caught the culinary bug from his 3-star Michelin chef dad, Bernard Pacaud (of L’Ambroisie). Businessmen and a heavy international crowd filter through Hexagone with its chevron floors, bright yellow chairs, Alice in Wonderland-inspired black and white wallpaper, and dishes plated so prettily it seems sacrilegious to even contemplate eating them. The menu includes fresh takes on French cuisine in the Escoffier style.
Popular dishes include blue lobster and veal sweetbreads, and the spot also has a pretty spectacular wine and cocktail list (with sommelier Benjamin Roffet and mixologist Thomas Girard on hand). There’s a lot to choose from, but we’re eying the eponymous Hexagone with bas armagnac, old rum and Bénédictine with a lemon twist, and the Madame Rose, a mix of Absolut Elyx vodka infused with rose, lemon menton, rose bay, and raspberry house syrup.
Maison de Balzac
Don’t roll up to Maison de Balzac expecting a grand palace, because you certainly won’t be getting one, but Honoré de Balzac’s humble home is the last existing artists’ residence in Paris, and we sure think that’s something. The modest green-shuttered house sits in the shadow of the Eiffel tower, on the slopes of Passy, and French lit aficionados can stroll the halls and rooms where the novelist (known for La Comédie Humaine–about life in France following the fall of Napoleon) kept himself to a grueling writing schedule–15 hour stretches fueled only by black coffee–and essentially lived as a hermit (he was hiding from creditors).
You can roam the courtyard, peruse his personal belongings and the attached library, and if you’re a true fan, you can visit his grave site at Paris’ largest and most famous cemetery–Pere Lachaise–in the 20th arrondissement (pay your respects to Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde while you’re at it).
This article was published through a partnership with Jetsetter magazine.
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