[PARIS] — I was scared to death on my first trips to Paris — I started going B.I., Before the Internet — totally intimidated about finding the best cool restaurants. The mere thought of a) figuring out how to use a phone in France and b) people not understanding a single syllable of my Bad French just made the whole process unbearable. On top of that, I’d tried many times to ask some un-listening concierge — in those days of “Snooty France” — who would just shunt ALL Americans to some crappy brasserie around the corner with surly waiters and lame food. So I rarely trusted them…despite giving them big tips. So then I developed my default restaurant-picking technique: Walking Until Finding Something Cool. WUFSC™️.
(Paris) — It’s a river, so nothing ever gets old. The scenery floats by. And the light changes by the hour. Instead of taking a nap, start around dusk, when the grey Paris skies turn pink and the lights come up. Get down on the water, it’s almost your very own Paris.
(Paris) — Right on the north tip of Ile Saint-Louis are four restaurants all together. And to me, the Cafe St Regis is about as perfect of an incarnation of a classic brasseries. Subway tile, cool lights, snoof waiters, beer and big windows to watch Paris go by. This is so perfect, it looks like Keith McNally made it. I’m sure they get a lot of tourists, but don’t act like one and they treat you right. Here’s what all the cranks on Trip Advisor say. Tartare, please. View Larger Map
Here’s a great great blog I subscribe to called HiP Paris blog. And there’s a great post on The Best Places To People Watch in Paris. Check it out.
(Paris) — One of Paris’ booming neighborhoods is the Canal Saint-Martin. You can’t miss it on the map, it’s the big gash right over there on the right. Go for a mid-day stroll, up and down the foot bridges. I was there in November, but I hear it’s jammed with sunbathers and walkers during the summer. Stop for lunch at the Hotel du Nord, extra cool little boutique hotel and restaurant. Some great small shops and cafes. Or pack a lunch, sit and watch the scruffy world go. Here’s a great article in Conde Nast Traveler. Last visited: November 2011
(Paris) — You can go in the day and watch all the walkers, kids and dogs. But I like to sneak into the Jardin des Tuileries at night and walk wide-eyed and watch the silhouettes that change every 50 meters and bring statues to life. Hardly anybody else around but some runners and the occasional dog that scares the heck out of you when he comes up to you out of nowhere.
(Paris) — My Francophile friend Rex turned me onto this great little hip place on Rue Christine, just blocks south of the Seine. Small, casual, affordable. Cool fork. Cool spoon. And some awesome bottles of wine-smoked sea salt on the tables. Simply named Le Christine. Very nice and patient service. Check out this amazing smoked salt, Sel de Chateau.
(Paris) — Most Paris hotel rooms are teeny, most noisy. But my buddy Rex turned me onto Relais Christine. On the Left Bank, but not in it, it is on a quiet street just blocks south of the Seine, the perfect central location to explore the city. Rue Christine extremely quiet, with several great restaurants, on the street — embarrassingly, so, as I hate to ever say “let’s just eat here.” But they are great. The staff is extremely gracious. Great cellar breakfast room. Huge king bed and soundproof windows that, almost like a sitcom, I opened up once and there was a jackhammer below that I didn’t even know was there. Open: jackhammer. Close: Quiet. Comical. Lots of Americans as guests,which is often a turnoff