In the run-up to the launch of Mr & Mrs Smith’s new France hotel guidebook on 1 July, we’re bringing you a series of posts about one of our favourite European destinations. Today, we visit the romantic-weekend capital of the world with a peek at some of Paris’ hidden delights, courtesy of Francophile femme and founder of Girls’ Guide to Paris, Doni Belau.
In a story that wouldn’t be out of place in ‘Sex and the City’, Doni and her partner bought an apartment in the 6th ‘for the hell of it’ after falling in love with Paris on a 1990 trip. Since then, Doni has visited and revisited the city with family and friends (mostly women), and recruited a crack team of on-the-ground lady bloggers to get the inside scoop on every female-friendly aspect of Paris imaginable. We love a like-minded travel spy, so we’ve asked Girls’ Guide to Paris to share some of their insider travel tips with the Smith Travel Blog.
Beyond the Crowds: Paris by Amy Barnard & Doni Belau
Enjoy some authentic and lesser-known Paris gems: voici some suggestions for a trip to Paris, away from the multitudes who descend on the landmarks, especially in summer.
• L’Agrume, an out-of-the-way eatery in the 5th Arrondissement, is the new project of chef Franck Marchesi-Grandi, who has had long stints in restaurants with many Michelins. Try to reserve a counter seat, from where you can watch the chef in action.
• Rino, in the 11th Arrondissement, is a restaurant of the moment, collecting accolades for its Italian-inspired menu. True to the best Mediterranean cuisine, chef Giovanni Passerini creates dishes that highlight individual ingredients without being fussy. Our food writer Barbra Austin talked about how much she loved the rouget with white asparagus (right) in her review of Rino.
• Chocolate connoisseurs may enjoy La Route du Cacao, the project of Pascal Guerreau, whose passion led him to build a shrine to the substance — on a barge. Here you’ll find a chocolate museum, a small tropical garden (with cacao trees, of course), a chocolate boutique and a chocolate laboratory where you can watch your choice of hot chocolate (there are five) being made.
• If your sights are set on a spending spree, try Rue Etienne Marcel, which straddles the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements. The area is filled with independent boutiques for all tastes, such as Gas by Marie, jeweller Saïki, and vintage giant Kiliwatch (pictured).
• There is a lot to be said for exploring the little-known 9th and the un-touristy side of the 18th. I love the café on Rue Lepic where Amélie was shot, Café des Deux Moulins, particularly in the morning. There is an incredible place nearby for tarts, Les Petits Mitrons, and as you wind up the street and take a right you’ll find several adorable boutiques – then try to blag a table at the always-jammed Le Sancerre for a coupe on rue des Abbesses. In the 9th, I love Rose Bakery and Fuxia for brunch or lunch, and stopping in at the romantic Musée de la Vie Romantique at 16 rue Chaptal for afternoon tea and a quick browse to get my culture fix.
– For full details of this DIY walking tour, download the Girls’ Guide’s Montmartre & Pigalle walk.
RINO (+33 (0)1 48 06 95 85)
46, rue Trousseau, in the 11th.
L’AGRUME (+33 (0)1 43 31 86 48)
15 rue des Fossés St-Marcel, in the 5th.
Métro St-Marcel or Gobelins.
Open Tues–Sat, lunch and dinner
LA ROUTE DU CACAO (+33 (0)1 53 82 10 35)
Quai de la Gare (opposite the Bibliothèque Nationale de France), in the 13th.
Métro Quai de la Gare or Bibliothèque.
GAS BY MARIE (+33 (0)1 42 33 36 04)
44 rue Etienne Marcel, in the 2nd.
Métro Quai de la Gare.
KILIWATCH (+33 (0)1 42 21 17 37)
64 rue Tiquetonne, in the 2nd.
Métro Etienne Marcel, Les Halles.
Open Mon, 2–7pm; Tue–Sun, 11am–7pm.
CAFE DES DEUX MOULINS (+33 (0)1 42 54 90 50)
15 rue Lepic, in the 18th.
Métro Blanche or Abbesses.
Open daily 7am–2am.
LES PETIT MITRONS (+33 (0)1 46 06 10 29)
26 rue Lepic, in the 18th.
Métro Blanche, Abbesses.
ROSE BAKERY (+33 (0)1 42 82 12 80)
46 rue des Martyrs, in the 9th.
Métro Pigalle, Notre Dame de Lorette, Saint-Georges.
Open Tue–Sat, 9am–7pm; Sun, 10am–5pm.
LA FUXIA (+33 (0)1 48 78 93 25)
25 rue des Martyrs, in the 9th.
Métro Notre Dame de Lorette, Saint-Georges.
Open daily, 9am–2am.
MUSEE DE LA VIE ROMANTIQUE (+33 (0)1 55 31 95 67)
Hôtel Scheffer-Renan, 16 rue Chaptal, in the 9th.
Métro Pigalle, Blanche.
Open Tue–Sun, 10am–6pm.
For more Paris tips, consult the Girls’ Guide to Paris or check out Mr & Mrs Smith’s Paris destination guide.
To order our new boutique hotel guide to France, visit the Mr & Mrs Smith online shop. And don’t miss our fantastic France book giveaway competition, with prize packages including luxury travel accessories.