The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Paris In Style

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Photo: amareta kelly/Flickr

Paris may be the city of love and light, but it’s also the city of design, where fashion, art and decor are worshiped so devoutly that they’re almost a religion of their own.From palaces of fine art, like the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, to modern art galleries, like the Palais de Tokyo, and from the high-fashion temples of Chanel and Louis Vuitton to the funky home-grown boutiques in the Marais, there’s something for every design-conscious visitor in Paris. Here, even the food and hotels are stylish.

The Parisians, too, are famously fashionable and fastidious in their attention to detail. People in Paris seem to exude style with simple touches, like an Hermès scarf tied just right, a perfectly-tailored jacket or elegant red-soled Christian Louboutin pumps.

Take a cue from the Parisians, and do like Coco Chanel: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” In Paris, less is more. 

We’ve found some of the most fashionable ways to explore this incredibly stylish city. 

A visit to the Louvre is a requisite part of any visit to Paris. Architect I.M. Pei designed the large glass and metal pyramid, which now serves as the entrance to the museum.

Inside there's a wealth of art, including the world-famous Mona Lisa—just be prepared to fight the crowds to see her.

The Palais de Tokyo, in the 16th arrondissement, showcases cutting-edge contemporary art.

The exhibits at the Palais de Tokyo change frequently, but are usually edgy and thought provoking.

Located in a former gare (train station), the Musee d'Orsay is the premiere destination in Paris for Impressionist art. Admire works by all the greats—Degas, Manet, Rodin, to name a few—as well as the building's grand cavernous architecture.

When it was first opened in 1977, the Centre Georges Pompidou was criticised as being a heinous eyesore for its colourful modern architecture. Today this building, which houses a library, a modern art museum and more, is still one of the most talked about buildings in Paris.

colourful pipes adorn the facade of the Pompidou Centre. Each colour signifies a different use: blue for air, green for plumbing and yellow for electric wires.

Source: Centre Pompidou

While you're at the Pompidou, check out Le Georges, a design-conscious glass-walled restaurant atop the building. Designed by Dominique Jakob and Brendan McFarlane, the Georges is futuristic with interesting geometric shapes and structure, much like the avant-garde design of the Pompidou centre itself. The food and cocktails, too, are surreal and modern.

The legendary French crystal manufacturer Baccarat opened a sleek new space in a former private mansion in the 16th arrondissement to house a boutique, gallery-museum and restaurant. Philippe Starck was hired to design Maison Baccarat and he transformed it into a fun whimsical space filled with oversized chairs, elegant furnishings and of course glittery crystal Baccarat chandeliers.

The Cristal Room, inside the Maison Baccarat, is a pink- and crystal-laden jewel of a restaurant, also designed by Starck. The menu includes some typical French dishes, but you don't come here for the food; you come here to revel in the sophisticated setting.

The Marais district, once the Jewish quarter but now home to trendy boutiques and charming shops, is the perfect place for faire du shopping (go shopping).

The Marais is also chock-full of cutting-edge modern art galleries. Two of the bigger galleries in this neighbourhood are Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin and Yvon Lambert, which display changing exhibits from French and international contemporary artists. St-Germain-des-Prés has more traditional art galleries.

Rue du Faubourg Saint-honouré is one of the most fashionable streets in Paris—and arguably the world. The mile-long street is dedicated to high-fashion, with shops from nearly every major fashion label, including Hermès, Yves St-Laurent, Givenchy and Chanel, to name a few.

Or you can stroll Avenue Montaigne and Avenue des Champs-Elysées for more high-end fashion labels, like Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Chanel.

A visit to Ladurée, the iconic macaron shop, is a feast for the senses. Choose from the rainbow of colourful sweet meringue pastries. There are several shops in Paris, including one on the Champs-Elysées.

No trip to Paris is complete without a stop at the Galeries Lafayette, Paris's iconic department store. The main outpost is located on Boulevard Haussmann in the 19th arrondissement in a stunning Art Nouveau building with a gorgeous glass dome.

The Galeries Lafayette has an incredible food market which sells spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, cured meats and all sorts of mouthwatering foods.

When you're tired from all that shopping, stop at a typical sidewalk cafe for un café crème and some stellar people watching.

Starck decorated everything in the Royal Monceau hotel, from the large scale furnishings in the public areas to the minute details in the guest rooms. The rooms have interesting details like large desks inlaid with antique-looking maps of Paris, lots of mirrors and a guitar in every room for guests to play.

The Hotel Gabriel Paris, located in the Marais (the historic Jewish quarter) is another design-savvy hotel. The guest rooms are equipped with ambient lighting and other technology meant to soothe the senses.

Mama Shelter, a trendy boutique hotel in the hip 20th arrondissement, is a hub of hipster activity. The hotel design is edgy and sleek, with words scrawled on the walls and ceilings throughout the hotel.

The sceney bar at Mama Shelter hosts regular performances by hot DJs and hip hop artists. This is a favourite hotspot of trendy Parisans.

For a more high-end dining experience, go to the Plaza Athénée. Dripping with crystal chandeliers, the interior of Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, designed by Patrick Jouin, exudes elegance. But don't be distracted by the gorgeous dining room: the fine French food at the three-Michelin starred restaurant—arguably one of the best restaurants in the city—takes centre stage.

The dining room at Ze Kitchen Galerie feels like a contemporary art gallery, with edgy works of art lining the walls. The New French food is equally artsy with inventive combinations—like tuna with papaya and beetroot or for dessert white chocolate wasabi ice cream—presented in beautiful and creative ways.

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