Café de Flore

2.

During our first week in Paris, Morgan and I dined at the famous Café de Flore. It is a pretty café to imagine: crisp white awnings trimmed in green, dark wood and brass, waiters in black tie who serve with efficient grace; clustered wicker chairs filled with convivial people, and the flore: flowering plants that grow wildly from the exterior like living symbols of great ideas that refuse to be contained.

It is famous for what it was, not for what it is. Picasso, Sartre, and Camus were regulars, but I don’t think that crowd would approve of the current iteration. Today, the café uses the lingering scent of history to attract and oversell; you pay extra for the possibility of the past.

“How did Hemingway afford to eat here?” Morgan asked, jokingly. She looked overwhelmed by the prices. “The young one, before he was rich.”

“The cafés were different back then” I said, “but isn’t that why we’re here?”

“I guess so,” she said “seven euro for a coffee is a little steep.”

“You pay extra for the history.”

“But do you really?” Morgan said in her playful way. There was often wisdom in her teasing, and I knew that she was right somehow.

Cafés became popular with artists and philosophers because they were cheap, warm, and well lit. Low rent Paris apartments – imperative to artists – were cold and dark. The cafés offered a comfortable place to work in warmth and light, and maybe have a meal too. In this way, cafés were more like offices than restaurants. They aided writers in their work; they weren’t solely a reward for it. Once the days work was finished, the café transformed into the social scene. Creativity was discussed, ideas were born, and debauchery overflowed. The next day, in the too-bright light of morning, the writers would stumble back into the cafés, order a crème, sip it slowly to make it last until noon, and write the next page.

The Flore hasn’t lost its authenticity, but that authenticity has changed to suit the clientele. Today its a mix of three-part tourists, one-part locals. Morgan and I fit somewhere in the mix, but we didn’t know our part yet.

 “What’ll you have?” I said, signaling to Morgan. She hadn’t seen the waiter standing behind her.

Je voudrais la Salad Nicoise, sil vous plait” she said, timidly; we dwelled only on the language we did not know, not the language we had learned, or could learn, but it was all the same language in the end.

The waiter gave a single nod, then looked to me. There was no need to write it down.

Le omelet avec champignons, et…a café au lait” I said. My order was inelegant, but our serveur understood. He grabbed our plates, menus, and wine glasses at once, in what seemed like a single motion; then vanished.

Any tension of the moment burst through Morgan’s enormous smile. Her smile could effortlessly lift even the heaviest moods. We delighted in our bourgeoning French, but the Portuguese woman sitting at the table to my right hated us for it.

I could see she was a tall, imposing woman, even when sitting down, and her long, unnaturally-blond hair flowed perfectly straight down from under her wide-brimmed black hat, passed her roman nose and tanned concave cheeks to rest on the coyote-fur collar of her impermeable, black winter coat. She didn’t look at us. She didn’t feel that she had to. She only saw the little waiter as he took our order, and hated him for taking it. Our American English and poor French inconvenienced her. The only adequate sound was silence. She cut the tomatoes in her salad with the rancor of a wronged executioner.  

Get a load of this woman, I silently implied with a steady eye roll.

Morgan glanced, but couldn’t be bothered; or if she was, she didn’t show it. I admired her strong sense of self; she instantly recognized the woman’s hot air, and if it had been contained in a balloon, she would’ve popped it with her fork as though she were casually swatting away a fly.

“How’s the nicoise?” I said after a few bites.

“Salty” Morgan said. She paused, “but still good. And your omelet?”

“Delicious.” I said.

It was filled with forest mushrooms, and the inside was perfectly runny. I tore off sections of the crunchy baguette, wiped up the egg, and the taste was very good. The café was strong, but not bitter, and the mellowing milk was full fat; the cream melted in the hot coffee and settled on top in rich, oily dots.

It was halfway through our meal that the Portuguese woman’s date arrived. The newcomer was a robust French woman who also looked imposing in a tight, long black dress that was void of any lint. Her figure was like that of a Maillol sculpture, though her face was sharp and angular, but somehow kind. She sat down opposite her companion with the muscular grace of a mid-summer deer kneeling to lay before an impenetrable evening forest. Not a moment passed before the Portuguese woman voiced her disgust. She made sure to speak loudly so that we should hear. Our American accents were mimicked between rapid Portuguese, making reference to reality TV and iPhones, and drawing clumsily from the list of clichés for which Americans have become known.

The mockery soured the good tasting food a little. I pressured the Portuguese woman with a look-to-maim, but she did not have the courage, or decency, to look back. Her companion’s eyes were apologetic, though she still crafted a smile to please her friend. I was sorry that she had to endure the trivial tongue lashing, especially in a venue as storied as Café de Flore.

It was exciting to be where my heroes once sat, and to think that maybe some of their genius would rub off on me through the spoons. I knew that wasn’t true, though it was fun to think so; but also sad, because in the end your left with overpriced coffee and the stale hope of connecting with the past.

Nobody was writing in the café, but even if anybody was, I doubt it would be for themselves; rather an act of reverence or mime that wouldn’t make for good work anyways because the intention is wrong. It is with this same intention that tourists travel to Montmartre to sit for a cartoon portrait: the act is an attempt to connect with the great artists of the past through a small homage in the present. Souvenirs aren’t trivial – the French verb souvenir means “to remember” after all – but as a way to connect it seems disingenuous. Writing at Café de Flore is not the way to experience its history. No amount of charmed spoons or crèmes will bring you closer to the history you desire. You can only experience that history by being a vital part of it, and continuing it. You must work to create, and it is though the tradition of work itself that you pay your homage to those that created before you: before Picasso and Hemingway there was Monet and Emile Zola, and before them Delacroix and Baudelaire, and before them the Symbolists and Romantics, and earlier yet the Neoclassicists, and before them the French Baroque and the old Classicists, and before them the artists of the Renaissance who were breaking the traditions of the Goths; the Middle Ages were built upon the Romans, and them the Greeks, and earlier still there were the Mesopotamians, and before them, people painted in the caves of Lascaux; and it follows all the way back to humanity’s first realization that they could make a mark, and that the mark meant something indescribable in any other form to the person who made it, and it is the entirety of this chain of creation that has lead to my $7 coffee at Café de Flore and the meaningless ire of a Portuguese woman.

She continued to mock behind a long smile, but I could see her eyes were sunken and hollow. No amount of smiling can hide sad eyes, even when they are closed. She sipped her champagne and murdered her tomatoes, and masked some deep pain. I hope the meal made her feel better because she made a lot of noise for nothing, and she was a lousy date besides.

She will forget the two Americans who sat next to her because she never saw our true character and never cared to ask. That is what she wanted. Stereotypes are easier that way. But I will never forget the Portuguese woman at the Flore because of her sad eyes, the uncertainty in her laugh, and the way she made us feel.

 

“Are you ready to go?” I said, disguising a plea in a question: Let’s get out of here, is what I had meant. I’d grown tired of the mocking.

“Aren’t you going to finish your coffee?” Morgan asked. She wasn’t going to let the Portuguese woman win, and I loved her for it.

“Yes,” I said, a little louder than I normally would, and settled back into my chair.

 

Just then, a woman squeezed past my left shoulder. She looked as though she had only just realized that she was growing old, and had accepted her age as an irreversible reality, but because of it, a wisdom dazzled in her mica-colored eyes, and this wisdom balanced her jubilant beauty the way a lily pad balances a second lily as it blooms beside the initial flower. She twirled her pastel-pink wool coat off of her shoulders to reveal a yellow cashmere sweater paired with pleated turquoise trousers, and she sat with such matter-of-fact force that the entirety of her body bounced on the wicker.

The waiter knew her well, and promptly brought her a pot of peppermint tea, balancing the dishes on a single outstretched arm like a flock of porcelain birds perched on a taught wire. She held in her manicured hand a little flower-bound book titled, Poésie Japonaise – Japanese Poetry, which the waiter snatched with his trademark lithe skill that I now sincerely admired, and began to read aloud in French. His voice theatrical, his free hand held aloft:

“something something, the horse, something, a moon, something, the river, something something something, is my heart, something something” and slammed the book shut.

We applauded too. It was an endearing performance.

The woman leaned towards me, still sweetly chuckling a little: “Do you like Japanese Poetry?” she asked in French.

“Oui,” I replied, before my limitations gave way to English, “Basho. I like Basho’s poems very much.”

“Moi aussi.” she said – Me also.

It was a small moment, but a genuine one, and we both understood that. The lasting words of a dead Japanese poet, camped up by a sinewy café seveur, had brought us together in sudden twist of fate at Café de Flore. She gave Morgan and I another knowing smile, then pulled the pink coat over her shoulders, poured the tea, and began to read.

“Now are you ready to go?” I said, knowing that the Portuguese woman was no longer consequential. Morgan’s defiance was prescient.

The old woman spoke as we headed for the door.

“Enjoy Paris.” she said, framed by brass and palm fronds.

“We already are. Enjoy tea and Basho.” I said.  

She nodded pleasantly, and we left.

It was very cold outside on the street, but we were both of a frame of mind that was only enlivened by the cold.

“That’s the last time I ever eat at Café de Flore.” Morgan said, fixing her beanie.

“At least for a while.” I said. I looked back at the Café knowing we were now part of its history. It isn't a history that other people will visit for; it won't add value to the coffee, or magic to the spoons; but it's our history, and I will hold that very dear.

“Unbelievably overpriced. 65 Euro for a salad, an omelet, and a coffee.” She said, battling the zipper at the base of her coat.

“I know. But I’m happy we went anyways.”

Morgan looked up, and flashed that enormous smile. For a moment Paris felt timeless. The past and the future were at once inconsequential; only this inexplicable, present moment mattered, and I knew that she was happy we’d gone too. 

Between Then and Now

1.

I’d been living in Paris for nearly a month, and I was faced with what I knew to be the truth of it, and it could be painful to consider the expectations I had left home with. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy Paris - I adored it, down to the constellations of trodden gum on the sidewalks – but the vision I had constructed in my mind was so impossibly good, that reality, with its accompanying unspectacular moments, felt unfulfilled in comparison. Extraordinary beauty may emerge when you accept that life is a little unsatisfying, but I didn’t know that then.

If the light broke through the clouds when they were ready for rain, the afternoon sunshine appeared gold on the white stone buildings. Rue Férou was flooded with warm light, and requisite shadows. The shadows of the slanted roofs cut neatly across the stone, and their congruent angles before the sun gave the distinct impression that monumental sheets of gold leaf had been pasted over the antique masonry.

I walked through the little rue, tilting my face to the sunshine and thinking about how I’d like to take Morgan here and show her the neighborhood shops and the private gardens that were now dead but would be green and in bloom come springtime.

Walking a rue does not require reverence, but if you take time to plod thoughtfully, history reverberates from the walls like cicadas buzzing in mist. I walked slowly in and out of the shadows, coaxing history with imagination.

My time in the sun ended abruptly, and the cold swept in. The uneven sidewalks became cobbles, and the cobbles became gravel, and before I had fully considered where to step next I had entered Le Jadrin du Luxembourg.

The wind enlivened the few people in the garden with the distinct energy only cold can give to life. Winter grasped firmly to the potential of spring, and the brown, spikey chestnuts hung like macabre decorations for a celebration of dormancy.

The white stone statues of nobles and great citizens that presided over the garden were blotched by residual rain and moss. Gulls perched atop their marble heads and screamed at one another, and it seemed to me that the statues, frustrated by their stone tongues, were willing their once powerful voices through the birds.

I looked at the statues, and back out to the wintry garden and felt lonely in the expanse. Paris was home to brilliant people, but the ones who are remembered are dead, and the dead make for poor company. Rues, parks, squares, metro stations, statues, and door plaques all secure the memorialization of what once was, and who was once, while the present lives on around the remembered like dancers in a graveyard.

Paris is the city of light, but it is also the city of shadows. You stand in the long shadows of those who came before you, and to move into the light you must live as completely as they did, and revel in this light as your true self, until your body becomes your shadow, and your legacy reveals the golden light of present day.

In the Luxembourg I found myself in the shadow of Hemingway, standing as a young man where he once stood. 

In A Movable Feast he wrote that when he was hungry – which was often during his early days in Paris – he would avoid the rues with their enticing cafés, and instead walk through this garden. There was nothing to temp him here, and he could focus his sharp hunger into productive thoughts. In more desperate times he would lure the resident pigeons to him, catch them in his hands (pigeons are trusting birds for the promise of food), quiet them in his fingers, and snap their necks. He hid the bodies in his newborn son’s pram, and brought them home to eat.

I squatted down to look at the pigeons scratching in the wet pea gravel and opened my hands. They were as trusting as ever. Death of innocence is possible in any era. 

I was not Hemingway, and I did not want to be Hemingway, but the immensity of the past weighed on me. It felt impossible to live in the present in a city like Paris. There were moments when it was possible, but they took incredible focus, and would always conclude in comparison with the past. I cannot admire without competing, and in Paris I was in constant competition with the past for the focus of the present and the admiration of the future.

I walked out of the park, not thinking of where I was headed or why, but only of who walked before me, and the long, formidable shadow they had cast. 

Our Departure. Our Arrival

 We left Pine Knoll farm in the frost. There was a bite to the wind, and the wind swept the frost into the air and it was cold on our bare hands and faces as we hurried to prepare the farm for the remaining winter without us. Pine Knoll has been our home since the summer of 2015, and like all places that have been inhabited for some time, the preparation for travel requires the rhythm and various appendages of domestic life to be neatly arranged to rest until the homeowner’s return. The house was cleaned and tidied, the studio was swept and my newest series, “Lethe,” was laid dormant under unfolded New York Times and Wall Street Journal newspapers, many of which wore the scarred remnants of the Presidential Election; the pigs’ food was prepared to last the period of four months, and their apartment – as we lovingly call it – was piled with fresh straw for the impending cold nights. Paddy, our Saluki-Wolfhound, slunk around the house, his neck long and head low, understanding the changes abound. Life in one place slows in order for life in another to animate. As we stowed the usual objects of our life away, I understood that new experiences would soon fill the voids created by curtailed routine.

Icelandic airlines is a good airline if one favors the necessity of travel over the desire of luxury. It is inexpensive and efficient. The stewards and stewardesses are purposefully built, and control the cabin with alacrity and stoic precision. Our flight is easy and worry-free. For all of the complaints that air travel elicits and endures, it is an incredibly easy and relatively comfortable form of travel. I imagine my American predecessors who once chanced tempests at sea in order to cross the wide Atlantic to reach the northern coasts of France and begin their own Grand Tour.

I always feel a heavy longing to ground and explore when flying over the frozen tundra of northern Canada, across Hudson Bay, and further north over canine-teeth-like mountains of Southern Greenland. Like most regions defined by ice and cold, these parts of the world have long elicited my fascination; perhaps it is unforgiving cold I feel akin to, or a reverence for life that persists there. Bowhead whales, who come into the bays of the arctic early in the Spring, cracking channels on the sea-ice with their powerful heads, are some of the oldest living and lived animals on earth; what wisdom they must possess living amongst symphonies of musical ice; however, quieting now—the staccato crack, creak, pop--with each passing numerably warmer year.

Reykjavik is very cold and black at 7:20 A.M. local time.  The frigid, salty air is a welcome sensation after 9 hours in a stuffy cabin, and it cures my unusual nausea. Morgan is in good spirits and is upbeat and alert as we deplane and race through nonchalant customs to catch our connection to Paris, the “City of Light.” A fitting destination considering the unrelenting darkness of Icelandic winters; however, I must admit, I am eager to experience and endure the Nordic winter night someday, sometime; it is a seasonal lack that fosters incredible creativity.

The 4 hours to Paris are experienced in fragmented moments between sleepy head-nods and hypnopompic reveries. I only remember the occasional brush of the stewardess’ thigh against my shoulder.

Paris is enveloped in freezing fog. Visibility is next to none, and we land without the comforting visual of tarmac. Charles De Gaul is quiet. Few tourists. Our bags arrive promptly. No further customs. No taxi line. A quiet ride through the fog of late morning into the outer arrondissements of Paris.

The murmur of the morning is met by the bustle of mid-day Parisian life: roaring lories, ballets of bicyclists, and the constant tributaries of walkers amongst the grandeur of the most impressive city on earth, sending its prayers to heaven through cigarette smoke.  

On a crosswalk island are 3 young boys and a girl, clad in exhausted clothes, leaning on a construction barricade, holding a hastily written sign that reads in translated French, “Syrian Refuges. Please, money for food.” The oldest, the girl, is only 15 at best. The others appear to be pre-teens. Women and children. No walkers acknowledge them. No cars stop in the incessant flow of traffic to offer aid. They are outsiders within the city. Alone and paused within the motion progressing life. The light turns green and our taxi carries on.

I find that the bustle of the city has become unfamiliar to me, and I’m simultaneously unnerved and fascinated by the interworking. Our life on the farm has lulled me into the rhythm of the pastoral – a beautiful rhythm, and perhaps a more natural one (if there is such a term anymore) – but already I can feel an uptick. The dissonant and jumpy opening to Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” (the Leonard Bernstein arrangement) comes to mind. Suddenly (for aren’t new experiences often sudden!) our taxi turns right onto our rue. Life slows again with the stopping of our taxi; the second movement opens with a sweet and lonely clarinet…

Our rue is quintessential St. Germain: the narrow stone sidewalks are lined with tall rectangular glass windows that display Parisian fineries: tailored winter clothing, dark satin boxes of chocolates, and the pastel casings of seemingly weightless macrons. Above the shops rise the apartments, small canyons of white stone 5 stories high, with angled attics capped in dark tin that turns black in the rain. Higher still, above the tin roofs, can be seen the two bell-towers of the Romanesque Church of Saint-Sulpice, which punctuate the foggy skyline in equal measure with the other impressive landmarks of the city.

We’re early, and must wait for Alex; a man with whom we’ve had little correspondence, but who is responsible for initially letting us into our apartment. We thank our taxi driver in timid French, and arrange our bags against the nearest building as to not block the busy sidewalk. It’s midday on a Wednesday and the rue is filled with people. Some walk with the purpose of a destination and the constraint of time, but most folks plod, hands often folded behind their back, to look in the windows and occasionally stop to consider whatever it is the storefront offers. One may enter a shop empty handed, and exit eating from a box of chocolates. Walks here are opportune to such twists of fate (or possibility, as the case may be).

Alex arrives by moto. He is a handsomely built Frenchman of average height, who is dressed nicely in a trim, fur-collared parka to combat the cold. His eyes are deep and energetic, and his close-cropped hair is thinning a bit at the crown. He speaks English well through thick French inflection, and intones an enthusiastic “Elloo!” upon our meeting. He doesn’t seem to mind my English, but I am self-conscious of my language. I want to be able to speak French in Paris, and I do not wish to be regarded as the stereotypical American who expects all tongues, regardless of place, to speak English. I am at the mercy of my own ability. It is a powerless position, albeit a rectifiable one.

Alex punches in the code and leads us through two large and weathered dark green doors into a cobble stone courtyard. It’s quiet. The bustle of the street is shut out behind us. There is a secret garden on the far end of the courtyard, with large trees that grow to the third story. Most curtains are drawn in the windows that face the courtyard, but through the lace of the ground floor window I see a woman tending to plants on the sill. I do not mean to look, but the eye is attracted to movement. Light green carriage doors dot the inner square, though I’m unsure of what they contain. One could imagine the shadows of horse-drawn carriages leading out of the entryway into the streets of the Belle Epoch.

The reality of six flights of narrow spiral stairs and no lift interrupts the timeless reverie, and we heave our 6 bags of various sizes -- brimming with 3 months’ worth of supplies -- up each worn wooden step. These stairs inspire the same kind of confidence that a tilt-a-whirl at the fair does: blind faith says that it is safe, but the angles and movement paired with the logic of even the most illogical man suggests otherwise. They are charming, however; it is my fondness for the well-used and well-crafted: a history assigned to many structures in Paris. Each flight of the six flights is punctuated by a small landing and a single door to an apartment. The doors are all blue, but each one (I notice as we ascend) is differentiated by their keyhole and doormat; one pictures two elves sitting on their own respective toadstools – a remnant, no doubt, of recent Christmas. The stairway is littered with the slender needles of dry Christmas trees, which like all items that decorate these apartments, must be carried up and down the spiral stairs.

At the top is a narrow, meandering hallway lined in hexagonal red tiles. I recognize these tiles from some old photographs of Picasso’s Paris studio. I remember his specifically because I was amazed at their cleanliness; I can only presume that he found them equally striking and therefore worthy of keeping clean.

Our apartment is at the end of the zigzagging hallway that has been marked – not in a dirty way, but rather in a historical way – by the many objects that have grazed through, and we accidentally add our own history to the record. Alex stands in the open doorway, framed by the light blue paint, to welcome us into our new home.

It is always a relief to reach one's destination when traveling, especially one that is warm and safe, and where one may unpack to live without the immediacy of further travel. Relief quickly becomes exhaustion, as if the collective taxing moments of travel are realized at once. I collapse onto the couch. 

"No!" Morgan excitedly, albeit wearily says, "Get up! We have much to do..."

Les Lieux

Museums

-

The Louvre
We're "Amis du Louvre" annual members. 

L'Orangerie
Monet's "Water Lillies" and Impressionist Masters.

Jeu Du Paume
"Uprisings" - Art of Revolution, Rebellion, and Revolt.

Musée d'Orsay
French Romanticism, Orientalism, Symbolism, Realism, and Impressionism + art decor and artifacts. 

Louis Vuitton Foundation
"Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection" + Frank Gehry's Architectural Masterpiece. 

Centre Pompidou
Cy Twombly, René Magritte, and the largest Modern Art collection in Europe. 

Musée Rodin
The sculptures and collections of the greatest French Modernist sculptor.

Les Invalides
Musée de l'Armée, Musée des Plans-Reliefs, Dome des Invalides, and the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte

Catacombes de Paris
These underground ossuaries are the final resting place to over 6 million people. Constructed in a network of abandoned mine shafts. 

Palais de Tokyo
"...an exploration of the sometimes absurd relationships we have with the objects around us..." Absurd indeed. We liked the man who sat on chicken eggs for 27 days. 

Versailles, Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon
Hunting lodge, turned court palace, Versailles offers an incredible look into the opulent lives of France's final monarchs. 

Musée Picasso
An underwhelming exhibition of an extraordinary artist. 

Conciergerie
Fortress and infamous prison during the French Revolution.

Palais Garnier
"Bakst: from the Ballets russes to haute couture."

Musée Des Arts Décoratifs
"Tenue correcte exigée, quand le vêtement fait scandale."

Atelier Brancusi
The replicated studio of modernest sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. 

Musée Jacquemart-André
Incredible home and art collection of Edouard André and Néllie Jacquemart. 

Panthéon
Once a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, now a crypt and celebration of France's "Grand Hommes" - although Marie Curie rests there, too. 

Musée de la Cinémathèque
A celebration of cinema housed in an equally celebratory Frank Gehry building. 

Musée de Cluny/Musée National du Moyen Age
Museum of Paris' Medieval Past. 

Musée Quai Branly
Ultra modern museum featuring indigenous art and culture. Perhaps the most interesting museum in Paris. 
 
Musée Maillol
The Paul Rosenberg Collection + the works of Arstide Maillol. 

Musée Art Moderne
Contemporary art collection of Paris. 

Petit Palais
Gorgeous palace housing European fine arts and a manicured garden. 

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
An impressive but eerie hall of skeletons and fossils. 

Musée Marmottan Monet
The world's largest collection of Monet's artworks, all housed in park-front mansion. 

Espace Dalí
Avoid. Not a museum, but a scheme to sell reproductions. 

Musée Montmartre
Wonderful museum housed in one of the oldest homes in Montmartre. Visit Renoir's garden. 

Foundation Le Corbusier
Tour Corbusier's early masterpiece, "Villa la Roche." 

Foundation Claude Monet (Giverny)
Monet's famous home and gardens where he lived and worked. 

 

Restaurants & Cafés

-

Café de Flor
A famous watering hole for the "Lost Generation."

Holly Belly
Australian + French Project. Our favorite brunch place. 

Le Petit Vatel
Our neighborhood joint.

L'as de Fallafel
The best falafel in the Jewish Quarter.

King Falafel
The second-best falafel in the Jewish Quarter. 

Septime
#2 Restaurant in Paris, #50 in the World.

Le Frank
At the LV Foundation. Surprisingly fabulous. 
 
Coutume
Great coffee and cakes. 

Café Pinson
Vegetarian & vegan food. Good for a break from the heavy bread-and-butter diet. 

Ippudo
Top-notch Ramen. 

Fragments
Our favorite hot chocolate in Paris, so far...

Couquelicot
Decent brunch in Montmartre.

Crepes d'Or
Our neighborhood crepe place. Lovely man who runs it. Open late. 

Relais de l'Entrecôte
A Paris institution. Quintessential steak frites. 

Café Kitsune
The café counterpart to the fashion label. The coffee is equally good. 

Blend
Good veggie burgers for a little bit of needed Americana. 

Street Bangkok
Delicious street thai with a casual, inviting atmosphere. 

Ellsworth
A cosy bistro known for fresh produce, inventive dishes, and a southern-American flair. Very good.

Chez Janou
A fun, colorful French bistro. The food is nothing to write home about.

Telescope Café
The best coffee we've found in Paris. We recommend the noisette. 

Creperie Saint Eustache
Great crepes, and plenty of time to enjoy them with glacial service. 

Il Carpaccio
Michelin Star restaurant in Le Royal Monceau. 

Boutique yam'Tcha
Stilton Brioche Baos. That is all. 

Pho 14
Some of the best pho we've had anywhere. 

Le Petit Chine (Honfleur) 
Lovely little bakery and café. 

Le Ferme Saint Simeon (Honfleur) 
Reimagined Norman cuisine. A bit stuffy, but delicious food. 

Bistro Les 4 Saisons
Very good all-day bistro near Parc Monceau.

Le Bistrot de Paris
Classic French bistro. Great plates. Try the smoked herring and potatoes. 

Verjus
The best meal we've had in Paris. Fresh, inventive, and welcoming. Make sure you choose the wine pairing.

Bistro Jo
A very good neighborhood bistro. 

Le Maison du Jardin
Good plates and friendly service.

Café Oberkampf
Good coffee. Don't stay for the food. 

Georgette
Fabulous neighborhood café.

Honor Café
Good coffee in quiet courtyard. 

La Poule Au Pot
An institution. Expensive but good. 

La Jacobine
Tourist trap. Avoid. 

Clamato
Modern, Inventive seafood. Delicious, but didn't live up to the hype. 
 
Barawine
Delicious and friendly wine bar. The cheese plate is a treasure. 

Pizza Chic
Not your average pizza place. One of our favorite spots in Paris. 

Café Varenne
Good neighborhood bistro. 

Berthillon
Decadent ice cream. Eat along the quai on a sunny afternoon.

 

Boulangeries & Patisseries

-

Eric Kayser
Our neighborhood go-to spot. The best baguettes we've found. 

Pierre Herme
Very good Macrons in Paris. Just a few doors away. 

Poilåne
Heavenly croissants and tarte aux pommes. 

Paul
Decent Baguettes. Open on Sundays. 

Boulangerie Secco
Second-best baguettes we've found. Poor service though. 

Boulangerie Parisienne
Voted the best baguette in Paris by critics. We don't agree. 

Angelina
Renowned hot chocolate and sweets. 

Mori Yoshida
French pastries crafted with Japanese influence and precision. Outstanding tarte au citron. 

Les Choupettes de Chouchou
French cream puffs. Nutty, airy, and delicious. 

Ladurée
Delicious macarons with good, pure flavors. 

Sadaharu Aoki
The best macarons we've found. Perfect texture with unique, well-balanced flavors. 

La Mer de Famille
Extraordinary chocolates and confectionery. 

Gérard Mulot
Very good pastries. Open Sunday. 

 

Our Favorite Shops

-

Le Bon Marche
Legendary department store. Elegant, with a friendly staff.

La Grande Epicierie
A branch of Le Bon Marche. A gorgeous grocery.

Delfonics
High-quality and stylish Japanese/German stationary.  

Printemps
Large collections of Modern Fashion. 

Colette
The coolest store in Paris, aptly named for the author herself. 
 
Tom Greyhound
Excellent curation of minimalist fashion. 

Magasin Sennelier
Storied art supplies provider. The smell alone is worth a visit. 

E.Dehillerin
Julia Child's favorite kitchen store. Ours too. 

Shakespeare & Company
Sylvia Beach's English bookstore. She rented books to Hemingway and published Joyce's "Ulysses" - need we say more? 

Librarie Galignani
A fine bookstore across from the Tuileries with English and French titles. 

Merci
Inventive multi-department space with good curation and design throughout.

Papier + 
Handcrafted bookbinding and stationary in multiple paperweights, edge qualities, and colors. 

Sunday St. Germain Farmer's Market
Traditional roti chickens. Ask for extra juice. A variety of fresh vegetables, baked goods, eggs, fish and meat, from local producers and farmers. 

Centre Commercial
Beautifully curated fashion and home goods. Filled with minimalist Nordic and French designers. 

Le Labo
Beautifully crafted perfumes and candles. 

Astier de Villatte
Atelier that hand-makes objects of old-world allure. 

Librairie 7L
Karl Lagerfeld's curation of art books. 

Atelier Cattelan
A master cobbler for when all the walking on salted streets wears out your boots.

Les Métamorphoses
A jewelry shop in the Latin Quarter that specializes in affordable, vintage French pieces. 

Buly 1803
Luxurious grooming products for men and women. Try the smoked Hinoki wood shaving cream. 

Martinez J.Claude
A print shop carrying genuine prints and reproductions from across all genres. 

Caron
Historic French scents, and the St. Honoré store is beautiful in its own right. 

 

Cathedrals

-

Notre Dame de Paris

Église Saint-Suplice

Sacre-Coeur

Église Saint-Louis des Invalides

Église Saint-Francois Xavier 

Église de Saint Germain des Prés

Sainte Chappelle

Le Madeleine 

St. Etienne du Mont

Église Saint-Catherine de Honfleur (Honfleur)

Église Saint-Séverin 

Église Saint-Eustache 

Collégiale Notre-Dame de Vernon

Eglise Sainte-Radegonde (Givreny)

 

Places, Gardens & Squares

-

Jardin des Tuileries

Le Jardin du Luxembourg 

Jardin des Plantes

Place des Vosges

Jardin des Grand Explorateurs 

Jardin du Palais Royal 

Jardin Catharine-Labouré 

Square Boucicaut  

Arc De Triumph + Champs - Élysées

Place de la Concorde 

Place de la Bastille 

Parc de Champ de Mars 

La Jardin D'acclimatation

Cemietiére du Pére Lachaise 

Square Laurent-Prache

Place Jean-Paul II

Square Jean XXIII

Place Louis Aragon 

Place de la République 

Jardin Tino-Rossi 

Tour Eiffel 

Ile de la Cite

Ile Saint-Louis 

Parvis de la Défense 

Grand Arche de la Défense 

Canal Saint Martin 

Plaza Vendome 

Julia Child's Apartment 

Hemingway's First Apartment 

Hemingway's Second Apartment 

Esplanade Jaques Chaban-Delmas 

Esplanade des Invalides 

Promenade du Cours de la Reine 

Square de l'abbé-milne

Jardins du Trocadéro

Parvis de l'hôtel de ville

Place Igor Stravinsky

Jardin de l'Oratoire

Jardin de l'Infante

Jardin d'erevan

Jardin Flottant Niki de Saint Phalle

Square de Temple

Parc de Buttes-Chaumont

Parc de La Villette 

Square de Récollets

Jardins du Château de Versailles 

Parc du Grand Trianon

Espace Enfants 

Les Halles 

Parc Monceau 

Parc de Bercy

Place Dauphine 

Omaha Beach (Normandy)

Utah Beach (Normandy)

Plage du Butin (Honfleur)

Les Jardin des Personalities (Honfleur) 

Gertrude Stein's Apartment 

Midnight in Paris steps at Midnight

Bois de Boulogne 

Rue Crémeux 

Plantée Promenade 

Square des Écrivains Combattants Morts pour la France

Jardin Du Pré Catelan

Le Jardin d'Eau