Paris is our city, and we're thrilled to share the best of it with you. HiP insider tips and insights on dining, shopping, culture, renting, living in Paris, France & Italy from Erica Berman & her Haven in Paris.
When the weather is nice in Paris, the only place Parisians want to be is en terrasse. The city has hundreds of terraces, however, some stand out above the rest. We previously shared Paris’ best rooftop bars, and here is a selection of our favorite (mostly) ground-level hangouts across the capital, from picturesque locations along the Seine to other truly unique settings.
Top Image: La Dame du Canton/ Above: Maison Maison
It’s hard to beat the Right Bank Seine placement of this bar-restaurant along the Parc Rives de Seine. Bask in the late afternoon sunshine—glass of natural wine or craft beer in hand—with the backdrop of the Pont Neuf, the tip of Île de la Cité and the Pont des Arts. If you time your departure right, you can walk along the Seine towards the twinkling Eiffel Tower.
With nothing blocking its perspective over the Tuileries Garden, the fashionable restaurant of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs has one of the sunniest terraces in all of Paris. So delightful, your afternoon apéro might morph into a chic dinner under the stars.
The most reasonably priced of the terraces along Les Berges on le Port des Invalides, this Seine outpost of Rosa Bonheur is bustling most evenings and weekends with a hip Parisian crowd. Grab a bottle of rosé, some tapenade, a seat on their communal picnic tables and you’ll be perfectly placed for the sun setting behind the glittering Pont Alexandre III bridge.
This former pop-up venue has become a permanent fixture of the east end of Paris and features what could be the largest terrace in the whole city—albeit a non-conventional one. Occupying old buildings of the SNCF train company, its outdoor seating includes a disused city bus, a train car, and vintage transit seats. If hunger calls, you can order great pizzas and a variety of street food at the stands inside.
All year round you can get a drink on the upper deck of this authentic Chinese ship moored at the foot of the Bibliothèque Nationale in the 13th arrondissement, however, in summer this spills out onto the quai. From May to September this vast space features cool beach vibe seating as well as concerts, DJ sets, and other lively outdoor events.
Formerly called L’Entrepot, this historic cultural venue—home to a cinema, concert space and café—was opened in 1975 in an old warehouse (entrepot in French). Last year it was renamed and refurbished, including its wonderful secret courtyard terrace, a peaceful oasis for lunch or a drink in southern Paris.
Possibly one of the most unique terraces in Paris, this more “local” hangout section of the Moulin Rouge is reached via a hidden passageway next to the world-famous cabaret. Open during the week from 6pm, but all afternoon on weekends, you can take in the sunshine sipping good-value drinks in its rooftop garden or enter the world of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! on the terrace behind the legendary red windmill.
Set back from the street on Place des Abbesses, this tiny café makes up for its size with its large terrace. With sunshine most of the afternoon, it’s the perfect no-fuss terrace for un petit café or apéro in Montmartre.
For a more alternative outdoor drink in the 18th district, venture over to this eclectic venue located above and next to the tracks of the defunct Petite Ceinture rail line. Enjoy a pint of Parisian brewery beer on its long line seating next to the old tracks before extending your stay over a workshop, a meal prepared by the refugee chefs, or live music in the concert hall.
This large west-facing terrace is the perfect place to start, and perhaps finish, your night off in the Belleville area. The low-key hip crowd is firmly camped out on the terrace, yet some drift inside for some dancing on weekend nights.
You can bypass the crowds at uber-popular Rosa Bonheur by making your way to this lesser-known and somewhat chicer café from the team behind Le Perchoir, found on the other side of the Buttes-Chaumont park. Nestled on a ledge within the trees, the faux grass-laden terrace has social wooden bench seating as well as intimate tables pour deux. Come early if you want to score one of these on Friday and Saturday nights, when a fun vibe picks up over the course of the evening.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Avenue Darcel, 75019 Paris
Save for rooftops, few terraces can boast such an impressive panorama over Paris than this bar in the heights of the Parc de Belleville. Perfectly emblematic of the chill, artsy vibe the neighborhood, you can rub shoulders with the locals all the while enjoying a sunset view of Eiffel Tower.
The Marais is one of the most popular places to visit in Paris, and with good reason. The historic district is filled with charming streets, alluring squares, wonderful museums, and excellent boutiques. While the area does have a wide range of restaurants, many of these are either below average cafés or quick cantine-style venues which don’t necessarily provide a welcoming and pleasant setting for a leisurely lunch. From tea salons to stylish contemporary venues, here are some of the best restaurants for lunch in the Marais.
A neighborhood favorite since 1996, this whimsical restaurant and tea salon; decorated in a mismatched arm chairs, sofas, old posters, and flea-market finds; is a cozy and reasonably priced lunch spot. Inspired by a story in Alice in Wonderland, which is illustrated on the mural in the second room, Le Loir dans la Théière serves up inventive quiches, soups, salads, and daily specials, all homemade and using seasonal products. Be sure to save room for a bite of their legendary desserts.
One of the most stylish and inventive contemporary restaurants in the Marais is tucked away on a small side street north of Hôtel de Ville. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, chef Davide Galloni prepares a monthly changing menu of divine dishes fusing the flavors of France and his native countries, Thailand and Italy. His inventions come in the form of crab raviolone with tom kha or partridge suprême with spinach quinoa and Panang sauce. In the evening they have a range of small plates, but the weekday lunch is an excellent value with entrée/plat or plat/dessert for only 21€.
6-8 Square Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie 75004 Paris
Hidden in a small courtyard next to busy rue Vieille du Temple is this secret culinary oasis. The countryside feel of the verdant terrace extends indoors thanks to its glass atrium. No matter where you sit, you’ll be treated to the creative, modern bistro cuisine of chef Eduardo Gonzalez, which could include charred veal tartare with brocoli pesto, redcurrant and quinoa chips, or rabbit on wild fennel and Sorrento oranges with a dash of balsamic vinegar. They also have a reasonably priced lunch menu during the week, with two courses for 19€ and three courses for 23€.
Nestled in the peaceful courtyard next to the Café de la Gare theatre and Le Centre de Danse du Marais is this chic eatery. The spaciousterrace beckons in good weather, or enjoy the serene and luminous ambiance of the interior along with delicious creative brasserie cuisine, including a good value two course lunch menu at 23€.
Combine some shopping in the Upper Marais with a laid back lunch at this literary-inspired café of beloved concept store Merci. Surrounded by shelves packed with 10,000 books, the atmosphere couldn’t be cozier for you to enjoy a mix of light French and Anglo lunch fare, from soups and salads to terrines and cheese plates.
The exquisitely prepared homemade pasta is as beautiful as the relaxed-yet-chic dining room at this recent upper Marais addition. By the founders of fashionable La Petite Table, this luminous restaurant amidst the stylish boutiques of rue de Saintonge has a refined menu of authentic and seasonal pasta dishes using organic flour and made in their Paris food lab. Their pâtes du jour is available for a bargain during the week at lunch 12€ alone or 18€ with dessert and coffee.
Sometimes I wish I lived in rural Thailand. Not just because of the exotic fruits and the amazing weather (though let’s not pretend that wouldn’t be a plus), but because, as a metropolis-dwelling parent, life in an old-fashioned village sounds idyllic.
Ilnur Kalimullin / Blisshood
A community of friendly faces, open houses, and warm grandmas would be just the ticket for a new mom. I think it really does take a village to raise a child, but mainly so that the mom of said child doesn’t go batty from solitude.
But shucks, you can’t get less village-esque than Paris… or can you?
As with all things, it really pays to do a bit of digging. Read on for my three favorite ways to make connections, and begin to turn Paris into a sweet little village where you and your family can thrive.
Colin / Alex Pasarelu
Self-care events and soulful connection for busy moms.
“What makes Blisshood different is that it’s centered around sisterhood,” says founder Ariadna Archer.
Ooh, keep talking!
Top: Priscilla du Preez. Above: Kelly Sikkema
“Whereas some parent communities are needs-based, Blisshood has a focus on soul connection. It provides a space to connect more deeply, in an authentic way.”
Blisshood organizes self-care events and meet-ups as a way for mothers to connect and prioritize taking time for themselves. Ariadna’s aim is to create a space for mothers to just be, and sink into some much-needed self-care, all the while creating meaningful connections with fellow moms.
This weekly event, run by the lovely Joyce, provides two hours of fun for little ones ages 0 to 3. It’s an international playgroup with a different theme every week, allowing kids to dress up, sing songs in English and French, and play with other expat offspring.
And what about you? Children are generally accompanied by their parents, so you can easily make some new connections and share experiences of new mom life, while your kids happily cavort around.
Petit Paris Playgroup / Alexander Kagan
When: every Monday morning, from 9am to 11am
Where: 64bis, Avenue Raymond Poincaré, Paris 75016
Cost: 20€ for a two-hour session
Where all the expat families are.
Message is a platform for expats that aims to bring international families together through regular meet-ups, events, bring-and-buy sales, and community outreach programs. Most international families in Paris are members, so it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to make a bunch of new connections.
Since Message is such a big group, it’s been divided up into smaller sections geographically, so there will typically be a subgroup, and maybe even a WhatsApp thread, for your neighborhood. It’s an excellent, user-friendly way to test the waters, see who’s around, and eventually turn your neighborhood into a much friendlier place.
Message is currently celebrating 35 years of existence—not bad!
Price: 50€ for an annual membership.
So, short of moving to rural Thailand, rest assured that finding a vibrant family community, filled with friendly faces and helpful fellow moms, really is possible, even in a massive city like Paris. You just need a bit of enthusiasm, a smiley face, and some cute kids in tow (so helpful for breaking the ice). Good luck!
When it comes to meeting up with friends for a drink, Parisians and Londoners have slightly different expectations—a manifestation of the particular cultures of these two cities. So what makes these experiences so unique?
Top: Jonathan Nguyen. Above: David Marcu
For afternoon meet-ups, French urbanites will usually head to a café whereas the London equivalent is a pub. This choice of venue itself is emblematic of these cities’ social lives. There are few places in the world that boast a more relaxed social experiment than the French café culture.
Groups can meet for hours over a single espresso in any of Paris’ wide café terraces, which are heated throughout the winter. Several hours into their café meet-up, groups pay for their 2€-or-so coffee and part ways.
Meanwhile, across the channel, Londoners tend to intentionally or coincidently assemble at the local pub, where they pay their pints as they go and end up drinking until the late hours of the day; or until the last order, announced by a resounding bell. In London, any afternoon catch-up can turn into a fun-filled pub extravaganza.
Happy hour is happening for everyone, and in Paris the lines between café and bar are blurred, whereas the pub is invariably the safest bet in London (unless it is one of those rare sunny days where locals head to the shop for some tinnies—or cans of beer—and overpopulate London’s many green parks until the very last ray is gone).
Charles Loyer / Hugo Sousa
In Paris, so long as you are sitting on a terrasse, the inside life of whatever establishment you are at is irrelevant, so whether you head to a café or a bar matters only in terms of the “Happy Hour” on offer.
Parisians do tend to opt for bars around 6pm as there are great deals to be found for le after-work. Look out for helpful chalkboard signs guiding your decision, though even if there are great cocktails for 7€, the likelihood of sacking Happy Hour for a good bottle of red is always high. In London, locals are usually content with their go-to choice of pints or a large glass of the house wine (yes, in London you can choose what size you want!) and try to find the best 2-for-1 options. However, Londoners do have the option to head to some great cocktail bars for their Happy Hour. We recommend locating one of the many London Cocktail Clubs throughout the city.
Evening drinks are also slightly different in these two cities. For the French, many are content to order a planche of cheese and charcuterie to accompany their drinks; vast amounts of bread and cheese absolutely qualify as a meal.
Raw Pixel / Clem Onojeghuo
In Paris, depending on where you go, you may be asked to leave after a few drinks to make room for new clients. In London, people are more likely to stay put. Londoners are keen on entering an unspoken contest over who can go to work the following day with the least amount of sleep.
As the drinks multiply, it is often necessary to order a burger or fish and chips to keep you going— just remember to check your table number to give to the bar, as if you expect someone to come wait on you, your stomach will be greatly disappointed. It’s an asset in the UK to know when to call it a night, which is where the pay-as-you-go system comes in handy and you can eclipse yourself discreetly.
Whether you’re relishing the slow-paced café culture of Paris or laughing over some pints in London’s lively pubs, you are sure to enjoy. What remains most impressive is how these large, global cities have managed to retain their unique charm and idiosyncratic lifestyles, which you can appreciate no matter where you go.
I stood outside the shop window, drooling at a dress.
“Let’s go inside,” urged Mr. French, grabbing me by the elbow and steering me towards the doorman.
“We can’t go in there,” I whispered, “It’s Dior.”
“Of course we can go inside. It’s a store. It’s here for us to go in.”
“But we would never spend that kind of money on a dress.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t look.”
Top: Cartier / Melanie Pongratz. Above: Flaunter Com
I recently learned that a lot of Anglophones are intimidated by walking into Paris’ luxury shops, even when they have the budget and know what they want.
Sai de Silva / Boucheron
Maybe it’s our culture, or the conviction that every Parisian is born with inherent elegance, but I’d like to break that myth and put your mind at ease. First of all, most of the sales people in those stores are not Parisians.
In fact, on a recent trip to Chanel, I couldn’t find a salesperson on the floor who spoke French! They spoke English, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese, but, “We are very sorry, Madame, only our manager speaks French and he is at lunch.”
Paris wants to be the fashion capital of the world and international brands pour a fortune into their flagship stores because they want visitors. But to make things even easier, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you venture into the world of couture:
Ask for assistance. Even if you’re shy and don’t intend to buy, it’s OK to ask for help. Good salespeople are passionate about their brand and enjoy your interest, happily answering questions about how pieces are made and the thinking behind a design.
Salespeople are just that; salespeople. They are there to sell you something, so listen to them, but if you have the budget and you’re considering on splurging for the pleasure of saying to friends, “Oh, this old thing? I bought it in Paris,” then do it because you love the piece.
Don’t listen when they tell you the silk camisole is perfect, while your inner voice screams it’s two sizes too big. You know what you’re comfortable in, and when it comes to your personal style, you’re the expert.
There’s really no reason for the curious to abstain. If you want to admire that dress, buy the bracelet, drool over a handbag, slip your feet into an iconic pair of pumps…walk right in and write your own Cinderella moment.
Cartier / Chanel
In general, the more luxurious the brand, the kinder the salespeople tend to be. Let’s be honest, the staff at Zara likely deal with more traffic and garments in a day than the team at Gucci do in a week . They are tired and often confirm the rumor that Parisians are rude.
Serge Kutuzov / Stil
Even if you think you don’t belong in a boutique and you’re not dressed in designer labels, the high-end shops have taught their staff not to judge, because you just never know. The client may be a star in disguise, a discreet millionaire, or maybe a poor nobody who may be somebody someday. If the staff are rude, ignore their attitude and don’t let it stop you from enjoying your adventure.
Cartier / Dior
Where to shop:
For Fashion: Avenue Montaigne, off the Champs-Elysées is a dream street for brands like Dior, Prada, Chanel, Fendi, Celine, Chrome Hearts, Bottega Veneta, Versace, and Valentino.
Gautier Salles / Flaunter Com
For Jewels: Head to the Place Vendôme and up the rue Royale to hit Cartier, Chaumet, Chanel Jewelry, JAR, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Dinh Van.
Plush Design Studio / Leo Serrat
For a brands you won’t find at home: The rue St.-Honoré has a lot of international designers; including Louboutin, Hermès, and Goyard; but the area is also full of shops selling unique fashions like the tailor-made bags at La Contrie, Lydia Courteille jewelry, Notify jeans, and cashmere sweaters at Exemplaire.
In this installment of our Best of Gluten Free in Paris series, we satisfy your sweet tooth with a selection of sugary sweet gluten free spots. A trip to Paris without indulging in a pastry, tarte, or gateau, is hardly a trip to Paris. But for those with diets that don’t necessarily allow for all that flaky crust it can be hard to find a place to get your sweet treat fix.
Top: Yummy and Guiltfree. Above: Grom
Luckily, Paris has a growing number of options for those who want to skip the gluten but keep their sweets. Here are a few of our favorite places to pop in for dessert or an afternoon snack:
VG Pâtisserie / Sitron
Sitron serves up pastry goodness with all the bells and whistles- chocolate ganache, whipped cream, pâte feuilletéé– we love when it comes to eating dessert in France. Foucade Paris makes gluten free spins on classic French desserts, including a zesty tarte au citron and selection of beautiful éclairs.
Onyriza is another gluten free pastry shop focusing on classic French desserts. In January you won’t want to miss their Galette des Rois. Vegans should take note of VG Pâtisserie, which is 100% vegan as well as gluten free.
Yummy & Guiltfree specializes in sweet waffles covered in melted chocolate- what’s not to love?
Yummy and Guiltfree
In the summer months, head to Grom, a gelato shop where the cones and cookies are all gluten free.
Beyond a holistic approach to gardening, permaculture is a way of life. Combining design with a commitment to sustainable farming, permaculture (a catchy contraction of permanent agriculture) seeks to work with nature instead of against it.
Featured Image: Markus Spiske / Above: Elaine Casa.
More than half of France is made up of cultivated farmland, and agricultural traditions in the country are not only an important part of its history, but also an evolving movement in the present. France has a particularly celebratory and sentimental relationship with its terroir, one that serves as an international example. Today, France offers many opportunities for those interested in sustainable farming methods to get their hands dirty and dive into permaculture concepts at working farms and education centers.
Francesco Gallarott / La Ferme biologique du Bec Hellouin
What is Permaculture?
Disciples of permaculture respect the cycles of nature and the seasons and commit to being responsible stewards of the land by implementing farming methods that focus on regeneration, durability, energy conservation, and self-regulation.
The 12 guiding principles of permaculture—as well as its several branches including ecological engineering, regenerative design, and construction—are extensive and can leave the permaculture-curious with a hefty task ahead of them. Luckily, France has a wide selection of centers and schools that introduce and educate about permaculture to interested gardeners and farmers.
Digging Into Permaculture in France
A great point of entry into the world of permaculture is La Ferme biologique du Bec Hellouin. Founded in 2006, this organic farm in Normandy produces fruits, vegetables, apple juice, jams, and aromatic and medicinal plants, all organic and all for sale at the farm’s boutique.
La Ferme du Bec Hellouin is also the site of the Ecole de Permaculture, which offers trainings for professional farmers, those with plans to create their own farms, or people wishing to launch farming-related projects. Students study theory and practice during their time at the farm, internalizing the intellectual and pragmatic principles of permaculture. The farm’s excellent reputation and practices have been internationally acknowledged with famed American farmer and permaculture practitioner Eliot Coleman calling it “a kind of United Nations of all the best ideas of sustainable agriculture.”
La Ferme biologique du Bec Hellouin
L’Atelier de Permaculture, located in the Burgundy region of France, is geared towards non-professional garden farmers looking to be exposed to the tenants of permaculture. Founded by alums of La Ferme du Bec Hellouin, the farm hosts weekend trainings (220-250€) and week-long trainings (580€) for small groups of people who want to apply biodynamic and organic growing practices to their home (or even balcony!) garden. A variety of courses respond to all aspects of gardening, with this year’s agenda including workshops on pruning, creating a permaculture garden in one week, creating a mandala garden, making syrups and chutneys with fresh fruits and vegetables, and water management.
A mere two hours away from Paris you’ll find La Grande Raisandière, a farm that is in the process of transitioning to permaculture status. English-native Alexis Rowell (who is also a former student at La Ferme du Bec Hellouin) and his partner, Blanche Lepetit, offer weekend-long courses on permaculture, meditation, and vegan cookery. If the idea of getting your hands dirty, meditating, and eating well in a beautiful environment hasn’t gotten you excited enough, there’s more: All the weekend courses at La Grande Raisandière are free! Donations are accepted at the end of the course in a sort of pay-it-forward business model that ensures the space and program remain open for future students. Another added bonus: Non-Francophones can participate thanks to the presence of Englishman Alexis.
Markus Spiske / La Ferme biologique du Bec Hellouin
Horizon Permaculture offers 12-day permaculture certification courses as well as half-day courses that focus on different aspects of permaculture: design, soil cultures, urban farming, transition towns, and more. Located in the Loire Valley near the charming town of Amboise, it’s an easy day trip from Paris (a reduced rate is offered to those who come using ecologically minded forms of transportation such as bike, boat, or train). Along with the excellent pedagogical approach to permaculture, another thing that makes Horizon noteworthy is their Ma Fôret program, which focuses on the complexity of forests and their environmental importance. These full-sensory forest tours are awakening ballades during which you’ll find yourself at times blindfolded and at times looking at the world through a microscope.
Gabriel Jimenez / Markus Spiske
Claire and Gildas Véret, the founders of Horizon Permaculture, are also the team behind the online permaculture courses at My Mooc, which are perfect for anyone wanting to study the subject à distance.
Markus Spiske / Benjamin Combs
If you want to do some research on the world of French permaculture yourself, head to the French Permaculture Association Brin de Paille where you’ll find tons of resources in addition to lists of permaculture farms, teachers, and events. Similarly, the Réseau Français de Permaculture and Guide Natura Bio can point you in the right direction for more educational and community resources on permaculture in France.
For information about permaculture in Paris, click here (website in French).
For information about permaculture in Europe, click here.
For those of us without 9-5 jobs, co-working— using a shared space to share ideas, knowledge, and equipment—is a great way to get out of the house and meet and collaborate with new people.
That said, finding a comfortable and reasonably priced co-working space with good Wi-Fi, good coffee, and the occasional tasty lunch is often difficult. Though there are a number of co-working spaces that charge a day or hourly rate for Wi-Fi access, coffee, and snacks (Unicorners Café, Café Nuage, Anticafé Paris), sometimes you just need a good place to spend an unlimited amount of time working on your novel, thesis, spreadsheet, or podcast.
For those of you looking for good non-co-working co-working spots, here are several excellent little coffee shops around the city to check out.
This tiny coffee shop doubles as a photo exhibition space some days. Currently on display: wintry Icelandic landscapes in “Hundslappadrífa” by Ingibjörg Torfadóttir. Come for great coffee, music that’s not too loud, and the best chai lattés.
106 Rue de Turenne 75003, Monday-Friday 9am-5:30pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-5:30pm
Located right by metro Châtelet, this California-style café is a great place to treat as a home base when you’re in between meetings in the city center. And in case you’re hungry, they’ve got excellent bacon, egg, and cheese bagels.
7 Rue des Halles 75001, Wednesday-Saturday 8am-6:30pm, Sunday 10am-6:00pm
Part flower shop, part coffee shop, Peonies is a sweet little café offering generous lattés and scones. What’s more, this co-working spot is entirely decorated in millennial pink. Work for a bit, then stop and smell the flowers.
81 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis 75010, Tuesday-Saturday 8:30am-7:30pm, Sunday 8:30-4:30pm
Hidden away at an angle on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 5 Pailles has great coffee and delicious veggie sandwiches. With a few tables hidden in the back, it’s the perfect spot for quiet networking rendez-vous.
79 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis 75010, Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-6pm
Designed with good coffee and good food in mind. This bright little café in the 11th offers the best lunch for a coffee shop, hands down. Order the avocado toast for an energy boost.
22 Rue de la Folie-Méricourt 75011, Monday-Sunday 9am-6pm
And for those of you looking to splurge on a monthly subscription for a top-notch co-working space, weworkhas many spots across Paris. Its Lafayette address is particularly impressive, with breathtaking views of the city from its rooftop, along with tons of entrepreneurial mixers.
What’s your favorite spot to co-work in the city? Let us know!
One of the things that irks me about living in Paris is that anyone can take one look at me and instantly know that I’m not French. Tall with blonde hair, blue eyes, and Dutch features, it’s fair to say that I stick out like a sore thumb.
Top Image: Veja / Polène
Parisians assume that I’m American or British and speak English to me accordingly. When I tell them that actually “je suis australienne,” they “ahhh” knowingly and suddenly I’m the archetypal Aussie. The follow up question is usually “do you surf?”
Make My Lemonade
Like many before me, I often observe Parisienne women on the street and wonder how it is they can look so effortlessly chic. And is there a way that I can imitate it? If I can’t look French, at least I can dress French, right? And dressing in French brands is a good start. So if you’re also a foreigner wanting to look the part, here are some of my favorite French brands to help you look more Parisian:
When I first arrived in Paris, I noticed there was a “v” on everyone’s sneakers. What was this brand that was so popular with Parisians? I soon discovered it was Veja. Their sneakers are made with certified organic cotton and other socially and environmentally responsible materials.
They aim to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their production processes too. Veja also applies fair trade principles, purchasing their cotton and rubber directly from their producers in Brazil. All Veja sneakers are handled by Atelier Sans Frontières employees, an organisation which helps vulnerable individuals find jobs and regain social stability.
Veja – Vincent Desailly (left)
Veja also upcycles materials such as recycled cotton and polyester, plastic bottles (the first sneaker brand to use fabric entirely made from recycled plastic bottles), and corn waste to create a vegan leather that is biodegradable. Trendy, socially and environmentally conscious sneakers—what more could you want?
Even when I lived in Australia, I had heard of Sézane. At that time, it was still an online-only brand, which to my dismay did not deliver down-under. Now that I live in Paris, it is hard to resist the lure of Sézane, with their “Appartement” in the 2nd arrondissement and an outpost in Le Bon Marché. The brand is so popular there are now also Appartements in New York and London. And it’s not hard to see why Sézane has such worldwide appeal—if you’re looking to achieve that seemingly unattainable Parisian chic, Sézane checks all the boxes.
Sézane also has an environmental sustainability and philanthropic program, DEMAIN. Each month, you can purchase a “Solidarity Creation” and 100% of the profits go directly to DEMAIN partner charities. There is also a “Boutique Solidaire” where you can donate your old Sézane pieces, which are then recycled and resold, with all profits going to DEMAIN.
If you follow fashion influencers on Instagram, you’ve probably heard of Polène. The French handbag brand is very popular with the Insta-famous. And rightly so. Polène makes beautiful, high-quality, minimal handbags in a range of lovely hues.
A family business founded by a sister and two brothers, the trio is reflected in their “trio of the month” design, a new tri-material, tri-color model. The bags are made with leather from renowned French, Italian, and Spanish tanneries. They are hand made in Ubrique, Spain, a city known for the production of high-end leather goods.
There’s a new concept store in town by the name of Make My Lemonade, a Parisian brand and blog founded by designer Lisa Gachet. Make My Lemonade prides itself on being the first brand to offer DIY fashion. Each month, a sewing pattern from the current collection is released so you can make the piece yourself.
Make My Lemonade
There are only four ready-to-wear collections every year, to avoid becoming fast fashion and provide sustainable, long-lasting designs instead. At the store you will find not only clothing and accessories but stationary, homeware, and even yoga mats. There’s a Lemonade Café by OPOA Paris serving healthy, vegan, and gluten-free fare. And, a space for workshops and master classes on a variety of topics such as sewing, embroidery, jewelry, and terrarium-making.
I discovered Pairs in Paris – another brand serving the sneaker-loving Parisians – thanks to my favorite Montmartre boutique, Magasin. Paris in Paris sneakers are well made and minimal in design, and come in a range of on-trend colors. They offer styles that deviate from your standard sneaker, with velcro and zippers available in addition to laces.
Pairs in Paris
Made from premium leathers from Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the eyelets are galvanized with a thin layer of 14k gold, 14k rose gold, or white bronze. The sense of style and touch of glam makes sense considering founder Caroline Robert worked for Hermès before creating Pairs in Paris. The success of the brand is evident, with stores now in America, Asia, and Europe.
As springtime hits full swing, the season’s rays make this month perfect for spending time outdoors to sample some of these great events in Paris in May. As the French say “en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît (“in May, do what makes you happy”), and the city’s line-up of expos, sporting events, and other fun outings make it easy to do just that.
The much-anticipated European Museums Night (May 18) is a yearly event that sees cities opening up a variety of museums and collections, offering free entry and extended nighttime hours. This year, participating Paris museums include the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Musée des Arts et Métiers, and the Palais de la Découverte.
Throughout May in Paris, museums will be opening new exhibitions during regular hours as well. Head to the Louvre for the Forgotten Kingdoms: From the Hittite Empire to the Arameans exhibition, an archeology-driven examination of the Hittite empire and its influence on history, open May 2 to August 12.
Starting May 8 (until September 16), the Centre Pompidou presents Préhistoire: une énigme moderne, a curation of artifacts and modern works to create a link between prehistoric and contemporary art. From May 14 to September 2, American painter Alex Katz’s spin on Monet’s water lilies will be displayed at the Orangerie. And from May 24-27th, local artists of Paris’ 20th arrondissement give the public a glimpse into their studios and work with Portes Ouvertes des Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville.
May in Paris is also all about music. From May 3-5, La Grande Halle de La Villette hosts the 30th edition of Musicora, which brings together music lovers of all types as well as the country’s largest display of musical instruments. The three-day event includes free activities, such as concerts and workshops, as well as conferences and opportunities to meet with musicians.
Music lovers also won’t want to miss out on this year’s Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés festival, which takes place May 16-27. Top acts include jazz manouche star Biréli Lagrène, the Erik Truffaz quartet, as well as local young talent.
On May 24, head to L’Église de la Madeleine for a performance by the Singing Earth Divine choir. The fifty-member chorus will sing gospel, spirituals, and original compositions in a stunning church setting.
May is also a great month for food events in Paris. Kick off with a natural wine tasting at Sous les pavés la vigne (May 4-6). The event, which hosts over 50 winemakers, will include tastings, debates, book signings, and more.
The Grand Palais will also welcome the 2019 edition of Taste of Paris (May 9-12), which promises “four days of dining, drinking, and live entertainment for food enthusiasts.” This year’s event features local stars including chefs Éric Frechon and Pierre Sang Boyer, as well as pastry chefs Pierre Hermé and Sadaharu Aoki.
From May 17-19, beer geeks will flock to the 3rd annual Mondial de la Bière, which takes place at the Parc Floral de Paris. Touting itself as more than just a craft beer festival, the event also brings together street food, chefs, and live music for the three-day event.
The following weekend is another busy one for epicureans, with the first ever Paris Coffee Show (May 25-27) and Paris cocktail festival Cocktails Spirits (May 26-27) bringing great discussions and drinks to fans of both coffee and cocktails.
As always, Roland Garros hits Paris in May as well. The highly anticipated tennis tournament brings the best competitors in the sport together for intense matches taking place from May 20 to June 9.