*The giveaway is now closed.*
Amy Thomas is the New York-based author of Paris, My Sweet, a delightful and funny memoir about a year spent living and indulging her sweet tooth in Paris. Amy and I have been blog acquaintances for a while (she blogs at God, I Love Paris) and recently had the chance to meet in person. As it turns out, in addition to being a gifted storyteller she’s one of the nicest people in the world and one I’m happy to call a new friend. I’m also very happy to have her here today to share some of her favorite Paris spots with you. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her fantastic book!
Anyone with eyeballs knows that Paris is a most inspiring city. But the beauty and history that make the city so magical is often so familiar, it verges on being cliché. Not that’s anything wrong with that. But sometimes being inspired comes from discovering the new. Here are some addresses that took me several months of explorations to discover and are guaranteed to delight with their Parisian essence.
Le Petit Atelier de Paris
31 Rue de Montmorency, 3eme
I stumbled upon this working studio/boutique quite haphazardly as it’s located on a remote street in the Marais. But there in the windows were the most darling, delicate white ceramic objects. I was intrigued and, once inside, seduced. Two designers work on site, creating a full collection of practical and decorative items that are both special and everyday. The icing on the cake is the constantly rotating selection of art that adorns the walls.
Astier de Villatte
173 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1e
This is one of those shops that’s a bit like a museum to me: the pieces are gorgeous and quite out of my league. But I always take a quick stroll through to indulge my senses. Past the towering shelves of fine crystal, M.C Escher-like agendas and notebooks and fancy candles, there’s a back room that feels wonderfully like a granny’s cottage with shelves and tables stacked carefully with handmade ceramics in a milky white hue. Utterly transporting.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 3eme
Who doesn’t love Merci? Ever since this 16,000-square-foot concept store opened in 2009, it’s been a beacon for fashionistas, design hounds, bibliophiles and lovers of well curated everything. I love browsing the shelves of used books in the café; the dainty jewelry and potent perfume counter; the eclectic furniture and home accessory department; and then descending to the subterranean cantine for market salads and freshly baked cakes.
Musée de l’Orangerie
Place de la Concorde, 1e
I love a museum that’s not overwhelming in size and scope, and to me, L’Orangerie is the perfect size. Beyond Monet’s magnificent eight water lilies, which encircle you in two oversized oval galleries, the permanent collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art is gorgeous. They also feature top-notch exhibits, from Debussy (through June) to Didier Paquignon, whom I saw in 2009.
261 Boulevard Raspail, 14eme
It’s not just the art at the Fondation Cartier (though, having seen worldly talents such as William Eggleston, Beatriz Milhazes and Beat Takashi there, I have to say: the art is pretty amazing), it’s also the architecture. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the building’s glass walls welcome the outdoors in, and offer a glimpse of the giant pieces of artwork from the outside. It’s sophisticated, unfussy, and always surprising.
Musée du Quai Branly
37 Quai Branly, 7eme
Walking through this seventh arrondissement museum, you don’t feel like you’re in Paris at all. It’s dark and rigid, modern and archaic and, well, it’s anthropological—not exactly what you associate with Paris. But walk outside through the manicured gardens and, voila, you have some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower. It’s such a treat.
149 Rue de l’Université, 7eme
From the dozens and dozens of chocolatiers in Paris, there are at least 10 that are to-die-for. For me, Michel Chaudun rises to the top for his sheer artistry. He makes these perfect little cubes of cocoa-dusted ganache, les pavés, which are beautifully boxed in sizes ranging from a modest six to a gluttonous 32 and you spear with a tiny pick. They are, in a word, otherworldly. And his chocolate sculptures, so finely formed and true to life, are hard to imagine they’re edible.
La Patisserie des Reves
93 Rue du Bac, 7eme
111 Rue de Longchamp, 16eme
Philippe Conticini is not just a brilliant pastry chef, he’s a mad genius. For both his compact bakery in the seventh and the larger salon de thé in the sixteenth, he designed individual glass domed-refrigerators that protect and display his avant-garde cakes like fine jewels. As well they should be. You’ve never seen classic pastries—like the Saint-Honoré and chocolate éclair—designed to such delicious perfection.
A la Mère de la Famille
35 Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 9eme
Imagine it’s 1761 and you’re looking for a box of pates de fruitsor chocolate bonbons to bring to a dinner. Stepping into this historic candy store, it’s as if nothing has changed in the past 251 years. Bins of dried fruit, baskets of caramels, shelves of chocolate bars, and displays of every other confectionary imaginable beckon and usher you to Paris’ yesteryears.
You can find many, many more great addresses in both New York and Paris in Amy’s book, Paris, My Sweet. For a chance to win your own copy, just leave a comment on this post. The giveaway will be open for one week. Good luck! (U.S. residents only please.)