Little did I know it was possible to go island hopping on the outskirts of Paris. Today my Italian and I discovered two islands in the midst of Bois de Boulogne. It was Sunday brunch at Le Chalet des Îles that brought us there. This chalet dates back to La Belle Époque. What began as a literary café, frequented by the likes of Marcel Proust and Émile Zola, became a reputable restaurant in later years.
Le Chalet des Îles is only reachable by boat, making it even more charming and exclusive of a destination.
Once seated in the outdoor terrace, the ambiance was relaxed yet elegant. Eyeing the copious buffet, I could tell we were in for a treat. The waiter confirmed this as he came over with two glasses of champagne and motioned us towards the selection of seafood, meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, sweets… And so began our feast.
We ended with dessert which was a mouth-watering sight for a sweet tooth like myself. It was hard to choose!
After a final coffee and a little exploring of the chalet, we were ready for a walk around the islands.
What we discovered were secluded spots for picnicking; children playing in the grass; couples floating on the lake in rowboats. What a picturesque weekend paradise! Well worth the 30 minute bike ride from the Marais.
We could easily have spend the rest of the afternoon basking in the sun, book in hand. And this is certainly what we plan to do next time, after brunch of course.
A morning discovering favorite local haunts of one of Paris’ star chefs and bakers? Mais oui! Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of doing exactly that, with two star Michelin chef Thierry Marx. Our day began at his new bakery and cafe in the 8th arrondissement, La Boulangerie. After tasting a few of Marx’ many sweet specialties, I had a tour of the kitchen where I met the crew and watched them at work, learning a few tricks along the way.
I then hopped into my vintage Citroën 2CV and my beret clad driver navigated his way to our next stop Cafés Verlet, where Marx often drinks (and buys) his coffee. It was there where I tasted various intoxicating brews, both hot and cold, and learned exactly how specialized this family business, originating in the 20th century, really is. It was in 1965 that grandson Pierre Verlet began roasting coffees from all over the world. I even caught a glimpse of his son’s roasting method in their nearby coffee mill.
The next stop was a hidden gallery in Saint-Germain, another of Marx’ favorite haunts. Pause for a little visual stimulation. The last discovery before lunch was gastronomic bouquiniste Alain Suchet, his bookstand on display along the banks of the Seine. It is here where Thierry Marx acquires vintage cookbooks to add to his collection. With so many to choose from, I could have spent all afternoon browsing!
For lunch I dined haute couture style at the Mandarin Oriental’s Sur Measure. It is here at Thierry Marx’ two Michelin star restaurant, where he “blends the technical and emotional aspects of cooking with sight, sound and taste.” What an experience, from the amuse bouche to the dessert. Emotional to say the least!
To find out more about Thierry Marx’ favorite spots to shop, dine and explore in the French capital, pick up a copy of Paris Marx Saveurs Capitale (in French). If you’re planning a trip to Paris, you can experience ‘Paris by Marx’ with a stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Find out more in my feature in France Today.
I’m often asked by friends, fans and clients what my favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, etc are in the City of Lights. Thus I decided to begin a new series, Paris Picks, where I’ll be highlighting my top five in food, fashion and beyond, beginning with restaurants in and around my North Marais neighborhood. Bon appétit!
Season, one of my favorite new addresses in Paris comes from the team behind Cafe Crème and is located just across the street from this local haunt. With a daily 12€ lunch special and an array of salads (including spinach & kale Ceasar), it’s the perfect place to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also serve fresh juices.
Season // 1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 // 01 42 71 52 97
For a night out at a beautiful venue featuring a small seasonal menu, there’s no place quite like Les Chouettes. Be sure to try one of their creative cocktails at their second floor bar. You can read more about it here.
Les Chouettes // 32 rue de Picardie 75003 // 01 44 61 73 21
Located directly across the street from the Picasso Museum, and with the loveliest dining view (ask for a second floor window seat), Glou is the perfect gourmet lunch or dinner stop while shopping in the neighborhood. I’m particularly a fan of their ever changing prix-fixe lunch menu at 17€ or 21€.
Glou // 101 Rue Vieille du Temple 75003 // 01 42 74 44 32
Modern French gastronomy can be savoured at Pramil, an intimate restaurant located in the ever expanding North Marais. Opened opened nine years ago by chef Alain Pramil (a charming man who makes sure your experience is a good one), he offers a prix-fixe dinner menu for 33€ and an extensive wine list.
Pramil // 9 rue Vertbois 75003 // 01 42 72 03 60
Just north of the Haut Marais sits Chameleon, a restaurant that my Italian and I discovered in its earliest days, which has quickly become a go-to spot. Its minimal decor a direct contrast to its complex taste combinations. I recommend the seasonal 35€ menu including entrée, plat & dessert.
Chameleon // 70 Rue René Boulanger 75010 // 01 42 08 99 41
One of my favorite French words is chouette which literally means owl, or when used to describe someone or something, means it’s great or cool, as in c’est chouette. A few weeks ago while walking around my neighborhood, I noticed Les Chouettes, what appeared to be a new eatery. Upon entering I was completely taken with the decor and design of this new restaurant which opened on October 4th. Love at first sight!
The restaurant was in fact named for an antique owl that the French owner found at a flea market. Inspired by art and a New York vision, the owner hired Spanish architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán to design the three level interior, what used to house a jewelry factory.
As I climbed the spiral staircase to the second floor I discovered a bar serving artisanal beer and ale, as well as a vast selection of liquor. They even make their own juices.
The third floor revealed a cozy library in which to sip your wine while reading Rimbaud.
This is the perfect place to escape to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a evening apéro.
And how is the food? I have yet to try it, but with an inventive French chef and seasonal ingredients, and a menu that changes every two weeks, how can you go wrong?
This is certain to become a favorite haunt in Paris. Welcome to the neighborhood!
Les Chouettes : 32 Rue de Picardie, 75003 (01 44 61 73 21)