Paris Picks : Hammams

Winter in Paris alternates between skies of freezing blues, rainy grays and occasional scenes of snowy white. Where better to warm up than in a hammam? A centuries old tradition stemming from France’s former North African colonies, a luxurious Parisian hammam will transport you into another world, one of rejuvenation and bliss. Splurge on the full treatment which includes a scrubbing, or gommage to deep clean your body, followed by an exfoliating facial or relaxing massage. An hour or two of lounging in the soothing heat of the hammam will awaken all your senses. Where are the top spots this side of Morocco?

Immediately upon entering this sensory haven, you leave all your worries behind. Reminiscent of the splendor of this east, with ceilings adorned in ancient lanterns and floors composed of Moroccan mosaics, no detail is spared in this living hymn to oriental beauty. The central Paris location boasts a 200m2 hammam including sauna and pool, while in Boulogne the space is even more ample. Translated to ‘a hundred skies’, a luxurious gommage and massage at Les Cent Ciels will leave you feeling like you’re a celestial being. This sensation is captured in their own custom fragrance. In case you venture beyond Paris, the same heavenly experience can be found in Strasbourg, Lille and soon, Bordeaux.

Hammam Les Cent Ciels Paris // 7 rue de Nemours, 75011 // +33 (0)1 55 28 95 75
Hammam Les Cent Ciels Boulogne-Billancourt // 45bis Avenue Edouard Vaillant, 92100 // +33 (0)1 46 20 07 01

Parisienne with Algerian roots, Karima views the hammam as an art of living, a ritual dedicated to the harmony and beauty of the body. She opened O’Kari to share the traditions she grew up with, combining her family heritage with modern luxuries. It’s clear that once you enter Karima’s world, set within a stunning Parisian courtyard, your well-being is her only interest. You’ll quickly discover this as she advises you on exactly the right treatment for your bienêtre. What better urban escape than an afternoon spent relaxing in the steam room and soaking in the hot tub? With essential oils imported from the famous Mitidja distillery in Algiers, don’t leave without a luxurious massage.

O’Kari // 22 rue Dussoubs, 75002 // +33 (0)1 42 36 94 66 // women only

Once only frequented by Moroccan royalty, this clandestine hammam and spa located in the heart of Paris opened to the public in 2004. Before the recent creation of a website, it was discovered solely through word of mouth, or perhaps by happy accident. Within this intimate space filled with traditional music floating through the eucalyptus and orange blossom scented air, prepare for a treatment using only natural ingredients, made on premises. I recommend an exfoliating facial using cinnamon, honey and sugar, followed by a sesame and honey mask. You’ll look as good as it tastes! It’s no wonder this address was kept a secret for so long.

Aux Bains Montorgeuil // 55 rue Montorgeuil, 75002 // +33 (0)1 44 88 01 78

For my favorite Paris spas, have a look here.

 

Paris Picks : Books

What better gift to give during the holidays (or any occasion for that matter), than a book. Especially one connected to Paris for the Francophile in your life, which you too will be certain to enjoy. To help you choose, I’m sharing my favorite recently published books written by authors I’m grateful to call friends. I promise you’ll love them all! Just click on the book to read more about it and purchase a copy, or two.
I met Lindsey Tramuta soon after moving to Paris and we’ve become fast friends ever since. Her book The New Paris casts a light the evolution of the city during this last decade, highlighting the movers and shakers behind the changing face of Paris. A perfect read for those interested in Parisian gastronomy, or anything food and drink related for that matter. With stellar photography by Charissa Fay, you’ll drool just reading it. Welcome to ‘The New Paris’!Laura Calder and I met years ago in Paris through a mutual friend and have been inspiring each other since that first encounter. She with her French recipes and dining advice and me with my love of design. We even collaborated on a project in which I helped her design signature linen napkins. In her latest book The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness, Laura shares her tips on how to transform the ordinary into something magical, both in and out of the kitchen. This includes décor, ambience, shopping, and planning dinner parties, of which she is a pro!

A soulful Australian woman with a deep love for Paris, Katrina Lawrence and I met during one of her visits, soon after she purchased a 75006 bag from my Paris Collection, representing her favorite neighborhood. Just days ago she released her first book Paris Dreaming, taking us on a journey around Paris, through all the stages of her life. Katrina muses on everything Parisian, from politics to perfume to stylish Parisiennes, and shares the life lessons Paris has taught her along the way. Prepare to become enchanted!

When Vanessa Grall moved from London to Paris, she began documenting her bohemian adventures in her blog, Messy Nessy Chic. We met during one of her discoveries and I remained a dedicated fan, along with thousands of others. Her new book Don’t be a Tourist in Paris: The Messy Nessy Chic Guide is a ‘chic cabinet of curiosities’, and will certainly reveal the true heart of Paris to you. What’s more, you can find my bag painting workshops on page 148. Thank you, Vanessa!

David Lebovitz is certainly a man about town. Especially in Paris’s right bank where we both live, and where I often run into him. In his latest book L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, David shares perplexing and often humorous tales of updating his Parisian apartment, in a way that only he can tell. Enjoy his continued expat adventures, along with dozens of new recipes.

 

Wine by the Glass

October is harvest time in France. In case you’re lucky enough to be in Paris for the annual Grape Harvest Festival in Montmartre, also known as the Fête des Vendanges, you’ll taste your share of wines from all over the country. If not, there are other ways to taste and learn about wine in Paris, and not by ordering copious glasses over dinner. Though you are in wine country after all, so why not. But if you’re curious to learn more about the various wine regions of France and discover your favorites, I suggest a tasting.

There’s no one better to advise you than wine connoisseur Thierry Givone, whose expertise in wine and champagne extends far beyond his home region of Bourgogne, or Burgundy. (Although Bourgogne wines are some of my favorites.) His passion for wine runs so deep that a few years ago he began holding tastings on a boat on the Seine. These days you can find Thierry at his atelier Wine Tasting in Paris in the charming 5th arrondissement of Paris. Whatever your preference, red, white or bubbly, prepare for a wine education, and comprehensive tasting. Recently, I held one of my bag workshops at Thierry’s atelier; bag painting and wine, a perfect pairing!

If you’re curious to learn the process of local wine production, head over to Les Vignerons Parisiens in the North Marais and take a tour of their cave and try a tasting. Maybe this will inspire you to make your own wine.

To mingle with the locals over a glass of good French wine, head to La Barav where there’s always a vast selection of reds and whites from their next door cave. Here’s a selection of top wine bars all over Paris. Santé!

Paris Picks : Spas

With the summer calm long gone, temperatures dropping and the bustle in Paris ever prevalent, it’s important to take time to relax your mind and indulge your body. Both as a visitor and a local, walking around the city all day will leave you inspired, albeit exhausted. I thought I’d share my favorite Parisian addresses (not connected to hotels) for relaxation from head to toe, foot massage included. Take note of these stellar Paris spas!

Free Persephone feels like stepping into Springtime, regardless of the season. This fragrance day spa features luxurious manicures and pedicures using all organic products, including Priti NYC polishes and all natural lavender scrubs. Scented with the owner’s own perfumes and a menu including tea and aromatherapy massages, you’ll leave beautified and relaxed, floating into the neighboring rive gauche.

Free Persephone // 66 boulevard Raspail 75006 // +33 (0)1 42 22 13 04

The first salon dedicated to the beauty of the face, body and hair, Carita was established over 50 years ago by two sisters. This ‘Maison de Beauté’ in the heart of Paris’s fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, is an address well respected by the beauty elite. Following a rehydrating and lifting facial treatment, your skin will feel recharged with vitality. Simply put, you’ll leave the spa glowing!

Carita // 11 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75001 // +33 (0)1 44 94 11 11

How better to spend an afternoon than in a steamy hammam followed by a body mask of volcanic clay and an organic argan oil massage? Step into this luxurious Moroccan setting in the rive droite, or their first location in Boulogne, and find your bliss. Les Cent Ciels will leave you counting the stars while nourishing your skin and soothing your mind.

Les Cent Ciels // 7 rue de Nemours 75011 // +33 (0)1 55 28 95 75

Your sense of touch will be heightened with a visit to Le Spa Dans le Noir, in the heart of Paris. What makes this sensory experience so special is the fact that you’re being treated in complete darkness (with an option for light), by a sight-impaired or blind massage therapist. Complete relaxation is the priority and the result, regardless of the massage you choose.

Le Spa Dans Le Noir // 65 rue Montmartre 75002 // +33 (0)1 83 95 46 77

Stepping through the portal of Ban Sabaï, you’re automatically transported to Thailand. Whether you choose a foot, hand, head or full body massage with all natural oils, your senses will accompany you on this journey to the Far East. This is the first Parisian address dedicated to traditional Thai massage, with several locations, some specializing in foot massage.

Ban Sabaï // 9 rue Saint Antoine 75004 // 46 rue de la Pompe 75016 // +33 (0)1 45 00 99 99

You can read more about these and other Paris spas in my latest feature in LUXOS Magazine (available in Paris) and find my top five hotel spas in Bonjour Paris. Happy pampering!

PARIS PICKS : Sunday Brunch

With Sunday brunch slowly but surely becoming a weekend ritual in Paris, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite spots. Little makes me happier than brunching with friends, or a long leisurely brunch with my Italian and The New York Times. If only there could be a spot that serves brunch daily… Oh wait, there is!

Newly opened Holybelly 5, neighboring Holybelly 19 in the 10th, owned and run by a lovely expat couple, serves up a brunch menu every day from 9am to 5pm. My dish of choice is their Savoury Stack, pancakes with fried eggs, bacon, homemade bourbon butter and maple syrup. Sweet and savory perfection! Brunch on a Wednesday? Why not! Also to note, their coffee is some of the best in Paris, my Italian will agree.

Holybelly 5 // 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 // Daily 9-5 (last orders at 4) // No reservations

Another brand new eatery serving a daily brunch menu is Café Méricourt, sister to Café Oberkampf. Also owned by a charming expat couple. A breakfast roll and green eggs and feta are two breakfast (or lunch) options, as is the green bowl with quinoa, spinach and avocado, a fast favorite! The decor is bright and welcoming, and with its overnight success reservations are recommended. Here too you’ll enjoy a good cup of joe.

Café Méricourt // 22 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 // Wednesday-Sunday 10-6

If you like eggs, then you love Eggs & Co located in the heart of Saint-Germain. Where better to try eggs benedict, for breakfast or lunch, 6 days a week. This charming refurbished barn house will make you feel like you’re dining in the countryside. A brunch menu is offered at 22.

Eggs & Co // 11 Rue Bernard Palissy, 75006 // +33 (0)1 45 44 02 52 // Tue-Mon 10-5, Sat-Sun 10-6

Admittedly, I haven’t yet eaten at Les Bonnes Sœurs, as the lines are usually too long, but I know it’s one of the best French brunch spots in town. Le brunch at 24€ or 28€ includes freshly squeezed juice, coffee, tea (or hot chocolate), an egg dish, dessert, and don’t forget that basket of bread and croissants. No need for dinner!

Les Bonnes Sœurs // 8 rue du pas de la Mule, 75003 // +33 (0)1 42 74 55 80 // Mon-Fri 12-3, 7-11, Sat 12-4:30, 7-11, Sun 11-4:30, 7-11

If you want to splurge on Sunday brunch and make a day of it, head to Le Chalet des Iles in Bois de Boulogne. Reachable only by boat in a bucolic setting, they offer an unlimited gourmet buffet brunch at 55€. You can read more about my unforgettable experience here. Reservations are recommended.

Le Chalet des Iles // 14 Chemin de Ceinture du Lac Inférieur, 75016 // +33 (0)1 42 88 04 69 // Daily 12-3, 7:30-10:30

 

Paris Picks: Coffee Shops

In the last few years, a new coffee culture has made its way to Paris. Once upon a time you could only order a mediocre café noisette (espresso with hot milk) at a bistro counter, or for a little extra, sit on a terrace nursing a scalding café crème (the French version of a latte). Thankfully for us coffee connoisseurs, things have changed and a good coffee is not so hard to find, due to expat baristas brewing top roasts. But you must know where to look. Here is a list of my favorite coffee shops all over Paris, some of which are conveniently located in my North Marais neighborhood. (Café date, anyone?) In addition to stellar coffee, most offer free WiFi.

Télescope: 5 Rue Villedo, 75001 / Monday-Friday 8:30-5 / Saturday 9:30-6:30 / Sunday Closed

Café Kitsuné:  51 Galerie Montpensier, 75001 / Monday-Friday 10-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-6:30

Matamata: 58 Rue d’Argout, 75002 / Monday-Friday 8-5 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-5:30

Café Loustic: 40 Rue Chapon, 75003 / Monday-Friday 8:30-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-6

Fragments: 76 Rue des Tournelles, 75003 / Monday-Friday 8-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-6

The Broken Arm: 12 Rue Perrée, 75003 / Tuesday-Saturday 9-6 / Sunday-Monday Closed

Boot Café: 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003 / Monday-Sunday 10-6

La Caféothèque: 52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 / Monday-Friday 8:30-7:30 / Saturday-Sunday 10-7:30

Le Peloton Café: 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004 / Monday-Friday 9:30-5:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-6:30 / Closed Wednesday

Coutume Café: 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 / Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9-6

Honor Cafe: 54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 / Monday-Friday 9-6 / Saturday 10-6 / Sunday Closed

KB Café Shop: 53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 / Monday-Friday 7:45-6:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9-6:30

Republique of Coffee: Boulevard Saint-Martin, 75010 / Monday-Friday 8-7:30 / Saturday 9-7:30 / Sunday 10-7

Blackburn Coffee: 52 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010 / Monday-Friday 9-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-7

Peonies Café: 81 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 / Tuesday-Saturday 9-8 / Sunday 10-4 / Monday Closed

Ten Belles: 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 / Monday-Friday 8-5 / Saturday-Sunday 9-6

Folks and Sparrows: 14 Rue Saint-Sébastien, 75011 / Tuesday-Saturday 10-6 / Sunday-Monday Closed

Café Oberkampf: 3 Rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 / Monday, Thursday-Friday 8:30-4:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-4:30 / Tuesday-Wednesday Closed

Passager: 107 Avenue Ledru-Rollin, 75011 / Tuesday-Saturday 8:30-6:30 / Sunday-Monday Closed

Hardware Société: 10 Rue Lamarck, 75018 / Monday, Wednesday-Friday 9-4 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-4:30 / Tuesday Closed

Lomi: 3 ter Rue Marcadet, 75018 / Monday-Sunday 10-7

CREAM: 50 Rue de Belleville, 75020 / Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-5:30