Hometown Debrief

Paris According to Hotels We Love

by Rachael Antony and Laurence Billet

All photos courtesy of Hotels We Love.

The ladies behind Hotels We Love round up the newest, coolest things to do, eat, and see in some of our favorite cities. (It's one of our 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites of 2014, too.) They fill us in on their hometown, Paris.

Local breakfast spot: The French don't really do breakfast; they make do with a bad espresso and a cigarette while texting frenetically. So if you wake up ravenous, we suggest Le Bal Cafe, a modern, British-inspired café and shop that does great coffee, pastries, and eggs! It's attached to Le Bal, a contemporary photography gallery (the bookshop is brilliant).

Le Maison Rouge

A neon exhibit at La Maison Rouge.

Where you go when you need inspiration: La Maison Rouge. It hosts the most unexpected exhibitions in the city. Rose's Bakery operates a café inside the gallery, so it's also an excellent place for lunch.

Best spot for people-watching: Get a table on a terrace. We like La Favorite in the hipster-central Marais or the old-school Chez Prune (+33-1-424-1304; 36 Rue Beaurepaire) in bobo-friendly Canal Saint-Martin.

Favorite neighborhoods: Our favourite neighborhood to hang out in is the haut Marais in the 3rd arrondissment with its cluster of galleries and cool cafés. We also like the indie-chic shopping and foodie area around Palais Royal in the 1st arrondissement, your best bet for beautiful royal gardens and Japanese groceries — a uniquely Parisian combination!

Your preferred mode of travel around the city: Paris may be one of the world's great cities, but it's essentially a series of villages. The best way to get a sense of the city and its neighborhoods is to walk it. To blend in, borrow someone's dog.

Picnic at the Seine

A nighttime picnic on the Seine.

Where do you go when you need an escape? The Seine. It's a way of quitting the city without leaving it. Head to the nearest access and meander along one of the newly pedestrianized quays. On a summer night, take a cold bottle of rosé and a guitar.

Most underrated thing in your city: The Parisians. They have a reputation for being rude and arrogant when in fact they are often friendly, charming, and flirtatious. When in doubt, smile.

Most overrated thing in your city: The food. Paris has great produce and an amazing legacy of high-end restaurants, but the average joint falls far short of the myth. We appreciate that some may find this sentiment controversial and fisticuffs may ensue.

Le Dauphin

You dream about your meal at: Le Dauphin, a Basque-style modern tapas restaurant by celebrated chef Inaki Aizpitarte with a recently renovated interior by Rem Koolhaas. Look for the retro-style neon signage in front.

Favorite local icon: Jardin des Tuileries, the formal gardens near the Louvre, are beautiful whatever the season. Keep an eye out for the tree sculpture by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone.

Any recent discoveries? We're always on the lookout for new food trends. When in Paris, stop by Du Pain et Des Idées (open only on weekdays!) for some of the best bread in Paris. In terms of fromage, we've just fallen in love with mimolette vieille, a deliciously nutty, orange-colored cheese. A good place to ogle food is the renovated Bon Marché food hall which typically has an excellent cheese selection as well as other deli delectables. To our great relief, third-wave coffee has finally made it to Paris; our latest find is the tiny Fondation Café in République, a Franco-Australian outfit where you can sample beans from local roaster Brûlerie de Belleville.

Current local buzz word: "Le buzz!" The French language is being invaded by English expressions. Franglais may soon become an official dialect.

Best way to pass an evening: In the arms of a lover. (Bien sûr.)

No trip to Paris is complete without: 
That "OMG-I'm-in-Paris" moment. We can't tell you where or when it will happen, but it will.

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