Whether it is strolling through the Marais, popping by Anish Kapoor's exhibition at the Grand Palais (above), or late-night cabaret shows, Stylist brings you the definitive cultural guide to Paris.
8am: Luxury stay
Located behind the northern arcade of Place Des Vosges, an elegant square of mansions, the regal-yetchic boutique Pavillon De La Reine (28 Place Des Vosges; pavillon-de-lareine.com; from €330 per room per night) is in the heart of the arty Marais district. Suites are luxurious and unashamedly romantic – damask wallpaper, thick pile carpet and gilt-framed mirrors. (Stylist slept in the same bed that Kate Winslet stayed in a few weeks previously.) With the prettiest courtyard in Paris, surrounded by twinkling lights, it’s the ideal spot for culture buffs.
Start your day with an almond croissant and chocolat chaud at Les Petit Fer à Cheval (30 Rue Vieille-du- Temple) minutes from the hotel. Squeeze in alongside the gallery owners and local bobos (that’s bourgeois-bohemians), among the elaborate French mirrors and vintage posters hung on the walls in this charming breakfast cafe.
From the cafe door, walk off your breakfast with the 45 minute-long Soundwalk Paris Le Marais iPhone tour (€4). Narrator, French actress Isild Le Besco is a quirky guide who takes you on a journey around the gallery-packed streets of the Marais district, giving you a glimpse into the world of a struggling artist, cherry-picking the best spots of the area such as Theatre des Blancs Manteaux where all the big names in French comedy started out; the beautiful Saint Paul church which is a perfect photo spot; Le Double Fond – one of the last places in Paris where people still believe in magic which has nightly magic shows – and Chez Marianne, a Middle Eastern cafe selling tasty falafel in pitta for just €5.
11am: Art trail
After discovering the hidden delights of the Marais district on the Soundwalk take some time to revisit the boutiques and independent galleries you saw along the way. Make a stop at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (7 Rue Debelleyme; ropac.net, free) where, throughout July, the main exhibition space focuses on the magical work of German Minimalist photographer Elger Esser.
With the prettiest courtyard in Paris, surrounded by twinkling lights, Pavillon De La Reine is the ideal spot for culture buffs.
Leaving the Marais, walk 15 minutes east until you reach one of Paris’ most iconic landmarks, the Pompidou Centre (107-111 Rue De Rivoli; centrepompidou.fr). Thirty-four years after it first opened its doors, Parisians have finally accepted the quirky construction as their own, and it’s now a popular meeting place for the intelligentsia. The fourth and fifth floors comprise the city’s gallery of modern art, and the chronologically arranged exhibition is a brilliant introduction to the past century of art. Stylist couldn’t resist lingering in front of Henri Matisse’s Tête Blanche Et Rose (1914) and Jackson Pollock’s 1953 masterpiece The Deep. Pop up to the George restaurant on the top floor for lunch, where the club sandwich will set you back an ambitious €20 but is well worth it for the views of Sacré Coeur.
3pm: More culture
Next stop along the Rue de Rivoli is Les Arts Décoratifs (lesartsdecoratifs.fr) with the first large-scale exhibition showcasing the work of Hussein Chalayan, fashion’s cult sculptor (7 July-21 Nov). Next door, The Jardin de Tulleries – sandwiched between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde – is the perfect place to take a break surrounded by fresh flowers.
Refreshed, continue 30 minutes north-west along the Seine to the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Grand Palais (Avenue Winston-Churchill; grandpalais.fr; €11). The iconic Indianborn British sculptor has taken his designs to another level with this latest 35-metre high installation, which guests can explore inside. While some museum brasseries are cramped, the Grand Palais has an impossibly photogenic terrace created by Paris-based restaurant designers, Gilles and Boissier.
Head to the cabaret show, Le Crazy Horse (12 Avenue George V; lecrazy horseparis.com; €100). The Forties setting is host to a series of burlesque acts, fusing fashion and dance through the use of lighting and spectacular choreography. Boasting guests such as Dita Von Teese and costumes by Karl Lagerfeld, this is one of Paris’ most glamorous haunts. Then head to Raspoutine Club (58 Rue De Bassano). The alcoves in the opulent red interior provide the perfect locale for sipping mojitos while rubbing shoulders with the Parisian elite. This is the place to be in late night Paris.