It’s time you see gay Paree from a Parisian’s eyes. French gadabout Clotilde Dusoulier, who pens the tasteful Chocolate & Zucchini blog, shares her ideal itinerary for exploring the Haut Marais. Roughly contained in the third arrondissement, it’s the hipper sibling of the historic — and often overcrowded — district in the center of the city. Allons-y!
If you were smart enough to take the overnight flight, you’ll arrive just in time for breakfast. Head to Rose Bakery (30 rue Debelleyme, 75003; +33 1 49 96 54 01), a wildly popular eatery run by a French-English couple serving wholesome veggie tarts, organic scones, and special teas. Should you prefer to stroll and snack, snag a croissant from the ornately decorated artisanal boulangerie Le Levain du Marais (32 rue de Turenne, 75003; +33 1 42 78 07 31). Locals flock to outdoor market Le Marché des Enfants Rouges (rue de Bretagne) to refill their fridges with cheese and fresh produce.
You will no doubt express your gratitude at Merci (111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003; +33 1 42 77 00 33), a three-story loft concept shop housing an eclectic selection of designer clothing (new and vintage), housewares, cookware, furniture, cosmetics, craft supplies, and books. Prices can be steep, but all proceeds are donated to charity. Then lose yourself in the petit streets: rue Charlot, rue de Poitou, rue de Picardie, rue de Saintonge, and rue Dupetit-Thouars are rife with art galleries, antiques stores, and indie boutiques. Bonus: Gaze at centuries-old architecture along the way.
Take a midday break with the neighborhood office crowd for seasonal quiches and fruit tarts at Tartes Kluger’s communal table (6 rue de Forez, 75003; +33 1 53 01 53 53). If the weather is right for a picnic, stock up on salads and sandwiches at Cococook (30 rue Charlot, 75003; +33 1 42 74 80 00) before catching sun in the little park at Square du Temple. For something sweet, stop by the talented Jacques Genin’s chocolate shop (133 rue de Turenne, 75003; +33 1 45 77 29 01) for a cup of hot chocolate and a patisserie. The self-taught chocolatier nails all the French classics, including a memorable tarte au citron and a mille-feuille assembled to order for optimal crispness.
For a hit of off-the-beaten-track culture, visit the Institut Suédois à Paris (11 rue Payenne, 75003; + 33 1 44 78 80 20), a Renaissance-era mansion that houses the work of Swedish artists and designers; or the Musée des Arts et Métiers (60 rue Réaumur, 75003; +33 1 53 01 82 00), which traces the history of innovation and technology in a 13th-century monastery. For dinner, head to Glou (the French onomatopoeia for swilling), a well-loved, minimalist restaurant that sources artisan ingredients from all over France and offers a wide selection of natural and grand cru wines by the glass (101 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003; +33 1 42 74 44 32).
With a bit of luck, you’ll have booked at Christian Lacroix’s Hôtel du Petit Moulin (29 rue de Poitou, 75003; +33 1 42 74 10 10), where each of the seventeen rooms is flamboyantly decorated in the couturier’s signature style. Even in your dreams, there will be no mistaking you’re in Paris.
Photos: pedrosimoes7 / Flickr; Meg Zimbeck / Flickr; unjenesaisquoideco / Flickr; Courtesy of Tartes Kluger; Meg Zimbeck / Flickr; Courtesy of Hôtel du Petit Moulin