*This is part of a series where we highlight a full day of eating and activities in each arrondissement of Paris. We will start in the 1st (since we live in the first) and work our way around the snail.
The 1st is a funny little place. It’s the fourth smallest geographically, but since the Louvre, Tuileries, Palais Royal, Banque de France and Les Halles hog most of the real estate, there’s very little room for residents. The population of the 1st is 17,700 which makes it the smallest in population size, for comparison the 15th has 232,400.
Some highlights of the 1st are: rue Saint-Anne where a majority of the best Japanese owned businesses and restaurants are. Check out Kunitoraya, which is super tasty, or Higuma for the kimuchi lamen and some gyozas. There is also rue Montmartre which houses three out of the four main kitchen supply shops; Mora, La Bovida and A.Simon. Famed E. Dehillerin is just around the corner on rue Coquilliere.
A perfect day in the 1st for me would start at Pierre Herme for a pain au chocolate. Most people know the famed pastry chef for his pastries which are released each year with runway shows (talk about ironic) and his sublime to surreal macaroon flavors. Depending on your sugar tolerance, you could juice up with more sweets while here, but beware of the sugar crash as the next stop is the Louvre.
I used to hate the Louvre because the subject matter is ALWAYS the same; baby jesus, child jesus, young adult jesus, adult jesus, jesus on a cross. It’s also hard to breath in there. It feels like cryptonite the minute you descend under the pyramid. They should take some cues from Vegas and pump some oxygen in that place. Serving drinks or pixy sticks would also be a bon idée.
When we moved to our new apartment, Laura and I picked up some youth passes for the Louvre. If you are under 30, for 15€ you get unlimited access to the Louvre without waiting in any lines. It makes the experience SO much more enjoyable because you can crowd surf the Denon wing to check out the requisites, return to the surface for some much needed air and to pound an espresso and descend again to see Vermeer, some Jewels and Napoleon’s finance minister’s apartment (sneaky how many people think it’s the short dude’s crib).
After staring at some buttocks created by DiVinci and Michelangelo, it’s time to head over to Le Fumoir for some buttocks created by the big man. Models, photographers and their trucker hat sidekicks can be seen vying for space on the sidewalk while us fashion mortals -“what’s wrong with my Target shirt?”- can make our way towards the back room where there is an actual lending library reserved for book geeks and mac users pretending to work. The food is good not great, but the scene is very worth it and the staff is super friendly.
Unless you’re Mel Gibson, just after lunch is a little to early to start drinking. So head back down Saint-Honoré and grab a coffee at Cafe Verlet. Once caffeinated and jittery, head across the street to Astier de Villatte and try not to break anything. Also check out Colette for more colorful, shiny things you can’t afford like a Bentley branded laptop for 30,000€ and 200€ graphic tee’s.
After feeling broke and homely, head back towards Les Halles to commence with the drinking at Le Garde Robe. Wines by the glass, the cheese and charcuterie boards and the fameux croque are all fab and if you’re lucky enough to keep the servers off their Facebook page and youtube, you might get served in time to make dinner reservations elsewhere.
Head up towards Place Victoiresand tuck into Les Fines Gueules for a place that is as delicious as it is hard to pronounce (it’s like saying girl or gull with a speech impediment). The star here is the wine and the steak tartar which is made with hand cut beef from the Limousin region of France. It may not look like your French granny’s uncooked hamburger patty with an egg on top, but with parm, truffle oil and sun-dried tomatoes, it is delicious.
In order to understand this next place you will need a quick lesson in French dating. Most French people don’t go away to college. So usually the person they met in kindergarten, middle school or high school becomes their husband/wife. For some, when they reach their mid 30’s or early 40’s after dating the same person for 15+ years, the spark is gone. At this point in their lives though they have kids and dogs and a boatload of IKEA crap. They can’t break up, so they swing.
Swinging isn’t just reserved for your parents’ accountant or the lady in your neighborhood who has perfected a Bundt cake, in France it’s out in the open. There are the low-rent blue collar swing bars where buffets of food seem to be the draw and high end places like Les Chandelles where my French friends assure me “you could hold a French senate meeting in there.” My pleasure with this place is derived when I walk Tatie (our Boston Terrier) past and see Bentleys, Ferraris and Royces being valeted outside. Wealthy old dudes and tall-legged mistresses abound. By the way, skirts are required.
4 Rue Cambon
01 58 62 43 17
Musée du Louvre
36 Rue du Louvre75001 Paris
01 40 20 58 24
6 Rue de l’Amiral de Coligny 75001 Paris
01 42 92 00 24
256 Rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris
01 42 60 67 39
Le Garde Robe
41 Rue de l’Arbre Sec 75001 Paris
09 66 12 47 23
Les Fines Gueules
43 Rue Croix des Petits Champs 75001 Paris
01 42 61 35 41
1 Rue Thérèse
01 42 60 43 31