I MOVED BACK to Paris from New York mid-pandemic after a little over 14 years in Manhattan. The city had changed immensely. Parisians now spoke English and seemed kinder, welcoming almost, and the streets were cleaner. And of course, in true Parisian style, my favorite spots in my neighborhood of Saint-Germain were still there: the neighborhood cafe, the nice bakery, the bookstore, the movie theaters. But what surprised me most was the arrival of a whole slew of smaller spots like ultraspecialized shops, and restaurants with a one-dish focus; even some of the movie theaters now play the films of one director only, for a month straight.
I took a full sabbatical the minute I stepped off the plane. I have often mocked the flocks of teenage Americans zigzagging the streets of Paris, but now, after years spent working in New York, I understand their need for a total disconnection from your roots in order to better project yourself into the future. I learned that, after all these years, I was still very French. That I didn’t need thousands of people telling me it was right to like something, that socialism isn’t a dirty word, and that joie de vivre can actually be a way of life and not a dinner pun.
I live and work in the 7th arrondissement, (where I recently published the first issue of my magazine, Study), a stone’s throw away from my old stomping grounds in the 6th, and though I sometimes miss the Upper East Side of New York City, I am happy to once again call Paris my home.
Where to StayParis hotels have a reputation for offering more charm than square footage, so for a perfect stay I would favor location, and there isn’t a better, more central, more charming spot than Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Though its bohemian days are long gone — no more Drugstore, no more La Hune bookstore, or basement jazz clubs — it is still one of the most Parisian of places to walk around. From the Jardins du Luxembourg to the banks of the Seine, there are endless spots to discover.
Hotel d'AngleterreIdeal for a cozy stay that feels like a home away from home.
Hotel Pont RoyalA hotel with a literary pedigree, ideal for a true Parisian experience
Hotel LutetiaA luxury hotel with a bespoke, cinematic flair.
Where to EatIf you are staying in the 6th, you might as well eat in the 6th. The below three spots have various price points and types of cuisine — no need to eat French food at every meal — but all are equally delicious and Parisian. They’re also neighborhood staples at which you may even be lucky enough to spot some French icons like Catherine Deneuve or Charlotte Gainsbourg.
YenIdeal for a Japanese meal in a setting that is as beautiful as the food.
BenchyAn ideal place to grab a perfectly elevated sandwich.
Le Cherche MidiAn iconic restaurant serving the most perfect Italian comfort food.
Where to ShopAs for shopping, sometimes it’s about the memories attached to an object that you’ll be able to find in each of these stores that will make them forever Parisian. Though sourced from all around the world, a signature fragrance, a Danish photo book, or a Japanese cutting knife will end up being this special thing you brought back from Paris and use year after year. It sure beats a plastic Eiffel Tower key chain or a felt beret.
Dover Street Parfums MarketThe ideal shopping spot for the fragrance connoisseur.
Yvon Lambert BookshopThe dream shopping destination for book lovers.
Christopher Niquet Writer
Christopher Niquet is a Paris-based editor and writer. He is the editor in chief and founder of STUDY, a publication that seeks to create a place where words and images could be equally valued and given the same level of care and space on the page.