The Place des Vosges in the city’s trendy Marais neighborhood, as featured in Paris Chic (Assouline) by Alexandra Senes and photographer Oliver Pilcher.

The Ultimate Art and Design Insiders’ Guide to Paris

The City of Light is experiencing a renaissance with a new crop of restaurants, galleries, and hotels

A dish of cucumber, white tuna, and violets from Espadon restaurant at the Ritz. Photo: EMANUELA CINO

Paris is sparkling right now,” says chef Eugénie Béziat, deflecting a compliment about how she’s become the talk of the town for her delicate, delicious, and very personal cooking at the recently reopened Espadon at the famed hotel Ritz. In a thrilling break from the conventions of French haute cuisine, the Ritz’s first female head chef boldly references the foods and flavors of her childhood in West Africa. (Her French parents are expats.)

Béziat is right, too. Paris is suddenly shimmering with a fresh wave of daring creativity that’s giving the French capital an eclectic 21st-century avant-garde edge just before the city hosts the Olympic Games this summer. “I think it’s a time for challenging tradition and crossing boundaries,” adds Béziat, referring to contemporary French cuisine but also indirectly speaking to France’s art de vivre and culture. Her remark also explains why the international art world is eager to be in Paris again, too.

Last fall, Swiss powerhouse Hauser & Wirth opened its first Paris gallery, in an elegant 1877 townhouse in the silk-stocking eighth arrondissement, with a highly praised show by painter Henry Taylor, and the Marais (third and fourth arrondissements) continues to come on strong as a venue for cutting-edge galleries representing young artists, including Balice Hertling, Bim Bam, Cadet Capela, DS Galerie, and Stems Gallery, with many more in the wings. In particular, the rue Béranger has emerged as home to a vital new constellation of galleries.

Martin Creed’s Work No. 3839 (2023) at Hauser & Wirth. Photo: NICOLAS BRASSEUR, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND HAUSER & WIRTH

The exterior of Maison Delano. Photo: COURTESY OF MAISON DELANO PARIS

Post-COVID, the whole world is flocking to Paris, which has led to a boom in those small, distinctive hotels of charm and character that this sophisticated city has always done so well. Near Hauser & Wirth, the 56-room Maison Delano has launched the Miami brand in Europe and occupies a beautiful 18th-century townhouse with original moldings and herringbone parquet floors just steps from La Madeleine church, while the charming Art Nouveau Château des Fleurs, a new property with 37 rooms from the owners of the popular Relais Christine and Hotel Saint James, is perfect for flâneurs, because it’s located just off the Champs-Élysées.

Maxim’s de Paris. Photo: ROMAIN RICARD

Anyone staying at one of these eighth arrondissement newcomers will want to dine at Lafayette’s, the recently opened Franco-American restaurant by star chef Mory Sacko in the lavishly restored 18th-century mansion that was home to the Revolutionary French general. Notable dishes include the New Orleans corn chowder and chicken with mafé, an African sauce made with peanuts. Maxim’s, one of the world’s most famous restaurants, has also just reopened following a very subtle freshening up of its landmark Art Nouveau decor by the talented Christian Dior homeware designer Cordelia de Castellane, whose great-uncle Boni de Castellane was a Belle Epoque regular. Hermès staff like it for lunch, and it is a favorite for cocktails among the young, smart set, who wear the exquisitely made and casually elegant clothing that designer Prune Goldschmidt sells at her new boutique on the rue des Saints-Pères.

The swimming pool at Le Grand Mazarin. Photo: VINCENT LEROUX

In the Marais, Le Grand Mazarin, with its 50 rooms and 11 suites, is the first urban hotel from Maisons Pariente, a design-forward group run by sisters Kimberley Cohen and Leslie Kouhana, whose Ashkenazi grandparents immigrated to France from Poland at the end of the 19th century and settled nearby. “Le Grand Mazarin speaks to our family history and the creative culture of Le Marais,” says Cohen, who worked with London interior architect Martin Brudnizki to conceive a decor that tells the story of this historic Paris neighborhood. He referenced its medieval past with tapestry canopies over the beds and its deep connections with Eastern Europe through a color scheme of ruddy pastels and richly patterned fabrics. Boubalé, the hotel’s restaurant, serves a contemporary riff on Ashkenazi cooking by Israeli chef Assaf Granit.

The Auguste Renoir Suite at Maison Proust. Photo: COURTESY OF MAISON PROUST

The opening of the 23-room Maison Proust, a boutique property with a lush, low-lit, Belle Epoque interior by Paris decorator Jacques Garcia, hints at the growing popularity of this Paris neighborhood with travelers, especially those who work in fashion, design, and art.

“Le Grand Mazarin speaks to our family history and the creative culture of Le Marais”

Kimberley Cohen

The buzziness of the Marais is also reflected in its cluster of new dining destinations. Young chef Manon Fleury’s charming Scandinavian-style restaurant with blond wood furniture and a clerestory roof, Datil, is a big hit for its regularly changing, lyrically delicious tasting menus, which include dishes like scallops with turnips, zucchini, and octopus en brochette as well as a roasted fig with ice cream flavored with an infusion of fig leaf.

The Place des Vosges in the city’s trendy Marais neighborhood, as featured in Paris Chic (Assouline) by Alexandra Senes and photographer Oliver Pilcher. Photo: OLIVER PILCHER/ASSOULINE PUBLISHING

In another genre, the Bistrot des Tournelles is a lively restaurant that’s been a local favorite since it opened for the warmth of its staff, its homey flea market decor, and, most of all, its excellent traditional French bistro cooking. The regulars love its homemade duck foie gras, fillet of beef with sauce au poivre, chicken cordon bleu, and chocolate profiteroles, which are some of the best in Paris. The remarkable wine list explains why it gets noisy here, and the best bet is to book for the late service, so one doesn’t have an hourglass turned upside down on their table during dinner.

A ten-minute walk from the Place de la Bastille on the eastern edge of the Marais, chef Maxime Bouttier’s new restaurant, Géosmine, in an almost all-white former duplex space, created from an old textile factory, serves superb contemporary French cooking from a menu that changes with the seasons. Stuffed morel mushrooms, sirloin with wilted Treviso radicchio, and a luscious chocolate-praline dessert are among the standout dishes.

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A leisurely lunch at Géosmine is best followed by a stroll across the Seine to Saint-Germain-des-Prés to take in one of the city’s newest and most offbeat museums, the Maison Gainsbourg, at 5 bis rue de Verneuil, where singer, songwriter, actor, and provocateur Serge Gainsbourg lived for 22 years, 12 of them with British actress Jane Birkin before they split up in 1980. Their daughter, Charlotte, preserved the house exactly as it was at Gainsbourg’s death in 1991, replete with ashtrays overflowing with Gitanes cigarette butts. An intriguing bohemian time capsule, the home is also a monument to the very Parisian love of art and naughtiness that continue to make the city sizzle.

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2024 Spring Issue under the headline “French Toast.” Subscribe to the magazine.

Cover: The Place des Vosges in the city’s trendy Marais neighborhood, as featured in Paris Chic (Assouline) by Alexandra Senes and photographer Oliver Pilcher.


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