A Simple Guide to St Germain, Paris
After the sanded white floors and shabby-chic interior of my bohemian nest in Canal St Martin, I was reluctant to move to St Germain, but I've ended up discovering so many wonderful places. My new home on Rue du Vieux Colombier is enchanting, because it truly feels like sleeping in a museum or flea market.
The elderly owners once made epic journeys around the world collecting aboriginal art, gorgeous oak furniture and hundreds of beautiful books in a variety of tongues. Unsurprisingly, many of my guests have made fairly smooth attempts to poach this gem of an apartment from me.
Thanks to the flat's proximity to Jardin du Luxembourg, I have had the pleasure of being able to run in one of the most beautiful parks in Paris every morning before work. Each day I seem to seem something magical. A recent example would be the bizarre sight of hundreds of gardeners individually wrapping the roses in plastic bags at 7am. Apparently they are striving to protect the petals from approaching rainfall. I thought this concept was enchanting - the sort of attention to detail you would only find in Paris.
When the rain subsides Jardin du Luxembourg is always a dreamy place to tie up your bike, pull up a metal chair and enjoy the sun for a moment. Go and find the fountain behind the main Senate Building. It is such a wonderfully tranquil spot to meditate undisturbed.
Art Fair in Saint Sulpice Square, 6e
I thought that moving to St Germain after the arty atmosphere of Canal St Martin would be the end of all creative expression. However L and I stumbled upon free art classes in the market under Saint Sulpice cathedral and were taught to print posters by a charming Italian artist. In honour of the day of wandering, my poster read dolce fare niente (the pleasure of being idle). It was such a simple pleasure padding around his pop-up studio barefoot, our hair tied back with paintbrushes. We were finally creating decorations for our apartment after only sketching in pencil for the last few months.
Vietnam Un et Multiple, Orangerie Jardin du Luxembourg, 6e
Back in Jardin du Luxembourg the French-Vietnamese associated just staged this gorgeous little exhibition of Vietnamese photography in the Orangerie with its floor of pebbles. Having spent a lot of time alone in Cambodia, this exhibition really moved me, bringing the memories flooding back as I stared at images of the laughing elderly ladies and joyful children.
Editions Ivrea, 1 Place Paul Painlevé
This bookshop is a jewel, but sadly on the brink of closure. One of my wisest contemporaries led me here on my last morning in Paris and I could not have been more grateful. Its few bookshelves are crammed with delicate first editions, philosophy and some fascinating translated works from across the globe. There's so much to choose from if you want to read about theories on art, psychoanalysis, economics, politics, social criticism or even music or theatre. They will have something for you to fall in love with.
Deyrolle, 46 Rue du Bac, 6e
My darling G recommended this to me and it is absolutely unmissable for any curious soul. Infatuating zoologists, botanists, mineralogists and all manner of nature lovers for hundreds of years; Deyrolle is a feast for the eyes. The establishment was started by Jean Baptiste Deyrolle in 1831 with the philosophy that in order for people to protect nature, they must first be able to understand it. The shop downstairs is charming, but once you ascend to their museum filled with butterflies, exotic animals, mounted birds and insects you will be left utterly spellbound.
But, what makes it all the more intriguing is that every piece is for sale. As you wander you can play interior designer and wonder where you would place these eccentricities in your mansion (or university bedroom). We curious souls were took particular pleasure in rooting through all the different drawers searching for bargain butterflies for less than 20 euros.
Prescription Cocktail Club, 23 Rue Mazarine, 6e
St Germain may have surrendered its crown as the Parisian hotspot to the likes of Le Marais, but a handful of charming establishments are keeping it afloat. My favourite being the elusive speakeasy Prescription Cocktail Club with its blacked out windows. You are immediately transported to prohibition in New Orleans with a little dalliance in the Jazz Age.
The second level - an exquisitely converted library - will most certainly capture your imagination. The candlelit nooks with their velvet sofas and the tantalizing list of cocktails infused with rose and grapefruit make this place a winning first date or a quirky spot for girl's night. The chandelier of gentlemen's hats is my favourite detail. The bouncers are particularly charming, but don't try and enter in big groups if you want a chance of entering.
Blueberry Maki, 6 Rue de Sabot, 6e
This little sushi joint deep in St Germain is an absolute treasure. Their creative approach to Japanese cuisine is making waves across Paris. Nico and I went for mango, raspberry and salmon sushi wrapped in mint leaves with avocado on the side and it was absolutely divine. They also had an incredible vegan and sugar-free pudding of translucent berry jelly and coconut cream, which is definitely going to lure me back before I leave Paris.
Despite the food being so delicious, it was the interior design, which drew us in. The ceiling is lined with lanterns and you sit tucked against the white cave walls illuminated by neon lights.
Le Hibou, 16 Carrefour de l'Odeon, 6e
Opened by the people behind local hotspot La Palette, Rue de Seine, Le Hibou has become a hive of activity as the bourgeois-bohemes of St Germain come out to play. The interior was done by the famous duo Clemence and Clement Goutal and is a cross behind the kind of sultry speakeasies you'd find on the Lower East Side, New York and a good old English pub.
But, the most fabulous thing about the establishment is that they have created the most atmospheric toilets I have ever experienced. They are adorned with fairy lights, intricate mosaics and candles wafting sensual scents.
If feeling indulgent, stop by after dinner for a cheeky rice pudding or chocolate mousse for two. Otherwise, it's perfect for a late night drink to soak up the atmosphere of St Germain. We stopped by whilst every other Parisian was absorbed in the world cup final and it served perfectly as our little haven of tranquility for the evening.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com