A Travel Guide to a Day in Paris in Winter.
KB Coffee shop, 53 Avenue Trudaine, 9-6.30pm/L’Institute Finlandais, 60, rue des Écoles, 9-7pm
If you find yourself with an article to publish or a deadline to meet in Paris, then both KB coffee shop and the L'Institute Finlandais on the Left Bank are perfectly tailored to your needs. Both interiors are suitably Scandinavian, with a beautiful clientele to match. Offer a delectable array of organic cakes and fair-trade coffee, you’ll wish you had more work to do. Although, if its space rather than people watching that you’re after then L’Institute Finlandais is slightly more tranquil.
La Pincotheque, 28 Place de la Madeleine, 10.30-6.30pm
This three-floor gallery often slips through the net despite being so close to Le Jeu de Paume, Place de la Concorde and Le Grand Palais. Tucked behind the majestic Madeleine church, it’s known for hosting an eclectic array of temporary exhibitions from studies of Kama Sutra studies to Modern art and archeology. Continuing with the somewhat provocative content of the exhibitions we’ve seen this time, L'Art de l'Amour au Temps des Geishas offered a slightly more light-hearted contrast to Sade: Attaquer le Soleil. Studying the complex sexual contortions of geishas, these forbidden masterpieces expose the darker side of Japanese culture.
Le Charbon Taxidermie, Boulevard Beaumarchais,10-6pm
It’s no secret that I am absolutely infatuated with taxidermy, despite a total lack of interest in their living, breathing counterparts. Deyrolle, 46 Rue du Bac is the Parisian authority on the subject, but if you’re over in the 10th arrondissement then Le Charbon is a delightful place to spend the afternoon questioning reptiles in ballet skirts and photographing a fierce selection of panthers, tarantulas and snakes.
The Polka Gallery, 12 Rue St Gilles, 11-7.30pm
Polka is one of my favourite photography galleries in Paris, because they’re always exhibiting something wonderfully unexpected. From Sebastiao Salgado’s landscapes to Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s systematic investigation of industrial relics in France, Japan and South America, there’s no end to the inspiration. They also have a fabulous photography magazine and impressive collection of books on sale by the desk. It's only a gentle stroll from Place des Vosges, Le Marais so stop by for a little air.
Le Musee Carnavalet, 16 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 10-6pm
Feeling a little strapped for cash as you peruse the delights of Le Marais? Then wander from Polka Gallery over to Musee Carnavalet to immerse yourself in its opulent decor. As you explore its 140 decadent rooms you experience the chronological history of Paris that Haussmann intended when he opened the museum in 1866. It’s a treasure trove of historical artefacts from a chunk of the Bastille to Napoleon III’s crib and endless Renaissance art all within a charmingly romantic setting. Coffee at L'Institute Suedois around the corner is much recommended.
Artazart, 83 Quai de Valmy, 10.30-7.30pm
I am aware that I have recommended Artazart before, but once is not enough. This bookshop and design store boasts an eclectic collection of cultural magazines and the funkiest coffee-table books you’ll find in the capital. Careful though, because this is not a spot for a quick browse, you’ll lose hours if you perch amongst their collection of international art and culture magazines.
Chez Prune, 36 Rue Beaurepaire, 10-2am
Only steps away from my beloved Artazart is Chez Prune, a colourful old favourite of the bourgeois-bohèmes of Canal St Martin. In summer we would spill out onto the water, but in the depths of winter it’s a cosy spot to tuck yourself into a corner with a book or share a platter of cheese and charcuterie with some friends. The quirky assortment of geometric 1970s wallpapers and perculiar lamps dangling define it as a gathering place for the creative community that dominates monopolize the canal.
Le Comptoir General, 80 Quai de Jemmapes, 11-2am
This watering hole is a post-colonial, bohemian dream. Once you’ve edged down the pitch-black passageway, you are suddenly immersed in a tropical hideaway with velvet telephones, taxidermy and the deepest sofas you’ve ever indulged in. From the ceiling hang labyrinths of vines and disco balls, which shake with the African music. They call themselves a ghetto museum and there’s no doubt that there’s a bit of a shantytown feel in the space where you can pick up your fried plantains and spicy tagines. Like many of the finer establishments in Paris it’s open from brunch through to the early hours and there’s no wrong time for their homemade rum and ginger juice from the fish-tank bar.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com