Oh, how I love the city of lights. Yes, it has been romanticized in our minds, from cinematic shots of the Eiffel Tower to long walks on the River Seine — from “Before Sunrise” to “Amélie” to Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless.” The food, the accent, the je ne sais quoi of the women with their inherent chicness – I sigh un petit peu just typing this. The Tig Insider Guides are something I’m quite protective over – they are the source of intel for a cherished trip; they are riddled with hidden gems, sourced from friends whose taste I trust implicitly, and reflective of The Tig’s love for unearthing off-the-beaten-track excitement that one won’t find flipping through a guide book. Cue friend of mine and Insider for The Tig, Elettra Wiedemann. Beloved Elettra, whose ooh-la-la lineage (Isabella Rossellini & Ingrid Bergman contributing to the genetic wonder), sensibility for fashion & style, and knowledge of Paris as her pied-à-terre for years, makes her the crème de la crème for this guide. Elettra launched a fantastic website for les gourmands (or those who are gourmands in training) in the summer of 2014 appropriately titled Impatient Foodie. And with her Parisian food finds, along with places to shop and frolic, you are well on your way to whetting your appetite in gay Paris. Take it away, Elettra!
La Charlotte de l’Isle - A tiny hole in the wall place on the Ile St Louis that has the MOST delicious hot chocolate EVER. The NYTimes has even reviewed it, calling it the “absinthe of hot chocolate” It’s seriously amazing. It’s like a little local secret and the woman who runs it seems to open and close depending on her mood – LOVE IT! Address: La Charlotte de l’Isle, 24 Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Isle.
Caffé Toscano - I highly recommend Caffé Toscano. This Italian place is so charming and delicious. They have a pasta with a light lemon cream sauce which is TO. DIE. FOR. Seriously, I dream about it. Address: 34 Rue des Saints-Pères, just off Blvd St Germain.
Spring - Chef Daniel Rose has it figured out. He and his team serve up delectable bites for a special dinner, where the ingredients are sourced daily and inspired by the season and mood of the kitchen. The space was once an abandoned skateboard shop, and has been renovated to be one of Paris’ culinary gems.
Café Jacquemart-André - There is one place on Boulevard Hausmann inside a museum that is AMAZING and a total secret (the museum is totally boring though)… The cafe is quite romantic as well. One of my fave spots, though I have not been there in a while. I looked it up online and there is not much info about it (I think they want to keep it under the radar). If you only go to one place, I would choose this place.
Frenchie Wine Bar - This place is such a gem! Yes you can go to the namesake restaurant for a full dining experience, but sometimes pulling up a stool to this precious exposed brick space and dipping in to a board of charcuterie with an antipasti of burrata, peach, purple basil and balsamic is perfection on a plate.
Verjus - An absolute gem of a restaurant tucked in the Palais-Royal neighborhood in Paris. They serve a daily seasonal tasting menu and a cheese course to die over. Splurge and get the wine pairing, and enjoy this truly delicious dining experience where you eat with your eyes as much as your mouth.
L’Hotel - In St. Germain, this Parisian prize was the last home of Oscar Wilde – its charming size, amazing staff, and very French decor make you feel like you are at your home away from home – that is, if your home is absolutely stunning and draped in beautiful velvets and Parisian tiles. Also, the private hammam is unbeatable.
Hotel Grandes Ecoles - If you want to stay in an inexpensive but great hotel, I recommend this place in the 7eme. It is really, super charming and also budget friendly…I remember them doing a lovely free breakfast in the little garden. The hotel rooms are cute and clean, but basic. The 7eme is also the University District so there are lots of fun bars and restaurants!
Monsieur - Oh this is my favorite place. It’s so dainty and chic, a jewel boxed store in the Marais, filled with the the most delicate jewelry – think micro thin rings for stacking, necklaces that are so delicate it just looks like your skin is sparkling, and bracelets flecked with small gemstones. Precious beyond belief.
Versailles - One thing you MUST do is go to Versailles. Skip the palace if it’s crazy and go see Marie Antoinette’s “country house” on the opposite side of the property (Petit Trianon). It’s so incredible and charming, you can still feel her there; she really comes alive! Even bring a picnic and eat lunch in the Versailles gardens!
*Originally published on August 25, 2014. Photos via: Paris in Four Months, La Charlotte de l'Isle, Robert et Louise, Caffé Toscano, Spring, Chez Paul, Café Jacquemart-André, Frenchie, Verjus, Grandes Ecoles 1, 2, Monsieur, Alaïa, Marais, Versailles, Elettra.