Paris will always be the city of romance and glamour. After the tragic events of November 2015, Paris is back in business, making the City of Light a dramatic and exiting place to visit. So even if you think you know the city, check out these new attractions, museums, hotels and restaurants. I’ve included some which have opened in the last 18 months so are recent enough to qualify, plus future projects that will put you ahead of the game.
What's New in Paris
Eurostar offers the easiest and often cheapest way to travel from London to Paris. Eurostar operates up to 21 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with one-way fares starting from £29. The fastest journey time is 2 hrs 15 mins. Arrive 30 minutes before departure, though at busy times it's a good idea to allow more time for security and passport checking.
Standard Premier offers spacious, quiet carriages with bigger seats and a light meal served to you. Tickets are from £97.50 one way. Book on the Eurostar website.
New Attractions to Visit
La Fondation Louis Vuitton opened at the end of 2014. The exceptional building by Frank Gehry took some time, and not a little discussion, to agree, design and complete, partly due to the revolutionary new ideas and use of materials. The Foundation is in the Bois de Boulogne, once the royal hunting ground. Today the Boulogne wood is a green lung to the west of the city and the location for a building that looks like a series of sails or flying fish, seemingly temporarily anchored beside the water. The Fondation holds top contemporary art museums complemented by exhibits from the private collection of Bernard Arnault and LVMH.
Tip: Make sure you go up to the top outside terraces which offer great views and illustrates some of the structural innovations through the App which is worth downloading.
Give yourself enough time; the exhibitions are excellent and are shown in spaces that were custom built for art, large white cubes that allow the works to predominate. Currently showing: A selection of Chinese works to August 29, 2016. And Daniel Buren: Observatory of Light, a series of coloured panels laid over the twelve exterior ‘sails’ of the structure.
- More about the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
A Historic Venue Expands
La Monnaie de Paris (The French Mint) is housed in an imposing building on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Louvre and a few steps from Pont Neuf. Opened as the National Mint in 1775, it still designs and creates coins and medals. It has the distinction of being the last factory still operating in Paris.
La Monnaie is best known for its contemporary art exhibitions, but that will change with the MétaLmorphoses project which takes in the Mint itself as well as the surrounding buildings. Opening initially in 2017, the huge area will be brought back to life with luxury shops, landscaped gardens, two Guy Savoy restaurants, a new museum of metal and crafts, a resident artist and a whole lot more. It is set to become one of the most exciting, newly created areas in Paris in recent years.
Openings to Note
- May 21, 2016: Musée National Jean-Jacques Henner at 43 ave de Villiers in the 17th arrondissement. The museum in an elegant 19th-century mansion tells the story of one of France’s most successful painter of the 19th century. Henner (1829-1905) is out of fashion today, overtaken by the Impressionists. It’s an interesting museum and a beautiful house.
- Musee Maillot re-opens in September 2016 after a major renovation.
- Fall 2017: Opening of one of two new Yves Saint Laurent museums; one in Marrakech and the other at 5 avenue Marceau in the 16th arrondissement, in the historical headquarters of the couture house. More on Yves Saint Laurent and his studio in Paris.
- Next up: All about Shopping
Where to Shop in Paris
There are some major schemes planned such as the complete renovation of the Galeries Lafayette department store (done in stages without closing between 2016 an 2018), and the opening of a Galleria deluxe department store where the Samaritaine department store used to be (2017), plus 29 more stores at the outlet Val d'Europe just outside Paris near Disneyland.
Forum Les Halles
But for now, start with the revamped Forum Les Halles shopping centre at Porte Berger, Paris 1. There’s been a market here since the 12th century but today the fruit and veg, cloth makers stalls and corn markets have been replaced by a brand-new complex on several levels housing 130 household names, both national and international. There’s a new garden and play area, more pedestrianised surrounding streets and greater public transport access. It’s all covered with a glass canopy that changes the look of the area.
Fantastic grocer and food shop Hediardwill reopen its main Madeleine store at 21 place de la Madeleine, Paris 8, in spring 2016.
- Be ahead of the game at the new Paris restaurants
New Restaurants in Paris
New Openings and Renovations
- One of the most exciting, and innovative new restaurants is Champeaux in the Forum les Halles mall. Alain Ducasse is usually known for his high-end, many Michelin-starred restaurants; the new light and airy brasserie looking out to the garden area is much more down to earth. This ‘brasserie for the 21st century’ as it’s called, is bustling, popular, good value and fun. You can order from a menu on a board which changes like a railway station timetable, charge your smartphone from central electricity points and eat at any time from 11.30am to midnight. Forum des Halles, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 53 45 84 50.
- Les Fables de la Fontaine is a delightful, small restaurant in the 7th arondissement in the Champ de Mars district, now refurbished with a chic modern look. Go for the stone walls, wooden tables and outside terrace, but especially for the 1-star cooking of Julia Sedefdjian, the youngest chef to be awarded a Michelin star. Coming from Nice, she’s pretty good on fresh, seasonal ingredients and particularly on seafood. Prices are around €55 for a 3-course a la carte meal; there’s a great lunchtime menu of 2 courses at €25. It's at 131 rue Saint Dominique, Paris 7, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 44 18 37 55
- Walk along the small rue de Seine and you can’t miss a new seafood brasserie. Huguette Le Bistro de la Mer at no. 81, Paris 6. Huguette opened in March to instant success. It has the look of a seaside café with old wooden tables, metal chairs, tiled floors and blackboards with menus chalked up. Waiters dash from kitchen to table, there’s a contented hum and the outside terrace fills up quickly. Large plates of ceviche in various forms, groaning plateaux de fruits de mer, fish and chips…you get the idea. Good value, fun and lively and it’s open-all-hours, daily from 8am to 2am. Book either by telephone (00 33 (0)1 43 25 00 28) or online.
Look Out For
- Daroco opens this Spring in what was once Jean Paul Gaultier’s store in the historic, and listed, Galerie Vivienne, a covered arcade originally built in1823 between the Palais Royal, the Bourse and the Grands Boulevards. Daroco is at 6 Rue Vivienne, Paris 2, tel.: 0033 (0)l 42 61 93 83.
- American chef Daniel Rose whose restaurant Spring is such a success has taken over and is re-opening nearby Chez la Vieille at 1 rue Bailleul, Paris 1, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 42 60 15 78. The American-born, Paris-based chef is a busy man; look out for two restaurants he is opening in a new hotel at the corner of Lafayette and Howard Streets in New York this year; one of them will be a version of his Parisian Chez la Vieille.
- The ever busy super chef, Alain Ducasse, is opening Ore, a contemporary café on the first floor of the Dufour Pavilion at Versaille. Like Champeaux it's casual, good value and fun. When the super luxury hotel at Versaille is built, Alain Ducasse will oversee the gourmet restaurant there. But that’s in the future.
- The Ritz reopens, but what else is new in Paris hotels?
New Hotels in Paris
Book at the new Renaissance Paris Republique for a hotel near le Marais, le Canal Saint Martin and les Grands Boulevards districts. Its rather brutal modern exterior hides a chic, smart hotel with well-designed bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms, a bar and restaurant as well as an outside terrace. 40 rue René Boulanger, Paris 10, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 71 18 20 95.
Watch out for
The re-opening of the Ritz Hotel in the 1st arrondissement in the swish place Vendôme after its €140 million (£108 million) renovation was set back following a fire. Its official opening is June 7, 2016.
For a top luxury boutique hotel, look no further than La Chambre du Marais which has 19 elegant rooms, a bespoke concierge service for your every wish and a posh champagne bar. It's at 87 rue des Archives, Paris 3, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 44 78 08 00.
The new AccorHotels Bercy Arena is now one of the 5 largest arenas in the world. This is the place for concerts by the likes of Adele, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion as well as sporting events. 8 Boulevard de Bercy, Paris 12, Tel.: 00 33 (0)1 58 70 16 00.
- Learn about Wines in cellars near the Louvre
A New Wine Experience
Learn about wine underground in Les Caves du Louvre. What were the 18th-century Royal wine cellar, linked by a secret tunnel to the Louvre itself, is now a series of small rooms where you are gently taken through the soil, the vines, the smells and tastes of different French wines. You can download the app and go through yourself, or be guided by English-speaking, knowledgeable young sommeliers. At the end of the tour you can create a label to put onto one of their bottles of wine or even create your own blend. Les Caves du Louvre, 52 rue de l'Arbre Sec, Paris 1.