If there’s the one city which I could endlessly revisit, it’s Paris. Each trip reveals a new shade to its captivating character – from the bohemian chic side of the Latin Quarter (explored during a sixth-form school trip), to the trendy trappings of Rue Bachaumont encountered most recently.
It was the impassioned advice of an in-the-know Parisian, which led my friend, AB and I to this leafy street in the 2nd arrondissement, in lieu of the more luxury-lined Rue de Rivoli or Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Once the city’s textile and garment hub, this focal neighbourhood in the Second Arrondissement was recently outed in the New York Times as the latest open secret of the smart set. A string of modish boutiques and businesses have led the revival.
It’s here where you’ll now find Paris’ most sought-after hair colorist, Christophe Robin, or discover the perfect scent personalised by your individual profile and perfumes you’ve previously used. Aptly titled Nose, the quietly-elegant artisanal perfumery is widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful shops in Paris, offering a potent experience built around a scent bar! Other fabulous finds include Le Caribou – a vintage-inspired optician showcasing made-to-measure hipster eyewear.
We were staying on this fetching street itself, at the recently-opened Hôtel Bachaumont – an Art Deco gem paying homage to the site’s storied past with a lovingly restored façade (it was also a hotel back in the Roaring ’20s).
There was an instant appeal to the smart, modern-day aesthetics of the hotel’s buzz-worthy bar, Night Flight, and the restaurant, with their terraces opening out onto the sun-kissed street (both are run by the Experimental Group). However I have to confess that we didn’t have all that memorable an impression of the rooms, which were lacking in size (as expected), but also that certain je ne sais quoi…
Small touches did not go un-appreciated though. We loved the C.O. Bigelow amenities and some of the custom furniture, ranging from marble-topped desks to head-boards upholstered by a local establishment, Frey.
However, the open-plan bathroom (awkwardly compounded by mirrors which reflected across the room….) was incredibly inconvenient from a privacy perspective, leading us to request for a change halfway through our stay.
While the first room had at least held a cosy-ish charm, the second (albeit relatively larger) felt… incomplete and left us entirely exposed to the noise of the bustling street right below. The absence of porters to help with our bags and lack of a turndown service, was also quite palpable especially seeing as we’d opted for an Executive Room.
But all told, we didn’t regret our choice of hotel as it put us at the heart of this haute and hip neighbourhood.
We had the trendiest of boutiques at our doorstep and were just moments away from the thriving Rue Montorgueil – one of the oldest street markets of Paris, spanning a diverse set of cafés, bars, restaurants and shops, specialising in anything and everything from cheese to summer fruits and flowers!
Highlights included a lesson in the French art of tea at Mariage Frères, a gourmet tea house founded back in 1854. We also had an exquisite induction into French pastries at Fou de Pâtisserie, a picturesque patisserie showcasing some of the finest cakes, éclairs, financiers and madeleines that Paris has to offer!
They say that a picture is sometimes worth a thousand words, so perhaps I’ll just end this chapter of my Paris Diaries with a few of the wonderful memories I’ve carried back with me…
For more on the epicurean essentials unearthed during our trip, do have a read of my Gourmand’s Guide, here.