At Hotel G, we’re always on the hunt for the world’s next great neighbourhoods where we might alight. That endless quest leads us to Paris this month but not as you may know this City of Lights. Away from the Eiffel Tower, Saint Germain and the Seine, you’ll find us on the Right Bank around Canal Saint Martin, the tree shaded waterway created by Napoleon in 1802. In this city so well suited to le flâneur, the French name for someone who leisurely saunters along, why not follow us from the canal’s cobblestones to shop the Haut Marais then dine among our global culinary finds on the once seedy Faubourg Saint-Denis.
We start behind the fire engine red façade at ARTAZART a pilgrimage spot along the Canal Saint Martin for lovers of design, fashion, photography and visual art books. Around the corner, it’s a sustainably Made in France agenda at Centre Commercial with Veja vegetable dyed leather trainers and Christine Phung’s Issey Miyake inspired drape dresses ethically produced in Cambodia. We nip into Medecine Douce too where affordable, nature inspired gold jewellery gets irreverently displayed on rabbit statues. As winter is approaching, we’ll slide on an eminently packable Cozy Neck Tube (which doubles as bad hair day’s headdress) in a sunny spectrum from lemon yellow to deep crimson from Muskhane, a fair trade Himalayan boutique a short walk from the canal then hunt down the fashion capital’s latest shoe craze from Manolo Blahnik protégé Zoe Lee.
Steps from the canal, we’re lining up for one of the two tables at Jules et Shim. The name plays on the Truffaut classic film but the Korean food is seriously spicy. Around the corner, Parisians from every arrondisement flock to line up along the eggshell blue facade at Du Pain et des Idées for the pistachio-chocolate escargot pastry, nutty pain des amis ‘friendship bread’ and rustic baguette. For more ethnic eats, we head for the cobblestones of Faubourg Saint-Denis, a rising hub of hip gastronomy. Aromas from the African spice emporium waft towards the fruit filled Punjabi grocery that stands adjacent to the Syrian coffee shop facing including Urfa Dürüm, (at #58) a Kurdish kebab house where hipsters and immigrants nosh on succulent spiced chicken wrapped with chewy flat bread. Further up at Le Napoleon (at #73) nightly specials like poulet fermier roti in thyme juice with mashed potatoes get scribbled on an outdoor chalkboard. We’ll end the evening at Vivant Cave, Paris’ only wine bar known for small production, natural wines.
Without a Hotel G in the French capital, yet, we’re taking shelter among the twelve cosy rooms at Le Citizen Hotel finished with sustainable wood, fair trade cotton and eye-catching artworks by Creative Growth, a California artists cooperative. When we wish to pretend we actually live la vie parisienne we opt for Artisan Lofts Paris, a cache of 18th century industrial spaces turned eco-friendly vacation rentals including the 215 square foot Laundry Loft and La Maisonette, a hidden courtyard house furnished with Spanish tiles and chairs by Charles Eames and Arne Jacobsen which we dream to live among all year round.