Last Spring, Maggie was lucky to spend some time in Haven in Paris’ gorgeous Rue du Bac 2-bedroom. A relative newcomer to Paris, she made the most of her expat status by seeking out the hidden gems her wonderful neighborhood had to offer. She shares a few of her favorites with us here.
I adopted the Saint Germain neighborhood up and down Rue du Bac as my home away from home earlier this year. Eventually, to my delight, the neighborhood started to adopt me in return! After seeing my smile amidst the sea of scowls over and over again in the long lines in their shops, the local merchants actually started to smile back, even if it was ever so slightly.
Each vanishing grimace assured me it was okay to start feeling at home. And I did, quickly. As an American girl in Paris, I knew the quickest way to appear even remotely French would be to build up my arsenal of Parisian necessities, all within the few blocks around my apartment. To that end, I hereby share what I think every aspiring local Parisian woman needs:
A favorite restaurant: La Laiterie Sainte-Clotilde (64 Rue de Bellechasse 75007) was located just a few blocks from my flat and filled with wonderful owners (an older Mom-type and a young hipster) who put out effortless, chic food with a warm welcome. A gal-friend and I stumbled across this gem and it’s really worth the little walk.
A favorite cheese shop: Barthélemy (51 Rue de Grenelle 75007) always had everything I needed for my end of meal cheese plates. I later discovered that another good friend, who grew up in Saint Germain, believes it’s the best cheese shop in all of Paris. Perhaps that’s debatable, but I enjoyed every cheese adventure I embarked on in this tiny boutique.
A favorite butcher: Guilhien Jean-Bernard (82 Rue du Bac 75007) roasts the most succulent farm-raised chickens — perfect after a long day walking around Paris when I just didn’t feel like cooking. Though we had trouble communicating since my French was, well, non-existent, the owner and his family were always super sweet and never minded resorting to sign language to help me get my dinner.
A favorite wine shop: There are a thousand great affordable wine shops across Paris and I was sad to have one of the most expensive ones, started by one of the world’s most famous chefs, right near my flat. But La Cave de Joël Robuchon (3 Rue Paul-Louis Courier 75007) actually turned out to be a girl’s best friend. The sommeliers would talk through every meal with me and advise me of amazing wines, all within my price range. My husband became a big fan, and we became fast friends with the sommeliers, speaking of holiday plans, fabulous recipes and great tasting reds.
A favorite pastry shop: I’m fairly traditional when it comes to sweets, favoring an old-fashioned millefeuille above elaborate concoctions like sculptural éclairs bound in fancy chocolate wrappers. But when I wanted to impress my local friends, I’d slip into La Patisserie des Rêves (93 Rue du Bac 75007) for a very pretty dessert. The grand, perfectly symmetrical pastries are all featured under glass spotlights and handled with white glove style care.
A favorite flat: Due to a glorious turn of events, I lived in the Bac Penthouse with Terrace for almost six weeks. Next time, I’m setting my sights even higher, as I’ve fallen for this gorgeous 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom property on a quiet side street called Paul Louis Courier. I can totally see myself cooking up a feast in that kitchen, or slicing up a roast chicken from my favorite rotisserie.
And, as any French girl would, I also had a few tricks up my fashionable sleeve!
Have you stayed in the neighborhood around Rue du Bac? Do you have any suggestions or surprises on your must-visit list? I’m heading back soon and this American girl is always happy to receive advice on how to feel more like a local. Merci, in advance!