Recently I found a few places in Paris that I just had to share. Here are my new fall “finds” in no particular order.
Aesop is a shop on the rue St.-Honoré in the 1st Arrondissement, selling beauty products that make sense for the 21st century. The packaging is basic yet beautiful, and the staff is extremely helpful. Aesop uses lavender, mint and rose oils and other plant-based ingredients, which are completely pure. The face oil is sublime, as is the toner with vitamin B that I bought. While this firm is from New Zealand, and you can find its stores across the world, the products are so superior it’s worth a stop. There are two other locations in Paris (see the website link below).
Astier de Villatte, a funky little shop that happens to be right across from Aesop, sells beautiful candles and handmade white ceramics. The bowls and platters are elegant and beautiful and have a completely handmade appeal. While it might be difficult to imagine getting these home, the store will ship your purchases if you buy more than one small item. The decor of the shop is distinctly artistic and bohemian.
Vert d’Absinthe is a beautiful, small shop in the Marais that sells only absinthe, the strong but palatable drink that has come back into vogue after years of being illegal. It’s not as strong as it once was, apparently. The bottles are just gorgeous, and the producers are mostly small entities. A bottle might make a good gift for a male friend back home.
Candelaria is a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint in the Marais that serves real homemade tacos and tostadas. Mexican in Paris, what? That has never been easy to find in this city, but Candelaria is a fantasy come true for guacamole lovers. On offer are just a few choices, but all are delicious. The tostadas we had were made with chicken and mole sauce, while the vegetarian tacos were covered in cheese and had a nice grouping of veggies, including mushrooms, which was different and delicious. There was an ample selection of Mexican beers and several tequilas. It’s just a tiny bit bigger than a taco stand that you’d find in Baja or Costa Rica, with a total of about 15 chairs, including stools. There’s also a white door at the back, which reveals a secret bar specializing in 10 or so special cocktails that actually taste like properly made cocktails, which are also still pretty hard to find in Paris. Hipsters began parading in on a Sunday night at the stroke of seven o’clock, when the bar opened.
Catherine Loiret, in the 7th Arrondissement, is a tiny atelier where you can get your own personalized handbag made. Catherine, who used to work at Hermès and Lancel, makes unique bags that really show off the soft leather, with a modern look that has a kind of origami appeal. Surely you will be the envy of your friends when you carry one of her original bags around. You can make an appointment and pick the leather and the design you like best, and have a bag made just for you.
Astier de Villatte
Editor’s note: Please check out our newly launched Girls’ Guide travel club and learn how you can save up to $500 on your next trip to Paris.