PARIS – On a recent sunny afternoon, a group of young women in short dresses and tall boots piled into a special elevator at Cheval Blanc, a new hotel in the La Samaritaine complex along the Seine, and were taken to the restaurant Le Tout- Paris. Reimagined as a contemporary Pop-inspired brasserie offering classics like sole meunière for two, it has a terrace that offers stunning views stretching from the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame – and is the perfect setting for a selfie. .
As the young women settled into the lounge near the bar, passing tables reserved days in advance, another visitor wearing what looked like Chanel couture accented with pearls and diamonds posed for her own. private photographer. The rest of the clientele, clad in crisp shirts, casual or tailored Deauville jeans and moccasins, watched in bewilderment. Beside numerous tables, the Birkins were perched on stools specially designed for handbags.
In Paris, it seems, few suffer from FOGO, the fear of going out. Indeed, as the country has just achieved an 84% vaccination rate for citizens aged 12 and over, new restaurants, clubs and hotels are sprouting up across the city. Proof of vaccination is still mandatory and masks are required in crowded environments, but social distancing is fading like a bad dream – even though the government website last week reported an average of 75 new cases of Covid for 100,000 of the city’s estimated 11 million inhabitants and nearly 20 dead.
“There are a lot of pent-up demands. There is a urge to enjoy life, dress up and go out again, but not to run around town, ”said Alexis Mabille, the fashion designer and interior designer who oversaw the redesign of the cabaret now Le Boeuf sur le Toit restaurant, not far from the Elysée Palace. “People want to come have a drink, go to dinner and dance. “
Formerly owned by Jean Cocteau and frequented by a mix of artists and designers of taste, including Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia, Joséphine Baker, Gabrielle Chanel and Christian Dior, Le Boeuf has been redesigned as a unique place for an evening with, at its entrance, an oyster stand and, inside, a brasserie-style restaurant, an Art Deco bar with a ceiling decorated with frescoes by the artist Simon Buret and an 80-seat music hall. Upstairs, a private dining room overlooks the stage, and cognac and other spirits are served in a traditional smoking room.
At 10:30 p.m. on a recent Monday, the music hall was filled with an eclectic mix of young women in evening dresses and goofy boots, tattooed hipsters, a laid-back business crowd and a few haired clients. silver guys, all listening to a jazz concert. duo playing standards like “On the Sunny Side of the Street”.
“It smells a bit like the Old World and also like the end of the Covid,” said Marion Laisney, 21, a student in Paris. “Mostly, it’s great to go out and see people again.
Of course, this is what is happening on the upper fringes of the Marais, where the rue du Vertbois district is the subject of a new development plan – following the implosion of the project called La Jeune Rue – and new hopes of becoming “a village at the center of the world”, as Thomas Erber puts it. He is the artistic director of the project, supported by the German investment fund Patrizia.
The goal, said Erber, is to create a “judicious alchemy” of brands, artisans and other independent designers to transform the dilapidated streets between the Musée des Arts et Métiers and Place de la République into one. proto-Brooklyn.
Known primarily for longtime restaurants like Anahi and L’Ami Louis, this traditionally working-class neighborhood is now also home to fashion stores like APC and Front de Mode, an eco-responsible multi-brand boutique run by designer Sakina M’Sa. There’s often a line outside of Relique, a specialist in vintage 70s clothing. A coffee roast Café Kitsuné, a first shop for limited edition furniture producer We Do Not Work Alone and vinyl specialist Rupture Records have also opened recently, and future plans include a meeting place to be decorated in cabinet-of-curiosity style by Mr. Erber.
“What is wonderful here is that we have the health pass,” official proof of vaccination, said Christian Holthausen, 47, a Franco-American living in Paris. He says he favors “linen pants, a light sweater, JM Weston moccasins and a tiger eye bracelet” when he goes out to restaurants like Juveniles in the first arrondissement and Capitaine in the fourth.
“Paris is alive,” said Holthausen. “It’s almost back to normal.
Enter Soho House, the network of private clubs for the creative class that recently smoothly opened in a complex of three buildings opposite the Haussmannian building where Cocteau grew up (and its decoration was inspired by this work).
Twenty-six years after the original Soho House took shape in London and two months after its parent company, Membership Collective Group, went public, the concept has reached Paris, where members can meet at the bar, dine in a restaurant run by the respected chef. William Pradeleix, attend private screenings and stay in one of the 36 rooms (from 205 euros, or $ 240, and more) framing a courtyard equipped with a retractable canopy. Will it make money from locals in a town where the price of a coffee allows you to linger in a cafe for as long as you want? In the past, membership programs at hot spots like Le Silencio and Castel, for example, have failed.
Comparing Soho House to a hot bun, Nick Jones, the club’s founder and CEO, observed in an interview that people are hungry to reconnect – and that for its 111,900 members, the club chain is already operating as a home away from home in 31 global cities (Rome and Brighton, England, are next). Before it opened, it was already sold out for Fashion Week.
The Cheval Blanc too, which adjoins the Quai du Louvre like an Art Deco liner and functions as a world apart. Offering 72 rooms – including a seven-bedroom duplex penthouse at € 65,000 per night – the five-star hotel was decorated by Peter Marino with the help of over 600 artisans. It includes four restaurants (including Le Tout-Paris) and a Dior spa, and is decorated with works by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and French abstractionist Georges Mathieu.
Recently undergoing an 18-month renovation, the privately owned Hotel Saint James is touted as the only castle-hotel in town. Modifications made by interior designer Laura Gonzalez included a quaint garden pergola for her restaurant, Bellefeuille. Only members and hotel guests can book for lunch or brunch; the public is admitted after 7 p.m. In November, a Guerlain spa will be open to everyone.
“There is real energy at the moment, we feel that there is a bubbling interest in coming back to Paris and staying longer,” said Laure Pertusier, general manager of the hotel. “What is tricky is getting reservations at certain restaurants. “
MoSuke, for example. After opening his first restaurant in September 2020, Mory Sacko, a 29-year-old French chef of Senegalese and Malian descent, has won a Michelin star for dishes that combine French, West African and Japanese influences in a way that , he said in an interview, is “as simple and organic as it gets.” Among them: beef tenderloin marinated in shea butter with mafé sauce, made with peanuts, or even Breton lobster with tomato miso, lacto-fermented peppers and charred watermelon.
With only 35 places, its waiting list is already stretching over next year.