I never shy away from a good excuse to explore another part of Paris. The release of the
Sonia Rykiel x Lancôme collection put me in the mood to spend some time across the river in Saint-Germain-des-Près. This neighborhood in the heart of the Left Bank is both the home of the Sonia Rykiel brand and a huge inspiration behind the fashion house’s latest beauty collaboration with Lancôme.
As one of the most distinguished quartiers in Paris, it seems to have struck the perfect balance of sophistication and la vie bohême. Its two biggest draws are chic shopping and unrivaled café culture. Seeing as it is a must visit on a trip to Paris, I thought it might come in handy if I share my mini guide to this part of town if you ever happen to visit, and some history of my favorite places here for those who are just a little bit curious!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Café de Flore — A Parisian classic if there ever was one. A favorite of the fashion elite and intellectuals alike, it has managed to be a major tourist destination without losing its charm. On late nights I come by for a croque monsieur and, in the summer, cool off with one of their milkshakes.
Brasserie Lipp — This café has been a Parisian institution for over 130 years, with its rotating glass doors at the front. Famous writers and artists have long congregated here, like Hemingway, for the sake of mentioning another American in Paris. From escargots to baba au rhum, you can find all the French classics here.
Le Bonaparte — One of the most perfectly Parisian terraces to sit on with a refreshment, overlooking l’Église Saint-Germain and the beautiful square just in front, and the perfect place to people watch.
La Palette — Slightly harder to find than some other famous cafés in the neighborhood, but every bit as happening and worth trying. This is a sweet spot to spend summer nights sipping rosé or winter nights cozied up with a great bottle of red on a romantic date.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte — Steak frites anyone? While slightly touristy, locals like this place too because frankly the only dish on their menu, steak frites, just can’t be beat!
WHERE TO SHOP
Sonia Rykiel — I couldn't possibly leave this one off the list. Inside their flagship store, you won’t just find some amazing clothes and accessories but also a spectacular display of merchandising, as the interior has been transformed into a vintage library with more than 30,000 books lining the shelves.
Deyrolle — This amazing collection of taxidermy animal curiosities from around the globe is truly fascinating. Don’t despair! There, every single creature you will find within Deyrolle died of natural causes and is artistically preserved for those with acquired tastes to buy and admire forever.
Elbé — By chance, I stumbled upon this shop selling authentic vintage French posters and advertisements from the last one hundred years, and now a favorite address in Paris. There are some real treasures in here to be found.
Cire Trudon — Cire Trudon dates back to the French monarchy when they made candles for Versailles. Still in its original location, they are one of the most magnificent candlers in the world. They recently uncovered a plaque on the façade with Louis XIV’s “Sun King” emblem that was covered up during the revolution. Just one more bit of history to add to what you’ll already find within their Antiquaire de la Bougie mini candle museum.
Le Bon Marché — Le Bon Marché is one of the first department stores in the entire world, and still one of the best. It is home to perhaps the best and most extensive collection of clothes, shoes, makeup, and more - even food!