Ah! Paris!… Where dreams play out, chic women reign, fabulous restaurants tempt and incredible shopping abounds. The city is home to the most visited museum in the world (the Louvre) the most Michelin stars (over 70) and only one stop sign. The Obelisk in the Place de Concorde is actually a giant sundial, keep an eye out for the roman numerals in the pavement. There are more dogs than children living in the city. Pick up, its 500 euro if you don’t! And Paris was the birthplace of the Dandy. Fashionable men engaged in the nonchalant pursuit of elegant physical appearance, leisurely hobbies, aristocratic manners and a refined lifestyle. Paris is still an inspiring place for gentleman!
Sounds English but is totally French. And THE place to buy shoes. Started in 1891 in Limoges by Edouard Blanchard, it was not until 1922 when he opened his first store in Paris, rebranding as J.M.Weston, that he became the go to shoemaker of the who’s who. The company still is. Total quality snobs, they owns their own tanneries to ensure the finest leather. Rebellious mods wore their father’s Weston loafers with jeans and, gasp, bare feet. Scandalous at the time, the look is now part of the mainstream youth uniform. Real Weston’s the pinnacle of aspiration.
Katara Cinema at the Royal Monceau
Design legend Phillipe Starck created this cinema as part of his no expense spared renovation of the Royal Monceau Hotel. And what a way to end the weekend. Every Sunday night the film club shows a classic, or not so classic film. Fast and Furious was a recent favorite. The 40 euro admission includes a coupe of Champagne and to-die-for caramelized popcorn from Pierre Herme. Each of the 99 seats are upholstered in buttery soft leather. Only one is Starck’s signature orange. Rent the entire theatre any other day of the week and pick your own movie.
Charvet Place Vendome
There is an entire Wikipedia page devoted just to Charvet’s customers. The world’s first shirt shop opened in 1838. It is still the best! Christophe Charvet pretty much invented the modern shirt putting curves to armholes and necklines; adding the shoulder yoke. Before him shirts were just squares of linen stitched together. The store followed high society to the Place Vendome in 1877 and it had been there ever since. The ever changing, colorful window displays were a destination in their own right for the Beau Monde. The 3rdfloor was and remains the center of the universe for anyone interested in a bespoke shirt. The selection of fabrics and colors is breathtaking! Jean Cocteau wrote Charvet is “where the rainbow finds ideas”. Anything can be customized; the cashmere housecoats are the stuff of dreams.
A la Civette
Possibly the oldest cigar shop in the world, certainly the oldest in Paris, a la Civette is where Casanova, Napoléon and Churchill got their smokes. Back in the day, 1719 that is, tobacco leaves were flavored with the diluted secretion of civets, mongoose like mammals. The shop offer more than 300 types of cigars, 40% are Cuban, stored in a walk in humidor. You can also find 200 varieties of pipes, pipe tobacco, smoking accessories and a selection of curated rums… because what goes better with a cigar.
Named for the year prohibition started in the US, Gentlemen 1919 is inspired by the glamour of bygone eras. From the street, it is a classic barber shop. Sit back in the circa 1963 leather chair complete with built in ashtray; indulge in the perfect shave or haircut. Then step through the secret door into a world of masculine elegance and the romance of the secret gentleman’s club. Discreet and elegant, enjoy a classic cocktail, a cigar from the smoking room or one of the 50 fifty whiskies that line the bar from a comfortable leather chesterfield. Of course, women are welcome too!
La Reserve Spa
With only 3 treatment rooms this is the ultimate exclusive spa experience. La Reserve was the extravagant home of Napoléon III’s half-brother, the Duc de Morny. Billionaire Michel Reybier bought it in 2013, spending a fortune turning the property into a top luxury hotel (as voted by pretty much everyone). The special men’s spa menu uses Nescens-Swiss Cosmeceuticals for a positively age erasing facial! Combine it with a pedicure then a cognac in the Library. Heaven!
These travel tips were originally published in Iconic Concierge , a quarterly lifestyle magazine fo affluent gentlemen… my column is called the gentleman abroad …toronto and london coming next…