Paris. The city of light, of love — and of luxury if recent hotel (re)openings by Hôtel de Crillon, the Ritz and The Peninsula are any indication. But it’s also a city oozing with creativity, which is why Anne Le Gal, journalist, musician and co-founder of the recently launched Indie Guides, is the ideal tour guide for a decadent day in the city. Her travel app, created with the help of a global network of musicians and artists, offers a smartly curated series of guides that cater to culturally alternative interests and creative pursuits, featuring hidden gems you’re not likely to find on your own.
Through her passionately creative lens, Le Gal has created a route through the Montmartre and Bastille neighbourhoods that features price points both high and low.
Butter me up
“I don’t generally wake up early, but if I do it’s a good excuse to pop down to the local bakery on rue du Martyrs, Sébastien Gaudard, for a coffee and butter croissant. The croissant au beurre here is the best in the city. It’s also the most expensive (€1.40) but well worth the price for the rich butery flavour!”
“I like to begin my day with friends by taking them to Le Bal. It’s a unique photo exhibition venue launched by the famous French photojournalist Raymond Depardon. It examines the image in all its forms: photography, video, new media, and the artists’ works are always passionate, bold and experimental. Surprisingly, it’s not that crowded most of the time and they have a nice café with American-inspired food and amazing French cakes. It’s a nice, quiet place to relax and enjoy brunch before the exhibition.”
Fashion for a song
“After that, one of my favourite places is Balades Sonores. It used to be a tiny record shop but the owner expanded it recently and the other side is a clothing shop run by his girlfriend, a fashion designer. She makes beautiful handmade clothing with a lot of personality and sensibility that feature her drawings, so each piece is unique. It’s actually the cheapest place to get handmade clothing in Paris — T-shirts are from €20. Nearby is an amazing vintage furniture shop called Nationale 7, with tasteful pieces from the ’50s and ’60s. It’s expensive, but a music lover’s dream. In the basement, there’s another indie pop-rock record shop, Ground Zero, where you can find some great additions for your music collection.”
The deli is on a busy street that’s a favourite for Parisian foodies, and the tiny terrace out front is great for people watching
A storybook afternoon
“A little further north is La Boutique du Livre Animé a store that specializes in pop-up books. The entrance is hidden off the street and you’d never know it was there except for a small sign over the doorbell. They have an amazing collection of pop-ups, old school stuff from a century ago to very recent books by new designers. It’s open to everyone but because they don’t advertise, only book lovers tend to know about it. You can spend hours browsing all the books and you feel like a kid with the shop all to yourself.”
Not your average street meat
“By now it’s mid-afternoon and brunch was a long way away. When I’m with friends I like to go to a Corsican deli shop called Terra Corsa for a plate of cheese and charcuterie. In Corsica, they feed chestnuts to pigs and wild boar, so the meat is very flavourful and delicious. It’s more expensive than the basic charcuterie but worth the extra price (€25). The deli is on rue de Martyrs, a busy street that’s a favourite for Parisian foodies, and the tiny terrace out front is great for people watching — you really get the feel of being a local.”
“Now is a perfect time to visit Phonogalerie, which only opens in the afternoon. The shop sells gramophones; the pieces are obviously collectibles and you can buy one if you have a lot of money, but even if you just like music it’s very interesting. The owners are cool and don’t judge if you’re just looking. Around the corner is an actual gramophone museum where, for €10, they will explain anything about recording music and will even play gramophones for you.”
Dinner and drinks
“In France we usually eat dinner at around 8 p.m. I go to Dune, a restaurant with a thoughtful menu of local, fresh ingredients and delicious (mostly) vegan meals at reasonable prices. It’s in the neighbourhood of Bastille where there are lots of bars and live music venues. The owners of Dune also have a bar close by called Le Motel, a well-known spot to see indie gigs. To end the night, go to La Loge to discover up-and-coming artists or to La Café de la Danse to see a concert or play.”