La REcyclerie The right side of the tracks

Disused railways of Paris are a favourite for explorers, but there are few spots where adventurers can enjoy a Ti Punch and a home-cooked lunch while chilling on a station platform. Enter La REcyclerie. Once the Ornano train station, the 19th century space has been ingeniously transformed by the team behind Le Comptoir Général into a temple to all things upcycled—retro chairs, walls made of old doors, the whole nine yards. There’s usually something going on here thanks to an eclectic programme of events, taking in everything from fix-your-bike workshops to craft fairs and gigs—theirs is a mailing list worth being on. If you feel torn between the extremely Instagrammable interior and the collection of picnic tables on the station platform below, it’s best to stay for two drinks and do both. Outside at the foot of a metal staircase you’ll find graffiti-clad walls, a sprawling garden and a sense of complete urban escape. La REcyclerie, we salute you.

Café Craft Digital nomads

Until recently, the Paris café scene had relatively little to offer the growing number of Mac-toting freelancers. Instead, self-employed creatives could be found drinking bad coffee in their pyjamas while confined to the wardrobe dimensions of their flats. But no longer. Steadily catching on to the needs of the office-less population, Paris is now home to some cracking co-working spots. Take Café Craft, the immaculately monochrome co-working space on the Canal Saint-Martin. The coffee here is reason enough to visit, with beans that are locally roasted at Café Lomi, one of Paris’ temples to good java. When the work gets too much and a bit of wall-staring is in order, rotating art exhibitions provide perfect fodder for daydreaming. And that’s not all, there are plugs galore, lockers for stuff-stashing and absurdly good caramel cookies to balance out the wholesome lunches of freshly baked quiche and pasta salad. Emerge, ye freelancers, and step blinking into the light.

The Sunken Chip Mer-veilleux featured

On the one hand, with the London-Paris love affair blossoming more than ever, it’s a wonder that the French capital hasn’t adopted a few more British traditions. That being said, of all the potential cultural imports, food must’ve ranked somewhere near the bottom of the list. Not to be put off by prejudices of the Gallic tongue, two plucky young Brits decided to introduce a culinary classic of the Victorian seaside to the modern-day shores of the Canal Saint-Martin.

And what would you know, it’s only proved a rip-roaring success. Parisian foodies, and even some mortals without a blog, have been battering (pun intended) down the door since summer 2013. No wonder either. The fish (hake, haddock or catch of the day) is melt-in-your-mouth fresh having been delivered directly from the net of a Breton fisherman. The radioactive-looking mushy peas make for a perfectly green companion to the hand-cut chunky chips, and to wash it down, there’s a raft of British fizzy pop faves. For the unacquainted French out there, the Dandelion & Burdock is an absolute must-try—though best not to ask what’s actually in it.

In winter, as the seating is both limited and communal, you better not have an aversion to playing footsie with the hip starlets of the 10th arrondissement. But then come summer, the world is your oyster (last pun, promise) so you can take out the food, as is traditional, and eat your salty nosh by the canal.

Le Comptoir Général Exotic slices of bohemia featured

Le Comptoir Général is impossible to pigeonhole. That should give you some indication as to how special this cross-cultural maverick is. Part gallery, part concert hall, part café, part you just don’t know – it’s billed by their humble selves as a ‘ghetto museum’ that celebrates marginalized Francophone-African cultures. But that doesn’t come close to describing the bohemian jungle found within. The tumble-down walls and plant-ridden rooms are abuzz with activity from weekend brunches to cinema screenings. And if you don’t feel like leaving this whacked-out wonderland, you’re in luck—the beautiful vintage bar stays open late so you can sup on some African brews and slowly watch the night unfold.

Electric A forest of creative connections featured

Drawing Paris’ culturally clued-up crowd to the outlands of the 15th arrondissement is no easy feat, but Electric—the city’s new, futuristic focal-point of bohemia—has got them flocking south-west in their droves. Billing itself as an ‘alternative cultural center’ (part geographical jape perhap?), the venue plays host to a variety of bespoke cross-disciplinary events—ranging from fashion trade fairs to late-night party blowouts. It’s the space itself though that’s been sending shocks through the Parisian landscape. The 1000m2 main room, with its gnarled fibreglass tree centrepiece, affords stunning panoramic views over the city that a trip up the Eiffel Tower would have trouble bettering. Add to that a 400m2 adjoining balcony, a gargantuan 22,000m2 outdoor esplanade and a lighting system based entirely around video projection (the first of its kind in the world), and it’s not hard to see why Electric has the scope to indulge the wildest of ambitions that other more centrally located venues couldn’t indulge in their wildest of dreams.

L'Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon Let's push things forward

The Paris base of the gastronomical God made flesh Joël Robuchon, L’Atelier Saint-Germain reflects the Michelin mastery of a chef with more stars than any other. Raising a few eyebrows when it opened back in 2003, this red and black lacquered new breed is a stark departure from the white-tableclothed world of the classic restaurant Français—boldly pushing the boundaries of modern haute cuisine in the same way it boldly pushes the accepted notions of restaurant decor. Set up more like a tapas bar with high stools round a U-shaped bar, L’Atelier packs an oft-changing menu filled with traditional Robuchon specialties as well as more nouveau creations (caramelized quail stuffed with foie gras par example). It’s all so good that you’ll be pushing some limits of your own—that of acceptable behaviour, as you lick the last drops off your plate.

Concrete Hard like Sunday morning featured

Parisian parties took a serious nosedive somewhere in the noughties. Everything was all becoming a bit samey until Concrete blew a massive boat-sized hole in the city’s nightlife. So much so that it isn’t even at night any more. With a game-changing Seine-side locale, they can max out their Funktion One speakers for one filthy 19-hour mashup, and there’s not a peep out of the neighbors, simply ‘cos there aren’t any. Thoughts of this being some dark ’n loud after-hour gurn-fest, should be (at least partly) erased from your mind however. Lots of light reaches into the venue and in the summer, well, it’s all feet on deck! The techno-house soundtrack is marshalled by some real international ringers—no space to drop names here though, the word count won’t allow it. And everything takes place on the sleepiest of family days, so get your Sunday dinner excuse in early.

Le Meurice Distinct whiff of power

Maharajas, power-broker politicians and Jay-Z and Kanye West (to record ‘Niggas in Paris’ no less) have flocked to the 1815-established Le Meurice Paris for its ostentatious luxury, blockbuster 1st arrondissement location and its mastery of discretion. Beyond the gilded glass door lies a palatial hotel opulently decked out in rich mosaics, ancient mirrors and exquisite tufted fabrics. It’s regal and whimsical à la Louis-XVI, but it’s also a truly modern refuge, one major multi-million renovation later. Make sure you devote an evening to dine at their highly acclaimed restaurant for some delectable food and a refined French atmosphere. Le Maurice is a refuge of the world élite for a reason.

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