In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, on rue Saint Dominique, you'll find a true gem of a hotel that is also home to one of the hippest restaurants in Paris. And, if you've ever stayed in Paris, you know the competition is fierce. Much as I love NYC, London, Chicago...there's nothing like Paris. There's that tiny restaurant that has only eight tables, reasonably priced food that blows your mind, and staff that allow you to linger well into the night without hovering over you like a turkey vulture waiting for traffic to clear to get at roadkill. In NYC that restaurant is called bankrupt. Paris has that impossibly small hotel, tucked away in just the right corner, with every little detail considered. Mind you, all places have their plusses and minuses - in the United States, even in NYC, the customer is still always right. Paris? Not so much.
Hotel Thoumieux is one of those truly unique Paris places. Just 15 rooms, utterly perfect location, on a Parisian street leading to the Eiffel Tower, in the 7th arrondissement. Walking up to the place is like walking up to a postcard. Iconic. Once inside, it gets even better. Hotelier, Thierry Costes, along with designer, India Mahdavi, and design duo, M/M (Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniakhave) put together a beauty.
A crazy, eye popping beauty, mind you. My eyes felt twitchy upon entering the room and glancing back and forth between the fabrics and the wall coverings - riotous comes to mind. Flower prints from the 1960's side by side with classic black and white photography, with the occasional leopard print thrown in. But, once my eyes adjusted, the combination of finishes seemed utterly perfect. Crazy as it all seemed, I never once thought overdone, and I utter that word quite a bit.
Add in a marble bathroom. Full sized shower. Complementary use of an iPad with Wi-Fi. Illy espresso machine, Aesop bath products. And, a minibar full of free Perrier and Coca-Cola Light and you're starting to think, perfect.
Then, the receptionist confirms your thinking by showing up at the door with a tin of freshly baked, still warm, cookies.
Thoumieux boasts two great restaurants, both of them fashionable and distinguished, yet in different ways. Those dining downstairs will enjoy classic French brasserie cuisine in a cutting edge cool setting. Like the hotel, the design is wonderfully eclectic.
Upstairs is Restaurant Jean-François Piège, serving innovative gourmet cuisine amongst beautiful contemporary decor, headed up by the highly regarded, chef, Jean-François Piège. Open only on weeknights, you won't feel like you're in a restaurant here - more like someone's high end apartment. It's design chic. This fine chef was at the Hôtel de Crillon, where his stunning and renowned restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, had two Michelin stars. He brought the two stars worth of quality with him. The dining experience here is rather unusual - at once serious and fun. To start, diners choose one to three ingredients that will be the focus of all the courses served - prepared however the chef chooses. Trust him. Expect eclectic combinations that somehow work and are prepared to perfection; like Salmon Belly and Avocado Macaroon with Red Onion; or Grilled Asparagus Extract with Horseradish-Tarragon Emulsion; or Cancoillotte Cheese Crust with Poached Egg. Artistry. And, if you're lucky, you can secure a table in the chef's private library containing over a thousand cookbooks from his personal collection.
Absolutely worth a visit next time you're in Paris.
And if, like me, you
appreciate the less ritzy side of cities, the abandoned buildings...the street art and graffiti, then take the Metro northeast out of the city and grab a view of this old customs building. Sitting along the Canal l’Ourcq in the north-east Paris suburb of Pantin it stands as a shrine to local Paris graffiti artists Artof Popof, Da Cruz and Marko and their friends who have completely painted the exterior of the two gigantic old warehouses. Rumor has it that it won't be around much longer, as it will become the office of a large advertising agency that will keep part of the walls in memory. If it's gone when you get there, I'll happily sell you a copy of the image or trade it for one of your own.
Shoot me a message.