Paris Fashion Week is a gathering of the most vivid representatives of the industry and a display of their best products. Fashion houses, brands, designers and influences, A-list celebrities, journalists, buyers, new collections, collaborations, limited releases, special offers, parties... whoa – a wild mix indeed.
As you would expect, every 6 months for several years in a row the ITK team has been visiting the capital of France. Surely, the main purpose of our visits is the Paris Fashion Week and store-related work. Like it or not, though, we have a secondary association with what we originally know as fashion. Our life passions have always been outside of the conventional definition of fashion. Above all, we see clothes as a means of expressing cultural phenomena, lifestyle and everyday reality – real life, in which clothing performs the function of beacons that send out their signals. For us the store and all that comes with it is our lifestyle. So, we just like to share what surrounds us in everyday life with you. We share our interests and preferences too. This is the reason why we have come back from Paris with a guide ready for you. We call it ITK Tips. You will find out more about what we were up to on our trip very soon – the coming autumn.
That said, here are ITK Tips: Paris. Before you ask, we aren't the ones to go to Paris for onion soup, views of the Eiffel Tower or a table on a brasserie terrace. The mix of cultures and traditions intertwined in this megapolis is what we enjoy to the max – with time limits in mind, though.
Pontochoux / 18 Rue du Pont aux Choux
Our absolute favourite and, unquestionably, the top-1 destination in Paris. Pontochoux is a restaurant serving Japanese curry. We won't be wrong to say that their Japanese curry is the best we have had in our lives. The whole eight square metros that the restaurant is are all about the cooking and serving of one meal. The menu consists of chicken, pork and beef curry as well as a vegetarian version. Behind the counter you'll find either the older owner of the place or his younger assistant. Both are always amiable, in a great mood and ready for small talk. The simple interior design will be a great addition to the food, company and quick service and will highlight the aesthetics of the place. 100% ITK. Make sure you get here once you find yourself in Paris.
Right across Pontochoux you can find the small cafe Cordonnerie. You will probably even feel it's there, so trust your instincts. Coffee is at its finest here. Cordonnerie is tiny, but it is pure Paris. 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux.
Chez Alain Miam Miam / Marche des Enfants Rouges + 26 Rue Charlot
Chea Alin Miam Miam is exemplary street food. Action Bronson would agree. A popular sandwich stall is located in the oldest market in Paris, Marche des Enfants Rouges. Here you can always see a queue of locals and tourists. Genuinely, there's always a queue. All the people patiently waiting for Chef Alain Roussel (who has already become a local celebrity) to hand them their freshly made sandwich. Chez Alain Miam Miam has existed since 2005 and remained unchanged through the years. Homemade bread and ingredients of the highest quality. If you ask someone in the queue if waiting is worth it, the answer is sure to be positive. These very sandwiches are placed at top one in the world in many rankings. Order with pastrami and you won't go wrong. Magnifique!
Not many know this, but very recently a separate place, Chez Alain Miam Miam, has opened its doors to customers. It's just next to the market at 26 Rue Charlot. Here you will find all the above, and (almost) no queue. The only possible downside is that you won't see the Chef at work.
Pleine Mer / 22 Rue de Chabrol
Another small restaurant that you are bound to like. Translated from French, Pleine Mer means "The Open Sea". A great selection of oysters at good prices awaits you here. The oyster bar has its own farm in the northern region of Brittany. Hence, the main ingredient is always fresh and this is what counts. Farm oysters aside, the menu also lists ones "from the wild", caught in the open sea. By the way, Pleine Mer is doing great with its home delivery service. Ordering some oysters for takeaway is to the locals as ordering pizza is to the rest of us.
Kodawari Ramen / 29 Rue Mazarine
The description will be very similar to the previous ones. Exceptionally delicious food, queues, a non-trivial design and interesting soundtrack: coming from the speakers are the sounds of a densely populated town from the past. All of this brings you to 1950s-60s Japan (Tokyo). As you will have guessed, Kodawari Ramen is a ramen place with authentic Japanese cuisine. Other meals (not too many) are on the menu too, but most come here specifically for the ramen. If you aren't a restaurant critic or a picky eater, there is no need to take long with the menu. Just order some classic ramen.
Interestingly, the restaurant owns a wheat field. The wheat is harvested and ground in a private mill, while the noodles for the ramen are prepared right in the restaurant. By now you must have realized that this place is worth visiting indeed. The prices are more than acceptable and the portions are large. Fans of "attention to detail" and other heritage-like stuff will be delighted. There are lots of ramen places in the area, but only one is packed to the limit - Kodawari.
Shakespeare And Company / 37 Rue de la Bucherie
We will not get into detail on the history of this book store. It's quite complicated and, as of 2019, has spanned 100 years and counting. You can find out more if you want to. All you really need to know about Shakespeare and Company is that in different times it was the centre of literary culture and modernism in bohemian Paris. Among regulars were Ernst Hemingway, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray and many other great people of their times. For instance, the store itself, the staff and the visitors are mentioned in Hemingway's "The Holiday, Which Is Always with You".
These days the shop is inside of a 16th century monastery. Book shelves aside, you will find a reading hall with a view of the Notre Dame, impressive book shelf mazes, a cafe and a section of rare editions. There are even special places for sleeping! What can you do here? Enjoy the atmosphere. What can you buy here? If you aren't an experienced reader, we would recommend sticking with the works by Ernst Hemingway. A short story collection in English will be an excellent purchase. As an alternative, we'll suggest taking a look at the edition "Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart", released for the store's anniversary.
The Louvre / The Department of Islamic Art
Perhaps it is rather strange to go to Paris and not visit the Louvre. This is basically why it is present in our guide. Honestly, the most popular art museum in the world isn't exactly on our top list. No matter what, one of the main symbols of Paris should be visited. One reason is to, at least, form your own impression of it.
If you don't have your own clear preferences, you might want to listen to our advice: head to the Department of Islamic Art. Firstly, it really is beautiful. Secondly, the exhibition was rather recently updated and looks more modern and understandable in terms of delivering information. In the case of the Louvre, this is something to consider.
The Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy and the Gallery of Mineralogy/ The French National Museum of Natural History
We finish the list off with two impressive galleries both part of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. This destination promises to be a light trip with guaranteed content for the Instagram feed. The museum is located in a botanical garden, so a nice walk is included.
The Arenas Picasso / Noisy-le-Grand
To paraphrase the greats, we'll say this: "architecture is our ancient passion". The construction of the Arenas Picasso was completed in 1984. Manuel Nuñez Yanowsky was the architect of this surreal wonder. The complex is in fact a block of apartments made of reinforced concrete in the shape of huge discs, each being 50 m in diameter. Two discs, installed on pedestals with arcades and buttresses, located opposite each other, are an allegorical representation of sunrise and sunset. Words are unnecessary. It simply stuns the imagination. This needs to be visited, seen and studied on your own. For definite!
The walk to Noisy-le-Grand from the centre of Paris will take you about 1 hour. You won't be able to relax here so we would recommend you plan your trip for the earlier hours. There are a few sites around that will appeal to architecture lovers. All of them are available for you to see. So take a walk around, you won't regret it.