Hello friends! I know I’ve been away for a bit. I’m currently touring around Europe with my honey. And he’s been so sweet about letting me drag him around to check out some sustainable restaurants and shopping in each city we’ve visited.
Our first stop on our grand adventure was in France for a wedding weekend at a chateau outside of Paris. Because I’ve spent so much time in Paris (a weekend after a study-abroad in Nice, a full summer in college, and then a week visit when I was I think 24) I only gave us one full extra day in the City of Light.
Here’s my biggest tip: look for the word “bio.” It’s French for organic!
STAY: Hidden Hotel*
28 Rue de l’Arc de Triomphe
I couldn’t think of a better place to stay in Paris with your honey than this cozy and sustainable hotel, located a three minute’s walk from L’Arc de Triomphe and the grand shopping avenue, Champs-Élysées. Contrary to how many Parisians deal with Americans – with a barely concealed sarcasm and boredom – when I called to ask if we could arrive after midnight, a most cheerful receptionist assured us he would be there all night. When we did finally arrive, he told us the fully stocked bar was open 24 hours. We could take a drink there, or call down using the phone located right above the bed to have something taken up. Then he escorted us upstairs to our room.
We were elated. It was a small room, but as Illich the architect pointed out, cleverly designed to maximise the space. The bed, tucked into a blonde wood dividing wall and flanked by white curtains, had fluffy white pillows and comforter, and a supremely eco-friendly Coco-Mat mattress (they have a store in NYC and I’m seriously considering heading there). A wonderfully deep bathtub shower was next to it. I didn’t have time to take a bubble bath, but the shower had great pressure and was temperature sensitive. The sink basin was stone. The windows opened out onto the quiet and pretty street. We don’t have TV at home, so we switched on the flatscreen at the end of the bed to a nature station for a half hour while we got ready for bed.
In the morning we slept in, and then I called down and talked to another incredibly cheerful receptionist, who carefully took down my order from the continental buffet: organic yogurt, green tea, mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice, chocolate crunch cereal (for Illich), and a huge bowl of fresh fruit and watermelon slices.
I checked out downstairs, and found several comfortable spaces to work and eat, plus – this being Paris – a beautiful outdoor space for smokers to enjoy a quiet smoke.
My only regret is that we couldn’t stay longer in such a wonderful hotel! Next time we come back, it’s this place, hands down.
Other Sustainable Hotels:
Solar Hotel – 22 Rue Boulard, 14th
Gavarni – 5 Rue Gavarni, 16th
GET AROUND: Velib
I was determined to see the city with fresh sustainable-blogger eyes, so I split up from my fiancé (he went to check out the Pompidou) and met up with Holly Rose of the gorgeous blog Leotie Lovely. I pulled out a bike from Velib, it being the fastest way to travel in the city, even though it was raining. Luckily, Holly had the same idea so we both looked like drowned rats! The café we wanted to try, Gentle Gourmet Cafe at 24 Boulevard de la Bastille, was closed. Such is Paris – they do not care about your feelings or schedule – so we skipped breakfast and walked over to the offices of Veja, the popular French sustainable shoe brand.
Other ways to get around: Walking (it’s a gorgeous city; do it) or taking the Metro.
Veja has a beautiful, light-filled, four-story office building that you access through a courtyard. An employee made us some organic green tea in the break room while we waited for Sebastien to finish his meeting. He took us to the showroom, where we peeked at the latest collection, which uses a satin-y silk instead of leather.
Then he took us up to the next floor, where we interrupted a lunchtime yoga class. On the top floor, we found the office, where Veja employees get down to the business of selling and promoting the brand. It looks out over the French Army’s stables – Sebastien showed us a picture of a dozen horses being groomed in the morning, their shining dark-brown bodies contrasted against the grey cobblestones.
We could have walked to our lunchtime destination, but it was raining, so we took the metro a few stops to the 3rd arrondissement.
WALK: 3eme Arrondissement
If you want a place to just wander around in, the 3rd arrondissement seems to be the place to be for the conscious set. Containing part of the upscale historical district (even more historical than the rest of Paris) Le Marais, it has plenty of organic cafés and juice bars, plus sustainable fashion.
EAT: Café Pinson
6 Rue du Forez, 3rd Arrondissement
58 rue du faubourg poissonnière, 10th Arrondissement
The food is wonderful in Paris, but it’s so meat, cheese and bread-centric, you might find yourself craving vegetables, as I quickly did. Problem solved: I met up with Holly of Leotie Lovely and Sebastien, the cofounder of the sustainable shoe brand Veja, and we had a healthy vegetarian lunch with fresh-pressed juice at Café Pinson in Le Marais. It is usually quite crowded, Sebastien told us, and so maybe you might want something to go if you’re pressed for time. But on this Monday after les vacances – when all of Paris leaves to go south – it was quiet and we quickly found a table.
As we got up to leave, happily sated, the owner, Agathe, revealed herself to us by getting up from the neighboring table. She was super sweet, and eager to connect with Sebastien. The sustainable scene in Paris, apparently is small, and equally warm and curious as the NYC one!
Other Places to Eat:
Fée Nature – 69 Rue d’Argout, 1st: Marked by a sign that simply says Bio et Sain (healthy and organic) Fée Nature serves gluten-free, veggie-centric food and tea.
Rose Bakery – 46 Rue des Martyrs, 9th: Make sure not to try to go to the old location in the 3rd, which is closed!
Bob’s Kitchen – 74 Rue des Gravilliers, 3rd: For the health conscious, has a great lunches. There’s also a Bob’s Bake Shop in the 18th and Bob’s Juice Bar in the 10th.
Le Potager du Marais – 48 Bd du Temple, 11th: Recommended to me by multiple people as a must-go, this affordable vegetarian and vegan restaurant was unfortunately closed on the Monday we were in Paris. But please go and tell me how it is!
SHOP: Centre Commercial
2 Rue de Marseille, 10th
Don’t let the name fool you. This concept shop by the sustainable shoe brand Veja stocks only the most well-designed fair trade, sustainable, and quality clothing and accessories, mostly from European brands. If you have room in your suitcase, you can also pick up some zines and coffee table books to complete the look. “It’s so nice to just shop like I used to before I got into sustainability!” Holly said as we flipped through the women’s section. I stocked up on Base Range underwear and socks and picked up the perfect leopard-print pleated skirt. And right down the street is Centre Commercial Kids (22 Rue Yves Toudic), where you can buy gifts for all the little ones in your life.
Other places to shop:
Valentine Gauthier – 58 rue Charlot, 3rd: I was incredibly disappointed that this store was closed the day we visited, because I love the sustainable designs of Gauthier, and was excited to peruse in person. It’s located right across the street from Café Pinson so lunch afterward is a must.
Ekyog – 4th, 10th, 18th: This women’s brand stocks super chic sustainable and ethical clothing.
Merci – 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 3rd: All the profits from this store go to charities for children in Madagascar. The brands it stocks are expressly sustainable, but are staples of Parisian style, like Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno, and Stella McCartney, plus Aesop and other beauty brands, and homewares. They have three places to grab a bite: a veggie-centric café, another to get a glass of wine and a meal, and a café in the basement with used books for sale lining the walls.
Altermundi – 3rd, 10th, 11th, 15th: An ethical, sustainable store carrying homewares and gifts.
Mademoiselle Bio – 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 18th: These beauty stores are completely dedicated to organic products. And knowing what I do about the Frenchwoman’s obsession with perfect skin, you would leave with an amazing skin regimen.
Sadly, we did not have time to prendre une verre (we let two friends guide us to a restaurant of their choice for a long dinner and several glasses of wine) but if we had, I would have taken us to one of these places.
Experimental Cocktail Club – 37 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 2nd: The original location of the excellent speakeasy in NYC.
Le Baron Rouge – 1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 12th: It’s not required, but locals bring their own glass bottles and fill them with some house wine from the barrels near the door. So eco-friendly!
*Hidden Hotel gifted me a free night’s stay. As always, I only accept free services from places I am excited about covering, and promise to point out any drawbacks.