Paris—the historic hub of counterculture and creativity, known for its food, fashion, fine art, beautiful women, and unique sense of mystery—is undergoing an era of rediscovery. Long respected as a grand city of connoisseurs, she is brimming with opportunities to satisfy every sense as the passion and precision of Parisian excellence, both new and old, evolve. Some of the coolest Parisian shops look and feel like museums. It’s a city that preserves its best traditions, whether they take the form of antiques or architecture, a time-intensive way of making pastries or stitching together leather goods.
And yet on our recent trip to Paris we sensed change in the air. There’s a new batch of high-end menswear brands, with designers who are putting a modern spin on French classics. Just as exciting, they’re having them manufactured on French soil. There’s an obvious Brooklyn vibe happening at the moment, but plenty of boutiques, bars, and coffee shops are giving it their own Parisian twist.
It might be the eating-and-drinking scene in Paris that’s changed most of all. The new cuisine is lighter and fresher, with seasonal produce and simple preparations replacing those elaborate, heavy sauces of yesteryear. And casual dining is in—everywhere, it seems. We found natural wines (vins naturels) and small-plate joints that make it easy for cocktails to turn spontaneously into dinner. That tendency to let things flow, to live in the moment, is another hallmark of French living.
Paris is one of the world’s great cities, and remains full of sensuality and romance. But what’s most exciting is what’s new about it, the charge of young blood and new life, guaranteeing it will maintain its character well into the future. Paris deserves the full treatment. That’s why we chose it as the subject of our newly redesigned Passport section. To make things clearer, we’ve split the city into three main areas. One last piece of advice for exploring: make a point of going down narrow side streets and peeking behind locked portes cocheres. Parisians have a reputation for rudeness, but that’s changing, too. You’ll be surprised how often a stranger will buzz you right into his or her hidden courtyard.