Whatever happened to Paris?

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The culinary scene hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, the clubs are cramped and full of introverted people and new design centers make the old grand dame irrelevant. While arts and culture critics debate over whether Paris is passé, the city is experiencing an invigoration of fresh ideas that are reinventing the City of Light.

While the center of Paris will always be the iconic mix of Haussmanian architecture, wide boulevards and world-class museums, outer arrondissements are continuously evolving and becoming more attractive for the in-the-know traveler.

One of the most exciting areas right now is Canal Saint-Martin. Located near metro stop République in the 10th, this 4.5 km long canal is lined with innovative restaurants, boutique hotels and the latest in BoBo (Bourgeois Bohemian or yuppie) fashion. Check out one of the countless design book shops and grab a bite at the to-be-seen brasserie, Chez Prune (71 quai de Valmy). This restaurant embodies the BoBo spirit with an eclectic vintage décor and dead-on French culinary favorites.

If you want to take your dining experience up a notch, reserve a table at Restaurant Georges, the Centre Pompidou’s top-floor modern eatery with the most thrilling views of the city. Whether it be the staff that appear to be high-fashion models or the dreamy cocktails (cucumber daiquiri?), you will surely have found an experience that can only be had in Paris.

In the mood for acquiring some of those stylish French designs? Head over to Colette (213 rue Saint-Honoré) where you will find a carefully curated selection of the latest trends in fashion, home décor, graphic design, books and all-around great designs. Think of it as the French solution to Urban Outfitters that simply oozes cool. To get a taste, check out Colette’s eShop here.

In the end, it’s all up to you. If you are a first-time visitor, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the standard attractions. However, if you do have time, I would recommend building your case for why Paris is not a dying city by visiting these thriving scenes that epitomize French cool.

“Whatever happened to Paris?” was written by a guest blogger who spent 2008 living and working in Paris.

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