“Weekends at our apartment in Paris are too rare, so when I wake up here on a Saturday morning I’m always torn between the need to deal with domestic chores and the desire to spend the weekend out in the city. The city usually wins.
Breakfast tends to be just a croissant from Monoprix because we’re in the 8th arrondissement, where even the boulangeries are closed at weekends. One of my favourite Saturday morning rituals is to head down Avenue Georges V and over Pont de l’Alma to the Musée du Quai Branly. It has this amazing vertical garden and the textiles are wonderful.
Paris is a city to walk in, so having whiled away a couple of hours in the museum, my husband and I will make our way along the Quai d’Orsay, which is lined with pop-up food stalls. We’ll pick up a falafel or some rollmops and eat watching the skateboarders.
Then we’ll head through the Esplanade des Invalides to Dries van Noten on Quai Malaquais, where the interior is more like a living room than a shop. It’s my go-to place for each season’s special piece. My last purchase was a pair of court shoes so shiny they look as if they’re made of silver; they brighten up every black outfit I own.
After a restorative citron pressé at the Café des Beaux Arts next door, we’ll walk over Pont des Arts to the superb bookshop at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The route takes us past IM Pei’s glass pyramid outside the Louvre, which always impresses me; Paris does that mix of modern and classic architecture so well.
I can never resist a visit to Charvet, the wonderfully old-fashioned shirtmaker on Place Vendôme. With its pea-green carpets and black-lacquered cabinets, the interior could be a set for Jacques Demy’s 1964 film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. I’ll drag us away from spotted handkerchiefs and into the cookshop E Dehillerin, where there are more copper pans, ladles and sieves than any chef could ever need. Then it’s onto the Métro to Les Halles.
If there’s something good on at Cinéma Le Balzac, an independent arts cinema in a rundown 1930s building near our apartment, then we’ll spend the evening there. Otherwise, we will go out for dinner. I keep my ear to the ground for places set up by enterprising chefs who’ve trained in great restaurants and now serve fabulous, elegant food and unusual wines from small producers in an informal atmosphere. Spring is my most recent discovery. There isn’t a menu, just four courses made from whatever the chef, Daniel Rose, found at the market.
We tend to get up late on Sundays. Our apartment is on the top floor and I soak in the bath, which is positioned so you can see across the rooftops to the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre.
We’ll take the Métro to the Musée de la Vie Romantique in the 9th arrondissement. Built by the painter Ary Scheffer in 1830, it was a bohemian haven for Chopin, Liszt and George Sand. Today, it’s full of paintings by Scheffer and his contemporaries, as well as mementoes from the era. It’s charming.
Our eldest son is studying in Paris and he can just about spare time for lunch at La Méthode on Rue Descartes. The food is perfectly fine – we usually eat rognons à la crème with tagliatelle, followed by tarte fine aux pommes – but we really go because of the decor. All beamed ceilings and stone walls, it’s pure Alsace.
After lunch, my husband and I will go for a stroll in the Jardin du Luxembourg, where people play a 17th-century game similar to squash called jeu de paume. We’ll pop into the Musée du Luxembourg too. It has good exhibitions and the Angelina tearoom is a big draw – it serves the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted.
Sunday evening is spent on the Eurostar back to London, feeling full but complete.”
For another perfect Parisian weekend, join Alber Elbaz, creative director of Lanvin, as he takes us through his hidden haunts or see the “godfather of lighting” Ingo Maurer’s perfect weekend in Munich.