Ah, the City of Light… Oh wait. This is New York–the Big Apple. Luckily for us New Yorkers, there are plenty of things to do, see and (most importantly) eat when we want to feel like we’re being transported across the ocean to that magical place known to some as “Baguette Town.” Yesterday, Untapped Cities reader Akeem Bailey asked us: “Hey guys, I want to plan a ‘Paris’ day in NYC this weekend. Any ideas on things to do, places to eat?”
Here are our “untapped” suggestions for a Parisian day in NYC.
Macarons, macarons, macarons. There are plenty of places to get them. Our top picks are Macaron Café, François Payard and the most famous of the French pâtisseries, Ladurée. Or for the ultimate Paris-meets-New York gastronomic experience, line up at Dominique Ansel’s Soho bakery for a Cronut. The latest hyped import is Maison Kayser, and while excellent, know that it’s just like any other good pâtisserie in Paris.
Tea and Chocolate
Palais des Thés on Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side
Get one of the delicious flavored teas at the Palais des Thés on the Upper West Side or in Soho and make yourself a special afternoon treat, or go for a thick Parisian hot chocolate at the Maison du Chocolat on Madison Avenue.
Cafés and Cocktails
For a more substantial meal, we recommend Antibes in the Lower East Side. The provençal food is fresh and delicious with recipes hailing from Nice and the ambiance of a little rustic neighborhood bistro. Juliette’s on N 6th Street in Williamsburg is charming too, with the ambiance of a typical Parisian bistro and classic French fare like moules frîtes and steak tartare. They have a great brunch too.
Some other dining options ranging from more popular to lesser known: Pastis, Balthazar, Baratin, Café Gitane, Tout va Bien, Casimir, Lafayette and Jules Bistro. For cocktails, check out the Experimental Cocktail Club on Chrystie Street which originated in Paris and now has a NYC outpost.
After you’ve had your fill, walk it off with a visit to the gorgeous French Embassy on Fifth Avenue, where they filmed an episode of Law & Order: SVU. You won’t be able to go upstairs, but they might let you have a peek at the rotunda on the main floor, which is made completely out of marble with a Neoclassical sculpture in the center. The building used to be the mansion of Payne Whitney (brother-in-law to Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the founder of the Whitney Museum).
For a real bit of hidden history, you can spot the original French-inspired façade of Bloomingdales on East 60th Street. Also walk the stretch of 5th Avenue between 80th Street and 110th Street to revel in the French inspired Beaux-Arts architecture of the Gilded Age. Or walk the stretch of Broadway between Lincoln Center and 79th Street to see the ornate Upper West Side Beaux-Arts classics like The Ansonia and the Dorilton.
Arts & Culture
For some slightly more accessible French art and decorative objects, head to the Met to check out the Beaux-Arts architecture in the Engelhard Court, the panorama of Versailles on the first floor of the American wing, and of course the Impressionist wing. Join our upcoming architecture and design tour at the museum which concludes with a glass of wine at the Grand Hall Balcony Bar.
The Frick also has an impressive collection of French paintings and decorative objects, which are displayed as they were when Henry Clay Frick lived in the Fifth Avenue mansion.
The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) often has regular screenings of French films (with subtitles of course), theater premieres and cultural events.
The Great Outdoors
The French love to spend their days outdoors (it’s where the word “promenade” comes from of course), so leave some time to take in Central Park or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Grand Army Plaza and Eastern Parkway, which opens onto Prospect Park in Brooklyn was modeled after the Paris’ Champs-Élysées. And the Washington Square Arch and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch are of course mini versions of the Arc de Triomphe. Finally, don’t forget that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French Republic to New York City!