Got French boys on the mind? Get that aching sensation of je ne sais quoi in the chest every time you think of la Tour Eiffel by night? Sighing over the thought of Hausmannian buildings, wine-fueled outdoor dinners, and transcendental walks across the Île Saint-Louis? Your diagnosis: Paris withdrawal syndrome (PWS). The bad news? You’ve been hit hard. The good news? There is hope. Although you may be miles across the Atlantic from your one true love, there are a number of temporary cures to alleviate symptoms of PWS. In fact, it is quite easy to find French solace within the concrete confines of New York City. So, fear not, petite amoureuse. You can still experience le coup de foudreright here in the Big Apple, or at least, be pacified until your next visit to the City of Light. Voilà, the best places for apetit goûter of Paris à New York.
Rise and shine—but not too early—remember, the French working week grants for a little extra hour of beauty dodo, or sleep. Head over to downtown boulangerie, and Camille Rowe favorite, Ceci-Cela on Spring Street for a freshly baked croissant. Here, you can sit down, order a café au lait, and read le journal while you eat, surrounded by Art Nouveau lithograph prints by Alphonse Mucha and street signs from Paris. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous than your croissant traditionnel, opt for mom-and-pop shopMille-feuille Bakery on LaGuardia Place. A favorite among expats, owner Olivier Dessyn whips up the full flavor of Paris with options like Nutella-infused brioches, almond raspberry croissants, or, the aptly named and superiorly delicious, mille-feuille pastry, which will momentarily transport you to someplace warm and Frenchy in King Louis XIV’s court.
Upon finishing your petit déjeuner,waltz over to the flagship Repetto store in Soho to pick out a new pair of ballet flats à la Jane Birkin on her day off. Conveniently located right next door is Ladurée, where you and a copinecan relax on the outdoor patio garden with some rose-flavored macarons and tea while discussing your respective current amants.
When you are finished, venture down a less-frequented side street in Soho, and stumble upon one of the newest and best-kept secrets in town: Maison Close. Nicolas Busnel’s sensualist lingerie shop takes cues and inspiration from the libertinism of the Belle Epoque era, while maintaining the elegance of French haute couture. Caroline Anderson, who runs the shop, will help you to find the perfect fit, and explain the allures of “séduction à la française” in order for you to get fully in touch with your inner femme fatale. Black curtains for this underground rebel-Parisian jaunt seal the deal.
Wander out of the store and up to Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. Here, your nez will lead you into posh Parisian perfumery Annick Goutal, where notes of gardenia and bergamot will trigger a Marcel Proust moment, and take you back to that time looking for the perfect scent at Goutal’s shop in Paris on Rue de Bellechasse. To keep on the olfactory trend, visit Aedes Perfumery, where a chandelier that looks like it was plucked right out of the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles ominously dangles over a table of imported perfumes.
Next, hop on a Vélib, or rather, a Citi Bike, and ride over to Bryant Park where you can play a little pétanque. Or, if you’re feeling too paresseuse to play, pick up a baguette from Maison Kayser and some Comté or Camembert from the French Cheese Board fromagerie, and set up a small picnic for yourself. Both Tompkins Square Park and Washington Square Park, with its Arch modeled after l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, are endroits idéals for impromptu wine and cheese munching and people-watching. However, if it’s the water that you crave, go to Grand Banksrestaurant on Pier 25, where you can have an experience similar to that of a péniche on the Seine while sipping rosé.
For dinner, you won’t get more authentique than Le Charlot on the Upper East Side. Owner Bruno Gelormini greets customers in French with a bonsoir, and the French-speaking waitstaff follows suit in this Left Bank–style bistro where tables are in traditionally cozy proximity to each other, and the onion soup and steak au poivre are standouts.
For a more downtown vibe, Pardon My French in the East Village serves up some of the best frites aux truffes in town, and something in the laissez-faire air of the space makes it virtually indistinguishable from your local hip brasserie in the ninth arrondissement.
For a post-meal indulgence, go to Delice & Sarrasincreperie where owner and Wilhelmina model Christophe Caron, who is not exactly hard on the eyes, has radiofrançais playing at all times. The native from Toulouse, whose mother makes the crepes, will have you well taken care of.
After dinner, head to the Film Forum on Houston Street to watch Pierrot le Fou, or other old wave French classics with English subtitles. Films on the Green also organizes outdoor viewings of French film classics like Breathlessthroughout parks in NYC.
To finish off your night the right way, enter the most magical place of them all: Albertine bookshop on Fifth Avenue. On the outside of the building, green ivy, or lierre, scales the walls. Inside, stunning marble columns greet you. On one side of the foyer, an ornate golden Venetian room is quietly tucked away, lit by candelabras that look like they came straight out of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bête. If you continue walking down the foyer, you will pass into the bookshop. The shelves are lined with texts by every imaginable French author, and English translations at their side. First and second editions of books by Simone de Beauvoir and Voltaire are protected in glass cases. Climb the stairs to the second floor where a sprawling zodiac mural on the ceiling ordained with golden stars calls to mind quotes from Arthur Rimbaud. Pick up a book of poetry by said author, sit down on a leather couch in the intimate reading nook, and close your eyes. The synesthesia might start to take over; the paths of language might begin to cross; and if you click your heels together three times, you might open up your eyes to find that you are sitting in the attic of Shakespeare and Company, a stone’s throw away from la Rivière Seine.