“I love Paris!” says Sandrine Plasseraud, who has rediscovered her homeland’s capital city after nearly 10 years living in the UK. From a three-employee start-up in Shoreditch, We Are Social has expanded into an international agency with a 700-strong team across a dozen cities. Plasseraud is founder and CEO of the Paris office, opened in 2009.
With businesses accelerating their preparations for Brexit, Paris has become an oft-mentioned location for firms – particularly in financial services – looking to move operations in order to continue to serve their EU clients. Senior lobbyists and politicians in France have said 10,000 jobs in the financial sector could migrate to Paris from London as a result of Brexit.
With the city already a longstanding cultural icon and now a potential new global financial hub, Plasseraud shares her tips on what to see, what to eat and what to do in this constantly evolving city.
I had to start discovering the City of Lights all over again when I moved back to France from the UK in 2009. When I had to relocate offices, the 20 or so young people in the French agency (now it’s 120) had just one piece of advice for me: move east, to the 10th arrondissement. So I set up the agency around the cool, hipstery Canal Saint-Martin and found a flat just 3 kilometres from the We Are Social office. Just over three years ago I moved to Buttes-Chaumont, a dose of greenery in north-east Paris, with magnificent views of Sacré-Coeur.
There’s a real hidden treasure to be found in the shape of the charming bar/restaurant Pavillon Puebla, a hidden, ivy-covered stone house surrounded by trees in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, where you can sip a cocktail or eat a pizza as if you were in the countryside.
One of the best views of the city is from the rooftop bar at L’Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers, situated between Le Marais and Montorgueil. I’d say it’s one of the coolest cocktail bars in Paris. La Bringue, at 38 rue Yves Toudic, is also a favourite place to hang out for a glass of wine or two with friends or colleagues, either after work or after a couple of hours sweating it out at La Montgolfière, the newly created social sports club next door.
For that Soho House feel, Molitor by MGallery is probably the closest you’ll find in France. It’s inside the art deco Piscine Molitor complex, Paris’s most famous swimming pool, originally unveiled by Olympic swimmer and future Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller in 1929. There’s an awesome spa here, too, and they do one of the best brunches in Paris.
Need a more private sort of meeting? Head to the Hôtel des Grands Boulevards. It’s situated on busy Boulevard Poissonnière, which is lined with theatres, bars and clubs. But nip down a discreet passage and you’ll discover a peaceful hotel and restaurant, with a covered courtyard perfect for quiet business breakfast meetings. And if you’re lucky with the weather, check out the rooftop terrace.
If you’re feeling hungry, try La Felicità by Big Mamma. Located inside the impressive Station F – the world’s largest start-up incubator, founded by Xavier Niel in 2017 in a former rail freight depot previously known as Halle Freyssinet – it’s inspired by Italian food markets and has a sunny terrace. For real market fare, head straight for the trendy Marais and one of my favourite places: Le Marché des Enfants Rouges. First established in 1628, it’s the oldest covered market in Paris.
There’s fine dining to be had at Restaurant Quedubon, which translates as “nothing but good!” It’s a great Parisian fine wine restaurant, whose passionate owner, Gilles Bénard, will be happy to recommend the best wine to accompany whatever you choose from the delicious offerings on the menu.
Don’t miss a quick dish in Le Bouillon Chartier. This restaurant, founded in 1896, is in a former train station and has been classified as a monument historique since 1989. It’s open 365 days a year, with a menu offering very affordable traditional French cuisine. (Starters begin from €1, and main courses from €8.50). It’s worth it for the décor alone. You’ll find it at 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre.
Le Canal Saint-Martin, in the 10th arrondissement, is a great place to meet inspiring people from different backgrounds while enjoying a quintessentially Parisian atmosphere. Many arty shops open their doors along the canal, such as the Artazart bookshop, dedicated to image and design. There are also some great boutiques to be found in rue des Francs Bourgeois in Le Marais, including Maje, my favourite womenswear brand. Just nearby at 12 rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais is NikeLab, in what used to be a bookshop. And don’t miss Berthillon, the ice cream shop located on the beautiful Île Saint-Louis.