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The pleasures of Paris: a hedonist’s guide

There are plenty of ways to make yourself happy in Paris, as long as you have plenty of euros to spend.


As crowds flock to see Les Misérables in theatres, Paris will, no doubt, be top of mind. But who wants to be miserable in Paris? And how is that even possible? Locals may feel otherwise, but for tourists, this is a city that can cater to your every whim, fulfill almost any wish you can think of – especially if you've got some euros to play with.

Pierre Hermé

Leading up to the holidays, this master of modern chocolate and pastry rolls out his festive macaron flavours, which include hazelnut/truffle and chocolate foie gras. But the delicately assembled confections are equally decadent throughout the year. The standouts: olive oil/mandarin, rose/quince and violet/licorice. Hermé is not doing this to be trendy. He's more of a dessert daydreamer – someone who just so happens to love his breakfast posh and pink. His signature Ispahan croissants and granola contain a special blend of raspberry, lychee and rose pieces for $20 (€15) a box.

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72 rue Bonaparte (plus other locations), 1-43-54-47-77;

Chez l'Ami Louis

Even a hedonist can crave simple roast chicken. But here in this cozy restaurant, with a tricolor cube-patterned floor and working wood-burning stove, the traditional French fare has become somewhat legendary – with prices to match. The enormous chicken for two, for instance, costs $111 and could easily sustain Marius and Éponine for a week. Often described as "to die for," the succulent bird arrives whole with a heaping plate of matchstick frites. Resist the temptation to ask for a doggy bag; here, that's considered gauche. 32 rue du Vertbois, 1-48-87-77-48


A holdover from the Belle Époque days, this famous art nouveau nightspot (once frequented by the likes of Marcel Proust, Wallis Simpson and Brigitte Bardot) has been revived of late by Nuit Blanche founder Pierre Pelegry and his stable of art cognoscenti. On Saturday nights, it's the type of mondanité (society) scene that director Whit Stillman could only dream to reproduce: flawlessly dressed beautiful people whose banter about artists Ellsworth Kelly and Anselm Kiefer only gets better after the fourth glass of champagne and a little remixed Lykke Li. Just don't be a buzz kill and discuss president François Hollande s new wealth tax.

3 rue Royale; 1-42-65-27-94;


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Jovoy Paris is an adventure for the nose. Owner François Hénin moved and expanded his small niche shop last March into a large, plush space resembling a New York loft filled with rare fragrances from France and beyond. Often, their names alone tell epic and seductive stories, such as Eau Trouble or Mauvais Garcon from Brécourt: Both truly smell like boozy, sexy escapades ($128). And don't miss the hand-painted crystal bottles from M. Micallef (upward of $2,400), which manage to outdo the liquid gold inside. 4 rue de Castiglione, 1-40-20-06-19;

Hotel Le Meurice

Respectfully updated five years ago by Philippe Starck, this hotel was name-checked by Jay-Z and Kanye West in a hit song and remains the luxe lodging of choice for both royals and fashion royalty (even more so now that the Ritz is closed for renovation). The real fun, however, is not up in the rooms but in 228, the dark and moody bar, or in Le Dali, the more scene-centric of the two restaurants. Skip the overrated, overpriced burger: The club sandwich is Le Dali's sleeper hit – although also a splurge at $44. One glass of 2003 Dom Perignon is $92; for the same price, you can order nearly three "Gla-mur" cocktails, a bubbly wordplay of blackberry and champagne (mure is French for blackberry). If you really want to splash out, three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno mans the hotel's other eatery, Restaurant le Meurice, and its eight-course $340 tasting menu. 228 rue de Rivoli, 1-44-58-10-10;

Gontran Cherrier

If Valjean were going to steal bread from a bakery circa 2012, he would do well to head toward Montmartre, where Gontran Cherrier creates sourdough rounds baked through with red miso, and baguettes flavoured with arugula juice and squid ink (black as tar and briny in taste). Cherrier (arguably even more attractive than Hugh Jackman), may have an elevated approach to taste but he's not elitist about his prices. For $13, you can leave with a decent selection of salty and sweet (make sure to include the citrus and pistachio tart).

22 rue Caulaincourt, 1-46-06-82-66;

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Les Caves Augé

Dating back to 1850, this store is among the oldest wine merchants in Paris. It's possible even Hugo or his contemporaries would still recognize it. The inventory is piled so high that it's any wonder staff can find you that 2000 Chateau Margaux ($1,898) you once glimpsed in the 144-page catalogue. Champagne and Calvados get the star treatment here; they even have vintage Moët et Chandon ($9,230 for a 1.5-litre magnum from 1959). But the ultimate tipple is a rare Rémy Martin cognac housed in a Baccarat crystal carafe. Price: $13,090. Vive la révolution! 116 Boulevard Haussmann, 1-45-22-16-97;

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