A guide to Paris by designer Alexandra Golovanoff

I was born in Paris, but my family lived between there and Moscow during my early childhood. I remember that the buildings and avenues in Moscow seemed very large, so I always preferred the size of Paris. We ended up settling in the 16th arrondissement on the right bank. It’s very chic, very green. We used to play in Ranelagh Gardens where there is a carousel with wooden horses and lots of trees to climb. There are small gardens everywhere in Paris, but my favorite is the Jardin Catherine-Labouré, behind the Bon Marché in the 7th arrondissement.

Golovanoff at Le Voltaire on quai Voltaire

Golovanoff at Le Voltaire on quai Voltaire © Arnau Bach

I have spent my adult life so far on the left bank, in the 6th and 7th arrondissements. I’ve been everywhere in Place Saint-Sulpice in St-Germain-des-Prés – Rue Bonaparte, Rue du Four, Rue Madame – so I know the micro-neighborhood well. Because it is full of shops, restaurants, bookstores and galleries, there are many tourists, but contrary to what people think, the village is full of locals, where people know and greet each other. If there are friends visiting, I recommend they stay at the Hôtel Duc de Saint-Simon, a small and charming hotel in the area with a beautiful courtyard and garden.

Golovanoff at Le Voltaire

Golovanoff at Le Voltaire © Arnau Bach

Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon

Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon

Today I live on the quais de la Seine, in the antique dealers’ quarter – there are blocks of galleries along Rue de la Seine and Rue des Saints-Pères. My parents were antique dealers and I used to come here often when I was younger. I have loved antique shopping all my life and am always looking for something. There is also the famous Paul Bert Serpette market in Saint-Ouen north of the city – I recently found a Willy Rizzo love lamp there that matches another one I found 10 years ago and was just waiting to find another one. But on the weekends there are flea markets all over Paris and I like to take the opportunity to walk around the different neighborhoods.

Most days I work from home and go out for meetings or shoots for my fashion label. I usually take the bike. If I have a meeting, I like to go to Café Noir on Rue de Luynes in the 7th arrondissement, where they roast their own coffee.

Doursoux Military Surplus Store in the 15th Arrondissement
Doursoux Military Surplus Store in the 15th Arrondissement

There are so many new restaurants, but I stay true to my habits. I regularly eat soba noodles at the Japanese restaurant Yen on Rue Saint-Benoît – warm in winter and cool in summer. I visit Café de Flore regularly and even though it’s full of tourists, it’s still very Parisian – although we locals like to sit inside, not on the terrace. They have had the same staff for 25 years and they all greet me by name. This is also why I like Le Voltaire. Thierry, one of the waiters, always calls out: “Bonsoir, chérie!” The food is simple and French. I never eat fries except at Voltaire’s! I love the ambiance at Café Basile on Rue St-Guillaume, which has original mid-century decor. It is next to Sciences Po University, so there are a lot of young people there. On the weekends we will have dinner and lunch with friends, very often at my place or at their place – on Saturday morning I go shopping for food at the market in Alma-Marceau.

Coffee at Noir, in the 7th arrondissement

Coffee at Noir, in the 7th arrondissement

Julie from Libran's Boutique

Julie from Libran’s Boutique

For clothes shopping, designer Julie de Libran’s boutique, available by appointment, is effortlessly feminine. I love her jackets, coats and double cashmere knits. For shoes, the Pierre Hardy boutique is worth a visit. I pick up at least two pairs every season because they give my outfit so much personality, and while I don’t usually wear sneakers much, I love his white leather ones. Then for something completely different, there’s Doursoux in the 15th, a military surplus store I’ve been going to since I was a teenager. I love it for the khakis, pants and overalls – I love collecting styles from different eras and countries.

For my own cashmere designs, I am inspired by the colors of the city – the stone, the tin roofs, the sky, all these shades in halftones. Then there’s sunset, when the Louvre turns pink – it’s magical. You can see it from the terrace of Restaurant Loulou in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which in my opinion is the best view of Paris. Every time I go and come back, I am amazed by the beauty of this city; it changes and evolves, but it does not age.

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