24 hours in Paris with Formula E driver Jean-Éric Vergne
As Jean-Éric Vergne celebrates his success against Lucas Di Grassi, he shares his favourite way to spend a day at home in Paris
"What do people complain about when they mention Paris?" asks one of Formula E's top drivers, Jean-Éric Vergne. "The Parisians, and they're right", he chuckles. "Alongside the traffic and the tourists, they're a real pain". Starting as he means to go on (bluffly and hilariously), the French TECHEETAH Formula E Team driver - who beat current champion Lucas Di Grassi to claim top podium position at this weekend's Uruguay e-Prix - offers the inside track on the city he loves, bemoaning only the fact there is not enough time to meet his favourite chef, Guy Savoy, at the Hôtel de la Monnaie.
Parisian breakfast: The Hoxton
Wake up in the Parisian equivalent of Soho, the second arrondissement, where social media giants and start-ups channel the Shoreditch-style spirit that oozes from this stunning 18th century townhouse. Once the (rather rococo) property of an adviser to Louis XV, The Hoxton's insides are the work of Soho House creatives, which shows especially in the edgy bedrooms. Decked in chevron timber floors, contemporary-tiled bathrooms and other aspects of industrial chic, they form the perfect spring- boards from which to see the nearby Louvre or stroll the banks of the river Seine.
Morning pit-stop: Sacré Cœur
To justify the Hoxton's splendid sourdough, poached-egg, salmon and hollandaise-sauce breakfast, a 30-minute walk north to Sacré Cœur is in order. One of Paris' most monumental landmarks, in a city hardly lacking them, the Catholic Basilica sits on the summit of Montmartre, the highest point of the city. Built to do penance for losing the Franco-Prussian War, it's remarkable not only for its unusual Franco-Byzantine idiom but also for placing France's failed-crusader king, Louise IX, alongside the more obvious Joan of Arc, on equestrian statues above the entrance's gable. >>
Meaning "beautiful mess" in Hebrew, Balagan is, in reality, more chi- chi than messy, but its open kitchen, bar-area and cosy corners do possess a certain energy. Regulars of The Palomar will be forgiven for noticing Levantine echoes, since it's headed up by the two Israeli chefs (Assaf Granit and Uri Navon) that set up the popular London joint, yet the interior's more obviously Mediterranean than the gaffe across la Manche, and has a new chef in Dan Yosha. Located near Place Vendôme, the beating heart of Paris, Balagan's strongest dishes are tuna tartare (with garlic yoghurt and ginger), the crunchy acidic notes of fattoush, and the perplexingly delicious feta ice- cream to round it off.
Afternoon pit-stop: Le Marais
The Marais buzzes with the sound of high and low cultures mixing, breathing and clashing. Here, the swankiest fashion boutiques and most glamorous art galleries jostle with old-fashioned bread shops and dingy bars. Once the home of royalty's power-brokers, after the French Revolution the lumpen took over and it quickly formed the nucleus of Jewish life. Nowadays, famous for avoiding the bulldozer that led to the homogenisation of Paris under the pen of G. E. Haussman, people flock to Marais for the old, medieval streetscapes and vibrant gay scene. >>
Aperitif: Prescription Cocktail Club
Once the sun has taken a tumble, it's time to seek nocturnal company at one of Paris's breeziest speakeasies, the Prescription Cocktail Club. Very much a trendy Left Bank creature, here the glitterati chatter by candlelight while sipping some of the world's quirkiest concoctions, which include the Old Cuban (mint, lime, Champagne, ginger and bitters) and The Experience (elderflower, lemongrass, basil, lemon and vodka). Rated among the highlights are ceiling-bowlers that hat-tip the Belgian surrealist René Magritte, a beautiful library, and DJ sets that raise the roof on weekends.
Gastón Acurio is a household name in Peru, where he runs a TV show and pens cookbooks at a rate faster than most can read. The theology behind the chef's Parisian haunt Manko is that it's named after the Father of all Incas, who happened to be the son of the Sun god, Inti. But, really, all that gleams here are the chandeliers and staircases that scream big expenses in the eighth arrondissement, oh, and the giant sharing plates of ceviches, tiraditos (marinated in lime, fish fumet, onion, chillies and coriander) and charcoal-grilled beef. The cherry atop this merrily plutocratic offering, is the cabaret behind the restaurant, where sultry sorts recline to watch seductive shows at the same venue that Josephine Baker launched her career.