The Perfect Day in Paris, According to a Local Antiques Expert

October 16, 2019

Meet Dora Molnar: A French decorative arts connoisseur and Parisian antiques consultant for designers all over the world. With her colorful background (after being born in Budapest, she has lived in the Loire Valley, London and Ireland) and seasoned career working in auction houses, Molnar has an inimitable eye for design — and knows the City of Light like the back of her hand.

So we couldn’t resist asking for her favorite, under-the-radar spots in town — in sum, a dream day in Paris.

Neighborhood Petit Dejeuner

Molnar says to start the day “on the terrace at Le Gymnase for breakfast. It’s simple, filled with locals and has a terrace on Boulevard Raspail with big beautiful trees,” says Molnar, “I can easily spend two hours there.”

A Morning at the Market

“If it’s the weekend, head to the Puces de Vanves flea market, south of Paris. Here, the hunt is real! At Vanves, you find surprising pieces, like small furniture, decorative accessories, jewelry and art. Feel free to barter and be sure to get a fresh mint tea from the Moroccan lady who rolls up and down the alley with a cart she’s transformed into mobile bar!”

Lunch Like the Locals

An alternate to typical French cuisine for lunch, Molnar recommends Asian food off the beaten path: “For Japanese, go to the 2nd arrondissement, to Udon Jubeyor Kunitoraya. For Chinese, Coin de Paradis by the Arts et Métiers metro stop. For dessert, the walnut sponge cake is amazing at Atelier de pâtisserie which, despite its French name, has delicious Chinese sweets with a contemporary twist!”

Discover Drouot

“After lunch, walk to Drouot — a piece of heaven for me! It’s the legendary auction house where exhibitions and auctions have been held since the mid-1850s,” Molnar says. “It’s magical to see 60 million-year-old dinosaur eggs, Louis XIII-period gilt wood frames and a Parisian snail merchant’s street sign from the 1880s in one place.”

An Afternoon Old World Antiquing

“I love going to Au Facteur Cheval, an antiques store located in a former dairy shop with original Art Nouveau tiles and furnishings. Also, Galerie Epoca, an unclassifiable Ali Baba’s cavern behind an unassuming façade in the 7th gallery district. It’s a cabinet de curiosité atmosphere with the most eclectic antiques collected by its owner, Mony, who also happens to be the great-grandniece of Einstein.”

Museum Musts

My favorite museums are Musée Bourdelle – an intimate atelier-museum of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. Then, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, where contemporary art pairs with a collection focused on nature and animals. And, of course, the Musée des Arts décoratifs, with unparalleled furniture collections and period rooms, and the best fashion and design bookshop in Paris!”

At Day’s End: Apéro

After the afternoon, aperitif at one of three spots: Au Petit Rozey wine bar, which her boyfriend owns, “with seriously amazing natural wines, charcuterie and cheese.” Chez Jeanette in the 10tharrondisment: “I love its untouched, 1940’s decor!” Or for a metropolitan escape, “The terrace at La Fontaine d’Henri IV. It’s in the Belleville area with winding cobblestone streets and literally no traffic. It’s like being far away from the busy city!”

Dinner After Dark

“Dinnertime not before 8.30pm to really enjoy the apéro. For refined, traditional French food, head to Le Baratin. This neighborhood bistro has an unrivaled food and wine selection and a great atmosphere.” Molnar adds, “don’t mind the mood swings of its owner and don’t expect a particularly warm welcome.” Another option: “A more casual, homey dinner at Cucina Napoletana, close to Bastille for nice homemade pastas and seafood.”

And a Nightcap

To end the evening, Molnar endorses “Rosebud, a legendary Montparnasse cocktail bar. In this old-fashioned spot, time has stopped since the 1960s. There’s nothing trendy about the place, but it’s just the best!”