Celeb Sightings and How to do Paris like a VIP

How to do Paris like a VIP

Being a celebrity in Paris must be somewhat of a conundrum. On the one hand, there are those who live here, who start to blend in perfectly with the locals—to the point of being almost unrecognizable or at least fly under the radar. And then there are those celeb sightings, like the recognition of the Kardashians, who come for Paris Fashion Week or just a quick shopping trip and get mobbed every step of the cobblestoned way.
I mean, if you’re a celebrity anywhere, what do you do? Where do you go? Besides all the coveted night spots or restaurants you have to be someone to get into? I’ve always wondered what it must be like to be famous living in a big city like New York, where everyone is watching your every move.

Photo of Halle Berry: By Jenn Deering DavisUploaded by MyCanon (Halle Berry) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons;
Photo of Queen Latifah:gdcgraphics [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I personally have come across two celebrities on the streets of Paris: Halle Berry and Queen Latifah. When I saw Halle Berry, I was on my way home from Carrefour, my local supermarket. I had a few bags of groceries in my hand, and I was walking through rue de Buci in the 6th arrondissement, when I caught a glimpse of a strikingly pretty light-skinned black woman with spiky hair and bleached tips.

She just glided past, looking as if she knew exactly where she was going, and I kind of had a WTF moment, as I asked myself, “Was that Halle BERRY?!” I turned to watch her, and sure enough, it was her. One thing I’ve always had a talent for is recognizing celebrities in films (even when heavily disguised) and being able to name just about every actor or actress in a TV series. I used to spend hours scouring IMDB for more information about my favorite screen stars, and my parents were always highly amused when I’d rattle off the names of the actors in films we watched together, before my dad could even try to guess.

There’s no doubt that this woman was the former James Bond bombshell in the flesh. No one around seemed to recognize her, although I’m sure some people knew who she was because I was in the one of the most touristy neighborhoods of Paris, which is always swimming with Americans.

As tempted as I was to follow her, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. What would I say? I’m not her biggest fan, although I do like her as an actress. I had my groceries with me. And I didn’t even have an iPhone at the time, to request the habitual “Look who I met” selfie. So I just stood there for a moment, reveling in the smallness of the world and the irony of living in Paris and crossing paths with American celebrities. And then I shrugged my shoulders and walked home.

The second time, I wasn’t so shy. Although, it didn’t go down that well. Again, I was walking home from the grocery store, and who do I see perusing the menu at the Italian pizza place on rue Mazarine? Queen Latifah dressed like an average person in sweats and sunglasses, no glamour or glitz to be seen.

I don’t know if it was that or the fact that I was hoping she’d be similar to her Charlene character in Bringing Down the House (I’m joking of course), but I had more confidence to try my luck this time. I went up to her, tapped her on the shoulder and asked in French (just in case my celeb spotting radar was completely off the map) if she was Queen Latifah. She looked at me with a little smile and just slowly nodded her head.

At this, I immediately switched to English and blabbered about how I was American and that I wasn’t going to make a scene, but I just wanted to say hi. She kept smiling, but very stealthily started backing away, and then I saw her friend laughing from across the street, seemingly in disbelief that someone had recognized her. And that was kind of it. Talk about anticlimactic.

But if you’re wondering where to hang out in Paris to really get in some prime celeb sightings (most likely without approaching them), here’s where to go:


Restaurant Hélène Darroze: Gwyneth Paltrow apparently loves this 2-star Michelin restaurant, and it’s not hard to guess why. With sister restaurants in London and Moscow, the elegant establishment with modern, cozy décor boasts gastronomic delicacies to give foodies drool-worthy dreams the world over. You can book a table in the dining room or Le salon d’Hélène, where a 65€ tapas tasting menu filled with luxe delicacies will make you feel like a queen.

Photo by Giada Piermarini

L’Avenue: If you can manage to snag a table during PFW, you might rub shoulders with the likes of Kim Kardashian- West and Jessica Alba. It’s located on the wealth-lined Avenue Montaigne just off the Champs-Elysées, to which I assume it owes its name. A lush atmosphere with stunning waitresses running to and fro, serving up dishes of beautifully plated French delicacies and pristine cocktails—but you might want to make sure you can handle the hefty price tag to go with the people-watching €€€€.

By Pline (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Crazy Horse: If you want to see a real risqué cabaret in Paris, this is the place to be. Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been spotted here, and Dita Von Teese made regular appearances onstage in past years, among other sexy celebs. It’s one of the more esteemed nightlife stage shows in the capital, and it comes at a price: count at least 100€ for one ticket and more, if you want to watch the adult-themed show with champagne and caviar.

Photo by Alexandre Guirkinger

Silencio: For nightcrawlers with fabulous style, you can try your luck at the queue of this prestigious, members only nightclub in Paris. The place came into being at the hands of famed director David Lynch, who based its conception on the fictional club in his film Mulholland Drive. Otherwise, start saving now for the minimum 900€/year member’s fees, and you can be sure to skip the line every time.

Photo from the official Facebook page of VIP ROOM

VIP ROOM: For a more hip-hop video-like club experience, VIP club is where you’ll want to be. Frequented in the past by legends of the music genre: Snoop Dogg, P Diddy, Pharrell, Rihanna and even pop queen Lady Gaga, here it’s bottle service, skin-tight dresses worn by foreign gold diggers and a crowd of people, who either know someone who works there or have enough dough to slip the bouncers for fuss-free entry. Otherwise, they’re notorious for being some of the worst ones in Paris and on a major power trip… A word to the wise: sky-high heels and fierce fashion sense mandatory.
Regalez-vous! // Treat yourself!