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AWEN: Your Local Paris Insighter

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1 month ago

Meet AWEN, your Local Insighter for Paris, France. Paris is a city that wears many masks which makes every experience of the city different.

Lucille Kante, or AWEN as she is professionally known, is one of the world’s best up and coming music talents. Today, we are gaining exclusive access to AWEN’s local insights from across the city that she lives in and calls home: Paris, France.

French-Senegalese singer-songwriter AWEN real name Lucille Kante
AWEN preparing for a photoshoot

If you are planning a trip to Paris in 2024 (maybe for the upcoming Olympics), you will not want to miss AWEN’s tips to get under the skin of Paris’s best hidden gem.

AWEN, welcome to Travel Insighter! We are so excited to pick your brain. For our readers who aren’t yet familiar with AWEN, would you mind introducing yourself?

I’m AWEN. I’m a French-Senegalese ex-lawyer turned into a singer, songwriter, producer and DJ. I don’t really have a hometown as I grew up in different places in France and then moved to Asia for 7 years right after I graduated university, but if I had to choose I would say my hometown is where my family is and that’s Paris in the 13th arrondissement at the moment.

AWEN Lucille Kante in a black t-shirt

It’s exciting to have you share with us. How long have you called Paris home?

I moved to Paris during the COVID-19 pandemic so about three years ago. I lived in Hong Kong before that, but Paris is home now.

We want to hear more! What do you love most about living in the 13th?

I love my neighborhood in the 13th, mostly because I know everyone and there’s a real community feel. It’s also where my son took his first steps and is going to go to school in the fall so there’s a special bond here.

On a more touristic side, the 13th is basically an open-air museum with street-art everywhere from prominent artists like Obey and Roa. It’s beautiful to walk around my neighborhood and discover new pieces every month.

We’re sold on the 13th. For our readers, can you share some places in Paris that you wouldn’t typically find in a tourist guide?

I could tell you about the museums and monuments but you can find information on this everywhere so I’m going to give you my personal favorites in Paris, mostly based on what I love doing (which is eating and shopping).

In terms of food and drink, Le Marché des Enfants Rouge has super nice food options with a cool vibe that you can only find in Paris. It’s also not far from Le Marais where you can find some cool shops to continue your day. Pavillon Puebla in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is perfect for a nice apéro outside in the summer (it’s only open from April).

Pavillon Puebla in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Pavillon Puebla

A hike in the Vincennes Woods, Paris’s largest park, is also very pleasant after a brunch at Rosa Bonheur Vincennes.

An alternative day is an afternoon at the hammam (only for the ladies) at the Grand Mosque in the 5th followed by an afternoon tea at their restaurant. I’m constantly moving between photoshoots and recordings, so I need this to relax.

I also love to spend an afternoon at La Villette walking around the park and strolling around the Cité des Sciences – and why not rent a boat to ride down the Canal?

Le Pont Alexandre III with a river cruise passing beneath it

Are there any hidden gems in Paris that you’re willing to share with us?

Le Centquatre is a very cool spot in the north of Paris. It’s an old crematorium turned into a cultural center where dancers from all walks of life come to practice during the day and underground artists such as Bonobo have shows in the evening. They also host exhibitions and events. It’s strange to me that not a lot of people know about Le Centquartre because it really is an incredible destination.

What are your favorite cafés and restaurants for a leisurely lunch and for dinner in Paris?

I love the family brunch at Le Comptoir-Général. The food is exquisite, and the décor is art-deco – it’s very Paris-chic. And if you have kids, there’s a mezzanine where they can play and hang out while you are enjoying a glass of champagne downstairs.

They even have live bands playing music to keep everyone entertained. It’s one of those places where there’s something for everyone.

Where’s the best coffee shop in Paris?

I love Le Valentin Jouffroy because their hot chocolate in winter is to die for, the décor looks like it just escaped from the Moulin Rouge movie, and it’s located in one of the famous passages. For those who don’t know, passages are covered pedestrian streets typical of Paris. You can’t say you’ve been to Paris without visiting a passage.

Le Valentin Jouffroy exterior with two women sitting drinking coffee
Le Valentin Jouffroy (Source: Le Valentin Jouffroy)

What’s your favorite dessert or snack in Paris?

It has to be one of the desserts at Le Valentin. If you come to Paris in January, you should try their “Galette des rois”, known as the king cake, which is a French pie stuffed with marzipan or frangipane.

What do you do after dark in Paris?

After a nice dinner in one of Paris’s cave à vin (well, we say dinner, but actually it’s mostly wine), try to go dance at the famous Palais de Tokyo where they have events of all kinds from hip hop to house music. I’ve played at Palais de Tokyo before which was an amazing experience. The whole venue is designed to make sure you have a great night.

What’s your favorite landmark or place to go, even if just to pass the time?

I love hanging out at La Felicità, a big food market and warehouse owned by Big Mamma Group (they own an amazing restaurant in East London called Gloria that is so tasty), the food is delicious and the vibe is super nice with music and events every day.

View of the interior of La Felicità
(Source: La Felicità)

Are there any warnings that you would give to visitors to Paris?

If waiters are sometimes not super friendly, don’t take it personally. In France, we are not good at pretending when we are in a bad mood.

If someone had just one day in Paris, what would you tell them they must see that isn’t on all of the tourist guides?

If the weather is nice, I would do a cruise on the Seine that starts at Austerlitz and finishes at the Eiffel Tower. That way you can really see all the beauty Paris has to offer without the hassle of taking the subway and the traffic.

Seine in Paris with Eiffel Tower in the background

We all know the typical souvenirs from Paris. Are there any unique souvenirs in Paris? Can you recommend any unique shopping?

Paris is full of touristy souvenirs like the Eiffel Tower. But if you like second-hand shops, I would recommend walking around Le Marais and maybe booking an appointment in one of the high-end second-hand shops where you can find luxury-one-of-a-kind pieces that will scream that you’ve been to Paris.

If you could give one piece of local insight to tourists visiting Paris, what would it be?

When you take the metro, look for your stop AND the final destination of your train. Otherwise, you’re going to end up on a train going in the wrong direction 8 times out of 10.

Aerial view of Galeries Lafayette

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. How can readers get in touch with you or learn more about your experiences?

Instagram is the best way: @awen_lkmusic. Check out when my next shows are – and feel free to come up and say hello.

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