Introducing…”Shake Ya Pork Chop”. Come sample our most flavorful jewelry line yet. Organic, hormone-free, these free-range delights are sure to satisfy your hunger for style. Available only at the Paris Market and Brocante, each specimen is unique – expand your diet today.
at 9:44 AM
The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Cafés and conversations, architecture and attitude, shopping and schlepping, ahh our trip has come to an end. In a deliberate, concerted effort to have a real relaxing vacation instead of our usual wondrous but harried and overly exhausting adventure travels, we have succeeded in finding a new Paris; the serene, non-touristed Paris. Late morning wake ups (no alarm clocks allowed), afternoon catnaps (just a couple of hours, but who’s counting), late night out-on-the-town prowling (shall I have another glass?) and not one visit to a typical Paris landmark besides our incredible dinner at Jules Verne. Enlightened, invigorated, refreshed and rejuvenated, we return. Our minds full of new ideas, the next direction clear… watch out, The Paris Market and Brocante is about to blow your mind!
at 9:46 AM
(Noun: one who wanders without a destination in mind). Whenever I have exhausted and completely satiated my body’s maniacal shopping gene, I seek out more peaceful surrounding to regroup and contemplate the day’s activities and ponder possible future endeavors. Paris offers solace in many places to reenergize, regroup and even retire for the evening. Some of my favorites include:
Jardin de Luxembourg: This 6th arrondissement treasure is perhaps Paris’s finest. The Palais du Luxembourg is surrounded by acres of manicured grounds and shaded paths, an oasis for locals and probably the best people-watching space in the city. My husband, also an avid runner, claims the perimeter – as measured by his nike/ipod - is the most gorgeous 2km track in the world.
Jardin des Tuileries: Louis XIV’s gardener Le Notre’s palatial grounds. Structured, ordered, an exquisite platform for the Louvre.
Bois de Boulogne: The “main lung” of Paris. Traverse by horse-drawn carriage through forests, lakes and waterfalls, Baron Haussmann’s landscape architecture at its best.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont: Napoleon III’s most distinctive and romantic gift to the city.
Place des Vosges: Built by Henri IV, this square exudes style and symmetry with some of the most elegant and expensive real estate in the city.
Jardin du Palais-Royal: This courtyard is currently being renovated, but the remarkable symmetry of these grounds gives much needed respite to the frenetic 1st arrondissement right outside.
at 9:50 PM
A lesbian thespian, a creative destructionist, a romantic neoclassicist, a homosexual celebrity, a heroin addicted rock star, a tuberculosis ridden comedian, la vie en rose, a literary master, and a musical prodigy. What do they have in common? A final place of peace and eternal tranquility. Colette, Baron Georges Haussmann, Eugene Delacroix, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Moliere, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust and Frederic Chopin all lay in the wonderfully haunting grounds. My husband and I have always tended towards these somewhat macabre but intensely stimulating locals (see our Argentina - June 29th, 2008 blog). No, we didn’t have sex on top of Jim Morrison’s tomb or rub the rather large “extension” of Victor Noir, but we did stride silently among the over 300,000 bodies not pondering death, rather cherishing life.
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From basic, simple bistro fare to bold, dynamic culinary creations, Paris has it all. After losing most of the last decade to the Spanish wizardry of el Bulli’s Ferian Adria and the like, French chefs, newly emboldened, have emerged ever stronger. The following is a listing of some of our favorites. Please note, we did not hit each of these this trip. With the euro at a near all time high, keep your American Express card handy, no pre-set spending limit is a must for some of the joints. A saving grace is the government’s recent (July 1) decrease in restaurant taxes from 19.6% to 5.5%.
Bistro Paul Bert (18, rue Paul-Bert): classic cooking for that ultimate insiders bistro experience.
Le Cinq (Four Seasons Hotel George V, 31, Ave. George V): Chef Phillipe Legendre has received multiple Michelin stars at this Parisian palace hotel.
Le Jules Verne (Eiffel Tower, South Pillar): Set 400 feet up on the entire second level, experience the Eiffel tower with your own private elevator. Alain Ducasse creates wonderment with a million-dollar view. My birthday treat this year!
Le Comptoir du Relais (9, Carrefour de l’Odeon): Yves Camdeborde’s slice of heaven.
Petrelle (34, rue Petrelle): Jean-Luc André’s restaurant, furnished with mismatched antiques, feels like the cluttered home of a Parisian artist. Come to see French fashion designers and film stars vying for his equally stylish bistro cooking.
Chez George (1, rue du Mail): La cuisine bourgeoise (comfort food).
Aux Lyonnais (32, rue St. Marc): Alain Ducasse reinvents and betters the gastronomic capital’s favorites at this Belle Epoque classic. Also visit his chandelier-studded namesake at the Hotel Plaza Athenée.
Taillevent (15, rue Lamennais): named after a 14th century chef to the king and the author of the first French cookbook, this restaurant is perfection. Go ahead and book now, if you get reservations then schedule your flight.
Le Grand Véfour (17, rue de Beaujolais): If Aristotle Onassis could woo Jackie Kennedy here, the sublime dishes and Louis XV decors will surely assist your romantic advances.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (5-7, rue de Montalembert): not just a “workshop”, a dining revolution.
Cristal Room Baccarat (11, place des Etats-Unis): Enhance your bling quotient and maybe spy a celebrity (we saw Tom and Katie). This place is wow.
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Beaubourg and Les Halles: Skip the vast underground shopping complex and hit rue Tiquetonne and Rue Montmartre for avant-garde design and jewelry. Many of our current labels have their warehouse showroom located in this area. Grab lunch from one of the huge array of outdoor food vendors and make your way to St-Eustache for a picture perfect picnic, or sway to the beat in the hyper industrial Georges (6th fl, Centre Pompidou) for equally perfect views from above.
Champs-Elysees: Feeling at the top of your game? Throw on those spanx, your highest stilettos, shortest skirt, fix your hair and makeup and make sure your tan hasn’t pooled around your knees and ankles. Rue Montaigne and Rue George V beckon. With their flagship five star stores with six star prices, arrive as a princess and leave as a pauper. While in the area splurge on lunch at the Four Seasons George V (31, Ave George V), our favorite hotel in France (while there check out the world’s most exquisite flower arrangements by Jeff Leatham), or the Plaza Athenée (25, Ave Montaigne), book ahead and have lunch in the courtyard.
Shopping Centers: These are not your suburban malls; marvel at the constant commerce of Galleries Lafayette (40, Blvd Haussman) and Le Printemps (64, Blvd Haussman), recession? what recession? Left Bank treasure Le Bon Marché (24, rue de Sevre) with Le Grande Epicerie de Paris (best food hall ever). Need to fix a flat or work on some renovation? Head to BHV (le Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville, 14, rue de Temple) Paris’s classy version of Home Depot.
Place de la Madeleine: Gourmet foodies rejoice. Visit Fauchon (26,30, place de la Madeleine), and Hédiard (21, place de la Madeleine). Don’t just browse, both have excellent restaurants in which to sample their creations.
Any way, there is something for everyone. This list is entirely skimming the surface and the city begs for dedicated browsing. I have also kind of tangentially included some eating suggestions, but I think I will dedicate an entire installment to this endeavor. Bon shopping!
at 1:55 AM
(Adj: plugged in, “trendy). All right, let’s talk shopping. Synonymous with style and fashion, Paris has it all. It is hard to give specifics in short order, but the following is a brief description of some of our favorite shopping districts and destinations.
Tuilleries Quarter: put Louis XIV to shame with jewelry from the likes of Cartier and Boucheron, and clothing and accessories from the expansive boutiques along Rue de Rivoli and Rue St-Honoré. Wildly fabulous and incredibly expensive (want a 600 dollar t-shirt?) these store are frostily staffed by a poker-faced crew that would even make Paris Hilton nervous. Check out Colette (213 rue St-Honoré) for the latest hipster cool. Too hot, join the “in” crowd for refreshment at the basement water bar.
Kind of past its prime the Hotel Costes (239, Rue St-Honoré) is still the darling of the rich and famous. Have lunch in the courtyard with the other gawkers. Astier de Villatte (173, Rue St-Honoré), don’t skip the basement, if you can’t go in person, check out their cool website.
The Marais: Probably the coolest collection of stores along the narrow passageways. Too many places to list, but don’t skip the peripheral streets. We found the most fabulous store – sorry our secret for the next year.
Latin Quarter: Filled with students from the neighboring Sorbonne, lycée Henri IV and Louis le Grand (the future French prodigy and elite) the streets are filled with bookshops. Lose yourself in Shakespeare and Company (37, Rue de la Bucherie), and leave with a specially stamped literary treasure.
St-Germain des Prés: See our previous blog for hints through this left bank exclusive quarter. Also check out Taschen (2, Rue de Buci), and Assouline (visit Prosper Assouline’s flagship store 35, Rue Bonaparte).
Stay tuned, more to come tomorrow.
at 5:05 AM
Ah, back on the terrace. It has been a whirlwind. Despite the fact that I haven’t been getting up before 10am (except last weekend to shop the Marché aux Puce), and have been taking a perfectly wonderful nap most late afternoons, staying up to the wee hours of the morning every day has had me collapsing in bed too exhausted to document the days adventures – and adventures we have had! The best thing about changing time zones (for a self declared night-owl like myself) is that around 10pm Paris time, you really start to feel good. Having dinner at this respectable hour allows one to then go out and sample Parisian joie de vivre en force.
Strolling the streets at night is one of this city’s finest treats. Café society at its height, the tables, often imperceptibly spaced, are overflowing with food and drink. As the uber-sophisticated intermix with the bobo, the satirist with the sophist, the proletariat with the aristocrat, and the tourist with the local, lines are crossed, definitions altered, and distinctions become as blurred as ones eye and mind, aided, of course, by a bottomless wine glass.
After a glorious dinner last night with our friend Gil (one of several ex-pat friends who, years ago, found himself in Paris and could not bear leaving), my husband and I strolled though the 9th arrondissement. Although it has been unusually hot this week, this has made for some rather exquisite evenings. Still about 80 degrees, the cloudless sky, punctuate only by the half moon peering over the rooftops, just the perfect backdrop for the drop-dead halogen lighted architecture, my head somewhat abuzz, we walked together, thoughts intermingling, hands lightly touching, it was truly heaven.
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