Always Enchanting Paris
It’s not surprising that so many travelers are heading to Paris.
The City of Light captivates one and all with its special magic. I love sitting outdoors basking in the favorite pastime here: café people-watching. The Left Bank is prime real estate for this coveted activity.
With so many choices, where to go? Happily there’s a boundless array of brasseries, bistros, bars and cafes. I usually park myself at a scenic sidewalk table amid a colorful crowd and enjoy the spectacle. To check out the birthplace of café society, head to two of Paris’s most famous literary haunts. Les Deux Magots has been frequented by Oscar Wilde, Hemingway and James Joyce while the neighboring Café de Flore has hosted the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone du Beauvoir. One trip here with the ever-stylish Parisians outfitted in fashionable hats, scarves and accessories does more for me than reading Vogue for a year.
While there, meander the lively streets of St. Germain-des-Pres filled with art galleries, bookshops and designer boutiques around Boulevard Saint-Germain, Rue de Rennes and Place Saint-Sulpice. Stop in at Pierre Herme on Rue Bonaparte to sample the city’s sinfully best macaroons. Pure joy!
Nearby, the estimable Musée d’Orsay houses a remarkable collection of French impressionists in the Belle Epoque train station turned museum. From there, it’s a lovely walk to two small islands linked by bridges, which offer picturesque views all around. Ile de la Cité, anchored by Notre Dame, is where Paris began. After crossing the Pont Neuf, the city’s oldest bridge, make your my way to the exclusive Ile St-Louis, dotted with private mansions and specialty shops, including the best ice cream in Paris at Maison Berthillon.
No trip is complete without a visit to the Louvre. I recommend a stroll from the gold-tipped obelisk at Place de la Concorde through the scenic Tuileries Gardens to the renowned museum. I never tire of visiting its masterpieces: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and I.M.Pei’s glass pyramid – to name a few.
Sunday in Paris belongs to the Marais when it’s busiest, and unlike the rest of city, most of the stores are open. An eclectic crowd, from young bohemians to older bourgeois, is attracted to its artsy shops, hipster hangouts, edgy boutiques, trendy bars and cafes. Shopping enthusiasts flock to ateliers of talented young designers. The Marais is also the most famous Jewish neighborhood in Paris. In addition to artisanal pastries, chocolates, cheese and quiche, there’s hummus and baba ganoush to die for.
Wander the main streets and narrow medieval passageways against the backdrop of pre-revolutionary buildings, alighting at Paris’s prettiest square, the Place de Vosges. The author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame surely had beautiful views for inspiration. Victor Hugo’s home turned museum contains his original furniture, even his very inkwell.
While in Paris visit Montmartre where local artists fill the square with their paintings amid bistros and street musicians. Top your trip off with a boat ride along the beautiful Seine for an unforgettable memory.
STAY AND EAT
Hemingway described Paris as a moveable feast. In a city renowned for its exquisite aesthetic, luxurious lodgings are woven into the glorious fabric that is Paris. And gastronomes find many extraordinary offerings amid the splendor of the city’s Palace Hotels. With so many fantastic options – here are a few.
Steps from the Champs-Elysées, the stunning Peninsula Hotel with sumptuous suites and L’Oiseau Blanc Restaurant- combines history, artistry and glamour. Marvel at the eye popping lobby adorned with a bespoke hand-blown Lasvit chandelier whose 800 crystal leaves nearly reach the floor. www.peninsula.com
The Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, an exemplar of understated elegance, seamlessly blends contemporary architecture and classic design. This favorite of fashionistas is located on the prestigious Rue de la Paix, minutes from the Opéra Garnier and within walking distance of the Place Vendome and Paris’s most exclusive shops at Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. And excellent Restaurant Pur is a must. www.hyatt.com
Le Royal Monceau-Raffles is in a class of its own. Located on Avenue Hoche, it’s just minutes from the Arc de Triomphe. Luxury meets whimsy here to marvelous effect with fashion-forward interiors by Philippe Starck. Guests enjoy acclaimed Restaurant Matsuhisa Paris, an impressive art collection, art-book shop and 99 seat cinema. www.leroyalmonceau.com
Eric Frechon’s 3 Michelin-starred outstanding Epicure inhabits the refined Le Bristol Hotel, whose ravishing interiors were the backdrop for Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris. This exquisite palace rated luxury hotel, on the fashionable Rue du Faubourg, exudes elegance and grandeur with glamorous lobby, suites and courtyard garden, red begonias in flower boxes and chic white house cat, Fa Raon. www.oetkercollection.com
The legendary Ritz Paris, on the Place Vendôme where Coco Chanel lived and entertained Picasso makes a perfect synthesis of French art de vivre with Belle Époque décor. Why not take a cooking class at the renowned Ecole Ritz Escoffie! With lavish rooms, Bar Vendôme, Salon Proust and the famed Bar Hemingway, its walls adorned with fantastic photos of the notable writer himself – it’s Magnifique! www.ritzparis.com
Four Seasons Hotel George V, an art-deco landmark built in 1928, with gorgeous floral displays throughout, is just off the Champs-Elysees. Elegant, oversized suites with inviting Eiffel Tower views and three restaurants including impressive Le Cinq – are just some of the standout offerings at this sophisticated, imperial property. www.fourseasons.com
Hotel Plaza Athénée, the Grand Dame of swanky Avenue Montaigne has long been a haunt of the fashionable and fabulous. Situated on prestigious avenue Montaigne, the tree-lined boulevard of French fashion, this grand hotel exudes the best of Paris. Master Chef Jean Imbert takes guests on an immersive journey of French gastronomy in his excellent restaurant. www.dorchestercollection.com
Paris sizzles any season. I love It – your clients will too!