a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘paris’

la belle époque

Marion Cotillard’s character in Midnight in Paris would love Bucharest 🙂  I first saw the film on a flight to Paris so it will always be a little extra special.  It’s about our nostalgia for the past and how we often imagine it as better – and more romantic – than the present.  I definitely think the 21st century has done a lot to kill romance but I am not a believer in trying to relive the past.  The film is brilliant as the main character, Gil, actually gets to time travel and cavort with Hemingway and Dali in the period he believes to be the most golden, Paris in the 1920s.  Marion’s character is living in the 1920s but pining for La Belle Époque.

I’m listening to Leonard Cohen as I write this, just a random choice, but the perfect accompaniment to writing about nostalgia.  When I was younger, I tried the usual things – drinking at Café de Flore in Paris pretending I was Simone de Beauvoir, drinking a wildly overpriced Bellini at Harry’s Bar in Venice imagining I was getting soused with Hemingway, enjoying a nightcap with a friend at the Algonquin Hotel in New York wishing I was as witty at Dorothy Parker.  But I always felt like a tourist trying to channel a ghost that wasn’t present.

in the zeitgeist :)

in the zeitgeist 🙂

It was in Shanghai that I had my real epiphany.    It was 2008, just as the world was melting into financial chaos, but it was National Day Golden Week in China.  Everybody in China gets the same days off and, during this week, people flood the roads and airports.  Shanghai already had over 16 million people but Golden Week meant there were a few million more!  The biggest highlight was having a five course tasting menu in a fancy French restaurant in my hotel served mostly by an enterprising young French chef who had come to China to further his career.

It’s impossible to describe what it was like to be in Shanghai at that moment.  It was like being part of a party attended by 20 million people.  The west was predicting the next great depression.  I saw it on CNN and wondered if I should do something… but then I stepped out of the hotel and the party was in full swing so I just embraced it.  The reason we are nostalgic about de Beauvoir, Hemingway and Parker is that they were living in the Zeitgeist of their time – they were at the pulse of history.  That’s also why trying to duplicate their actions feels so empty.  Paris in 2016 is nothing like Paris in the 1920s.  The Zeitgeist is constantly in motion.  If you want to feel like Hemingway did in 1920s Paris, you need to find the future, not the past.

In 2016, Shanghai looks a lot shakier than it did in 2008 and the Zeitgeist may have passed it by.  You never know if you were in a place at exactly the right moment until you are looking at it years later (unless, of course, you were in Berlin in 1989 when the wall started to come down – YOU KNEW you were in the Zeitgeist that week).  The point is – try new places, don’t copy, be original, be curious, search for the future and enjoy the contradictions that over 2,000 years of human history have imbued.

One great place to do all of that is Bucharest!  While Dracula hunting is very popular with tourists to Romania, there is lots to see in Bucharest.  Even better, you will be visiting a very interesting city at a very interesting time in its history (and, if channelling Hemingway really is your thing, you can drink cheaply pretty much 24/7 it seems… I am sure Hemingway would have moved on from Paris 😉  It seems the glory period for much of Bucharest was La Belle Époque.  As already noted, there is a magpie quality to Bucharest architecture, but there is also significant 19th century French influence.

I never even managed to see all the attractions in Bucharest but the ones I did see were very worthwhile.  I normally start my day in a new city by walking the streets and trying to suss out its character.  In that regard, Bucharest is very intriguing.  There are beautiful 19th century buildings in the same block as Pizza Hut and KFC.  Beautiful architecture is mixed with graffiti.  It’s clear this is a complicated place.  I knew a little of Romanian history before I got to Bucharest but my knowledge was very shallow.  I still have much to learn but what is most impressive about Bucharest – and Romanians – is how they have survived and thrived given all the crap thrown at them in the 20th century.

Bucharest in 2016 feels more like Prague in 1999 (my first visit).  It’s why you should go now.  I absolutely want the Romanian economy to improve and for Romanians to enjoy a better standard of living but that will mean Bucharest will start to look more like other cities.  With luck, the beautiful old buildings will be restored, rather than replaced, but there is no guarantee – so go now while they are still there.

One of the most beautiful is the Romanian Athenaeum.  It was completed in 1888, astonishingly financed almost entirely by money donated by the

easily rivals paris!

easily rivals paris!

general public.  Europeans love classical music, especially in the middle where most of the dudes were born hundreds of years ago.  I haven’t been to Greece yet but this is a little slice of Athens.  Marble, gold leaf, all that gorgeous over-the-top decoration so popular in the past.  The building is stunning and apparently the acoustics are also outstanding.  I wasn’t fortunate enough to hear an actual concert but did get to witness some musicians practicing.

http://fge.org.ro/en/romanian-atheneum.html

perfect for lovers :)

perfect for lovers 🙂

Another attraction I discovered by accident on my random walk the first morning was the Cișmigiu Gardens.  It is the oldest and largest park in Bucharest and a beautiful place to stroll, partly because it is actually a gigantic garden, rather than a park, so much thought was put into the design.

http://www.tourism-bucharest.com/bucharest-attractions/parks-and-gardens-in-bucharest/cismigiu-park.html

It would have been a perfect place for Marion Cotillard’s character in Midnight in Paris to stroll with a lover.  Bucharest evokes La Belle Époque more than Paris.  That era was the height of its 20th century glory.  A manicured garden, rather than a wild park, is very Parisian.  This is the city nicknamed “Little Paris”.  So, if your budget is tight, skip Paris and come to Bucharest 😉  Big spenders can compare and contrast…

a love letter to stephen colbert :)

paris eiffel tower classicThis will be a respite for anyone who isn’t really into words 🙂  I love words so my posts are normally full of them with a few images thrown in for interest… old school photojournalism…

but I am still reeling from Friday and, like all grieving processes, it is complex and without any obvious or simple path…

I was missing Jon Stewart on Friday – and wondering if Stephen would fill his shoes.  As one of my major-I-will-never-meet-you celebrity crushes, the stakes were high.

http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/

He is now playing with silly cats – and even sporting cat ears… I know the look – it is my default Halloween costume 🙂

 

only in paris

But it is the right ending to a show filled with French symbolism, speeches worthy of political leaders, cool military guys, an interesting artist – and even Bill Maher – another crush!

He really did right by France.  And, in tribute, I am posting a few more iconic photos of Paris…

we need undying love now more than ever

we need undying love now more than ever

Paris, je tàime toujours…

une lettre d’amour á Paris

The city of enlightenment… thank you, CTV. (Way better than Global News who just showed weird photos that were badly edited and had no message). I was on the internet working most of the day yesterday so I saw the breaking news when there was no information and then followed the tragedy through the day to its bitter and senseless end.  One feels so helpless and there is nothing an ordinary citizen living in a foreign country can do except hold firm to positive values and lead a life that strives for virtue.

It is arguably my favourite city in the world.  It’s like having more than one child.  I love Paris, New York, Amsterdam and Berlin equally for different reasons.  And Krakow has potential to enlarge my family 🙂  Unlike when the Twin Towers were hit, I don’t have any close friends who live in Paris.  I’ve spent so much time in Paris it feels like another home town and the attack feels more personal.  And these ridiculous acts are so inhumane, barbaric and stupid it is especially disheartening and really feels like we are moving backwards in our evolution as a species.  Friday the 13th should just be a terrible Hollywood movie, not the date of a major tragedy.

vive la france!!!

vive la france!!!

There is nothing concrete I can do right now for Paris and I can’t even tell you to get on a plane to support them since Hollande has closed the borders.  But I have spent time in Paris this year.  I wrote about it a little bit but there was a post still in waiting so I think the best I can do to honour Paris is to talk about the real Paris, not the tragic Paris.

I will be back – and you should visit.  I’m a little surprised Colbert – who pronounces his name as though he was French – and boasts a bandleader whose name sounds très français (although he is Jon rather than Jean so I think the name is not really French anymore) – didn’t talk about what went down in Paris but maybe no one told him before the show started…  I just checked the internet!  I think I need to wait for it… It’s something I have come to expect from him and Jon Stewart.  Especially with Mark Ruffalo and his honorary political agenda as a guest.

So…  Paris is all about art, fashion, design… I already wrote about the great exhibitions I saw in a more timely way in case you wanted to check them out…

What I didn’t talk about was my ongoing discovery of the right bank into the emerging arrondissements.

One of the great delights of Paris is still gorging myself on macarons from Pierre Hermé.  Luckily, Paris is very walkable and, even if you take the métro, you will still log lots of steps and stairs.  So, eat, and then exercise it off.  It’s very Parisian 🙂

french beauty

french beauty

I discovered a couple of great new boutique hotels – Hotel Paradis and Hotel Fabric.  A great way to explore the gentrifying east without giving up any creature comforts 😉

http://hotelparadisparis.com/

http://www.hotelfabric.com/en/

It put me in a slightly newer neighborhood and I mostly just wandered, somewhat aimlessly, as I know the city well enough I only need to pull out the map if I get seriously lost.

One of the great delights of the visit was meeting friends from Vancouver for dinner in Paris!  They are more “in the know” than me so managed to actually find a restaurant in such an obscure location even my map wasn’t really helpful… but I worked out the logic and asked people for directions and eventually got to the right place!  It’s marked like one of those places from the 90s where you are supposed to be cool enough to have the intel to know where it is without a sign – a way to keep out the riff-raff – much easier before the public got apps to access the internet 🙂

Anyway, the restaurant is called Au Passage and is highly recommended.  Just get clear directions 😉

http://www.restaurant-aupassage.fr/en/

I didn’t spend nearly enough time in Paris in 2015 but my main discovery was a re-discovery and update.  Long ago when one acquired cutting edge information from glossy magazines, I read about the 11th arrondissement and rue Oberkampf.  One of my best friends was living in Paris so I suggested we should check it out… she was game and it was kind of interesting but mostly it was just Café Charbon back then.  It was obviously emerging… but it was early days!

https://www.facebook.com/cafe.charbon.oberkampf/

I re-visited rue Oberkampf a few years ago listening to some cool young French bands but then was semi-stalked by some Arab guy who wasn’t into subtle “I’m really just hear to listen to the music” so I gave up and went to my hotel.  But I knew it was a part of Paris I wanted to explore more.  The Hotel Fabric is perfectly situated for such an adventure so I could continue my exploration.  As in all of Paris, there is a seriously good patisserie a block or two from the hotel (Maison Landemaine).  What was more exciting, though, was the discovery that there are clubs on side streets off the rue Oberkampf that have live bands even on weeknights!

http://www.maisonlandemaine.com/en/shops

I would love to come back for an entire week but had a great time on nights where you don’t expect much.  Gibus Café at 127 rue Saint-Maur definitely recommended.  I obviously didn’t keep good enough notes of the place I went the second night but had a lovely evening chatting and watching the band with Surya, an Indian transplant.  At the time, I had just been in India so the connection was more vibrant.

http://www.gibus.fr/

you gotta eat - and drink - here :)

you gotta eat – and drink – here 🙂

I also checked out a wine bar/restaurant across from the hotel, which was stupendous.  The French love food and wine and these indie places in the gentrifying arrondissements are great value.  It’s called La Cave de L’Insolite on 30 rue de la Folie Méricourt.

http://www.lacavedelinsolite.fr/

Stephen did come through with genuine emotion for Paris and cute James opened with some heart-felt comments.  If only we could convince people black humour is better than suicide bombs.  It’s a weapon of mass happiness rather than mass destruction.

My on-going love to Paris and all the people of France who have embraced me over the years – literally and figuratively 🙂  Bisous big time!!!

 

not that I would wear any of it ;)

I have been on the road almost constantly since my last post so have lots of new travel tales but haven’t had any time to commit them to paper.  My summer project… thought I would start with some exhibitions that are current in case anyone is inspired to check them out…

I was one of those children who made clothes for my dolls.  I didn’t have access to Vogue.  I’d never seen a designer dress.  I didn’t even know the concept.  My fashion inspiration came from the Simplicity and Butterick pattern books my grandmother brought home from the dry goods department where she worked when the new ones arrived.  I learned that I could put in a request and I could have my very own collection.  I poured over all the shapes and styles, noting the subtle changes that transformed the base pattern.  It was an early education in tailoring – and perhaps the reason I lean toward Armani rather than Galliano.

Most of the photos of me as a child show me dressed in embarrassing outfits.  I have no idea why they want to bring the 70’s back.  Those were some scary moments in fashion…

But it was a time of high drama, especially in western countries.  The 60’s ushered in the concept of social change but most of it happened in the 70’s.  I was too young to appreciate most of it, especially as I lived in a remote rural community where not that much was changing.  One thing I did know about was David Bowie.  Before the internet, information was hard to come by.  I didn’t even know the Talking Heads existed in 1977, let alone that I should be buying that album.

My first fledgling teenage romance was with a drummer.  It was a headbanger rock kind of town so most of his favourite songs just sounded like noise to me.  But then he played “Changes”.  We had common ground – and I liked him a little more…  It became part of the soundtrack of my life.

I am not particularly interested in famous people and think most of them would likely prove to be quite boring in person – but Bowie is an exception.  He was my first decent musical choice so I know quite a lot about him but never really thought much about his social impact.  Being a big Bowie fan, I was intrigued when I emerged at Gare du Nord last month and saw intriguing posters of him all over the station.  Luckily, I had dinner the next night with friends from Vancouver who informed me there was an exhibit at the Philharmonie de Paris.

philharmonie de paris

philharmonie de paris

I was worried that – in the age of the internet – my lack of research and preparation for Paris – would render me ticketless but the Philharmonie is new and in an area of Paris I have not yet explored so worth the trip even if I couldn’t get into the exhibition.  It appears there are still some tickets reserved for people willing to make a journey to the ticket office in person.  You need some patience but eventually you get in…

It was definitely worth the wait.  The exhibition originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It’s called “David Bowie is”.  It’s hard to describe, as mercurial and enigmatic as Bowie himself.  You walk through a series of objects, videos, photos and costumes depicting Bowie’s biography.  You have headphones and the music changes as you roam to put the right soundtrack to the particular part of the exhibit in which you find yourself.  It includes the expected key points in his biography and the musical history but what makes it really resonate is the analysis of Bowie’s influences, collaborators and social impact.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/touring-exhibition-david-bowie-is/

I am one of those people who have spent a lot of time searching for the meaning to life.  For me, it’s been a combination of art, culture and relationships.  So it was fascinating to see how Bowie was influenced by books, music, travel and the people in his life – and how his achievements were generally part of a collective of talented, intelligent, interesting people.  He was just the most famous name in the group.

Anyway, go check it out for yourself.  It closed on May 31, 2015 at the Philharmonie de Paris but it’s touring internationally so see if it’s coming to a location near you…

The Victoria and Albert Museum featured heavily in my May sojourn in Europe.  They have also put together a killer exhibit on Alexander McQueen called Savage Beauty.  It’s on until August 2, 2015. I would recommend booking in advance.  I’m not sure if I just got lucky, or if my friend Monica’s E&Y connections scored us tickets, but they are definitely in high demand.  Seeing the exhibit I could understand why.  While there are very few items of clothing or accessories I would have any interest in actually wearing, it is fascinating to be inside Alexander McQueen’s head as he dreams this stuff up.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/

The V&A has made it very atmospheric so it doesn’t feel like a museum but rather a strange trip into a dark, gothic Romanian forest where you are wary that Dracula might jump out from behind a mannequin and bite you on the neck.  The coolest part is a room staged like a cabinet of curiosities.  On the walls, items are placed in boxes like a giant Renaissance cabinet of curiosities.  In the center, there is a 21st century bank of monitors playing video from multiple McQueen shows on a continuous loop.  It’s a perfect embodiment of his sensibility – strange old-fashioned exceptionally English clothes modified for the 21st century.

If you also made clothes for your dolls – or just are really interested in fashion…

There are two more stops for you in Paris.  The Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent is hosting an exhibit “Yves Saint Laurent 1971 – the Scandal Collection” until July 19, 2015.  It’s for fashionphiles.   It’s basically a chance to look into the archives at a couture house.  You can see the entire design process for one of the finished garments and see sketches and mannequins displaying some of the pieces from the collection as well as watch some very old-fashioned fashion videos.

http://www.fondation-pb-ysl.net/en/Exhibitions-196.html

The 1971 collection was heavily critiqued because many felt Saint Laurent was glamorizing the Nazis and the

marvels of paris museum route

marvels of paris museum route

war was still fresh in the memories of the people who could afford couture.  Like Bowie, he was pushing boundaries and making people feel uncomfortable.

My final foray into European fashion was at the Palais Galleria Museé du Mode, a new addition to the wonders of Paris.  Until August 23, 2015 they are hosting an exhibit on Jeanne Lanvin.  I know the name but that was about it until I went to the exhibit.  The clothes are stunning – the antithesis of H&M.  She started as a milliner so there are lots of hats.  The clothes are sumptuous, full of embroidery, topstitching, cut-outs and other couturière virtuosity.  Nothing I would ever wear but easy to appreciate the craftsmanship.

http://www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr/en/exhibitions/jeanne-lanvin

What was most fascinating though was her business acumen.  She was a 19th century titan of commerce, a self-made woman in a world in which women couldn’t even legally vote in most places.  Apparently she was very customer-focused.  She was a real estate tycoon.  Jeanne started the whole craziness of dressing toddlers in mini-me designer clothing 🙂  She branched out into lingerie, menswear, interior design.  She created her own fragrance.  She opened shops to sell her wares to the public.  She had a distinctive logo.  Jeanne Lanvin knew how to brand herself before the concept was even a concept 🙂  An inspiring lady.

There is much to be inspired about right now so start making your travel plans…

 

p.s. if you are a fashion junkie, there is also a Jean Paul Gauthier exhibit at the Grand Palais – but I discovered it is closed on Tuesdays – but the walk to the other museums was worth it.

http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/jean-paul-gaultier

 

apparently Mapplethorpe was a great photographer!

One of the delights of Paris is that culture is just normal and there is always something interesting to do that will provide new knowledge and insights.  So, fortified with a couple of Pierre Hermé macarons, it’s good to check out what events are on the culture calendar during your visit.

view from musee d'orsay

view from musee d’orsay

There will be too many to squeeze them all in.  This visit I decided to return to the musée d’orsay and musèe rodin as they are two of my favourites.  Apparently the musée d’orsay has recently completed a major renovation, which makes it even more appealing.  It is my favourite museum in Paris.

http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html

While I was in Paris, there was a special Van Gogh exhibit.  He is one of my favourite painters so it was exciting to see extra works on display.  The exhibit twinned him with Artaud, another tortured artist.  The theme was whether society drove Van Gogh to suicide.

The exhibit included the same 40 paintings exhibited in 1947 when Artaud posited that Van Gogh’s exceptional lucidity made lesser minds uncomfortable and they prevented him from uttering certain “intolerable truths” and found his painting disturbing.  This public rejection drove him to suicide.

Whether you think Artaud is correct or not, the exhibit featured some great paintings and it provided context on what it was like to be Van Gogh when he was a painter doing stuff that society at the time considered weird – and possibly disturbing – rather than the pop icon on the coffee mugs.

You wonder what these dudes would have thought of the incredible late 20th century monetization of their art…

I love the musée rodin almost as much as the musée d’orsay.  It is only a short walk away and has an even more provocative exhibition on right now.  It’s another pairing – Auguste Rodin and Robert Mapplethorpe (on until September 21st).

http://www.musee-rodin.fr/

mapplethorpe

mapplethorpe

I have heard of Mapplethorpe, but only in the context of photos of naked people that shocked a lot of Americans.  Some of the stuff is a little out there but his skill with a camera is unmistakeable.  And the exhibition is fascinating as Rodin sculpted a lot of pretty naked people.  Somehow in marble it doesn’t seem to shock the same way…

There are a number of different themes but they pair the

rodin

rodin

Mapplethorpe photos with the Rodin sculptures to prove Mapplethorpe’s thesis that he was a sculptor who used a camera.

If you get lucky, you will have as glorious a day as I did.  That is definitely when you want to go to the musée Rodin. It’s worth checking out the museum if you have never been but the really glorious part is the gardens.

the glorious gardens

the glorious gardens

“The Kiss” is indoors but “The Thinker”, “The Three Shades”, “The Burghers of Calais” and the incredible “Gates of Hell” are all out in the garden.

Neither of them sound like men whose behaviour you would advise your children to emulate but they were great artists.  You don’t have to date them – you can just admire their art 😉

p.s. it’s over now but I was wowed last

great photography on the quai!

great photography on the quai!

September by a world photography exhibit on the Quai de Branly – I think it’s an annual event.  Really worth checking out.

http://www.photoquai.fr/2013/en/photoquai-2013/presentation-by-the-president-of-the-musee-du-quai-branly/

 

 

what do tourists do in Paris???

Shop apparently!!!  I had no idea Galèries Lafayette is the second most visited tourist attraction in Paris (just behind the Louvre!)  Of course, I am shopping in Paris so totally understand the appeal.

http://www.galerieslafayette.com/

It does explain why the ground floor at Galèries Lafayette is a madhouse – and why I stood in line for almost two hours to buy a purple Longchamp bag last year.  Never buy Longchamp at Galèries Lafayette!  Go to the flagship store on Faubourg St Honoré instead.

http://ca.longchamp.com/

If you don’t have a lot of time, though, Galèries Lafayette is Paris shopping in a nutshell.  The temple to shoes on the -1 level is especially worth a visit – the best selection of the Paris department stores – and Pierre Hermé macarons as extra enticement (the tax-free desk is also conveniently located on this level 😉

wandering between banks :)

wandering between banks 🙂

I am wearing my funky new shoes as I type this.  They didn’t have my size at Galèries Lafayette but on my scoping mission I knew I could also get them at Printemps 🙂  They are from accessoire diffusion – fake snakeskin loafers stamped in lurid purple, fuschia and aqua – no snake looks like that of course but I am sure there is some young fashionista python out there wishing she looked like my shoes 🙂

http://departmentstoreparis.printemps.com/

There are two reasons I always shop for shoes in Paris.  The first is that you have a lot greater choice of wild styling.  The second is the assortment of medium-prized brands that deliver quality and style at a non-designer price point.  accessoire diffusion is one of my favourite mid-price French labels.  Others to look out for – parallèle, carel, JB Martin, Elizabeth Stuart, mirorquines.

http://www.accessoire-diffusion.com/

These posts tend to have a mind of their own but this one has focused on shopping so I am going to stay there.  Paris is one of the world’s shopping meccas.  The others are London and New York.  Hong Kong might also fit that profile but I haven’t been there for decades, back when I had no spare cash so I generally got out of the six story malls as fast as possible 🙂

As already noted, if you don’t have much time, hitting one of the Paris department stores provides a mini version of everything the city has to offer.  I think it’s good to hit at least one department store to find brands that appeal and then you can look for freestanding stores to get more of a good thing.

Nowadays, most brands have a presence on both the right and left bank so you can choose.  The left was my first love and I would highly encourage you to explore it. The best things to buy in Paris are shoes, perfume, lingerie, food and alcohol (wine, cognac, armanagac…)

If shoes are your thing, check out rue de Grenelle and rue du Dragon (where I found a shop for annabel

how they look...

how they look…

winship – a new discovery and very worth checking out – I now own black suede peep-toe medium heel pumps strewn with multi-coloured stars and embossed in gold – Paris shoes for sure 😉  Rue de Buci will ignite your appetite.  Rue St Sulpice offers lots of options for cool Parisian chic that won’t break the bank.

http://www.annabelwinship.com/collections.html

Most of my greatest discoveries in Paris have come from wandering… the French do retail better than any other nation.  They know how to display goods.  The salespeople actually engage with the customers – and refold the sweaters immediately!  And each purchase is lovingly wrapped often with great fanfare.  It’s retail from a distant time when purchases were infrequent and memorable.

Paris is slow fashion.  It is retail as theatre.  It’s moments like the salesperson at Printemps admiring the shoes you are wearing – as you try on the python fashionista ensemble.  I said, “they are Kurt Geiger from London.  I have worn them so much there are holes in the toes.”  But it will be tough to throw them away.  I had a gay guy want to trade shoes with me in a wine shop one day.  Maybe he was a straight guy who really liked shoes 🙂  But gay guys admiring your shoes is much more fashion cred.

http://www.kurtgeiger.com/brands/kurt-geiger-london.html

You, too, could have fashion cred.  Just buy your shoes in Paris 😉 Or London…

p.s. Kurt Geiger shoes are black velvet smoking slippers adorned with spikes that look like very chic medieval weapons…

 

croze-hermitage for the price of a beer!

It’s hard not to love Paris.  Of course, it helps when it feels like home 🙂  When the out of commission billet machine at Arts & Metiers station is no problem because you still have a ticket from your last visit eight months ago…

You pull out the map briefly to check if it is left or right from the hotel and in less than five minutes you

Paris sans instagram!!!

Paris sans instagram!!!

are on the incredible Paris métro.  You discovered last year the hotel is conveniently on the metro line direct to Printemps and one stop away from Galèries Lafayette.

In the past I have always shunned Galèries Lafayette and still think Le Bon Marché is more charming but, if you are into shoes, Paris is your city and the basement of Galèries Lafayette the perfect gateway drug…

Being famous for my shoes, I have shopped for shoes all over the world – how I discovered Paris was the best city.  And what is cool about Galèries Lafayette is that it represents what I love about shoe shopping in Paris.  There are famous brands with dizzying prices to match the killer heels around the periphery but there are also lots of creative, well-crafted, more reasonably priced options in the middle of the 21st shoe temple.

I have just arrived in Paris so this was a scouting mission.  Too many objects to lust over on just a brief visit but luckily I need to haul my suitcase through a few more train stations and airports before I leave Europe so some restraint needs to be exercised!

I am not yet sure in which order I will post my scribblings but I have two visits to both Paris and Amsterdam on the clock, neither of which has been fully reported.

Sadly I saw some cool exhibitions in Paris last year, which I meant to promote in the moment to encourage further visitation but the time has now passed so no taunting allowed.  One of the cool things I did last September CAN be repeated – and I am doing it so the endorsement is notable.

If you read my ramblings on a regular basis, you will note that I am very fickle 🙂  In life I am the opposite and have friendships spanning decades to prove my commitment.  But I love cities and interesting hotels.  So I am always trying to mix it up.  A new neighborhood.  A new design.  A new concept.

A hotel has to be pretty awesome to warrant a second visit 🙂  But last year I ran through Paris, primarily on Sunday and Monday.  I do not recommend it.

not a typical hotel

not a typical hotel

Jules and Jim is in the Marais, a neighborhood I have flirted with but never fully explored.  And the hotel is one of most memorable I have visited.  When you rock up at the impromptu front desk and the cute boy says in his charming English, “you must be Marla”, you wonder “is this the hipster Claridges?”

http://www.hoteljulesetjim.com/en/

Pretty much.  The rooms are petite but perfectly designed.  You get Molton Brown products and free wi-fi.  I know from last year you can hang out at the bar with a serious budding mixologist who is thrilled to ply you with his innovative (and excellent) cocktail creations.  (His name is Antoine).

There is wall art in the form of shrubbery – and art installations worthy of the Pompidou.  It is a hotel where the hotel is part of your Parisian experience.  George V service at a fraction of the cost 😉

I am writing this in one of those ubiquitous Parisian brasseries.  The food was decent.  The atmosphere is historic (in a good way – retro ceiling fixtures, advertisements from the art nouveau period plastered to the walls and menus on chalkboards).

But the real treat is the wine.  There were options.  Normally I peruse the wine list with a discerning eye and maybe even a Wine Spectator vintage chart…

But what is so amazing in Paris is that generally there is no “vin rouge” but nor is there a specific wine producer, let alone a vineyard or vintage.

You order a Croze-Hermitage and see what happens.  A little magic it appears.  It came in a plain bottle.  I have no idea what it is – besides Croze-Hermitage.

But it’s delicious – and the same price as a beer in Amsterdam.  Paris, je t’aime 😉

 

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