A marvelous painting of a gourmand at his table hangs in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris — a portly, pink-faced figure happily gorging on a regal casserole, with a bottle of wine at one elbow and a luscious-looking soufflé at the other. It is traditionally believed to be a portrait of Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière, an aristocrat notorious in Napoleonic France for gratifying his palate with the same abandon as his contemporary the Marquis de Sade showed in indulging carnal desires. Whether or not the painting is actually Grimod’s likeness, it captures the eccentric, omnivorous spirit that made him not only a gustatory symbol in the Paris of his day, but the grand-père of all modern food writers as well.
Starting in 1803, Grimod, whose family fortune had largely been lost during the Revolution, financed his voracious appetite by writing a series of best-selling guidebooks to the culinary wonders of Paris — its famous delicatessens, pâtissiers and chocolatiers — including the first reviews of an alluring new institution called le restaurant. His Almanachs des Gourmands were something new, the Michelins and Zagats of his era, and their offbeat style reflects the author’s larger-than-life character. Grimod was born in 1758 with deformed hands, one a birdlike talon and the other a webbed pincer. But he was not one to be held back, so he had learned to write — and dine — with metal prostheses. A social butterfly, he became a successful theater critic in Paris before the Revolution, survived the Terror and amused himself later by hosting literary salons in the cafes. And, of course, eating.
It was on the trail of Grimod one day last summer that I passed through the vaulted arches of the Palais Royal, opposite the north wing of the Louvre, and into a vast, empty courtyard. In Grimod’s day, the Palais Royal was the heart and soul of Paris, a rowdy entertainment center filled with brothels and sideshows that, despite its louche ambience, also boasted some of his favorite … continue reading
With the 30,000 (give or take 10 to 20 thousand) iphone apps available at the Apple iTunes store, including free, paid and game apps, it can feel no less than overwhelming looking for quality apps. How do you find the needle in a hay stack? Millions of others like you and I browsing the app store feel this pain. The bad side to this is that there are too many poor applications and duplicates, triplicates and quadruplacates (if that’s a word). The good side to having a prodigious amount of apps is that within this sea of apps a significant number of them are really excellent. Yay. Of course, the problem of trying to locate those apps remains pretty elusive. This is why I’m only going to feature apps that stand out of the crowd.
Since apps haven’t really been on my radar, many of the great ones surely slipped by me but I serendipitously stumbled upon this ingenious Paris Metro iPhone App. Seriously, the developers of this one are Gods.
The Paris Metro iPhone App is a must-have app for residents of and tourists traveling in Paris. Forget the clunky paper maps and GPS with a battery life of about 3 minutes. You’ll only need your trusty iPhone 3G because this app takes full advantage of the augmented reality features.
Watch the youtube video of the demonstration (click on the image). It explains how it works. Note: It’s in French but the visual is self-explanatory.
The Paris Metro iPhone App is 99 cents at the iTunes store. Get it now.
On the 20th of May Paris will host an auction that you should attend if you love vintage fashion, and particularly if you like the iconic pieces created by French brand Hermés. Over 700 of their creations will be auctioned at the Hotel Marcel Dassault.
Auction house Artcurial have managed to collect 700 iconic Hermés pieces. Many of them are from the 60s, 70s and 80s, with authentic jewellery in some cases starting at just €70.
From their legendary foulards to jodhpur boots and beautiful bags. As you can imagine, the 700 pieces feature many interesting and unique creations. Don’t forget, you need to book in advance…
Hôtel Marcel Dassault
7 rond-point des Champs-Élysées
20 May 10:30am: Lots 1-250
20 May 2:30pm: Lots 251-End
Auctioneer: François Tajan
15-18 May, 11am-7pm
19 May, by appointment
“Air France has just slashed the price on their Paris Affair by $200. Now you can enjoy round-trip airfare and six nights in a hotel from $849.
This Paris vacation also includes a Bateaux Mouches river cruise on the Seine; a fashion show at luxury department store Galeries Lafayette, a wine and cheese tasting at Galeries Lafayette, a Paradis Latin show with complimentary champagne, and continental breakfast daily.
Though this package is available from now through late March of 2010, the lowest airfare prices are in the fall and winter.
Paris comes to life in the fall with fashionistas rocking the latest trends during fashion’s most exciting season. Winter is also a great time to visit Paris: tourists are few and far between, and the city looks gorgeous with a light dusting of snow.
Prices are based on double occupancy and a Saturday night stay is required.”
When we head to Paris, we usually stay in a small hotel right in the center of town, but last week we opted for change. We had a meeting in the periphery of Paris so we stayed at Les etangs de Corot, a small boutique hotel with about 40 rooms, situated about 10 minutes from Versailles, just a little southwest of Paris. It’s close to the park in Saint Cloud and it only takes about 15 minutes to get to Paris.
Their promotional photo (above) is slightly misleading, however. While there IS a little lake on one side, the other (front) side of the hotel doesn’t look like that at all. I thought I’d mention that because it looks as if it’s totally secluded from a big city, which it isn’t. That said, it was a quiet place to stay, with an underground parking lot, good service and an excellent brasserie called Le Café des Artistes.
This would make a good base if you were to visit Versailles (there aren’t many choices of hotels directly in Versailles), and Giverny (about 55 minutes from the hotel) or wanted to stay in a calm place but have relatively easy access to Paris.
Les Etangs de Corot
55, rue de Versailles
92410 Ville d’Avray France
Website: Les etangs de Corot
Tel: +33 1 41 15 37 70
Room Rates 175 € to 285 €
Breakfast: 20 € per person
In the past, I suppose I haven’t been too kind when mentioning the designs coming from Philippe Starck. My opinion is a matter of subjective taste, which happens to be in the minority and generally, I hateam disgusted dislike immensely his designs. I can’t help it. Let’s say that I WANT to like it, but it just doesn’t happen for me. I mean, c’mon look at what he created for babies here.
I have more examples. A couple of days ago, he was making headlines that corresponded with the opening of a new boutique hotel launched by the founders of Club Med because he designed it. The hotel, called Mama Shelter, is located just outside of Paris. It looks fun and it seems to be a budget hotel that is warm open. I do think they achieved their goal.
Now, the design. It’s not horrible. Alright. I am not too thrilled with the sconces that Mr. Starck designed. They are essentially plastic Halloween masks he bought from Walmart or somewhere, then decided to reassign their function and hang them on the wall. When I saw these, I wanted to laugh and cry and the same time.
That said, Philippe Starck once admitted that he tries to make his life worthy of existing as a designer… and although his designs don’t impress me in the slightest, he was nevertheless impressive, if not entertaining during his 18-minute talk at TED. In some way he and his speech redeemed himself to me in many ways as he explained in a fun and charming way, why he designs, and in the end, it doesn’t really matter if it’s ugly or ridiculous or silly.
“Picture this: A hotel guest, sleepless after a night spent at the posh Marriot Champs Elysees, asks the concierge for help getting an emergency passport.
She is without hair product or makeup, sports a blotchy face swollen from tears, and is wearing the clothes she went out in last night. Long story short: her purse–ok, fine–our purse containing the key to our rental apartment, cell phone, money and credit cards — and th all-important passport — was stolen the night before.
Also, it was just two nights before we were flying home.
Weeping and wine-muddled after discovering the loss following dinner last night, we had reached my husband back home and asked him to book a room at the Marriott. American-style comfort and help was just what we needed.
All our Marriott points and a couple hundred bucks later we were checking in, relieved and happy to be in a place where they brought us Evian and spoke in English.
The concierge was indeed quite helpful the next morning, seeming not to notice our pitiful appearance, providing the information we needed and a map to find the embassy. Since it closed early in the day and this replacement passport process could take a while, we headed straight there.
Unfortunately, his directions were wrong. The concierge of an American hotel, a five-star hotel at that, had sent us awry. We … “ Continued:
Depending on your outlook on this reality TV show that mixes Big Brother with a huge chunk of Schoolhouse Karaoke, you may or may not be thrilled that the popular program is moving from Le château de Dammarie-Les-Lys, outside of Paris – to l’hôtel de Brossier, rue Charlot in Le Marais. Oui, en centreville!
The Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris is climbing on the SATC bandwagon and giving you the opportunity to step into the shoes of Carrie Bradshaw for the time of your fictitious TV life with an ultra-glamorous offer. Here’s what you get:
• A Cosmopolitan cocktail “Carrie’s favourite drink” for each person, served at Le Bar du Plaza Athénée.
• A chocolate shoe made by our World Champion Pastry Chef Christophe Michalak.
• Carrie’s “Must have” shopping booklet “All is about shoes”, listing the leading footwear names found on avenue Montaigne. Thanks to a VIP contact in each boutique, you will enjoy a personalised welcome.
For an additionnal fee of €1000, have a custom-made pair of shoes created by you with the help of a designer. The shoes are hand-made in four weeks and delivered to your home address.
Based on a two-night minimum stay, double occupancy, including daily American breakfast:
Please note that the offer is subject to availability.
Deluxe Room € 810 / € 880
Junior Suite € 925 / 1030 €
Deluxe Suite € 1 700 / 2 300 €
Prestige Suite € 2 900 / 3 600 €
Presidential Suite € 3 810 / 4 800 €
Rates understood per night. VAT included.
Exclusive of Paris City tax: 1.50 Euro per person/day.
Subject to availability.