We took the Chunnel to Chanel – and to all the other wonderful fashion houses Paris has to offer. Paris was the second leg of our trip (I wrote about London last week). Now, continue reading if you’d like to hear all about how we ate and drank our way through the City of Lights. Bon appetit. It’s time to mange.
We arrived at Hotel Banke, a five-star hotel located in the Opera district. The lobby is grand and the staff, more than accommodating. It’s located in an early 20th Century building, created by architects Paul Friesé and Cassien Bernard — the stately architecture is definitely worth mentioning.
The first stop on the Paris food tour was Chef Daniel Rose’s La Bourse et la Vie, which served food so good it brought tears to our eyes. I opted for partridge, while Christine had the steak.
The next day was spent at the magnifique Palace of Versailles. Fit for a king (or a queen such as myself – I can dream), the palace was Louis XIII’s old hunting pavilion, and was transformed by his son, Louis XIV.
We strolled through the Hall of Mirrors, the gardens, and made our way to Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine, a small village built for the queen in 1783. A place of leisure, it served as a private meeting spot for Antoinette and her closest friends to pretend to live a simple life.
When we returned to Paris it was off to Buvette in South Pigalle for dinner (there’s also a location in the West Village). The pesto aux noix tartine and carottes rapees were both delicious. I may not speak fluent French, but I do speak French food.
The next day began with a tour of the Palais Garnier, an opera house built in 1861, one of the most spectacular sites in Paris. We then set off to the Musée du Louvre. No trip to Paris is complete without it.
After admiring centuries of fine art, it was off to the original Angelina for hot chocolate. Angelina’s hot chocolate is so fantastic, it’s a work of art itself. Confectioner Antoine Rumpelmayer founded the establishment in 1903. Coco Chanel even frequented Angelina’s salon. Who could blame her?
Right next door to Angelina is Librairie Galignani, the first English book store in Europe, which was definitely worth a stop. I also couldn’t help but hop on the carousel across the street in the Tuileries Garden, because I’m a child (at heart).
We continued to shop our way through Rue Saint-Honoré, and of course made a stop at the Ladurée Paris Royale, the original Ladurée built in 1862, home of the incredible macaron.
We decided to go back to Harry’s New York Bar for dinner, since we had such a wonderful dinner in London. Turns out that in Paris, Harry’s is a cocktail bar and the only food item on the menu is a hot dog for two. These New Yorkers weren’t having it, but the cocktails were fantastic. The bar itself was shipped from New York in the early 1900s and the walls are decorated with college sports team banners.
The next day was Christine’s birthday, and it was time to celebrate. Our friend Josie joined us in Paris for the rest of the trip. It was off to the Musée Picasso, which houses many of the legendary artist’s works. Next, vintage shopping. Vintage in Paris is unparalleled to anywhere else I’ve experienced. I scored a pair of Chanel pumps and an Yves Saint Laurent faux fur coat, because, clearly, I needed both. “It’s fashion,” the store clerk told me.
The day continued with lunch at Le Grand Colbert, a Parisian brasserie that serves traditional French dishes. It was also the set of the film “Something’s Gotta Give” (also set in the Hamptons) where Jack Nicholson joins Diane Keaton for a birthday dinner.
Later it was Hôtel Costes for dinner and drinks. The last time I was there with Josie we had ordered the cheesecake based on Kim Kardashian’s recommendation, but they were sold out. After three years of waiting, it turns out the cheesecake is just fine, and the chocolate soufflé is the clear winner of the dessert menu. Kim Kardashian may be an expert on many things (contouring, emojis, etc.), but perhaps not dessert.
We ended the night at The Bar Hemingway at The Ritz Paris, a place rich in history. It’s a magical spot, once frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper, Cole Porter, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cue the intro music to “Midnight In Paris.”
For the rest of the trip, we continued to wander around the beautiful city. Stops along the way included Pierre Herme, to sample and buy some flavorful macarons; a visit to the Eiffel Tower; cocktails at Hotel Plaza Athénée as seen on “Sex and The City;” more cocktails at Prescription Cocktail Club in St. Germain; dinner at Au Petit Riche; a sweet stop at A la Mere de Famille, the oldest chocolaterie in Paris (and the best chocolate I’ve ever had); a stroll of Rue Cremieux; and dinner at L’avenue (FYI, a location just opened at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC). All places I would highly recommend.
Dinner at Chez Fernand was one of the best meals we had. I have not stopped talking about the chicken, and the baked Isigny Camembert with honey that elevated cheese to a whole other level.
We closed our trip with a stop at the bookstore Shakespeare and Company, where I was able to see East End artist Stephanie Brody-Lederman’s artwork titled “Outdoor Girl” (read our article that ran last month on www.indyeastend.com) that now hangs at the Lost Generation hangout. I also bought a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Beautiful and Damned,” stamped by the bookstore.