PARIS—Normally, a visit to the Rodin Museum means admiring the sculptor’s most revolutionary works of art:“The Kiss”; “The Thinker”; and “The Burghers of Calais.” But last week, on March 4, 2011, another kind of revolution took place here, one that has rocked the world of...Read More
For the first time, Rachel Kaplan is offering private guided tours to the Louis Vuitton exhibition "Paris en Capitale" at the Carnavalet Museum as well as to the privately-held Goyard Museum on the rue Saint Honoré. This is a unique opportunity to discover the history...Read More
There is one restaurant in Paris whose ego will remain even taller than the Eiffel Tower: The Jules Verne, currently run by the Alain Ducasse Group.
Certainly they have a lot to crow about: tables booked months in advance, waiting lists for those unexpected no-shows, and customers from all over the world, clamoring to get in. And when the occasion demands it, a French government ministry wanting to impress foreign visitors will take over the entire restaurant for the price of a small company in Paris. Pourquoi pas?
But for the rest of us, who are working stiffs in search of a good meal at a fair price, we may not buy into this wannabe status symbol, which the French routinely call “piège à touristes” (tourist trap in English).
Like any good red-blooded American, I wanted to impress my husband for his 60th birthday and two years ago, broke down and bought him lunch. We ordered off the menu, and the appetizer was called a “marbré de foie gras”–two postage stamps of foie gras that were layered into two other postage stamps of cold chicken. Not only was the item tasteless, it was also the color of a patient who needed a blood transfusion. That was all that I remember of the meal, apart from a small coterie of waiters standing around gossiping in a corner of the half-empty dining room and ignoring us completely.
The following month I took clients to the Jules Verne for lunch–then we ordered cabillaud à la carte (after all this is only cod fish), and were out within the hour. These are high-rollers who came in a private jet and bought their 16-year-old grand-daughter a Chopard watch for 3500€ in five minutes–but food was not a priority.
Those two experiences led me to believe that if my clients wanted me to book a table at the Jules Verne, I was more than happy to do so, but that I would not go out of my way to recommend this restaurant.
Today, an unfortunate trend has crept into French restaurants, and I would like to signal it to the discerning traveler who is still in search of a good meal. A case in point, is the chain of restaurants created by the Costes brothers, who have managed to snag some of the finest real estate in Paris and serve up mediocre food accompanied by indifferent service.
Case in point: Thoumieux, the latest Costes venture, is a remake of an old address on Rue Saint Dominique. For years, it was known and beloved by locals and tourists along for serving traditional, reasonably priced food. In more recent years, it had fallen off that level of quality, and the decor was both shabby and dirty. In short, the owners were milking the joint for all it was worth.
Along come the Costes, in the form of Thierry Coste, who had the brilliant idea of refurbishing the restaurant and making it into a so-called cutting-edge brasserie. Moreover, there is a new chef in the kitchen: Jean-Françoise Piège, formerly the chef at the Crillon Hotel’s restaurant Les Ambassadeurs. In short this was not going to be standard Costes fare.
As a tourist, shopping in Paris can feel intimidating and a bit like a battlefield- the choice, the prices, the pure chic. It’s hard to manoeuvre around these factors to find something that fits both body and budget, so many people end up either paying too much for designer goods in the big ‘name’ department stores, or looking longingly into shop windows but returning home empty-handed. It doesn’t have to be that way!
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed any longer-take heed of the following hints from this Paris expat. Soon it will be second nature to claim money back on purchases, chase discounts and find bargains. Learn to start negotiating Paris shopping like a true ‘Parisienne’.
The funniest wedding I ever planned was on April 1, 2003 – April Fool’s Day. No kidding. The bride was the publisher of a wedding publication based in Seattle, the groom was a musician, and they had already been together 14 years.
I was given three weeks to organize everything, and because she promised free publicity for the venue, I was able to book the Pompadour room at the Hotel Meurice free of charge. No kidding. Except because the event was on April Fool’s Day, I had to reconfirm several times and assure the reception department this wedding was for real. Remember the French motto: “Méfie-toi!” (Be on your guard!)
PARIS–When Ella Fitzgerald wrote the lyrics to this wonderful song, which was made equally famous by Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, she knew what she was talking about. Not only is Paris the most romantic city in the world, it is the city which immortalized the loves of the world’s most famous couples, including Heloise and Abelard, George Sand and Frédéric Chopin, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.
Still, one might ask: how do you find your own private Paris when you have to share it with over 40 million other visitors each year? Fortunately, the French capital is spread out in twenty different districts (arrondissements), each with its own unique characteristics, each featuring delightful restaurants, wine bars, museums and galleries, as well as parks and gardens. It is little wonder that Paris is one of the most photographed cities in the world, and has been used to film such classics as Funny Face and An American in Paris, as well as Sex and the City. That is perhaps why some of the most romantic couples return to the city year after year, and why some of them never leave.