A Blend of Elegance and Cool

A Blend of Elegance and Cool Marisa Osorio Farinha and Philippe Chupin have been shaping the world of jewellry and home design for almost 30 years, and have been making their mark on the world of home entertaining and fashion accessories not only in France but in...

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A Quiet Pot of Tea

Places I Love For A Quiet Pot of Tea Are you a tea drinker? Do you long for that cosy place where you can savor a cup of the finest brew with a pastry at the end of a day of shopping or museum-hopping with children...

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Eating Out in Paris: High, Middle and Low

PARIS, France--I am very sorry to tell you this, but it is now easier than ever to get a bad meal in France, particularly in Paris. I didn't believe other expert food connoisseurs, but the evidence has rolled in, and I am afraid they are...

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Understated Elegance in Paris

PARIS, France--Now, when the temperatures are below freezing in Paris, it is hard to feel elegant,  or even chic. Most of the city is wrapped up in some form of down-jacket and fur-lined boot, except for the wealthy who have the means and the nerve...

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Christian Dior Takes Verbal Eloquence to New Heights

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...

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Louis Vuitton and Goyard Rediscovered

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...

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Stranger than Science Fiction: The Jules Verne Restaurant

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.

Thoumieux Peut Faire Mieux: Thoumieux Can Do Better

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.

Must-Know Paris Shopping Tips

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’.

An Insider’s Scoop on French Destination Weddings

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!)