What do Madame de Sévigné, Victor Hugo, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Colette have in common?

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Answer: they all lived here at Place Vosges, in my opinion, the prettiest square in Paris. It is ringed with 36 redbrick-and-stone houses—nine on each side, a salute to early urban planning. To love it is to know it’s history. Definitely a place to bring your sandwich (it’s okay to sit on the lawn), take in the sunshine and feel very far away from the traffic on nearby rue de Rivoli.

Four centuries ago this was the site of the Palais des Tournelles, home to King Henry II and Queen Catherine de Medici. The couple staged regular jousting tournaments, and Henry was fatally lanced in the eye during one of them in 1559. Catherine fled to the Louvre, abandoning her palace and ordered it destroyed. In 1612 the square became Place Royale on the occasion of Louis XIII’s engagement to Anne of Austria. Napoléon renamed it Place des Vosges to honor the northeast region of Vosges, the first in the country to pony up taxes to the Revolutionary government.

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Place des Vosges is structured around two pavilions, that of the Queen at the north part of the square, and that of the King at the south part both built deliberately higher. They are not open to the public; however, you can still visit the house of Victor Hugo, author of “Les Misérables”, which is now a municipal museum. It is free and open daily from 9am to 6pm every day except Monday. To preserve this unity, the place has been protected since the 1960s by the “plan for the preservation and enhancement of the Marais” and no intervention, especially on the façades, can be made without the architect’s agreement.

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Chic restaurants, boutiques and art galleries fill the arcade surrounding the park. A small private door, open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., will give you access to the garden of the stately Hotel de Sully, headquarters of the Center for National Monuments. Be sure to visit their well stocked bookstore. Unfortunately they don’t carry No Worries Paris, but you, of course, hopefully already purchased it before your trip to Paris. Place Vosges and all there is to do and see in the area starts on page 93 and is marked on the walking map.

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Hungry?  Here are some recommended restaurants

Au Bourguignon Du Marais, 52 Rue François Miron, 75004. Regional dishes from Burgundy.

La Tartine, 24 Rue de Rivoli, 75004

Chez Janou, 2 Rue Roger Verlomme, 75003

Les Cotelettes, Cafe Martini, Cafe Hugo

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Soldes (Sales), 6 weeks of them

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Paris’s “Winter Sales” began on January 11 and continue through February 21. It’s not just department stores that are having them. The big fashion houses are also in on the discount extravaganza and there are bargains to be had.

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The discounts are deep, 50 to 70% on selected items. Get there when the doors open, when everything is neatly piled and lines less long at the cash register. Some designers have to limit the number of shoppers in their department store boutiques. You’ll always see a queue of just-off-the-jetters who go for the big brand names.

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Values are waiting in the triangle d’or (Avenue Montaigne, Ave George V, and Rue Francois 1er),  where the finest Haute Couture shops in the world are located. The prestigious houses include: Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Dolce e Gabbana, Max Mara, Christian LaCroix, Valentino, Prada, Ungaro, Joseph, Bonpoint, Jean Louis Scherrer, Gucci, Pucci, Loewe, Krizia, Bulgari, Calvin Klein, Nina Ricci, Ines de la Fressange, Donna Karan, Celine, Yves Saint Laurent (headquarters), Bulgari, S.F. Dupont, Porthault Linens, Caron, Hermes, Gianfranco Ferré, Givenchy,  Kenzo. Rochas, Courreges, and Balmain. Be prepared to have your purse searched before entering.

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Tired just reading the list? The Georges V (31, avenue George V) to the rescue with a time-out drink at Le Bar or light meal in the L’Orangerie restaurant. The staff are always gracious and welcoming; the flower arrangements will take your breath away. Sidenote: If you’re a guest, free flower arranging classes are offered by their world-renowned flower magician ($200 for non-guests); the staff offer guests  a special morning hour-long jog at 7:30 along the Seine, through the Tuileries (free, once a week), room rates start at $800 a night.

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At 50-70%, even the couture prices may well be beyond your means. Depot-vente (secondhand boutiques) present another choice. Dive into the piles for some amazing bargains all year round:

Mistigriff, 83-85, rue Saint-Charles  75015, https://www.mistigriff.fr 

Chercheminippes, 124 rue du Cherche-midi 75006, http://www.chercheminippes.com.

Didier Ludot,  24 Galerie Montpensier – Jardin du Palais Royal  75001     http://www.didierludot.fr

Kiliwatch, 64 Rue Tiquetonne, 75002 http://www.kiliwatch.fr

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The Rooftop Igloos at Galeries Lafayette

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Paris is very cold in January and it would be unheard of to venture to the open-air top floor of a department store for tapas and a cocktail. BUT, Paris’s innovative department store, Galeries Lafayette has come up with a unique idea by plopping a few heated see-through geodesic domes over the rooftop bar.

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The concept, brilliant, the view, magnifique. They call it a “cocooning vibe where serenity and tranquility reign supreme”.  Who wouldn’t want that?

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Here’s the menu:

Champagne, cocktails
Soft drinks, fruit juices
Hot drinks
Savoury and sweet tapas
Oysters
Foie gras
Regional French products
Seasonal dish of the day

Continuous service from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm. When they will be removed to make way for spring, I’m not sure.

Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, 40 boulevard Haussmann – 75009 Paris

No Waiting: Make a Paris dinner reservation online

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Not a new concept, but not everyone is aware that you can book ahead at certain restaurants all over the world. Paris is no exception and the options for each restaurant vary. A very slick service that has a very comprehensive list of establishments is thefork.com (lafourchette.com). They make it easy, just fill in the date and time you’d like to arrive.

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Il était un square, 54 Rue Corvisart, 75013 Paris

reservations: https://www.thefork.com/restaurant/il-etait-un-square/36296 or https://module.lafourchette.com/fr_FR/module/36296-5d91d/9283-1da?tracking_id=WGrn9QoQHHcAAKLPSckAAABP#/1042543/dhp

Lunch: de 12h à 15h (sauf dimanche)
Dinner : de 19h30 à 22h30 (sauf dimanche)

Charolaise beef, cooked or tartar, cheeseburger Montagnard, artisanal buns and original recipe small plates.bougn

Au Bougnat, 26, rue Chanoinesse 75004

reservations: http://aubougnat.com or http://aubougnat.com/reservation/

Wednesday – Sunday, 12h à 22h. Monday – Tuesday de 8h à 19h.  Located on the île de la Cité.

Bougnat’s burger is served on homemade bread.  Charolais beef, bacon & Cantal cheese, homemade fries
Panfried beef fillet (7oz), potato galette, foie gras sauce
Roast duckling fillet, sauted mushrooms
Sauteed tiger prawns with pesto sauce, creamy parmesan risotto

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Plaisir Gascon
16 Rue Grégoire de Tours 75006

reservations: http://plaisirgascon.com/reservations-plaisir-gascon.html

Small, cozy, intimate. Beef from Gascony is their specialty.  Superb croustade de pomme with more than a splash of Armagnac

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Boutary
25 Rue Mazarine 75006, metro: Odeon
reservations: https://module.lafourchette.com/fr_FR/module/200520-47ce4#/1337910/pdh

Puréed and smoked potatoes, seaweed butter, cream, caviar.
Crispy basmati rice with Comté , prawn kadaïf, Vermouth Carpano sauce.
Wild cod, seaweed butter & green peas, apricots, verbena-infused foam.
Rib-eye steak, home-made crisps, shiitaké powder, peppered cherry paste.

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Le Versance
16, rue Feydeau 75002
reservations: https://www.thefork.com/restaurant/le-versance/3388

Think lobster curry, calf’s sweetbreads and spiced pears. Elegant dining room.

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Le Christine
1, rue Christine 75006, 33 1 40 51 71 64
http://www.restaurantlechristine.com
reservations: http://www.restaurantlechristine.com/reservations/

Located between Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Excellent seasonal produce. Indulge in foie gras cooked au torchon [in a cloth], accompanied by delicious stewed red onions with grenadine or fillet of beef. Don’t miss the sweet notes of the tiramisu, a real treat!

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Bel Canto
72, quai de l’hôtel de ville 75004
http://www.lebelcanto.com/en/
reservations: http://www.lebelcanto.com/en/bel-canto-restaurants/booking-for-the-bel-canto-restaurant/

Opera is invited to your table at Le Bel Canto. Every evening, a quartet of young opera singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone), accompanied by piano, participates in the service of the restaurant by interpreting great arias of opera. The opportunity for you to have dinner with Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini… You’ll either hate it or you’ll love it.

Dinner & show, without drinks: 85 € fixed price.

Under the category named “cabaret”,  the Paris tourist office recommends the Bel Canto as one of the best live venues for a night out in Paris: a unique show combining opera and French haute cuisine.

The restaurant is located on the banks of the Seine in the 4th arrondissement. Magnificent view from the dining room of Notre-Dame la Seine, île Saint-Louis. Inside, the decor with warm red and gold colors, is dedicated to opera.

After all the eating and drinking you’ll be ready for a nice long walk: No Worries Paris, your best friend.

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Joyeux Noel 2016

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Joining hands around the world to wish you a Merry Christmas. Thank you for making us one of Paris’s top walking guides.

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Nightclubbing in Paris

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Nightcrawling at the tourist cabarets or hanging with the retro pop, indie, funky, bohemian chic crowd? Take your pick. Here are some choices that will jumpstart your after-dark adventures:

What better way to start than with the classic Moulin Rouge, ‎82 Boulevard de Clichy, (since 1889) where there are holiday specials going on right now. If you haven’t been there, the extravaganza is worth a trip.

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11, quai François Mauriac, 75013. A club on a boat. Open until or 2 or 3 a.m. with DJs. Good restaurant onboard.

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Blaine Bar (above), 65 rue Pierre Charron, 75008. A Prohibition ambiance theme at this speakeasy like cocktail bar. Jazz concerts and DJ spins all night long.

La Mano, 10 Rue Papillon, 75009. A small and cute bobo nightclub for cool 30-somethings on the Left Bank. It hosts hot electro parties (and electro salsa latino nights) for trendsetting locals but doesn’t try to be arrongant and keeps the party simple. Creative cocktails are at an average price of 12€. It’s also a restaurant serving good Mexican finger food.

 

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Chez Jeanette (above)47 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10th Arrondissement, Metro: Chateau D’Eau, Strasbourg Saint Denis.  Popular with a crowd of self consciously laid-back stealth hipsters. A typically Parisian old cafe that a full revamp and great music have turned into a destination.

Le Divan du Monde
75, rue des Martyrs, in the 18th. Small intimate venue in former art nouveauish theatre.

Le Baron
6, ave Marceau, in the 8th. 01 47 20 04 01. A former brothel, the club is now one of the coolest nightspots in the city with a strict door policy. No grunge.  Music starts at 11. Dance the night away here with style.

Social Club
142, rue Montmartre, in the 2nd. One of the hippest clubs in town. Serious musicians host the most famous DJs playing everything from house to hip-hop in an intimate setting.

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Lizard Lounge
18, rue du Bourg-Tibourg, in the 4th. On three levels, LL is a good warm-up/stay-on venue. The bar is a hip Marais hangout, while local DJs man the decks with a good mix of styles for the small booths downstairs.

Now that you’ve stayed up late, your day will presumably start at noon. Bleary eyed or not, pick up your No Worries Paris and head out for an espresso followed by a refreshing stroll  along the boulevards. Le savoir-vivre.

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Piscine Molitor: Where the bikini was born

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The Art Deco masterpiece Piscine Molitor was built in 1929 to resemble an ocean liner. Surrounding the pool were three levels of cabins with round windows resembling portholes. The indoor pool became an ice rink in the winter and the decks of the outdoor pool were lined with sand. You didn’t go there just to swim, you went to be seen.

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In 1946, the first modern bikini designed by Louis Réard was unveiled. The pool soon became a magnet for all things chic. Sunbathers would lounge among celebrities and starlets, stretched out in white deck chairs and very often topless.

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Ultimately it was referred to as “les Grands Établissements Balnéaires d’Auteuil” (the Great Seaside Establishment of Auteuil) and became the site of various sporting events. Olympian Johnny Weissmuller was one of the first lifeguards.

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By 1989, the pool was in decay and due to safety standards permanently boarded up by the city. Developers proposed to rebuild it as a hotel and parking lot. To the rescue,  a group of citizens founded the “SOS Molitor”.  They  successfully halted demolition and in 1990 the Molitor was listed in the inventory of the French Monuments Historiques program. Sadly, vandalism and poor maintenance took its toll after being protected by the government (see above).

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A new organization called Piscines Molitor was created to obtain funding for the rehabilitation of the site. In 2014, it reopened as a privately owned club adding a 124-room swanky hotel, spa and restaurant.  The clientele is still the same well-heeled crowd. A day pass will run you around $245 and annual membership fees are $4,500. For guests of the hotel, daily fees are, of course, gratuit.

Molitor, 8 Avenue de la Porte Molitor, 75016 Paris

Give a gift of Paris. . .

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B00822LOKI&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_QVDvybA2GJME5

 

Paris, the “enLITEnd” city

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It’s December and the City of Light is showing off what it is known for now that the holiday season is in full swing. Taken from the International Space Station (merci NASA), the photo above shows off the brightest boulevard, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, historical axis of the city. The Arc de Triomphe, meeting place of eleven major boulevards, appears as a star at one end. The many forested parks stand out as black polygons.

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How did it get it’s nickname? Reason number one:  “La Ville-Lumière” as it was called in the 18th century, was the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment, famous as a center of education, philosophy and learning  throughout Europe. Reason number two: Paris was one of the first cities to start using street lights during the Great Exhibition of 1889. Having street lights meant people could now do activities after dark that they could not do before. The streets suddenly grew safer. Fast forward to 2016……the tango:

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A little advice. Sleep in so you can stay up at night, at least until midnight. A whole new sparkly city will emerge, the illuminated monuments almost toylike, cafes: full, flashing taillights wake up the boulevards, and a steady stream of tourist bateaux snake along the Seine. It’s ALIVE!

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You might find yourself falling in love again. With your partner or if going solo, with this vibrant amazing city.

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French Comfort Food Restaurants

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Simple…..delicious…..filling. Food that’s not an art project. My definition of Comfort Food. Now that winter is approaching, there’s no better treat than entering a bustling jam-packed restaurant, ravenously hungry, ready for the warmth of a good satisfying meal. A few suggestions:

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon 

 

 
5 rue de Montalembert, 75007 Paris
Quail stuffed with foil gras…..oooh la la. Legendary.

La Petite Rose Des Sables    6 rue de Lancry
, 75010 Paris
Traditional French dishes. Try the coq au vin. Large portions.

Les Cocottes   135 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris


Try the veal.

Le Volant Basque 


 13 rue Béatrix Dussane, 75015 Paris
Try the beef bourguignon, creme brûlée.


Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes   106 rue de la Folie Méricourt
, 75011 Paris
Cassoulet — the southwest France staple. A big pot of warmth and soul.

Le Bistrot d’Henri 

   
16 rue Princesse, 75006 Paris
Good old liver and onions

Le Calife 

  3 quai Malaquais, 75006 Paris
Exceptional chicken


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Le Chemise 

   42 rue de Malte, 75011 Paris
Cozy ambiance

La Jacobine 

  
59-61 rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Paris
Standout homemade fois gras


L’Ebauchoir 

 
  43 rue de Citeaux, 75012 Paris
Generous prix fixe menu. Tender duck breast.

Miznon 
  
22 Rue Ecouffes, 75004 Paris

A reasonably priced pita place. Lamb kebob is  a winner.

La Coïncidence 

 
15 rue Mesnil, 75116 Paris
Beef, duck, scallops. Great service. Translated menu.

Le Potager du Père Thierry 

   
16 rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris
Local organic ingredients, wine. Small setting. Good creamy risotto.

Les Papilles 

 

 
30 rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 Paris
Cauliflower soup

Au Père Louis 



 
38 rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 Paris
Escargot, cassoulet

Paris’s independent hotels with pizazz

A few good Parisian hotels to consider. We continue to get good feedback on these four.

NO WORRIES PARIS

If you’re tired of impersonal hotel chains or super deluxe swank with “over the moon” prices, look no further. Here are a few that have been renovated by architects and stylists with color, style and contemporary decor. Vitality, glamor, customer satisfaction and reasonable rates are the key elements of these properties.

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Hotel Fabric
31 rue de la Folie Mericourt, 75011    http://www.hotelfabric.com

Occupying 4 floors, the hotel boasts 33 ultra-comfortable rooms in a resolutely contemporary setting drawing decorative and ornamental inspiration from the industrial past of the Oberkampf district. The brick walls, plentiful space, unconcealed supporting structures and immense windows admit plenty of natural light. On a very quiet and quaint street with shops and restaurants very close no matter which way you turn. Honor system happy hour.  Starts at $240.

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Hotel Regent’s Garden
6 Rue Pierre Demours, 75017 Paris,  www.hotel-regents-paris.com/en/

The former private mansion that is now the Hotel Regent’s Garden…

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