Thursday, 22 March 2012

Paris is always a good idea

"It took me time to understand my waterlilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it;
I grew them without ever thinking of painting them
." Claude Monet

Did you watch the movie Sabrina?

One of my favourite quotes from the movie is that "Paris is always a good idea." That's exactly how I felt when I arrived at the hotel in Paris on Monday afternoon, in spite of a not-so-great beginning, of the terrible sandwich I ate at the airport (nobody, not even the French can master this, let's face it), and of the stubborn ticket machine who would not take neither my credit card nor cash so that I had to stay in line for 20 minutes to buy my metro pass at the ticket office.

Using our faithful Mr and Mrs Smith concierge (which we have already used while traveling through France and to go to Florence), my husband booked for me one of the most fashion-forward and conveniently located hotels ever, the Hotel Le Bellechasse (yes, my husband can be that good). The hotel has been recently renovated by Christian Lacroix and its decor is a bustling, decadent environment that I would define Pompeii-style meets Monet (as it is well evident in the picture above of the breakfast room).

On Monday afternoon, after checking in I stepped outside, passed the Musee d'Orsay (which is really walking distance from the hotel as the advertisement reads), and crossed the bridge into the Luxembourg Gardens. The sun was shining in the middle of the blue sky over the seine and Paris. The light was so wonderful that I wanted to take pictures of EVERYTHING. My main objective was to see Monet's Nympheas at the Orangerie Museum (spectacular!). Yet I had a lot of time before dinner so I took a long walk from place de la Concorde to Place Vendome and the Galeries Lafayette. A wrong turn and I ended up also on rue Faobourg Saint Honoré. I ate dinner Chez Georges, almost got sick on French cheeses -- yes, they are that good, and that heavy on your stomach --, and called it a day.

After spending Tuesday at the conference I came for, on Wednesday I wrote off most other items on my list. For breakfast I ate croissants in bed while writing the post about our spring skiing trip. I then spent the rest of the morning shopping at the Galeries Lafayette, where a 30% off sale had materialized for no apparent reason. I ate lunch at Boco, a new Parisian hotspot that aims to offer fine-dining, organic experience -- Parisians seem as obsessed about organic food as the Milanesi -- at fast food prices (I personally think it misses the mark a bit on the fine dining though).

Afterwards, I discovered the history of the House of Louis Vuitton at a new exhibition at the Fashion Museum (thanks NM Daily for the tip and excellent review!). I finished off by paying a visit to the Christian Louboutin store in a charming Parisian arcade (the Galerie Vero-Dodat), having a coffee and macarons at Angelina in Rue de Rivoli, and walking back to the hotel through the Luxembour Gardens.

My feet were screaming bloody murder at the end! This is because I discovered that patent shoes do not let go at all when your feel swell after a long day... I am sure I will remember next time :-)

P.S. I obviously could not do everything I'd liked, so here is what I am leaving for my next trip: seeing the exhibition "Impressionism and Fashion" at the Musee d'Orsay (it runs from September 25, 2012, until January 2013), visiting the Musee Marmottan Monet (which houses the largest collection of Monet's works), the Centre Pompidou and the Le Courbusier Foundation; eating at Bon, which Philippe Stark recently redesigned; walking through Paris' new hip neighborhood, Le Marais, and going back to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica to enjoy the view of Paris from the top.

Photo: Monet's "Nymphaeas" at the Musée de l'Orangerie via Flickriver; Louis Vuitton's exhibition at the Fashion Museum via FTape.

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