Paris Je t’aime (Part II)
Colette, the mother of all concept stores, was exhibiting photography from the newest editions of cool magazines such as Muse, LOVE and Fanzine. I loved the many walls that combined the drama of fashion photography and the extraordinary selection of the store. Another store that I loved, which got my creative juices flowing was the new Hermès-La Maison, recently opened in what it used to be the Hotel Lutetia's pool at 17 rue de Sevres, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The pool hasn't been used as such in the last few decades and the space is absolutely grandiose. The Parisian architecture firm RDAI did the internal design and the wood huts that they created are works of art in and of themselves; pictures can do NO justice, really. In the store, I became completely head-over-heels for a black-and-white wallpaper with horse motives. But, each roll was as expensive as one of the Hermès wallets… enough said.
Walking aimlessly, which by the way is one of the best ways to find gorgeous stuff in Paris (and NYC), I came across a small furniture and art shop, which had the most interesting chairs, collages and artifacts. It’s called Galerie Think & More, and it’s located on 108 rue Saint Honoré. The owners were a bit reluctant about letting me take some pictures (like 95% of all French stores, galleries, restaurants, etc.), but at the end of our talk, when I explained what I do, they graciously obliged.
Of all the new and old restaurants that we visited or revisited, there were two that I loved for their ambiance and décor: Le Derrière, which apropos its name, is located at the back of another hot spot called 404. Derrière is modeled as if it were a funky house, with lots of contemporary art on the walls of the first floor living room and quirky finds all over. The second floor has bedrooms and intimate dining rooms, and even a secret smoking room (people must push a mirror to gain access). All the furniture, art, and general stuff there is cool and amazing, but it's the whole concept that makes it all come together so perfectly. Although I didn't love the food, the service was remarkable and the place itself is so worth the visit (not to mention all the ideas that it generated for me!)
The second restaurant that got me inspired is star chef Jean-Francois Piège’s brand new place, which he opened as part of his own boutique hotel, designed by the brilliant India Mahdavi. It's located on 79 rue Saint Dominique, in the 7th arrondisement (which is now the hottest Parisian 'hood). Nobody can even tell that there's a hotel there, much less a restaurant! The entrance is nondescript; one has to go up the stairs and through another door that has nothing written on it... but we were kindly welcomed by the very gracious hosts and restaurant staff who, at the same time, seemed to be everywhere and nowhere, while nearly outnumbering the restaurant guests: blissful service, incredible food. To make the story short, if I can, this place is amazing, it is intimate without feeling cramped; in fact, every table has plenty of space for the diners. It has a tea salon that also serves as a bar. Since I went for lunch, I could see how the natural light of the place is so sublime that the fixtures were strategically placed so as to not to compete with what the Parisian light does so well. The décor is so fabulous, I don't even know where to start... it isn't pretentious and yet it feels so luxurious, incorporating lots of textures and layers, animal prints, bamboo, mid-century modern, stripes, textured walls, banquettes, mirrors, sconces... I have posted a few pictures to illustrate my words, but again, they don't do any justice.
I could really write so much more, but I said that I was going to highlight only the absolute very best (so, so hard). I guess my closing note would be to say that every night, before going out, we had an aperitif at the iconic Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel. This is such a special place and the vibe is decidedly Parisian, even if the bar renders homage to one of the best American writers of all time. It is made entirely of wood, and is small, intimate and full of personality, where the one and only, Colin Peter Field mixed his fabulous Serendipity cocktail for me. To end my trip with a high note, the day before I left, I crossed paths with Kate Moss at the Ritz (who, by the way, LOVES the Hemingway Bar). And no, she isn't French, but she embodies style and personality as well as French women do. I couldn't have asked for a better trip. À bientôt, Paris!