Feeling safe in Paris Friday, Dec 11 2015 

Just returning from a recent trip to Paris and never once considered canceling my trip. I know there are many travelers that have cancelled or are reconsidering travel plans to France after the recent terrorist attacks, but in all honesty I actually felt very safe during my stay in Paris.

For now there is a comforting presence of the French Army and Police throughout the city at many key locations such as the Eiffel Tower and outside of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette to name just a few. Entry into the museums, department stores and many shops comes with some added security, however it seems to be very quick and not as big of an inconvenience as one would think.

At the beginning of the trip I saw a low number of visitors at the museums and monuments around Paris and as the week went on I could see this changing for the better. After speaking with many French taxi drivers, friends and suppliers I was amazed by the resilience of the French people. Life is indeed getting back to normal and with every passing day I could see an increase of life and vibrance coming back to the city.

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8th Arrondissement – Heart of Paris Friday, Jan 30 2015 

The Champs-Élysée is located in the heart of the Eighth, making this one of the most bustling districts of Paris. This busy grand avenue is full of the most posh shops in Paris, making it one of the priciest areas. The avenue runs from the Place de la Concorde (where Marie Antoinette was beheaded, and now the location of the Luxor Obelisk) to the Arc de Triomphe, and runs through the gardens that surround the Grand Palais.

There are several notable museums along the Champs, including the aforementioned Grand Palais, le Petit Palais, and the Palais de la Découverte. The Grand Palais is an exquisite exhibition hall, with a beautifully constructed glass roof, allowing an abundance of light for the viewing of the displays. Opposite the Grand Palais lies the Petit Palais, an elaborate building that houses the Museum of Fine Arts. Behind the Grand Palais (in the same complex), lies the Palais de la Découverte, the science museum of Paris, containing several interactive exhibits. Located nearby, Musée Jacquemart-André contains a large display from Édouard André’s private collection, and is also housed in his former estate.

For those looking to stay in the Eighth, there are plenty of options available. Hôtel le Bristol a favourite world class hotel is one of Paris’ most elaborate hotels, featuring beautifully furnished rooms, some of which include views of the Eiffel Tower. For a hotel that is more simplistic, yet still elegant and refined, The Lavoisier is an excellent option.

Dining in the Eighth offers many options, but perhaps none as elegant as Les Ambassadeurs. This restaurant features what is arguably one of the most opulent dining rooms in the world, with food to match; a reservation is highly recommended. Taillvent also provides an excellent dining experience, featuring traditional French cuisine; the tasting menu with a wine pairing from the in-house sommelier is preferred by many guests.

7th Arrondissement- Home to the Eiffel Tower Wednesday, Jan 28 2015 

If you are visiting Paris for the first time, you can expect to be spending a great deal of time in the Seventh. This arrondissement is home to some of the top sights in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the Tomb of Napoleon, and several prominent museums. Despite these major attractions, many Parisians call the Seventh home, giving this district the highest average income per household in Paris.

The Seventh contains several items on everyone’s must-see list, least of all the Eiffel Tower. This classic piece of architecture has been an icon of Paris (and France) since it’s construction in 1889. Featuring the most stunning panoramic view of Paris, it is no wonder this structure is a popular attraction for visitors to Paris, even for those who frequent the city. For a special treat, come at night to see the city, as well as the Tower itself, lit up!

Museums also comprise a large portion of the sights in the Seventh. The Musée Rodin, which is named for the artist whose works it houses, contains a large collection of drawings and sculptures, including the infamous “Thinker.” If you are looking for impressionist art, Musée d’Orsay is for you, containing the largest collection in the world. This semi-recently founded museum is housed in an old train station, making the building as exquisite as the art it houses. Les Invalides is a complex dedicated to the military history of France, comprised of many different monuments and museums, the most noteworthy of which is the Tomb of Napoleon. This complex also includes a retirement home for war veterans.

The Hôtel Pont Royal, located blocks away from the Seine (and its namesake), is beautifully decorated in a boutique style inside (with a modern twist), contrasting with the traditional facade and lobby. The hotel includes the two-Michelin starred restaurant l’Atelier de Joël Robuhcon, featuring a modern European menu. Located nearby, Il Vino provides a unique dining experience for wine lovers. After picking your wine for the meal, the chef constructs a menu to pair well with your selection; a wine lover’s dream!

Saint Germain des Pres – 6th Arrondissement Monday, Jul 28 2014 

shutterstock_153054161 luxembourg gardensshutterstock_151332755 pont des arts 2

Similarly to its western neighbor (the Fifth), the Sixth has a reputation for being one of the more scholarly districts. L’École des Beaux-Arts de Paris is located in this district, as well as the French Senate and Académie francaise. This left bank arrondissement is home to some of the most historic moments in Paris, particularly in philosophy and the arts. With this reputation, it comes as no shock that the Sixth is one of the more expensive residential district of Paris, being a major hub for the art and university scenes. However, if you are looking to visit Paris and stay somewhere away from the major tourist locations (while still being in city centre), the Sixth is ideal for you!

While this district offers a host of museums and universities to admire, the main attraction is Luxembourg Palace and Gardens. A visit to this sight will make you feel as if you’ve left Paris entirely and been transported to a peaceful estate. The palace is opulently decorated in a way that only the French royals could achieve: beautiful marbles, rich golds, and soft tapestries. The palace, however, is only complete with a view of the meticulously manicured gardens, crafted in the traditional French style. The gardens have a reputation of being one of the most peaceful locations in Paris, and you can often see people spending a lazy afternoon in the shade of the trees here. The garden is full of fountains and statues for the casual stroller to view, always offering something new.

The Pont des Arts is most famous of the bridges in the sixth and is known for a large amount of padlocks (“love locks”) attached to the bridge by lovers, but a portion of the bridge collapsed in June 2014 due to the weight of these locks. 

For those looking to stay in the Sixth, there are a number of options. The Relais Christine, a charming boutique hotel, provides a wonderful ambience in its beautifully designed courtyard, and the restaurant in the stunning stone basement is sure to beguile you. In contrast to the Relais Christine, the Bel Ami is ultra-modern in design with statements of bold accent colours. Located on the Sixth’s charming side streets, this hotel is sure to please the trendiest of travellers.. The Aubusson, located near the river, provides a more traditional French feel, but keeps a rustic ceiling to contrast the elaborate furniture and décor.

No arrondissement is complete without its restaurants, and the Sixth is full of great choices. FIsh (la Boissonnerie) is a smaller restaurant, but their menu (which changes daily) is sure to win over even the pickiest of diners. Reservations are advised. Un Dimanche a Paris, which shares the name with the chocolatier, features a menu sure to please any chocolate lover.

Latin Quarter – 5th arrondissement Wednesday, Jul 16 2014 

 

rue mouffetard

The Fifth Arrondissement, located opposite the Fourth along the Seine, is a lively and bustling districit, but is also the oldest district in Paris. This part of Paris was constructed by the Romans in the 1st Centurcy BC, after the Gauls on Ile de la Cité were conquered. Partially located in the Fifth is the Quartier Latin, a busy neighbourhood that contains La Sorbonne, the historic home of the University of Paris. This area is now home to many academic institutions, and the name derives from the fact that the students who lived here were historically taught in Latin.

If you are looking for Roman architecture, you need not look far in the Fifth. The Arènes de Lutèce and Thermes de Cluny are located in this district, a Roman amphitheater and baths respectively. The latter is now partially transformed into the Musée National de Moyen Age, where the Pilier des Nautes is now located. While the amphitheater is not fully intact, you can still see where the stage was located; the stone terraces are not original. The most intact monument, however, is Le Panthéon, once a church dedicated to St. Genevieve. This building is a hybrid of classical Roman architecture and Gothic style, creating a very stately facade is now a mausoleum..

If you are looking to stay in the Fifth, there are numerous hotels to accommodate any style. The Seven Hotel provides a modern chic, modern interior, colourfully decorated for a visually stunning look. Alternatively, Hôtel le Petit Paris combines modern and traditional design to produce a bold statement with soft, ornate patterns. For dining in the area, Le Verre a Pied provides a lovely ambience, with live jazz in the evenings. If you’re looking for a good crêpe, head to Au P’tit Grec. Both restaurants are located on Rue Moufftard, a wonderful bustling market street. 

Marais – 4th arrondissement Friday, Jul 11 2014 

shutterstock_204043381 notre dameL’Hôtel-de-Ville, as some call it, is the Fourth Arrondissement in Paris, located just south of the Third. The Fourth shares Le Marais with the Third, though the former contains the more lively parts of this medieval neighbourhood. The Fourth has become known as the gay district of Paris, particularly around the southern reaches of Le Marais, but the area does include a diverse population. This arrondissement is known for being a little pricier, with heavier foot traffic than other areas; with areas like the Place des Vosges, the oldest public square in Paris, and the Centre Georges Pompidou make for a wonderfully diverse street culture. The eastern parts of the Île de la Cité are included in the Fourth, which means that the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris resides in this district as well.

This district’s namesake, l’Hôtel-de-Ville, is located just off the Rue de Rivoli, near the Seine. This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, and serves as the City Hall. The building is not original, as the original 16th Century construction was destroyed, but was elaborately reconstructed in the 19th Century. The building beautifully reflects natural light, particularly at sunset, where you can enjoy a view from one of the various cafés nearby.

The Fourth is widely known for its charming side streets and delectable cafés, but, as in all districts, shopping is readily available as well. L’Ange 20, a bistro in the Fourth, is noted for its wonderful ambiance and delicious food; make a reservation, as there is limited seating. Mariage Frères is a tea house located in the Fourth, is sure to charm you with their large selection of teas, which you can order iced or hot. For hotels, Hôtel Jeu de Paume is a wonderful location. Sitting on Île Saint-Louis, this visually striking hotel is just across a bridge from Notre Dame Cathedral.

If you are looking for beautifully preserved old buildings and a great street culture, the Fourth is a must-see!

3me Arrondissement Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

The Third is one of the smaller arrondissements of Paris, only beat out buy the Second. Also located on the Right bank, this charming district is an amalgamation  of cultures, containing the northern shutterstock_530478 picasso museum editoral onlymost reaches of Le Marais, the medieval district of Paris (though Le Marais also expands into the Fourth). Also housing part of the Jewish quarter, the Third is home to the Museum of Judaic Art and History, as well as the Guimard’s Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue. A budding Chinatown is also thriving in the Third.

 

This district is home to several museums, including the popular Picasso Museum. The Baroque mansion that houses some of the Spanish painter’s works has been closed for several years for renovations, but is set to reopen in the fall of 2014. The Musée Carnavalet, dedicated to the history of Paris, is also located in the Third, housed in a Renaissance residential building. Other museums in the district include the Musee des Arts et Metiers, the French National Archives (Hotel de Soubise), and Musee de la Poupee, the Paris Doll Museum.

If you are looking to stay in the Third, there are several different options you can choose from. For an more unique experience, try the L’Hotel du Petit Moulin; this artsy boutique hotel is sure to wow you with its colourful decor. If you’re after a more traditional hotel, the Pavillon de la Reine, with its ivy-covered facade, will charm any traveller. The interior decor will make you feel as if you are in the poshest of hotels, while the garden is perfect for enjoying the weather.

Suggested restaurants in the Third include Derriere and L’Ami Louis. The former will provide you with the feel of a meal eaten outdoors in your backyard, but be sure to make a reservation. The latter features modest decor, but is heralded as one of the finest restaurants the Third has to offer.

2nd Arrondissement – Paris Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

Galerie Vivienne The Second Arrondissement in Paris is located on the right bank of the Seine, and also happens to be the smallest arrondissement; the area is home to the Paris Opera and the Stock Exchange. Here, you will find boutiques and cafes that have more of a small town atmosphere than a large city, but one of the most popular spots is the market street Rue Montorgueil near Chatelaet Les Halles. This market street is a pedestrian area that has plenty of gourmet food shops, bakeries, fish vendors, and more goodies than you could possible want. You can also step back in time as you walk through the Galerie Vivienne; built in 1823, the beautiful mosaic tiles will guide you to the boutique specialty shops, restaurants, and tea room as you enjoy the ambiance of the passage. Of course you won’t want to miss a visit to the Paris Opera. “Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar! And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.” You can almost hear the words to this Phantom of the Opera song as you visit this beautiful Opera House built in the 19th century. It is a must for the Angel of Music in all of us. If the markets, sights and shopping aren’t enough, then there is plenty more to be excited about like luxury hotels, and a great selection of restaurants that will not disappoint. For luxury start with a stay at the chic and comfortable Park Hyatt Vendome. Take time to visit the spa and enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation after a busy day in Paris. If you are staying in the area or just visiting, don’t miss the Bistro Vivienne, located in the Galerie Vivienne. The French cuisine is delightful with  good service and a nice wine list. However, if you are really into wine, try Frenchie Bar à Vins; the food rivals  their main restaurant in the same area, but the wine list is spectacular. Frenchie, the main restaurant will require some serious thought about scoring a reservation well ahead of time, so plan accordingly. Follow us to learn more about Paris and its remaining districts.

Paris By Arrondissement – 1st Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

Louvre PyramidParis may seem a bit daunting at first, but it’s easy to get the lay of the land with a little help. The French have made navigating the city somewhat easy by breaking down “the city of light” into 20 arrondissements or districts. This is the first in a series that will help you make sense of it all and give you a better understanding of this beautiful city before you arrive.

1st Arrondissement 

For first time visitors to Paris, this right bank neighborhood will allow effortless access to many of the sights on your Paris bucket list. Within walking distance are the Musée du Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries garden), Musée de l’Orangerie, Place de la Concorde, Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris), Palais Royal, Place Vendôme, and the Pont des Arts (bridge linking the 1st and 6th arrondissements). Plus for those who might find the walking in Paris a bit much, the number one metro line runs through this district and near many of the top sights.

If the sights are not enough, there is plenty more to be excited about like luxury hotels, shopping and a great selection of restaurants that will not disappoint. Hotels include Le Meurice which is a Parisian grand classic, the Mandarin Oriental, a modern oasis amidst this busy city, and the boutique Renaissance Paris Vendome. Currently being renovated, but worth a mention, is the famous Ritz Hotel that has enjoyed many celebrities and discerning clients throughout its existence and sure to see more when it reopens in 2014. Also scheduled to complete renovations in 2015, you might look forward to staying at Le Crillon which is undergoing a more than 80 million euro makeover. It will be worth the anticipation to once again see this grand palace once again at its finest.

Incredible luxury shopping might tempt you along the rue Saint-Honoré where you will find some of the most prestigious fashion brands or take in a piece of shopping history in the19th century neoclassical shopping arcade of Galerie Véro-Dodat. Built in 1826, it is just like stepping back in time as you explore the covered passage that is filled with a variety of quaint shops.

Restaurants are simple a matter of taste, but Angelina’s is always popular, and is known for their sinfully delicious hot chocolate and wonderful desserts. Another favorite is L’Ardoise, this small but quintessentially French bistro is always busy so it may be wise to snag a reservation before you drop in. Finally, Chez l’Ami Louis is perhaps the one of the most famous brasseries in the area and dates back to the 1930’s. It delivers a wonderful ambiance and roasted chicken that will keep you coming back again and again, but make your reservations for this one well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Follow us to learn more about Paris and its remaining districts.

The Grand Dame of the Sixth Saturday, Aug 17 2013 

LutetiaOne of my very favorite hotels in Paris is the Lutetia. Built in 1910 under the direction of two of the greatest architects of the day, Hotel Lutetia was the first Art Deco hotel in Paris.

Situated in the literary and artistic centre of Paris, several painters and writers have stayed or made their home at the luxury hotel including Matisse, Andre Gide, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Picasso. The adventurer, Alexandra David Neel stayed here after her expedition to the Far East, as did the celebrated dancer, Josephine Baker and General de Gaulle spent his honeymoon here.

It was however, it’s role in WWII that most fascinated me. During the war, it was requisitioned by the Nazis’ counter-intelligence service but in 1945, upon the orders of General de Gaulle, it became a meeting and medical point for prisoners returning from concentration camps, taking in up to 2,000 arrivals each day.

Today, it is a beautiful example of the art deco style, luxurious and stately, the Lutetia occupies space on the left bank neighborhood of the St Germain area, and is directly across from Le Bon Marche department store.

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