Sara Colohan, Travel Article on Paris
PUBLISHED- Travel article on Paris 07
Paris – Joy de Vive
Paris is one of those special places that deserves all the high praise it gets from everyone who visits it. Any self respecting shopper will tell you it’s a fashionista’s paradise, the home of the quintessential French woman whose style and panache is still second to none worldwide. It’s a haven of chic shops, museums, unique cafes and bars, all of which add to the vibrant ‘je ne c’est que’ that makes Paris incomparable to other cities. Clichéd as it may sound, I felt like a movie star or a runaway bride as I breezed through the cobbled streets taking in the ambience of this unique and magical city.
Before my trip I promised myself that I was going to plan my weekend well in advance, avoiding my usual ‘blind leading the blind’ kind of rambling, where I waste valuable time aimlessly wandering through the streets without proper directions! I was determined to utilise every second of my time away so I availed of a novel little company I found online called My Genie in Paris http://www.mygenieinparis.com/. For 60 euro, (paid through their website) this independent ‘tour guide’ asks all kinds of profile building questions covering accommodation, eating out, tourist and shopping interests and so on. Based on your answers, they arrange a detailed, tailor made itinerary of where to eat, sleep and party, complete with maps and relevant phone numbers. What I found most helpful was Stephanie, my genie, managed to secure a table in the remarkably trendy and constantly ‘booked out’ KONG restaurant. Designed by Philip Stark, it’s set on the top floor of a disused shopping centre in the heart of the up and coming Pont Neuf area. It was a relief that I didn’t have to call them myself from Ireland as my limited French would probably have lumbered me with a reservation sometime in 3000!
Let’s face it – there are so many things to do in Paris you would need much more than a weekend to get it all done, but, thanks to My Genie I managed to do almost everything on my list in just two and a half days! When I arrived on Friday afternoon I met with Stephanie who gave me maps, relevant leaflets and my personal itinerary meticulously printed out. After I checked into my hotel, I went for afternoon tea in the Ritz, had dinner in Kong and late drinks in Mandala Ray (formally the restaurant Man Ray, owned by Johnny Depp) and was tucked up in bed by two am! I have to say, having everything mapped out in advance made it effortlessly easy to fit it all in.
My hotel was just five minutes from The Champs Elysees and was an exquisite little boutique styled spot called Hotel Daniel. http://www.hoteldanielparis.com/ I’ve learned that it’s always worth sourcing a well located hotel, especially if you are planning to carry lots of shopping bags home every evening!! This one was perfect – lovely décor, friendly and very easy to find, even after a few glasses of vino!
Saturday’s ‘Genie’ itinerary was packed with exciting options from my original list of requests including vintage stores, specialist chocolate &coffee shops and some historical sights and museums that were en route. I hit the Champs-Elysees first, checking out the worlds largest Louis Vuttion’s store and although I’m not a big fan, I’d recommend that you take a look as it’s breathtaking. Sephora and Zara are always worth checking out and if you need a quick espresso pop into George V café for great coffee and snacks. Walk, (or get the daunting, yet unbelievably easy to use metro) to Rue de Madeline and visit Maison du Cholocate if you fancy splashing out on some world famous French chocolate. Close by is the unique, design conscious store Colette http://www.colette.fr/ who’s modern approach to the normal, predictable concept of retail is novel. Smaller than I expected, (I had spent some time on their very cool website) it’s a shop for the design aware and uber chic mixing hi-tech with fashion, street art, world music, cult classic DVDs, unique jewellery and street wear. I was impressed by their music listening area, which consisted of a wall of I pods allowing you listen in advance to the album of you choice, cutting out the need to randomly buy something simply because you liked the cover! If there’s space (its always busy!) you can eat in the Water Bar downstairs.
Continue from there to Jartin du Palais Royal (M Palais Royal) and stroll through the beautiful garden which is surrounded by little shops including top vintage stores like Gabreille Geppert and the rather more impressive Didier Ludot The latter houses one of the most famous collections of vintage haute couture in Paris and I was told by the extremely enthusiastic shop assistant, that Reese Witherspoon bought her vintage Dior (1956) dress there, the very one she wore to the Academy Awards when she won the Oscar for“Walk The Line.” (Didier Ludot is also the author of the fashion book‘ Little Black Dress’)
For something altogether more modern I visited The George Pompidou Centre. http://www.centrepompidou.fr/ Now, I’m not the greatest appreciator of art but I was so glad I bought a day ticket and allowed myself three hours to view works from modern greats like Kandinsky, Dali and Marcel Duchamp. One of the hottest places to eat in Paris is George, on the top floor of the centre. (M Hotel de Ville) Even if, someday the food goes down hill, it will always have the best views so check it out if you can!
On Sunday I spent a couple of hours in the Louvre http://www.louvre.fr/ and at the risk of sounding like a complete philistine, I found it quite oppressive. It’s worth the effort to see the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David but you could end up spending way too much time trying to find your way around. (its like a mini city!) My best advice is decide in advance what you want to see and stick to it! Maybe the fashion museum MUSEE GALLIERA -
http://fr.sitestat.com/paris-touristoffice/paris-touristoffice/s?wwwgallieraarisfr&ns_type=clickout&ns_url=www.galliera.paris.fr is more your thing! It certainly was mine.
I couldn’t imagine Paris without visiting the theatre and as I’d never been to The Moulin Rouge I decided it was time to check it out!
The iconic red windmill itself is worth the short trip to the somewhat shady Pigalle district and the colourful and well choreographed show is full every night so they must be doing something right! If like me, you have an interest in the history of cabaret then this show is a must. Prices are not cheap at approx E140 euro for dinner but it’s a venerable French institution and I felt it was truly worth supporting.
With a centrally located hotel and a fairly good idea of what you want to do on your trip, there’s no reason why you can’t fit in all the culture, fun, fashion and gourmet food Paris has to offer, no matter how short your trip! Plan ahead and get the most from this incredible city. Vive la France!
Many thanks to :
Maison de France: For all information on France: http://www.franceguide.com/
Sara flew with Air France:www.airfrance.ie
My genie in paris. http://www.mygenieinparis.com/en/index.html
Moulin Rouge; http://www.moulinrouge.com/
Hotel Daniel – 8, rue Frédérique Bastiat, 75008 Paris http://www.hoteldanielparis.com/
Ritz Paris: 15, Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris www.ritzparis.com
1, rue du Pont Neuf, 75001 Paris
Tel. 01 40 390 900 Fax. 01 40 390 910,
Place Georges Pompidou 19, rue Beaubourg 75004 Paris33 (1) 44 78 47 99
CAFE GEORGE V120 Avenue des Champs Elysées 75008 PARIS
Metro : George V
RER : Charles de Gaulle - Etoile
telephone number : 01.45.62.33.51
fax : 01.45.63.04.61
Colette 213 rue Saint-Honoré - 75001 Paris - France
Tel: +33 1 55 35 33 90 - Fax: +33 1 55 35 33 99
Open from Monday to Saturday 11am to 7pm.
Subway Tuileries or Pyramides / Bus line 68 or 72 http://www.colette.fr/
Louis Vuttion http://www.louisvuitton.com/
(101 Avenue de Paris 750800 ph 0 810 810 010)
OTHER REASONS TO GO TO PARIS:
Fashion week spring-summer: 30 September-8 October
Haute Couture: 2nd to 5th July 2007
Ready to wear: 30th September – 8 October 2007
Men’s fashion: 28th June to 1st July 2007
MUSEE DE LA MODE DE LA VILLE DE PARIS10, avenue Pierre Ier de Serbie 75116 PARIS
Metro : Iéna
Bus : 32, 63, 72, 92, 42,80, 82
telephone number : 01 56 52 86 00
For other events: