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May 18, 2015

Five Gourmet Shops on Place de la Madeleine

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.

Many of the top gourmet and food shops in Paris are situated on the historic Place de la Madeleine. The Madeleine Church, the anchor of the square, is a neo-classical Roman temple and originally started as a shrine to the battles Napoleon had won but the project was abandoned after he was exiled. It was designated as a church devoted to Mary Magdalene by King Louis XVIII and completed in 1828. 

Here is a list of the yummiest gourmet shops. 

Maille

Maille

Only in Paris could you have an entire shop devoted to mustard. Maille, one of the oldest mustard brands in France, has its origins in Marseille when distiller Antoine Maille set up his first mustard tap in 1723. Today the shop carries over 60 flavors, including exotic flavors such as raspberry basil, Thai spices, Cassis, chestnut, cherry and almond, and celery and truffle. Classic mustards are still dispensed the old fashioned way by tap and packaged in ceramic jars with a cork lid, a great keepsake or gift. The shop also carries a line of vinegars and oils, plus mustard serving accessories including wooden teaspoons, painted ceramic mustard pots, tea towels and aprons. 

6 Place de la Madeleine, 75008
https://www.maille.com/

Fauchon

Fauchon 

Founded in 1886 by Auguste Fauchon, Fauchon is one of the leading luxury gourmet shops in Paris and around the world. With two outlets adjacent to each other, one shop carries mostly packaged products with their signature colors of hot pink and black, including chocolates, biscuits, cookies, candies, tea, coffee, jellies, jams, and mustard. The other offers an extensive line of prepared and takeout foods, including cakes and pastries, appetizers, quiches, cheeses, caviar, hams, patés, and a bread bakery, plus tables to eat the prepared foods. A restaurant, café, and cocktail lounge are also on the premises. 

24-26, 30 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 
http://www.fauchon.com/en/

Caviar Kaspia

Step into the world of one of the most prized foods in the world, caviar at Kaspia. Stocking the finest caviars since 1927, the shop has Beluga, Ossestra, and Baeri imported from Italy and Bulgaria. Smoked salmon, crab, foie gras, vodka, and Iberian ham are also for sale. The elegant restaurant has an Art Nouveau décor. 

17 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 
http://kaspia.fr/en/index.php

Maison de Truffe 

Next door to Kaspia is another decadent food offering, truffles. The rare and sought-after delicacy is well represented at Maison de Truffe. Truffle varieties sold include Burgundy, White Alba, Black, and Summer. A restaurant and tasting room offers a selection of dishes prepared with truffles. 

19 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 
http://www.maison-de-la-truffe.com/en/index.php

Hediard

Hediard 

An institution synonymous with luxury gourmet food, Hediard is the quintessential upscale Parisian food shop. The bold black and red striped insignia is prominent on the boxes and tins of packaged foods such as biscuits, condiments, teas, confections, chocolates, and spices. The fresh food counters offer premium quality fruits and vegetables, take out and prepared foods, pastries, cheeses, and foie gras. The boutique also has an extensive wine cellar and restaurant. 

21 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 
http://www.hediard.com/?___store=hed01en&___from_store=hed01fr 

 

 

April 22, 2015

Top Fashion Exhibitions in Paris for 2015

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.

As the fashion capital of the world, Paris has been the inspiration for designers for centuries, attracting some of fashion's top talent to the city. In 2015 Paris celebrates the masters of fashion with an exceptional plethora of fashion exhibits. Here is a comprehensive list of them. 

jean-paul gautierJeanne Lanvin

Before Coco Chanel there was Jeanne Lanvin, one of the first female fashion designers in Paris. She set up her couture house in 1909 and later followed with shops featuring menswear, furs, and lingerie. Her breakthrough product was the world popular Arpege perfume introduced in 1927, inspired by the sound of her daughter Marguerite practicing her piano scales. Today Lanvin is the oldest French fashion house still in existence and the Musée Palais Galliera has organized the first full-scale exhibition of the designer, with over 100 garments from its own archives and Lanvin Heritage. Alber Elbaz, the current artistic director of Lanvin, worked closely with the museum in curating and creating the show. 

Till August 23 
10, rue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75116
www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr/en/exhibitions/jeanne-lanvin

Yves Saint Laurent 1971: The Scandal Collection 

Already a fashion innovator and provocateur with his groundbreaking designs, Yves Saint Laurent shocked the fashion world in 1971 with his spring collection. Known as The Liberation/Forties collection, the clothes were inspired by wartime looks, which included short skirts, platform shoes, garish makeup and square-padded shoulders. It was nicknamed the Scandal Collection by journalists because to many it was a painful and too-recent reminder of the harsh realities of the war. 

Vilified by the press, eventually the collection was the gateway to the streetwear look that influenced so many fashion designers working today. In response to the collection, Yves Saint Laurent said, “What do I want? To shock people, to force them to think. What I make is very much connected to contemporary art … Young people, they don’t have any memories.”  

Till July 19, 2015
3 rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116
www.fondation-pb-ysl.net/en/Accueil-Fondation-Pierre-Berge-Yves-Saint-Laurent-575.html

buttonThe Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk 

The extraordinary show that has dazzled over a million visitors worldwide, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk arrives in in the designer’s hometown with a special edition. 

One of the longest-enduring icons of fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier is considered the original bad boy of Paris street fashion. The exhibition covers his incredible success, from haute couture to pret a porter. The multimedia show includes sketches, archives, stage costumes, film footage, fashion shows, concerts, video clips, dance and television shows.

Till August 3
Grand Palais, les Galeries Nationales
3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008
www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/jean-paul-gaultier

Déboutonner la Mode

Loic Allo is beyond crazy about buttons. The new exhibition Déboutonner la Mode is a collection of over 3,000 buttons Allo has gathered over a number of decades. It tells the history and importance of buttons in fashion, starting with the 1800s and continuing to the present day. Artisans including embroiderers, glass makers, ceramicists, jewelers and silversmiths producing exquisite buttons are represented in the show, and many artist and sculptors, including Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Sonia Delaunay, and Jean Arp, designed exclusive collections of button for fashion houses. The upstairs level of the exhibition covers the 20th century and the rise of button usage with designers such as Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Mme Grès, Givenchy, Balmain, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Yves Saint Laurent.  

Don’t miss Allo’s book Boutons with a forward by Hubert Givenchy sold in the gift shop. 

Till July 19
Musée des Arts Decoratifs
107 rue de Rivoli, 75001
www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/en/exhibitions/current-events-1322/deboutonner-la-mode/

Posted in: France , Sight-seeing

March 23, 2015

What to Expect From The Peninsula Paris

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.

Making its grand entrance into the crowded European luxury market, Peninsula Hotels recently opened The Peninsula Paris, bringing the company's unique Asian-inspired brand of five star accommodations and service to the City of Light. 

the peninsula paris

A former grand hotel built in 1906, the property has a storied past, seeing many metamorphoses over the years. Ahead of its time when opened in 1908, it was the first hotel to have private bathrooms. On an historical note, The League of Nations was formed in the hotel in 1919, which lead to the signing of The Treaty of Versailles. In 1928, composer George Gershwin spent four weeks in a suite composing the score for the legendary An American in Paris. Another history-making event was the signing of the peace agreement to end the Vietnam War, negotiated by Henry Kissinger on January 27, 1973, in the bar. After the hotel was sold in 1936 it went on to be UNESCO headquarters and later used for various government agencies. 

A painstaking renovation was six years in the making, led by the Peninsula in-house design team in conjunction with Henry Leung of the Hong Kong-based Chhada Siembieda Leung Ltd. The Paris-based designer Richard Martinet was in charge of the ground floor renovation, using craftsmen and historical advisors to manage the design. The centerpiece of the airy lobby is a hanging sculpture of 800 delicate Lasvit Crystal leaves individually hung by craftsmen from the Czech Republic

the peninsula paris

The Lobby Restaurant is a congenial classic French style dining room serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the outdoor terrace is one of the largest in Paris extending out on the upscale Ave. Kleber. Award-winning chef Tang Chi Keung is whipping up Cantonese fare at Lili, a chic restaurant with a dramatic décor of marble columns, midnight blue walls, and handmade Chinese wall carvings. 

the peninsula parisL’Oiseau Blanc is the crowning achievement of the hotel’s suite of restaurants. The aviation-themed restaurant, bar and terrace is inspired by the adventure of ex-First World War flying aces Charles Nungesser and François Coli, who attempted to cross the Atlantic in 1927 from Le Bourget. The smart Art Deco-inspired design includes an exact replica (75 percent size) of the L’Oiseau Blanc plane hanging over the roof and 360 degree views of Paris. 

Boasting some of the largest rooms in Paris (the smallest measures almost 400 sq. ft.), The Peninsula Paris has 200 rooms and 34 suites with five featuring their own private rooftop gardens with spectacular views. Keeping the technologically advanced guest in mind, bedside interactive digital and desk tablets are fully customized and preset with 11 languages. Top furniture and home accessory designers have exclusively designed pieces for the hotel including writing desks and bedside tables by Austrian designer Robert Wolte, coffee tables from Cassina in Italy and carpets by Tai Ping

The expansive 20,000 square ft. spa is a serene sanctuary with a 65 ft. indoor pool, two Jacuzzis and eight private treatment rooms. The Ying Yang, custom designed for the hotel, is a calming treatment that brings harmony to the mind and body using plant, marine and essential oil extracts. 

19 Ave. Kleber, 75116 
Tel. +33 1 5812 2888
http://paris.peninsula.com

Posted in: France , luxury hotels

February 25, 2015

Cultural Events in Paris for Spring 2015

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.

Spring 2015 is shaping up to be a prolific and busy cultural season in Paris. Below is a hand-picked list of some of the top events. 

Singin’ in the Rain

The Theatre du Chatelet in past seasons has presented full-scale productions of classic Broadway and movie musicals, such as Into the Woods, An American in Paris, West Side Story, A Little Night Music and The King and I. This spring one of the most beloved American movie musicals comes to the stage, Singin’ in the Rain, originally starring Gene Kelly. Robert Carsen, who staged My Fair Lady in 2013 at Theatre du Chatelet, heads the artistic team with choreography by Stephen Mear, set design by Tim Hatley, costumes by Anthony Powell with the Orchestre de Chambre Paris conducted by Gareth Valentine

March 12-March 26, 2015 
Theatre du Chatelet
Place du Chatelet, 75004 
http://chatelet-theatre.com/en/event/singin-in-the-rain

David Bowie Is…

The dazzling new classical concert hall, Philharmonie de Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel, opened in January. The venue's premiere exhibit, David Bowie is…, is a multimedia  journey following his remarkable career from the 60s to present day. Much of the show was taken from Bowie’s personal archives with previously unreleased documents and recordings, photographs, videos, costumes, set components, handwritten pages, drawings and instruments which meticulously documents the meteoric rise of the pop culture legend and innovator. 

March 3 to May 31, 2015 
Philharmonie de Paris  
221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019
http://p0.philharmoniedeparis.fr/en/a-flagship-exhibition-david-bowie-is

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier - From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

The ultimate bad boy of fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier, has become one of the most influential and avant-garde fashion designers of his generation. A traveling exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier-From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, has already seduced fans from Brooklyn to Stockholm to Dallas and finally arrives in Gaultier’s hometown. Encompassing five decades of his prolific output of haute couture and ready to wear collections, the exhibit features sketches, archives, stage costumes, and film and video footage from his fashion shows and dance performances. 

April 1 to August 3, 2015
Grand Palais 
3 avenue du Général Eisenhower ,75008
http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/jean-paul-gaultier

American Icons: Masterworks from the San Francisco MoMA and Fisher Collection

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) proudly presents American Icons: Masterworks from the San Francisco MoMA and Fisher Collection. Doris and Donald Fisher, founders of the The Gap, have amassed one of the largest collections of post-modern American art. They have partnered with SFMOMA to show 64 of their most important works in Paris. Highlights include pieces from renowned artists Chuck Close, Dan Flavin, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin and Andy Warhol

April 8 to June 22, 2015 
3 avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008
http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/american-icons

Dolce Vita? Italian Decorative Art 1900–1940, from the Liberty to Industrial Design

Italian decorative arts from the early twentieth century is the focus a new exhibit Dolce Vita? Italian Decorative Art 1900–1940, from the Liberty to Industrial Design at the Musée d’Orsay. The iconic modern Italian style was developed by cabinetmakers, ceramicists and glassmakers who started the Liberty style in the early 1900s with designs by Carlo Bugatti, Eugenio Quarti and Federico Tesio. The second part of the show is devoted to Futurism, where artist and designers interpreted the fast rise of technology and innovation of the rapid changing time. 

April 14 to September 13
Musée d’Orsay
1 rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html

Posted in: France

January 28, 2015

An Inside Look at Fouquet’s Barriere Hotel

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.

Last month I had a special invitation to take a tour and have lunch at Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere on the Champs Elysees. Celine Lavail-Georgin, the director of marketing and communications, was gracious enough to give me a tour explaining in full detail about the history of the original café and the opening of the hotel, in addition to the latest events. 

Louis Foquet opened Fouquet’s Café in 1899, and it first welcomed coach drivers on their way to the Longchamp racetrack. In 1905, when Alberto Santos-Dumont landed his small plane on the Champs Elysees, he celebrated his big accomplishment at the café, and it became a meeting place for French aviators. While I was waiting in the lobby for Celine, I noticed a long wall with photos of movie stars, celebrities, and directors, and she told me Fouquet’s has long been associated with the movie industry. In the 1920s and 30s, the first movie theaters with talking films in Paris were opened on the Champs Elysees, and the café was a watering hole for people in film, including Marlene Dietrich and Jean GabinIn the late 1950s and early 1960s, the cafe was the headquarters of the Nouvelle Vague film movement with actors and directors, such as Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Alain Delon and Jeanne Moreau frequently visiting. 

In the early 1990s, many of the Champs Elysees retail storefronts were empty because of the soft real estate market, and some were put up for sale. Fouquet’s Café was about to be sold to a large corporation and replaced with an office tower. Diane Barriere, whose family owned a chain of hotels and casinos in France (none in Paris), had fond childhood memories of visiting the café for lunch with her father and was distraught at the idea it would be demolished. Dianne made saving the café her personal pet project, and the family bought it in 1998. The family had always wanted a location in Paris, so Dianne fulfilled the family vision by proposing a hotel to be built next to the cafe. Five buildings were purchased surrounding the café, but unfortunately Diane Barriere passed away before her dream was realized. Her husband Dominique Desseigne continued with the fulfillment of Diane’s vision, and the hotel opened in 2006. In 2009 it attained the special status of five-stars and is the only privately held five-star hotel owned by a French family.

The café continues its historical association with the film industry by annually hosting the glamorous Cesar Awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars. Filled with memories of movie stars and luminaries visiting the hotel, we sat for lunch on the glass-enclosed terrace. In the main dining room were gold plaques inscribed with the names of various celebrities, such as Orson Welles and Edith Piaf, who had their own table reserved for them.  

Celine pointed out the signature dishes on the menu by head chef Jean-Yves Leuranger, and I indulged with a starter of lobster filled ravioli, followed by a lobster Thermidor and finished with a rich, classic mille-feuille with delicate pastry cream. Celine shared with me about the success of the old-fashioned ice cream truck that was set up last summer in front of the café. 

Hotel Fouquets Barriere has 81 rooms and 33 suites decorated by celebrated interior designer Jacques Garcia, with the smallest room measuring a very generous 400 square feet. The hotel is the only one in Paris to offer personal butler service in every room category. 

There are five restaurants: Fouquet’s, Fouquet’s Café, La Petite Maison de Nicole, Galerie Joy and Le Diane, which has been awarded one Michelin star. The property's three bars include Le Lucien, L’Escadrille and Le Bar Marta. The Shiseido spa on the lower level has an almost Olympic sized pool with a whirlpool and eight treatment rooms for massages and facials. 
 
Fouquet’s Barriere Hotel
46 Ave. George V, 75008
http://www.lucienbarriere.com/en/luxury-hotel/Paris-Hotel-Fouquets-Barriere/home.html

December 16, 2014

What to See in Paris This Christmas

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.

Paris is all aglow for the Christmas holidays as the department stores have done up their windows to delight kids from 8 to 80, the expansive boulevards are decorated in festive lights, and the Hotel de Ville has installed their annual skating rink. Here are some of our selected holiday events. 

Galeries Lafayette is all about monsters this season -- not the scary kind, but the cuddly ones. Gustave, the main monster, is a furry hot pink creature. His female companion, Gaga, has big eyelashes and feminine white gloves.

A boy journeys from London to Paris with his teddy bear as Printemps devotes its windows to Burberry. This year for the first time Printemps' windows are interactive. Visitors can connect to Printemps' Wi-Fi to interact with individual scenes and can access additional content from their browsers. They can also control the weather as the boy crosses the Channel and can activate a storm – with accompanying sound – or sail a fleet of boats.

Colorful reindeer take over the windows at Le Bon Marche, helping Santa answer his stack of letters. Children who included their email in their letter to Santa will receive a special animated video in their mailbox. 

Printemps
64 Blvd. Haussmann, 75009 

Galeries Lafayette
40 Blvd. Haussmann, 75009 

Le Bon Marche 
24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007

Snow White/Blanche Neige was an instant showstopper when it premiered six years ago and is now at Versailles. It has a limited run just for the holiday season with music composed by Gustav Mahler and costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier. The show is directed by Angelin Preljocaj.

Chateau de Versailles 
December 17- 21 (Dec. 18 sold out) 
http://www.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr/en/spectacles/2014/preljocaj-snow-white

Everyone’s favorite holiday ballet, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, gets a glorious production originally choreographed and staged by Rudolf Nureyev

Bastille Opera
https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/saison-2014-2015/ballet/casse-noisette-rudolf-noureev

Enjoy the Christmas festivities at the magnificent Vaux le Comte, a 17th century palace themed on Versailles. Christmas carols, tables of holiday delicacies, sparkling lights and surprise gifts for children under the tree are all part of the fun. 

December 6-, 13-14, and every day from December 20 to January 4, except Christmas & New Years Day
 http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/vaux-le-vicomte-celebrate-christmas/ 

Our favorite Christmas markets are the Christmas Village on the Champs Elysees, with over 200 chalets selling holiday gifts and crafts, mulled hot wine, toys, jewelry, food and Christmas ornaments, and the Village du Père Noël, a more intimate market in front of the ancient St. Germain Church.

November 21, 2014

Bustronome: A New Way to See Paris

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.

Tourists in Paris have a plethora of ways of seeing the sites of the city, including bicycles, tricycles and Velibs, buses, cars -- including driving your own Maserati sports car or sitting in the uncomfortable back seat of a Citroen CV -- Segways, rickshaws and mini-trains. In this crowded field comes a new refreshing way to see the Paris in a luxury bus like no other before. 

bustronomeBustronome is a custom-built bus that serves multi-course gourmet lunches and dinners while touring the highlights of Paris. 

We were a little curious about how a tour like this worked so we chose the night tour, which started at 7:45 pm on Ave. Kleber right off the Place Etoile/Charles DeGaulle. Standing almost three stories high the big, shiny bus awaited us. We were escorted to the second floor, where tables were set with fine china. In the center of each table was a Lucite structure to hold the glassware, so we were relieved that we wouldn’t have red wine spilling on our laps. We were immediately offered a glass of Champagne and relaxed before the bus took off, taking in the 360-degree view of the Arc de Triomphe from the glass-wrapped terrace around us.

The bus departed at 7:55 pm and slowly circulated the streets, touring the Champs Elysees, Trocadero, the Eiffel Tower (timed on the hour so we were able to see the glitter lights sparkle), the Champs de Mars, the Opera Garnier, Musée d’Orsay, the Grand Palais, the Hotel de Ville and Notre Dame. A lavish six-course meal was served during the almost three-hour tour. The winter menu by chef Vincent Thiesse consisted of smaller plates, including a porcini mushroom custard, a sea scallop carpaccio garnished with grapefruit and pistachio, turbot fillet with a pumpkin and safran sauce, roasted veal with potatoes, Cabecou -- a soft goat cheese from the Midi-Pyrenees -- and a pineapple and passion fruit cheesecake. The bus moved at a leisurely pace so that it never felt bumpy, even though the glassware rattled somewhat on the cobblestone streets. 

Another thoughtful feature of the service was instead of having the historical information about the sites blaring through the speakers, on the back of the menu was a map of the different points of interest. You were given an electronic pointer so you could tap on each spot of the map and it would automatically dispense the history through a speaker in the pointer. 

Bustronome is available seven days a week and offers two-hour lunch tours from 12 pm to 2 pm for 95 euros per person with drinks, including Champagne, wine, and coffee or tea, or 65 euros without. Dinner service is two and a half hours from 7:45 pm to 10:15 pm for 125 euros per person with drinks or 85 euros without. The good news is Bustronome can prepare a vegan menu and can also do private or customized tours. 

Bustronome is a luxurious an unhurried way to experience the splendors of Paris. 

Visit www.bustronome.com

November 19, 2014

Just Back: Delano Las Vegas' Bathhouse Spa

delano batthouse spa

Recently I got a chance to visit the newly renovated and renamed Delano Las Vegas, where I got to swing by the Bathhouse Spa. And even in a city famous for its indulgences, this spa has some noteworthy perks.

The Treatments

The Bathhouse Spa's new menu uses locally sourced ingredients, including cacti and wildflowers, as well as other elements from the desert. For example, immune-boosting "Milk and Honey" treatments feature edible raw bee pollen from the Mohave region.

I would have loved to try one of the Global Journeys, a series of treatments reflecting traditional rituals from regions where Morgans Hotel Group has hotels, including Asia, India, Europe and a "Taste from the Islands." Each "journey," which can run for as long as four-and-a-half hours, incorporates a holistic menu of treatments and ends with a cup of tea paired from the region for which the journey is named.

But since time was limited, I opted for the 50-minute Desert Stone massage, which used hot stones and two local oils for a sense of place. My therapist, Sudo, had wonderfully deft hands and did a terrific job soothing all the tense muscles--even focusing on my neck when I said it was particularly sore. 

For a seasonal treatment, visitors can try the warm apple cider massage (which we hear increases circulation and soothes muscles) or a pumpkin spice facial. There's also a Plum Pie Pedicure that uses a plum-spice foot scrub and a whipped body cream.

The Spa 

The Bathhouse has 12 treatment rooms on two levels, as well as several pre- and post-therapy spaces that are worth arriving early or staying late to enjoy. Much of the lighting comes from the floor, creating plenty of shadows and easing eyestrain. (It's nice to not have lights glaring right into your eyes.) The single-sex lounge has snacks and drinks (including coffee--a blessing for early-morning treatments), as well as several plunge pools. (Good to know: The pools are clothing-optional.) The steam room is especially soothing, with eucalyptus-scented steam and low lighting for a very relaxing atmosphere. Next time I'm there, I'll explore the sauna and plunge pools properly--it's definitely worth spending an extra hour just to take advantage of all the perks

Agents can make reservations for Bathhouse Spa by calling 877-632-9636. Day passes for the Spa are available to all Delano Las Vegas and MGM Resorts International hotel guests. 

October 27, 2014

Opening and Reopening of Two Major Art Institutions: Fondation Louis Vuitton and Musee Picasso

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.

Fall 2014 in Paris has been abuzz with anticipation of an opening of a new major art institution and a long awaited re-opening of a favorite Paris museum. 

Bernard Arnault, CEO of Louis Vuitton, and one of the richest men in France with an estimated fortune of $60 billion, spent 13 years realizing his dream of opening a private museum in Paris. Arnault chose world-famous American architect, Frank Gehry, who also designed the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and the Walt Disney Opera House in Los Angeles, to fulfill his vision of the Fondation Louis Vuitton

The striking building located in the peaceful Bois de Boulogne Park on the outskirts of Paris has 12 architectural sails with 3,600 glass panels, nicknamed “the iceberg”. Gehry took inspiration for the design from the Grand Palais, the massive glass structure from the 1900 Paris Worlds Fair. It took 100 engineers and 3,000 workers to complete the complicated and complex design. The inside contains 13,000 square feet of exhibition space with 11 galleries. The galleries will mostly feature works borrowed from Arnault’s highly regarded and extensive private collection. The final estimated cost of the project was 143 million euros. 

The building of the museum came with controversy as many local residents protested that it would remove precious green space from the pristine parkland. Although it is a private museum, it was donated to the city for 50 years. 

After five years and extensive delays, the Picasso museum has reopened its doors. Originally launched in 1985 in a then-abandoned and dilapidated former 17th century palace once owned by salt tax collector, the museum became a big tourist attraction and helped transform the run down Marais area into one of the most desirable areas of the city. 

After Picasso’s death in 1973, the family donated over 5,000 works to the state in lieu of paying inheritance taxes. 

The reopening on October 25 was timed for Picasso’s birthday and President Hollande was present at the festivities. 

The renovation cost 52 million euros and the museum has now tripled its exhibition space by moving the offices and administration to an alternate building. It houses the largest collection in the world of Picasso’s work. 
 
Fondation Louis Vuitton
8 Ave. du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 75116 
Open everyday except Tuesday 
Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday 12PM-7PM
Friday till 11PM
Saturday & Sunday 11AM-8PM
http://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en.html

Musee Picasso 
5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003
Open Tuesday to Friday 11:30AM-6PM, Saturday & Sunday 9:30AM-6PM 
http://www.museepicassoparis.fr/en/

Posted in: France , Sight-seeing

October 07, 2014

On Site: Two Unique Group Activities in Las Vegas

Dig This Las Vegas

I'm on location in Las Vegas, and had the chance to try two decidedly unique group activities here for those who like to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. (Well, a little dirty.)

Dig This is, so I've heard, the country's first heavy-equipment playground. You know how some medicines warn against operating heavy machinery after using? This is what they're talking about.

Visitors can, after a quick introduction (and a breathalyzer test--they're not kidding about those medicines!) hop into a bulldozer or excavator to dig holes and push dirt around in a yard. (It's a great teambuilding activity, and companies like Google and Facebook have reportedly stopped by to run machines around the yard.) The drivers are connected via headset to an instructor at all times, so no worries about not knowing how to stop this crazy thing or running into another operator's space.

The excavators were especially popular, and two other attendees and I practiced picking up basketballs and dropping them into tires to show off our newly learned dexterity. (It's amazing that a machine capable of digging into hard-packed earth can be so precise and gentle that it can be used for a basketball game.)

Call 702-222-4344 and ask for Dave, Mark or Junior when booking. (They're great instructors.)

Once we were good and dusty (and quite proud of ourselves for playing basketball with a 15-ton excavator), we headed over to the Cosmopolitan, one of the newer resorts, which has a great range of high-end restaurants.

Jaleo is an authentic Spanish restaurant with a massive paella grill in the middle of the room, where diners can watch their to-order rice dishes be prepared from scratch. Even better, they can participate (with advanced reservations) and make their own paella while sipping sangria and sampling tapas. (The dish takes a little less than an hour to make, and the guests can be as involved--or uninvolved--as they like in the process.)

While preparing the dish, we learned about Spanish cuisine and about how head chef Jose Andres combines traditional cooking styles with local Southwestern produce. (As many ingredients as possible are locally sourced, and nothing is pre-made, including the chicken stock.)  And the final product is simply fantastic.

Tip: While the cocktail is not traditionally Spanish, Jaleo makes some of the best gin-and-tonics I've ever tasted. Be sure to order one.

Bonus: This is one of the few restaurants I've seen in the U.S. with a traditional genuine jamon iberico (traditional Spanish style of cured ham) available for sampling.

Contact Robert Jarrett (robert.jarrett@cosmopolitanlasvegas.com) for reservations and with any questions. 

Today, we're off to explore the Downtown area and the Fremont Street Experience. Stay tuned!