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August 21, 2014

Inside the Five-Star Molitor Pool and 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 www.eyepreferparis.com.

Nestled in a quiet upscale residential area next to the Bois de Boulogne Park and the Roland Garros Tennis Center is the latest five-star concept hotel in Paris, The Molitor

molitor pool

The focal point and basis of the new hotel is the Molitor Pool, a legendary Art Deco pool built in 1929. It became one of the most beloved pools of Paris till 1989 when it was closed by the city but ironically designated as an historical monument. Graffiti artists had their way with the pool and created elaborate works of art. 

The pool has a rich history behind it: Olympic winner and star of the Tarzan films, Johnny Weissmuller inaugurated the pool along with being a lifeguard. It was also the site for the debut of the bikini in 1946, designed by Louis Reard. In the book and film Life of Pi, the main character Patel is named Pi after Piscine Molitor. 

RELATED: Ice Cream Shops in Paris

molitor

In August 2007, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe accepted bids from three companies for the renovation of the pool. The Accor Hotel Group won the bid and proceeded to completely rebuild the pool and added a luxury hotel, spa and pool club. 

The hotel and rebuilt pool opened in May, and is one of the more unique hotel properties in Paris. It’s a resort paradise far enough away from the commercial center, but still only a 15-minute taxi ride. There are now two pools, the outdoor heated one measuring 150 ft. long, and the indoor one measuring 108 ft. 

molitor

The 104 rooms and 20 suites, managed by the MGallery, from the signature collection of Accor Group, are luxuriously minimalist, decorated in tasteful soft shades of white and gray. Interior designer and architect Philippe Nuel has sumptuously appointed the restaurant, bar, and lobby lounge areas with an eclectic mix of Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern furniture. A room divider of milk glass panels was salvaged from the famed former department store Le Samaritane and beautiful reproductions of the original Art Deco stained glass panels are from 1929 and have depictions of bathers and sail boats. 

In the spirit of the former graffiti that covered the pool before it was rebuilt, the hotel has a commitment to forward and display the work of street artists, with a reception room on the lower level featuring murals painted by various street artists.

Yannick Alleno, one of the most sought after chefs in Paris, who was the head chef at the Le Meurice Hotel, created the menu for the indoor and poolside restaurant. A rooftop terrace has also has a restaurant, lounge, and garden area with a panoramic view of the city.

The facility has a Clarins Spa and state of the art gym. There is limited membership available to the spa, pool and gym for residents but one can also obtain a day pass for 180 euros. 

The motto of the hotel is Pool, Art, Life! A perfect description. 

Molitor Hotel and Pool 
8 Ave. de la Porte Molitor, 75016
http://www.mltr.fr/en

July 28, 2014

Ice Cream Shops in 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.

It’s summertime in Paris and what better way to beat the heat than to enjoy the extravagant, delicious, and sophisticated ice cream the city has to offer. 

RELATED: Excursions Outside of Paris: Cooking Classes at Chateau de la Barbee in Loire Valley

Here are some of our favorites. 

pierre hermePierre Herme

Master macaron maker Pierre Herme branched out a few years ago to produce a line of ice creams and sorbets. Of course the specialty of the house is whipped ice cream with mini-macarons floating on the top. Traditional flavors include Tahitian vanilla, lemon, and Brazilian coffee, and if you have a more exotic palate, go for the Mogador, milk chocolate, passion fruit, and pineapple, Isaphan, litchi, rose, and raspberry, or the Celeste, rhubarb, strawberry and passion fruit. If you’re feeling nostalgic and miss the old fashioned Good Humor ice cream sandwiches, Pierre Herme has an updated version, the glamorous Miss Gla Gla. Packaged in an elegant shiny silver box, two layers of delicate macarons are filled with pistachio and raspberry sorbet, and fresh mint and red berry sorbet, among other flavors. 

Pierre Herme expands on his deliciousness this summer by having his ice cream creations served on the lovely, enchanting terrace of the Raffles Royal Monceau Hotel

72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 
Open seven days 10AM to 7PM 

Raffles Royal Monceau Hotel
37 Ave. Hoche, 75008 

berthillon

Berthillon 

The most popular and beloved ice cream in Paris, Berthillon has become a classic, must do/must taste when visiting the Ile St. Louis. Since 1954, Berthillon has been scooping out freshly made, all natural ice creams and sorbets (no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or stabilizers) to millions of loyal fans that patiently wait on long lines to savor the legendary taste. The original shop has a takeout window serving cones and cups but also has a tea salon offering ice cream sundaes, pastries, hot chocolate, and ice cream cakes. If you like more unusual flavors try lavender, foie gras, praline, lemon, and coriander, or chestnut, or stick to the heavenly salted butter caramel. Berthillon is also available at other shops and cafes all over the city. 

29-31 rue Saint Louis en L’ile, 75004 
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10AM to 6PM 

amorinoAmorino 

If you’re hankering for gelato instead ice cream, Amorino is the premier gelato brand of Paris. Started 12 years ago by two best friends, they aimed to bring the freshest and most authentic Italian gelato to Paris. Their hand packed cones are artfully shaped into layers resembling rose petals. Other products include granitas, crepes, milkshakes, hot waffles, gelato cakes, macarons, chocolates, and foccacina, sweet brioche filled with gelato. There are 23 Amorino locations in Paris. 

http://www.amorino.com/en/

 

Posted in: France , Restaurants

June 26, 2014

Excursions Outside of Paris: Cooking Classes at Chateau de la Barbee in Loire Valley

Less than two-hours from Paris is a magical land filled with fairy-tale chateaus, quaint medieval villages, and some of the finest wines in France. The Loire Valley has always been a magnet for visitors and a great way to experience it is by staying in an authentic chateau and learning French cooking.

Mary Pochez, a southern California ex-pat has lived in France for over 30 years. After living the in fast lane of Paris for 25 years, she and her French husband Xavier were looking for a quieter life in the countryside and moved permanently to Xavier’s family owned chateau in the Loire, where they had spent many weekends and summers. Chateau de la Barbee has been in Xavier’s family since 1790 and the sprawling estate is over 1200 acres with a working farm, private chapel, and authentic orangerie. Located at kilometer 101, Chateau de la Barbee is on the Voie de la Liberte, "Liberty Way," which is the road that General Patton and the Allied forces took on their lightning campaign from Normandy into Paris.

Mary learned the art of traditional French cooking and the proper way to entertain by her mother-in-law, who was a countess. After preparing extravagant dinner parties and lunches for hundreds of guests over the years, she decided to share her knowledge and love of French cooking with outside guests.

Appropriately called La Vie du Chateau, Mary is offering a three-day weekend culinary program and a six-day program.

The three-day program includes a wine and cheese party, a welcome aperitif and dinner, three cooking classes- one demonstration class and two hands on classes, and a visit to the local fresh food market in La Fleche, an historic medieval village.

For the six-day program, La Vie du Chateau offers an extended version of the three-day program which also includes a wine tour and tasting, a visiting pastry and sauce chef, lunch on the Loir river, an excursion to Angers, and a wine and food pairing class.

Both programs include staying at the chateau. 

The good news is that La Vie du Chateau will be offering classes in July and August when most culinary classes in the area are closed for summer holiday.

Guests also learn the history of the chateau, along with planning a menu, preparing a cheese platter, and wine and food pairing. The goal of La Vie du Chateau is to help you learn the basics of French cooking and master dishes you can prepare in your own home.

Visit: www.lavieduchateau.com

 

 

Posted in: culinary/cooking , Europe , France

May 23, 2014

Paris Parks and Gardens

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.

The beauty of Paris in the spring is heightened by the magnificence of the parks and gardens in bloom around the city. One of the most pleasurable activities you can experience is a stroll through one of the parks and settling yourself on a chair to enjoy. 

RELATED: Top Paris Museum Shows for Spring 2014

luxembourg gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

The quintessential Parisian park, Luxembourg Gardens is one of the most beautiful and visited parks in Paris. The original gardens were an extension of a Florentine style palace built in 1611 for Maria de Medici, the widow of King Henry IV

Situated on 55 acres in the heart of the St. Germain area of Paris, the gardens include a formal garden in the center, a pond to float toy sailboats, which are available to rent, tennis courts, a marionette theater, a carousel, pony rides for children, cafes, a gazebo for musical performances, and most unusual of all, a bee apiary. The gardens also contain a statuary of over 100 sculptures including figures of writers, artists, historical figures, and special section with the Queens of France. 

The centerpiece of the gardens is the Medici Fountain, a quiet oasis that resembles an Italian grotto featuring statues from Greek mythology. 

bagatelle gardensBagatelle Gardens

World renowned for its magnificent rosebushes with over 1,200 varieties, the Bagatelle Gardens has run an annual rose contest since 1907. Part of the largest park in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne, the Bagatelle Gardens have an adjoining neoclassical Chateau built as hunting lodge in 1720. Built on a dare and wager by Marie Antoinette, the chateau was constructed in a record time period of three months and owned by Comte d’Artois, brother of Louis XV

In later years, the chateau was acquired by the city of Paris in 1905 and the gardens were created by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, the Commissioner of Gardens for the city of Paris. 

Every June and July the chateau hosts a series of Chopin concerts. 

tuileries

The Tuileries 

One of the most beloved parks in Paris, The Tuileries was also the grounds for an historic royal palace. After the death of her husband Henry II in 1559, Catherine De Medici started to build Tuileries Palace in 1564. In 1660 under the reign of Louis XIV, Andre Le Notre, who also designed the classic gardens of Versailles, redesigned the gardens. During the Paris Commune in 1870, the palace was burned down and all that remains today are the gardens and two structures, The Orangerie, which now houses the magnificent Monet water lily paintings, and the Jeu de Paume museum of photography. 

Today The Tuileries features attractions such as restaurants and cafes, sailboat rentals, ice cream stands, sculpture gardens, and twice a year a tent is setup for Fashion Week shows. In summer the gardens host am amusement park with rides including a Ferris wheel, a Fun House, a carousel, games of chance, and cotton candy. 

May 02, 2014

On Location at Walt Disney World: Learning About MyMagic+ and MagicBands

I’m on location at the Walt Disney World Resort to learn more about some new developments here, including MyMagic+, a major new high-tech initiative from Disney that may well have a wide-reaching impact on the resort scene. 

The most visible element of MyMagic+ is the new “MagicBand,” the latest accessory everyone is wearing this spring in OrlandoReplacing several variations of paper or plastic cards and tickets (and even cash), the MagicBands can be worn like bracelets and use an RFID signal to serve as an all-purpose pass around the resort. When guests check in to their hotels, they get the bands instead of a room key. When they arrive at one of the theme parks or attractions, they tap a discrete post to enter. When they arrive at a ride, they tap again. When they shop in one of the stores or dine in one of the resort restaurants, they can tap to pay with a linked credit card. And when one of the official photographers throughout the resort snaps a photo, they will also tap the band to link the pictures to the right subject for easy downloads later. 

RELATED: Lynn Clark Named Disney's VP Travel Agency Sales and National Accounts

    
Design details: The MagicBand is adjustable and has a peel-away layer to make the band small enough to fit young children. Parents and kids who visit MyDisneyExperience.com before their trip can personalize their MagicBands by selecting one of seven colors and having names etched on the inside of the band. At the resort, guests can add accessories that are sold in shops to their bands, including plenty of bling elements. 

Security details: The MagicBand uses radio frequency technology when being used as a room key or ticket to parks or attractions. When using the bands for purchases, guests must use a PIN for added security. The bands are not GPS enabled and cannot be used for tracking. (They can, however, be used to help reunite separated children and parents.) Disney says that guests’ personal data is not stored in the MagicBand. “MagicBands and RF-enabled cards contain only a randomly assigned code that securely links to an encrypted database and associates the guest’s MagicBand or ticket with the experiences they’ve selected,” the company said in a statement, adding that “extensive measures” are in place to protect guest information—“a responsibility Disney takes very seriously.”

MyMagic+

The MagicBands are part of the launch of MyMagic+ as a multi-element platform that also includes the upgrade from Disney’s previous FastPass program to FastPass+, the My Disney Experience mobile app and website and the PhotoPass Memory Maker. 

RELATED DEAL: New B Resort in Walt Disney World Announces Introductory Offer

At a media gathering to explain the expansion and new developments, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts CEO Tom Staggs (above) called the new services “immersive, seamless and personal.” Disney has doubled its attractions in the FastPass program (including viewing areas for parades and meet & greets with characters), and the app and website will let individuals, families and friends reserve access to more areas both before departure and on-the-fly. And since all reservations are made online (whether from a computer or via the app), there is no need to get paper tickets in order to skip the line. Just show up within the designated window (generally an hour), tap and enter.

Good to know: While some attractions still have a bit of a wait time, the resort team is finding ways to make the wait less boring. At the Dumbo ride, once parents and kids check in they collect a buzzer (much like restaurants do), and the kids can play in an air-conditioned tent while the parents relax and watch them until the buzzer calls them up for the ride. (Of course, the parents can always play while the kids relax and watch. Whatever works.)

Each member of a family can make a profile on www.mydisneyexperience.com, Gary Daniels, Disney’s director of product management, explained, and can manage their itineraries and passes individually or as a group. Friends can also link their accounts and profiles to share itineraries or parts of itineraries, which will auto-update across everyone’s phone instantly. 

The Memory Maker option, which can be booked for $149 before arrival or $199 afterwards, lets guests take unlimited pictures across the resort with official photographers, letting the whole family be in the picture together. The photographer scans the wristbands after each photo session and uploads the pictures automatically. When they log in to their account, guests can order print copies of their favorite shots and download unlimited copies. 

The early response to the improvements has been positive, Staggs said, noting that since FastPass+ rolled out, it has seen a usage increase of 40 percent over the previous version.

And new additions to the program may take that number even higher. In the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest is a restaurant that is serving as a prototype for how different businesses throughout the park can work with both FastPass+ and the MagicBands. Guests not only make reservations for dining times at the restaurant, but can look over menus and select their meals before arrival. When they come in, the staff greets each guest by name and escorts them to a table, and the food arrives shortly afterwards. When they are finished, the guests pay by tapping their wristbands and can walk right out. So far, only Be Our Guest offers this option, and there is no word yet on how long the testing phase will last or if it will expand to other restaurants.

MyMagic+ and MagicBands are available to guests at Disney Resort hotels and Walt Disney World Passholders. Guests staying off-site (and who don’t have passes) will get a card to use much as they would the band, or they can purchase a wristband upon arrival and link it to their account. 

April 23, 2014

Spa Report: L'Institut Guerlain

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.

Luxury doesn’t get any more luxurious than at the newly opened Guerlain Spa on the Champs Elysees

We were recently given an extensive almost 90 minute tour by the head publicist of Guerlain which included the fascinating history of the brand. 

spa guerlain

We started at the top floor of the three-story complex, where the spa is. The spa was first opened in 1939, with original interiors and furniture by Jean-Michel Frank and Diego Giacometti. New York based architect Peter Marino, who took three years to redesign the space from top to bottom, faithfully used authentic reproductions of the Jean-Michel Frank designs throughout the spa. Spa guests are ushered into a serene waiting room with a hanging orchid garden and cushy sofas, and served coffee or Guerlain’s own private label tea while awaiting their treatments. 

RELATED: The Booming Paris Hotel Scene

spa guerlainSpa treatments are custom designed and every client is given a private consultation with a highly trained spa specialist to determine their treatment by asking a series of questions. Over 300 types of massages and beauty treatments are offered including Body Listening Ritual, The “Guerlain Massage”, and the Imperial Relaxing Ritual, where you are enveloped in the Eau de Cologne Imperiale. Nine treatment rooms are sumptuously appointed with Opera Fantastico style marble sink consoles, tufted club chairs, and crisp white linens and down comforters on the spa beds. 

The second floor is designated for fragrances and the centerpiece is a dazzling multi-tiered display of Guerlain’s top fragrances. There are also individual vitrines containing some of the brand’s historic fragrances including Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, and Eau de Cologne Impériale. We learned Guerlain began as soap makers and in 1828, chemist Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain opened his first boutique at 42 rue de Rivoli, now the Meurice Hotel. Five generations later, Guerlain has created over 850 fragrances. 

The ground floor focuses on cosmetics and has the original marble counters from 1828 along with sleek, modern day displays that include Guerlain’s newest bestselling fragrance La Petite Robe Noir

spa guerlain

To complete the experience, chef Guy Martin of the famed Le Grand Vefour restaurant has setup a decadent pastry counter along with a tearoom and full service restaurant on the lower level. 

What a way to spend an afternoon. 

L’Institut Guerlain, 68 Champs-Elysees
68 Ave. Champs Elysees, 75008

March 20, 2014

Top Paris Museum Shows for Spring 2014

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.

Spring 2014 is shaping up to be a blockbuster for exhilarating museum exhibitions. Fashion, photography, videos, and old masters are well represented and below we have listed some of our top picks.

robert mapplethorpeRobert Mapplethorpe 

Controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died of AIDS in 1989 but thanks to his foundation, his work has thrived in recent years with worldwide exhibitions. The Grand Palais is presenting over 200 works from the 1970s to 1989 including nudes, flowers, and portraits in the stark black and white style Mapplethorpe became famous for. 

March 26 to July 13 4014 
Grand Palais 
3, avenue du Général Eisenhower 75008
Open every day except Tuesday 
10AM to 10PM, 10AM to 8PM Sunday & Monday 
http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/robert-mapplethorpe

Bill Viola 

One of the pioneers of the modern art video, Bill Viola, is having a retrospective of his groundbreaking videos and moving paintings, with works from 1977 till today. Themes express life, death, and transfiguration.

Till July 21, 2014 
Grand Palais 
3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008
Metro: Champs Elysees-Clemenceau 
Open every day except Tuesday 
10AM to 10PM, 10AM to 8PM Sunday & Monday 
http://www.grandpalais.fr/en/event/bill-viola

van gogh exhibition

Van Gogh / Artaud: The Man Suicided by Society

In a more cerebral look at Van Gogh’s work, Van Gogh / Artaud The Man Driven to Suicide by Society is an eye opening commentary by the late avant garde theatre director and playwright Antonin Artaud. Based on the writings of Artaud from 1947, the exhibit analyzes Van Gogh’s descent into madness along with 55 of his paintings. 

Till July 6 2014
Musee d’Orsay
1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007
Open 9:30AM to 6PM, except Tuesday, Thursday till 9PM 
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/events/exhibitions/in-the-musee-dorsay/exhibitions-in-the-musee-dorsay/article/van-gogh-artaud-37162.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=254&cHash=66af044067

Henri Cartier Bresson Retrospective

One of the founding fathers of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the most prolific and greatest photogrpahers of the 20th century. With over 500 works, the new Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit will be one of the largest ever mounted of the legendary photographer. Spanning over spans over 70 years of Bresson’s illustrious career, the exhibit includes his series from New York and work for Magnum plus his drawings, paintings and films. 
February 12 to June 9 
Centre Pompidou 
19 rue de Beaubourg, 75004 
Metro: Hotel de Ville or Rambuteau 
Open daily 11AM to 9PM, except Tuesday, Thursday till 11PM

dries van notenDries Van Noten Inspirations

Dries Van Noten, the celebrated Belgian designer of over 25 years, is having his first museum show. More than a retrospective of past clothing collections, the exhibition reveals the inner world of his creative process showing the different inspirational components that lead to his designs. An assemblage of films, photos, paintings, memorabilia, and souvenirs having influenced Van Noten are along side the highlights of his collections and include names such as Bronzino, Kees Van Dongen, Yves Klein, Victor Vasarely, Francis Bacon, Elizabeth Peyton and Damien Hirst plus films like Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Jane Campion’s The Piano

Till August 31, 2014 
Musée des Arts Decoratifs
107 rue de Rivoli, 75001
http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/accueil-292/une-486/francais/mode-et-textile/expositions-70/prochainement-446/dries-van-noten-inspirations/

 

Papier Glace

The pages of fashion publications VogueGlamourVanity Fair and W show how Conde Nast magazines dictated fashion and style for the modern woman more than any other publications in the 20th century. A new show of 150 diverse and iconic images from legendary photographers include Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, Erwin Blumenfeld, Avedon and Irving Penn followed by latter 20th century cult fashion photographers Guy Bourdin, William Klein, David Bailey, Helmut Newton, Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Steven Meisel, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

Till May 25 2014 
Palais Galliera 
10 Ave. Pierre 1er Serbie, 75016 
Metro: Alma-Marceau
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10AM to 6PM, Thursday till 9PM 
http://palaisgalliera.paris.fr/en/exhibitions/papier-glace

 

February 18, 2014

An Inside Look at The Shangri-La 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.

The Shangri-La Hotel chain has recently expanded its properties to include European capitals with openings in Rome, Istanbul, and later this year London

The Shangri-La Paris, which opened in 2011, is richly steeped in history. It was built as a private palace for Prince Roland Bonaparte, an explorer, geographer, and botanist and the grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. The varied period architectural style includes Louis XIV, Empire, and Greco-Roman style with carvings and sculptures by Steiner and Houguenade, who worked on the Tulieries Palace and the Louvre.

shangri-la paris lobby

The building changed hands over the years and the last occupant was the French government who left it in less than desirable condition. Head architect Richard Martinet and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon lead the painstaking renovation and restoration of the 215,000- square foot structure which took over four years to complete. 

RELATED: New Paris Cocktail Bars and Lounges

The renovation has paid off in spades, as the Shangri-La is one of the most sumptuous hotels in Paris. Set on a tranquil street off of Place d’Iena, it's still close to major attractions and a few minutes walk from Place Trocadero and the Champs Elysees.

shangri-la paris guestroom

The 101 rooms and 36 suites are a chic mix of Empire style and luxury minimalist. As always with Shangri-La Hotels there is an Asian accent to the décor. Sixty percent of the suites have breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower. Three Signature suites are for the more discerning clientele. The largest suite, the Imperiale, is a sprawling 2800 foot jewel with 16 foot ceilings and was the former private apartment of Prince Roland and the only room listed with the Historic Monuments Society of France. Other features include a private study, a private kitchen with an optional serving staff and dining area that can accommodate up to 8 guests. The Shangri-La suite on the top floor features a blend of contemporary and classic French furnishings The 1100 ft. terrace has sweeping views of the most iconic Paris sites including Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, and of course the Eiffel Tower. 

shangri-la paris piano

In a culinary feat, the Shangri-La can boast two Michelin starred restaurants. L’Abeille (The bee), received two Michelin stars after opening in 2011. Chef Philippe Labé perfects his essential cuisine style with elevating classic French dishes to an art form. The intimate 40-guest dining room is tastefully appointed in neutral shades of gray, taupe, and silver overlooks the romantic hotel garden facing out to the Seine. Shang Palace is the traditional Cantonese inspired restaurant with chef Frank Xu, a Shenzen native at the helm turning out some of best Chinese food in Paris, with a Michelin star to prove it. 

The health club, located in the Prince’s former stable has a generous sized 50 x 20 ft. pool, fitness room, and facial and body treatments by Carita

Shangri La Paris
10 Ave. d’Iena, 75016 
(33) 1 53 67 19 98 
http://www.shangri-la.com/paris/shangrila/

Posted in: France , luxury hotels

January 16, 2014

New Paris Cocktail Bars and Lounges

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.

A new crop of intimate cocktail bars and lounges has opened in Paris in the last 12 months. Here are some of our new favorites. 

rayeClub RaYé

Once a staple of Paris nightlife, most piano bars have closed in the last decade because of new nightlife trends.  Going against the grain, New York interior designer Kein Cross, now living in Paris part time, has opened Club RaYé, a cocktail and piano bar. Located in on an almost deserted side street in the 2nd arrondissement, Kein desired to bring old fashioned glamour back to the club scene in Paris and it has the feel of an Art Deco set from an Astaire and Rogers film. Kein has been obsessed with wide black and white stripes since he was a kid and generously uses them as the motif for the club. The focal point of the room is the white lacquered grand piano, with a mirrored wall and ceiling behind it, so no matter where you are sitting in the room you can view the piano player. Signature cocktails, some harkening back to yesteryear, include Pisco Sours, Mint Juleps, Daiquiris, Grasshoppers, and classic Martinis. London-based chef Simon Bannon prepares a small plates menu including dishes like arancini (fried rice balls), delicate rolatini (eggplant leaves stuffed with cheese), blinis with smoked salmon, and deviled eggs. 

mary celeste

Le Mary Celeste 

After successfully opening the hipster bar Glass, ex-New Yorkers Adam Tsou and Josh Fontaine along with Colombian Carina Soto Velasquez have followed it up with Le Mary Celeste. The name is based on a legend about a merchant ship from 1872 with 1,701 barrels of grain alcohol that sunk en route from New York to Genoa. The bi-level space has seating for 40 plus on one level and an open kitchen with additional seating on the lower floor and is located in the trendy Northern Marais area. 

RELATED: Paris Photography Museums

Le Mary Celeste offers good selection of micro brewery beers with some from Brooklyn on tap, an impressive wine list, and custom cocktails by Carlos, the revered mixologist who was lured from L’Hotel after six years. The not so slick, homey style bar also serves tacos, fresh oysters, and Chinese buns. A DJ spins retro 80s tunes.

lockwood

Lockwood

Lockwood is a new concept bar, a coffee bar during the day and at night grows up to be an aperitifs and cocktail bar. Brulerie Belleville coffee and light food including croissants and tartines for breakfast and salads, soups, and sandwiches at lunch is served in on the main level in an appealing setting of wood paneling, brick floors, and bar stools. Come early evening the downstairs has an intimate setting with stone caves with low chairs and small tables. Aperitifs include Aperol Spritze, Campari Orange, Americano, and Paloma. Graduates to the more sophisticated cocktails the menu include The Whet Appetite, a mix of tequila, cucumber, and a dash of Tabasco, Zacapa, a blend of rum, apple and cinnamon sugar, orange and angostura bitters, and Whiskey Pomme, an interesting combo of Buffalo Trace and apple juice. 

RELATED: A Quick Guide to Types of Parisian Eating Establishments

Club RaYé

26 rue Dussoubs, 75002
http://clubraye.com

Le Mary Celeste 
1 rue de Commines, 75003 
http://www.lemaryceleste.com

Lockwood
73 rue Aboukir, 75002
http://www.lockwoodparis.com

Posted in: France , Restaurants

December 18, 2013

Christmas in Paris 2013

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.

Once again, Paris has pulled out all the stops to celebrate Christmas in 2013. The wide boulevards are decked out with sparkling light displays, the department stores have decorated their windows to delight all ages, Christmas markets abound, and the Hotel de Ville/City Hall has installed the annual skating rink. 

galeries lafayette

At Printemps, Prada is the star of the windows with their sumptuous handbags and shoes. Next door at Galeries Lafayette it’s about time with the windows devoted to festive watches and timepieces. Hermes, the king of luxury, goes more understated in their holiday window display with cacti and succulent plants with rich accessories in muted shades of pink, gray, yellow, and beige. On Place de la Madeleine at Fauchon, the upscale food purveyor, are towers of their delectable goodies of jars of foie gras and tins with cookies and biscuits along with sky-high macaron and mini-éclair trees. 

Printemps
64 Blvd. Haussmann, 75009 

Galeries Lafayette
40 Blvd. Haussmann, 75009 

Hermes 
24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 

Fauchon 
24 -26 Placed e la Madeleine, 75008 

hermes

Two of the best Christmas markets in Paris 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 in front of the St. Germain church is a smaller market Village du Père Noël.

If you can’t make it to the white slopes of Gstaad this season, try Saint Germain des Neiges, a ski station with snow, chalets, and info about ski holidays in France. 

musee des arts forainA very special treat is the limited holiday opening of Musee des Arts Forains, a museum dedicated to antique carnival rides and circus artifacts with wonderful old carousels, rides, and extravagant circus and showgirl costumes. 

December 26 to January 5 
53, avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012
Metro: Cour Saint Emilion 
http://www.pavillons-de-bercy.com

A short journey one hour outside of Paris in the countryside is Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, a 17th century palace themed on Versailles. Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte celebrates the holidays with a magical Christmas décor, chimney fires in every room, and Christmas tunes playing. The façade and gardens of the chateau are lit with festive colored lights and there is also an enchanting Pinocchio show for the children. 

Everyday from December 21 to January 5 (closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day) from 10:30am-6pm.

http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/actualites#4864