New in Paris: March Edition
The Radisson Blu Ambassador Hotel, located in the Opéra district, just went through a renovation. Located near the Opéra Garnier, the 297 rooms and suites of the Paris hotel are housed in a Haussmann building dating back to 1927. The redecorated rooms now reflect a relaxing yet contemporary decor thanks to English designer Paul Bevis, who used marble, wood, leather and luxurious fabrics in shades of purple and beige. Rooms on the top floors are afforded fabulous views of Paris rooftops, the Opéra Garnier and the Eiffel Tower. The addition of an executive lounge on the eighth and top floor is devoted entirely to welcoming V.I.P. clients. Amenities include free high-speed wireless Internet access throughout the property, Nespresso machines in business rooms and suites, a breakfast buffet, a fitness center and the hotel’s signature “one touch service,” which enables clients to have one unique contact person whatever their request might be. Rates begin at 345 euros.
Another Paris hotel, the Mercure Paris Austerlitz Bibliothèque, also recently received a face-lift. Its 13th Arrondissement location is ideal, near the banks of the Seine, opposite a metro station and close to the Gare de Lyon. The updated 88 rooms now reflect a nature-inspired theme, with a color palette of green, violet, gray and brown. Armchairs that symbolize butterfly wings create a very Zen-like atmosphere in each room. Amenities include a restaurant and bar, with a business corner that offers free Internet access; a meeting room for up to 25 people; and Le Marina bar, with tapas service and private indoor parking (for an additional fee). Individual rooms include air-conditioning, hair dryers and free Wi-Fi. The hotel is accessible to disabled persons and is also pet friendly. Rates begin at 170 euros.
New Museums and Exhibitions
A former favorite left bank cinema, the Racine Odéon, has also just had a major overhaul, reemerging as the Nouvel Odéon. Well-known French designer Matali Crasset is responsible for the new interior design of the cinema, which is located in the 6th Arrondissement. A modern reservation system now makes it possible to choose seats, buy tickets online and even print tickets at home, which saves theatergoers from waiting in line. Another first is the refreshment area, which will sell fresh, healthy and organic products. The addition of a lift makes the cinema easily accessible to disabled people.
The Musée du quai Branly is playing host to the exhibition “Women in Orient,” with selections by Christian Lacroix. Through May 15, 2011, a collection of over 150 traditional costumes and accessories from the Middle East will be on display to pay homage to women who have handcrafted their own clothing. Ceremonial dresses, veils, coats and headpieces will be showcased as a way to discover and celebrate femininity and the traditions passed from one generation of women to the next. Most pieces are from the 19th century, with the exception of a 13th-century child’s dress that was unearthed at an archaeological dig in Lebanon. Visitors will also be able to appreciate the fabrics and embroidery detail by having the opportunity to touch three different dresses at the end of the exhibition.
From March 16 through July 31, 2011, the Musée Maillol will host a Miró exhibition. The artist, whose last Paris exhibition was over 40 years ago, was most well known for his paintings. But this exhibition hopes to bring to light his achievements as a sculptor. Over 160 sculptures, ceramics and drawings, most of which are from the Maeght Foundation’s collection from Saint-Paul-de-Vence, will be on display as a tribute to the Spanish surrealist, whose work depicts the childlike creations of the subconscious mind. Miró’s first works in ceramics, dating back to 1941, as well as his bronze sculptures, dating back to 1944, will be featured.
In a country famous for its cheese, it may be a surprise to see an event where antiques and ham go hand in hand. La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambons, France’s largest antique and food fair, is taking place in the Parisian suburb of Chatou from March 11 to March 20, 2011. This giant, twice-annual flea market is attended by over 800 vendors and offers acre upon acre of outdoor stalls brimming with treasures to peruse. Shop the stalls while the smell of bacon wafts through the air, and don’t worry about how to get large items home, because international shipping services are available on-site.
The Porte de Versailles is playing host to the 31st Salon du Livre de Paris, from March 18 to March 21, 2011. This year’s book fair will focus on five major themes, such as Nordic literature, and will highlight five countries: Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway. The events will welcome authors, the book trade and journalists for tributes and discussions about current developments, including 40 authors from those countries, who will be on hand to answer questions. With a mix of French and international literature and various literary genres, there will be something for everyone.
The French fine jewelry brand Fred has opened a boutique in the Marais on the rue des Francs Bourgeois, just steps from the place des Vosges. Named after its creator, Fred Samuels, this high-end brand represents luxury and creativity with a bold French flair. The interior of the new space is light and airy, making the perfect backdrop for unisex pieces like bracelets, necklaces, watches and rings, as well as a collection of exclusive limited-edition pieces like a whistle in white gold. The boutique is even open on Sundays.
François Hénin, the proprietor of Maison Jovoy, home to chic perfumes and olfactory workshops, has introduced 15 exceptional French, Italian and English fragrances at a new boutique in the 1st Arrondissement. This new space, with white walls and parquet floors, is a mélange of traditional perfume store and concept store, and offers a selection of both long-forgotten favorites and new contemporary fragrances in beautiful glass bottles as well as amber apothecary jars. Above the retail space, Hénin conducts olfactory workshops where you can create a bespoke perfume bottled in etched glass—a unique souvenir for any Paris gal.
A newcomer to the Paris concept-boutique scene has set up shop on the left bank, just off the boulevard St.-Germain. Suite 114, on the rue du Bac, is a friend to up-and-coming international designers, which is evident in the hefty price tags. Decorated with cream walls, subdued lighting, wood furnishings, built-in bookshelf displays and contemporary artwork, the shop has an old-fashioned glamour and a minimalist chic vibe that don’t come off as pretentious, unlike some of its counterparts. As part of the V.I.P. customer service, the attentive owner acts as sort of fashion coach and will even deliver your treasures to any Paris address.
Hot New Reads
For anyone who dreams of visiting or living in Paris, the memoir Me, Myself and Paris, by Ruth Yunker, should be on your must-read list. This charming book is the story of an American woman who rents an apartment in Paris for six weeks at a time, for three consecutive years, and tackles day-to-day life alone, as half tourist and half part-time resident. The author puts together a wonderful compilation of funny, well-written, witty stories detailing her adventures of trying to live like a local, while still feeling like an outsider in the City of Light.
New for Jet-Setters
The upcoming nuptials of Prince Henry and Kate Middleton are not the only royal wedding worth celebrating. Monaco is celebrating its own union: Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock. In honor of the summer occasion, through April 8 the five-star Hôtel Métropole Monte Carlo has partnered with Lanvin to offer a romantic Love Is in the Air package. The special deal includes a V.I.P. welcome with champagne and flowers, a private helicopter ride over the French Riviera, a love-themed cocktail and dinner for two at the Joël Robuchon restaurant. Rates start at 760 euros.