July 21, 2010
You know how sometimes you come across a place or a person that is so totally delicious you’re torn between telling everyone about it or keeping it greedily just for yourself? Well, that’s how I feel about Monsieur and Madame de Roumilly and their beautiful château and rose garden.
If it wasn’t all uphill, I would cycle to their home, they live in a village just above our valley. They bought this sweet doll’s house of a château many years ago and have single-handedly restored it and created gardens that people come from afar to visit.
June 30, 2010
Hip Paris friend Linda Donahue, behind the wonderful site Parisien Salon, just launched PS Privé - a collection of boutique tours and workshops intended to “give you a glimpse behind the closed doors of Parisian restaurants, fashion houses, artists and entertainers.” Since Linda’s talent for discovering and keeping abreast of the latest Parisian happenings is impressive even to the most jaded Parisians, we trust her new project will soon be just as successful as her wonderful website. Here she gives us a first-hand account of how the inspiration came about.
When we launched ParisienSalon.com back in May 2009, we were hoping for a positive response. We got that and more. In fact, the feedback we received went well beyond anything we expected. One response we didn’t expect was, “When are you going to start doing tours in Paris?” So many of our wonderful readers asked this question, and we just didn’t know what to say. After all, there are so many great people already doing tours in Paris, and we didn’t know what else we could possibly offer.
But one day, over a few glasses of wine in a Paris café, we realized that what we had been doing since our launch – offering insider access to the French capital – was also something we could easily build upon. We knew people, after all.
So, after months of head-scratching, brainstorming and strategising, we’re pleased to announce the birth of P.S. Privé. This “Paris experience company” will offer classes, workshops, excursions and special events in the City of Light.
May 24, 2010
Lisa Weatherbee – Hotel Du Nord
NOT the Eiffel Tower. We’ve seen it so many times! From the Lumière Brothers’ 1897 Panorama to Merchant Ivory’s 2003 Le Divorce. You can also forget Sacre Coeur (Amelie, 2001) and Notre Dame (all the Hunchback movies). But there are hidden romantic movie locations all over Paris waiting to be discovered…
L’Hôtel Du Nord – Hôtel Du Nord – Michel Carné (1938).
Now this one’s complicated so listen carefully. When Michel Carné made his classic movie of doomed love and dreams of escape in 1938, the decrepit Hôtel Du Nord on the Canal Saint Martin had already closed. So set designer Alexandre Trauner reconstructed the building and a whole stretch of the canal (complete with bridges) on a soundstage outside Paris. The real-life hotel was saved from demolition by its newfound on-screen fame and is now a restaurant of the same name, capitalizing on the movie’s retro glamour. It’s well worth a stop for its boho setting as well as its manouche (gypsy jazz à la Django Reinhardt) nights every Thursday. Sadly the hotel does not actually rent out rooms.
Lisa Weatherbee – Hotel Du Nord
La Place de Furstemberg – L’Appartment – Giles Memouni (1996)
I’m finding it difficult to track down the ‘little Place near the Luxembourg gardens’ where the lovers in L’Appartment, Giles Memouni’s 1996 little-known but impossibly romantic and twisty Hitchcockian thriller, meet, or fail to, but I think it’s the Place de Furstemberg in Saint Germain. Additional romance factor – Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, the Brangelina of French film, met on set. While you’re there, you can also visit 19th century painter Delacroix’s house and studio, now a museum, in the corner of the Place.
May 17, 2010
When I heard that the lovely Lily of Context Travel was organizing a dinner at Hidden Kitchen hosted by David Lebovitz and Meg Zimbeck, I jumped at the occasion. I was lucky enough to attend Hidden Kitchen over a year ago and was itching for the chance to return and experience Braden’s cooking again … The problem? It’s always sold out! This particular dinner was to be a combination gourmet meal and chance to get to know David, Meg, and Context travel in an intimate setting (there are only 16 guests at a time at Hidden Kitchen).
The lucky guests were to hear all about David’s decadent new dessert cookbook and the inevitable trials and tribulations of his life amongst the frenchies. We also got to learn about Meg and her culinary adventures. Meg is a Paris food writer and is currently in the final stages of developing (along with quite an impressive team) a new Paris foodie website, “Paris by Mouth” to be unveiled on June 1…..more on that soon on the HiP Paris Blog! As my friend Claudia from Miami is in town doing decorating wonders for a client, I invited her to join in the fun. It was an evening of fabulous food and conversation galore – one to remember and hopefully repeat. Below Claudia reminisces about this unique Parisian experience. Enjoy! – Erica
Friday night was truly one I will never forget and feel privileged to have been invited to such a soiree magnifique. It felt like we stepped back in time to a salon gathering of some of the great young minds and talents residing and making their marks in Paris.
From the moment we walked into the foyer and were handed champagne, the night was pure magic. As the 16 guests arrived, we mingled and chatted and the air was palpable with what our palettes were about to experience!
If you’re in Paris, I highly suggest you make a reservation at hidden kitchen. Our host and hostess, Braden and Laura are the most charming and talented American couple you could hope to meet on your trip, and the exquisite beauty of everything from the decor of their apartment to every morsel served was sublime!
May 7, 2010
I was pleasantly surprised to discover Pramil with Rosa Jackson and Paule Caillat for a tasty dinner of refreshingly delicious, and reasonably priced French fare and excellent company. Pramil is a tiny bistro tucked away on a small side street in the hip Arts and Metiers neighborhood of Paris. I’m already plotting my return and thanks to Rosa’s great write up, I can re-live the savors and the experience until I’m able to find my way there again! — Erica.
When it comes to restaurants, I’m not really that demanding. I want the basic ingredients to be seasonal and good. I want the cooking to show restraint: nothing puts me off more than an overly complicated plate. And I want the chef to have a heart that shines through in the food.
Sounds simple, right? Yet these three elements come together more rarely than you might think, even in Paris. That’s why a recent meal at Pramil felt so refreshing.
April 28, 2010
Paris by Appointment Only, one of our favorite blogs for insider Parisian tips, recently published an interview with Annie Venier, an American-born private pilates instructor in Paris. We know these gorgeous photos, courtesy of Nicholas Calcott, got us thinking about trading in our steak-frites for a little exercise! Readers: do you have any Paris zen fitness tips to share?
If you asked Parisians ten years ago what Pilates (pronounced “Pilottes”) was, they would have answered you with their habitual I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about-you-may-as-well-come-from-Mars shoulder shrug and dismissive lip fart.
But oh how the times have changed. Now, almost every sports club and well-being center is offering some kind of Pilates class, just like every grocery store these days has some kakamayme organic product line that they’re pushing. The point is that finding a fabulous, authentic, personalized Pilates studio in Paris can be as costly as it is exhausting. But now you can save your Euros and your breath because I have the Pilates pro for you!
Long, lean, strong and supple, American-raised, Paris-based Annie Venier is a walking and talking advertisement for Pilates. As well she should be, she’s been doing it now for close to fifteen years. Venier fell into the discipline quite literally by accident. After a running injury knocked her off her feet, she found herself in search of a deep, therapeutic strength-building alternative. She got hooked immediately, and before long quit her job to pursue a new career as a Pilates professional.
March 24, 2010
Even though they live in the capital of couture, most Parisians can’t sew a stitch. Like most countries, France kicked home economics to the curb decades ago. Since hardly any one knows how to shorten a hem, fix a button, or take in a seam, you can find a retoucheur on practically every Parisian corner. But all that is about to change thanks to Sweat Shop, a new creative collective in the residential 10th whose mission is to teach Parisians how to make and customize their own clothes.
March 8, 2010
It’s easy to eat well in Paris, but to truly eat like a local is a whole different endeavor. At the heart of the Parisian culinary experience are the city’s markets, and eating like a Parisian means knowing where to get the “best” of everything—the freshest produce, the most interesting wines, the best baguettes, the most unique specialty products. The preparation of a perfect at-home meal is a nuanced process that involves the assembly of carefully selected puzzle pieces—not to mention the actual cooking, plating, presentation and consumption rituals.
Luckily, there is a short-cut in the form of Paule Caillat’s Promenades Gourmandes: personalized culinary excursions that allow anyone—from novices to gourmands—to access the pleasures of French home-cooking done right.
January 22, 2010
Think back to that moment when you first landed in a foreign city and disorientation set in like a thick, heavy fog. If you were a girl or boy scout, maybe you could tell north from south, but buildings, perspectives, businesses and squares of sky blended together to form an impenetrable net of All Things Foreign. Armed with your map and your pocket translator you bravely approached passersby with questions ranging from the unavoidably inane (“Where can I buy a loaf of bread”) to the philosophically complex (“Where can I buy a good loaf of bread”). Animated discussions ensued, followed by an exchange of friendly smiles and you were left feeling more desperate than before because not only were you lost and hungry, you failed at survival challenge #2: communication.
Fear not! The Hip Paris team has just stumbled upon the aptly named “Rent a Local Friend”, an alternative tour service that sets you up with a friendly native to help you get over those first few moments of feeling like the city is an impenetrable mass of tourist traps and indistinguishable side streets.
January 6, 2010
I spent Christmas of 2008 in Paris, strolling along the glittering boulevards, ducking in and out of specialty shops, sampling seasonal foods, and fueling myself with vin chaud. It was utterly magical, and while there’s no substitute for a real Christmas in France, Rosa Jackson and Paule Caillat managed to re-create the culinary splendor for a lucky few this December when they crossed the Atlantic to host a 2-day workshop at the Culinary Loft in New York.
The two sessions (“Christmas in Provence” and “Christmas in Paris”) entailed the preparation—and enthusiastic consumption—of a variety of traditional holiday foods from these two parts of France. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Provence workshop, where I learned how to knead, whisk and poach like a pro, all while enjoying the company of the group—replete with Francophiles and gourmands—that turned out for the workshop.