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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Postcards from Paris: Part Une!

Paris's Hôtel de Crillon
Before embarking on a two week exploration of some of France's renowned wine regions, Steve and I spent a few fabulous days in Paris. From food to wine and art to fashion this city definitely has it all! So what to do in this veritable cultural wonderland with only a few short days and so many options? Here's a few of our postcards from Paris.

This visit we stayed at the historic Hôtel de Crillon, one of Paris's six Palace Hotels, located on Place de la Concorde. Constructed in 1758 this hotel is located right in the center of Paris and is a great location from which to explore this fabulous city. After arriving from the airport on a Sunday morning, we took a moment to enjoy the gorgeously appointed lobby, a quick glass of Champagne and some delicious pastries then headed straight for the Boulevard Raspail Market located in Paris's 6th arrondissement. The market is open three days a week and on Sunday becomes one of the city's marché biologiques, or organic markets, which extends from the Rue de Cherche-Midi to Rue de Rennes. The market featured beautiful stalls of fresh produce, delicious meats, fragrant cheeses and brilliantly colored flowers - it was a feast for the senses!
Beautiful Produce at the Boulevard Raspail Street Market
After the market we meandered through Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the charming neighborhood that lines the Left Bank of the Seine and is home to many storied cafés and brasseries such as Cafe de Flore (a personal favorite!), Les Deux Magots and Brasserie Lipp. You'll also find an array of specialty food stores including Poilâne, arguably the best bread in Paris, as well as Pierre Hermé, home to mouth-wateringly beautiful confections including a delightful mille feuille and a rainbow of macarons and decadent chocolates.

When planning the itinerary for this trip, I was very inspired by the delightful movie Midnight in Paris, written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams. If you haven't seen it and you are a Francophile or lover of Art History, Literature or Music, it is an absolute MUST! I just loved the scene at Polidor where Owen Wilson's character first meets Ernest Hemingway. It is located on Rue Monsieur-le-Prince and actually looks alot like it does in the movie, very Old World quaint. 

We continued to wander and appreciated having some beautiful weather in which to do our exploring. In fact, it wasn't much cooler than it was back in Florida, but luckily after a few days the temperatures dropped to a more comfortable level. After strolling around most of the afternoon it was time for a mid afternoon nap to try and counter the jet lag. 

One of my favorite things about the beautiful Hôtel de Crillon were the gorgeous bouquets of pink roses everywhere. The lobby smelled positively divine! 

Later that evening we decided to do a little more exploring and luckily, we didn't have to go far to find another great location from Midnight in Paris. As it turns out, Maxim's was right around the corner from our hotel. Maxim's is an historic Paris eatery established in 1893 and known for its Art Nouveau decor. It had quite the storied reputation due to its world class cuisine and famous clientele. It attracted a slew of celebrities over the years including Jean Cocteau, Aristotle Onassis, Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson as well as Brigitte Bardot, who caused a scandal in the 1970's when she entered the restaurant in her bare feet. In Midnight in Paris, Marion Cotillard's character Adriana is smitten with the idea of La Belle Epoque Paris. Maxim's is one of the places she desperately wants to visit in order to escape the mundane 1920's.

Directly in front of our hotel was the Place de la Concorde one of the largest squares in Paris. Conveniently situated between the Tuileries and the Champs Elysseés to the west, the square is home to the majestic Luxor Obelisk which was originally located at the entrance to the Luxor Temple in Egypt. The structure was gifted to the French in the 19th century and in 1836 King Louis Philippe had it placed where the guillotine once stood during the Revolution. It is flanked by two beautiful, ornate fountains, the Fontaines de la Concorde. The square also provides a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower at night.

To be continued...


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