Arrived at 11 am, checked into the hotel and freshened up, sadly the room wasn’t ready. Off to lunch, at “Georges” the restaurant at the top of the Centre Pompidou. What a gorgeous walk, headed north toward the Seine over the Pont Neuf. (The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge over the Seine. Since 2008 lovers have attached locks with their names on them and then thrown away the key as a romantic gesture to represent a couples’ commitment to love). Back to strolling around Paris until I arrived at the Pompidou Centre. After some searching I found the separate entrance to the restaurant and up the escalators I went. With each flight the view kept improving, of course a pause for pictures, amazing sight. Thanks to the plaza surrounding the Center and the low height of the neighboring buildings, the scenery was breathtaking in all directions. (The consistent building heights is thanks to 19th century Haussmann style which traditionally featuring 5 story buildings, with 45 degree angled roof) .
For me as an architect this was such a treat, aside from the city’s innate setting, the restaurant’s interiors created a magical and whimsical atmosphere. The restaurant was part of a renovation done to the center in 1998 by Renzo Piano & Jacob+Macfarlene. The organic shapes and color pallet made the space fun and light, while fabricating different privacy levels of dining.
I loved it...Now the FOOOD well after I saw “gluten free ravioli” I couldn't order anything else, and everything else was delicious as well. The servers looked like they belonged on a catwalk which added to my already incredible atmosphere. I loved the experience overall! I Highly recommend it!
Kids Playing Outside the Centre Pompidou
A little Video of the Serenade on the bridge....
I made my way back to the hotel, thankfully the room was now ready. I took a short nap to fight the time difference, and get some much-needed freshening up. A good second layer of eye concealer and I was off. I walked towards the "Eiffel tower", a must when visiting the city. On my way there, I stopped at “Bar du Central Paris” for some classic wine and cheese. This made me feel even more in Paris than before. One of the many wonderful characteristics of this city is that there are so many amazing small bistros along the streets. Finally, although frozen I made it to the tower, took some time to enjoy the gorgeous structure, beautifully lit up. The phrase “Paris the city of lights” popped into my head, as a smile took over my face, a sigh and a deep breath and I continued to take more pictures (I am sure my little iPhone was doing a better job than the many photographers who have done the same trip before me-yeah right). Right in front of the tower you can go to “Le carrousel de la Tour Eiffel” and grab a crepe, a tourist retailer but how can you not (where I had my first crepe ever when I was 15). After a good dose of magic, I got in an Uber to get ready for dinner.
That night back in Florida-USA I was missing a wonderful event with friends, a gala. To be there in spirit, I dressed the part on the other side of the pond, and in my black-tie attire, I left to have my second Parisian meal. Dressing up was such a success I think a tradition was born (funny how people gushed and stared, maybe we, as society have stopped making dressing up part of the experience of going out).
Only a few minutes in an Uber and I arrived at “Le Relais Louis XIII”. A one Michelin star restaurant, and to add to the enchantment Picasso used to frequent it as he lived right across the street. The meal as to be expected was exceptional, the staff was kind and accommodating to our English tongue. I had the pleasure of meeting the chef “Manuel Martinez” as he went around greeting his Friday night guests. The establishment was stunning, it conserves an old almost antique feeling to it; exposed stones, noble wood beams, engravings and portraits of the man who's name the restaurant adopted. It was enchanting.
From the restaurant, to a photo session on the streets, as promised to my friends back in the states. I was posing as a gag in One degree Celsius weather (my friend in the party back in the U.S. failed to do the same so the goofy montage was postponed). Luckily still awake I found this rooftop bar at the “Hotel Montana” not even 100 meters from my hotel, “Hotel Bel Ami”. It was by chance that I saw a bouncer and decided to venture in, up the flights of stairs and I had arrived, this was the spot. Perfect ambiance with space enough for a small crowd, but with a bar and plenty of heated lamps to enjoy some dancing without the many winter layers. A perfect day :)
I began the day exploring beautiful Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a quarter in the 6th arrondisement. The neighborhood is filled with cafes and galleries. Sadly, the galleries were all closed for the weekend, however, my favorite “Musée d'Orsay” was open. The museum is housed in the former gate of Orsay, a Beaux arts rail station (1898 -1900). (The museum was built for the 1900 Universal exposition, and it currently showcases architectural models of the building along with background to its history). They also had an amazing temporary exposition but I personally enjoyed their impressionists more, which is part of their permanent collection.
Weathering the overcast rainy day, I crossed the “Leopold Sedar Senghor” bridge in Paris toward the “Jardin des Tuilleries” and from there to the famous “Champs-Élysées”. I took advantage of the rain to take a break and have some Moules & frites at “L’Asalce Brasserie depuis 1968”. The food was great but the portions were enormous, it should be shared. This eatery looked like your typical French bistro, old charm, shiny gold rails, red vibrant seating and much ornate details to discover. The staff wasn’t very welcoming I regret to report. ( no WiFi in the restaurant and I wasn’t able to connect to the public one offered by Champs Elysee). Back to exploring, unfortunately because it was still raining I took an uber and went around the “Arc de Triumphe”. The Arch is surrounded by one of the busiest rotundas in Europe. If you have the time I do encourage you to take the underground pedestrian tunnel to the plaza, go up the Arch and enjoy the view.
From the Arch to the Louvre Museum, even though at that time the museum was closed the pyramids and the enclosing buildings were dressed in beautiful night light design making it worth the visit. What a sight, do visit the museum and see online beforehand the open hours, as it closes on Tuesdays. I walked to the hotel and rested a bit, before a quick dinner a couple of blocks from the hotel at "La Société”. The restaurant is modern, elegant, with an old glamour “timeless luxury” with a regal Piano and everything. If I knew how to play, I would have, as on a late Sunday the place wasn’t very busy. The food: they had gluten free bread-success!!!! After eating cheese plates using nuts as crackers, due to the lack of any gluten free option, success indeed. For my last dinner a steak and frites, it was delicious. Now to a recommended cocktail bar. I was so so so happy, as my friends would anticipate at “Prescription”. It had good bartenders with original and creative drinks. The moment I entered the establishment and I heard the mixers, a smile end to end instantly appeared on my face. The space is small and hidden, transporting you to the speakeasy days. This was the perfect end to my last night in Paris.
DAY 3 - Bouquinistes . Notre Dame
My last morning in Paris I was woken up by a neighboring school, I loved the feeling of community coming through my hotel window. The streets were bustling of people making their way to work and school. I had enough time for one final stop: Notre Dame. On my way, there I finally was able to see the art galleries of Saint-Germain-des-Prés open. I had pressed my face to their windows for the previous days stealing glimpses of their collections. Out of the small streets and onto the Seine. I was part of the flow of people, the vibrant energy created by such a metropolitan city surrounding me. I loved it. I made my way to the Cathedral along the Seine catching one last view of the “Bouquinistes”. (Early in the day and late at night you find closed these green storage units, like little treasure boxes one next to the other. During the day, the book sellers arrive.
There are 900 treasure boxes in all that sell antiquarian books. The Seine is described as "the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves". I find this charmingly romantic, the green book boxes have UNESCO status).... with little time to spare I had arrived, this cathedral just takes your breath away. “Notre Dame”, one of the most famous churches in the world and one of the best examples of French Gothic Architecture. You can go in, and view its interior from very early in morning. I recommend checking the website and attending one of the many concerts on their calendar. I attended one of them, on a previous visit and it was well worth it, also try to make time to go up the tower. I still remember walking up those steps and being amazed at how the marble had deformed by the numerous visitors the church receives. Now back at the hotel, I grabbed my suitcase and hailed a taxi to the airport. I found myself plastered to the window trying to absorb, really sponge up everything I could from Paris. The architecture, fashion, food, the pedestrians and biking culture…….
“a tout a l'heure”
More..... where I stayed and visited