Paris by Design is Closing and Sharing Favorite Addresses

I founded Paris by Design in 2001 to share my love for and knowledge of Paris and Montreal. After 16 years of sussing out the cities’ best, and working with wonderful people from all over the world, I’m closing Paris by Design in December.

I’ll return to Paris, bien sûr, to continue to explore all that is new and wonderful about the city. And I’ll continue to drive to Montreal regularly — whenever I need a good café au lait, an art fix, a fashion hit, or a city stint. And I hope you will, too!

My parting gift to you is a list of recommendations from my Paris Black Book.

This week and next, I’ll share favorite addresses: good value restaurants and hotels, in authentic neighborhoods, each with that je ne sais quoi.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to my posts over the years, and for traveling with me in person and virtually. Bon voyage!

Where to stay in Paris:

Hotel de Sevres — This little Left Bank treasure offers excellent value, a vibrant neighborhood, and a lovely winter garden. Rooms on the courtyard are quieter, but those overlooking the side street are charming. A recent addition to the Michelin hotel guide.

Hotel St Beuve — A bit less central, but gloriously quiet, tucked away on a tiny street near the Luxembourg gardens. Each room is unique, breakfast is supplied by artisan bakers and fromagers, and the fireplace in the foyer makes it especially welcoming in winter.

Hotel Millesime — A stone’s throw from famed pâtisserie Ladurée, and 2 blocks from the Seine, this tiny haven has lovely rooms, great service, and a neighborhood that begs to be explored. Recently upgraded from 3 stars to 4.

Hotel Adèle et Jules —Another luxury boutique hotel, this one brand new and tucked into a cobbled courtyard just off Haussmann’s Grands Boulevards (Right Bank), so it’s both central and calm. The rooms are wonderfully chic — its two wings, one named Adèle, the other Jules, feature interior design by Stéphane Poux — and the staff are genuinely warm.

Where to stay in Montreal:

Auberge de la Fontaine — This hospitable bed and breakfast in the bustling Plateau neighborhood has been a favorite for years. Rooms are cheery and vary in size and decor; one has a view of Parc de la Fontaine, another has a jacuzzi tub. Staff is wonderfully helpful, whether they’re recommending restaurants, helping you store your bike, or advising you on where to park.

Hotel Nelligan — Headed to Montreal in winter? This boutique hotel in Old Montreal is known for great service, luxurious rooms, and French cuisine. With two restaurants, a bar, and loft rooms with gas fireplaces and mountains of down, the Nelligan is the perfect place to cocoon. Step outside for fresh air, and you’re in Montreal’s equivalent of Soho.

Auberge du Vieux Port — Another idyllic getaway spot in Old Montreal. Its spacious rooms have 19th century brick walls, luxurious linens, and views of the St Lawrence River. The rooftop terrace restaurant is a great place to watch the annual fireworks competition in July.

Le Petit Hotel — The 18 rooms in this historic building in Old Montreal are outfitted with custom designed, contemporary furniture. Some have balconies, all have charm, and the staff couldn’t be nicer.

Do you have a favorite place to stay in Montreal? Let us know!

 

Montreal Cinemania French Film Festival

cinemania_banner

Cinemania Film Festival—one of the largest French film festivals in the world—will take place in Montreal Nov 2-12. It’s a fabulous festival, and if you love French film, I highly recommend it. You can see last year’s programming here.

If you’re interested in attending this year’s festival with a small group of film lovers and film scholars, Rick Winston and Andrea Serota (formerly of the Savoy Theater & Green Mountain Film Festival), and I will lead 4 days of film, food and conversation at Cinemania, Nov 2-5.

We would love to have you join us!

We’ll see 6 films together, discuss the films in depth, and meet privately with Montreal film critic Matthew Hays.

Rick and Andrea will host a session on the wide-ranging influence of French film on world cinema, as well as daily pre- and post-film conversations.

All films are subtitled in English, and discussions are in English, though speaking French is an advantage.

Price (discounted until Sept 12 for readers of this blog) includes 6 film tickets, including the opening night gala, 2 dinners, and 4 days of stimulating viewing and conversation.

Read details and a download a registration form here.

Questions? You can reach me at 802 446-8770, or email.

Bon cinéma!

Paris via Montreal: MURAL Street Art Festival

The 5th annual MURAL Street Art festival, in and around Montreal’s hopping Blvd St Laurent is a sign of the city’s vibrant art scene.

International artists representing 7 countries and several prominent Canadian muralists have been commissioned to create twenty new murals.

The festival, which began as part of a movement to redevelop the popular Plateau neighborhood, is literally a work in process: artists mount scaffolding and cover the sides of buildings with colorful tableaux, each work unique as the artist, with crowds looking on. There are already 80 examples of such street art in Montreal, created in the previous years of the festival.

Blvd St Laurent will be closed to cars between Sherbrooke and Mont-Royal, but the festival extends to Old Montreal. The festival includes an art fair, 2 weekends of free outdoor concerts and block parties, temporary murals, and guided walking tours of the new installations.

Here is a glimpse of what’s in store.

Un grand merci to Cookie Tager for inspiring this week’s blog post, and for providing the photograph.

Paris via Montreal: Chagall at the Musee des Beaux-Arts

Russian-French artist Marc Chagall is known for his striking images and vivid colors, but less well known for his love of music. “Chagall: Music and the Rite of Colour,” the current exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal (Montreal Fine Arts Museum), aims to change that.

The show explores a large and diverse body of work, paying special attention to its musical connections. Nearly 400 pieces — book illustrations, stained glass, full size stage sets, dada-ist ballet costumes, ceramics, and paintings that range from simple watercolor portraits to icon-filled larger works — have music as subject, or have been designed for musical venues.

The pièce de résistance is a detailed video of the ceiling at the Paris Opéra Garnier, which Chagall painted in 1964. I’ve attended many performances at the Opéra, and have hung out over the balconies looking at the ceiling. But it’s still so far away — the video, zooming in on details, made me feel like I was back in Paris.

If you live in Vermont, and would like to see this exhibit, I’m leading a Montreal day trip focused on the show, Saturday, May 6. This full day of looking, listening, and learning is designed for artists, art lovers, and art educators. Click here for the itinerary and details. Transportation is included.

 

Montreal Book Review: Inspector Gamache series

Un grand merci to frequent contributor Betty Guernsey for this book review, just in time for holiday reading!

When Louise Penny wrote her first book, “Still Life”, back in 2007, probably no one including herself ever imagined that her creation, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Québec Sûreté, would eventually wind up #1 on the New York Times bestseller list – no minor feat for a Canadian, and adopted Montrealer to boot.

Now, eleven books later, readers in over 25 countries have become addicted to her memorable characters (and characters they are, indeed), as well as her complex plots that mix poetry and psychology while remaining intensely Québecois in flavor.

Many are centered in Montreal, others in more remote parts of the province, including Penny’s fictional Eastern Townships village of Three Pines. Her descriptions of food alone are worth the read: bouillabaisse of scallops, shrimp, mussels, chunks of salmon served with baguette… grilled sandwiches of Brome Lake duck, brie, and fig confit… blueberry crêpes with crème fraîche and Québec maple syrup…

Tip: start with the first book, then read in order, accompanied, of course, by un vin rouge

Have you read the series? What’s your favorite book?

Paris via Montreal: Cinemania French Film Festival

00228h-lores

Cinemania Film Festival—one of the largest French film festivals in the world—will take place in Montreal Nov 3-13. It’s a fabulous festival, and if you love French film, I highly recommend it.

If you’re interested in attending this year’s festival with a small group of film lovers and film scholars, Rick Winston and Andrea Serota (formerly of the Savoy Theater and the Green Mountain Film Festival), and I will lead 4 days of fabulous film, food and conversation at Cinemania, Nov 3-6.

And we would love to have you join us!

We’ll see 6 films together, discuss them in depth, and meet privately with a Montreal film critic. Rick and Andrea will host a session on the joys of French film, as well as daily pre- and post-film conversations.

All films are subtitled in English, and discussions are in English, but speaking French is an advantage.

As always, the films won’t be announced until two weeks before the festival begins, so we’ll finalize our itinerary once we have the festival schedule. You can see last year’s itinerary here.

Price includes 6 film tickets, including the opening night gala, 2 dinners, and 4 days of stimulating viewing and conversation.

For details and a registration form, click here.

Questions? You can reach me at 802 456-8770, or karen@parisbydesign.com.

Bon cinéma!

Postcard from Montreal – Foxy Restaurant

FullSizeRender 4

The owners of the beloved cafe/bakery Olive + Gourmando, in Old Montreal, launched Foxy last winter. The vibe is casual, the fare sophisticated comfort food: wood-fired flatbreads, huge and surprising salad combos, oven-roasted and house-smoked meat.

The roasted cashew hummus with heritage veggies starter was a treat, the pork ribs with honey black pepper sauce and pickled onion divine. The green salad was immense, and scented with fresh herbs.

But my favorite was the flatbread special: zucchini blossoms with buffalo mozzarella made in Quebec and mint ricotta. Open 7 days for dinner.

Postcard from Montreal: Marché de la Villette

montreal_boucher

In a city with over 5,000 restaurants, how do you decide where to eat?

Sometimes all it takes is a glance at the window.

At Marché de la Villette, on rue St Paul Ouest in Old Montreal, floor to ceiling windows promise fresh and cured meat, high quality chocolate, and tables filled with smiling diners.

Once inside, I was charmed by its old world atmosphere, large selection of cheese, pâtés, terrines and charcuterie. And delighted by a traditional French menu ranging from fondue to cassoulet.

How do you decide where to eat when you’re in a new city?

Montreal International Fireworks Competition

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 3.45.17 PM

Every summer, the night sky explodes over Montreal during L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, also known as the Montreal Fireworks Festival. This year’s festival takes place at Wed and Sat nights in July, and features themed fireworks displays from Canada, Chile, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and the US. The competition draws some 3 million viewers.

The fireworks begin at 10pm, and here are 3 great places to watch:

• The amusement park La Ronde offers waterfront stadium seating. You can buy tickets for the fireworks, but for just a few dollars more a combination ticket supplies full-day access to the park. Why not take the kids, and make a day of it?

• Watch fireworks for free on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Canada’s 3rd busiest bridge becomes a pedestrian-only viewing platform from 8:30 to 11:30pm on fireworks nights. Take a sweater (it’s windy up there), and something to sit on. Access is from Papineau Métro station.

• The view of the waterfront from a rooftop terrace in Old Montreal is wonderful on just about any summer evening, but it’s extra-special on fireworks nights. The Terrasse, the bar atop hotel l’Auberge du Vieux-Port, charges a $25 cover on fireworks evenings, with no minimum food or beverage purchase required. Get there early, as reservations are only available to hotel guests, and this delectable space fills fast.

Happy viewing. And if you go, please share a highlight!

Free Montreal Travel Resources on our New Website

S3VYMuehAWg48yifQOyucEM_DNnNErMjfkMbgSjLG98

Montreal, the world’s second largest French speaking city, is the next best thing to Paris, without the jet lag. Our newly revamped Paris by Design website makes it easy to visit this vibrant, international, family-friendly city.

Need an excuse to go? The current exchange rate puts Montreal joie de vivre (bistros, chocolatiers, artisan craft, and design) seriously on sale. On Jan 13, $1 CAD = $.69 USD.

The new website’s full color, panoramic photos of Montreal streets, museums, bagels, and markets offer more reasons to love the city.

Are you thinking about visiting Montreal, and need help getting started? Our brand new Travel Resource pages cover weather, packing, festivals, getting there, and more.

Apps, maps and articles share some of our favorite addresses, help you communicate with Montrealers, and keep you found as you explore the city. They even help you find and pay for parking in Montreal.

And then there is our raison d’être: don’t miss our small group Montreal tours and custom travel planning services, easily accessed by pull down menus and photo grids.

Please take a look around the new site — and let us know what you think!