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!


Paris Book Review: France is a Feast

From regular contributor Betty Guernsey:

France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child”, recently published by Thames & Hudson, tells the pictorial story of the couple’s life in Paris, Marseille, and the countryside of France between the years 1948 and 1954.

The Childs moved to Paris in 1948, where Paul was cultural attaché for the U.S. Information Service, among his many assignments meeting and mounting exhibits for the photographic greats in Paris at the time – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Robert Capa.

The couple’s meanderings through their adopted city and its surrounding countryside were duly captured through the eye of Paul as he developed his skills as a talented photographer in his own right. Rarely did he leave the house without at least one camera (including a hefty Rolleiflex) slung over a shoulder.

What wonderful shots of Julia – all 6’ 2“ of her, and as slim as a willow – leaning over a balcony in Strasbourg (1956); Fishermen in a Boat on the Seine (1950); Julia on a staircase on the Quai de la Loire (1950); sardine-like boats by the Pont Louis-Philippe (1949); Mother and Child, Marseille (1953); and the incredibly racy Julia on the Telephone, Aubazaine (1952)!

Most of the work is in black-and-white; just as fascinating, though, are the handful of candid-camera shots, some of them in color, many of Julia in her early French kitchens.

The book in itself is a feast.

Paris via New York: Boucherie Restaurant in West Village

From regular contributor Betty Guernsey:

Bonnes nouvelles!!! New York has a brand new restaurant in the grand tradition of Maxim’s – Boucherie, the latest venture of former chef de cuisine of the late-lamented Pastis in the Meatpacking district.

Set on a popular stretch of the West Village, with a jaunty red awning, Boucherie is true to its name, catering to lovers of le bifsteak – it even has a sit-in beef counter where aficionados can see their orders grilled to perfection over a wood fire – though its menu extends to rabbit, racks of venison and lamb, duck and poulet, in addition to trout and salmon.

Everything is elegant and beautifully presented, from the Salade Niçoise and Scallops Saint-Jacques to the truly delectable Crêpes Suzette.

Multi-level, spacious and airy, with marble-topped tables, potted palms, fin-de-siècle art on the walls, a zinc bar that must be 40 feet long, a well-considered list of wines and anisettes, and French music playing unobtrusively in the background (have you ever heard “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” sung in French?) — one would not be surprised to see Manet, Lautrec, or (dare we say it — Louis Jourdan), sitting quietly in a corner, with a platter of escargots.

99 Seventh Avenue South, near the corner of Grove.

Merci mille fois, Betty!

Paris Via New York: A Tale of Two Ex-Parisians

From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

This month the Museum of Modern Art, in a bold and adventurous move, is hosting not one but two exhibitions dedicated to former Parisians – one a Parisian by birth, the other by adoption.

The first, “Max Ernst: Beyond Painting”, continues through January 1 and surveys the career of the pioneering Dadaist and Surrealist painter and sculptor. Ernst, born in Germany in 1891, became an adopted Parisian in 1922, albeit somewhat scandalously, in a ménage-à-trois with Surrealist poet Paul Eluard and his wife Gala, an arrangement which lasted through most of what is known as his First French Period 1923-1940).

In 1942 he married Peggy Guggenheim and entered into his New York Period (1941-1953), assisting with fellow exiles Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall in the development of Abstract Expressionism. He later returned to Paris, where he began his Second French Period (1959-1970) and died in 1976.

Mysterious, intensely psychological, and extremely accomplished, his works plumb the depths of the frequently erotic subconscious, with intriguing titles such as “The Hat Makes the Man”, “The Robing of the Bride”, and “Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale”.

The second, “Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait”, continuing through January 28, explores the paintings and prints, along with occasional installations and sculptures, of the groundbreaking feminist artist whose prolific body of work has also been described as Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist.

Born in Paris in 1911, to a family involved in the arts, Bourgeois graduated from the Sorbonne before immersing herself in the Parisian creative scene. In 1938 she married American art historian Robert Goldwater and returned with him to New York City, remaining an adopted New Yorker until her death in 2010.

Here she studied at the Art Students League and refined her thinking into issues of domesticity, family, sexuality, and the female body, many of her works incorporating household fabrics, linens, embroideries, and texts in both English and French.

Most famous, perhaps, are her “Femme Maison” series, and her “Mamans” – mammoth sculptures of spiders, alluding to the strength of the mother in spinning, weaving, nurturing, and protecting – one of which is dramatically displayed in MOMA’s second floor Atrium.

Merci beaucoup, Betty!

La Rentree 2017 and Paris Museums

Summer’s over in Paris. La rentrée — back to school — means new backpacks for students and new temporary museum exhibits for everyone.

Here are 3 of my favorites:

• At the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the lavish temporary expo, “Dior, Cuturier de Rêve,” celebrates the esteemed fashion house’s 70th birthday with a display of over 300 pieces, and following its designers from Christian Dior’s time through the present. Pictured above is a 1958 ensemble by Yves St Laurent. Until Jan 7.

• At the recently renovated Musée Picasso, “Picasso 1932” relates a complete year in the life of the Spanish painter, using a chronological presentation of his work and archives. The exhibition is organized in partnership with the Tate Modern in London, and contains important work, including “The Dream.” From Oct 10 to Feb 11.

• At Musée Jacquemart-André, the temporary expo “The Hansens’ Secret Garden” features 40 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works assembled by Danish art collectors Wilhelm and Henry Hansen. Paintings are by Corot, Cézanne, Matisse, Monet, and Gaugin. Get ready for a surprise — these works are relatively unknown in France. From Sept 15 to Jan 22.

Paris Via Video Part 2

Last week’s culinary video was a big hit, so here are two others that are très fun — whether you’re planning a trip to Paris, or waxing nostalgic.

Enrique Pacheco’s Le Petit Paris sails through the city with lots of close ups, beautiful light, and time lapse sequences that make you feel like you are there.

Allo Allo, from The House of Nod, gives a high energy, fresh take on the city of love and light.

Enjoy! And let us know what you think of these approaches to the city!

Paris Via Video: Alex Gabriel

Alex Gabriel is a self-trained cook living in Paris. I love his humor, and I especially like his cheese tasting video — it even recommends a couple of Vermont cheeses as alternatives to French.

And his brioche video shows you what to look for as well as how to make a good brioche.

And serious cooks won’t want to miss this one on remaking the chef’s knife.

Do you have favorite Paris videos? Share them here, s’il vous plaît!

Paris Book Review: Murder in Saint-Germain

From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

Cara Black in her seventeenth Aimée Leduc mystery “Murder in Saint-Germain” demonstrates yet again that she has not lost her spunk or freshness, nor her penchant for intrigue (in this case, Bosnian/Serbian).

Centered around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris, and the ancient quarter surrounding it, Black utilizes its famed icons and storied landmarks as settings for her action: the church itself, Le Sénat, former royal palace of Marie de Medicis; l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts; the Jardin du Luxembourg; Closerie des Lilas; rue Madame; and rue Bonaparte.

Lovers of the 6ème arrondissement will feast on tidbits of its juicy history, while fans of Aimée will revel in this latest chapter in her amazingly complex life.

Are you a Cara Black fan? Let us know your favorite titles!

Paris via Film: Paris Can Wait

Un grand merci to Nancy Fulton for recommending and reviewing the film “Paris Can Wait.”

Anne (Diane Lane) is married to Michael (Alec Baldwin), a successful, preoccupied movie producer. Their daughter has recently been launched into young adulthood and Anne now faces a new stage in life. Unexpected circumstances lead to Jacques (Arnaud Viard), her husband’s business associate, offering to drive her from Cannes to Paris. As they depart in his blue Peugeot, Jacques winsomely says “Let’s pretend we don’t know where we are going or even who we are.”

And so the carefree detour in director Eleanor Coppola’s meandering daydream of a film begins.

The quirky pairing between Jacques, with his inimitable style in the art of living, and Anne’s shy luminosity and knowing ingenuity, create a humorous and romantic dynamic that keeps the viewer guessing. Who knows where shared confidences, automotive mishaps, and asymmetric attitudes toward time will take them?

Food, wine, roses, architecture, summer scenes in Arles, Lyon, and Dijon reawaken Anne’s sense of possibility. Yes, Paris waits, while so much more arrives.

Have you seen Paris Can Wait? What did you think?

Paris via Williamstown: Picasso Encounters

The temporary exhibit at the Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, MA, Picasso: Encounters, was organized with help from the Musée National Picasso–Paris.

The first work in the show, the artist’s self-portrait, on loan from the Paris museum, is a self-portrait that shows the artist as a solitary soul.

The next 35 prints and 2 paintings contradict this isolation, highlighting his collaborations — with printmakers, fellow artists, and Picasso’s famed muses, Olga Khokhlova, Françoise Gilot, and Dora Maar (Maar’s portrait is also on loan from the Paris museum).

It’s not a large show, but it contains important works and offers insights into Picasso’s creative process, including a set of color prints made from a single sheet of linoleum. And the recently renovated museum itself is worth the drive.

Until August 27