Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Diane's Paris Address Book

A Few Paris Favorite Lairs and Walks
Plus—Very Exciting Design News: Jean-Michel Frank at the Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Berge Foundation

I go to Paris often. I’m usually working on a project, and over the years have fallen in love with favorite lairs I adore because they’re familiar and French and chic.

I spend my days as if I lived there. I do research at a private library, visit friends, work, dine with chums in very hidden restaurants, sit with French pals in the inside corner banquette of Deux-Magots or Café de Flore, and always climb the stairs to visit any church I pass (St-Sulpice and St-Roch (Paloma Picasso’s favorite, and where the memorial service for Yves Saint Laurent was held) are longtime favorites) to look at the art.

I stand in line to buy bread and clafoutis at Gerard Mulot on rue de Seine, and my bars of rare plantation/terroir chocolate across the way at Pierre Marcolini, and pick up basic groceries from the work-a-day Champion in the Buci triangle.

There’s lots of glamour, so I often disappear into the hush of low-key book shops (Shakespeare & Co.) or the studious print shop Paul Proute on rue de Seine. It’s about my private passions. Perhaps it is for that reason that I’ve never been to or up the Eiffel Tower. I love driving past, or seeing it at night through a window, but don’t really want to see it up close.

I meet my friends at the Deux-Magots (for gossiping with Jose, I always order the iced Lillet) and have a favorite route along rue Jacob and rue de Seine, stopping in to see Adeline Roussel’s sculptural jewelry at 54 rue Jacob, or Moissonnier furniture on the corner of rue du Bac.

My feet always find their way from the Deux-Magots to Laduree (one macaroon to go, perhaps cassis or violette, orange flower, bergamot, jasmine), and then down rue Bonaparte, across the Seine, past the Louvre, along rue de Rivoli, with a long stop at Gallignani…and then a sweep around Hermes. (Yes, you can wear the 4-way new Mini Kelly Danse as a flirty little backpack…).

I scoot into Lanvin and… by late afternoon I’m longing for Earl Grey tea at Laduree on rue Royale. I always gather with a cozy friend in a corner, and we watch the ladies sashay in swathed with furs in winter and white linen in summer. For me: Earl Grey and the glorious Ispahan, a couture rose-flavored meringue with fresh raspberries and a filling of litchi, topped with a red rose petal that I make a point of eating. Pop! Divine.

Let’s go and look at some of my current chou-chou places.

Casa Olympe restaurant, a tiny jewel near rue des Martyrs, is a favorite of fashion designers like Andrew Gn and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Mouth-watering Mediterranean delights, friendly prix-fixe prices.

BUT FIRST: Here’s the most exciting news. Yes, I translated it from the French announcement on the foundation website. I’m so excited I’m just putting it out there.

Next exhibition at the Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Berge Foundation: “Jean-Michel Frank”
Paris - from 2nd October to 3 January 2010

Frank is a mythical figure in the world of decorative arts. Cousin of Anne Frank, he led a life from a noir novel. This exhibition, the first organized in France, proposes to retrace his artistic career. With furniture and objects, the exhibition recreates the atmosphere and particulars of this intransigent creator (!), weaving the connections with surrealism, the universe of Jean Cocteau, and the social and aesthetic revolutions between the two world wars.

I am so excited. I will be in Paris during the tenure of the show and plan to see it as soon as possible.

Le décorateur Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) est une figure mythique des arts décoratifs. Cousin d’Anne Frank, auteur du célèbre journal, sa biographie fait de lui un personnage de roman noir. Cette exposition, la première jamais organisée en France, se propose de retracer ce parcours artistique. Autour de meubles et d’objets du décorateurs, l’exposition recrée les atmosphères si particulières de ce créateur intransigeant en tissant les liens qu’elles entretiennent avec le surréalisme, l’univers de Jean Cocteau, les révolutions sociales et esthétiques de l’entre-deux-guerres.

Avec le soutien du Comité Jean-Michel Frank

du mardi au dimanche, de 11h à 18h
Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent

Flea Market, St-Ouen
Saturday mornings and Sunday, perhaps, I head early to the Puces—and always start at Paul-Bert and Serpette markets. I have my favorites there.

My two favorite dealers are women:
Laurence Lenglare (stand photographed above) has the best-looking stalls at the moment. She’s from the Angers in Anjou, so if you’re lucky she might have some of the handsome slate tables from the region’s quarries. I’ve seen linen-covered salon chairs, her own sculptures of heads, plaster busts, Napoleon Iii chairs, and prints and paintings and portrait to take home. Laurence, the Mme Recamier of the Puces, speaks perfect English. Marche Paul-Bert, Allee 5, Stand 241.

Michele Perceval has the chicest and most consistently interesting stand at March Serpette. She favors Swedish country pieces, and her stand is an ode to pale gray, ivory and scrubbed wood. Her chairs and tables are very sculptural, and there’s usually a chandelier or two dangling above this opera set of a scene. Charming woman of great taste. Michele Perceval, Marche Serpette, Stand 26, Allee 5.

Rue de Tournon
Marie-Helen de Taillac has found the perfect synthesis of Rajasthan and Paris with her colorful, sexy, lovely, and playful jewelry. Her designs are crafted at the masterful workshops in the Gem Palace in Jaipur, and I’ve watched the Gem Palace specialists in gold and stones handcrafting these glorious adornments. The swivel rings with stones like citrine or aquamarine or topaz are among my favorites. Now she’s working with rock crystal, creating bewitching. 8 rue de Tournon.

Sev-Bab ‘Sev-Bab’ is the insider abbreviation for Sevres-Babylon, the magical neighborhood (and Metro stop) that circles around Le Bon Marche, and drifts with classic, modern style about the surrounding streets. It’s neighborhood-y, not touristy at all. It’s low-key chic, and includes the new Hermes on rue de Grenelle, Frederic Malle’s fantastic fragrance emporium, and a new patisserie.

My route: from Café de Flore or Laduree, along rue du Dragon, turn right on rue de Grenelle (visit new Hermes), a quick visit into Barthelemy cheese shop at 51 rue de Grenelle , then left on rue du Bac.

I admire the pale goods at Blanc d’Ivoire décor shop, and the glorious cashmere and silk robes. Just as I am thinking ahead to a stop at the Augousti design shop, and La Grande Epicerie de Paris, my nose is tickled by the faint fragrance of dark chocolate. It’s a new patisserie.

Patisserie de Reves
I was very lucky to arrive on the opening day of La Patisserie des Reves by Philippe Conticini in early September. I adore Pierre Herme, and love Laduree, but this shimmering new patisserie has a fantasy air and originality that are very captivating.

Imagine: in the center of the little shop is a large round table with chocolate cakes and pastries displayed ‘under glass’ beneath tall clear glass cloches. You admire, then you order apple tarts, orange tarts, éclairs, and a mille-feuille or a brioche, and the uniformed assistant brings out a fresh one from the back.

If you’re lucky, M. Conticini will pop up, too. Promised for November: fruit tarts with violette figs and quinces, and in December chestnut tarts. There’s also a cake he calls ‘Le Grand Cru’—in Samana chocolate with little grains of fleur de sel—and icing as elegant and shiny as lacquer. Suggestion from chef for this chocolate delight: ‘eat it ten minutes after taking it from the refrigerator’. I doubt that you could wait so long!

Musee des Arts Decoratifs: Madeleine Vionnet
I enjoyed the Balanciaga show, the Hermes show, and all the other magical fashion presentations at this museum within the Louvre ambit—but this one is the most ethereal. It’s open until 31 january 2010.

Madeleine Vionnet—unlike Chanel, for example—created custom designs for private clients and never sold her company to continue in posterity. Her designs, from 1912—1952, are presented chronologically in rooms that are almost dark, with gowns and dresses emerging in low light in glass cases. It’s a poetic scene; Sculptural fashions were crafted in subtle colors, with elaborate beading and sculptural silhouettes. I loved the hushed and muted atmosphere around these fetishized designs—which makes this an almost religious experience for fashion lovers.


Charles de Lisle’s Paris Hits
My friend Charles de Lisle, a wonderful San Francisco-based interior designer just returned from Paris. I asked him to give me his Paris highlights.

  1. L’Eclaireur and the Piet Hein Eek show at the rue Harold gallery. Wonderful furniture. (See picture of invitation at end.)
  2. The last Number (N) in collection at the L’Eclaireur men’s shop. Unbelievable detail.

  3. The upstairs “warehouse rooms” of vintage at Galerie Yves Gastou
  4. The “Alps” cake molds commissioned for the present show @ Astier de Villatte shop (see picture of the rue du Faubourg St-Honore shop interior, with lamps, below)

  5. French boys who dress so well in jeans, jackets & wingtips… the girls always have had great style
  6. Grayed older French men in unbelievably refined tailored Italian suits on their Ducatis
  7. The Annick Goutal Eau de Fier cologne is actually a reunion. I had bought a bottle on a trip to Paris 10 years ago and fell in love with its almost violent, heavy impact on me. I really am not a fan of strong scents or perfumes in general, this one, I love. It’s clove, tarry old church alcoves, bitter, and heady. from what I understand it’s make up is pure china tea and A.G. was ahead of her time in the early 80’s creating pure, essential & exotic styled scents foreshadowing what seems to proliferate the counters at Barney’s today. It seems it only is carried in the Paris shops, I have not ever seen here in the US, or even on-line…so therefore, on my trip I needed to re-fuel. It will always remind me of traipsing around those cobblestoned alleys…
  8. Fantastic dinner at Anahi, the best madame in town in charge there…wow. Another great dinner at Pramil… strawberries with cucumber sherbet and olive oil.
  9. Great construction camouflage at the Louvre
  10. Usagi { rabbit in Japanese } restaurant by new friend Shinsuke Karahawa…used to be creative director for Dior Homme… very cute.
  11. Rooting around the basement at E. Dehillerin cookware (see picture of stairs below)
  12. Cool, contemporary Scandinavian items at Tools Galerie
  13. The walls in the back room at the flagship BonPoint childrenswear, white paint over sheer georgette
  14. Coffee at Merci’s used book café with all the ladies out shopping
  15. Emmanuel Perrotin & Yvon Lambert galleries


Mrs. Blandings said...

You are a wonderful guide - even when I can only visit from my computer screen.

little augury said...

Beautiful wanderings. I think you should do up a tour for your readers- Need an assistant? la

Grant K. Gibson said...

Ever since you posted on Paris this summer- I see Paris all over the place. It seems to be HOT on everyones radar. You must be a trend setter! Even the new DEPARTURES magazine is the FRANCE issue.
I love reading all of tidbits and secret sources that you offer. It all goes into my Paris file to dream of my next trip there.

Blue said...

I had decided to go to New York for the holidays but I think Paris might be the place to go - especially for the Jean Michel Frank exhibition. Thank you for one of the most interesting, civilized and chic blogs.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Francophiles--

Patricia and Little Augury and Grant and Blue...

Thanks so much. I adore Paris--and love to feel at home there--excited but relaxed. I'm in a state of calm hyper-awareness and bliss even on the most mundane errands and activities. For me, Paris is a second home--and I love to walk in neighborhoods and buy fresh food every day. Many people who go to Paris have their one-star and two-star lists and wine lists and shopping tips--I'm more relaxed and go wherever my friends love to go. Some wonderful surprises, like the Bistro Paul Bert...and L'Ami Louis (madly eccentric and amazing).
I window shop...don't want to waste a minute trying on clothes I could buy at home. And I'm never in tourist haunts--except that I do adore the Buci market crossroads...always a bustle of activity day and night, and on the way to my newspaper shop, my fruit market, Taschen, one of my publishers, and great in all directions.
Please keep this list for your next visit. You'll love my rambles.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I shall print this out to keep for my future wanderings in Paris. Thanks so much! You are a wonderful guide.

Gaj said...

Diane, your connoissuership of things Parisien as well as Mr. De Lisle's additional commentary, goes directly into my bookmarks for my December visit. I may know of some of your notations but the manner in which you describe them provides further insights. I say again, merci beaucoup.

vicki archer said...

A fabulous tour of Paris Diane, and so many places that you love are on my favourites list too. xv

Pigtown-Design said...

Whew! I am so glad to see so many of the places I used to visit in Paris. When I lived in the UK, I had to be in Paris one Sunday a month for a project, so I'd fly over on Friday evening or Saturday morning and spend a day by myself. There are many happy memories in a lot of these places... especially Shakespeare, where I stayed around the corner.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hello, Pamela and Edward, and Gaj and Vicki-

Yes, if you follow my informal directions ('turn left on rue du Bac') you can be on a frisky and private walking tour of discovery.
The key for me is that I always visit the Louvre (to see specific paintings or galleries), and have a serious cultural program, and visit designers and antique dealers and galleries. That's a given.
Then, in my free time I put on my Chanel flats and whip out my Hermes scarf, and set off. Vicki, I'm sure you're also a fan of Barthelemy and the rue du Bac axis, and Marie-Helene de Taillac or Adeline Rousel, and the hidden book shops where I am often the only client poking around. It's very personal and private--I'm seldom or never in tourist destinations (though ironically, some places tourists go are actually great...rue de Buci, with its great energy, for example) but I love to hear only French spoken, ideally. I always walk through the place Furstemburg on my way into the side entrance of St Germain church on rue de l'Abbeye, and I know all the short cuts and hidden streets and squares. Shortcuts from Drouot through all the galleries and arcades are wonderful on a rainy day.Or heading up rue des Martyrs can be a great hike--with bakeries and fruit shops to cheer you on.
Vicki--would love to know your favorite secret and private walking routes through Paris.

Trouvais said...

Simply marvelous...thank you. Violette figs and quince...intriguing. I'd do the same w/ Eiffel...mostly due to fear of heights, but do the French tour the Eiffel? Wonderful daily stops. Mind if I live vicariously? Thanks, Trish

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Yes, thank you.
Quince tarts...count me in.
Violette figs: yes.
These are on the seasonal menu proposed by the Patisserie des Reves...plus all the tradional pastries and cakes and confections that mark so many wonderful French celebrations and religious holidays.
This was my insider Paris (the private side...well-one of my private jaunts)...how about yours!
Now I want to know where everyone else goes to hide out, and to see the real Paris (well, the chic one).

Chic Provence said...

Diane we HAVE to meet up in Paris next time! such fun, such a delectable, devourable city, I never get enough of her!

Milles mercies for your secrets!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hello, Kit-

THANK YOU FOR YOUR MESSAGE. I never tire of Paris--or any corner of it. Rather...my heart soars as the plane lands, and I dash in to the city to walk down rue Jacob or turn around the corner into rue du Bac or Ave Montaigne or rue du Faubourg St Honore...it is all exciting. A new discovery--or a re-discovery--on every corner, every stop.

Lynne Rutter said...

what a fantastic list, a great reminder of why i keep going back. in fact i will be there in april!

Pat's Addition said...

One of my favorite memories of Paris is a choral rehearsal I chanced upon in St Germain church on rue de l'Abbeye. Loved that little street. I always stopped in E. Dehillerin to buy a new knife or two.
I'm really reliving Paris through your walks and pictures.