Visiting the City of Lights
We had a busy agenda in Paris in December, what with a film shooting at the Grand Palais, renewing my passport at the Argentine Embassy, paying a visit to the newly appointed Mexican Ambassador to France and Monaco, all while enjoying walking around the legendary City of Lights.We woke up to a glorious sunrise viewed from our room at the Montalembert and after croissants and fuming espresso, decided to walk down rue Le Cler in the 7th, a cobbled pedestrian street lined with the essential shops – wine, cheese, chocolate, bread – that spill onto the road, with fruit stall attendants tempting you to try their apples and sweet mandarins. The street organist put the appropriate background music to this typical Parisian street scene.
Adding graffiti on Gainsbourg’s house facade
Our friends Fabian Edelstam, artist painter, and his wife Lorena live on rue de Verneuil, so when we visited them we passed by Serge Gainsbourg’s house to check the new graffiti covering the facade, a place crammed with mementos of his poetic sometimes sordid life as France’s most revered singer-songwriter, lover of Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot, father of singer and movie star Charlotte Gainsbourg. I added my on graffiti contribution and felt like a real artist! On the way we admired the Antiques shops that populate this neighborhood.
Enjoying a caramel souffle at La Cigale Recamier
The four of us had an appetizing lunch at La Cigale Recamier on the 7th where we met famous French actor Gerard Depardieu, who recently left France to move to Belgium in a protest to new fiscal regulations, and who happened to be visiting his friend and restaurant owner Gerard Idoux. Their specialty is soufflés that are out of this world, with the salted caramel flavour my favorite.
Azzedine Alaia exhibition at the Fashion Museum
After a long delicious lunch in great company, we took a taxi to the 16th arrondissement (district) to visit the famous Palais Galliera located steps away from the most prestigious couture boutiques, that was featuring Azzedine Alaia (photos courtesy of Palais Galliera) for the opening exhibition of the Fashion Museum as the first Parisian retrospective presented in the renovated galleries of this palace, as well as in the room Matisse Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris on the other side of the street. It was a treat to see the display of seventy iconic styles tracing Alaia’s unique creative fashion voyage through time.
In the afternoon we had a coffee at Laduree on rue Royale in the 8th, a French institution that started in the middle of the 20th century with Pierre Desfontaines, who first thought of taking two macaroon shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling, and since then the recipe has not changed. The window decorating inspired by memories of childhood, family gatherings, homes in their fairy clothes and sparkling Christmas trees.
Just as it was getting dark the Roman Catholic Church of La Madeleine was light in fluorescent colours. Designed in its present form as a temple to the glory of Napoleon’s army, it looked even more impressive lighten up for the holiday season. We walked along the streets enjoying some window-shopping. On our way back to our hotel we passed the Eiffel Tower illuminated in tribute to the South African hero, Nobel Peace Prize Nelson Mandela who left us on December 5 but will remain in everybody’s heart forever.