Konstantina
Loves Paris

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La Seine

Paris does not have a lot of greenscape. It is the beauty of its geometrical layout and its architecture  which bemuses the eyes and senses. What Paris does have though as its true artery is The Seine. This is where Paris was born. The two small islands in the middle of the muddy green waters are Isle de le Cite - which houses the courts and Notre Dame -  and Isle St Louis which is adjacent are joined by a pedestrian bridge. Isle St Louis feels like you have stepped into a small, quiet, elegant French  village and is a place I gravitate to every time I’m in the city . Isle St Louis is mainly residential  with elegant apartments, small shops, restaurants  and few  hotels. 

When I lived in Paris for three months, I was in the Sixth Arrondissement, on Rue Maitre Albert just across the street  from the foot bridge on the left bank that goes across and just behind Notre Dame called Pont D’Arcole. ‘La Seine and Notre Dame became my anchors. I would get my bearings and find my way home through a hundred  small different back streets. Along the Seine, I had open sky and the river to guide me back and forth to the first and second  and fifth arrondissements where I spent a  lot of my time. I grew up and live in the west of North America, and as much as I love Paris, I very much missed nature and wilderness after a while. Nature is scarce in Paris. The  birds and the green of the trees alongside the riverbanks of the Seine were my solace and connection.

Do not miss going down to the rivers edge and walking underneath the larger bridges and the business of the city above. It is magical and a favorite spot  not just for me, but many Parisians.

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The Ritz

 

Established by Cesar Ritz, his is one of the most iconic hotels in the world. One hundred percent. In a city that set the world bar high for luxury palaces, this  location on the elegant and jewel laden Place Vendome has unique heritage (where Coco Chanel lived a great part of her life, and where she died). The peach, embroidered fluffy towels, the marble antiques, the service, the common areas, the patios, the Bar Hemingway; all of it is an experience of Paris that is imbued with its own beautiful stamp of luxury. It is one of my most memorable stays in this beautiful, beautiful city. It is especially special because I have exhibited my jewelry there and next door at the Hotel D’Evreux as well.

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Place Vendome

I had been to Paris a couple of times before I happened upon the Place Vendome. Weird, since it is such an iconic anchor and was to be such a milestone in my professional life. I think it was the combination of ignorance and youth that took me so long to get my bearings in the city. I also think it’s hard to get familiar with a city when you’re there for three to four day blocks at a time. I have been more times than I can count now, so there isn’t much to discover. Now I revisit what I love most and go to the new restaurants, exhibits and stores I want to see. 

The place Vendome is connected to two main areas of the 1st arrondissement; Rue St Honore, - which is the iconic shopping street-  and Le Jardin des Tuileries which is attached to the north side of the Louvre. If you cross Rue de Rivoli in front of Rue Castiglione ( read my brief review of Le Castiglione. Yes it’s a tourist stop, but also a regular stop for everyone that works in the area.) and go straight, that is w here I am posing in this shot; one block from the center of the Place Vendome.  The column and the circle is the anchor to some of some of the finest jewelry stores in the world . It is also home to The Ritz and the Hotel D’Evreux where I have exhibited several times. I almost had to pinch myself when I exhibited at the Hotel D’Evreux. My business was only six years old at the time. It was beyond and almost an unimaginable dream come true.

La Reserve

Even better than expected. La Reserve is a small boutique hotel, just off of the Camps Elysees near the Elysee Palace. I think it is the prettiest hotel in Paris, mores than Raffles Hermitage, the Ritz, or any of the other 5 star Palaces I have visited, and I have visited them all and stayed in a few. The attention to detail in the decor and service are superb , and friendly and unpretentious. This hotel will be my choice; hands down.

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Palais Royal

A few steps away from the hustle and noise of Rue de Rivoli and across the street and around the corner from the facade of the Louvre, is one of my favorite spots in the city; Le Palais Royale. In the center is a beautiful French garden complete with the requisite fountain but the surrounding colonnade has some of the finest shopping and restaurants in the city. Amazing gloves? There are there. Avante garde fashion a la Rick Owens? There you will find his eponymous shop. The perfect cafe? Cafe Kitsune is your salvation. The best of French couture and pre at porter  vintage fashion? This is the place. and some of THE BEST restaurant and oldest, fine restaurants established during La Belle Epoque... here. You can play the Parisian flaneur, stroll the elegant colonnade, dress to your hearts delight and fit right in. Where else could I walk around in a leather edged  white wool cape with a transparent, gold embroidered silk chiffon blouse but here. This is the best of Paris. Enjoy.

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Paris Attractions

7th Arrondissement - "The Best Street Walks of Paris"

Walking through the seventh in Paris means awesome bakeries, restaurants, shops, people watching, dog watching and fun. Not to be missed, and please finish up near the Eiffel Tower at dusk to see the lights glow against the blue black sky of twilight.

Musee de Cluny - Musee National du Moyen Age - "One of My Lifetime Favorites"

I travel a lot. I see a lot of art. I visit a lot of museums. This Museum in Paris is now one of my absolute favorites, anywhere, anytime. I went back through to see the tapestries twice. I was mesmerized by their beauty.

Musee Jacquemard-Andre - "What a Treat"

A Paris must see. The house is a stunning representation of. Le Belle Epoque and the tea room is sublime.

Musee Marmottan - "Amazing"

this was a totally serendipitous discovery. I was wandering through the 16th and saw a small green sign that said, "Musee Marmottan, Monet." I was like... "Hmmm," and followed the signs until I got there. I was impressed that 80% of the people lined up to go in were clearly Parisians, not tourists. It houses ALL of the last works of Monet, which he left to his only son, who bequeathed them to this museum. AMAZING. A must, must see.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont - "Green Paris Paradise"

You would never expect to find a park like this in Paris. It has hills and the natural topography and vegetation are in the English, not the French style. A piece of heaven in Paris. Do plan on going.

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery - "In the Dead of Winter"

This is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Van Morrison, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde....the list is too long, of the historic luminaries who rest here. More than that though...it is beautiful. It sits on a group of small hills, so walking through is a labyrinthine exercise. The graves also sit front to back, at an angle, tall, elegant, simple, flat, new, but mostly old...the haphazard configuration is really much more beautiful than anything symmetrical could be. It was one of the coldest days of my visit to Aris, and yet probably absolutely suited to the experience. It was a grey, overcast bitterly cold day, and the dark silhouettes of the tress as well as the black crows everywhere, made the experience very Edgar Allen Poe.

Rue Montorgueil - "Lively, Alive and a 'Street Paris' Experience"

This is where the Parisians hang out. The young, cool, urban crowd, because it is full of LIFE and has no cars, so it is full of people walking about, cafes, bistros and fun.

Paris Hotels

Hotel De Nell - "Paris Perfection"

I was in Paris last week, and had reserved a room at Hotel De Nell. I didn't know that it was 60 days old at the time.

They immediately offered me a room upgrade, which gave me a balcony room with a king size bed, facing the gothic church in front.the attention to detail in the design of the hotel was 'joyous.' I am a designer, and so I REALLY appreciate it when others get it right. the lighting, the minimalism combined with luxurious textures and wonderful lines and bedding; the Japanese bathtub, the heated wooden floors with the perfect finish and texture, the combinations of wall finishes without crappy commercial art to clutter hem. Perfect. The bar with it's beautiful skylight is a wonderful place to meet friends and clients; intimate and luxe.the library is the books that I want to read if i have a few minutes about art, architecture and fashion.

In short the service and the design were great. Highly recommended and a place I would send friends to and stay again. For sure.

Paris Restaurants

Cafe Marly - "The View Without Price"

The food isn't the best, the service isn't the best and the prices are high, but how do you compete with sitting in the Carre du Louvre looking at Pi's Pyramid and looking at 15th century gorgeousness of architecture?

Chez Ferdinand Christine - "Perfect Lunch Spot"

I had the most perfect piping hot tea, piping hot and perfectly prepared lunch on February 25th, 2018. This is not always the case in Paris and this tint return, on a secluded back street of St. Germaine, feels like a special, off the beat find.

Do try it. It's just right :)

Chez Robert et Louise - "The Epitome of Rustic Home Cooked French"

When you think of where French cooking began, it is probably a rustic, cozy French kitchen, nothing fancy, with brick walls, and a happy warm, familiarity. This is like a dream family kitchen that you know exists out there somewhere in a dream , or a movie, , and you finally found it. This is what the wood fire burning smells and feel and the delicious wood oven oven bring to you. You want to stay, be adopted, and eat there forever, consuming chicken paillard, mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables until you die of contentment. You must go, if you can get in. No reservations, tiny and always full.

La Belle Epoque - "Beautiful, Charming and Delicious"

This is a new favorite in the 2nd and it's easy to see why :) The food is delicious; classic with a twist. One of the most perfect Caesar salads I have ever had, though not what I would typically order in Paris at all. The decor is again, Belle Epoque with old world tile work and details yet, waiters in jeans and vans with floor to ceiling patio doors. I liked it. :) All of it:)

Le Castiglione - "Ambrosia..."

I had lunch upstairs on my trip to Paris in March sand there are some meals that you will remember forever; this was one of them.

This may seem an exaggeration, but it is absolutely not… I had the scallop entree with the lightest of lemon sauces and fresh greens that was unforgettable.One of the most perfectly prepared dishes I've ever had…and this was"LUNCH"!!!! The finale was their macaroon aux framboises… ambrosia.

The good thing is too…that this little cafe is right on the route I transverse every time I'm in Paris, so I don't even have to go out of my way. I've eaten here many times and if it wasn't good I wouldn't return... but this meal was exceptional.

Le Hibou - "The Attic for Coolsters"

I was asked to meet a friend in Paris, at Le Hibou in St. Germaine.
It was a cold, rainy day, and off I went down Boulevard St.Germaine.One of the best things about Le Hibou, is the location... L'Odeon just off of Boulevard St. Germaine, so it is easy to take a walking break, easy to meet up with friends or easy to people watch... because the people watching is great. So is the hot chocolate :) The tea and the coffee and even better (to me) upstairs in their charming, cozy, French blue paneled sitting rooms.

Le Sergent Recruteur - "The 'Gobstopper' of Culinary Experiences"

I was in Paris during the Charlie Hebdo attacks. It was, for someone raised on the west coast of Canada and the US, surreal and quite hard. The second day after, i decided, 'Enough' . Since I was right on the Seine, next to Isle St. Louis, decided to treat myself to dinner. It was early for Paris, 6:30 pm, and the city had been very quiet since the attacks as well, so when I walked in....I was it. There weren't any others except the staff.

At a restaurant of this calibre, all of the staff are foodies. They love, breather and gossip about...food. Well, I love food and amazing food as well, and as someone raised in the food industry by two parents who are each amazing cooks, we had A Lot of common ground with the staff. Since I had all of their attention, and a great appreciation of what they were giving me, we were soon all friends. 

The appetizer with the slivers of cauliflower, the Loup de mere with the perfect sauce, , the cheese and cured meat board, everything local, the corn madelines, the tea, the wine, the service, the care were all so very special. It was a memorable meal. i relive the flavours and the experience writing about it, so I hope that someone who reads this goes as well, because you too will have one of the treats of your life. All housed in an award winning decor with wonderful, warm , professional service, which is not what Paris is renowned for.

Les Enfants Rouges - "Delicieuse"

I had no expectations except for great reviews, so honestly, the food was, as per the testimonials, delicious. The restaurant entrance sits down a narrow, small alley which adds to the sense of discovery and specialness. It is a tiny restaurant and had more than it's share of tourists for the off season (since we were sitting cheek to soul, you pretty much heard everything) but the service was friendly and the food, though the chefs said not, an original combination of French and Asian fusion to my palate.
Highly recommend :) !!!!

T'Cup - "JOY"

If you understand that Paris has a beautiful relationship with fine teas, then you will be especially appreciative to find a gem in Le Marais that has Anglo, not French overtones for a switch. Anglo overtones means, BOOKS and whimsical decor details rather than elegant design details. in addition T'CUP has lovely service, steeped , hot teas and lovely food and sweets selection . I highly recommend it :))

Paris Shops

107 Rivoli - "Museum Shop of Museum Shops"

I go to A LOT of museums on my travels, and have to stop in and peruse the gift shops, just because they tend to have 'arty' and interesting things. 107 Rivoli is at the top tier of what museum stores show; interesting jewelry, porcelain, games and most importantly… an AWESOME assortment of books. Perhaps because they are part of Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs which is attached to the Louvre, their standards are higher, but everything is fine, beautifully selected, and on the par it should be for the geography that it occupies in the universe ;)

Establissments Wolff & Descourtis - "Magical, Exquisite Craftsmanship"

The Galerie Vivienne is one of the treats I most love in Paris. It is a walk into the Belle Epoque and within that walk, you will find treasures that come with time travel, including these magically beautiful scarves… one more exquisitely beautiful than the other. Hermes may have the name that comes with the marketing of a big brand, but these scarves are of finely woven gossamer wool and devore silk that glow with stories of romantic and exotic places, flowers and fauna.It is such a beautiful, beautiful store with its' exquisite wares is a must see, even if to appreciate the grace and beauty of a dying art.

Merci - "Ethical Retail: Who Knew?!"

The BONPOINT family (those of perfectly perfect and classically beautiful children's clothes) decided to open a unique and bo-chic shopping experience. This is the ultimate concept store that donates 100 percent of their chic and stylish profits to charity. You heard me: 100%.

So here…in one awesome and stylish place, you can look at jewelry, men's , children's women's, home and buy an a awesome art book to read over your patisserie and coffee in the bo-chic cafe with the perfect gift card tucked inside .

These people got it right; REALLY, really, really right.

Montaigne Market - "Outstandingly Chic"

Every great city has its iconic stores, and then it has the amazing stores that are less well known except of e cognisetti. Montaigne Market falls into the second category.

This store has that chic, cool and luxe vibe that only the very best do. With some of the top labels in the world..it is one stop shopping for the sophisticate that wants to see what she hasn't ever seen before.

The shop itself couldn't have a better location or ambiance, and location, location, location certainly counts.

This is the grand offspring of Liliane Joshua… the tastemaker who gave the world Calypso St. Barts.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore - "Love"

This is one of the ultimate bibliophile stops on the planet. Nooks and crannies and wonderful books galore, this is a readers fetish stop.