The primary task of a visit to Paris is to indulge in as many dessert groups as you can. At Carrette Café on Place du Tertre, kill two sweet birds with one stone and enjoy a crepe and one of their superb macarons.
Wind your way through the less touristy streets of Montmartre to the Ave. Junot, a quiet, residential street, where you will discover Villa Leandre, a delightful cul de sac lined with the most adorable cottage houses. Next door to Villa Leandre is a stone staircase leading up to a metal gate. Ring the discreet doorbell to Hotel Particulier. Once you are buzzed in, follow the cobblestone pathway to the lovely and leafy terrace to have a drink on the rusted white iron chairs and tables.
Pont Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III Bridge is a masterpiece of Beaux Arts design, named after Tsar Alexander III, who forged the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. Decorated with Art Nouveau style crystal lanterns, nymphs, cherubs, and winged horses, it’s the most ornate bridge on the Seine River. Four massive limestone columns measuring 56 feet high, anchor the bridge and feature striking gilt bronze statues of winged horses representing the sciences, arts, commerce, and industry.
A backdrop for many a movie scene, Pont Alexandre III was recently used in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, where Owen Wilson ponders the meaning of his life while walking across.
On both sides of the bridge, three structures challenge the senses. On the Left Bank, sprawling lawns laden with dozens of topiaries grace the front of the majestic Les Invalides, once a rest home and hospital for war veterans, and in its shadow is the gold dome of the Chapel of Invalides where Napoleon is buried.
The success of the 1889 Worlds Fair, which heralded the Eiffel Tower, prompted the city to host another one in 1900. The Grand Palais off the Champs Elysees, a massive structure measuring over 600,000 square feet, is still the largest glass topped structure in the world. Have a cocktail on the glorious terrace of the Mini-Palais Restaurant and view the Petite Palais, another Beaux Arts treasure with a terrific permanent collection of 18th and 19th century art. 3 Ave. Winston Churchill. www.minipalais.com
Although it falls into the typical tourist category, a Seine river cruise at night is undeniably romantic. My boyfriend and I recently took a Bateau Parisian and were pleasantly surprised by the modern, streamlined boat. We boarded the boat right by the Eiffel Tower for the 8:30 P.M. cruise (I recommend this time slot over the 6:30 P.M. one) and were whisked to the front of the boat where floor to ceiling windows gave us an 180 degree view. We were offered a glass of rosé Champagne immediately, even before the boat departed and the lights dimmed while a singer softly sang some standards, putting us in the right mood.
As the boat smoothly sailed the Seine, we swooned at the sites- Notre Dame, the Louvre, Pont Neuf, Hotel de Ville, and the Musee d’Orsay, but the special feature was the mini- Statue of Liberty proudly holding her torch. (Gustave Eiffel designed the infrastructure for Lady Liberty.) We feasted on foie gras, roasted duck with a pear poached in red wine served with polenta, sea bass with a traditional Provençale sauce, a super cheese plate with goat and sheep’s cheese, and a Lenotre pastry of chocolate and pear. Snuggling after the cruise, we declared it the new love boat. Port de la Bourdonnais. www.bateauxparisiens.com
Once the royal palace of Cardinal Richelieu in 1639, the Palais Royal is now one of the most beautiful parks and desired shopping destinations of Paris. Enter via the Les Nemours Café (a scene from the film The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie was shot in front) and you will arrive at the delightful sculpture park of black and white columns by artist Daniel Buren. Strike a fun pose in front of the columns or see if you are nimble enough to climb up to the tallest one.
Beyond the sculpture park is the most exquisite part of the Palais Royal garden, the perfectly symmetrical alleyway of square sculpted trees. Forest green benches stationed underneath are the ideal spot to have a picnic in spring or summer of French delicacies such as cheese, paté, cornichons, saucisson, cured ham, and a crusty baguette. If the benches are full, look for the green metal love seats that face each other that have quotes from French and international writers embossed on the back.
The side arcades of the Palais Royal lined with weathered mosaic tiles and gilded gates feature chic clothing, home and beauty boutiques. The high art of vintage couture is best represented at the esteemed Didier Ludot, where the best of Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Givenchy are displayed in the windows. Care for an alluring new scent? The Serge Lutens shop, decorated in a myriad of hand painted plaster plaques, stocks a selection of unisex scents, from woody to citrus.
Frequented by Colette and Cocteau (he once designed the menus) the Grand Vefour, opened in 1784, is still the most beautiful restaurant in Paris. Chef Guy Martin has garnered two Michelin stars since he became head chef in 2011.
“It’s midnight. One half of Paris is making love to the other half.” —Melvyn Douglas in Ninotchka