- 11th Arrondissement,
- 1st Arrondissement,
- 3rd Arrondissement,
- 7th Arrondissement,
- Africa + Middle East,
Family trip to Israel and Paris
Tel: 972 2 622 2283
Located in cosmopolitan West Jerusalem, Mona is set in an art-filled cultural institution popular with the city's ever-dwindling secular population. Perhaps that explains why it's always packed on Friday nights with folks eager for a table at one of the few restaurants open during the Sabbath. Upscale but still casual, Mona serves up classics such as hamburgers, steaks, grilled shrimp, and summer salads.
Tel: 972 2 624 9138
Chef Ezra Kedem's Arcadia is easily the top table in Jerusalem. Kedem transformed an atmospheric old building into a slice of Provence in the Holy Citycomplete with authentic stone arches and floorsbut relies on local ingredients, often sourced less than 30 miles away, when preparing his dishes. Standouts on the IsraeliMediterranean menu include a seafood salad of octopus, shrimp, and blue crab, eggplant carpaccio, and lamb chop ragoût.
Mizpe Hayamim, Israel
Tel: 972 4 699 4555, Tel: 972 4 699 9555
Located 1,500 feet up Mount Canaan, in the Galilee region, Mizpe Hayamim is Israel's oldest hilltop retreat and a Relais & Châteaux property. Founded in 1967 by Erich Yaakov Yaruslavsky, a German refugee homeopath, this idyllic compound still reflects his approach to wellness. The 100-room hotel is a collection of rustic stone structures anchored by a central spa and a large swimming pool under a glass roof with spectacular views over the entire Hula Valley, straight to the Sea of Galilee. The extensive spa menu includes Ayurvedic oil massages and specialty Galilean Harmony treatments, which use natural ingredients sourced from the hotel gardens. Guest rooms are individually decorated in a style reminiscent of the French countryside (wrought-iron canopy beds, carved wooden armoires, freestanding tubs). Each room is equipped with an LCD TV, although you'll likely find the bird song and views from your private balcony more entertaining. Produce, dairy products, and bread are procured from the hotel's organic farm, which can be toured by guests. The harvest can be sampled at a vegetarian dinner buffet or the Muscat restaurant, where chef Haim Tibi prepares French-influenced menus that change daily. To work off the rich meals, guest can explore the hiking trails that meander over Mizpe Hayamim's 37-acre spread, and the artist colony of Rosh Pina is nearby.—Updated by Lynn Suhrie
David Citadel, Israel
Jerusalem 94101, Israel
Tel: 972 2 621 1111
If it's a room with a view you're after, the 384-room David Citadel Hotel, which overlooks Jerusalem's Old City walls and the Tower of David, is hard to beat. Architect Moshe Safdie's design is both modern—with crisp, clean lines—and traditional, its Jerusalem limestone pillars and arches referring to the hotel's historic surroundings. To make the most of the location, you'll want to book one of the rooms that overlook the pool at the center of the U-shaped building; those on the other side of the hotel have the same patterned bedspreads, neutral color palette, and marble-clad bathrooms but lack balconies and the inspiring view of the Old City. Don't be fooled by the upscale–business hotel interior—the David Citadel is hugely popular with families (avoid the pool unless you're willing to dodge splashing children). At Scala restaurant and bar, chef Oren Yerushalmi (who trained at WD-50 and Bouley in New York), prepares a creative, kosher Mediterranean menu; the less formal Seasons restaurant serves an extensive Israeli buffet breakfast. For those who can't resist fitting in some shopping with their sightseeing, the hotel is a short stroll down Mamilla Avenue, a pedestrian boulevard lined with over 100 shops (both high-end Israeli brands and international favorites, such as Topshop), to the Old City's Jaffa Gate.—Lynn Suhrie
See + Do
Rosh Pina, Israel
Founded in 1882 by Romanian immigrants, the Galilee village of Rosh Pina predates the establishment of Israel by 66 years. Recently, it has quietly emerged as a weekend escape for wealthy Israeliseven Madonna considered purchasing a home here in 2006. While the town's greatest appeal lies in its small-scale B&Bs; thick forests for hiking; an old town filled with galleries, restaurants, and craft shops; and its accessibility (just a 20-minute flight from Tel Aviv), it's also a good home base for exploring the city of Tiberias, the mystical town of Tsfat, and the Sea of Galilee itself. People who prefer hotels to B&Bs will feel right at home at either the Mitzpeh HaYamim spa, about 20 minutes outside of town, or the Domain Galil, a 26-suite resort in the Biria Forest that's home to one of northern Israel's top kitchens and a tiny, six-room spa (972-4-680-8200; www.domain-galil.co.il).
See + Do
Considering that it's more than 2,000 years old, Jerusalem has been ripe for a mini-makeover—at least in its modern, Western half. And at long last, it is getting one. The city's most striking newcomer, and now its tallest structure—the Chords Bridge, by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava—is at its entry point. Created in 2008 as part of Jerusalem's still-in-development light-rail system, the birdlike, cantilevered bridge soars nearly 400 feet above pine-covered hills and is evocative of the harp its name evokes, the favorite instrument of Jerusalem's Biblical-era founder King David. Fifteen minutes further on is the new Mamilla project, a mixed-use hotel, residential, and retail quarter just outside the Old City. Its centerpiece, the Mamilla Hotel, with interiors by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, opened in summer 2009. July 2010 will see the debut of the newly renovated Israel Museum, home of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls, which is undergoing a $100 million head-to-toe renovation. American architect James Carpenter is creating a series of terraced, glass-walled pavilions that both conform to the natural topography of the museum's site and reflect the building's original, abstract, ancient Greek aesthetic.
Still, modern developments can steal little of the tourist thunder from Jerusalem's Old City. Whether religious pilgrim, history buff, or just plain sightseer, any visitor to Jerusalem experiences the stirring sense that the past is alive here—and watches with fascination as the future is determined. Not only did three of the world's great religions—Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—originate here, but they are still redefining themselves within Jerusalem's walls. To take in almost 3,000 years of history, start at the Tower of David, built in the second century B.C. and used in turn by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Ottomans. Walk past Roman ruins in the Jewish Quarter, then head out to the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall or, in Hebrew, Kotel), the only remnant of Solomon's Second Temple and Judaism's most holy place. Bring a note to place in its crevices, and consider visiting on Saturday night to bid farewell to the Sabbath with thousands of worshippers. Nearby, the Wohl Archaeological Museum displays excavations that date from the time of Jesus (1 Hakaraim St.; 972-2-628-3448). As long as you're neither claustrophobic nor afraid of the dark, you can feel like Indiana Jones on a tour through excavated Hezekiah's Tunnel (972-2-626-2341; www.cityofdavid.org.il; reservations essential). Visit the jam-packed stalls of the Muslim Quarter to shop for sweets and souvenirs. The quarter is also home to the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus took to his crucifixion, and the gold-capped Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem's most iconic site, built in the seventh century on the site where Muhammed ascended to heaven. Here—and at all religious sites—avoid wearing shorts or short skirts.
See + Do
Masada and the Dead Sea
Even for the most jaded traveler, a day in the Judean desert is not easy to forget. There are two ways to see Masada: For the fit, wake up early and climb to the Roman fort overlooking the shores of the Dead Sea below; there are two hiking paths, and of the pair, the Snake Path is toughest. For a less stressful ascent, take the cable car up the mountain (972-8-658-4207; www.parks.org.il). Either way, the reward is a stroll through its reasonably well-preserved living quarters, storage rooms, and cisterns followed by a dip in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the planet. The waters are so rich in salt and minerals that people come from all over the globe to cure skin ailments and to float, as if weightless, on the surface. The main beaches also offer mineral-rich muds and sulfuric baths and are easy to find off the waterside Highway 90 in the Ein Boqeq region.
See + Do
Located on the coast 35 miles north of Tel Aviv, Caesarea is one of Israel's most important archaeological sites. Built by Roman-appointed King Herod the Great, the settlement of 100,000 people included a harbor, a stone amphitheater, an aqueduct, and a hippodrome. Remnants—including Herod's palace—now dot Caesarea's tourist zone, along with 12th-century forts built during the Sixth Crusade. While Caesarea's aboveground attractions are among Israel's most compelling (especially that chariot-ready hippodrome), in 2006 Caesarea opened an underwater archaeological park—the world's first—spread over 239,000 square yards of the sea floor. Aimed at both advanced and novice divers (the latter can opt to snorkel around the harbor), the underwater park offers four different routes (printed on waterproof maps) for viewing sunken anchors, statues, and Roman shipwrecks.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel: 972 3 522 6464
Tel Aviv native Raphael Cohen is the city's most celebrated chef, having first made his name at Jerusalem's King David Hotel before coming home and opening his own dining room overlooking the sea. Cohen, or Rafi as he's known, is a pioneer of what might be called mod-Med cuisine. He creates dishes based on Middle Eastern and Levantine traditions but lightens them up for modern tastes: sea bream roasted with olive oil, dried peppers, and eggplant caviar; veal cheek confit with black lentils and root vegetables. Come for lunch, especially on Saturday—the only time the chef serves his mezes—or for drinks in the evening at the Hamara Bar.
Isabel Marant, France
Paris 75011, France
Tel: 33 1 49 29 71 55
If you've ever wondered how French women seem to walk an elegant line between casual and formal, chic without being identifiably fashionable, you'll find it may be because they are wearing an Isabel Marant outfit. Her easy, portable clothes are available in three shops as varied as her clientele: this one in the punky Bastille, another in polished St. Germain (1 Rue Jacob, 75006; 33-1-43-26-04-12), and a third in the cool upper Marais (47 Rue Saintonge, 75003; 33-1-42-78-19-24). Her main line often uses nubby Italian weaves in rich shades of pewter and glossy black, cut with cowl necks and nipped waists, including a collection of always covetable coats; her "étoile" line is younger, often using gauzy Indian prints.
Open daily 10:30 am to 7:30 pm.
E. Dehillerin, France
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 42 36 53 13
Since 1820, this higgledy-piggledy store under the shadow of the Bourse's dome has been a cook's heaven for pro chefs or Sunday dabblers, with racks of copper pots gleaming like halos over the bodies of stainless-steel bain-maries. Whether you're looking for a well-balanced bread knife, an omelet pan, or a fish mold, you'll find virtually every accoutrement, and often at exceptional value (the omelet pan, for instance, is $112). Be warned, the knowledgeable staff's enthusiasm is contagious.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm.
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, France
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 42 22 56 56
Former three-star chef Joël Robuchon was hailed as the best French chef of the 20th century before he retired at age 50. Then, a few years ago, he returned to the limelight with this unlikely vehicle: a New York–style coffee shop cum tapas bar. Ironically, Robuchon wanted out of the Michelin rat race but received a star here in 2006 and a second star at his other Paris restaurant, a somewhat staid sit-down place in the 16th Arrondissement called La Table de Joël Robuchon. L'Atelier is innovative, totally nonsmoking, and fun, as long as you don't mind the counter-only service, high-rise stools, and reservation policy—tables can only be booked for 6:30 p.m. If you choose to dine later, odds are you'll wind up admiring the black and Chinese-red lacquer interior for an hour or more before ascending your stool. Begin with caviar, Spanish ham, or spaghetti carbonara, or perhaps an assortment of little tasting plates. This French take on tapas changes often but might include veal sweetbreads skewered with a bay leaf twig and garnished with creamy Swiss chard, or a tart of mackerel filet, Parmesan shavings, and olives. Then, go classic with a steak or opt for something more inventive like sublime cannelloni stuffed with foie gras and Bresse chicken.
Open daily 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm to midnight.
See + Do
Vedettes du Pont Neuf, France
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 46 33 98 38
Sure, a boat ride on the river is as touristy as an Eiffel Tower hat made of foam rubber, but the fact is that you get a completely different view of Paris, and a very romantic one at that, from the water. Several companies offer Seine cruises, but this one has the advantage of a charming, central, and easily reached location on the northwestern edge of the Île de la Cité, and the boats are smaller than the troop-carrier affairs deployed by most other companies. They don't serve meals, either, which is a good thing: The food on lunch and dinner cruises is unfailingly mediocre, and if it's harmless enough to be a tourist out in the fresh air, it's a sad business in an enclosed stock-pen of a dining room.
See + Do
Paris Walks, France
Tel: 33 1 48 09 21 40
The best approach to seeing the French capital is with a lot of shoe leather and a good guide, which is why it's so much fun to join a Paris Walks tour. Owned and run since 1994 by Peter and Oriel Caine, a charming British couple, the tours are exceptionally well-priced and easy to join. Reserve by phone, fax, or e-mail, or just show up at the appointed place and time as announced by flyers found in many Paris hotels. Themes range from Hemingway's Paris to The Da Vinci Code (yes, still) to a "Saints and Sinners" tour of the Marais, each offering a lively mix of history, art, and local lore delivered by highly qualified Anglophone locals. Each tour lasts about two hours. Paris Walks also offers private tours to Paris neighborhoods, museums, or out-of-town destinations such as Monet's house and gardens in Giverny, or the D-day beaches of Normandy.
See + Do
Palais Royal, France
The Palais Royal is just across the Rue de Rivoli from the mobbed Louvre, yet surprisingly few people wander into the compound's quiet, colonnaded courtyard. The 18th-century palace itselfwhich has a blood-soaked history but now houses numerous government offices and lavish private apartments (Colette and Cocteau both lived here in the 1950s)is off limits. But the garden is the ideal place to recharge after the Louvre. In the 1990s, American designer Mark Rudkin revived the courtyard's 1730 layout and added small "scented sitting rooms" within earshot of the fountain; you can also wander around and view the controversial fountain-art installation Les Deux Plateaux by Daniel Buren (under the Culture Minister's windows). The elegant arcades enclose cafés, restaurants, and shops.
See + Do
Musée d'Orsay, France
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 40 49 48 14
Since opening in 1986, the Musée d'Orsay has become one of the most successful and beloved museums in the world. The grandiose limestone edifice was originally built as a train station to process the throngs who came for the World Fair of 1900. It stood idle for many years before Italian architect Gae Aulenti remodeled the interior without annihilating its original heritage; coats of arms on the main concourse's elaborate ceiling represent the cities served by the old station, for example. The collection represents that fruitful era from 1848 to 1914—approximately the incubation period of modern art and, as luck and late socialist president François Mitterand would have it, also concurrent with the birth and flowering of socialism. Politics aside, it's a great institution, with a terrific collection of Impressionist canvases, including Manet's famous Déjeuner sur l'Herbe and Van Gogh's first Starry Night. Don't miss the Art Nouveau furniture collection, or views of Paris from behind the glass clock faces on the Seine side of the building.
Open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (9:45 p.m. on Thursdays). Closed Mondays.
See + Do
Musée Carnavalet, France
Paris 75003, France
Tel: 33 1 44 59 58 58
Ignore the Mona Lisa's prima donna claim on the world's imagination. The first museum you should go to in Paris is this superb 140-room collection dedicated to the history of the city itself. Once you've been here, you'll have a rough historical scaffolding in the back of your mind and everything else about the city will make sense. The beautiful structure was built in 1548 and turned into a museum in 1866 by that famous architectural busybody Baron Haussmann (did he ever take a day off?). The story of the city begins with wooden canoes used by the Parisii, who fished the Seine in the Neolithic age. The Roman collections are outstanding, as are exhibits devoted to 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century Paris. Whatever you do, don't miss the Carnavalet's weirdest treasure—writer Marcel Proust's bedroom, cork-lined so he could write in silence.
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.
See + Do
Château de Versailles, France
Tel: 33 1 30 83 76 20 or 33 8 92 68 46 94 for advance ticket sales
People visit Versailles in the hopes of being absolutely dazzled by opulence. They're rarely disappointed. The palace is glorious, but unless you already have a good grasp of French history, it's a good idea to bone up, since the endless references to seemingly out-of-sequence kings and their queens, mistresses, and children can dull the magic if you can't keep up. Get here as early as you possibly can to avoid the tour-bus herds, and don't just troop through the most famous rooms—the Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Appartement where Louis XIV held court, and the queen's bedroom. The lavish private apartments of Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Marie-Antoinette give a glimpse of why the Revolution took place, and the Opera House and Royal Chapel tell you plenty about the gilded-lily, ancien régime lifestyle. Do check out Madame de Pompadour's gorgeously restored "secret" apartments, wander the sublime gardens, and visit the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette futilely, fatuously, famously attempted to re-create the simple life of her subjects. Also stop by the Potager du Roi, the vegetable garden to the west of the palace that supplied the court. The palace compound is currently undergoing extensive renovations, which have added new must-sees to a visit, including the gilded salle de bain (bathroom) of Louis XV.
Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. November through March; 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April through October. Palace closed Mondays; gardens open daily.
Chez Les Anges, France
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 47 05 89 86
Cool jazz on the sound system, a sunny veranda, and a cool, modern bar: That's how Jacques and Catherine Lacipiere—the husband-and-wife team also behind Au Bon Accueil (14 Rue de Monttessuy; 33-1-47-05-46-11)—have reinvented this former Burgundian bastion located within a Champagne cork's flight of Les Invalides. Catherine greets guests and takes orders at lunch; Jacques does the same at dinner. This is pure market cuisine, the daily changing menu punctuated by fabulous wild fish, wild mushrooms, and seasonal game. To start, try escabèche of mackerel with capers and parsley sauce or succulent boned quail with a perfect soft-boiled egg on a bed of fresh spinach. Follow with thickly sliced pan-fried calf's liver with coarse salt and roasted shallot, or an intensely flavorful Bresse hen cooked in its own juices and served with dreamy mashed potatoes. At lunch expect politicians, journalists, and museumgoers (from the Rodin and Invalides), and at dinner, chummy regulars: a mix of ladies in designer jeans and pearl necklaces, gentlemen in blue blazers.
Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 10:30 pm.