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The Banks of Paris

The Banks of Paris

Trip Plan Tags: 
arts + culture,
design + architecture,
spa + wellness,
11th Arrondissement,
1st Arrondissement,
7th Arrondissement,
8th Arrondissement,

Delta Air Lines offers the most destinations worldwide, and Paris is no exception. Delta offers six nonstop flights a day from New York’s JFK (in partnership with Air France), three flights a day from Atlanta, and one flight from Cincinnati. On June 2, 2008, Salt Lake City will become Delta’s fourth transatlantic hub offering nonstop service to Paris, with the addition of one daily flight. With these choices, Delta makes traveling to Paris easy and convenient.


See + Do

Palais Royal, France

Paris 75001, 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 itself—which 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

1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur
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

Eiffel Tower, France

Champ de Mars
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 44 11 23 23

It's hard to imagine just how avant-garde this tower of cast-iron girders was when it was built in 1889 to celebrate the World's Fair and the centenary of the French Revolution. The great majority of Parisians loathed it, and the press brayed on about how it was an industrial pimple on the face of the city. But a century and then some later, the elegant slope-legged tower has become the quintessential symbol of the City of Light. Its latest attraction is a mantle of 20,000 flashbulbs, originally installed to celebrate the new millennium, that glitter for ten minutes every hour on the hour after dark. So, do you need to actually visit it? Well, yes, and not just if you happen to be proposing publicly to Katie Holmes. It's a fascinating example of early industrial architecture, and the panoramas really are swell. Go at night to skip at least some of the teeming masses. Or better still, book a table perched 400 feet up on the second level, at the Jules Verne restaurant. Now part of the Alain Ducasse empire, it attracts savvy local families and visitors alike with French classics (33-1-45-55-61-44).

Open 9 am to 12 midnight between June 15 and September 1; open 9:30 am to 11 pm during the rest of the year.


Le Bistrot Paul Bert, France

18 Rue Paul Bert
Paris 75011, France
Tel: 33 1 43 72 24 01

With a friendly, arty crowd and wonderful food, this back-beyond-the-Bastille bistro would be well worth seeking out even if it weren't one of the best buys in town. Don't be put off by the slightly cliquish vibe—no one's going to cold-shoulder you; it's just that this place has a devoted following of regulars, all of whom seem to know one another. So settle into one of the moleskin banquettes, enjoy the snug dining room's flea market kitsch (including a chandelier that looks like it's made of melting ice cubes), and inspect the regularly changing blackboard menu. What's cooking depends on what's in the market, but typical starters include a wild mushroom omelet and sautéed squid with risotto, while mains run to perfectly cooked cod steak with chanterelles and guinea hen with bacon-spiked cabbage. Finish with the serve-yourself cheese tray or the chocolate ganache cake draped in pistachio cream.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm.

See + Do

Paris Walks, France

Paris, 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.


Christian Louboutin, France

19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Paris 75001, France
Tel: 33 1 42 36 05 31

His red soles—sadly now copied by everyone else—make people want to kick up their heels; his Paris boutiques, with their lipstick-red velvet shoe nooks, make you want to kiss the windows, or his feet. France's answer to Blahnik (with a sense of humor), Louboutin continues to invent new forms for his demurely racy designs, including a leg-length twist of satin or (of course) the trash-can heel. It's worth a visit to pay homage to the master at his original boutique in the first; this is where Mme. Hubert, who handles custom orders, is based. The cordonnerie Minuit Moins 7 in the adjacent Passage Véro-Dodat is the only shoe repair shop in the world that can replace your worn-out red soles with the real deal (33-1-42-21-15-47; 24-hour service possible). Louboutin's newest address is a stone's throw from the Élysée Palace at 68 Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré in the eighth (33-1-42-68-37-65); there's a third shop at 38 Rue de Grenelle in the seventh (33-1-42-22-33-07).

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10:30 am to 7pm.


Hermès, France

24 Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré
Paris 75008, France
Tel: 33 1 40 17 47 17

The original Hermès store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré was one of the first to open on the new 19th-century street and recalls the tradition of "grands magasins" writ in miniature—four elegant and wood-carved floors of pure equestrian-themed pleasure. Aside from the usual range of signature watches, scarves, trunks, and bags—and the Gaultier-designed womenswear collection—they also have housewares, menswear, porcelain collectibles, riding boots, and, for the truly horsey, a custom saddlery. In November 2010, the house will be making a long-overdue jump to the Left Bank. Until that much-anticipated shop debuts at 17 Rue de Sèvres, in the seventh arrondissement, a temporary boutique welcomes customers nearby at 16 Rue de Grenelle (33-1-53-63-02-19).

Open daily 10:30 am to 6:30 pm.


Les Ombres, France

Musée du Quai Branly, 27 Quai Branly
Paris 75007, France
Tel: 33 1 47 53 68 00

This rooftop eatery with wraparound views might just be the best thing about Jean Nouvel's $350 million Musée du Quai Branly. The restaurant's name (which translates to "the shadows") and the crisscrossing beams supporting the tinted glass roof recall the fretwork silhouette of the Eiffel Tower, which stands a few hundred yards away. (That transparent roof turns Les Ombres into a greenhouse by high noon, so reserve a table on the terrace in fair weather—or go for dinner to take in the twinkling nighttime views). As with the whole building, Nouvel's design here is a sensory overload: Woven-leather armchairs and wooden tables as solid as pre-Columbian totems contrast with the oversize glasses and bone china resting beside futuristic (though not entirely practical) knives and forks. Chef Arno Busquet, a veteran of Laurent (41 Ave. Gabriel; 33-1-42-25-00-39; and the Ritz's L'Espadon, uses fair-trade ingredients to create colorful fusion dishes that reflect the museum's multicultural theme: French foie gras with spicy mango chutney, giant shrimp stacked in crisp phyllo dough with spicy vegetable fettuccine, braised quail and sautéed leeks drizzled with aniseed honey, crispy mille-feuille dotted with Tahitian vanilla or chocolate and coffee cream. The lunch prix fixe (a steal at $40) changes twice monthly; the dinner menu follows the seasons. And the eclectic wine list has something for both fatigued museumgoers (a $10 glass of Bordeaux) and deal-making business types (the rare 1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $3,420). Book ahead.

Open Sundays through Thursdays noon to 12:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 12:30 and 7 to 11 pm.


Mathis, France

3 Rue de Ponthieu
Paris 75008, France
Tel: 33 1 53 76 39 55

A hotel bar that feels more like a courtesan's sitting room, Mathis is a hidden spot where celebrities and well-heeled locals like to rub elbows, or even knees. Discreetly reached through the (less impressive) Hotel Mathis Elysées Matignon, Mathis has two sides: a bar and restaurant to the left at the entrance, and late-night spot to the right. Familiar faces such as famous French actors Isabelle Adjani or Lambert Wilson gravitate to the former—perhaps for its soft banquettes, the gold-dipped mirrors, or the very flattering light of crystal sconces. In the latter, which is done up with red velvet settees and dark walls, the crowd gently grooves to softly pulsating music.

Closed Sundays.



Etiquette 101: France

How To: Be a good dinner guest in France



The Cradle of Paris

Two islands in the Seine remain strikingly apart from the rest of the city. Gully Wells finds out what Balzac meant when he talked about "gastronomy of the eye"

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.