You arrive in the city center just as night is falling, turn the corner in a little cobblestoned street and enter an unmarked door to an underground cocktail bar. Inside, the lights are dim, the atmosphere is chic and the cocktails are the very best. As music plays, you are drawn closer to it. You follow the sounds to a hidden back room, where people are dancing in rhythm to the music. (more…)
Wearing sunglasses can be a militant act. Seriously. Especially when spring is slow to set in and Paris is too cold and grey in May.
As soon as the first rays of sun come out, Parisians proudly wear their shades, as a challenge to God and to the weatherman. France is a country of rebels- never forget it, and nobody will prevent us from being in summer if we have decided so! (more…)
Grand Gallery of the Louvre by Thomas Allom c. 1844
Did you know that the encyclopedists wanted to open up the gardens and galleries of the Louvre Palace to the public long before it was slated to become a museum? The Palais du Louvre was constructed in 1190 by Philippe Auguste as a fortress to protect against Norman invasions. It was home to François Ier during the Renaissance. Henri IV built the Grand Gallery connecting the royal apartments in the Louvre to the Tuileries palace. The Louvre as it appears today was completed under Louis XIV, with additions by Louis XV. But it was only after the French Revolution that the Louvre was finally converted from a royal residence to the museum we know and love today. But over a decade before the Revolution, when Diderot and D’Alembert were compiling the Encyclopedia, their entry for the Louvre not only tells the palace’s history but makes some suggestions for its use that were rather advanced at the time: (more…)
The Jazz Age is undeniably an enduring époque in literature, with author F. Scott Fitzgerald successfully chronicling a now iconic period of lush festivity and overall excess. He traveled often, but his most glorious years were arguably spent in Paris, where he lived with his wife Zelda from 1924 to 1931.
Though Fitzgerald’s antics have become synonymous with his lifetime, copious drinking, strolling, and intellectual hobnobbing can easily be implemented in Paris today—the good, the bad, and the over-the-top! Let’s take a step back and look at exactly how to recreate the lifestyle and mindset of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
1. Hotel Saint James & Albany 202, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, + 33 (0)1 44 58 43 21.
The Fitzgeralds first visited Paris in the spring of 1921 and stayed at Hotel Saint James & Albany. The couple decided to travel when they learned Zelda was pregnant that May, but they were not typical homemakers by any means. In her piece, F. Scott Fitzergerald: American Expatriate of the Lost Generation, Sarah Krauss reports that the Scott and Zelda were kicked out of the hotel for eccentric misbehavior, ultimately finding Paris very lonely with no friends in the city. Despite their antics (or perhaps due to them), the hotel still functions today, so you too could visit a hotel in a friendless city. Maybe don’t leave what Krauss calls a “pungent goatskin” in the room though, or tie the elevator to the floor so you don’t have to wait for it—unless you want to be thrown out, and maybe arrested, as only a truly fearless Jazz Age enthusiast would do.
Spring is the perfect time of year to visit the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, one of the most beautiful and extraordinary outdoor settings in all of Paris. Waterfalls, grottos, exotic plants and temples give the park a romantic, fantastical atmosphere; you half expect to find elves and fairies lurking in hidden corners and crannies. Strolling through the grounds, you’d never guess that the land beneath the Parc des Buttes Chaumont has a dark and unpleasant history. In the 18th century, Buttes Chaumont was home to the gibbet of the Royal Court. After the guillotine replaced the gallows in 1789, the land at Buttes Chaumont was used as a garbage dump that, according to the park’s lead architect, Jean-Charles Alphand, “spread infectious fumes not only to the neighboring areas, but, following the direction of the wind, over the entire city.”
In 1864, Baron Haussmann, the Prefect of Paris under Napoleon III, decided to transform the land at Buttes Chaumont into a park. The land was barren and smelly and yet, thanks to his team of inspired gardeners, engineers and landscape artists, Haussmann managed to create a beautiful outdoor spot where Parisians could relax and enjoy being in nature. It took the team three years to complete the park; they terraced the land, covered it with topsoil, and built a lake, a waterfall, a grotto and a cliff topped with a classical temple.
Discover the Parc des Buttes Chaumont in its earliest years by flipping through our slideshow of vintage photos and postcards.
The vintage postcards are courtesy of lartnouveau.com and the vintage photos are from Wikimedia Commons.
Spring has finally arrived. Birds chirp at the edge of the basins. A young woman has been waiting here for almost 30 minutes minutes and she’s getting numb. She squirms a little while always staring at her target. All her senses are awakened. She is ready to pounce at the slightest movement.
Because it’s all about speed when you want to get a comfortable lawn chair at the Jardin des Tuileries. It is indeed a rare commodity and you must know how to jostle not to be on one of these straight boring metal chairs where this specimen of Parisian woman we’ll call Paulette, is taking her troubles patiently. She won’t let this tempting prey get away so easily: the large round pond is really the ideal spot. And as soon as this Japanese tourist has folded the map of Paris she’s been consulting for hours with a magnifying glass, the approach maneuvers can begin. Above all, the perimeter must be secured, and Paulette ensures that no walker is close enough to grab the chair before her.