AUGUST NEWSLETTER HIGHLIGHTS
· A Visit to the Jacquemart André
· Parc Monceau
· Relais de Venise L'Entrecote
· A Strategy for Visiting the Louvre
· Ernest Hemingway's Paris
· Calendar of Events for August, 2009
· A Look Ahead for September and October
THIS MONTH'S FEATURED APARTMENTS:
Whether you need a spacious apartment with several bedrooms, or just a studio for one or two people, this month's featured apartments all offer you beautiful style and great locations.
Vendome - Castiglione
Marais - Parc Royal
Republique - Pierre Levee
August in Paris
August is traditionally the month when Parisians flee the city for their long vacations. While many shops and restaurants close, many others stay open, and there's plenty to do. The city fathers, figuring that many people will stay in town this year, have made sure there's lots going on in the fabulous parks. And you can even get your beach time in along the Seine, where tons of sand create the Paris Plage near the Pont Neuf. Don't forget to pack a bathing suit this month.
Lunch at the Jacquemart André
An American friend who has lived in Paris for many years was at a dinner party recently. "I had the most fabulous lunch today at the Jacquemart André," she mentioned to the Frenchman sitting next to her.
"No, you are mistaken," he replied. "You weren't at the Jacquemart André; only French people go there."
In truth, it's not only the French who visit this beautiful house museum, but it does often get overlooked by visitors to Paris. It was built by two art collectors, Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart in 1869, at the time when Baron Haussmann was razing Medieval Paris and replacing it with broad boulevards and graceful new buildings. There's a picture gallery with paintings by French Rococo artists Boucher, Fragonard and Chardin, and an extensive collection of Italian sculpture and paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The house itself is architecturally interesting as an example of haute bourgeois taste, with a magnificent double staircase curving into the marble entrance hall. It's located in the upscale 8th arrondisement.
But what I love best about the Jacquemart André is lunch. The café is set in what was once the dining room of the mansion, with a frou-frou ceiling by Tiepolo and tapestries from Brussels. The menu is centered around luscious salads, often topped with a poached egg in the French fashion. Lunch begins at 11:45am, and you usually have to be there early to get a table, but it shouldn't be so crowded in August. There's afternoon tea at 3pm, and a prix fixe Sunday brunch at 11am.
This summer, the museum has a free family program every afternoon from 2pm to 5:30pm for children aged 4 - 12. Although the playbooks they hand out are in French, there's also an area where kids can create masks and dress up in costumes inspired by the paintings in the museum.
The museum is open every day from 10am - 6pm; adult entrance fee is €10. (You can eat in the café without paying to visit the museum.) 158, boulevard Haussmann. Web: musee-jacquemart-andre.com. Metro: Miromesnil or Saint Philippe du Roule.
A Jewel of Paris: Parc Monceau
If you're at the Jacquemart-André, it's a short stroll over to one of the most beautiful parks of Paris, Parc Monceau. In the August heat, I like to find a shady bench and just watch the parade of people drifting by - nannies pushing prams, runners, sun worshippers, nearby office workers eating lunch.
Unlike some of the better-known parks of Paris, Parc Monceau is small, only three or four blocks long; you can walk across it in a few minutes. On the way, you'll see the whimsical elements the park is known for: a mysterious brick pyramid, a Dutch windmill, a hill covered with an entrancing rock garden that looks like a place the Seven Dwarves would live, a Chinese pagoda. Its most distinctive image is a pond bordered by a colonnade of Corinthian pillars reminiscent of a Roman landscape.
The park's pathways meander through magnificent trees; in August the huge magnolias are in bloom. You'll encounter archways, broken columns, statuary and little waterfalls. There's a children's playground where you can hear children laughing and calling to each other. Monceau is a very green park, and one of the few in Paris where you'll see lots of people sitting or lying on the grass.
The park was originally conceived by Phillippe d'Orléans, Duke of Chartres, in 1769. He loved all things English, so it was created to resemble an English garden, rather than the formal French style that was in vogue then. The city of Paris bought the park in 1860. They sold off half the land for housing; those handsome Haussmann-era buildings still ring the park's edges. Echoing the park's origins as a private retreat of the wealthy, even today you enter through elaborate gilded gates.
Bring your book and a treat from a nearby patisserie or a bit of chocolate and you can spend a relaxing hour in one of the most serene spaces in Paris. The park is located on Boulevard de Courcelles in the 8th; Metro Monceau.
Relais de Venise L'Entrecote
The first time I had dinner at Relais de Venise L'Entrecote, I stood in line outside in a freezing drizzle for half an hour. That's how popular this steak restaurant in the 17th is. In August, with lots of people out of town, you'll probably have better luck getting seated quickly.
L'Entrecote is unlike any typical U.S. steak institution. The menu is salad, steak and frites. Just one salad. Just one cut of steak. You sit down at the table, way closer to the people at the next table than you'd be at home, and your server only wants to know two things: How do you want your steak cooked, and which of the short list of wines would you like?
After the salad of romaine with walnuts and a hint of mustard, your steak appears, lapped with a herb-butter sauce of closely-guarded secret ingredients. Fries heap over the rest of the plate. I was impressed that the steak portion was small - very healthy, I thought -- until I finished and the waiter whooshed over with a second serving of the same size. And more frites. They keep the other half of your steak warm on a side table. And yes, I ate the second portion too.
If you have room for dessert, here you have a bit more choice; I yielded to the profiterole temptation.
Relais de Venise began when Paul Gineste de Saurs bought an Italian restaurant in 1959, mostly as a market for the wines from the family vineyard. He decided to offer only steak and frites, and didn't bother changing the name; he just added the word "L'Entrecote" to the sign outside. Today it's one of the most popular steak restaurants in Paris, and the family has opened branches in London, Barcelona, and - just this past spring - in Manhattan.
Prices here are much more reasonable than you'd pay at a fine US steak restaurant, so it's well worth a visit when you want steak frites. It's located at 271 Boulevard Pereire, right at the Porte-Maillot Metro station. And, in typical French fashion, where nothing is predictable, they're closed in July and open in August.
A Strategy for Visiting the Louvre
While many Parisians are out of town in August, tourists are there in full force. And in no place will you find a greater concentration than in the Louvre. Combine the size of the museum -- over twelve miles of galleries - and hordes of people, and you can get exhausted before you even start. But don't be dismayed. With a little planning, you can thoroughly enjoy the Louvre.
First, remember that the works in this massive museum mostly date from earlier than 1848. Your favorite Impressionists are in the Musée d'Orsay, which picks up paintings from the mid-1800s through the early 20th century. For the modernists of the 20th and early 21st century, you'll go to the Centre Pompidou.
Some of the most iconic images in the Louvre are I. M. Pei's glass pyramid, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Greek sculpture Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory). I suggest you see the pyramid on exiting the Louvre, not entering it. There are almost always long lines to get in through the pyramid, but you can usually walk right in through the Porte des Lions entrance. When you exit from the Louvre Metro stop, walk into the large courtyard surrounded by the two wings of the Louvre and cross it diagonally, heading away from the pyramid and toward the far corner to the right. You'll know you're heading correctly if you move away from the stone-paved courtyard and through some lawn, called the Jardin du Carrousel, toward the Porte des Lions entrance. It's in the Denon wing, the one that runs along the street right across from the Seine.
Get a brochure the minute you're inside, find a bench and sit down and study it before plunging into the galleries. For many years I was a docent at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. There I learned how to avoid what's called "museum fatigue." Unless you're an art fanatic, don't spend more than two hours in the museum (and an hour and a half is even better). Know what you really want to see, head for those rooms, and don't dawdle along the way. The worst thing you can do is start looking at every picture you pass. By the time you get to the really good stuff, you'll be so tired of looking that you won't care.
Every trip to the Louvre seems to start with a view of the Mona Lisa, and you might actually be able to get up close to it if you show up when the Louvre opens at 9am. But even when there's a crowd, you can work your way up to the front. After that, you'll map out your own visit, but I always go next door to the Large French Pictures gallery (Room 75) to the left behind the Mona Lisa. Here are some of the most famous French paintings. I particularly like the huge picture by Jacques-Louis David of Napoleon crowning Josephine as Empress of France. David was Napoleon's favorite painter, and Napoleon asked him to paint in a few people who hadn't actually been at the ceremony.
Other great pictures in that room include David's "Oath of the Horatii," in which stalwart men are departing for war while their women weep with grief. Jean August Dominique Ingres' "Grand Odalisque" is an entrancing study of a nude harem concubine, and Eugene Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People" is one of the most recognizable images of the French Revolution.
It's your choice whether you amble on to see Italian or Dutch masterpieces, or the Egyptian or Roman and Greek galleries, but I always visit the Napoleon III apartments on the first floor of the Richelieu wing. They date from the 1850s and are over-the-top sumptuous with gilt, brocade, ormolu and crystal. The vast dining room, with its black and gold furnishings, was actually used for state dinners until the Louvre was renovated in the early `90s.
The Louvre is open from 9am to 6pm every day but Tuesday; it stays open till 10pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Porte des Lions entrance is closed on Fridays. Due to budget shortfalls, different rooms of the museum are closed each day. Entrance fee €9. Metro: Palais Royale/Musée Louvre.
Paris: A Moveable Feast
Just a couple of weeks ago, Ernest Hemingway's memoir of life in Paris in the 1920's and `30's was re-released. His grandson Sean Hemingway corrected some unfortunate edits made after the author died and has added some additional sketches about Paris. "A Moveable Feast" recalls Hemingway's experiences living in Paris and his friendships with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald (maybe more than you'd like to know in some cases). It was the last book Hemingway wrote.
Paris today is much different from Hemingway's time, but much remains the same too: the weather, the cafés, savoring wine with simple meals, walks along the Seine. I like to read books about the places I'm visiting when I'm there, so this might be a good book to bring along on your visit. It's not long, so it's a quick read.
Even this many years later, you can still visit some of the places Hemingway frequented. He lived and worked mostly on the Left Bank and in Montparnasse, so tracking down his old haunts will give you a nice feeling for those areas today.
La Closerie des Lilas was the café Hemingway most often mentions; he would stop there after an intense day of writing for a whiskey or bottle of wine. Other days, he'd nurse a cup of café creme for a couple of hours while scribbling in his notebook. You won't see famous authors there now, but it's still a lovely place to while away some time. Today there's a restaurant, a brasserie and a piano bar, and prices are noticeably more upmarket than when Hemingway was there. A barstool boasts a brass marker with Hemingway's name; in fact, there are markers everywhere with the names of the famous and distinguished. In Hemingway's day, the garden was open to the air and surrounded by horse chestnut trees. Today there are beautiful plane trees, but the seating is glassed in.
The brasserie is open from noon to 1am every day, and the bar opens at 11am. 171 blvd Montparnasse. Metro Vavin.
La Coupole is still today a traditional brasserie, but since its acquisition and restoration by the Flo restaurant group, it too is much more upscale than when Hem ate there. The space is vast, punctuated by Art Deco murals on the many columns. Besides Hemingway, Josephine Baker and Picasso also hung out here. The food isn't known to be remarkable, but La Coupole is a Montparnasse landmark. It's open from noon to 1am, and breakfast is served from 8:30 - 10:30am. 102 blvd du Montparnasse, Metro Vavin.
Shakespeare & Co. In Hemingway's time, this famous English-language bookstore was located at 9, rue de l'Odéon; that location is marked with a plaque. Today, you can find it near the Seine. It's a rabbit's warren of used and new books; you just never know what you might stumble across. The store is delightfully eccentric, and even supplies beds for a few starving writers. You will not, however, be allowed to borrow money from the owners as Hemingway often did. The bookstore hosts frequent readings and other events, and tea is served on Sunday afternoons. Outside, scruffy aspiring writers and students lounge on a few benches. 37 rue de la Boucherie, Metro St.-Michel.
A plaque notes Hemingway's first apartment, a walk-up on the top of a hotel at 39 rue Descartes. This was where he wrote during the day. You can't go upstairs and visit, but it's worth a walk-by. Metro: Cardinal Lemoine.
Ernest and Hadley's apartment (Hadley was the first of four wives; he treated them all badly) was located at 74, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, just a few blocks from rue Mouffetard, famous then and now as a crowded and delightful market street. Hemingway mentions walking through the market street. Metro: Cardinal Lemoine.
Les Deux Magots is famous not only for Hemingway's presence, but also of many writers, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Today it's touristy and expensive, but the location, right at the corner of St.-Germain and rue Bonaparte, gives you a bird's eye view of the passing parade of people. 6 place St-Germain-des-Prés, Metro St-Germain-des-Prés.
Quai des Grands Augustins, running along the left bank of the Seine, is still lined with stalls that sell old and new books, posters and drawings. Hemingway often browsed here for an inexpensive book; he consumed books by other authors to keep his own stories from banging away in his head when he wasn't writing. He was delighted when he discovered a rare find. Metro: Saint-Michel.
Hemingway's last apartment in Paris: After the publication of his novel "The Sun Also Rises," Hemingway definitely moved up in the world. (By that time, he'd ditched Hadley and married the wealthy Pauline Pfeiffer.) You can see (but not go into) his more upscale digs at 6, rue Férou, near the Luxembourg Gardens, where Hemingway loved to stroll. Metro: Saint-Sulpice.
Harry's New York Bar has been in existence since 1913 and was a favorite watering hole for Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald (who, according to "A Moveable Feast," could absolutely not hold his liquor). Harry's is famous for having invented the Bloody Mary, and it's said that George Gershwin composed his hauntingly beautiful "An American in Paris" at the piano bar. Downstairs is a lounge with live music most evenings. Be warned: some people love this small bar for its history and ambiance, and others hate it for its rude service. 5, rue Daunou, Metro Opéra.
Note: all the times and fees we've quoted in this month's newsletter were accurate when we published, but things do change, so it's always a good idea to check before you go.
Sheila Campbell, Washington, DC - sheilacampbell.com -
Calendar of Events - August, 2009
Even if you're not in Paris right this minute, you'll be able to enjoy Paris scenes in two new movies out this month: "Julie and Julia" stars Meryl Streep in the role of Julia Child, the tall awkward American woman who popularized French cooking in the U.S. "Inglourious Basterds," which stars Brad Pitt, is set in occupied Paris during World War II.
Through August 10
Kandinsky - 20th century abstract artist
Rue Saint-Martin, Place Georges Pompidou - 4th Arrondissement
€9,00 - 12,00
Through August 29
Gustave Eiffel: Genius of Iron
Hotel de Ville
5, rue de Lobau, Metro Hotel de Ville
Through August 30
Henri Cartier Bresson: A Vue d'Oeil
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7 rue de Fourcy, Metro Saint Paul or Pont Marie
Through September 7
Philippe Parreno - "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait"
Place Georges Pompidou - Galerie Sud
Rue Saint-Martin - 4th Arrondissement
€9,00 - 12,00
Through September 13
Forty Years of Photography: recreation of a 1975 Cartier Bresson photography show
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11, avenue du Président Wilson, Metro Alma-Marceau or Iéna
Through September 15
Suzanne Valadon et Maurice Utrillo - Mother and son's art
28, place de la Madeleine, Metro Madeleine
€7,00 - 9,00
Through December 31
Tales of the Eiffel Tower
First floor and stairs of the Eiffel Tower, Metro Trocadéro or École Militaire
€4.50 - 13.00
Exhibitions and Other Museums
Until August 16
Epidémik - History of epidemics
Cite des Sciences
30, avenue Corentin-Celtou - 19th Arrondissement
€6.00 - 8.00
Through September 27
Musée du Quai Branly
55 Quai Branly, Metro Alma-Marceau, Bir Hakeim, École Militaire
Through October 28
The Years of Vian's Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits
8, rue de Nesle, Metro Odéon or St.-Michel
Through November 22
Le Grand Pari(s): Ten Visions for the Future of Paris
Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine
Palais de Chaillot, 1 place du Trocadéro, Metro Trocadéro
Music, Theater and Film
Until August 10
100 Dessuss Dessous Festival - Performing Arts
Parc de la Villette
211, avenue Jean Jaures, Metro Porte de la Villette, Corentin Cariou or Porte de Pantin
€12,00 - 15,00
August 28 - 30
Festival Rock en Seine (three-day rock music festival)
Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Metro: Boulogne - Pont de Saint Cloud
€45.00 - 90.00
Through September 20
Classique au Vert (open-air classical music concerts)
Parc Floral, Bois de Vincennes, avenue de la Pyramide
Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings
Through October 5
Le Jardin Shakespeare's Open-Air Theatre
Bois de Boulogne - Chapiteau Alexis Gruss
Allee de la Reine Marguerite, Metro Porte Dauphine, Les Sablons, Porte Maillot, Porte d'Auteuil, Porte de Passy
Prices vary by event.
Fete de Ganesh Indian Parade
Temple Sri Manicka Vinayakan Alayan (service at 9am, parade 11am - 3pm)
72, rue Phillippe de Girard, Metro: La Chapelle
Through September 20
Barbie - Exhibition of her first 50 years
Musée de la Poupée
Impasse Berthaud, near 22, rue Beaubourg, Metro Rambuteau
€5,00 - 7,00
Through October 12
Jardin des Papillons - Butterfly Garden
Bois de Vincennes -Parc Floral
Route de la Pyramide, Metro Chateau de Vincennes
Though December 29
Grande Ecurie - Grand Stables of Versailles
Chateau de Versailles
Avenue Rockefeller - Versailles, France
Through January 3, 2010
Crimexpo - Interactive display of crime scene investigation
Cite des Sciences
30, avenue Corentin Celtou - 19th Arrondissement
€7,00 - 10,00; Under 7: Free
Through January 31, 2010
Madeleine Vionnet - French fashion designer of the interwar years
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 -111, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement
€6,50 - 8,00
A Look Ahead for September and October, 2009
September 1 - 13: Jazz a la Villette
September 26 - 28: Festival of Paris Gardens (La Fete des Jardins)
October 1 - 3 Fetes de Vendanges Montmartre (grape harvest in the only vineyard in Paris)
October 3 Nuit Blanche, when museums stay open all night
October 3 - 4 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Europe's richest horse race at the Hippodrome de Longchamp
October 14 - 16 Salon du Chocolat
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The Welcome 2 France team
Tel. 1 (650) 267-4328
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