Au revoir, Paris: Our Photo Album

Bon soir, mes amis! This will be my last entry on our holiday trip to Paris and, instead of a lot of gabbing, it’s just going to be photos taken while we were there. Some you may have seen in earlier entries but there are some new ones here, too.

Enjoy!

2016-12-23-18-16-01
Friday evening: British Airways offers on-the-ground-buffet dining for some overnight flights

2016-12-23-18-32-57
AAC, CPA taking advantage of same

open-skies-04-biz-bed
Our Open Skies cabin

peninsula-lobby
Saturday morning: Checking into the fabulous Peninsula Paris

aac-arch-de-triumph
Saturday afternoon: AAC, CPA arrives at the Arch de Triomphe: Bon jour, Paris!

laduree-02-interior
And then grabs lunch at Ladurée just down the Champs Elysses

2016-12-24-13-09-30
Classic Club Ladurée

stockings
The hotel provides us with our own stockings

peninsula-bar-kleber-negronis
Saturday evening: Negronis at Bar Kléber at the Peninsula

bistrot-table
Followed by Christmas Eve dinner at Bistrot de L’Oulette

peninsula-breakfast-aac
Sunday morning: Christmas continental breakfast at Le Lobby

four-seasons-04-lobby
Sunday afternoon: checking out the competition – Four Seasons George V

lopera-entrance-aac
Sunday evening: Pre-opera dinner at L’Opera

pg-aac-enters
Followed by AAC, CPA at the Palais Garnier

pg-grand-foyer-ceiling-intermission
The grand foyer and Christmas tree at the Palais Garnier

pg-curtain-call
Iphigénie en Tauride curtain call

2014-12-22-22-41-12
Christmas Night: the Champs Elysses all gussied up

louvre-aac-and-irina
Monday morning: Irina, of Paris Muse, shows us the Louvre

aac-mona-lisa
And we get to see the Mona Lisa. Wait, what???

aac-arrives-at-lgf
Monday evening: AAC, CPA arrives at Le Grand Véfour

dining-room-02
The jewel-box dining room at Le Grand Véfour

fois-gras-ravioli
Sensational duck liver ravioli – one of their “Classics”

place-concorde
Post-dinner view from our Uber on the way back to the hotel

aac-metro-ride
Tuesday morning: AAC, CPA takes Le Metro to our next Paris Muse tour

notre-dame-aac
AAC, CPA outside of Notre Dame Cathedral

notre-dame-aac-and-jason
And with our terrific Paris Muse guide, Jason

monsieur-bleu-cocktails
Tuesday evening: Cocktails and dinner at Monsieur Bleu

monsieur-bleu-light-fixtures
Cool light fixtures at Monsieur Bleu

2014-12-25-21-02-19
View from the best tables at Monsieur Bleu

2016-12-28-13-56-12
Wednesday afternoon: Lunch at Caviar Kaspia

2016-12-28-14-02-07
You always get pickles with your caviar – a Russian thing?

2016-12-28-14-39-01
2nd course of “The Rasputin Set” – caviar with a baked potato

madeline-wednesday
Famous sites on the way back to the hotel: the Madeline

2016-12-28-15-25-22
Place de la Concorde – late afternoon

chatelet-04-interior
Wednesday evening: 42nd Street at Théâtre du Châtelet

chatalet-aac
AAC, CPA at Théâtre du Châtelet

Forty Second Street - UK Productions
42nd Street onstage at Théâtre du Châtelet

jeu-de-paume-thursday
Thursday morning: Paying a visit to Jeu de Paume

conflicts
Seeing the exhibit “Uprisings”

biblioteque
Thursday afternoon: And now over to Bibliothèque nationale de France

2016-12-29-12-54-28
AAC, CPA pays homage to Richard Avedon and Audrey Hepburn

funny-face-04-winged-victory
Part of the Avedon exhibit at Bibliothèque nationale de France

loiseau-blanc
Thursday evening: Gala farewell dinner at L’Oiseau Blanc atop the Peninsula Paris

loiseau-blanc-00-eiffel-tower
The view from our table at L’Oiseau Blanc

loiseau-blanc-02-aac
AAC, CPA takes a picture at L’Oiseau Blanc

loiseau-blanc-07-plane
A replica of the actual L’Oiseau Blanc (The White Bird)

2016-12-30-10-52-28
Friday morning: AAC, CPA heads back to reality and New York City

That’s all, folks!!

Advertisements

Let’s Spend the Holidays in Paris!

“New York has neon, Berlin has bars,
But ah! Paree!”

Follies, 1971

fifi-dorsay
Fifi D’Orsay extols the virtues of Paris in Follies

Greetings from a frigid (27° but feels like 18°) but brilliantly sunny afternoon in New York City, where the weather of late has been totally schizoid. We had weather in the teens a few days ago and, yesterday, it was pushing 60°. It makes a person lose faith in weather prognosticators!

But, we don’t despair – we pack. On Friday, we’ll be winging our way to the City of Light, a/k/a/ Paris, for a week of holiday cheer. You may recall, from a former post, that we were originally planning to be in Hong Kong for the holidays. But then there was that hip replacement and cancellation of a trip to Amsterdam. Because we didn’t want to forfeit the Amsterdam airfare (on British Airways), we had to come up with an alternative plan. Et donc – Paris!

2014-12-22-22-41-12
The Champs Elysee all gussied up for the holidays – December, 2014

BA has a subsidiary airline – Open Skies – and that’s how we’ll make our way to and from Paris. We’ve flown them on a couple of other occasions and, if you plan ahead, you can obtain a competitive fare (not now, of course, at the last minute). They have a good business class cabin (referred to, by them, as “Biz Bed”), which gives you a seat that fully reclines so you can get some shuteye on the flight over. Open Skies has a fleet of mostly 757s, and the cabin interiors are acceptable, but could use a redo. However, it’s a way to snag a good fare and fly nonstop to Orly.

Another thing to note is that, since these are evening flights, meal service onboard is minimal, as passengers mostly want to get some sleep. For those passengers in Biz Bed, there is a full meal service on the ground at JFK called “Sleeper Service”, which is available in the Terraces Lounge.

 

open-skies-02
Our Open Skies chariot awaits

open-skies-04-biz-bed
The “Biz Bed” Cabin

And as an added treat, Open Skies currently has a promotion that entitles us to a complimentary Uber to and from JFK, so we’ll start our trip off on the right foot.

TRAVEL TIP: Open Skies

So what, you ask, will we be up to in Paris? For starters, we somehow scored the deal of the century at the Peninsula Paris. It’s a new property, under 2 years old, and it’s sensational. Located on Avenue Kleber within 5 minutes of the Arch de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees, it a very convenient base of operations. When we booked last August, the hotel had a promotion wherein you paid for 2 nights and the 3rd night was complimentary; as we’re staying 6 nights, we ended up with 2 free nights. The rates were so low, in fact, that I booked directly rather than reserve through the AmEx FHR program (which features all kinds of giveaways and benefits), as it was still less expensive to book through the hotel.

peninsula-hotel-01a-holiday-exterior
Side entrance to the Peninsula

peninsula-hotel-03-lobby
The spectacular lobby at the Peninsula

TRAVEL TIP: Peninsula Paris

By now, you’re perfectly aware that I’m intrepid when it comes to planning, so I know you’ll believe me when I say that we have all of our evening meals planned. Whenever we go to Paris, we typically have one blowout, super, over-the-top Michelin meal. This year, we’ll return to one of our favorite restaurants anywhere, Le Grand Vefour, a jewel box of a restaurant, originally opened in 1794 and located in the arcades of the Palais-Royal. We usually don’t return to restaurants in Paris, except on rare occasions where we might go back for a 2nd visit. However, our dinner at Le Grand Vefour next week will mark the 4th time we’ve dined there. It’s that special. One of the charming details of the dining room is that the banquettes are named for notable Frenchmen and women: among them, Victor Hugo, Jean Cocteau, George Sand, Emile Zola, Joséphine de Beauharnais and, at the adjacent banquette, General Bonaparte. The banquette we always request is named for the noted French author, Colette (né Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette).

le-grand-vefour-06-signage
Le Grand Vefour in the arcades at the Palais Royale

le-grand-vefour-06
The jewel-box dining room at Le Grand Vefour

CUISINE TIP: Le Grand Vefour 

Other highlights of our week in Paris:

We’ll be going to the famed Palais Garnier on Christmas night to see a performance of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, preceded by dinner at L’Opera, the restaurant adjacent to the opera house. If you’ve never been to the Palais Garnier, it’s a must – think Phantom of the Opera on steroids.

palais-garnier-01-exterior
The spectacular Palais Garnier

palais-garnier-03-auditorium
Inside the auditorium with the famed Chagall chandelier

palais-garnier-04b-grand-stairway
The grand stairway to the stalls

palais-garnier-07-grand-foyer
The ultra-Rococo grand foyer

iphigenie-en-tauride-01
A scene from Iphigénie en Tauride

CULTURE TIP: Palais Garnier

EG: Restaurant
L’Opera, which is adjacent to Palais Garnier

CUISINE TIP: L’Opera

And, while we’re on the topic of shows, the famed Théâtre du Châtelet has, over the past 10 years, presented over 25 Broadway musicals on its stage. Several years ago, we saw an excellent production of Sweeney Todd and, two years ago, we saw the out-of-town tryout of An American in Paris on Christmas Eve, which opened on Broadway a few months later. This year, the Châtelet is presenting a new production of that old chestnut, 42nd Street – not our favorite show, but a fun way to spend an evening. After all, the show contains these immortal words: “Musical comedy – the most glorious words in the English language!” And the Châtelet always delivers: full (sometimes oversized) orchestra, large casts and it never stints on the glitz and glamour.

Théâtre du Châtelet
Théâtre du Châtelet

chatelet-04-interior
The gorgeous auditorium at the Théâtre du Châtelet 

Forty Second Street - UK Productions
42nd Street at the Théâtre du Châtelet 

CULTURE TIP: Théâtre du Châtelet

Although it’s going to be our 13th or 14th visit to Paris (can’t get enough), we still do a bit of sightseeing on occasion and maybe revisit some favorite places. Because we are Philistines when it comes to art (sad, but true), we decided to avail ourselves of this outfit called Paris Muse, which specializes in private tours in and around Paris. So we’ve booked two excursions: the first will be a 2½ hour Introduction to the Treasures of the Louvre and the second will be a 90 minute tour of Notre Dame Cathedral. We’ve been to both places in the past, but not as an immersive experience. I’ll report back to you and let you know how it goes.

louvre-01-exterior
No caption necessary

CULTURE TIP: The Louvre

notre-dame-01-exterior
Notre Dame Cathedral

notre-dame-02-interior
The Cathedral

CULTURE TIP: Notre Dame Cathedral

We also discovered that one of our favorite museums – the Jeu de Paume, located at Place Concorde and on the edge of the Tuilleries – is currently featuring an exhibit entitled Unrest, which is described as “a transdisciplinary exhibition on the theme of collective emotions, political events insofar as they imply crowd movements in conflict: there is talk of social disorders, political agitation, insurrections, revolts, revolutions, vacancies, riots, upheavals of all kinds”.

Seems like an appropriate time for this exhibit, right?

musee-jeu-de-paume-01
Musée Jeu de Paume

CULTURE TIP: Jeu de Paume

Otherwise, weather permitting, we hope to walk the streets of Paris until we drop. It’s a city made for strolling and we intend to show off AAC CPA’s new and improved hip as we make our way through the Marais or the Champs Elysee or the Place Madeleine, especially as we’ll be having a lovely lunch at Caviar Kaspia one afternoon.

So that, in a nutshell, will be our Parisian holiday adventure. I’ll fill in more details as they happen.

Restez à l’écoute et de joyeuses fêtes à tous!

 

 

Travel Fantasy Memory – Bucket List Item: Flying Air France to Paris

It started like this in June, 2014:

You – in this case: AAC, CPA – see a poster on the street alerting you to an upcoming exhibit that’s right up your alley (and, best of all for AAC, is free!). And there it is:

AF is in the Air
Invitation to an exhibit

What a cool thing to do of a summer Saturday afternoon in Chelsea, right? So, after meeting friends for brunch, we head over to the far west side on a street full of interesting art galleries (who knew?) and then into a loft building.

An attractive young woman outfitted in a beautifully tailored Air France uniform greets us. In fact, as we move through the exhibit, there seem to be dozens of Air France uniforms all around us, smiling, helpful and very welcoming.

And what, exactly, is the exhibit? Throughout, you see Air France memorabilia: photographs, videos, samples of their beautiful crystal, china, silverware, etc.

AF Model

AF Cards

AF Concorde Dining

There’s also fun, silly stuff to walk through. Even a kids area where they can play and run around while their folks ogle the exhibit.

2014-06-28 13.55.46
AAC CPA attends an exhibit and has fun

But, mostly, as you work your way through, you can sample the various cabin classes on board, which is the real purpose of the exhibit. Air France wants to put butts in seats.

In fact, if you want to try out the seats, go for it!

We start in economy (meh) – looks like lots of seats pushed together.

AF Economy

Premium economy is next – getting better, as there’s a bit more legroom – 6 inches more pitch.

AF Premium Economy

Business? Now we’re getting warmer, the seats are comfortable but, also, angle-flat, not flatbeds – phooey!!

AF Business
See what I mean about “angle-flat”?

And then it happens, you go through a curtain and, suddenly, you’re in first class (a/k/a La Premiere). And you gasp just a little bit and your heart may skip a beat. It’s magic time.

AF - 1st - New Product
La Premiere – Pretty swank, huh?

Wouldn’t you just know? This is the one cabin of the plane where you can’t sit in the seat!! “Make ‘em beg for more, and then DON’T give it to them!” The creeps!

After seeing the first class cabin, there’s nowhere to go but down. Literally, that is, as it’s the end of the exhibit. But on the way out, those cute AF uniforms give you posters and the best ice cream sandwich ever. And both are yummy. So are the uniforms, come to think of it.

Cross cut: While all this is going on, we’re aware that a Broadway bound production of An American in Paris will be playing its out-of-town tryout at the Théâtre du Châtelet – IN PARIS!!!! So, in his ever-so-sweetly passive-aggressive way, AAC CPA just casually suggests “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could see An American in Paris (in Paris)?”

An American In Paris

Yes, gentle readers, AAC CPA knows how to push-my-buttons.

From there, I’m off and running (actually sitting at my laptop):

First thing: When, exactly, is the show playing in Paris? Easy enough to find out, just go to the Châtelet website and – wait for it – OMG: it’s playing over the holidays. Are seats even available? How about 10th row center on Christmas Eve?? Woo-hoo! Hold that thought.

Next: Take a big breath and head over to the Air France website and find out what’s available for a round-trip to Paris over Christmas week. It’s the holidays, so it’s going to be difficult to get seats, right?

What I see stuns me. Based on what we’ve heard, flying on Air France in first class (excusez moi – La Premiere) has been a bucket list fantasy dream for a long time. But we couldn’t possibly – the fares would be over-the-moon-too-expensive-out-of-our-budget-impossible.

But wait, for some unexplained reason, the fares over the holidays have been discounted by something like 70%. And, on top of all that, we’d get to fly on the new A380. Whaaaaat? Do my eyes deceive me? Apparently not. Now, I’m not going to lie and tell you that it wasn’t beaucoup bucks but, on the other hand, who doesn’t want to take advantage of a great deal, at least once?

AF A380
The new double-decker A380

Reminder to myself: How lucky are we that we could even consider such an indulgence?

So, then I call AAC CPA at work (yes, he was still doing THAT), and said: “OK, buster, you planted this seed – how would you like to go to Paris for Christmas and, oh by the way, fly over and back on Air France (traveling in La Premiere!, no less) and, yes, see An American in Paris on Christmas Eve?”

Yes, I called his bluff and what could he say but: “Well, OK, sure.”

And in a couple of mouse-clicks – I had windows open for both Air France and the Châtelet – we locked in our fantasy holiday trip: We were going to be two Americans in Paris, seeing An American in Paris on Christmas eve– IN PARIS!

Seriously, how lucky ARE we??

Next time: the Air France treatment (or, “Is there any way that you can make this flight LONGER?”)