In the words of Cole Porter, “I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, I loved Paris in the summer when it sizzles.” To me, Paris is never a bad idea. And that’s why I always return.
Last week I took a quick trip with my mom, Jan Mackin. It was her first time exploring the City of Light. It’s always fun to go with someone who has never been, and I never grow sick of the sights.
We stayed at The Westin Paris Vendôme, which was very convenient, overlooking Jardin Tuileries and central to all the best shopping. It also offered Le First Restaurant, Tuileries Bar, and The Winter Garden, all of which served delicious meals, coffee, and champagne. Due to the transit strike, it was slightly difficult to get around (think trying to get an Uber in the Hamptons over July 4 weekend. First, they say five minutes, then 20, then 20 minutes later your driver cancels). But lucky for us the best way to experience Paris is by foot and we were in a location where there was no shortage of things to do and see. So, we wandered the city, soaking it all in — the sun, which we were lucky to have a lot of, and the drizzle.
We were walking distance from the Louvre, where we spent an afternoon. And we walked across the Seine, viewing the love locks, traveling from the Right to Left Bank.
And then there’s the food in Paris . . . the food. It’s hard to match a great meal in this city. My mom lives a low-carb lifestyle, which is easy to do in Paris given all of the meat and cheese on the menu. But you miss a lot when you skip the bread. I leaned in hard to the Parisian way. In the words of Oprah Winfrey: “I love bread.” Some of the highlights included my favorite Chez Fernand, the restaurant at Ladurée Royale, and hot chocolate — chocolat chaud if you will — at Angelina. We also went home with treats like chocolates from Jean Paul Hevin and macrons from Ladurée.
We picked the perfect time to go shopping in Paris, during Les Soldes. Regulated by the French government, these sales happen twice a year. We shopped some of my favorite French brands like Sandro and Zadig & Voltaire. Forty percent off . . . yes please! We also spent time at the French department store, Galleries Lafayette, which offers shopping under a beautiful Art Nouveau dome. If you find yourself there, check out the observation deck.
It also wouldn’t be a trip to Paris without a drink at Bar Hemingway at The Ritz. It’s one of the most spectacular buildings and with cultural significance. It was where Ernest Hemingway would write novels. This pocket-sized bar offers larger-than-life cocktail creations, and they are served with a white rose.
Paris Deco Off, a rendezvous of international interior designers and decoration editors, was taking place while we were in town, so we stopped by to check out a few of the showrooms. Holland & Sherry Interiors, which offers fine fabrics and wallcoverings, was one of the stops. We also stopped by Fabricut, where New York designer Sasha Bikoff (a winner of the Hampton Classic’s annual tablescape contest) teamed up with Vervian Fabrics for a fabric collection called “Favorite Things.” Other participants included the likes of Ralph Lauren and Missoni Home.
It was a lucky coincidence that my friend Chef Palak Patel was also in Paris at the same time we were, so we met up for lunch at a restaurant called Ellsworth, which was fantastic. The Independent hosted a dinner party with Chef Palak in the warmer months of 2019 called “Indian Summer.”
While in Paris, Palak was hosting a cooking class, “Essentials of Plant-Based Cooking.” This is an area where I need all the help I can get. I’m 95 percent vegetarian and know how to make about two dishes. (I’ve been told defrosting a Daily Harvest frozen bowl does not count as cooking.) We had a lovely evening, learning tips and drinking wine, with great conversation. The dishes, created with products that came straight from the market, were beyond fresh and flavorful. Menu highlights included a leek potato parsnip gratin and roasted carrot hummus.
Paris is a place that fills the heart and breeds creativity. As with every trip to Paris, it left me wanting more, and planning my next visit.