Fortification from the middle ages.
Hotel Georges V is truly beautiful. Supremely elegant with a sumptuous central courtyard. The beauty is taken to it’s own apex with the endless floral displays created by Jeffery Leatham. Our room could not have been more perfect. Situated dead centre near the top of the hotel, the view was stunning. Once unpacked and refreshed, we went immediately to the courtyard for wine and foie gras toast points. Now this is the way to arrive in Paris. We spent our first evening dining in the Bastille district at a beautiful bistro, Pharamond, built for the famous exhibition in 1889. It was three stories high with ornate booths, private dining rooms, spiral staircases and multi-coloured tile floors, but we ate outside in the garden.
Hanging around until the wee hours, sipping our wine and finally back to the hotel.
The view as it would have looked in the days of Henry IV.
Even though it is a city legendary for its monuments, boulevards, artists, writers and musicians – and our intent was to see as much as possible - our visit to it was punctuated more by the people we met, the visits we shared and of course, the champagne. And the weather was far too beautiful to spend anything but the bare minimum indoors.
Jean-Pierre, who’s true love is the art and the history of Paris, spent half a day walking us through La Marais. It was both a visit with an old friend, and a guided tour of the city’s history from its inception to modern day.
And we saw it through his eyes and heart. The secret vantage points of old fortification walls, street corners where revolution began and old promontories where martyrs were burned at the stake, the palais courtyard where Henry IV lost a jousting match and ultimately his life. Every side street, every corner, regardless of what stood on it today, had a story. It was wonderful.
My god it's a long way up there.
For every delicacy we downed, there were many flights of stairs to climb. From milles-feuilles to Sacre Coeur. A funnel of crisp pommes frites to the top of the Arc de Triumph – a total of 284 steps and frites. A supersized crème brulee to the tip of the Eiffel Tower. And at every turn, at every moment, the city was always on display and our timing seemed to always be just right.
Like the moment we arrived atop the Arc de Triumph as the sunset finished and the lights went on at the Eiffel Tower. And again the day we spent sailing up and down the Seine watching the clouds disappear. Getting inside Saint Chapelle as the sun blazed through its windows. And even when the days got a bit too hot, we managed to find ourselves in the cool caverns of Notre Dame, or the arcade of the Palais Royale or under the Arc de Richelieu at the Louvre. We window shopped the couture collection on Ave de la Montaigne and Boulevard St. Honoree. Every minute of our time in Paris was a high point. Seemingly impossible to top the experience that had gone before, we did manage it on our last night. We went to the Market, a restaurant by Jean-Georges. A fusion of Asian cuisine with a French finish and presentation, it was…wow. As fantastic as it was, it itself was topped by the company of good friends. No wonder Paris is the city where everyone wants to live. It is a masterpiece of endless wonder, but also contains the best parts of being at home.
There's a portrait born every minute.