Bettina's Take: Paris Diary


Photo: Bettina Zilkha
Dining at the beautiful Grand Palais.

Paris: is there any city in the world more beautiful? The Eurostar pulled into the station and I knew I had to hit the ground running, even though I had spent a sleepless night in London from my jet lag. I only had a few days, and I was going to do it all.

First I went to the Grand Palais to see the Helmut Newton exhibit, a sexy, fun ride chronicling the great photographer's career. On to Dior Home, for the best hostess gifts in the world, and across the Avenue Montaigne to see the new Chanel store, designed by Peter Marino. The decor rivaled the clothes.

I stopped in to the Gagosian gallery, and hopped over to the recently opened Shangri La hotel, located in a palace originally owned by a member of the Bonaparte family. The French government accepted to have it converted into a hotel on condition that it be restored to its original state. The restoration was flawless, so for fans of Second Empire furniture and surroundings, this is the place for you. I couldn't help but remember that in No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre had described hell as a room furnished in Second Empire. I had a hard time getting that out of my head, so it tainted my experience, but don't let that sway you.

Next stop was the Christopher Wool exhibit at the Musee D'Art Moderne, then Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs at the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs, a fascinating look at how Vuitton became the master craftsman of trunks and travel leather goods, selling to royalty and the aristocracy. The Vuitton section was downstairs, and quite serious in tone. Upstairs, the Marc Jacobs section was like a huge Pinterest board, complete with videos and soundtracks, of everything that has inspired or affected Jacobs, from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Lunch was at the incomparable Le Voltaire. The Gerhard Richter show at the Pompidou Center was the last museum show of the day. If it wasn't so great I would have passed out.

Photo: Bettina Zilkha

Shopping at the Bon Marche.

I went to the new Costes restaurant, La Societe, for dinner that night. It was lovely sitting outdoors, but as for the food, don't bother. A better bet is the Mini-Palais, the fairly new restaurant at the Grand Palais where we ate on the terrace and the food is good.

This is Paris, so of course shopping is involved: the Bon Marche is the place to get my fix of Euro labels like Paule Ka, Paul & Joe and Diptyche. I left empty handed, a day before the sales, but I did see lots of great things.

I went back to the Musee d'Art Moderne to see the R. Crumb exhibit, an in-depth look at one of the most subversive, and revered, cartoonists of our time.

I had to have a macaroon or two at Laduree, a croissant at Dalloyau, and dinner at the always dependable Market. I was trying to pace myself before my big trip to Beirut, where my dear friend Rena Kirdar is getting married.