Paris: Palate, Protest, Play
I want to Talk, a lot, about my time in Paris: the food, the fun, and the frenzy in the fall. I’m finally home, but will share lots of Paris in following columns. Such a city! I didn’t get there until I was in my sixties. Now in my late seventies, I feel quite at home with the beauty and the bounty. I’m happy to report that Brunch is now faddish and the most bountiful needs talking about …
RAFFLES/LE ROYAL PARIS MONCEAU
David and I were overwhelmed by the classic Brunch and startling beauty at Le Royal Monceau Hotel. Recently acquired by the elite “Raffles Group” and re-done by uber-designer Philippe Starck (who showed real restraint without sacrificing his trademark quirky humor), Le Royal Monceau is a wonder. A short stroll down Avenue Hoche, off the Champs-Elysees at the Etoile, brings you to this jaw dropping historic and glorious spot. The Brunch in their Restaurant La Cuisine was, almost, too pretty to eat. Food groups were artfully separated into fresh-from-the-sea delicacies — lobster medallions, huge shrimp, smoked salmon, sushi — then salads, fruits, cheeses, meats, and chicken, egg dishes, waffles, seaweed butter (!) — just name it — and the panorama of desserts, with emphasis on chocolate, were not ignored. Artistic plating, each group of delicacies like a painting, let us know we were not in Kansas. The décor was as delicious as the food, giant industrial lights over one area, dainty crystal lighting another. The walls had fabulous photographs and my favorite, framed groupings of white plates that were uniquely painted by current famed French artists. (See so much of this for yourself, just Google Le Royal Monceau.)
We were lucky to be shown some special places by the lovely Anne-Sophie Bonnisseau and to be thrilled by the art that graces each space in this glorious hotel. Raffles even has its own Art Concierge to lead one through the splendor of this intimate and almost private museum. Devastatingly divine crystal chandeliers were mirrored into infinity at their grand staircase, and downstairs was a large grouping of life size wooden woodland creatures just waiting for our visit. Spiffy and spectacular.
PROTESTS: Every other day there were, what they call, Manifestations. These large marches stop traffic and buses, and are very much part of Paris. We witnessed a protest by teachers, who were angry at the tremendous amount of teachers let go from their jobs. A huge demonstration by the Orthophonistes demanded higher recognition for their position in the medical community. At first I thought they were orthodontists, but after talking with a group, I learned they were speech therapists. Vast amounts from all over France meant business. All was peaceful, and resolute. It seems to be the thing to do now world wide….
PLAY: Parks were our main source of fun and relaxation. We could grab a baguette sandwich at Paul’s Boulangerie and people watch at the Luxembourg Gardens, Parc Monceau, and the wondrous Promenade Plantee. The gardens were still in bloom as summer lingered during our stay (I packed mufflers, but wore tee shirts). A favorite day was at Parc Monceau where I bought David a zebra balloon that we named Xavier. He was with us all day and made people smile as we walked the park, the streets, the bus, the bistro, and all the way home to our little apartment on Cherche Medi. Xavier floated over us until it was time to pack. We couldn’t leave him, so after slowly letting out the air, I took him home … Now, will he properly blow up again?
PS: Walk with me, Sunday Oct. 23, at VisionWalk, UCLA—Dickson Court South. 9 a.m. register, 10 Walk and help stop Blindness.