Natalie Portman: welcome to Paris

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The most anticipated Hollywood arrival has landed in Paris, but will she be in town for long?

Natalie Portman is setting up house in the City of Lights, as her husband Benjamin Millepied takes the reigns of the Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris.

The move will see the starlet and her family based in Paris, but travelling often to her native Israel, where she is set to make her directorial debut in A Tale of Love and Darkness. Filming on that is slated to begin in January 2014.

One thing is for sure, there will be a certain adjustment period for the quasi-vegan Portman. Paris is a city of Vuitton leathers, J Mendel furs, and boudin noir.

Good luck finding the nearest Urth Café or organic cotton chemise. But if you crack for some dairy, you’ve got the best cheese selection right around the corner!

Mandarin Oriental Paris: worth the wait?

For those of us protectionistes who hate to see change in the classic landscape of Paris, the fears that the new Mandarin Oriental would be an eyesore on lovely rue St. Honoré were unfounded. After nearly three years of suspense, hidden behind a horrid construction facade that took up half of the rue, the big reveal was  by all accounts a non-event.

In fact, the exterior facade of the hotel is so inconspicuous,  almost communist in its austerity, that Petite Brigitte has missed the entrance to the hotel several times and had to turn around!

Once successfully inside, the fresh modernity consistent with the Mandarin brand comes through in the minimalist design, white flowers, and noble materials. To the left is the space age bar, where a small interior opens out into a verdant Hong Kongesque garden cocktail louge… definitely the tables of choice on a nice evening. The menu is strictly liquid for the moment though snacks will be added shortly. The bar specializes in gourmet cosmo-style cocktails as well as champagne cocktails, at prices that rival the Plaza Athenée (around EUR24 a pop), though perhaps not at the same quality or expert service of the Plaza. Petite Brigitte & co. waited 30 minutes for cocktails– a near disaster. At these prices, the clientele consists mostly of hotel clients, a few curious Parisians, and businessmen with expense accounts. While it is a more fashionable clientele than neighborhood rivals like the Park Hyatt, it cannot touch the coolness of the adjacent Hotel Costes.

To the right, the restaurant ‘Camelia’ continues in the cool, modern style, with a gastronomic menu, and although Petite Brigitte hasn’t tried it yet, the ambiance looks a little froide. The only tables really worth having are outside along the pond, as the candlelight and foliage create a romantic setting. Just hoping the service is better than at the bar!

Mandarin Oriental Paris

251 Rue Saint-Honoré

75001 Paris

01 70 98 78 88

New legal headache for Galliano as lawyer sues

Shamed fashion designer John Galliano was facing a new legal headache on Monday after his former lawyer lodged lawsuits against him alleging defamation and slander.

The British couturier was sacked as French fashion house Dior’s creative director in February after being caught on film subjecting cafe patrons to a drunken anti-Semitic tirade.

While criminal charges relating to the outburst are pending, and Galliano could face a year in jail and a 22,500 euro fine, in April he lodged his own suit accusing lawyer Stephane Zerbib of embezzlement.

The stylist accuses his former adviser of siphoning almost three million euros (4.3 million dollars) from his account and that of one of his firms, according to French legal sources.

But on Monday, Zerbib counter-attacked with two suits accusing Galliano of smearing him with the allegations, again according to judicial sources.

According to a copy of the suit seen by AFP, Zerbib insists Galliano had been made fully aware of all transactions carried out on his bank accounts and had never expressed concern about any transfers of money.

via Capital FM Kenya: New legal headache for Galliano as lawyer sues.

Keeping her crown

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Miss France and pageant organizers have reached a compromise decision following the photo scandal that surfaced last month (see previous article).

 Valérie Begue will keep her crown this year, but will not participate in any international contests, such as Miss Universe. Instead, Miss New Caledonia will fill in. 

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Who is Miss New Caledonia? It’s Vahinerii Requillart (see above). Where is New Caledonia? It’s a French island in the Southwest pacific, where they don’t take scandalous digital photos, and still use the franc as currency!

This seems like a win for Miss France (the public was on her side anyway). Now with no pageants to rehearse for, she have lots of time to….

Ducasse at the Eiffel Tower

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The newly revamped Jules Verne restaurant, which stands 410 feet high on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, opens today as the new brainchild of chef Alain Ducasse. It’s been a busy year for the celebrated chef, as he recently opened the new Dorchester in London. He now holds 14 Michelin stars to his name.

With an enhanced interior that allows for better viewing, the restaurant will serve lunch for around 75 euros, and dinner menus from 155-175 euros. Plus wine, bien sur.  

Louis Vuitton’s worst nightmare: Britney Spears


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Oddly enough it seems that the execs at Louis Vuitton DO care about their brand image! Despite years of gratuitously pumping the profits from their company, playing it up to the asian market, and moving production out of France, the company appears to have recognized its image is headed downhill faster than the Speedy bag.

So when Britney Spears drove a flaming pink Hummer and tapped her finger on a dashboard upholstered in the Louis Vuitton “Cherry Blossom” motif during her 2005 music video “Do Something,” executives at LVMH took notice. More accurately, they tossed their flutes of Moet champagne into the air and called up every lawyer in the house. And this was before Spears went off the deep end!

LVMH won their case in Paris civil court this week, ordering Sony BMG and MTV to stop broadcasting the portion of the video that features the Vuitton upholstered car. The music companies will also pay 80,000 euros in fines for breaking counterfeit laws.

The ruling said that the video was an “attack” on Louis Vuitton’s brands and its luxury image. Check it out for yourself while it is still on the internet (not for long)— but beware, it’s an attack on your ears more than anything else.

I’m outta here! Cecilia & Sarko are fini

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It’s official, the President of the Republique will soon lose his reluctant First Lady. And by soon, we mean a matter of weeks. As first reported on PetiteBrigitte (ok, well maybe we didn’t break the story), CC and Sarko are moving ahead with le divorce. An announcement just came from their spokesperson.

Parisian media outlets are practically silent on the matter, only reporting the hard facts– such as their trip before a divorce judge yesterday afternoon. It’s is a refreshingly departure from what would be going on if this were America or the UK.

When reporter Peter O’Neill asked a French journalist about their reserve on the matter, the man sniffed that the media here consider it beneath them to engage in “smear journalism and paying sources.”

“French journalists, unlike Anglo-Saxon journalists, believe that full disclosure is not desirable,” said Loic Hervouet, Radio France internationale’s ombudsman, in a story published on the France 24 all-news TV station’s website. “Such information is considered pure fluff.”

Well folks, I know you are on this site only for le fluff, so here’s what we know:

- They haven’t been living together since July 14. During the Bastille Day parade, Sarko tried to take his wife’s hand, and she resolutely refused. Fiesty!

- Another woman? Possible. Sarko has been spending a lot of quality time with his Minister of Justice, Rachida Dati. They watched rugby together last weekend, and visited Camp David last month. Hushed rumors are making their way out of the Presidential offices. CC refused to appear on a talk show that was also featuring Rachida as the main guest.

- Another man? Likely. CC is a free spirit. She had an affair 2 years ago with a PR exec, and moved in with him in NYC for 6 months (Sarko had an affair at the same time). Rumors are abundant that she has a lover this time, and that she was with him this weekend in Geneva.

PetiteB is bringing you more rampant speculation as details become available…

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Sarko & Rachida. New amour?

The tangled webs we weave…

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French first lady Cecilia Sarkozy attended the funeral of her first husband last week. Jacques Martin, whom Cecilia married in 1984 and had two daughters with, died at age 74 after suffering a stroke two years ago. Martin was a well known TV personality during the 70′s and 80′s.

Ironically, Nicolas Sarkozy married the couple in a civil ceremony when he was mayor of Neuilly. He would then marry the chic divorcee in 1996.

Who knew Cecilia had two hot blonde daughters?!

Wee-Fee is here!

France still isn’t totally techno savvy (any trip to the local bank can show you that), but the days of the Minitel are long gone.

This month, you can stop fiddling with your LiveBox and cursing France Telecom, because the dawn of FREE WI-FI is upon us!

Thats right, Paris is a wi-fi city starting in mid-June. Just check out this map to see where you are covered.

Swank bares her soul in Intimate Strangers

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Hilary Swank’s life and career couldn’t be looking better: she’s freshly divorced but dating her long-time agent, the new Pirelli calendar girl (featured above), and in post-production for a much anticipated movie (P.S. I Love You, also starring Gerard Butler).

Now the 2 time Oscar winner has her sights set on producing and starring in a remake of French film, Confidences Trop Intimes (2004). The film was a big hit for director Patrice Leconte, with some critics going as far as to say “it is one of the most beautiful love stories ever to grace the big screen” (Garbarz).

The plot is a case of mistaken identity. It is the story of a woman who thinks she is going to a shrink but ultimately ends up baring her soul to a shy accountant. Marvelously interpreted by French actress, Sandrine Bonnaire, Swank has her work cut out for her, but will likely rise to the challenge as she nearly always does (we’ve erased the memory of The Next Karate Kid).

Look for a release in 08. I’ll remind you.

Sciences Po vandalized by Spraypainters

“Manu militari!” Use your hands and Masturbate, says LePen.

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Vandals spray painted both sides of the entrance to Sciences Po on Rue de L’Universite Friday night, defacing one of the most elitist institutions in the French education system.

The two poorly written phrases denounce fascism and make references to LePen. They are likely the backlash from Thursday’s forum at the school, which hosted the polarizing politician Jean Marie Le Pen. It seems the visit was less than pleasant for all parties involved.

The 78-year-old former paratrooper and National Front leader faced protests and heckling on his arrival at the event at Sciences Po. After telling the audience that women faced a “social handicap”, he responded to boos by shouting: “Bunch of imbeciles!”

Asked at the debate whether condoms should be distributed in high schools, he resorted to a language we all understand, Latin, to suggest that horny teenagers might take the problem into their own hands. He advised “those worked up” to resort to “manu militari”.

Thanks for the tip. We hadn’t thought of that.

Unfortunately, students have used their hands for other purposes tonight. The spray painting is large and unmistakeable on the limestone facade of the school. It is unclear if the attack was directed at LePen, or the school who organized the debate. Since 2001, Sciences Po has implemented a number of reform policies, including broadening its admissions to include more youths from economically depressed suburbs of Paris. The reforms are intended to expand the socioeconomic mix at the school, but have not gone without controversy. They are the first affirmative action initiatives in France.

Someone clean up that spray paint fast! I want my beautiful neighborhood back.

One would think Sciences Po students, if they were responsible for this act, would be smart enough to find better ways to protest (start a blog people!). Perhaps LePen was right, and they are in fact “imbeciles”….. :)

 Update: Sciences Po is grafitti free as of April 11, after an afternoon powerwash. An impressively fast clean-up: may the sheltered bubble of the 7th arrondisement live on!

Congrats to Petite Anglaise!

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From PetiteB to PetiteA, a big congratulations! This week was a victory for all French bloggers!

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the legal proceedings of blogger Petite Anglaise, which made the front page of cnn.com and was featured in the Daily Telegraph, here’s the story:

PetiteA was fired from her accountancy firm job here in Paris, because of some harmless and rather anonymous critiques of her colleagues that she posted on her blog. Fired!

It takes a tough cookie to bring a fight to the big bad bureaucracy, but this witty single-mother went for it, and this week, nearly two years after getting the boot, the verdict came down:  Victory to Petite Anglaise, one year’s salary and costs!

All is won in principle, but not financially: the firm can still appeal and delay compensation. We’ll keep our finger’s crossed for the month of April, when the firm must file if it chooses.

We are also waiting for the book version of Petite Anglaise, due for release in 2008!

Merchants of Venice come to Paris

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Venice isn’t sinking anytime soon.

In fact, the Venetians are bringing their famous carnival to Paris this weekend, for a two day celebration at Port de Plaisance in the Bastille. Expected to draw over 20,000 visitors, the waterways of Paris will be transformed by gondolas and elaborately dressed Venetians.

In the words of Truman Capote, ” Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. “

In that case, lets indulge. Especially if any hot gondola boys are involved.

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Porte de Plaisance. Metro: Bastille. 2:30-5:30pm Saturday and Sunday.

The Credit Card Countess: how you can become a noble

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Put not your trust in princes!

Stop looking for Prince Charming when you can become a Princess in under a week. Buying a royal title has never been easier, or more desperate. It is a sad commentary on our society that websites now sell titles to the socially impaired, promising things such as (and I quote, from regaltitles.com):

  • Increased respect from the people you know
  • VIP treatment
  • Access to the privileged world
  • A instant talking point with your friends
  • Prestige in the financial world
  • A boost to your personal confidence
  • Opportunities that otherwise would’ve passed you by
  • Opened doors in your career
  • Discounts in the consumer world
  • The ability to influence people effortlessly

Of course, it is hard to believe that having a purchased title would garner this kind of treatment from anyone except the most naive commoner. But amazingly, PetiteBrigitte has witnessed fake princes dining with the real ones (in Monaco, of course), and bedding women right and left without as much as a chateau to back up his bloodline!

Check out regaltitles.com for the most hilariously desperate site in all of Christendom. After explaining the process of acquiring a title, the costs involved (around $400), and how to get the title legally inserted into your official documents, the site backs up its motives with arguments like:

“It’s frightening how people in the twenty-first century still perceive a person with a title to be richer, more intelligent and better thought of, than the average Mr. Joe Bloggs. But people do – and you can take advantage of it.”

Dear Lord. Buy your title today, and receive the free book, “Getting Started with your Title.” You can have your choice between:

  • a Lord or Lady
  • a Baron or Baroness
  • a Count or Countess
  • a Marquis or Marchioness
  • a Duke or Duchess
  • a Viscount or Viscountess
  • a Earl or Sir

I’m sure Prince von Hannover will never notice!

U.F.O.: Unidentified Frenchie Objects

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Today france opened secret files covering 50 years of U.F.O. sightings. The 1,600 sightings are well organized and can all be found at www.cnes-geipan.fr

Minutes after the site posted, the server crashed due to heavy traffic from worldwide U.F.O. buffs and scientists.

“It is a world first,” said Jacques Patenet, the aeronautical engineer who heads the office for the study of “non-identified aerospatial phenomena.”

Known as OVNIs in French, UFOs have always generated intense interest along with countless conspiracy theories about secretive government cover-ups of findings deemed too sensitive or alarming for public consumption.

“Cases such as the lady who reported seeing an object that looked like a flying roll of toilet paper” are clearly not worth investigating, said Patenet.

But many others involving multiple sightings — in at least one case involving thousands of people across France — and evidence such as burn marks and radar trackings showing flight patterns or accelerations that defy the laws of physics are taken very seriously.

Freaaakkkaaaaaay.

Bienvenue a Snoop.

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Why don’t the French LOVE Americans???

Snoop Dogg arrived in Paris today, and let’s just say …. If the brand image of LVMH didn’t take a hit, then France’s impression of Americans certainly did!

Snoop sings tonight with P. Diddy, at Bercy.

PETA crucifies Lacroix

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Wearing only a billboard and some nasty ballerina flats, a PETA crusader, bearing a striking ressemblance to Celine Dion, crashed the autumn/winter 07 pret-a-porter show of designer Christian Lacroix today.

Thankfully, some good-looking security guards managed to quell the situation, as cameras snapped away. Upon catching a glimpse of the woman’s ass, one guard immediately derobed to cover the sorry sight from the chic front rows.

The PETA protests, which have become fashion week commonplace, don’t seem to be making much of a difference in the designer circuits. Protesters also tried to attack a Valentino show, but were subdued before reaching the catwalk.

Amber Alert! Picasso at large in Paris

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Theft most foul!

It all went down last night in the 7th arrondisement of Paris, at the home of Picasso’s granddaughter, Diana Widmaier. Theives broke into the apartment and stole 2 Picasso paintings and a drawing, valued at 50 million euros. The well known paintings were: “Maya a la poupee” and a portrait of Jacqueline (P’s second wife).

Two people were asleep in the house at the time of the theft… a little suspicious, eh? Blame the Ambien.

It will be interesting to see where these paintings turn up. With any theft on this scale, suspicion descends on many people, including the Picasso family, who stand to gain a substantial sum from insurance policies.

PetiteBrigitte’s Verdict: Round up the usual suspects!

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Royal & Sarko: your friendly campaigners

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French presidential elections are looking more and more American.

This year, the hotly covered battle between Segolene Royal (left) and Nicolas Sarkozy (right) has been the ONLY topic of conversation on French news outlets. And the election is still a long way off.

Offering a comic relief from the real issues facing France, Sarkozy and Royal’s camps are opting for more friendly “viral marketing” via the internet.

Sarkozy, the intimidating dictator representing the right, has started a website called http://www.discosarko.com. You can watch the normally straight-laced politician dance to KC and the Sunshine Band, do the moonwalk, or jive like Travolta. Apparently the site is working, and he’s collected one million emails to bombard with campaign info.

Royal, on the other hand, has entered the online world of Second Life. Her socialist campaign has created a virtual headquarters, and gives out buttons saying “Segolene for France” to fellow avatars. Members meet there and discuss issues such as France’s place in the EU.

What’s next? A showdown on Dancing with the Stars?

Like a hot nail entering the body

(O, you corrupt minds!)

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Swarms of giant hornets are attacking France. Ecologists are blaming global warming for their proliferation.

According to an article in today’s Telegraph, the Asian hornets arrived in a piece of pottery in 2004, and have spread like lightning throughout southern France, especially in the Aquitaine region. While posing no significant risk to humans, they are singlehandedly wiping out all the lovely French bees, and impacting the honey production in France.

And guess where their antennae are pointing? North to Paris! According to the Telegraph,

The hornets can grow to up to 1.8in and, with a wingspan of 3in, are renowned for inflicting a bite which has been compared to a hot nail entering the body.

So beware on your next picnique in the countryside. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….