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

Isami is the chic place for sushi

On the scenic banks of Ile Saint Louis, a small sushi restaurant named Isami is drawing in big names in the fashion industry. The expertly sliced sushi, and other japanese specialities, make reservations mandatory in this five table establishment.  

Petite Brigitte spotted which famous sexogenarian designer seated by the counter, arm over a stunningly chic (and young) blonde?

Don’t miss: the sashimi, the sake, and the green tea matcha ice cream

ISAMI  4 Quai d’Orléans 75004 Paris - 01 40 46 06 97

Inès de la Fressange, a Frenchwoman’s Parisienne

Check out Elaine’s NY Times review of Inès de la Fressange’s new style book on how to look French. I must admit, its the best guide I’ve seen in a long time on attaining that certain “je ne sais quoi”. English version available in Paris at W.H. Smith.

THE perfect Parisian woman is an illusion, bien sûr. But learning to pretend to be one is a serious business that dates back centuries.

It is an enterprise that continues to thrive with profitable how-to books like, “How to Become a Real Parisian,” “The Parisian Woman’s Guide to Style” and “All You Need to Be Impossibly French.” Now Inès de la Fressange, ex-runway model, former face of Chanel, Legion of Honor winner, designer, businesswoman and daughter of a marquis, offers yet another take on how to dress, shop, eat and act like a true “Parisienne.” This onetime muse of Karl Lagerfeld has spun her beauty and style tips into a confection of a best seller, “Parisian Chic: A Style Guide,” which has sold more than 100,000 copies in French and has just hit the American market.

The book might have withered and died on the shelves, except that Ms. de la Fressange combines a “je ne sais quoi” audacity with a sassy tone, and leaves readers believing that, by following her rules and experimenting with confidence, they, too, can be just like her.

via Inès de la Fressange, a Frenchwoman’s Parisienne – NYTimes.com.

Bottoms out and heels off for Lady Gaga

She battled strikes, blockades, and blizzards, and last night rewarded her loyal fans by throwing prized Armani shoes into the audience at Bercy. After a rousing and much anticipated concert, Lady Gaga brought an end to the French leg of her MonsterBall tour.

The extra days spent in Paris awaiting stage time did not go unnoticed. As we reported earlier, Gaga took time out for some traditional French cuisine at Chez André, made a pit-stop at a local Bruce Field’s store to buy some cheap pants to cover her frigid derrière, all the while holed up in a cozy suite at the Hotel Park Hyatt near Place Vendome.

La Villa: Best bar near Champs Elysées

Between shopping excursions on Ave. Montaigne and business lunches on rue Faubourg St. Honoré, Petite Brigitte is no stranger to the enigmatic neighborhood of the Champs-Elysées. It’s a quartier littered with tourists, banal shopping (except for Montaigne and “le 66“), overpriced restaurants, cheesy clubs, and yes… les marcheuses (prostitutes).

Having tired of the usual places to get some bubbly in this neigborhood–  Café Chic, l’Empire du 8ème, Pershing Hall, etc –  a recent outing to La Villa came as a welcome suprise.  Situated a short walk down from l’Arc de Triomphe, the bar/resto, open since 2009 yet still largely undiscovered by many Parisians,  boasts a hip piano bar frequented in equal parts by local residents, international businessmen, and trendsetters.

Cocktails are pricey (13-20 euros), the staff is beautiful (especially the ruggedly handsome ex-model DJ who plays between piano sets), and it is the perfect place for a fancy springtime drink on the ample sidewalk terrasse.

Don’t worry, the only marcheuses on this corner of the Champs are wearing Louboutins.

La Villa
37 Avenue de Friedland
75008 Paris
01 82 28 75 08

Blonde like Brigitte

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She was a suicide blonde– dyed by her own hand.

- Saul Bellow

In a city where everyone has perfect hair– be it messy or dutifully coiffed– there’s no taking chances with your colorist, especially as a blonde. Walking out of a salon with a Kentucky Fried Coif is ample cause for a sabbatical in the wine region for a few months; drink it off and let it grow… (and pick up a hot sommelier while you’re at it).

Thankfully, there is a blonde-obsessed Parisian coiffeur who is doing a booming business for those of the blonde persuasion. His name is Franck Vidoff, and his salon is aptly named “Blonde.” The spot looks more like an art gallery or architectural office, with its white curtains and minimalist angles, but its understated exterior harbors some serious attention-grabbing blondes within. Franck takes care of many A-listers in Parisian society/fashion/music scene, including Eugenie Niarchos and Erin Fetherston. He caters to all shades, including as Franck describes: “sun-bleached blondes… honey blondes… Hollywood blondes, Warhol blondes…” – and uses techniques that nourish hair for a silky smooth finish.

http://www.franckvidoff.com /12 rue Pres-aux-clercs / 75006 Paris / tel: 01 42 22 66 33

Summer Reading List: French Trysts

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Paris Hangover was Kirsten Lobe’s sensational first novel. So how does her second novel, French Trysts: Secrets of a Courtesan, stack up to the fabulously witty debut?

The novel tells the story of Alex Ward, a student-turned-high-class-whore operating amongst the top corporate and political figures in Paris. Rife with tales of orgies, black AMEX cards, and pink diamonds, the storyline is shockingly devoid of morality as our heroine makes her way from bed to bed, while still managing to feel intelligent and guilt-free throughout all of her promiscuity. Even PetiteBrigitte was stunned by some of the dialogue, which included graphic sex tips and mesmerizing justifications for living the life of a ‘courtesan.’ Lobe was correct in stating that this novel makes Paris Hangover “read like the Bible.”

It took me all week to figure out why I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as her first. Sure, the plot was mildly disturbing, as well as predictable. But there was something else. Finally it dawned on me: Kirsten Lobe is a powerhouse of wit and intellectual banter. Paris Hangover kept me laughing the whole way through. Her fatal mistake was throwing SO MUCH of it into one book. C’etait trop trop trop. The novel jumps from witty remark to witty remark faster than you can say “bouquet intime” (yes, that’s her name for you-know-what). This renders the remarks less witty, less plausible, and dare I say, boring? On top of this, the heroine constantly addresses her readers, which distracts from the unfolding scene and makes the plot even harder to follow, not to mention exhausting. (Her use of exclamation points and parentheses are so rampant that the heroine literally apologizes for it!!)

French Trysts is a glaring case of E.U.I., otherwise known as Editing Under the Influence. Where the editor of this book was (in bed perhaps?) is the enduring question. My best guess is that Lobe’s stunning looks, the gorgeous blond hair, the new maternal glow, so mesmerized the editor that he/she could not bear to cut even the most superfluous of text.

PetiteB still loves KLobe, and sends her best with these parting words: Keep it up, third time’s the charm!

French Trysts is available at W.H. Smith, 15 euros.