Our own private Paris.

We are so excited!! Both in Milan and ready to pack in order to leave tomorrow for Paris for the opening of the exhibition Jeanne Lanvin on Friday.

Forced to remain at our desks for the next 24 hours, the best we can do is to share with you a few tips on our own private Paris before heading out for a glass of champagne to get into the spirit.

We love everything about Paris: the language, the food, the music, le cinema, le champagne, red wine, the elegance, the little house facing Notre Dame were we stay when we’re there.

We love Spring time in Paris, although fall is extremely romantic, Christmas is magic and how not “love summer when it sizzles”, as Cole Porter sang. How can you not love Paris every moment of the year?

When Mr. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was released we felt like he had stolen part of our secret: Paris is, yes, today, but it is also every past you want it to be. Stroll by the Seine at sunset, close your eyes and use your imagination. You can be Francis Scott and Zelda, Picasso, Josephine Baker. Walk up to Saint Germain and you might even spot Sartre and De Beauvoir. Go back down to Notre Dame and become Esmeralda. Or meet Henry Miller and Anais Nin at the nearby Shakespeare and Company library.

As the narrator in Billy Wilder’s “Irma la douce” explains: “Paris is everything that makes life worth living”. The wonderful clothes, never enough champagne and flirting. Kissing in the Marais or by the Seine at night is unbelievably romantic. French men are masters in gallantry.

We suggest that before you get there you should prepare yourself by entering a Parisian state of mind. Watch Irma la Douce, An American in Paris or and So this is Paris. Read French Novels and most of all listen to Edith Piaf, and Charles Trenet. Even Cole Porter will do.

We like to fly to Paris on a weekday and to get there in the afternoon in order to have time to unpack, grab a basket and run out to shop for groceries before the shops close. There are a few things that cannot be missed in a kitchen no matter where you are. A little cheese, bread (in this case a baguette), red wine and champagne. We personally like to have breakfast at home, so we always get fruits, yogurt, coffee and confiture. “La vie est dur sans confiture” (life is tough without jam) the French say.

Once the groceries are taken care of, we like to walk up St. Germain and sit down for a drink at Cafe de Flore or au Deux Magots. If we don’t have dinner plans we either grab a bite at Brasserie Lipp, on the other side of the street, or take a walk down to the Ile st Louis, cross the Marais, drop in at a gallery opening (there’s always one), pass by Place de Vosges, a pleasure for the eyes, and return to the apartment to enjoy a dinner with a view.

In the following days it is all about Paris. If we haven’t booked an exhibition We pick one part of town on the map get there by metro’ and then walk back. It’s a great way to discover new places. A little store, a passage, a small restaurant, a market. We normally end our walks at one of the movie theaters of the Quartier Latin and by the time we’re out it’s either time for tea at Mariage freres or for a drink. We hop on a taxi or walk and reach a wine store/bar in the beautiful Gallerie Vivienne by the Louvre. Its mosaic, tiled floors and brass lamps are not to be missed (as well as the champagne). That’s why We like to drink there when in Paris; it’s a time warp, elegant, cozy and fairly priced.

We like to get lost in Paris’ passages and galleries or to browse around the flea and food markets. We buy all sorts of stuff, but mostly food in order to invite friends over to have pasta avec poivrons (when Italy meets France). We also enjoy our walks up and down the Quais (the banks). We walk everywhere since we must admit that spending all of your time in the metrò is not very charming. As Catherine Deneuve sings in Malcom McLaren’s 1998 Paris Paris: “Saupoudrez de poussiáre du métro Mais n’en prenez pas trop, Paris perdrait son á¢me”.

Deneuve also tells a Barman how to make the perfect Paris cocktail for French speakers only to be used as a sort of surreal guidebook: “Barman dans le shaker, d’abord de l’élégance. Un trait de Sacré-Coeur et deux doight de Doisneau, une Piaf, quelques moineaux et Joséphine Baker. Lá une de Prévert, mais sans raton-laveur. Prenons un dernier verre pres Bateau lavoir, Une Simone de Beauvoir et deux singes en hiver. Mettez trois notes de jazz dans un quatier latin Un menu sur l’ardoise un fond d’un bar-tabac Et la résille d’un bas sur un genou qu on croise . Un zeste de Javanaise, un tour de Moulin Rouge et deux de Notre-Dame . Nappé de macadam, décoré d’un chaland D’Anvers ou d’Amsterdam un canal, Arletty.”

It goes without saying that shopping in Paris is an absolute must. When We don’t have much time we shop at the Bon Marche and get it all over in one elegant department store. But when we have more time We walk through the surrounding streets instead – the Rue Bonaparte for example. We stop at Saint-Sulpice for a rest and to admire the Delocroix paintings. If it is around lunchtime we might have a sandwich camembert at a small café in the place de la Croix Rouge. That square always reminds us of the Alain Resnais musical comedy “on connait la chanson” and we start singing.

We call it our own private Paris but we basically do what anyone else would do there (adding a twist): See a show, go to Belville and Melimontant, Fauburg st Honorè, Beabourg, the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Simply fly to the Ville Lumiere, get lost and find your own private Paris. Paris will guide you. But make sure to forget home until it’s time to pack again.

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