There’s nothing more annoying than coming home from a trip, excitedly relating your experience—and having someone tell you about that “fabulous little B&B” you should’ve stayed in, that “amazing exhibit” you should’ve seen or the “incredible deal” you missed. We don’t want that to happen to our readers, so we asked our veteran Paris-watchers to share their insiders’ knowledge on everything from apartment rentals to organic markets to art galleries—you’ll find enough scoops to keep your coolness credentials intact well into 2006!
By Heather Stimmler-Hall
Many visitors to rural France have already discovered the charms of bed-and-breakfasts, or chambres d’hôtes, enjoying hospitality in authentic Provençal farmhouses or Loire Valley vineyards. Now even privacy-loving Parisians are warming up to the idea of welcoming guests into their homes.
In April 2005, the Paris City Council launched a new campaign called “Hôtes Qualité Paris,” a designation awarded to the city’s B&Bs that meet strict criteria for comfort, amenities and friendliness. The Web site of the Paris Tourism Office (parisinfo.com) lists the growing number of B&B agencies that have received the official seal of approval, including Alcôve & Agapes (Tel. 33/1-44-85-06-05; bed-and-breakfast-in-paris.com), which has been promoting Paris B&Bs since 1998.
Art lovers may want to check out the new service offered by Art Process (Tel. 33/1-47-00-90-85; art-process.com), a company specializing in making the art world more accessible to the general public. They offer visitors the chance to stay in real artist studios and the homes of local collectors and gallery owners for a minimum of three days and as long as four weeks.
Rooms in B&Bs are typically €50 to €100 per night, depending on the number of guests and amenities available, such as a private bathroom, air conditioning, kitchenette or Internet access. And of course, in addition to personalized hospitality, B&B guests also benefit from reliable advice and insider tips on exploring the city from their knowledgeable Parisian hosts.
Veni Vidi Da Vinci
By Melissa Omerberg
Da Vinci Code mania has been a Holy Grail for the tourism industry, with fans of the esoteric thriller signing up for trips, tours and hotel packages.
Museum tours include Paris Muse’s “Cracking the Da Vinci Code” (parismuse.com) and Paris Walks’ “The Da Vinci Code and the Louvre” (paris-walks.com). Or trace Robert Langdon’s steps around the French capital with two-hour guided tours offered by Paris Walks, Viator (viator.com) and various other operators.
On the hotel front, check out the Meurice’s luxury package featuring accommodations, breakfast, private tours and a commemorative watch (meuricehotel.com) or the Da Vinci Code package at the four-star Regina (regina-hotel.com). Hardcore addicts may even want to spring for a five-night stay at the Château de Villette (frenchvacation.com), home of the scheming Sir Leigh Teabing; the €3,900 rate includes accommodations, lunch at the Ritz, several meals and a group discussion of the book. The more budget-minded may simply tour this architectural treasure for €35 to €95.
Finally, Canals of France (canalsoffrance.com) offers a Da Vinci Code barge cruise through the Languedoc, with visits to Cathar villages and Rennes-le-Château.
By Natasha Edwards
The Parisian art world can sometimes seem hermetically sealed, so a good way to break in is with the Navette de l’Art (Art Bus), convivial daylong tours run by Art Process (Tel. 33/1-47-00-90-85; art-process.com). With their finger on the pulse of what’s new and worth seeing, Art Process takes up to 33 art enthusiasts around a half-dozen happening galleries, lesser-known art centers, apartment galleries and private collections, usually on the third Saturday of the month. They also offer tailor-made chauffeur-driven itineraries for one to four people in the Art Limousine as well as excursions to London, Brussels and Berlin. (Engish tours can be arranged.)
Also popular are their monthly “Dining with...” art dinners at Point Ephémère featuring guest speakers. Rather boho in style, Point Ephémère (200 quai de Valmy, 10e; Tel. 33/1-40-34-02-48; pointephemere.org) opened a year ago in a converted 1930s brick warehouse beside the Canal St-Martin. A descendent of the Hôpital Ephémère—the now legendary Montmartre artists’ squat of the 1980s and early ’90s—it declares itself a “centre de dynamiques artistiques,” putting on a multi-disciplinary mix of music, dance and visual art.
The northern Marais, however, is still the focus of Paris’s contemporary art scene. Emmanuel Perrotin (76 rue de Turenne, 3e; Tel. 33/1-42-16-79-79), one of the most astute Parisian gallerists, has moved here from the Louise-Weiss Left Bank enclave, setting up shop in a very chic hôtel particulier complete with garden. Along with big French names Sophie Calle and Bernard Frize as well as Japanese artists of the Murakami school, Perrotin has picked up some interesting new French and American talents, opening the fall season with impossible architectures by young Miami artist Daniel Arsham and the delicate suspended thread-and-pearl constructions of French artist Lionel Estève.
Chantal Crousel celebrates her 25th anniversary with a new home, moving from a courtyard space tucked behind the Centre Pompidou to a spacious new storefront gallery at 10 rue Charlot (Tel. 33/1-42-77-38-87; crousel.com), where she joins an increasingly trendy clutch of designers, clothing stores and cafés. The opening show on September 10 features both existing works and pieces created for the event from the impressive list of gallery artists that includes Anthony Cragg, Gabriel Orozco, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mona Hatoum, Darren Almond, Anri Sala, Melik Ohanian and Sean Snyder.
Meanwhile, powerhouse Yvon Lambert (108 rue Vieille-du-Temple, 3e; Tel. 33/1-42-71-09-33; yvon-lambert.com) has rearranged his gallery yet again so that it now has a permanent central space where you can view artists’ videos as well as the documentaries on artists that are commissioned to accompany each show. Christian Marclay, Robert Barry and Sol LeWitt headline this fall. There are also some brave new faces.
Opened in September 2004 by young duo Julia Schleicher and Andreas Lange from Berlin by way of London, Galerie Schleicher + Lange (12 rue de Picardie, 3e; Tel. 33/1-42-77-02-77; schleicherlange.com) presents young artists not previously seen in Paris. Most are from the UK and Eastern Europe, including London-based Zoë Mendelson. The fall program sees London’s Matt O’Dell, whose installations are inspired by catastrophes and conspiracies (Concorde, World Trade Center), and Prague artist Kristof Kintera.