Archive for November 30th, 2018

November 30, 2018

The jewels of Paris, Intercontinental Hotels, II

I believe I have mentioned this briefly in my many posts on Paris since 2010 ::) However, I have not written a post on them alone. It could be a short post or long, the bottom line I have great memories of these hotels and would like to share it and have a post to remind me for a long time. This is a repeat post, see photos here:  The photos of the Intercontinental Hotels

Intercontinental Hotel or l’Inter (now the Westin Paris) on rue Castiglione near the Tuileries garden,  and the Le Grand Hotel Intercontinental and its wonderful Café de la Paix by the Opéra Garnier. Now,there is another one call the Marceau.

The newest one is at 64 Avenue Marceau, and the webpage is: http://www.ic-marceau.com/en/home/

So why I have good memories of it and always will remember them? Well , I used to worked in them, and was in charge of all intercontinental hotels including Cannes, and the Holiday Inn hotels in France own outright by the group Intercontinental Hotels Group. Two wonderful years bouncing from one to the other in an top management position in the Accounting dept.

I went thru wonderful Christmas parties for the employees, to welcoming and meeting some of the famous and known such as U2, Condoleezza Rice , Sec of state USA; Stéphane Bern , French actor, presenter and many many more. Working with the upper class of the French nobility including Princess Napoléon, to the marquis and dukes of France; and the famous brands who held many events in the hotels from Louis Vuitton, to Chanel, to the fabulous Fashion Weeks of Paris.

Funny stories from how to keep famous groups in the hotel because the money was late in arriving, to doing special invoicing for Louis Vuitton and Sanofi pharma group; to helping with the princesses and prince of the Middle East; and of course helping my colleagues from serving as English/French  translator for the film crew from South Korea (needed to spent a night in the hotel ,junior suite looking at the Eiffel tower!); and helping out the expat community on providing free host in the great salon (historical monuments of France) for charitable events (raising funds for the hurricane Katrina of New Orleans LA USA fame).

The Intercontinental Paris-Le Grand webpage is here:  https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/paris/parhb/hoteldetail#scmisc=nav_hoteldetail_ic

and it’s wonderful cafe Café de la Paix is here: http://www.cafedelapaix.fr/en/

The ceilings of the Café de la Paix were done by Charles Garnier of the opera fame and many others, they are historical monument of France and the intricate work you see, has even more value than those in the hotels. You do not have to eat in to just past in and see the ceiling.

The Le Grand hotel at the corner of 2 rue Scribe,and 12 blvd des Capucines, has a wonderful bar with leather sofa seats and piano music to soothe your soul in Paris. It ,also, has a great I-Spa by Algotherm. La Verriére is a wonderful garden style bistro with a great glass cupola right in the middle of the hotel. It was built between 1861 and 1862 for the coming of the Universal Exposition of 1867. The palace hotel was opened in great pomp by the Emperatrice Eugénie as well as the Café de la Paix in May 1862 ( soon to have 155 yrs old). The salon a historical monument of France here is call Salon Opéra and on the side is facing the Opéra Garnier!

My offices were in the mezzanine section off the general public but we needed to walk into the public areas unassumed and enjoy the beauty ::)

The HQ handling all the hotels was at the Intercontinental Paris or affectionally called L’Inter. It was at the corner of the streets 3 rue de Castiglione and rue Rivoli. It opened in 1878 as the Hôtel Continental. It was built at the lot of the old Ministry of Finances burned in the uprisings of 1871 ; the Grand Dukes of Russia stayed here each time passing by Paris.  The hotel was renamed  the Inter-Continental Paris in the 1970’s then the The Westin Paris in 2005 ,and now call the The Westin Paris -Vendôme from  2010. The historical monument of France here is call Salon Napoléon.

It ,also has a Spa, Six Senses, and great bar ;these are Le First, and Le Terrace under the cupola in the garden center of the hotel; but my favorite and always around here was Le Tuileries Bar ,very cozy sofas and great drinks, taking you back to the 19C: more on it here: http://www.tuileriesbar.com/en/

The offices were again in the mezzanine area off the general public but we could walk all over, and I did as my job will take me to see the restaurants/bar personnel as well as the rooms. The walks between the l’Inter and Le Grand were sublime passing by the Place Vendôme into the Place de l’Opéra!!  Many of the colleagues working in non management positions are still there as well as some who have move up to management position now. A good bunch of people.

One other IHG property I was responsible for was in Cannes, the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in the Croisette! I visited there,and knew all the management staff;some came over to Paris later on. A rich history as well since 1913 as the Carlton Hotel catering to rich and noble Russians from the Grand Duke down. In 1922 the first league of United Nations was held here,and the film Festival of Cannes was done here in 1939.  The Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief was done here in 1954, and Grace Kelly Princess of Monaco had it as almost her personal residence. It became as we know it today in 1982 when the IHG took majority interest.

In all, in those early years of 2004-2006, I was, also, responsible for the Holiday Inn -pl de la République in Paris (now a Crown plaza hotel), and the Holiday Inn Disneyland ,who of course, I not only visited on business but also stayed with the family while going to Disneyland Paris(the hotel is now call the Vienna House Magic Circus Hotel).

Those days were good and the ambiance fantastic, I always stayed now in these hotels even in other visited abroad like the Intercontinental Castellana in Madrid, or the Athenatum in Athens Greece or the Intercontinental Dusseldorf in Germany. And many Holiday Inns all over.

As to why the journey was over, well as it happened in our world, I and all the management class was dismissed when our employment contract was held at the l’Inter and it was sold to a pension fund from Singapore ,who in turn gave the management to the Starwood chain, and they decided to change the name to the Westin along with dismissing the management personnel on a nice transaction deal in my belle France.  The package was nice, the leaving was hard ,even today I missed the ambiance, the friends, the place.

And now that you know from where I am coming from, well do stay there, eat there, drink there, is a Paris France institution and worth the detour for all.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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November 30, 2018

Some news from France CCXI

And back with the latest news from my belle France. Times are going fast and the season to be most merrier is coming upon us. There are plenty of good cheers around us and lots of hope for those on the recovery hill. Let me tell you some good news for a change!

Ten million!!! The Louvre is guaranteed to beat, by the end of December 2018, its annual record, for the time set at 9.7 million visitors in 2012, foreign tourists have returned. Massively, Americans (about 1 million) and Chinese (800 000) in the lead. From January 5th, 2019 ,the Louvre will launch a free Nocturne (night opening) on the first Saturday of each month, from 18h to 22h. These twelve Saturday evenings in 2019 will replace the current gratuity of six Sundays a year, whose studies show that they do not benefit the family public that the Louvre wants to attract. Another innovation of these Saturday Nocturnes: if the wings Sully and Denon will be in free access, it will be necessary to book online-free (registrations from December 10 2018) to visit the Richelieu Wing, which houses the antiquities of Mesopotamia, the Art objects or French paintings.  More here: Official Louvre Museum Paris

The traditional Christmas market of the magic of Auteuil (16éme arrondissement or district of Paris) comes from December 1st to 9th, 2018. Shopping, terroir, shows and exhibition for the whole family. This Christmas market offers you both traditional gastronomy (foie gras, wines, champagne, macaroons…), Christmas decoration (fir trees, Santas de Provence) and creations in a creative space (leather goods, jewelers, confectionery, soaps…) ! Ideal for those who are looking for their Christmas gifts. An oyster bar for the most greedy!  An exhibition of about thirty crèches carried out by the young apprentices of Auteuil.  Concerts, fanfares, children’s shows, pony rides, organized on weekends for the enjoyment of all.  Antique rides, flea market, but also a magic show on Wednesdays.  Gourmet Cottages held by young apprentices in catering, to warm us up with specialties of festivities. More here:  https://www.sortiraparis.com/actualites/noel-et-fetes/articles/34937-les-feeries-d-auteuil-2018

In my dear beloved Versailles, since this past Thursday night. For the first time, the Place d’Armes and the three avenues constituting the famous trident are illuminated. Avenue de Paris, Avenue de Sceaux, and Avenue de Saint Cloud.

This Saturday and Sunday December 1-2  2018, the Domaine of Madame Elisabeth (sister of Louis XVI), 73 Avenue de Paris in Versailles will welcome the Christmas counter with, on the program, a nice selection of animations.  Local creators and producers, original and refined gifts, tastings and onsite dining, children’s Animations: Christmas carols, Merry-go-round, magician, Photo Studio… Creative workshops for young and old, staging showing the rooms of the Domaine, and illuminations. Note that the Christmas counter will be open on Saturdays from 14h to 22h30 and Sunday from 10h to 18h. More here: City of Versailles on Christmas 2018

At Cergy (Val d’Oise dept 95). In the city center you will enjoy for Christmas the show Noël O’Merveilles from December 15-16 2018. One of the towns of my crossing in the Paris region very fond of it with nice memories.More here:  http://www.cergy.fr/se-divertir/temps-forts/il-etait-une-fois-noel/noel-omerveilles-1479/

Sadly, in Maisons-Laffitte, France Galop announces the closing of the racecourse at the end of 2019. Which is distinguished by the longest straight line (2,000 meters) in Europe.  While it is now designed so that 1,500 horses can train at the same time, less than 500 are there today with a deficit of 119 million euros.  France Gallop, has other racecourses such at Longchamp, Auteil, Saint-Cloud, Chantilly ,and Deauville. http://www.france-galop.com/fr/hippodromemaisonslaffitte

The Grandes Écuries du domaine de Chantilly are launching this weekend December 1-2 2018 their new equestrian creation for the winter « Le songe d’une nuit d’hiver ». midwinter nights dreams until January 6 2019. More here: http://www.domainedechantilly.com/en/event/a-midwinter-nights-dream/

The current floating guinguette of the Invalides will be replaced by the end of the year by her sister, Rosa 2. The boat will continue its festive life in the west, at the Rosa Bonheur in Asnières-sur-Seine, the last smaller inaugurated this summer. We look forward to discovering the improved version of one of our favorite Parisian guinguettes! A building that is rounded, with a metal structure carrying a glass envelope to remind the canopy of the Grand Palais, and in grey tones to integrate with the mineral framework of the banks of the Seine. A superior bridge to enjoy the summer evenings in  the winds. Bright Spring! Rosa Bonheur sur Seine port des Invalides, Quai d’orsay 7éme arrondissement. More here :   http://rosabonheur.fr/

Carsten Höller did it. Candidate to reinvent Paris II, the Ymagis group and the famous artist offer you a visual art center accessible by giant slides in the place of the old parking lot of the Grenier Saint-Lazare. Want to move quickly, surely and efficiently. Oh, it is not a leisure park but a work signed by the German artist Carsten Höller. Located in the place of the old parking lot of the Grenier-Saint-Lazare, this 72-seat underground parking lot has not welcomed any cars since 2014. The city of Paris has therefore decided to redevelop the 6 levels of 2 200 m2 (just that). The program therefore: two giant interlaced slides that plunge into the guts of Paris 18 meters deep! The venue houses 600 m2 of work and post-production spaces for feature films and series as well as 300 m2 of contemporary art exhibition spaces. And bonus: elevator/lifts and metal staircases are designed to rise to the surface. To be continue see photo rendition and credit.

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parking-du-Grenier-Saint-Lazare credit Chastang-Trouilleux France-Lanord Architectes

 

New appointment, the Ciné Gaumont les Fauvettes offers you every first Sunday of the month a Ciné-Brunch. Starting Sunday, December 2nd. Brunch is a must for weekends, as is the movies. So to feast on all the plans, we found you a ciné-brunch at Gaumont les Fauvettes. The program: A surprise movie to discover in preview followed by a delicious brunch! The recipe in sum ups  a perfect Sunday. Ciné-Brunch Gaumont Les Fauvettes, 58, avenue des Gobelins  13éme arrondissement of Paris from 10h30  to 13h30 . More info here: https://www.facebook.com/GaumontLesFauvettes/

Boulogne-Billancourt, visual of the île de Seguin. In the center of the island, the Vivendi group will settle between the Seine Musicale  and the future cultural and artistic pole carried by the Emerige group. After several years of litigation, Mayor’s office and associations negotiated a protocol paving the way for future developments of the old Renault site . http://www.ileseguin-rivesdeseine.fr/en

There you go , now come on over, eternal Paris has patient it is waiting for you and yours. Bienvenue!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 30, 2018

My best 1-2 punch of restaurants in Paris! Gare and Paix!!!

So will go into uncharted waters here as usually just post in a general sense about places to eat in France. However, these two restaurants have a lot of history, mines too! They are my sentimental all time favorites places to drink and eat while in Paris for many years ,and still do stop by when visiting.

My fav in Paris , La Gare, this superb restaurant of the 16éme district or arrondissement of Paris, which was once the train station of Passy- la Muette running on the  Auteuil line and the Petite Ceinture.  It has been totally transformed and it is my favorite spot in Paris for a drink or eating; already taken many visitor friends here including those from defunct travel forum like VT. A wonderdul oasis in Paris in the chic 16 district near the Monet Marmottan museum.just behind it passing the jardin du Ranelagh. Bear in mind it is again under renovation to open later in 2018 see the link below.

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The beautiful staircases whose walls are gilded with gold leaf to access the spectacular room that hosts the restaurant. Giant columns, design glass chandeliers, light canopy, large brass mirrors and 18C wall decor of the Maison Zuber: The place is remarkable. The sensation of grandeur reminds us of the first function of this space an old train station of the Petite Ceinture.

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In a timeless place, come and ask yourself to have a coffee in the summer garden or to dine in the huge restaurant under canopy, extended with a beautiful terrace of 500 m2 of surface and 185 seats. Hallucinating of space, height of ceiling, walls in red brick, this is what makes the interest of this place to the clientele very 16éme-West Parisian!

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When you go down the stairs to get to the quays and now dining room!, the place reveals a huge restaurant of 1 000m2 , revisited in a colonial style with vintage furniture. One has the impression, going down the steps, to be aboard the Titanic and its huge restaurant less thinking of the sinking but rather the train. Chic and refined atmosphere, pretty mural paintings and period columns contribute to the displacement.

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At the bottom of the room, we discover a beautiful terrace in the quiet, which will make your happiness on the days of good weather. Regarding the menu, the restaurant offers French cuisine to the most famous revisited. Located at 19 chaussée de la Muette metro line 9 La Muette out and turn left you see the restaurant ahead of you. Open every day and a delicious all you can eat Brunch on Sundays.

More on this wonderful icon of Paris is on the following webpages as usual to help you plan your trip here…

Official Restaurant La Gare

Tourist office of Paris on La Gare

Yelp for reviews as in my blog roll

Another of my fav places in Paris is the  Cafe de la Paix in the quartier or neighborhood of Chaussée-d’Antin in the 9éme arrondissement or district of Paris. Close to the Opéra Garnier, it is located on the corner of the 5 Place de l’Opéra and the 12 Boulevard des Capucines. . The Café de la Paix opened its doors in 1862. It was then the Cafe restaurant of the Grand Hotel de la Paix. In 1896, film projections are organized. In 2002, the Café de la Paix is renovated.

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It was built in the purest Napoleon III style, on the ground floor of a luxurious Haussmann building, which now houses the InterContinental Paris le Grand Hotel (former Hotel de la Paix, then Grand Hotel). It is one of my previous job in Paris in management and always with fond memories of it, visit now for the old days sake and friends still there.

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The imperialists (emperor) gathered at the Café de la Paix, on the Boulevard des Capucines, which then received the nickname of Boulevard de l’île d’Elba.

One could not choose a more beautiful location, as a meeting place, than the Café de la Paix, in one of the splendid buildings built during the reign of Napoleon III, this property is decorated with a great luxury. Painted ceilings, moldings, elegant columns, superb chandeliers, huge glazes concealing the walls, it is a wonderful palace where everyone can enter. Beside rises the immense mass of the opera; Opposite, on the other side of the boulevard, you will open the Avenue de l’Opéra, which stops at the place du Théâtre-Français, and the Rue de la Paix, built by the leader of the Imperial dynasty. At the end of this road, place Vendôme. Where we can see the column of Austerlitz.. Everything in this neighborhood recalls the memories of the two empires; Instinctively as much as in taste, Napoleon’s friends and supporters will walk there, reminding of the great past and future hopes.

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One sees the Café de la Paix in the cartoon movie The Aristocats.

Again, some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Café de la Paix

Tourist office of Paris on Café de la Paix

Yelp on reviews as in my Blog Roll

And, there you go ,if you come to Paris and want to experience the real Parisian feel in historical surrounding with great company and food, then by all means these two should be in your list. And not to worry about Michelin, these can beat any there in my opinion, there are just too refined for the list….. Cheers

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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