We’ll Always Have Paris
WHAT TO DO:
Musée de l’Orangerie: Closed in 2000 for extensive renovations and reopened in May of 2006, Musée de l’Orangerie (the orangery of the Tuileries Palace) is the permanent home of Claude Monet’s "Nymphéas" ("Water Lilies"), as well as the repository for the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume Collection, a true connoisseur’s collection of masterpieces from the likes of Cézanne, Renoir, Picasso, Rousseau, Matisse, Derain, Modigliani, Soutine, Utrillo and Laurencin.
Nearly as mesmerizing as Monet’s "Nymphéas" (arranged in two oval rooms) is the awe from the museum’s visitors at finding themselves completely surrounded by such brilliance. It’s a joy to witness.
LINK: Musée de l’Orangerie
WHERE TO STAY:
Hotel Marais Bastille: Ideally situated at the edge of the Marais on the tree-lined Boulevard Richard Lenoir, the Marais Bastille is within easy walking distance of the Bastille Opera House and the Picasso Museum. A three-star establishment with four-star service and hospitality, this sleek and stylish hotel is a member of the world’s largest hotel chain, but you’d never know it upon crossing the threshold.
Instead, the Marais Bastille feels as comfortable as a well-heeled Parisian’s townhouse, with the same level of conviviality that you’d expect from a friend hosting you for the weekend. The staff is unfailingly polite and accommodating, as well as efficient and cheerful. Managed and operated by a Frenchman born and raised in Morocco, with a Colombian wife, the hotel exudes the kind of gracious elegance one expects from true citizens of the world: those who appreciate the joys of travel - and the comforts of home.
Furnished in a palette of pale browns and dove gray, with splashes of puce and chartreuse, the rooms are beautifully designed, with keen attention to detail. Decorated with restraint, with complimentary WiFi and LCD TV, these are rooms without unnecessary frou-frou and, thereby, perfect for contemporary life in Paris.
Breakfast is served in the library, which also serves as a lounge in the evenings. The lobby is a testament to clean lines and thoughtful design (with complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel), while the interior courtyard is perfect for a late afternoon tea or apero.
To open the French window of one’s room at the Marais Bastille in the morning and to gaze across the boulevard at the lushly-landscaped park is to feel a part of Paris - and what more could you ask of a hotel than for you to feel completely at home.
LINK: Hotel Marais Bastille or Hotel Marais Bastille
WHERE TO EAT:
Monjul: A jewel in the heart of the Marais, Monjul is the extremely accomplished restaurant of Julien Agobert, a chef with nearly twenty years of experience. With a mastery of French cuisine, Agobert also possesses a joyous vision that manifests itself in plates that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are gourmet treats. In keeping with its suggestive name, Monjul makes a delicious setting for romantic assignations and seductive scenes.
Cojean: At last count, there seemed to be nineteen of these adorable, self-serve restaurant/cafeterias scattered around Paris - and all of them serving some of Paris’ most nutritious gourmet food. Furthermore, every Cojean is stocked with a young and energetic staff that is as happy to serve you this delicious food as you are to eat it. Similar to London’s Pret, Cojean is a reminder that French food is - ultimately and always - good for you.
Open Café: One of the most popular gay bar/bistros in Paris, centrally located on rue des Archives and rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Open Cafe is as perfect for a morning coffee as it is for an afternoon apero. The boys are lovely to look at and the energy is infectious and there’s always a parade to watch. You might linger longer than you’d originally intended - but you’ll be happy you did.
LINK: Open Café
(Feature story continues on next page: Getting There, Gay Tourist Info, Photo Album...)