Crash this Party

The most hyped party of the season takes place tonight at the elegant Royal Monceau, a 1920s Parisian palace hotel. But if you haven't heard, the hotel is closing for a year of renovations, so this will be a very special destroy everything. Voila, a black-tie Demolition Party. The invitation-only VIP guestlist includes the who's who of French entertainment industry (interpret that any way you want), and supposedly many of the suites will be squatted by musicians who will certainly be encouraged to trash the place during their performances. If you want to quench your own appetite for destruction, start calling everyone you know (especially if you know they hang out at Le Baron) to secure one of the rare invitations. In the meantime, check out the teaser videos here, featuring interior designer Philippe Starck and the nightlife king Nicolas Ullmann (click "explore" to see all of the videos).


Visiting the Château de Versailles

A stroll through the King's State Apartments; the crowds are usually worse!

Visiting the Château de Versailles isn't always a simple thing to do on your own. In a constant state of renovations, you just never know when part of the chateau will be closed or open. When I went last Saturday, the Chapel and portrait gallery were closed for a private ceremony for the Knights of Malta. Hmph. The Opera and the Petit Trianon are still closed for renovations (although the latter should have been open by now; hmph again).

On the bright side, the Hall of Mirrors is finally completely restored and looking quite snazzy.

The new visitor's entrance is still under construction, and the newly restored main gate is up but not open. The Marble Courtyard facade is still under scaffolding, but they put a cute picture of the actual facade up there so it wouldn't look as ugly in photos.

This is the main entrance, those with tix on the right, those who need tix on the left. The new gate entrance still shrouded in the center.

A close-up of the shiny new gate.

The new visitor's entrance.

The Marble Courtyard.

If you go on the weekend this summer to see the fountains, don't forget that your Paris Museum Pass does not cover the garden entrance on the weekends (it's another €8), and that the fountains are only on part of the day (11am-noon and 3:30-4:30pm), so be sure you time your visit well.


For those of you who have been to Marie-Antoinette's Hameau in the past few years, it's worth noting that the entrance gate directly into the Hameau is now open (so you can have your driver/taxi meet you here to avoid walking all the way back to the Petit Trianon).

This is the first thing visitors see when entering Versailles: a plaque commemorating John D. Rockefeller Jr's generous contributions to restore the chateau just after WWI. Who says they don't appreciate us? ;)

I think this bed, once belonging to one of Louis XV's daughters, would look fabu in my flat. If anyone sees a copy at Ikea, drop me a line.



Fête de la Musique

The Fête de la Musique last weekend was a WONDERFUL experience. Although I hadn’t heard of the celebration until this last month living in Paris, it will definitely be an aspect of Paris life that I will recommend to everyone to experience! I went to explore the festivities with a friend of mine who was visiting from the States. At 10 PM, we wanted to listen to the Paris Ensemble Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony under the pyramids of the Louvre. Unfortunately, we were running late, and arrived after the space was filled. They wouldn’t let anyone else in, so we had to satisfy ourselves by peering through the glass pyramid, and listening to sound bites floating out of the revolving doors. The pyramids are surprisingly soundproof! The concert sounded beautiful, and if you were one of the lucky ones inside the pyramid, good for you! I imagine that it was a great concert.

We sat by the pyramids for awhile, appreciating the Louvre, and listening to what we could of Tchaikovsky, and then decided to find some other concerts. Droles%20de%20Mecs.jpgWe ended the night wandering down the Champs Elysees, where musicians and performers of varying talents were entertaining crowds. We walked by a particularly large crowd and stopped to see what they were drawn by. The performers, calling themselves “Drôles de Mecs”, were break dancers, and had an entire choreographed routine. The routine was pretty silly, and had a lot of the younger crowd laughing with their references to popular songs, etc. I was very impressed with the amount of strength it must have taken for them to perform some of their moves, and they were constantly on their heads or their hands or in the air.

The next day, signs of how much the French (and visitors) had enjoyed themselves the previous night were still very evident. Almost every green recycling bin I walked by was surrounded by a sea of wine and beer bottles that didn’t fit into the giant container. At least there was a clear effort to recycle! The Fête de la Musique is one night where Paris seems to truly relax and have fun. The atmosphere of the night is contagious, and I know that I will remember it as a very enjoyable experience. I hope everyone that participated this year feels the same, and if you’ll be in Paris next year for the Fête de la Musique, make sure to go!


Newsletter #83: June 2008

IN THIS ISSUE: * Announcing Heather’s New Guide * The Bad News: Paris Metro Rates Rise Again * The Good News: There are Still Bargains in Paris * Heather’s Ten Paris Picnic Tips * Secrets of Paris Summer Intern * Responsible Shopping * Afternoon Tea in an Artist’s Atelier * Sales & Chic Shopping * Cocktails on the Seine * Secrets of Paris Reader Wants to Trade Maps * My Friends’ Parisian Adventures * Free Massages * Own a Little Piece of Paris without Going Broke * Aveda Facials in Paris * Fashion for a Cause * Sightseeing for Indiana Jones Fans * Secrets of Paris Blog & Calendar * Heather’s Tours and Vacation Planning

Click to read more ...


June in Paris Snapshots

There's so much going on in Paris this month, it's almost impossible to go outside without stumbling onto some fun event. Here are a few pics from the past three weeks:

Delicate, one of the finalists at FallenFest, a competition of bands from the Ile de France region, played at La Cigale on June 15.
 Wall-to-wall people on the Butte aux Cailles during Fête de la Musique (photos taken at's light until 10pm here right now).
Doc Reggae, an American-born-musician-turned-Parisian, also played at the Fête de la Musique with his soul band.
Moi dressed as the Cheshire Cat with Olivier Bon of the Experimental Cocktail Club for their Monday night (June 23) "Alice in Wonderland" theme party (more photos here).
The Jardin Ephémère (temporary garden show) at the Hôtel de Ville (June 14 through August 17). A nice little piece of biodiversity in the concrete jungle.
Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi signing books at Shakespeare & Co's annual literary festival (June 14). I also got to hear talks by Alain de Botton and Jeanette Winterston
Outside Paris, the very shiny, newly restored gate to the Château de Versailles now welcomes visitors to the Sun King's domain (more tomorrow on the new visitor's welcome center and construction at Versailles).
Afternoon tea at the Belleville atelier of American-born artist Marcus McAllister (see the "news" section on his site if you'd like to visit) and his adorable doggie Grover.


Superdome at the Palais de Tokyo

    On Thursday, I went to the Palais de Tokyo to view their current exhibit, “The Superdome”. Yes, it is referring to the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Why an exposition in honor of this stadium? According to their explanation, the Superdome has seen events of every extreme of emotions – Hurricane Katrina, famous concerts, famous people. Similarly, the exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo is a display of extremes. It consists of five works by six artists.


    The first work that you encounter is by an artist Arcangelo Sassolino, called Afasia 1. It’s a nitrogen powered machine that projects empty beer bottles toward a board, shattering them. Another equally bizarre and interesting work is a room filled with Darth Vader helmets (Last Manoeuvres in the Dark, by Fabien Giraud and Raphael Siboni). I’m not sure I understood the meaning behind all of these contemporary works, but regardless of my comprehension, they are cool to look at. I suggest asking for a copy of the Palais de Tokyo magazine at the ticket desk, because it includes explanations and pictures that are helpful in understanding (or at least trying to understand) the thoughts behind the work. While you are visiting the Palais de Tokyo, you will also see some official looking people sitting in chairs. These are facilitators, and they are there to help answer any questions about the exposition. They are friendly and knowledgeable about the exhibit. Look for the badge though – other people sitting in chairs may just be part of the exhibit...


   One exposition, Dump, by artist Christoph Buchel, takes a little more planning to visit. From the outside, the exposition looks exactly as the name suggests – a giant pile of trash filling a room. This installation is interactive, and to fully experience it, you crawl through a tunnel leading deep into the pile. Visitors are allowed to enter two at a time, and each entrance takes 15-20 minutes. However, to enter the tunnel, you have to put your name on a list and wait your turn. When I went at 7 pm, all the time slots were taken right up until 11:30 pm (at which time the tunnel is closed). The guards suggested coming right at noon to put your name on the list. Since the visits last only twenty minutes, they said that usually you won’t have to wait long before your turn.  

    So words of advice, if you want to explore Dump, make sure to go early in the day to reserve your spot (talk to the facilitators by the tunnel). Also, occasionally the beer bottle launcher runs out of supplies, so be aware of that as well. As much as I like the hours that the Palais de Tokyo keeps, for this exposition, my suggestion is still to go as early in the day as possible.   

    The Superdome exposition will be displayed until August 24th. It’s a very contemporary exhibit, but I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it.