Home
Paris in Spring

Paris in Spring

Hotel Fabric is a fantastic little boutique tucked away on a side street in 11. Checkin was warm and friendly with fresh flowers. The lobby is designed to feel like a living room and includes an honor bar.

IMG_1857

IMG_1861

IMG_1858

We were assigned room 206.

206 sitting area

206 sitting area

206 bedroom

206 bedroom

IMG_1867

Many interesting design elements are included in the room which is in no way a hamster cage.

IMG_1880

IMG_1879

The bathroom is superb with an excellent shower. The LED lights are very clever

Shower excellence

Shower excellence

IMG_1865

IMG_1866

IMG_1871

IMG_1878

IMG_1877

About the only quibble with the property is these stupid “don’t steal my hanger hangers.” These do not belong in an upscale hotel.

no no no no

no no no no

Paris in late April is incredible. Mini rainstorms and bright blue sky between grey clouds.

We spent some time at Luxembourg Garden and at the Louvre.

Luxembourg Garden

Luxembourg Garden

IMG_1934

Since Air France still can’t locate our lost bag after two days, we bought some clothes at a Paris boutique.

Dinner at Kitchen Galerie Bis was outstanding—Asian-French fusion done by a master.

And then Prescription Cocktail Club for some excellent cocktails.

An experimental cocktail (hah) at Prescription

An experimental cocktail (hah) at Prescription

Prescription

Prescription

Humphrey crafted an Experimental Cocktail
0.5 cl fino inocente sherry
20 cl cocchi rosa sernoutit
10 cl calvados
40 cl blanton’s cask strength bourbon

Prescription remains an excellent bar with top notch service.

Hotel Fabric is a fantastic place to stay in Paris in April. Five showerheads and some LED lights thrown in for good measure.

Now for the fun part.

IMG_0421

I’ll try to forget that I am trapped at yet another crappy Marriott hotel (this seems to be happening too often this year, but at least this time it’s free). That should be easy to do, because this is Paris after all.

One find worth noting is the Bistro a Vin (aka Paris Gourmand) gem in 14th close to the awful Marriott Rive Gauche. They have no website and tripadvisor sucks, but I have been there and the duck confit and citron tarte were out of this world. Very simple, authentic French cooking done properly. It beats the hell out of eating at the Marriott! (Well, I assume anyway. After one “croissant” there I didn’t eat another scrap of Marriott food.) The owners are very friendly.

Paris Gourmand (aka Bistro a Vin)

Paris Gourmand (aka Bistro a Vin)

In the mixology department, the bar that started everything in Paris is called the Experimental Cocktail Club. It is superb. Late on a Sunday evening after a delicious relaxed meal, we stopped in for a drink or two.

ECC stock photo.

ECC stock photo.

Barman Maxine Potfer was happy to play, willing to chat, and all around just a great guy. Mad mixing skills as well, with a particularly impressive pour. I have an appropriate Experimental Beverage made as follows:
cucumber (muddle)
2 cl Amer Picon
2 cl Salers Gentiane Apéritif (look here)
2 cl Gin (London style)
3 cl Genever (bols)
1 cl port wine
2 dashes French absinthe
Muddle. Shake. Serve on the rocks highball fashion.

Great. Now I have to get some Salers!

Sadly, a second visit only confirmed that Salers is hard to work with. It has a very large bicycle tire attractor.

Also of note was this.

Iron Maiden's  Bruce Dickinson geeks out.

Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson geeks out.

Eddie is much more dangerous.

Eddie is much more dangerous.

Way more striking than Eddie.

Way more striking than Eddie.

In restaurant land, I was taken by some foodie friends (from Minnesota no less) to Benoit for a very nice upscale meal. Very nice Pheasant. Supremely great desserts. A well stocked wine list (we had a Cote Rotie). Though it apparently has its ups and downs, Benoit has been around since 1912.

I ventured out i the drizzle this afternoon to find some Amer Picon to take home and ended up at a corner “supermarket” run by a Moroccan. He was very nice, but my broken French and his broken French met at right angles. Enter a friendly Mauritanian to translate, and lo and behold, we found 3 dusty bottles. I bought a bottle of wine for the Mauritanian for his trouble, happy to find the elixir I must bring back home. Smiles all around.

Later in the trip I enjoyed meals at the new, small and mostly secret Chez Edgar (which is in a superb looking boutique hotel), Le Souffle (just do it), and the absolutely incredible Spring (a Daniel Rose place). Americans win, hands down. In Paris. What is the world coming to?

Mortality? Why certainly.

IMG_0428

IMG_0441

And then there is the Louvre.

Gorgeous day for a stroll though the Louvre.

Gorgeous day for a stroll though the Louvre.

Obligatory Venus

Obligatory Venus

Hermaprodite 1

Hermaprodite 1

Hermaphrodite 2

Hermaphrodite 2

How dare you think that.

How dare you think that.

Best painting at the Louvre.

Best painting at the Louvre.

Wow.

Wow.

Mona Lisa scrum.

Mona Lisa scrum.

Lunch across from Napoleon.

Lunch across from Napoleon.

IMG_0489

Good dog.

Good dog.

An then there was shopping. Computer bags, coats, shoes. You name it, all picked out with Pascual and Stefano. Their style trumps mine!

Prescription cocktail club is fantastic. Much noisier (with a DJ) than ECC. But fun spread over two floors. Master barman Yann Tesnier has created the very fresh Mary Action
1/2 tomato juliee
2 dashes celery bitters
2 cl lime
2 cl simple syrup
4 cl tequila blanco
1 spoon reduction of balsamic vinegar
+ pepper (on the top)
Serve on big cubes.

Paris rocks.

The feeling this picture gets across pretty much sums this property up.

The feeling this picture gets across pretty much sums this property up.

Lets get this straight. I’m here because I have to be. I am directly involved in a large congress with over 825 people most of whom are staying here at the Marriott Rive Gauche. There is a crazily designed conference center here where we held the show.

Simply put, this property has seen better days. And in case you wondered, the 14th arrondissement is not really Paris. (Somewhat fittingly it is home to the catacombs.)

I am in plussed up Executive Class Junior Suite 1755. It’s about what you would expect from a Marriott: that inexplicable musty smell, really creaky HVAC, design from the late 70s, colors no longer found in nature, bathroom layout that is just laughable, concrete walls that are so thin you hear the neighbors (all of them), expensive bad net that is overstressed when geeks are present, and awful showers.

Without further ado lets jump right in.

The set of rooms seems like a cave that you must duck your head into. That’s probably due to the “hide a beam” paint job.

Welcome to the room that seems shorter than it really is.

Welcome to the room that seems shorter than it really is.

Exactly what color is that couch?!

Exactly what color is that couch?!

Whoa, the architect was on crack.

Whoa, the architect was on crack.

The bed is very comfortable.

The bed is very comfortable.

There was a flower here when I arrived. It has since disappeared. It inspired the title of this post.

Fallen flower.

Fallen flower.

There are two bathrooms which are mirror opposites. They are equally strange.

Really?

Really?

Euroshower.  Terrible shower head.  Thin plastic tub.

Euroshower. Terrible shower head. Thin plastic tub.

Yeah, really.

Yeah, really.

There is this kind of view of whatever this is a view of. Paris, where are you?

Paris, the side most people never look over.

Paris, the side most people never look over.

All that aside, this room needs some attention. Like new carpet that is not gold, better furniture, revitalized HVAC, and some help in the land of wallpaper.

This is one of several wallpaper issues in 1755.

This is one of several wallpaper issues in 1755.

I am also distressed to report that on Monday I had the worst croissant I have ever had in France. I believe it must have been flown in special by United airlines in cahoots with their supplier.

But all is not lost this trip. I am in Paris and there is great stuff to do. I think I’ll make a separate blog entry for the good stuff.

But I can share one tip. If you find yourself stuck here for whatever reason, just around the corner (out to the right and left at the first street) is a great little bistro, Bistro A Vins (aka Paris Gourmand)— authentic, simple, and fabulous. Across the street from that gem is the more workaday L’alouette which has net (password: alouette) and nice staff.

The Mormons of Marriott are giving US brands a bad name here in Paris. Way down there with Burger King and McDonalds. Horrors. A low two showerheads (and a look the other way) for the Marriott Rive Gauche. Only stay here if you must.

How do London, Paris, and Florence compare shower-wise in our ultra-scientific three data point shower comparison experiment?

London.

London.

Paris

Paris

Florence

Florence

Florence wins, hands down. Curvy glass, superb water pressure, and not really large enough to fit really fat Americans.

Paris comes in a close second, suffering only from not enough light to determine whether the soap is working.

Alas, poor London drags in way last. Hot water that has a life of its own (it’s hot, it’s cold, you can’t tell, jump!), variable pressure, shower curtain over a tub. Too many shower-oriented bugs to overlook.

Shower in Florence if you get a chance.

How about art?

We’ll have to give that to the Pompidou Center in Paris. I’m afraid my preference for modern art over so many tortured Renaissance Jesuses is showing!

Food?

Though there were many memorable meals to be had, the best meal on this journey was experienced along with some superior jazz in Florence at the Golden View Open Bar. Chez Oscar in Paris comes in a close second due to the warmth and hospitality of the owners who also happen to make a great duck confit.

And mixology?

London hands down, where the Zetter Townhouse now feels about as much like home as a bar 3738 miles from home can feel. Thanks to Kamil Foltan, Aga, Nikko, Will, and everyone else for making us welcome.

Experimental design.

Experimental design.

Arriving from London on the Chunnel Eurostar is interesting. I’ve done the channel, but not the chunnel. The chunnel needs net. But it’s fast.

The Hotel Original is in Marais very close to the Bastille metro. Incredibly easy to get to from almost anywhere in Paris (including Gare du Nord where the London train “lands”). That’s good. But it’s on the very busy boulevard Beaumarchais in 11. Get a room in the back if you can.

The design here is cheeky and stylish and about as in your face as can be. But it’s a great space even if it does love itself madly as it looks at itself in the mirror. Perhaps a better name might have been Hotel Narcissus, eh? The joker could play the role of Demeter.

Who's purple? Original (not ordinary).

Who’s purple? Original (not ordinary).

The staff is very nice. Friendly and willing to sacrifice their cell phone number for Musee D’Orsay tickets. The space is striking inside—well lit and quirky with fiber lights in the form of jellyfish swimming liberally throughout the halls.

Room 205 (the joker) is super. And super tiny. This is Paris, but NY is NY, Boston is Boston, and San Francisco is San Francisco. Meaning, there are bigger rooms to be found in this city in boutique hotels. I just don’t know where they are yet.

Magic entrance.

Magic entrance.

Just don't turn on the lights.

Just don’t turn on the lights.

The bathroom glass cube shower (!) helps the room seem bigger.

Bathroom lurking in the corner.

Bathroom lurking in the corner.

Check that out.  A glass shower cube.

Check that out. A glass shower cube.

Store your stuff in the hall though.

No room for your toothbrush here.

No room for your toothbrush here.

Neon threesome?

The joker looms.

The joker looms.

Paris has gorgeous boulevards.

Paris has gorgeous boulevards.

Our welcome to Paris was complete with a superb and simple meal at Chez Oscar. Man do the French know how to cook! In the end, our meal at Chez Oscar was the most memorable and fun because the owners (Oscar and Marina) were fantastic. We went back to visit them throughout the visit.

Mixology? Maybe, but not on Dimanche or Lundi. Or maybe not.

In any case, the Hotel Original is a four showerheads location. A very nice little boutique with some minor drawbacks (you can choose either a noisy room or a tiny room, but not a large quiet room from what we can tell).

Gorgeous blue on a Lundi.

Gorgeous blue on a Lundi.

Speaking of Lundi, our visit to the Pompidou was superb. Lunch at Les Bonne Soeurs was very nice indeed. Dinner at Minimes was not quite as good as the drinks (they can now make a Liberal) or the atmosphere, but was nothing to complain that loudly about. We had more fun the first night eating further down the food chain.

Martedi included some time at Musee D’Orsay (where advanced tickets were necessary and helped us avoid another very long line). There was also the obligatory retail at LaFayette, a superb bistrot dinner with Stephano at Chez Andre, and a night visit to the Eiffel tower.

I take picture of clock.  (Musee D'Orsay)

I take picture of clock. (Musee D’Orsay)

The retail big top.

The retail big top.

Ring one of the retail circus.

Ring one of the retail circus.

Vive la france.

20130326_234051