DREAMSCAPES SPRING 2020
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I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME
 
(2020 - Spring Issue)

Writer: ILONA KAUREMSZKY



From the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower, Paris splays beneath our feet.

The first glimpse of this storied city along the River Seine leaves us breathless. The grand boulevards of Haussmann radiate from central hubs like spokes on a wheel. The avenues fan out like rays of sunshine leading the way to the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadero, illuminating a myriad of hidden streets where cafés and bistros beckon the flâneurs (French meaning idle strollers) to stay awhile.

From this vantage point, the elegant  domes of Les Invalides and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica pierce the skyline. When built in 1889 for the World’s Fair as a temporary exhibit, many Parisians and critics scowled at the twisted tower of steel designed by the great French engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel.

But for centuries, Paris has drawn artists like moths to a light.

Paris Spring Trip Planning

My Mum, on the other hand, had never set eyes on the City of Light until last spring when I took her on a special sojourn. By all accounts, Mum is a dyed-in-the-wool Francophile without realizing it. She enjoys French films, music, food and wine, all of which she completely relishes. She even ties her scarves in a stylish carefree French way. Another giveaway is her CD collection of les chanteurs (singers). Her favourite ditty is from the debonair Maurice Chevalier, I Love Paris.

So why plan a visit now? Well the excuse was there were spring birthdays to consider but really it was a surprise trip for my recently widowed mum to be with her and show her the city of her dreams.

Paris in springtime seems to restore the senses with life and hope through a multitude of flourishing gardens, rich gastronomy, stylish attire, and esteemed galleries—everything that feeds the mind and stirs the soul. 

Local Experiences

One morning in the Golden Triangle (Triangle D’Or) across from our hotel, the Hôtel Elysées Régencia, a hair salon reveals it is no ordinary one. Au contraire—an affable Mr. Frédéric invites us inside his flirty Maghreb-flared haute coiffure den of inlaid pearl mirrors bedazzled by crystal chandeliers. Strewn on the gold-painted wall, autographed photographs from France’s starlets Jeanne Moreau and opera singer Maria Callas and even a candid shot of a grinning Baroness of Rothschild erupt into a riot of conversations.

The surprises continue. Down the Avenue Marceau the late Yves Saint Laurent’s atelier glimmers in the spring light (his atelier is now a museum) while near our boutique hotel, which is situated between the most famous boulevards Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Avenue George V, a crop of luxury boutiques tease lovers of haute couture.

During our trip, we criss-cross the River Seine—between the artsy Left Bank and the sophisticated Right Bank—to view as many landmarks as possible. Time is a precious luxury in Paris. I quickly discover how a Paris Museum Pass, which gives access to a bundle of attractions, triggers you VIP access to avoid the endless queues at museums like the Louvre.

Sunday Brunch at Le Café Marly

Inside the regal palace to the Fine Arts, we smile at the Mona Lisa—she has her own room, ponder over other masterpieces and afterward arrive at the paragon of high society: Le Café Marly. Many consider the café one of the city’s it-spots. We join the glitterati of Sunday brunch guests dining on the terrace beneath the cut-stone arches of a Louvre wing. A year earlier actress Priyanka Chopra and her mum made headlines leaving Le Café Marly. We didn’t need the headlines, just each other.

With our fluted glasses of Veuve Clicquot champagne, Mum and I toast “Santé,” peer into one another’s eyes as is the French custom, and ease into this café society’s people-watching role. Facing the I.M. Pei-designed Pyramid, which is cloaked in a collage by the world’s bad boy street artist JR, we sit in this lavish emporium indulging in the lively scenes as formal waiters usher in plates of patisseries. Yum!

At the vast Tuileries Garden we reach the Musée de L’Orangerie for a spectacle of Claude Monet impressions. The building resembles a greenhouse but originally it sheltered orange trees before turning into the prized gallery for the great master’s water lilies. The fanciful splashes of his colour palette mimic his garden in Giverny, France. It’s a confectionery of brush strokes that feeds the soul.

A Riot of Flowers

Another day, for thrilling sightseeing we take a double decker bus hopping on and off at every whim. Mum, a lover of fine French fragrances, amuses herself at the Musée du Parfum Fragonard, one of the stops in the Opera Garnier Quarter. We immerse in the unique olfactory journey in Paris and inhale the bouquets of lavender, rose, and bien sur, purchase perfumes crafted from the parfumeur’s secret recipes. Founded in 1926, the Maison Fragonard is a family business.

More seasonal flowers feed our soul by the Luxembourg Gardens in the sixth arrondissement. At the Grand Bassin, bouncy boys steer vintage toy boats in races across the fountain. Squeals of their joy send us into laughter! Stroller pushers amble past as the doggy set stylishly stand striking a pose. The joie de vivre is exhilarating.

Eating Paris

On our final day, we take a culinary tour, which aptly starts at a garden in the tenth arrondissement. Amid sunny yellow tulips and the waft of jasmine lingering in the air, our guide announces how we’ll be discovering one of the desirable neighbourhoods in Paris.

We already know that. The local charm there is evident. Home to two train stations, Paris’s last remaining covered markets, and a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, we make a stop at the Canal Saint-Martin to indulge in a Croque-Monsieur (melted cheese and ham sandwich) re-imagined from the eatery, Fric-Frac.

In between gooey morsels, a crowd begins to emerge at this popular canal spot. More strollers, more toddlers—there’s laughter in the air, and in Mum, who is ready to take another bite out of Paris.

I love Paris in the springtime.

Travel Planner

Paris Museum Pass: parismuseumpass.fr

Open Tour Paris: opentourparis.com

Eiffel Tower: eiffeltickets.com

Eating Europe Paris Tours: eatingeurope.com/paris

Hôtel Elysées Régencia: hotel-elysees-regencia.h-rzn.com

Le Café Marly: cafe-marly.com/en

Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau: en.parisinfo.com

 
 
 
 
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