Midnight in New York, Morning in Paris
Somewhere around midnight in New York, as I'm watching "Midnight in Paris" on my iPad, it occurs to me that Woody Allen’s Paris and mine are mirror images on one another. That both of us are besotted with Paris! Mad about the historic monuments and magnificent squares—the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, the Place de la Concord—that add so much to the beauty of the city. Indeed, would Paris be Paris without them? At that point, I climb out of bed to compare my photographs with the fleeting images in the film. Starting with that of the Eiffel Tower.
Clearly, mine is the more intimate shot of that Great Beauty, one taken from a rare angle on the terrace of Les Ombres—'the Shadows'—a 'New French' at the museum Quai Branley. The all-glass design of the restaurant by the architect Jean Nouvel offers a panoramic view of Paris and when they open the doors to the terrace, you feel as if you're dining al fresco. It's heavenly.
But here's a tip: Should you go to Les Ombres, make sure to have your concierge book you a table close by the terrace, for then you will find yourself, as we did, eye-to-eye with what must be the world's most iconic monuments.
And all the while as we were wining and dining that day—a dry rosé from Provence was superb—we knew that behind the shrubbery seen in the photo above, thousands of tourists were milling about, waiting on line for an hour or two to take the elevators to the top of the monument. I can say, definitively, that seeing the Eiffel Tower from a quiet table at Les Ombres beats standing on line any day of the week. And on that particular day—a sunflower-sunny sky, puffy clouds scudding a China blue sky—I don't know which was better, the panoramic view when you stepped onto the terrace or the magnificent lunch. My suggestion? Order both.
Afterwards, mellow fellows that we were, we boarded a bateau on the Seine, to snap yet another intimate shot. This of the footing of the extravagantly beautiful Pont Alexandre III—the bridge that Gil and Gabrielle, the young blonde antiques dealer in the film "Midnight in Paris," walked in the rain, and another shot of Notre Dame gliding by.
But of course Paris consits of far more than monuments and squares. The first question any traveler must ask is where to stay? And in the film, the director put Gil and Inez up at the five-star Hotel Bristol on rue du Faubourg-St. Honore in the fashionable 8th arrondissement. For what can compare with its rooftop swimming pool? The elegant garden off the lobby? Top-rated L’Epicure? On this, Woody and I are in full agreement: If money is no object, the Bristol is the place to stay.
And, newly-arrived in Paris, where did the family go for lunch? To the glamorous 200-year-old Grand Véfour—resplendent with sparkling mirrors and , cushy red banquettes—tucked away in the arcades of the Palais Royal, an easy walk from the Louvre.
Over lunch that day, the conversation between Inez, Gil and her parents was lively—dare I say disjointed?—which made it hard to concentrate on where in the restaurant they were seated at, but I felt certain it was not the table the restaurant had traditionally reserved for the quintessential French writer, Colette. Not the table they had given us one fine evening when we dined at the grand Le Grand Véfour.
And while you're checking that out, I'm going to enjoy the coffee. Care to join me?