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Photographed by Emmanuelle Picciolo Modeled by GwennaĂŤlle Ruais Produced & Art Directed by Adrian Carlo Velasco Special thanks to the Embassy of France to the Philippines & Micronesia
There’s no better way to celebrate TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE’S five glorious years as the Philippines’ leading travel and lifestyle magazine than to present homage to one of the world’s most spectacular cities. Walking along its cobbled sidewalks, people watching at a quaint café, and enjoying the scent of freshly baked breads from a boulangerie are just some of the things that make us feel alive in the City of Lights. Statuesque French-Filipina model and Travelife contributor Gwennaëlle Ruais takes us on a personal tour.
HOTEL DE SENS We were transported back to the 15th century at the Hotel de Sens, a well-preserved city palace in the 4th arrondissement. Built between 1475 and 1507, and originally owned by the archbishops of Sens, the Hotel de Sens is one of the three remaining medieval residences in the city. Today the GothicRenaissance architectural masterpiece houses the Forney art library.
PYRAMIDE DU LOUVRE Before sunset, we headed off to the Louvre to enjoy the crisp autumn air. We strolled around the famous Pyramid and its three surrounding smaller pyramids in the main courtyard, its clean lines seamlessly matching the ornate details of the Louvre itself. Designed by the legendary I.M. Pei, master of modern architecture, this glassand-metal pyramid serves as the grand entrance to the museum and symbolizes the meeting of the past and future of Paris.
NOTRE DAME DE PARIS The Notre Dame Cathedral is located on the Ile de la CitĂŠ, which is the oldest section of Paris. The Gothic Roman Catholic church, a key symbol of Paris, was heavily damaged during the French Revolution, and most of its religious imagery was destroyed. It gained worldfame via French author Victor Hugoâ€™s 1831 classic, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
PARIS The TRAVELIFE TEAM’S eyes still sparkle just thinking about the City of Lights
Paris is full of clichés but at the same time it isn’t. Every day here feels like a scene from a movie or a picture straight out of a glossy magazine. But which came first? Did art and life imitate Paris? Or did Paris unwittingly transform itself to continue being the muse of art and life?
aris brings out the romantic in even the most jaded travelers. Take us at Travelife Magazine. We’ve landed at Charles de Gaulle airport so many times by now that we’ve stopped counting our visits – but we do find our way to this breathtakingly beautiful and indulgently delicious city whenever we can find the time and opportunity.
IN LOVE WITH THE CLICHÉS When we’re in Paris, we don’t even go sightseeing anymore, although we do have our favorite haunts. And, frankly, Paris 101 is so wellknown that no magazine needs to write more about it. But this doesn’t mean it’s lost its allure for us. It just means clichés need to be viewed with new eyes. The Louvre Museum, one of the world’s largest and most extensive, is at the top of every first-time visitor’s list, so we don’t need to remind you to go. But even we still reserve a day – or at least an afternoon – for this wonderful museum because the Louvre is actually best seen in bits and pieces. It’s impossible to see all 35,000 items in one go and probably overkill to do so; but those pressed for time on a first trip should head straight to the Mona Lisa and the magnificent Winged Samothrace on a staircase landing. Those planning never to say goodbye to Paris should take on a wing or a specific pavilion on every trip – there’s just so much more to enjoy and appreciate this way. Make time for the adjoining 63-acre Jardin des Tuileries, as well. It’s the loveliest and most civilized park in this part of the world. Marie Antoinette enjoyed walks here during the few times she escaped to Paris from the stifling atmosphere of Versailles. Today, there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting by the fountains of the Tuileries with a sandwich and a drink (in our case, a bottle of Orangina) on a late summer afternoon, watching children sail boats and lovers go a-courting.
Another cliché, of course, is the 300-meter high Eiffel Tower that dominates the city skyline from whichever way you look. Every tourist gets his or her photo taken here; but, frankly, we’re still mesmerized by it just like everyone else. What is it about towers and sparkling lights that make us feel so glad to be alive? We don’t need to go up for an Eiffel fix each time – although the Jules Verne restaurant on the second floor is indeed one of the most romantic places in Paris – but we do love walking from the Champs Elysees towards the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine River. Then we turn right and hike up the Trocadero because seeing the Eiffel Tower from here is always a picker-upper.
OUR FAVORITE WALK After we’ve had our fill of design beauty, we head on down to walk right under that masterpiece of iron and steel – this is our favorite view of the circa 1889 Eiffel Tower, by the way – and across the Champs de Mars and the Ecole Militaire towards the really local neighborhoods of the 7th arrondissement, for coffee and a pastry in one of the sidewalk cafes. If we’re lucky, we’ll be in time for the weekly neighborhood open-air market for baguettes, cheese and cold cuts. The picture-perfect cobblestoned streets of Paris are a standard ingredient for any story on this city; but again, we never tire of walking it, regardless of destination. Everywhere in this city is picturesque and historical. However, if we’re pressed to make a choice for only one afternoon of leisure, we would first have lunch at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, which has among the city’s prettiest restaurants (this is where Princess Diana sobbingly had a few bites for a last dinner), and then stroll very slowly from the Place Vendome to the ancient and artsy Marais district. This is not a short walk vignettes of authentic helps, too, that the of Christian Louboutin, our favorite shoe stores, in an alley so dark and narrow that you almost have to press against a building wall and hold your breath if a large car should come your way, is along this route; and that L’Ambroisie, one of the best restaurants in Paris, is at the end of it. Talk about a delicious ending.
but it’s full of Paris life. It original atelier one of
HISTORY & LUXURY Another over-trodden landmark is the Champs-Elysées. Today, it’s full of tourists, tourist traps, and rather garish stores, and even a fast-food chain or two; but we think it’s still the most beautiful avenue in the world. The 1.9 kilometer-long Champs-Elysées is more than just a fashion and shopping district; it’s the heartbeat of Paris. This is still one of the best places for a walk on a fine day, whether you’re a tourist or a local; and it’s on this very road that Parisians congregate to celebrate anything and everything – from Bastille Day to major sporting milestones like a French win in a World Cup match. The Tour de France bicycle races end here every summer with much fanfare as well.
One of our favorite views runs through this avenue too. We like to stand dead center at the top of the Tuileries, just at that point where you can see the Egyptian obelisk of the Place de la Concorde, and then view further beyond to the arch of the Charles de Gaulle Etoile and even further to the modern arch of the new city of La Defense. This in itself is Paris through the ages: from ground central of the French revolution to the triumphs of World War II to the strides and achievements the city has made in the 21st century. And when we’re through thinking about history and all the blood shed over the centuries to instill and then preserve freedom and democracy, it’s just a short walk from there past the fashionable Fabourg Saint Honore and the Elysée Palace towards the Hotel Bristol, and its excellent Michelin three-star restaurant, Epicure. Last time we were there, Chef Eric Frechon served a truly enjoyable seven-course degustation meal. Yes, ultimately Paris is not about sightseeing at all, but about the incredibly good life. n
ENDLESSLY FASCINATING H.E. GILLES GARACHON, Ambassador of France to the Philippines, shares what he loves most about Paris As a diplomat, I have been privileged to witness first-hand the beauty inherent to the countries of the East. From India to Burma, Indonesia to Malaysia, Asian culture and that of its individual countries never fail to awe and inspire me with their uniqueness. At times though, as I continue to explore and discover another side of Asia, this time through my posting here in Manila, I am reminded of the equally exceptional yet distinct features that Paris–my birthplace and home country’s capital—possesses which I cannot help but look back to fondly.
1 Enjoying a cup of coffee and a croissant on the
terrace of a French café is my ideal way to start my morning in Paris. It is always a pleasure to sit by the sidewalk with a copy of Le Monde while having a deep discussion of the day’s news with colleagues or a hearty conversation with some friends on the results of the last leg of the Tour de France.
2 I am also very fond of walking at random in Paris
streets, enjoying unexpected discoveries or meetings. Paris is so full of monuments and places of interest, famous or not. There is always a church somewhere, offering the shade of its centuries old vaults, for meditation or just admiring the beauty of its artistic treasures. Of course, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sainte Chapelle and Montmartre are the best of all; but there are so many hidden treasures.
3 Throughout history, Paris has always been known to
all as one of the art capitals of the world. A walk through the Louvre Museum is proof of Paris’ high regard for the arts as it never fails to stir my admiration for the different works of art on exhibit and respect for their creators. Of course, a look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa with her mysterious smile, never fails to amaze me.
4 Shopping at the Champs Elysées is always an experience for me, having to follow my wife from one shop to another. Champs Elysées is a long road of shops and boutiques for everybody, from Louis Vuitton to the Sephora perfume store, or the Virgin Megastore where our boys can get hold of some books or CDs. With so many things to see, shopping in Champs Elysées is never tiring for me, but it is dangerous for the credit card.
5 I find evenings in Paris simply beautiful, especially
along the River Seine. Taking a cruise on the Bateaux Mouches along the Seine and passing by the majesty of Le Pont Alexandre or the quiet intimacy of Le Pont des Arts is just as romantic for Parisians as it is for foreigners. Cruising by the Seine is most romantic at night, when Paris lives up to its title as the City of Lights in all its glory. Those who have visited Paris will likewise have their own list of people, places, or experiences that have touched them in one way or another. While I have always been fascinated with Asia and its diversity in culture and history, and I am grateful for each day that I learn more and more about it, France will always be special to me as my home. To write about all the things I love about France and Paris actually means making an endless list.
AMAZING VIEWS CARLO VELASCO climbs up Montmartre and the Notre Dame In Montmartre, I like visiting my favorite café, Café les Deux Moulins, which featured significantly in the awardwinning French film, Amelie. Here, I enjoy tea and croissants before a stroll up the hill to the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, the highest point in Paris. From here, you get a spectacular view of Paris. However, Le Marais, arguably the most effortlessly artistic district in Paris, is still my personal favorite. Here, aristocrats built beautiful mansions from the 13th to the 17th century, so the Marais is a living museum full of architectural wonders highlighted by 13th century townhouses like the Hotel de Sully, Hotel Carnavalet and Hotel de Soubise. But the Marais is more than just a heritage treasure. It’s also the stomping ground for shoppers with an eye for antiques and unique fashion. Place des Vosges is famous for its fine arts and antiques, while the shops along the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, like Satellite, are great for jewelry. Rue des Rosiers, on the other hand, is home to many up-and-coming designers. Just a few minutes’ walk away from Marais is the Hotel de Ville, the administrative office of Paris, celebrated for its grand French renaissance architecture. This is where French President Charles de Gaulle made his famous speech during the 1944 Liberation of Paris. From here I walk along the River Seine towards the Notre Dame, the most magnificent of Paris’ many cathedrals. It’s a masterpiece of French gothic architecture. Whenever I can, I climb its 422 spiral steps to the top of the western façade, where I find myself face-to-face with the cathedral’s 13-ton bell Emmanuel, the legendary gargoyles and of course, another breathtaking view of Paris. As you can imagine, I never tire of the views of Paris.
HISTORY IN REPOSE CHRISTINE CUNANAN visits the Pere Lachaise One early Sunday morning, we walked from our hotel towards the Pere Lachaise Cemetery which, at 44 hectares, is the largest cemetery in central Paris. I’d been here as a child, taken by my mother one school summer in Paris to pay homage to the immortal lovers Heloise and Abelarde, and to the singer of loves lost, Edith Piaf. This time, all grown up, I wanted to see the tomb of Oscar Wilde, who died penniless in Paris, and the opera singer Maria Callas, whose death was perhaps hastened by heartbreak. Unlike Edinburgh or even Dublin, for instance, which I find are emotionally heavy cities, Paris is a city of gaiety that celebrates life. But in this vast cemetery in an ancient section of Paris, I felt a most unusual heaviness – perhaps the sadness of the dead upon leaving life and a city so full of it. Even now as I write and describe that morning, I can distinctly remember that palpable blanket of sorrow permeating the Pere Lachaise, even on that sunny July morning. There are so many famous names here that you’re given a map at the entrance – but good luck finding your man (or woman) among the crumbling graves. Some areas are so crammed with tombs that you almost need to tiptoe between tombs and have a good sense of direction. I did find Oscar Wilde, as well as Frederic Chopin and rock legend Jim Morrison of The Doors. The latter was perhaps the most popular, with a crowd gathered in front and a tape recorder carried by an admirer blaring his songs. And then I looked for Maria Callas, whose performances I’d watched on DVD and whose life I’d read about in detail. I’d even visited her apartment in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. She’d died lonely and practically a recluse, so I thought the least I could do to visit her tomb. Unfortunately, the map led me astray and I eventually gave up. Then we walked out, back into the sunshine of Paris, history lesson temporarily over. www.pere-lachaise.com
PROOF OF LOVE JEROME VELASCO shares his best meal in Paris I am often asked my favorite restaurant in Paris. It’s Arpege, Chef Alain Passard’s temple of fine dining in the 7th arrondissement and the only Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris’ left bank. He created a ruckus in French food circles over 10 years ago by announcing he no longer felt inspired to cook red meat. This statement came from a man known as a master of roasting meat and poultry. Then he proceeded to set up his own organic farms dedicated to supplying his restaurant with freshly picked vegetables and herbs. These arrive in Paris on the TGV, and went straight to his restaurant on rue de Varenne. He still serves the occasional meat course (when he can get his hands on Kobe beef, for example), but this restaurant is way more than just legumes. There are always a number of pleasant surprises and a few truly exceptional dishes. At Arpege, I just cannot stop eating the bread and butter. This alone is worth the visit. They serve a freshly baked French country sourdough loaf with great crust and an astounding crumb, and ridiculously good butter. Their salted butter, handmade by Jean Yves Bordier from Brittany, is the absolute best version you can find anywhere.
Of course, one must also try the “collection de tomates naturelles,” an extension of his organic garden. The flavor he coaxes and massages out of these are truly remarkable, and they are bursting with stunning freshness. My recommendation for the main course is his signature lobster cooked in yellow wine with hazelnut oil, perfectly prepared with delicate texture. The lobster is an intense, naturally sweet lobster, caught the day before in Normandy and transferred live to Arpege.
And leave space at the end of the meal for his famous millefeuille, quite possibly the best in existence. It is ultraflaky and exceedingly delicate beyond words, layered with an unusually light vanilla pastry crème and the faintest hint of whisky. If you are there for lunch, forget dinner and follow this up with a superb apple tart with almonds and salted caramel. Alain Passard evolved from a wizard of the rotisserie to a virtuoso of vegetables. He neither creates new taste combinations nor utilizes culinary technique from the future – just balance, precision and purity of flavors. And despite the vertigo you will experience when the bill arrives, a meal here just can’t disappoint. Snagging a table here is well worth the persistence. Ladies, please note that he must be in love if he brings you here. www.alain-passard.com
Photographed by Aurore Deligny, LDD
On my last visit, the opening volley for the meal was the famous Arpege egg, a diligently decapitated “ouef quatre epices” containing clove, nutmeg, ginger and white pepper. The egg also had chives, crème fraiche and aged vinegar, with a pinch of Canadian maple syrup and fleur de sel to finish. It showcases what a kitchen genius can do with an egg. The real beauty was in the balance. Simplicity and complexity, sweetness and acidity, rich and light. Silky and soft in texture.
OUTSIDE THE GRID CARLO VELASCO lives la vie Parisien off the beaten track The 20th arrondissement is becoming a hot new district for trendy Parisians. Ground central here is Mama Shelter, a hip boutique hotel on rue de la Bagnolet that is definitely not your typical neighborhood hotel. Designed by style maker Philippe Starck, it’s got a cosmopolitan vibe and rock n’ roll aesthetics. The French designer turned this former graffiti-filled parking space into a cutting edge property in a most unlikely district in northeastern Paris. Mama Shelter screams the future. You’re greeted by handsome receptionists in graphic black aprons and crisp white button-down shirts and then escorted through corridors filled with pop art graffiti to ultra-modern iMacpowered rooms via futuristic industrial elevators. In the evenings, the hotel restaurant turns into a culture hub for DJs and featured artists to showcase their talents. I lived here and loved it. But I still don’t get the name. www.mamashelter.com
CONFESSIONS OF A JUNKIE MARIVIC LIMCAOCO recalls the thrills of a flea market chase A trip to Paris for me doesn’t start until I’ve had my fill of the city’s flea markets. This entails making sure I arrive in Paris before a weekend, when these year-round markets are open.
MARCHÉ AUX PUCES DE SAINT OUEN On Saturday morning, I’ll get on the number four metro and head straight for the Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen at the Porte de Clignancourt. The most famous flea market in the world can be intimidating not only because of its sheer size but also because one has to walk through stalls of leather jackets, cheap clothing and imitation rubber shoes just to get to Rue de Rosier, the flea market’s main street. From here, 16 different antique markets branch out, each with its unique personality. Ask for a flea market map from any dealer as soon as you arrive and plot your strategy for the day. I usually spend most of my time at Marché Paul Bert and Marché Serpette, the two markets favored by interior designers all over the world. Here, the broad selection of furniture, mirrors, paintings, vintage clothing, and designer trunks keep my heart aerobic. Quality is high and so are the prices. Still, I chat with shopkeepers and ask about the beautifully proportioned bergéres and Louis Philip mirrors. I like to pretend I’m furnishing my own Paris apartment, imagining how I would decorate if budget and shipping were not an issue.
MARCHÉ DE LA PORTE DE VANVES After a full Saturday at Clignancourt, my kickback Sunday is dedicated to the smaller and more relaxed Marché de la Porte de Vanves in the 14th arrondissement. Vanves is more manageable with only 350 vendors selling wares displayed on makeshift tables and blankets on the floor. Less die-hard flea market enthusiasts skip Clignancourt and get their flea market fix here.
Go early. People are here to buy, not just to browse, and vendors start packing up by 1 pm. Some of my purchases at Vanves include an old, but never-used, Le Creuset French oven for 20 euros, two small vintage paintings for 15 euros each, a mirrored wall sconce for 50 euros, and antique stock certificates from a French telephone company. If I’m lucky enough to be in Paris in the summer or fall, there’s a big chance I’ll walk straight into a vide-grenier (which means “empty attic”) or a brocante. Second-hand goods and bric-a-brac are aplenty at these community attic sales that are a way of life for the French. Schedules are organized well in advance and you can check out vide-greniers.org (only in French) to see if a videgrenier is scheduled anywhere near your intended destination. By the time Monday rolls around, I would’ve had two full days at the flea market, my pretend pied-a-terre now fully furnished. All pumped up with creative energy, I’m now raring to expend it and experience the rest of Paris.
Photographed by Marivic Limcaoco
The outdoor Marché Vernaison is where I’ve actually picked up a few souvenirs. Aside from furniture, chandeliers, sterling silver, vintage fabrics and paintings, unique stalls also sell antique toys, microscopes and chandelier parts. At the far end of Vernaison is the campy restaurant, Chez Louisette, where an Edith Piaf wannabe or two jangles tip baskets at diners every three songs. Make sure you have a few euros to toss in so you don’t feel like a killjoy. Even if the food is so-so, the fun atmosphere is worth a peep.