ERNEST HEMINGWAY WROTE, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Indeed, no matter which arrondissement you find yourself in, you’re bound to discover a delightful and delicious repast. Paris is a city that abounds with beauty. It surrounds visitors with grand architecture and regal monuments of the past, while boasting some of the most revolutionary innovations of the present. The computerized Minitel network existed long before many of us ever heard of the Internet, and the 100-year-old métro speeds passengers underground with an efficiency that’s still the envy of most cities today. Paris has grown quite a bit from its beginning as a small island in the Seine, the Île de la Cité. But it retains the feel of a large village, a mélange of small neighborhoods dotted with lively cafés with no shortage of Gallic characters. As you crisscross the city, from the bookish Latin Quarter to the bustling Place de la Madeleine, you’ll discover a place rich in culture and history. You’ll find Parisians fascinated, some say obsessed, with appearances. While you don’t need to don a beret and puff Gauloises to blend in, manners and appreciation go a long way. Parisians are justifiably proud of their city and are pleased when visitors demonstrate a similar appreciation. What’s not to like? So come along on a moveable feast through Paris, and for three perfect days, you’ll find an abundance of memorable experiences, perhaps enough to enrich the rest of your life.
Author David Lebovitz Photography Mirjam Bleeker
DAY TWO / Don’t bound out of bed early—it’s just a few steps to Angélina, which opens for breakfast at a Parisian 9 a.m. Break open a buttery croissant and sip le chocolat Africain, hot chocolate so impossibly thick you’re expected to cut the richness with a soupçon of crème chantilly. Thus fortified, you’re ready to tackle the Musée du Louvre. Skip the lines at I.M. Pei’s no-longer-controversial glass pyramid and use the entrance via the Carrousel du Louvre (99, rue de Rivoli). Although most people can’t visit without a glimpse of the Mona Lisa in her newly refurbished space, there’s far less jostling in the serene Richelieu wing, resplendent with French and European sculptures.
Walk or hop a métro (line No. 1) from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde to view simultaneously the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the commanding Obelisk de Luxor, now standing regally in the center in lieu of the dreaded guillotine. Take the rue Royale toward the Place de la Madeleine, impossible to miss with the massive Eglise de la Madeleine commanding most of the square.
The Place de la Madeleine has perhaps the highest concentration of upscale edibles in the world, but it’s unlikely you’ll miss Fauchon. In the pâtisserie you’ll find specialties such as blood-orange éclairs and cinnamon-scented madeleines. Be sure to indulge, since it’s de rigueur to sport a Fauchon black-and-white bag as you circle the square. You can drop some serious euros at La Maison de la Truffe, home of earthy truffles in all shapes and sizes. But inhaling the musky aroma is gratuit. And the Dijon mustard at Maille flows like tap water, literally. The trademark spicy mustard is dispensed from a spigot with a tilt of the handle.
You’ve come full circle, so head back down the rue Royale, passing the dainty Ladurée. This salon de thé was conceived by Madame Ladurée (the proverbial baker’s wife), who established a tea salon in 1871 where unescorted women could gather, a faux pas that no respectable mademoiselle had ever previously attempted.
The sensuality of the French language translates window shopping to lèche-vitrines (“licking windows”), and you’ll find plenty to drool over on the rue St-Honoré, home to the top couture houses in France. Be sure to stop at Collette for the ultimate in edgy accessories. Forget au courant; if it’s at Collette, it’s a fad for the future.
Wine is such an integral part of French life that there’s a movement to classify it as food. But if you need more proof, look no further than the three-story wine emporium Lavinia. It’s rooted on French terroir, and the temperature-controlled basement boasts fine wines from across the country, some priced as stratospherically as a petit pied-à-terre.
Pick a bottle from the shelves that fits your budget, and the wine bar staff will be happy to pop the cork along with lunch, charging just the shelf price (after the complimentary pour of a featured wine to start things off). Afterward, sniff out the collection of Alsatian eauxde-vie, the high-test liquor known as the water of life. You’ll find clear distillations of everything: cocoa beans, dandelions, raspberries, and—gulp—asparagus.
At Chocolat Michel Cluizel, formerly La Fountaine au Chocolat, the chocolate flows like luscious lava in the cascading fountain. But there’s no shortage of edibles, from mounds of nutty chocolate bonbons to cocoa-coated “mushrooms” oozing buttery caramel.
Tonight, take in a performance at the resplendent Opéra Garnier. A riot of Italian marble and mirrors, the opulent interior retains its original beauty and was updated in 1964 with a dome painted by Marc Chagall.
You may not be romancing Keanu Reeves (or Diane Keaton) in the film Something’s Gotta Give, but there’s nothing sexier than a late-night dinner rendezvous at Le Grand Colbert.