Image

The Tour de France on the Champs Elysées

If you’re in Paris for the end of the Tour de France, even if you’re not a cycling fan, the arrival on the Champs Elysées is a French sporting tradition that is not to be missed. This incredible race takes place over 3 weeks each summer and has done since 1903 (except for during the two world wars). It criss-crosses the country, taking in some spectacular scenery along the way, including incredible, gruelling mountain stages in both the Alps and the Pyrenées, and the route is lined with over 12 million spectators each year.

It’s a mythical and magnificent race, and it ends on the Champs Elysées. It’s the perfect place to watch it, they lap 8 times up and down the avenue and around the Arc de Triomphe, so you have plenty of chances to spot the yellow jersey. This year I was lucky enough to get invited to watch it from the terrace on the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and as a big fan of the Tour it was a huge treat.

Even if you’re not in Paris, if you happen to be in France in July, check the website and see if it’s coming to a place near you.

Tour de France website (in English)

Monet at the Musée Marmottan

Lovers of Monet should make sure to include a visit to the Musée Marmottan in the 16th arrondissement. Much less famous than the Musée d’Orsay or the Orangerie (which houses his Nympheas), this discreet museum is in fact home to the largest collection of Monet’s paintings in the world. Monet’s son Michel donated his entire collection to the Museum in 1966, and even though only around 10% of it is on show at any one time, it’s spectacular. In 1940 the museum had already received a donation of Impressioniist works, including ‘Impression Soleil Levant’, Monet’s painting which gave the movement it’s name.

The collection is housed in a magnificent ‘hotel particulier’ or Parisian mansion, which is partly furnished and also home to the world’s leading collection of paintings by Berthe Morisot, the first female Impressionist painter, and a wonderful collection of illuminations. The museum also shows temporary exhibitions, and you can buy a ticket that also includes entrance to Giverny – Monet’s incredible garden in Normandy, to see the real life inspiration for the beautiful works housed here.

(Photos are not allowed inside the museum).

  • Musée Marmottan, 2 rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris.  metro: La Muette

Open daily 10:00 – 18:00 except Mondays, open until 21:00 Thursdays

Musée Marmottan website (in English)

A day with Le Corbusier in Paris

With a little planning and a metro pass, fans of Le Corbusier can spend a full day in Paris visiting some of his most iconic works. Some are open for visits, others not, but all the ones listed below are easily visible and can be seen in one day – two if you want to head out to the suburbs and add the iconic Villa Savoye to your list. (Make sure you do the visits on a Saturday if you want to go inside his studio-apartment).

Start your day on the western side of Paris, in the 16th arrondissement at the Maison la Roche. Designed and built between 1923 and 1925 to show a collector’s extensive collection of modern art, it was one of his first experimental houses and demonstrates what Le Corbusier later identified as his ‘Five Points of a New Architecture’ – a building elevated on stilts, with a roof garden, horizontal strip windows, an open plan layout and free design of the facade – all made possible by his use of new materials such as concrete. The Maison la Roche is a wonderful example of one of Le Corbusier’s first purist villas.

After the Maison la Roche, it’s a short metro ride or walk to the Immeuble Molitor, including his own studio-apartment. Completed in 1934, it was where Le Corbusier lived and worked until his death in 1965. Here we can see how he expanded on his Five Points, and continued to work on the use of space and light. The Immeuble Molitor was the first residential building to be built with a facade made entirely of glass, and uses three different types of glass to obtain different effects with light. Like in the Maison la Roche, the furniture is sparse and leaves the architecture itself to take centre stage. (Note, as of March 2016 you need to make a reservation to visit, contact reservation@fondationlecorbusier.fr)

If you have time, whilst you are in this area I recommend strolling over to the Villa Cook, another of Le Corbusier’s purist villas, built in 1926 for an American journalist. It also develops all of the principals that later became his Five Points (the open section of the ground floor has since been filled in). Even though it’s not open for visits it’s well worth the trip, as it’s sandwiched between two other spectacular modernist villas, the Villa Collinet (1926) by Robert Mallet Stevens and the Villa Dublin (1929) by Raymond Fischer.

Have a break for lunch, and then take the metro across town to the eastern side of Paris.

Start with the Maison-Atelier Ozenfant, situated on the end of a beautiful cobbled street that borders the Parc Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement. Built in 1923 as a house and studio for his friend the purist painter Amédée Ozenfant it was one of Le Corbusier’s first purist villas, and began to set out his ideas for his Five Points.

Le Corbusier-Maison Atelier d'Ozenfant-Paris

Head up through the beautiful Parc Montsouris, and into the Cité Universitaire – the international halls of residence for the Paris universities. First stop is the Pavillion Suisse, designed and built between 1930 and 1933. A metallic structure built on stilts, it develops Le Corbusier’s theory of a ‘machine for living’. The rooms are set on the top 3 corridors and the ground floor communal areas are decorated with murals and furniture by Le Corbusier – you can visit the ground floor for 2€.

A few hundred metres away is the Maison du Bresil, built in 1953. The project was begun by Brazilian architect Lucio Costa who called on his friend Le Corbusier, already experienced with the Pavillon Suisse, to help him. Le Corbusier changed the concept to such an extent that Costa abandoned the project to him. One again the building is elevated on columns, leaving an open space underneath for people to circulate and to provide the communal areas (these can also be visited for 1€).

Then it’s time to walk down the Boulevard to the Maison Planeix. Also built for an artist, it has the same basic structure as the Maison Ozenfant, the apartment section is beneath the artist’s studio. The Maison Planeix differs from the Villa La Roche, as it is an urban house built between 2 others, rather than occupying its own space. The facade is aligned with the other facades on the street. Built for painter and sculptor, Antonin Planeix, it adheres to four of the five points. The pilotis on the ground floor are sacrificed to make space for 2 workshops and a garage, which Planeix wanted to be included so he could rent them out. The pure geometric forms of the Maison Planeix also demonstrate Le Corbusier’s interest in cubist houses.

Le Corbusier-Maison Planeix-ParisAnother 15 minutes walk and you arrive at the Cité de Refuge (1933) built as a collective housing project for the Salvation Army. It also has a facade made completely of glass, and was one of the first buildings to be air conditioned, although it did not work perfectly at the time. It has recently undergone extensive renovations and some interior modifications, and can be visited by appointment.

If you have one more half day to spare, take the train to Poissy and don’t miss a visit to the Villa Savoye. This spectacular and iconic building,  built in 1928, is the culmination of Le Corbusier’s Five Points begun at the Villa Ozenfant in 1922, and showcases the completed idea of the ‘architectural promenade’, introduced in the Maison La Roche in 1925.

Villa Savoye-Le Corbusier-ParisAM: Take the metro to Jasmin. The Villa la Roche is at 10 Square du Docteur Blanche in the 16th arrondissement. Then take line 9 to Michel Ange Molitor (2 stops, can also be walked!) The Immeuble Molitor is at 24 rue Nungesser et Colis. Then walk to the Maison Cook, 6 rue Denfert Rochereau.

PM: Take the metro to Glacière (you can get over from the 16th easily with only 1 line change), the Maison Ozenfant is at 63 avenue Reille. Then walk up through the Parc Montsouris to the Cité Universitaire to see the Pavillon Suisse and Maison de Bresil (they are very close to each other, there’s a plan at the entry gates). After that it’s 10 minutes walk down to the Maison Planeix at 26 Boulevard Massena, then another 15-20 minutes to the Cité du Refuge, 12 rue Cantagrel.

 

Image

Modernist architecture on the rue Mallet Stevens

Tucked away in the residential heart of the 16th arrondissement is the rue Mallet Stevens, named after the architect who designed all the 5 villas on it. Robert Mallet Stevens is widely regarded as one of the most influential French architects of the inter-war period, alongside Le Corbusier. As well as buildings, he also designed over 20 film sets, including one for Marcel l’Herbier’s silent film l’Inhumaine in 1924 – which is considered a masterpiece – and his building designs inspired Man Ray to make the film ‘The Mysteries of the Chateau de Dé’.

The rue Mallet Stevens was designed and built in the 1920’s. His style was resolutely modern, rational and without excess ornamentation. Some of the original buildings have had additional storeys added in the 1960’s, which has somewhat compromised their proportions, but the street still presents a harmonious view of his work and aesthetic. Number 10, studios built for the brothers Joel and Jan Martel, is the only one that still has it’s original proportions. Look out for their names above the letterbox, a beautiful detail that could easily go unnoticed. Doors and ironwork were designed by Jean Prouvé, the stained glass windows by Louis Barillet. These were villas for the rich bourgeoisie, smooth white cubes that played with volume, light and space.

Mallet Stevens asked for his archives to be destroyed after his death in 1945, and he was largely forgotten until a retrospective of his work was shown at the Pompidou Centre in 2005. He has built other projects in Paris, a fire station, a garage and another villa which I look forward to discovering, as well as the Villa Paul Poiret about 40km from Paris, which has just been sold at auction.

Number 12 is owned by the Fondation Hippocrene. It is sometimes open for contemporary art exhibitions and is a great chance to step inside one of these beautiful villas. If you are in the area, continue on down rue du Docteur Blanche for another few minutes and you will be rewarded by the chance to visit Le Corbusier’s Maison la Roche.

  • rue Mallet Stevens, 75016 Paris. metro: Ranelagh or Jasmin
Image

Le Corbusier at the Maison la Roche

Paris and the surrounding area is a great place for fans of Le Corbusier to see his work. Tucked away in the 16th arrondissement, the Maison La Roche is a wonderful example, and of modernist architecture in France. It was designed and built between 1923 and 1925 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret and is an experimental house, as was the Villa Savoye that he built after it in 1928. I also found it interesting as it was built for an art collector, specifically to display his collection, as was the Maison Louis Carré, built in 1956 by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, which I also visited recently.

Raoul La Roche had an outstanding collection of avant garde art, including works by Picasso, Braque, Leger and Gris. Le Corbusier was his friend, and told him ‘La Roche, someone who has a fine collection like yours needs to build a house worthy of it’. The result was the Maison La Roche and the Maison Jeanneret, two semi-detached houses designed and built for La Roche and for Le Corbusier’s brother Albert.

The Maison La Roche is split into two parts, the public gallery space and the private living space. Built over several floors, both spaces offer a series of perspectives and spectacular viewpoints, both inside and out. Natural light streams in through large windows and glazed areas, the lines of the house are clean and pure, the colours are balanced and chosen specifically to showcase the ‘architectural promenade’ that Le Corbusier wishes us to take through the building. Features seen in other of Le Corbusier’s buildings – such as ramps, lack of doors and interior walls, strip windows, as well as furniture designed with Charlotte Perriand – can be seen here, and as in his other buildings the architecture itself takes the place of any decoration.

A roof garden provides more spectacular views over the neighboring rooftops and provides a beautiful area for outdoor eating, relaxing and sunbathing. The terrace joins with that of the Maison Jeanneret – now home to the Fondation Le Corbusier, housing his archives (paintings, drawings, studies and photos, it can be visited if reserved in advance).

For fans of Le Corbusier, those who enjoy modern architecture, or any of us who like to look at beautiful works of art in any form, the Maison La Roche is not to be missed. Also make sure to make time for a visit to Le Corbusier’s own apartment and studio, which is also in the 16th arrondissement.

Maison La Roche, 10 square du Docteur Blanche, 75016 Paris  métro: Jasmin

Open: Monday 13:30 – 18:00, Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 – 18:00

Website (in English)

A walk on the wild side in the 16th arrondissement

The 16th arrondissement of Paris is one of the most expensive residential areas of the city. It’s full of chic apartments, boutiques and high end restaurants. Recently I discovered a small patch of wilderness in the heart of the ‘seizième’, not that uncommon in any city, but certainly quite incongruous in this part of Paris.

This 32km stretch of old railway line, known as the Petite Ceinture (or small belt, as it used to circle the city joining up all the major train stations) was originally built in 1861 when the west of Paris was still rural – full of vineyards and a few huge mansions with vast grounds. It was used to transport goods, and then until the 1930s was used as a passenger line, joining with the railway lines with the viaduct at Auteuil. The destruction of this viaduct in 1962 left only a small section of the line working, and it continued working until the 1980s, when it was finally taken out of service. Since then nature has gradually claimed back the land. In 1997 an association began to take care of it, and still does so lovingly today. These 1.2 km of the old railway line have become a tiny green lung in the city, populated by a diverse array of plant and animal species. t’s a lovely place for a walk, a corner of the countryside in the heart of the city, an unexpected surprise.

  • Le Sentier Nature, la Petite Ceinture, Boulevard de Montmorency, 75016 Paris. metro Michel Ange Molitor
Image

The studio – apartment of Le Corbusier

In the 16th arrondissement, on the west side of Paris, is the Immeuble Molitor, an apartment building designed and built by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret between 1931 and 1934. The top two floors were Le Corbusier’s own apartment and studio in which he painted daily throughout his life. The apartment building is oriented east-west and overlooks on one side the Stade Jean Bouin (home of Parisian rugby team Stade Francais) and on the other side Roland Garros (home of the French Open tennis Championships – I could hear the clapping from the women’s final as I was on the roof terrace!)

The apartment is open plan, spaces are closed with huge doors or mobile elements. Light streams in through the windows, refractive glass Nevada bricks and roof lights – Le Corbusier wished to replicate the light he experienced in his visits to the Mediterranean. Finding the light to be even too strong in the studio, he tempered it by adding wooden blinds on the eastern facade.

Le Corbusier furnished his home according to the esthetic codes of the Modernist Movement. The kitchen units were designed by Charlotte Perriand, and some of the iconic pieces of furniture designed by Le Corbusier can also be found in the living area.

The bed is interestingly placed high up so he could see the views across Boulogne, even when he was lying down.

On the 8th floor there is a guest suite and a roof terrace with spectacular views across out to the west of the city.

For fans of Le Corbusier, or all fans of architecture in general, this is a fascinating visit.  It’s only open on Saturdays. You can buy a combo ticket for reduced entry to the nearby Villa La Roche (my next visit!) If you have a bit more time and can take a day trip out of the city, don’t miss the Villa Savoye, one of Le Corbusier’s iconic masterpieces.

  • Immeuble Molitor, 24 rue Nungesser et Coli, 75016 Paris. metro: Michel Ange Molitor or Porte d’Auteuil

Open Saturdays 10:00 – 13:00 and 13:30 – 17:00

Studio-apartment of Le Corbusier

Image

Championship tennis at Roland Garros

Every year in May, right after the Cannes film festival, the French Open Tennis Championships are held at Roland Garros in the west of Paris. The tournament lasts two weeks, usually benefits from perfect weather, and it’s possible to spend a wonderful day there watching some great tennis without breaking the bank.

You have to buy your tickets online, they have your name on and you need to bring id. We got tickets for 30€ and had access to all courts from court 2 outwards for the whole of Saturday. All the big name players are there, the atmosphere is great, especially when a French player is involved, and there are 20 courts so plenty going on. Arrive early (around 10am) if you want to get into the courts first thing without standing in line.

Roland Garros official website

  • Stade Roland Garros, 2 avenue Gordon Bennett, 76016 Paris

Yves Saint Laurent at the Fondation Pierre Bergé

The Fondation Pierre Bergé is home to an incredible collection of the works of Yves Saint Laurent: 5,000 garments, 15,000 haute couture accessories and over 50,000 drawings, all carefully conserved in museum conditions. Housed at the mythical address of their couture house – 5 avenue Marceau – it organises temporary exhibitions dedicated to fashion and art.

Currently on show until 19 July is St Laurent’s 1971 ‘Liberation’ collection, which caused a scandal at the time, referencing back to France under the German occupation in WWII, but which was to become a huge influence on fashion in general, blurring the lines between haute couture and pret à porter and making retro style fashionable for the first time.

The exhibition is small, but fascinating, documenting also the laborious process of creating a collection. Exhibitions change regularly so be sure to check out their website to see what is currently on.

You can also visit Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, this visit is only available as a guided group tour and you need to book well in advance. I can highly recommend both!

Photos not allowed inside the exhibition or the studio.

Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Berge

The Fondation Pierre Bergé and the Palais Galliera have a partnership, bring your ticket from one of the current exhibitions to the other and you’ll get a reduction on the entry price.

  • Fondation Pierre Bergé, 3 rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116 Paris. metro: Alma Marceau

Open daily except Mondays and public holidays, 10:00 – 18:00

Fondation Pierre Bergé

The Fashion Museum at the Palais Galliera

The beautiful Palais Galliera is home to the Fashion Museum of Paris. Their collection is outstanding, but due to the fragile nature of the pieces they are stored in the dark to protect them, and only temporary exhibitions are shown in the museum. This however allows them to focus on one theme, one period or one designer – currently there is a wonderful exhibition of clothes by Jeanne Lanvin which Alber Elbaz, the current artistic director of Lanvin, has collaborated closely on.

Check out their excellent website for current and upcoming exhibitions. The museum is closed between exhibitions. I can highly recommend the current Lanvin exhibition, the pieces are incredibly beautiful, and the chance to see such workmanship up close is a real treat. Photos of course are not allowed inside in order to preserve the delicate clothes.

  • Palais Galliera, 10 avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016 Paris. métro: Iena

Palais Galliera

Photo souvenirs

It’s been a while since I’ve seen once of the old fashioned photo booths. I really love them, you take your chance and get 4 shots, no retouching or editing. No chance to redo them if the top of your head is chopped off (or worse you haven’t sat down yet as we did last time). I have come across two in Paris recently, both working, and for only 2€ it’s a really nice way to get some wonderful souvenir photos.

One is in the Palais de Tokyo, the other one in the Cité de la Mode.

  • Palais de Tokyo, 13 avenue du President Wilson, 75016 Paris.   metro: Iena
  • Cité de la mode et du design, 34 Quai d’Austerlitz, 75013 Paris  metro: Gare d’Austerlitz

 

The Arc de Triomphe at night

The Arc de Triomphe is one of those monuments that I always tend to overlook. Generally we whizz round it in a car, peer at it through the window, and not much more. (Incidentally, when I first moved to Paris, I was told that to drive like a true Parisian I should be able to drive all the way round it without stopping and without changing gear. Believe me, it’s impossible).

However I was recently invited to take a closer look at it, and was privileged to get a personal guided tour. I arrived just as the ‘Ceremonie de la Flamme’ was ending. Every evening at 6:30pm a ceremony takes place at the tomb of the unknown soldier, commemorating those who lost their lives in war. Run by volunteers and associations, it’s a moving and thought provoking ceremony. Lit in 1923, the flame on the tomb has never gone out, even during the Occupation of WWII.

I was then given a tour of the monumental sculptures on the outside of the arch. Sculpted by François Rude, they are extremely beautiful when seen up close, the detail and power of them is incredible. Built by Napoleon 1er, construction of the arch was begun in 1826. It has become the symbol of Paris during major events: Napoleon’s funeral cortege passed under it, de Gaulle marched through it when he liberated the city in 1944, nowadays the Tour de France ends here,

You can climb to the top of the arch, the steps are actually not half as bad as they look. Otherwise there is a lift if you really can’t make it. Upstairs there is currently a photographic exhibition called ‘Soldats Inconnus’. It’s very simple, but extremely moving and is there in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of WWI.

The views across the city from the top are spectacular, especially at night. You get wonderful views right down the Champs Elysées and the whole of Paris is lit up in front of you, including a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve realised that the Arc de Triomphe is definitely not a monument to be overlooked!

  • Arch de Triomphe. Place Charles de Gaulle Etoile, 75008 Paris

Open daily 10am to 11pm.

Arc de Triomphe website

Olafur Eliasson at the Fondation Louis Vuitton

In 2003 I saw Olafur Eliasson’s installation The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London. It was, and still is, one of the most incredible art installations I have seen.

DSC00132

So when I read that Eliasson has the first major exhibition at the newly opened Fondation Louis Vuitton, I went as soon as I could. Open since 17 December, and running until 16 February 2015, Contact did not disappoint. I left feeling completely enchanted, as if I had just spent some time in another dimension. Set in a series of darkened rooms, each space transported and delighted us.

Buy a timed entry ticket online on the website of the Fondation, you go straight past the lines and it gives you access to all the permanent exhibition space too.
One thing is sure, I’ll be going back to see Contact again before it ends.

  • Olafur Eliasson – Contact – Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris

Take the metro to Les Sablons and it’s about a 10 minute walk (it’s signposted). Otherwise take the electric shuttle bus from Charles de Gaulle Etoile, on the corner of Avenue Friedland, for 1€

Fondation Louis Vuitton

 

Fondation Louis Vuitton-Paris-Art

The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art is located in one wing of the Palais de Tokyo, one of the beautiful buildings that was created for the Universal Exhibiton of 1937 (the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadeo was also built for this occasion).

modern-art-museum-paris

The museum houses over 9 000 pieces of 20th century art, and is also home to temporary exhibitions, also based around 20th century movements or artists, that change regularly.

It has a beautiful oval room covered with murals painted by Raoul Dufy in 1937 called La Fée Electricité. Originally painted for the building of the Paris electricity board, it was moved to the museum in 1961.

Outside there is a large terrace that adjoins this wing of the museum to the Palais de Tokyo on the other side and overlooks the Seine. In the summer the museum restaurants put their tables out here and it’s a great place to have lunch on a nice day.

palais-de-tokyo-paris

Check out the temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent collection, currently there is a retrospective of the life and works of Sonia Delaunay which I really enjoyed.

  •  Musée d’art Moderne, 11 avenue du President Wilson, 75016 Paris. métro: Iena

Open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00, Thursday open until 22:00

Musée d’Art Moderne

The Fondation Louis Vuitton

Designed by Frank Gehry, and open since last Monday, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is already becoming one of the major buildings in Paris.

Home to a contemporary art museum covering 11 000m2, the building sits on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne and looks like a huge cloud that has come to settle in the park. Encased in over 3 600 sheets of glass, it reflects the light, the colours and the trees and people around it.

I found the building really beautiful. I didn’t go in, I just wanted to initially see the building that everyone is talking about, and will visit the gallery another day (and to book in advance on the internet to avoid the huge queue!) so that will be for another post. But even just a visit to see the outside in the fading autumn sunshine is really spectacular.

Update! I’ve since been in. Inside there is a permanent exhibition, a space for temporary exhibitions (I was there for Olafur Eliasson) and a concert hall. The building is as beautiful and exciting inside as it is outside,

Book your tickets online, it’s quick and easy and you walk straight past the long lines. Check out their website also for musical events and temporary exhibitions. There’s also a restaurant and a beautiful bookshop.

  • Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 75016 Paris

Open Monday, Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 to 19:00. Saturday and Sunday 11:00 to 20:00. Closed Tuesdays.

Take the metro to Les Sablons and follow the signs, it’s about at 10-15 minute walk. Otherwise you can get an electric shuttle bus for 1€ from Place Charles de Gaulle, on the corner of Avenue Friedland.

Fondation Louis Vuitton website

Pont Alexandre III

Inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition, the Pont Alexandre III is the most elegant bridge in Paris and a great place to take some wonderful photos.

Tsar Nicolas of Russia laid the first stone in 1896 – the bridge is named after his father, the Emperor Alexandre III, and commemorates the alliance between France and Russia signed in 1891.

The setting for many famous film scenes and music videos, the bridge itself is richly decorated and is surrounded by beautiful monuments. To one side there is the Esplanade des Invalides with the golden dome of the Invalides housing Napoleon’s tomb, to the other the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, both home to a variety of excellent temporary exhibitions, and the Champs Elysées is just a short stroll away. You can also access the quays of the River Seine from here.

Fashion on avenue Montaigne & a visit to Yves Saint Laurent’s studio

The avenue Montaigne is the other temple to high fashion in Paris, after the rue St Honoré. Wider and quieter than the rue St Honoré, it is home to all the major fashion houses and forms one side of the the famous ‘Golden Triangle’ (the other two being avenue Georges V and the Champs Elysées).

I prefer a stroll down this avenue if I want to look at high fashion. It runs from the Champs Elysées down to the river, and is less crowded and more fun to window shop (or really shop if you want!) It’s also home to the famous Plaza Athenée Hotel, where Mata Hari was arrested in 1917 – Marlene Dietrich lived opposite at No. 12, her apartment overlooking the room where she had stayed with her lover Jean Gabin.

I ended my walk with a visit to the studio of Yves St Laurent, nearby at 5 avenue Marceau. The Fondation Pierre Bergé is open for temporary exhibitions, but to see the studio you have to book a guided visit, and they sell out in advance so don’t leave it to the last minute! It was very special to be able to see the studio where St Laurent created so many of his iconic designs. Photos are not allowed inside, so check out their website. I can really recommend this visit, it lasts 90 minutes and provides a fascinating insight into his life and work.

P1060716  P1060718

Fondation Pierre Bergé

  • avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris
  • Fondation Pierre Bergé, 5 avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris.   Metro for both: Pont de l’Alma