We have all heard of behind the velvet rope, but how about behind the trump loi?  I just got a special peak at what’s been happening at Ritz Paris.   The cherished palace, which has stood every so gracefully at 15 Place Vendome for 116 years has officially passed the half way point in the highly anticipated and extensive renovation.  So, the countdown is now on for my beloved Ritz Paris to reopen its gilded doors.   I have been promised that the unprecedented renovation will evolve the Ritz into a new palace for today’s discriminating luxury traveler and everything from top to bottom will be changed, but somehow remain the same…which sounds absolutely perfect to me.  

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven,the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz. It’s a fine summer night. I knock back a couple of martinis in the bar—Rue Cambon side. Then there’s a wonderful dinner under a flowering chestnut tree in what’s called Le Petit Jardin. That’s the little garden that faces the Grill. After a few brandies, I wander up to my room and slip into one of those huge Ritz beds. They are all made of brass. There’s a bolster for my head the size of the Graf Zeppelin and four square pillows filled with real goose feathers—two for me and two for my quite heavenly companion.”

We now just need to wait a little bit longer

À bientôt!

 

Andrew Saffir, Stephen Gaghan, Daniel Benedict

People always ask me, “How was Cannes?” and I always respond with–exhausting!  I got back last week from two weeks in what is perhaps one of the most surreal trips a person can experience.  I half joke when I respond with exhausting…the truth is the trip is exhausting, but worth every bit of lost sleep. Where else can I travel and absolutely need to bring at least five tuxedos, a bunch of suits, more shirts than one can imagine, shoes, shoes and more shoes and then casual clothing–bathing suits, shorts, gym clothes–the list is endless.  I did manage to over pack one suitcase and the bag arrived to my room in two pieces–fortunately with all my clothes somehow in tack.

 

 

 

I also managed to somehow pack all the luggage into my rental Mini Copper convertible–somehow!  Travel tip:

Consider the amount of luggage before booking a rental car.

The men at the rental car agency thought I was a magician getting all of the luggage into the back seat.

This year marked my 11th consecutive year visiting the Cannes Film Festival.  Yes, the festival is packed with movie premier after premier and glamorous, over-the-top parities, but I do still always manage to quench my wanderlust with some excursions along the Cote d’Azure.  First and foremost, premiers in Cannes are taken very seriously by all–especially at the Palais (the mecca of cinemas, positioned port side, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Croisette).

Croisette View

Black tie is mandatory for all and les Français treat every evening at the Palais as if it were a royal affair.  Not only is black tie mandatory, but gentleman are always required to wear tuxedos with bow ties (not straight ties) and black shoes (not blue).

People are often turned away at the door if the guards find ‘inappropriate attire.’  There are more photographers along the Croisette than film fans–and there are a lot of fans.  I have often looked out to a sea of flash bulbs and wonder how any actor sees a thing on the red carpet.

 

With Olivia Palermo

Which leads me to the red carpet…getting to the red carpet is impossible without an invitation to that evening’s premier and tickets are not easy to come by–even for those connected to the film world.   Once upon the red carpet the fairly tale begins…the trains on the gowns often run half the length of the carpet and the women all look beyond glamorous and the men usually try to look cool (some do and some don’t, but all try). The truth is that the red carpet is pretty intimidating for everyone.  Several years back, I remember leaving the Palais just steps behind Gwyneth Paltrow and as we walked outside and approached the red carpet and the long set of steps leading down to the Croisette the skies opened up and started pouring.  We all stood there watching the rain through the bright lights of the Palais and the flashbulbs of the photographers, there was loud classical music playing and everyone realized there wasn’t a parapluie in sight.  Gwyneth turned and said, “Why not?” – and then gracefully walked down the stairs of the red carpet, in the rain, with the music and lights in the background and I thought to myself – this is pretty amazing!

This year, The Great Gatsby opened the festival, and all movie premiers in Cannes are even more extravagant than one would expect; this one did not fail in extravagance.  I had seen The Great Gatsby in New York, but was thrilled to attend the opening night festivities and experience it Cannes style.  The after party was tented on the beach and was a recreation of West Egg, complete with a performance from Florence Welch, Champagne fountains, fireworks and a massive chandelier.

 

All but a few nights were spent at premiers in the Palais.  Just steps from the Palais and overlooking the Croisette is a Belle Époque masterpiece–The  Hôtel Majestic Barrière.  The Majestic is quite “Majestic” and is the perfect spot for a power lunch, a sunset drink, or a romantic dinner.  Fouquet Cannes is housed adjacent to the lobby and is quite a Cannes hot spot. Fouquet’s menu is very impressive and filled with delicious options for foodies.  I had the most incredible fish curry and my fellow diner had the largest and most incredibly delicious cote de boeuf I had ever seen–or tasted!  For the other nights “off” from movie nights.. one was spent at the restaurant at La Colombe d’Or in St. Paul de Vence.  This is one of my favorite restaurants in the world, La Colombe d’Or is an experience like no other.  Where else can one dine under Picassos and Calders, and have the most amazing food and wine.  There is a dining garden when the weather is warm and during the film festival it is the beginning of fraises des bois (strawberries?) season and the fraises des bois at La Colombe d’Or  are always so fresh and delicious!

Saint Paul De Vence

 

Another night “off” was spent at Tetou.  Tetou is a hot spot during the festival and is always star studded.  The restaurant is right on the beach in Golfe-Juan and the owners are kind and welcoming.  I can’t mention Tetou without also mentioning their famous bouillabaisse and grilled lobsters, along with their famous prices…it is a common joke during the festival that Tetou is not for the frugal.  The prices are not as friendly as the owners!  I also had an amazing dinner at the le Machou in the Old Town of Cannes which is a tiny, spectacular, candle-lit restaurant that is a must during any trip to Cannes.

My last night was spent at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for a party to celebrate the Grand Prix. The Cannes Film Festival and The Grand Prix usually overlap so I don’t usually make it to the Grand Prix, but this year an invitation to the Prince’s Palace enticed me to Monaco for the night.

 

Yes, I did fulfill my James Bond fantasy but still missed not pulling up to the Palace in a Bond car–my little rental Mini was cute, but somehow didn’t quite add to the night…next time I think an Aston Martin is in order!

Please contact me for any suggestions for a trip to the Cote d’Azure–à bientôt!

Tucked into the heart of the Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière is the U Spa.  Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière is an Art Déco masterpiece perched on the corner of the Champs Elysées and Avenue George V and adjacent to the famous Parisian landmark Fouquet’s restaurant (established in 1898).  The hotel opened in 2006 and is comprised of several buildings surrounding a lovely central courtyard.  Jacques Garcia oversaw the design of the hotel and installed sound-proof windows and doors in all rooms and suites (helpful for silencing any Champs Elysées traffic din).  There are many rooms with stunning views of the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées and  – my favorite — the Eiffel Tower.  All rooms feature separate dressing rooms and well-appointed massive bathrooms with flat-screen TVs and waterproof remotes — nice perk!  The hotel also features one of the few Michelin-rated restaurants in Paris, Le Diane, which has large windows that overlook the hotel’s charming courtyard.

Now back to the U Spa — naturally a Leading Spa!  I had the recent pleasure of escaping the cold of Paris and transporting myself to this oasis of tranquility and relaxation.  The U Spa is a 8,600 square foot sleek sanctuary of rich wooden walls, reflective mosaic tiles, dim lighting and crisp white flowing curtains all nestled into a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of The City of Lights. There is a sauna, steam room and seven large treatment rooms–all intimate sanctuaries amidst the larger spa haven.  There are several water therapy pools and one large swimming pool (one of the largest for a Parisian hotel).  The decor is crisp and sleek and the environment is warm and relaxing.  There is even a large relaxation area, adjacent to the pool for napping, reading, or enjoying tea and a snack.   I managed to swim a few laps and swam over to the labyrinth of a water trail that is part of the spa’s balneotherapy regime.

Overlooking the pool area is the sleek and modern fitness center.  It is just the right size and naturally shares the same cool decor vibe as the spa.  There are numerous body rituals in which to partake and the staff is very helpful in finding the best treatment or treatment processes for one’s needs.  The spa specializes in balneotherapy, and uses Sensai Kanebo International and Cinq Mondes expert massage and treatment techniques.  Parfait!