The Notre Dame Hotel is a boutique property, boasting interiors designed by Christian Lacroix - I'm a huge fan of his sense of color and pattern mixing. The interiors paid homage to his haute couture collections with their bold colors and unexpected mÃ©lange of prints. The location was perfect, right along the banks of the Seine. Second hand bookstores, sidewalk cafes, the Luxembourg Gardens, Isle de la Cite and the trendy Le Marais district were all within walking distance. My room had a beautiful view of the famous Notre Dame cathedral, which was quite a sight to behold at sunrise and sunset.
I crave Moroccan food whenever I'm in Paris. I'm not sure why, but fortunately there are plenty of establishments to choose from! Chez Omar is an old standby and conveniently located in the north end of Le Marais. It's easy to miss because the faÃ§ade is quite unassuming, so keep your eyes peeled. The menu is limited to the classics, but if you're not sure what to get, the waiters will happily decide for you. Be ready with cash because they don't take credit cards. Nor do they take reservations so try to arrive early since the restaurant is always packed.
At the edge of Le Marais, set in an old converted factory is a fabulous store called Merci. You can buy flowers, read a second hand book in their cafÃ©, shop for home furnishings, children's clothing and exclusive items from the chicest fashion labels. The best part about patronizing Merci is that the owners are using all profits after breaking even to operate a co-op for young women in Madagascar. Who doesn't love charitable shopping?
The Musee D'Orsay is one of my favorite museums. It's not as overwhelming or exhausting as the Louvre; you can fully explore it in a few hours. I usually prefer to go in the late morning so that by lunchtime I can head to the restaurant that has the most incredible painted ceilings and grandiose crystal chandeliers. It's very Belle Epoque, quite glamorous.
WHAT I LOVED MOST
Paris is the one city I never tire of coming back to year after year, season after season. It first captivated my imagination during my formative years when I first saw Brassai's evocative photos of cafe society. Now I come twice a year for work to observe trends, do a little shopping, and of course, to be inspired. There's always a new store to visit, an exhibit to see, a bistro to try. It's a wonderful walking city; I love how you can wander aimlessly for hours from one neighborhood to another. And of course there's that certain "je ne sais quoi" about Parisians that makes people watching at cafes a sport!