Paris is always a beautiful city to explore, but particularly in springtime, when the plane trees are just in leaf and the city is warm enough to stroll around for hours, taking in the grand historic architecture, the charming café culture, and of course world-famous art galleries and museums.
“Paris is for changing your outlook, for throwing open the windows, and letting in la vie en rose,” says Audrey Hepburn as the title character in the 1954 movie Sabrina to the character played by Humphrey Bogart. One place to refresh your outlook while in Paris is the 8th arrondissement, in what’s known as Paris’s Golden Triangle.
Ahead of the annual Christie’s International Real Estate Owners Conference from April 3-4 2019, during which guests of the conference will be staying and spending time in the 8th arrondissement, Luxury Defined explores the best places to dine, shop and explore in this enchanting and inspiring city.
Bordered by Avenue George V, the Champs-Élysées, and Avenue Montaigne, the Golden Triangle offers some of Paris’s most upscale dining, museums, galleries, and gardens, as well as the flagship stores of the city’s designer boutiques, and its seven palace hotels. Across the river is another inspiring district, the Left Bank, where cobbled streets are lined with Haussmannian architecture, ancient churches, bustling cafés, and fine-art museums. And just under an hour from the city, the resplendent Palace of Versailles awaits discovery.
Where to Stay
Located on Avenue George V, in Paris’s 8th arrondissement, the Four Seasons Hôtel George V Paris is one of only five hotels in the city to have achieved coveted palace status, a set of criteria that judges a hotel by the strictest of measures, including room size, location, historical interest, and bespoke service. Dating back to 1928, the George V epitomizes Parisian luxury with 18th-century tapestries, architectural features, intricate moldings, and terraces that overlook the city.
The George V has one of the best locations in all of Paris
“The George V has one of the best locations in all of Paris,” says Marie-Hélène Lundgreen, director of Daniel Féau Conseil Immobilier, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Paris.
“Here, you are just five minutes’ walk from Avenue Montaigne—where all the major fashion houses have their flagship stores—the hotel is just off Avenue des Champs-Élysées with the Arc de Triomphe to the west, and the Grand Palais and Petit Palais to the east, and on Avenue George V itself there is a brand new Hermès flagship store.”
Below ground, the spa at Four Seasons George V is particularly elegant, with trompe-l’oeil representations of the gardens of Versailles surrounding the pool and whirlpool. Of the hotel’s five dining destinations, Le Cinq is the most revered, with three Michelin stars and a menu by Christian Le Squer that combines classic French ingredients with ambitious new techniques.
Further east from the Grand and Petit Palais you’ll find the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, where the Musée de l’Orangerie is located. This jewel-box museum houses eight of Claude Monet’s large Water Lilies murals in a dramatic oval-shaped room.
The Golden Triangle offers some of Paris’s most upscale dining, museums, galleries, and gardens, as well as the flagship stores of the city’s designer boutiques, and its five palace hotels.
“My perfect day in Paris would take place in this area,” says Lundgreen. “With a visit to the Museum of Modern Art and a fun lunch at the François-Joseph Graf-designed Le Marigny restaurant in the gardens opposite Le Grand Palais.”
What to Do
Overlooking the Seine and with a view of the Eiffel Tower, the Museum of Modern Art sits next to the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum, and both institutions are worth a visit. Housed in a 1937 building that was completely renovated in 2012 by architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vasall, Palais de Tokyo offers a vast site that hosts exhibitions, screenings, concerts, and performances across four floors. Also here is Monsieur Bleu, an Art Deco-inspired modern restaurant with a buzzy terrace that makes the most of its position on the river overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
Particularly interesting during the conference dates is a show by contemporary American artist Theaster Gates entitled Malaga, which examines the forced eviction in 1912 of black, white, and mixed-race residents from Malaga Island off the coast of Maine, USA, through found objects, video, and installation.
Where to Dine
Paris’s hot address of the moment is well located for a lunch stop in between boutique shopping and gallery hopping. Girafe restaurant recently opened inside Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine on Place du Trocadéro and is already attracting the city’s well-heeled diners. The gorgeous 1930s-inspired space was also designed by Dirand, and features a glamorous marble bar and a warm dining room filled with plants, plush banquettes, original pilasters, and a frankly astounding view of the Eiffel Tower from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Paris’s hot address of the moment is Girafe restaurant.
Girafe’s menu focuses on fish and seafood with Asian accents. Depending on the season, you might find scallop carpaccio with black truffle and caviar black pepper, yellowtail sashimi with sesame oil, lobster linguine, or grilled octopus with aioli. There’s also an excellent selection of oysters, caviar, and platters at the raw bar.
A Tour of the Left Bank
A short walk along Avenue George V from the Four Seasons George V takes you to the banks of the River Seine, where on the evening of April 3 a boat will transport guests of the Christie’s International Real Estate Owner’s Conference from the foot of the Museum of Modern Art and the Eiffel Tower, passing under Paris’s famous bridges and past the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée du Louvre, and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, all the way to the Île Saint-Louis and back again.
Should you have time to explore further than the 8th, then the Left Bank is the place to see the Paris of old. Wander through chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a neighborhood that claims the city’s oldest church, iconic literary cafés, bistros, and many beautiful 18th- and 19th-century Haussmannian residential buildings with soaringly high ceilings, original moldings, and views across the river.
Not to be missed on the Left Bank is the newly renovated Hôtel Lutetia, which sits like a proud ship overlooking the Seine. The hotel’s bar—where an original 1910 fresco adorns the ceiling—is a perfect spot for an apéritif such as the vintage 2008 champagne created especially for the hotel by Taittinger. Or try the delightfully fresh Rive Gauche, a cocktail made with Guillotine vodka and St-Germain liqueur, flavored with citrus and celery, and topped with Taittinger Cuvée Lutetia Extra Brut 2008. Nearby, Le Jardin du Luxembourg is a beautiful 17th-century park filled with statues, fountains, and tree-lined paths.
Be King or Queen for an Evening
Just under an hour from Paris is the Palace of Versailles, the opulent 17th-century former home of French royalty, including ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV and, later, Queen Marie Antoinette. The halls and gardens offer a wonderful detour from the city. On April 4, the annual Christie’s International Real Estate Owners Conference black-tie Awards Dinner will take place in the Gallery of Great Battles, with a menu—devised by legendary French catering house Potel et Chabot—as decadent as the surroundings. There will also be an opportunity to take a tour of the magnificent Hall of Mirrors and the King’s Apartments before sitting down to dinner.