Paris, here we come. We were off at 6:15 AM for our 9 AM flight to Paris. We made it to Heathrow in 30 minutes and were reviewing our notes in preparation for our afternoon meetings.
In Paris, the major exhibition for design, gift and home products happens twice a year. The Maison Objet, www.maison-objet.com is in January and September each year. It is by far the most beautiful exhibition of its size in the world. The French have a wonderful way and sensibility for style, and it is shown so wonderfully and creatively at this show. The show actually opens on Friday, but we typically will attend one day earlier to work on our Tozai Home collection with Jean Charles from Asiatides who supplies many of our products in the Tozai range. This year his collection is stupendous. He continues to introduce well known creators to his family of designers and this season in October at Highpoint we will be introduce a collection by Christian Tortu www.christiantortu.fr. Christian is a world renowned floral designer who has branched out way beyond flowers over the years. While Jean Charles presented many new looks we are most excited by his renewing his collection in a more mid-20th century look. That too will be premiered by Tozai Home in October at Highpoint.
We love the use of color as well as we have seen it in both London and Paris in many places from fashion boutiques to home stores.
Asiatides Booth Maison Objet September 2012
We enjoyed a full afternoon with Jean Charles and completed our final selection as well as open issues and made it to our hotel in Paris, the San Regis. www.sanregis.com.fr. Paris, like many chic cities is exploding with boutique hotels. Paris has always been known for small quaint hotels throughout the city. The San Regis is one of those hotels with just 45 chambres.
San Regis Hotel, Paris
We headed out to dinner just off one of the main fashion streets in Paris Rue St. Honore. Shops on this street include almost every chic brand from Hermes to Longchamp. On this night the street was closed for Fashion week. Every store was open late, by invitation only, celebrating and showing off the latest, greatest and outrageous fashion. It was great people watching as you can imagine. There were TV interviews, young, old and it seems like if you were visiting Paris it was the only place to be.
It was dinner time by now. As we have done for almost every time to Paris we begin our trip at one of our favorite restaurants Le Soufflé, www.lesouffle.fr
Bobbie and my dad Bob visited here on their first and subsequent trips to Paris as early as 1968. The menu has not changed much, nor has the ambiance. It is classical French. The staff knows us here as well which of course makes us feel like we have an inside track on the place.If you love soufflés go for the trifecta and have an appetizer Cheese Soufflé, then an entrée Mushroom or seafood Soufflé and top it off with a Frambois Soufflé (Raspberry) with crème fraiche. At $42.00 a great deal.
Raspberry Soufflé at Le Soufflé
It feels as if we have been away for a week already. When Bobbie and I get home we feel like there have to have been many accomplishments at home as we do get a lot of ground covered.
Today was dedicated to the Maison Objet Show. We headed out to the show which is actually a 40 minute ride near the Charles De Gaulle Airport. It takes us three days typically to walk the show, schmooze with friends who we have known for years and look for opportunities and products that we can bring to our market.
In fact, two of the new collections that we are introducing this fall are from Italian designers that we met in Paris last September.
At Maison Objet the show engages three designers to offer an exhibit of trends that they see important this year.
Francois Bernard, who not only works on this project but also designs for Tozai Home and has an interior consulting business www.croisements.com. Typically in the exhibit the designer will highlight a product from the show or even outside to express his/her point. I loved the below Solar grill www.idcook.com/en. Look carefully as it is hard to see what it is. Not only is it an intriguing design to look at but practical. It’s parabolic design allows it to heat up to 200 degrees centigrade without creating any CO2 emissions making this one of the most ecologically sensitive outdoor cooking tools.
Elizabeth Leriche, who always enlightens us with such a wonderful and practical perspective on deign. This season she spoke about minimalism in design. This year her exhibit highlighted everything white which looked just wonderful at the show.
We get many display ideas from our visit to Paris. It seems that every place we look there is a new spin or new idea or even new product.
The show closes at 7 PM most nights and even has one late night until 8 PM. But by 6 PM our eyes and bodies were exhausted. We headed back to Paris where we met some friends from the states at a restaurant on the left bank called L’Epi Dupin (Rabbit) www.epidupin.com/fr .This is a local French place but with a contemporary spin. Luic is the maitre’d and if you mention our name he will take good care of you.
Unfortunately the gym is closed on weekends. Or maybe I should say fortunately. I always thought Paris at night is unforgettable. But a close second is Paris in the early hours. The monuments are stupendous.
Grand Palais, Paris
PHOTO – Eiffel Tower, Paris
Place de la Concorde
Notes on Paris: Over the years I always wondered why typically in the morning there was water flowing in the streets. The Paris city plan was very well thought out when it was created centuries ago. I have always appreciated the street cleaning system. Back when, the French engineers created a water system that flushes out the gutters. One often sees the Parisians sweeping the sidewalks into the gutters. Then once a day, you can see water coming out of the sidewalk on the top of the street. It then flows down picking up whatever waste or leaves that maybe there. It works wonderfully.
Today was to be spent in Paris visiting one of the antique markets. They open at about 10 AM which is when we arrived to start our day. It was another unbelievable weather day. The entire trip was sunny and in the 80’s. We like the Paul Bert Marche at Rue 96-110 Rue des Rosiers www.paulbert-serpette.com In the area which is called Cligancourt there are many markets and flea markets.
The market is full of surprises. You never know what you will find.
Zebra Trophy – Yes they are real
Stainless Steel Safe Deposit Boxes
Children’s Metal Cars
There is always an opportunity for personal gratification at these markets. I was the lucky one and found a collection of old radio transistors for my office. Most of these have not been used an were found in a radio repair shop. I can’t wait to set them up on my shelves.
Before we knew it was lunch time and Bobbie and I found a café right in the middle of the market called Le Paul Bert. We shared mussels and a croquet monsieur both of which are typically French and delicious. As with most French cafes, we did a lot of people watching which is especially interesting in antique markets.
Le Paul Bert
Le Paul Bert
After lunch we decided to head back into central Paris and visit some shops. Throughout the year we are consistently reading up on new designers and shops around the world. Typically before a trip we will sit collectively and highlight our target shops.
Centre George Pompidou Museum Gift Shop
We were hoping to see some interesting things there but didn’t find much. We love the museum itself. The building was a shock to Paris when it was first built 20 years ago. Imagine in the middle of the traditional four story stone buildings comes a modern clear glass building showing off its metal structure inside. At first they hated it, but I think now it’s very popular and offers great collections of contemporary art.
www.merci-merci.com This was one of the busiest shops that we have seen. Like many popular shops today it the building itself was very interesting. A loft like atmosphere with quirky doors and ceilings and atriums. One of my favorite parts of the shop is the long coffee bar/library where you can buy any book from the shelves for $1 or just take it and read while you are enjoying your coffee.
Collette is one of the most talked about shops in Paris for trend and design. Her edited collection ranges from shoes to cell phones. And in a space of about 2000 sq. feet she has created a very dynamic environment. A few years ago she even created a “water bar” in the downstairs where you can enjoy bottled water from all over the world. What will they think of next?
For nice fragrances and select gifts
You will see macaroons everywhere. Of course Ladure is the leader but many are following suit in the race for the best Macaroons. These look delicious.
The museum here is wonderful and actually the next day the new exhibit featuring Marc and Louis Vuitton was opening. Unfortunately we could not make it to that so we visited the gift shop.
Directly behind the museum there is the Louvre. If you want to have a lunch on the terrace facing the lawn there it’s great. The restaurant is called Le Saut Du Loup. www.lesautduloup.com
We ended our shopping day at the shops underneath the Louvre at a shopping arcade called The Carrousel du Louvre. www.carrouseldulouvre.com. The shops are mostly French chain stores. I did love to see the inverted pyramid from the Louvre with the light from above shining through.
At this point we headed toward dinner. We could not resist a photo op with the Two’s bag in front of the Etoile at the top of the Champs Elyse,
Our final stop before dinner was at a very interesting store called Le Drug store. This place started out as a pharmacy but developed into a Steakhouse, Gourmet Food, Gift, Book/Magazine Stand, Fashion Accessory Store, Joel Robuchon Restaurant, Wine and Pharmacy open from 7 AM to 1 AM.
We made it to dinner ready to enjoy an evening with Mary Liz and Steve Curtain who own Lulu and Leon just outside of Detroit. We have known them for years and this was their first time at the Maison Objet fair. We enjoyed an evening at L’Ami Jean. www.lamijean.fr Another one of our favorite low key French places. They have the best steak in Paris, but be sure to ask for it well done. The French typically serve steak almost raw. At some places no matter what you say it will never get much more cooked than rare. We always love scallops which are served on the shell, and the pies de resistance is the rice pudding served in a large bowl with a large wooden kitchen spoon and sides of a caramel crème and nuts.
We were not far from our hotel so we decided to walk back and enjoyed seeing the Eiffel tower sparkling on the hour.
DAY 6 and 7
The last two days were mostly show days. We had a lot of ground to cover and people to meet.
Inspirations were found throughout the trip.
We are both ready to get home and see our families and eager to get back to Elmsford to share all the ideas that evolved during our trip.
Next stop Hong Kong in October.