Tag Archives: Paris

Louvre Evacuates Artwork In Wake of Floods

As one of the most visited tourist sites in the world, the Louvre museum’s location next to the River Seine is well known. Yet, after days of torrential rain hit the French capital, causing the river to burst its banks at some places, the location is fast becoming a liability. Due to worry about artworks held in their underground reserves, the museum is closing for a short period in order to evacuate the most valuable works.

This isn’t the only museum to be affected though. Opposite the Louvre, on the other bank, the Musee d’Orsay closed early on Thursday to put its own “protection plans” into place. This is to be expected, given that such masterworks as paintings by Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh and Degas, as well as 24 works by Gauguin are held inside its galleries. Both museums have anticipated the possibility of flooding before, and they have extensive emergency plans to follow in such cases. They’ve even organized drills for it, with the Louvre evacuating the whole of the underground section of its new Islamic art galleries in a day during March.

Hours before its decision to activate these plans, the Musee d’Orsay had played down the threat to its vast underground stores which are fitted with anti-flood pumps and sealed waterproof doors – at least until the Seine swelled up to more than five meters above its usual levels. The estimate is that the river could rise 6 meters above its usual height Friday.

In order to prevent such things from happening in the future, The Louvre has plans to move its vast stores from its vulnerable riverside site to a new building near its satellite museum at Lens in northern France in 2019.

Saint Laurent Unveils New Changi Airport Store

Now that Saint Laurent has opened its doors at Changi Airport, waiting for your flight will prove to be a less dreadful affair. The new store, situated at the bustling Terminal 2, is the first direct operating airport store worldwide.

The interior is typically Hedi Slimane with the marbled interior, stark lighting and minimalist furnishings (you’ll see the similarities with other stores worldwide immediately). While the last thing you’ll find are frivolous decorations, you will, however, find lots of precise geometry that add dramatic visual rhythm to the 104 square-meter space, where you’ll find the full range of women’s and men’s accessories.


Shop the brand’s unique brand of Parisian chic at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, Departure/Transit Lounge Central, #026-074, Singapore 819643. Tel: +65 6214 9647 Opening Hours: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Read more about the store at L’Officiel.com.

Live Like A True Parisian with Airbnb

What’s a holiday in Paris if you don’t live like a true Parisian? If you happen to be in Paris from June 2 – 5,2016, you’re in luck. As part of its ‘Live There’ campaign, Airbnb aims to give tourists an authentic glimpse of France’s joie de vivre via workshops and events. Hosted at a pop-up venue in the bustling 11th arrondissement, the company will organize a whole slew of activities that are quintessentially French – from learning to create a classic French meal and making your own perfume to attending wine tastings and running through the streets of Paris with the local Nike Run Club. This isn’t the first time France has amped up its tourism initiatives. HomeAway is currently running a contest for a chance to spend the night on the first floor of city’s iconic landmark, in lieu of the UEFA Euro 2016 Games.

If you already have a trip to Paris planned later in the year and have enquiries, Airbnb hosts and travel experts will be at your service when you hashtag #dingdong.

Click here to find out more.

Paris Couture Week Lines Up Alberta Ferretti

All the news that’s fit to print on couture does not always revolve around fresh faces, as we learned this week with the revelation that Alberta Ferretti will present her first ever runway collection at Paris Haute Couture Week.

The designer will show her demi-couture Limited Edition line on Sunday, July 3, as she revealed to Vogue.

Unlike true haute couture pieces, which are bespoke made-to-order, Ferretti’s demi-couture dresses are not one-of-kind, but are still only available in very limited quantities.

Commenting on the news Ferretti said, “I thought it was time to give a real identity to Limited Edition. When I started it in 2011, I only presented it once a year as a capsule created to meet the demand of my customers for both evening and cocktail attire.”

“Each year, it’s had a greater impact on the business. In 2015, I started to present it seasonally, completing it with shoes and accessories. I think now is the time to do a fashion show.”

The show also looks set to be an intimate affair, with just 100 guests invited to Ferretti’s Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré headquarters to view the collection.

Also confirmed to be showing during the week are Brioni, Hermès, Vetements, and Atelier Versace, who will present their collection right after Alberta Ferretti.

Longines Conquest 1/100th Celebrates Tennis

Ever a fan of tennis, the writer David Foster Wallace once characterized the sport as a “game of micrometers” in his essay on tennis player Roger Federer. It is in keeping with this line of thought that the Longines Conquest 1/100th Roland Garros was developed. As the official timekeeper and partner of the French Open at Roland-Garros since 2007, their whole thrust was to deliver the high precision timing needed for the high-speed high-impact sport, all the way down to one hundredth of a second. Deliver they did, reaching an extreme level of precision in the Conquest thanks to its unique (quartz, because it gets the job done) movement and a whole array of other innovations.


Longines Tournament in Singapore

Other than the L440 movement, this new model will have a microcontroller with flash memory that allows for instant resetting, while tracking down the intermediary timings as well. The steel model includes an anthracite dial that displays all of its timekeeping functions, with a hand in orange pointing to those one-hundredth of a second spots. The dial features the logo for Longines as well, with its trademark winged hourglass – ever the representative for tradition, performance, and timelessness.

Beyond representing the French Open in this aspect, Longines is also hosting their own Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris. They’re inviting 16 promising young tennis players under the age of 13 to showcase their talent in competition. Right here in Singapore, the trial was conducting by the Singapore Tennis Association at Tanglin Academy in April, where Alexis Tan (aged 12) was chosen to represent Singapore in Paris.

Alexis Lynn Tan in Action

Alexis Lynn Tan in Action

Longines has had generations of experience as an official timekeeper for world championships and partnerships with other sports federations. With consistent elegance, they’ve fulfilled their duties countless times already. Their contribution to the clay courts will definitely be of great value.


  • Dimensions: 41mm
    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
    Chronograph Functions: Central second hand, central 1/100th of second hand (in orange), 30-minute counter at 2 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 10 o’clock.
    Calibre: Quartz chronograph movement L440
    Material: Stainless steel case and bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism; anthracite dial with 1 applied Arabic numeral and 11 applied indices with Super-LumiNova; Sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating
    Water Resistant: 300 meters

Paris Luxury Stores to Open Sunday

As a visitor to Paris, Sundays have always been an excellent time to take in the scenery because the stores are closed – well, not anymore because the city’s top luxury stores will be throwing open their doors from this weekend onwards.

Tourists flocking to the French capital will now be able shop at luxury shops that line the Champs Elysees and the Place Vendome on Sundays as a key government reform comes into effect.

An agreement between luxury shops and employee unions on Sunday hours has come into force, said Sylvie Zawadzki, who heads up tax and social issues at the French Fashion Federation.

The deal allows shops to take advantage of a reform pushed through by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron last year allowing for shops to open on Sundays in newly created international tourist zones in Paris.

Sunday openings for shops in France is severely restricted.

“It is an agreement that provides companies the possibility to open (on Sundays) but it is a decision they take based on their commercial strategy,” said Zawadzki.

The flagship shops of luxury brands such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton are covered by the deal.

Zawadzki declined to say how many companies are concerned, but according to the business daily Les Echos some 30 brands and nearly 100 shops could now open.

Other international tourist zones cover the central part of Paris, including the area where many of the city’s top department stores are located, including Galeries Lafayette. So far only one, BHV, has reached a deal with its employees.

Fancy a One Night Stay Under the Eiffel Tower?

What’s more romantic than visiting the Eiffel Tower with your loved one? Spending the night under it, of course. In a lead-up to the highly-anticipated UEFA Euro 2016 games, short-term vacation rental site HomeAway has launched a contest offering up to 24 people a chance to spend the night on the first floor of the iconic landmark, reimagined by a Paris designer.

This contest is not all luck though. The four best answers to the question “What would you do if the HomeAway Eiffel Tower was all yours for a night?” will be awarded the opportunity to bring along five guests each for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Winners can also expect three additional nights in a Paris HomeAway vacation rental, round-trip transportation and a gourmet dinner – as if the Eiffel Tower stay wasn’t a sweet enough deal.


This isn’t the first contest of its kind – short-term vacation rental companies have been trying to outdo one another with wacky and exclusive properties. ‘Sleeping with sharks’ may have seemed like a ridiculous proposition but Airbnb made the impossible happen for three brave couples with its custom-built underwater chamber at the Paris aquarium last month. Denmark’s Kronborg Castle also threw open its doors for the first time in a century to mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in April, allowing two guests to live as Hamlet did (if he wasn’t fictional).

The contest runs May 19 – 31, 2016 in the United States, May 20 – June 5, 2016 in Asia and May 19 – June 5, 2016 in Europe. The four lucky groups selected will be hosted June 23, June 28, July 4 and July 8, 2016 during the UEFA Euro 2016 games period, and winners will be announced June 10.

Click here to find out more about this contest and to participate.

French Trains Receive Palace of Versailles Makeover

The next time you happen to be on a train in Paris, don’t look out. Direct your gaze, instead, to its interior, because you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. The usually unassuming décor of the trains running along the suburban RER C train lines have been ditched for a more sophisticated rendition of the Palace of Versailles.

France_train_Palace of Versailles

Available on board five trains under the SNCF, France’s national rail network, the cabins have been plastered with trompe-l’oeil images of the royal chateau. The refurbishments are designed to evoke memories of the palace and its grounds. Famous sites such as the Hall of Mirrors, the Gallery of Battles and Louis XVI’s royal library have been layered on with a high-tech plastic film. Such a project isn’t a first for the SNCF though. The rail company had a similar initiative in 2012 with Art in Transit, a collaboration with 3M that transformed train cars with Impressionist art and a train station with stain glass inspired by the Musée d’Orsay.

France_train_Palace of Versailles

Taken by about 500,000 passenger a day (of which 10 percent are tourists) the train is en route to 36 stations along the RER C line, which runs through five departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, Essonne and Yvelines. The makeover was no mean feat – 10 full-time employees, including an engineer, quality control supervisor and eight technical specialists were required to apply a staggering 941 panels of film to the train’s interiors with utmost precision. A small price to pay though, for a travelling experience you’ll never forget.

Haute Couture Week 2016 Names 5 Guests

For the top-tier Haute Couture Fashion Week, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris has named five fashion labels to display their works as guests alongside the other more established houses in July. Among them are designers who have displayed great depth of innovation and futuristic vision. The inclusion of the subversive rebel design collective Vetements into the mix is a bit of a surprise move on the part of the venerable Chambre. Here is a brief look at all five.

J Mendel isn’t exactly a “spring chicken” since it started out in the 1800s. This label specializes in exquisite furs and displays a penchant for innovation in their use of the material – manipulating it as easily as other types of fabrics.

Iris Van Herpen and Yuima Nakazato definitely represent the future possibilities of fashion design. They’ve embraced technologies like 3D printing and using digital design to push forward the possibilities of what’s possible in their clothing. Form-eschewing sculpted wearables are well represented in their creations.

Francesco Scognamiglio straddles the divide between the classical techniques he picked up from Italy and his own desire for avant-garde expression. The Neapolitan designer can style sensual feminine dresses but he always likes to find a way to infuse it with his own touch of Romanticism. This puts him on the map as a curious designer to look out for.

Inviting Vetements into this Haute Couture Fashion Week is kind of like inviting The Sex Pistols to sing opera. The underground label has been favored by various celebrities – including Kanye West – but they represent everything opposite to what the fashion industry stands for. Their designers aren’t named. They run underground fashion shows far away from the catwalks. They don’t used established models in their shows. Then again, even rebel leader Che Guevara’s face is now being sold on shirts everywhere. How the label aims to maintain their anti-establishment aura while participating in such a high-profile establishment event will be interesting to watch.

Chanel Opens Saint-Tropez Summer Store

You know summer is truly here when French fashion icon Chanel takes up its summer residence at the private mansion La Mistralée in beautiful Saint-Tropez. This year, the Kaiser works his magic (together with his very talented team of interior designers) to transform the pop-up store.


The love affair between Chanel and Saint-Tropez began when the Mademoiselle herself used to sojourn there every summer. Karl Lagerfeld then picked the city as the venue for the house’s cruise collection for 2011, and has returned annually ever since.


Inside, the boutique is an exquisite representation of the revered fashion house. Swathed in the Maison’s iconic shades of black, white, beige and gold, the boutique opens to an entrance hall with wooden panels that swivel to reveal bottles of the iconic Chanel No5 perfume. Monochromatic walls are punctuated by splashes of gold. Clothes and handbags are presented on two rails that run across the room, its minimalist charm a juxtaposition to the avant-garde sculptures and vintage chandelier that lights up the orderly space. The troves of display units and alcoves are now home to the new J12 Mirror and the other watch models.


Outside, the La Mistralée pool shimmers with the light, its golden mosaic tiles reflecting the sun with an intensity that highlights the season’s shoes – the highlight of the pool house.

The Chanel Saint-Tropez boutique will open from 23 April – 5 October 2016.

Focus: Givenchy Bag Lover

Riccardo Tisci designs for the sensual, modern, and confident woman inhabiting the concrete jungle in her stilettos. The Givenchy woman needs, then, bags to conquer the world with. Tisci has made a hugely profitable name for the house of Givenchy since his installment in 2005. Refracted through the prism of one of Paris’ grand names of couture, the artistic direction is now unrelentingly modern and urbane.

Fittingly, the stable of bags reflects these values and extends the evocation of the Givenchy woman. Strong and confident, she takes it all on and carries a killer bag. If she sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen the countless photos of celebrities caught on their days off, toting bags from Givenchy. A-listers such as Anne Hathaway, Alessandra Ambrosio and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, among others, count the brand among their favourites.



The myth of Pandora’s Box would be more believable if what she had been tempted to open was a box from Givenchy. Though structured unconventionally, this bag retains its functions with a roomy interior and a multitude of carrying options. We love this season’s denim take on the Pandora and its backpack variant — an elevation of a workwear material.



The classic nightingale was reworked in Pre-Fall 2015. In place of the large central cross and logo-ed hardware was a more reductive silhouette, with the sides buckled to form the elusive slouch of a leather bag. We think this piece is at its most beautiful when travelling – the chic, utilitarian shape of this bag gives it room to fit everything you need on a journey.


Shark Tooth

Sharks are a part of the visual story that make up the iconic canon of Tisci’s Givenchy. Printed tees, sweatshirts, and shark’s teeth accessories go hand in hand with the Shark Tooth bag. It features a sharp and incisive silhouette, given an edge of the prevailing punk mood with this season’s stark chain detailing.



The Antigona’s popularity is the kind that inspires dozens of high street versions of it, some blatant, some slightly less so. The design is enduring because of its functional size and muted aesthetics, and lends itself to a host of styling options. This season’s brogue detailing dials up the monochromatic glamour by introducing classic leather shoe elements into the bag’s design.

Story Credits

Text by Gordon Ng

This story was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

Tour d’Argent’s Duck-Press Fetches $45,000

What in the world is a duck press? We will get to that of course but first, a bit of backstory… Overlooking the river Seine, the Tour d’Argent restaurant has seen many changes over the years. Thanks to this history, the Michelin-starred restaurant had acquired a large number of dishes, furniture, rare spirits and liquors. As part of its efforts to modernize the restaurant and its logo, Tour d’Argent auctioned off over 3,000 items from its private collection. One item that garnered much attention during the auction by Artcurial, was the silver plated duck-press.

Crafted in the 19th century by Christofle, the duck press also bears the Left Bank restaurant’s emblem and was expected to fetch EU4,000 to EU6,000. It was sold however, for EU40,000 ($45,000) — nearly 10 times its estimate. Used to squeeze the blood and bone marrow from ducks, the device is said to have served an impressive 1.15 million dishes of “Canard a la Presse” since 1890. Today, this might well be the most expensive duck press in the world, although statistics on these devices are hard to come by.

Other notable items that were auctioned include the Grande Fine Clos du Griffier Cognac. Estimated to be one of the oldest bottles in the selection that was sold, it si believed to date back to 1788 and was expected to fetch EU20,000 to EU21,000 ($22,00-$23,000).

“The Tour d’Argent is continuingly evolving and the renovations we have undertaken have led to us accumulating a large amount of porcelain, crystal, glass and silverware and also furniture which no longer has a relevant place today” said André Terrail, owner of Tour d’Argent. He added that “Just like our new visual identity, we are establishing the Tour d’Argent in the present, whilst continuing on from the past.”

Huang Yong Ping Goes Big at Monumenta 2016

As the name suggest, Monumenta is indeed monumental. As the 2016 event lumbers into view, the exhibition space in the Grand Palais transforms into a spectacle to behold. The incredibly vast space (think 13,500m² of floor space and 45m of vertical space) provides artists endless possibilities and opportunities to showcase their works.

Huang Yong Ping_Monumenta

This year, the biennale exhibition belongs to Huang Yong Ping, a radical avant-garde artist who made his name in China in the ‘80s. Though hardly an easy task, the China-born French artist should find it a cinch as his works are often on a grand scale. His 130-meter long aluminum “Serpent d’océan” installed in the estuary where the Loire River meets the Atlantic in Western France or “Wu Zei,” a giant octopus he installed in the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco are anything but subtle.

Titled “Empires”, Huang aimed to create a “symbolic landscape” of today’s globalized economy – eight islands overhung by a structure the shadow of which will mix with that of the metal framing of the Grand Palais’ vaulted glass ceiling.

Huang Yong Ping_Monumenta

Jean de Loisy, president of the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum and curator of the exhibition, says that Huang’s work will manifest “the metamorphoses of political and economic powers, the rise of new geographic regions, the decline of ancient empires and the appearance in the interim of new candidates aspiring to that power and the violence that their ambitions provoke.”

Paris Ferris Wheel Turns Pop-up Restaurant

If you are in Paris later this month and are seeking out a special treat, seek out the Ferris Wheel in Paris’ Place de la Concorde, which will turn into a pop-up restaurant for one night only May 19. Organized as part of this year’s S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, which as the name suggests looks for the world’s most talented up-and-coming chefs, diners can step aboard in a first for the French capital’s “Grande Roue.”

Normally, the “Grande Roue” in Paris’s Place de la Concorde is a fun way of taking in the city’s sights that’s especially popular during the winter holiday season. Now, for the first time, the city’s ferris wheel is set to become a pop-up restaurant. Around 400 lucky diners will take a seat in one of the 48 cabins for dinner sittings at 7pm and 9:30pm. We can only imagine how this might work and that very uncertainty means the experience could be a very special one indeed.

The pop-up will be serving dishes cooked by the French finalist in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, who will be selected at a country-wide semi-final May 9. Cabin companions will be served an amuse-bouche, followed by a starter, the chef’s signature dish and a dessert. The finalist will be accompanied in the kitchen by the triple Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno. The chef, based at the Pavillon Ledoyen restaurant in Paris, is one of the jury members who will help select the French finalist, before coaching them for the final. The pair of chefs will be stepping into a pop-up kitchen installed at the foot of the wheel especially for the occasion.

Anyone hoping to enjoy this unique culinary experience, taking diners over 70 meters above ground, will need to book quickly. Reservations can be made online at www.finedininglovers.fr (in French) and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Note that bookings must be made for two people.

The final of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition will be held October 15 in Milan, Italy.

Tour Auto Optic 2000: Classic Cars, Zenith Watches

What better way to spend a day than racing through the most beautiful regions of France in a refined ride? It was this mindset that got the Tour Auto Optic 2000 race off the blocks; the historic car race is in its 25th iteration this year and ran from April 18 to 23. The 240 contestants tested their mettle on closed roads, with the full circuit running from Paris to Cannes. For this year, though, the even more historic luxury watch brand Zenith chose to step up as the race’s official timepiece, releasing a limited series of the El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Tour Auto Edition as a tribute to the stately competition.


Limited to just 500 pieces, the El Primero Tour Auto runs at a speed of 36,000 vibrations per hour with impeccable precision due to the legendary El Primero movement. The 5Hz escapement is a key feature of the El Primero since its debut in 1969. The current design features a sporty look, with a long three-colored (the old red, white and blue) stripe down the dial and strap, very fitting for the renowned race.

Aldo Magada, Michel Rostang, Jean-Paul Lacombe, and Michel Chabran

Aldo Magada, Michel Rostang, Jean-Paul Lacombe, and Michel Chabran

Aldo Magada, CEO & President of Zenith, commented: “We serve as official timekeeper for Tour Auto and Peter Auto events around Europe. We share a passion for fine mechanisms, timeless aesthetics as well as history. And most of all, a passion for competition, great escapes and travel. We want to be far more than a sponsor and instead a real partner.”

tourauto (13)

The race itself ended in a final night-time stage, specially organized for the 25th anniversary of the event, with a win by the Parisian driving team of Jean-Pierre Lajournade and Christophe Bouchet, in their trusty E-type Jaguar. Overall, the participants unanimously voted it a success due to the quality of the itinerary, the choices and standards of the meals, and the overall organization.



In the meantime, Zenith welcomed Hong Kong actor Francis Ng, and Michelin starred chefs –Michel Rostang, Michel Chabran and Jean-Paul Lacombe – as well as the firm’s other ambassadors and friends for the grand opening of the race. A watchmaking ‘class’ focused on the El Primero Tour Auto limited edition was also held.

Francis Ng

Francis Ng

With the end of a fantastic event, you can bet that the participants are already looking forward to next year’s run. Who knows how much better that will be? We can’t wait to find out.

Focus: Napoleon III House, La Muette, Paris

A house with a garden near rue de Passy, this 3,230sf family house is in pristine condition and arranged over three floors. Greff International lists the former owner as Napoleon III so the pedigree is assured! There is an elegant central staircase, hallway, living room and a rotunda dining room with direct access to a 1,507sf garden. On the top two floors, there are four bedrooms, two bathrooms and walk-in wardrobe. In the basement, there is also a 538sf bedroom with shower. This generously proportioned property is south-facing and has ample space for parking. La-Muette-Paris-Palace-2

Price: €3.6 million ($4.07 million)


Greff International
Esplanade des Invalides
36, rue Fabert
F-75007 PARIS

Story Credits

This story was first published in Palace.


Francois Pinault Houses Collection in New Museum

The billionaire luxury goods tycoon Francois Pinault, who helms luxury group Kering and the auction house Christie’s, has been in the art world for some time now – he boasts one of the biggest private art collections in the world (valued at around $1.4 billion). Now, Pinault has finally found a place to house his collection — which contains the work of artists ranging from Mark Rothko to Damien Hirst — and will open it to the public for viewing. The Bourse de Commerce is a building that’s also at the intersection of Art and Business. The beautiful building’s interior was decorated by a number of painters, and it’s also been the site of a few fashion shows. Pinault – also famous for being the husband of Salma Hayek – has been unable to find a suitable home for the collection in Paris for decades, and, before, only showed them at private museums in Venice.

Francois Pinault

Francois Pinault

The city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo, who negotiated the deal, described the museum as “an immense gift to the heart of Paris”. “I am delighted, it’s a big plus for the city,” Hidalgo told AFP, pointing out that the new museum is also close to the Pompidou Centre, Europe’s biggest contemporary art collection. Another businessman who helped put Paris on the modern art map was France’s richest man, and Pinault’s business rival, Bernard Arnault – who opened his own Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation for his art collection last year.

The Bourse de Commerce is part of a one-billion-euro urban renewal project to give what Hidalgo calls a “new beating heart” to the city’s Les Halles district. As a part of the deal, Pinault and his family will be given a 50-year lease on the building, which they must also renovate (the cost or rent was not revealed). This must be a boon for Pinault, who tried to build up a museum at the site of an old Renault car factory on the Ile Seguin in the middle of the Seine west of Paris, but gave up in despair in 2005 over planning delays. The gallery will open in 2018, sources close to the collector told AFP.

“It is great to have our captains of industry helping to fly our colors. With this and the FIAC art fair, Paris is regaining its place in contemporary art” Hidalgo noted. The collection will definitely be of great value to the Parisian public, and help foster the cultural consciousness of the city overall.

Champs-Elysees Goes Car-Free Monthly

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, one of Paris’ busiest boulevards and home to the Arc de Triomphe, will soon be off-limits to cars once a month in an effort to eradicate worsening smog conditions. If you aim to cruise in style in your supercar or block traffic with your Rolls-Royce or Bentley take note of the following dates.

Cars will be not be allowed on the busy two kilometer-long (1.2-mile) street on the first Sunday of every month, coinciding with the day Parisian museums are free to public. The eco-friendly scheme will kickstart on 8 May 2016 instead of 1 May, a public holiday, when many of the council workers needed to run the scheme will be off work.

Mayor Anne Hildalgo, a socialist who’s been actively fighting the smog, will also include nine new routes to be pedestrianised every Sunday and public holiday. This adds to the 13 that’s already subject to traffic restrictions under the “Paris Respire” anti-pollution programme, a car-free scheme where selected roads are closed to traffic on the above mentioned days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

According to the World Health Organisation, fine-particle pollution claims an alarming 42,000 lives prematurely in France every year.

Interview: Chef Nobu Matsuhisa

You might be familiar with the name Nobu if you have been paying attention to the international buzz over chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, amongst many other locations worldwide and in the USA. Since his partner in the Nobu business is Robert De Niro, he also has a certain pop culture cachet. His other line of restaurants, Matsuhisa, is privately owned by the Matsuhisa family.

Chef Nobu is quick to clarify that though he has been linked to Nikkei cuisine – the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine – his cooking is distinctly ‘Nobu.’

For the 67-year-old chef, that means cooking that is firmly rooted in Japanese cuisine, with just a few touches of Peruvian influences like jalapeno peppers, cured ceviches and anticucho, traditional beef heart skewers.

He frowns on labels like fusion and Nikkei, and prefers to describe his cuisine by his name, food that is “Nobu Matsuhisa.”

While in Paris to oversee his newest restaurant, Matsuhisa Paris at Le Royal Monceau hotel this week, the chef spoke about his second attempt at opening a restaurant in the French capital, sushi etiquette and the person he’d most want to cook for.

Nobu Matsuhisa's signature black cod with miso at Le Royal Monceau Paris

Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature black cod with miso at Le Royal Monceau Paris

What is ‘Nobu’ cuisine?

I started training in Tokyo when I was 18 years old and started cooking Japanese food. Then I moved to Peru and saw a lot of different ingredients like lemons, garlic, cilantro, onions so I started making Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients. But my base cooking is Japanese. This is what I call Nobu-style food.

This isn’t the first time you opened a restaurant in Paris. In 2001, you opened Nobu. What’s different this time?

When I opened Nobu Paris in 2001 I was a bit disappointed. The restaurant wasn’t perfect. So we closed it after a year and a half. Now, 15 years later my partners and I have opened restaurants in Mykonos, St. Moritz, Athens, Munich… so we have teams in Europe. Before we opened in Paris this time, we also did pop-up promotions to test the grounds.

You’ve added hotelier to your resume with two hotels and another three coming up in London, Miami and Saudi Arabia. What do you look for when you stay at a hotel?

For me, there has to be a nice gym. I like the Royal Monceau for their swimming pool. I swam today and yesterday. I like to exercise so a gym is very important. Of course, hospitality and good service is important. But sometimes too much service is very uncomfortable too. I don’t like overly complicated hotels. I like simple.

What are some of the mistakes you see diners make when they eat sushi at your restaurants?

In Japan, we never use too much soy sauce. When you eat sushi in Japan, never mix wasabi with soy sauce because the sushi already has wasabi between the fish and the rice. Also the sushi chef will often brush soy sauce on the fish. And in Japan you eat it in one bite. This is the real way. In America and Europe they mix wasabi with lots of soy sauce. Also, in Japanese culture, Japanese people never put soy sauce on their steamed rice. In the beginning when I saw this I was shocked. But now I laugh.

If you could cook for one person that you haven’t cooked for yet, who would it be?

If my father were still alive I would like to cook for him. I’ve made sushi for my mother but my father passed away when I was a child. If my father were here now I would like to prepare sushi for him.

Matsuhisa Paris at Le Royal Monceau opened last month. The chef’s restaurant empire includes more than 30 restaurants in 28 cities around the world.

Louis Vuitton Exhibition to Open in Japan

From Paris and straight to Tokyo, Louis Vuitton brings its highly successful exhibition this spring. Titled Volez, Voguez, Voyagez the exhibit spent its three-month run in Paris this past winter drawing in 200,000 visitors. We covered that run right here.

The exhibition tracks the 160-year history of a brand that originated from one man’s goal of improving the travel trunk. From Nicolas Ghesquière to the founders themselves, it will showcase an in depth map of how the brand reached its success today. Now an international empire of luxury goods, Louis Vuitton has a strong connection to Japan.

Many have even compared the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram to the Japanese cherry blossom. The exhibit will have a special room dedicated to Japan. The exhibition will open in the Kioicho neighbourhood of Tokyo, home of Vuitton’s first store in Japan.

The Volez, Vogues, Voyagez exhibition will run from April 23 in Tokyo and will be open to the public.