I have schlepped my kids everywhere: Provence, London, Northern Italy, Southern Spain, Budapest, Iceland, and, most recently, Marrakech. Sure I love expanding their horizons. But, the pressure to accommodate their decidedly non pint-sized needs can become tiresome. I guiltily longed for the old days; specifically pre-parenting romps in Paris as an unencumbered culture vulture. Wait, why not dump the kids with the in-laws and jet off with my husband for 96 hours of Franco-fabulous freedom? Our fourteenth wedding anniversary was looming. Selflessnes be damned.
PARIS APARTMENT RENTAL
Luxury hotels are dreamy, but the love nest that I imagined featured a sitting area and small kitchen for lazy breakfasts and midnight snacks. Through VRBO, I scored the temporary maison of my dreams: a bright, newly renovated 650 sf 1 BR in the 7th arrondisement waking distance to the Seine, metro and the type of Parisian-perfect restaurants, bakeries and chocolatiers that incite a Pavlovian drool mechanism in American tourists.
To set the tone, we headed straight to the legendary lingerie department at Le Bon Marche. I deposited my husband in an armchair as I procured silky, impossible-to-find-stateside innerwear. Then, some sartorial hunting and gathering. Paris is manna for women like me who have a passion for designer resale boutiques. “Depot vente” is a relatively new trend in Paris, small shops that stock “gently worn”clothing from Chanel, YSL, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Dior, Apostrophe and fabulous Parisian brands virtually unknown in America. My husband endured as I blissfully stalked—and scored—a trove of outre treasures at The Dressing Factory (92 Rue de Grenelle, 75007), Depot Vente Luxe (14 Rue de la Tour, 75116) and The Date (3 Rue de la Tour, 75116).
Mornings were al about buttery carbs from Le Moulin de la Vierge (64 Rue San Dominique), Basile Kamir’s art nouveau bakery. For lunch, we hit La Table de la Grande Epicereie inside Le Bon Marche’s newly renovated food hall and the delightful creperie Café Breizh in the Marais. I planned our dinners with the stealth of a surgeon at super-small, romantic eateries. We were seduced by the food at all three: Petrelle (34 Rue Petrelle, 75009), L’ami Jean (27 Rue Malar) and La Jacobine (59 Rue Saint-Andre des Arts, 75006). Fact: Romance requires chocolate. To maximize our love vibe, we plied it with sugar at top artisinal chocolatiers Jacques Genin (133 rue de Turenne, 75003), Pierre Marcolini (978 Rue du Bac), and Patrick Roger. For a sexy pre- or post-dinner cocktail, the trendy Monsieur Bleu (20 Avenue de New York) inside the Palais de Tokyo offers a killer scene and a panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower.
Yes, the buzz surrounding the just-opened LVMH Foundation is substantiated. The art, films and installations inside are riveting. And, Frank Gehry’s soaring glass and wood edifice delivers jaw dropping vistas of Paris from the unique vantage point of the Bois de Boulogne. Another standout exhibit was Sonia Delaunay at The Musee d’art Moderne. Just next to our apartment within Invalides is the Musee de l’Armee filled with uniforms and the tomb of Napoleon.
Amy Tara Koch is Travel + Leisure's Chicago Local Expert.