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St Paul + St Louis Church Paris

Nous Emmener à l’Église

St Paul and St Louis Church Facade Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

In the very heart of the village of St Paul in the very heart of the quartier of Le Marais in the very heart of the 4th Arrondisement in the very heart of Paris is St Paul and St Louis Church. There is nowhere more atmospheric to be on a late Saturday afternoon in the depths of winter than this candlelit thin place resonating to the thrilling grandeur of organ playing.

St Paul and St Louis Church Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Paul and St Louis Church Dome Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Paul and St Louis Church Angel Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Paul and St Louis Church Balcony Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Paul and St Louis Church Ceiling Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Paul and St Louis Church Carving Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Paul and St Louis Church Cross Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Someone, somewhere, recently asked us what the sign INRI means above a crucifix. The acronym stands for the Latin phrase ‘Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum’. John 19:19 explains, “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: ‘Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews’.”

St Paul and St Louis Church Candles Le Marais Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Lavender’s Blue + Montparnasse Paris

Positive Capability

Montparnasse Tower Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The 14th Arrondisement hosted the vanguard of 1920s avant garde Paris. Writer Alice Toklas called it “the city of boulevard bars and Baudeloire”. Poet Guillaume Apollinaire went further: “a quarter of crazies”. Marianne Faithfull now calls it home, from riding in a sports car to missing the moon. Behind Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s homogeneity and square cut gentility lies the mysterious courtyard life of Paris played out under the shadow of Montparnasse Tower. It’s a 32 second lift ride to the 59th floor of the tower to view the sacred horizontality from the profane verticality.

Montparnasse Tower Panorama Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Montparnasse Tower View Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Montparnasse Tower Eiffel Tower View Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The skyscraper was completed in 1973 to the design of Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan, Louis de Hoÿm de Marien and Jean Saubot. The tower’s height, all 210 metres, was not universally welcomed. It didn’t quite accord with Baron Haussmann’s rule that no building should be taller than the width of the boulevard on which it stood. Two years after Montparnasse Tower’s completion, President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing banned buildings over 32 metres in central Paris. In recent times, the limit has been relaxed to 50 metres but only on a case by case basis. Wallpaper* provides a contemporary reassessment, admiring the tower’s “wonderfully gridded curtain wall” before adding, “The redevelopment of the down-at-heel area around Gare Montparnasse in the early 1960s was, by and large, a piece of inspired city planning.”

Montparnasse Tower Rooftop Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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George V Hotel + L’Orangerie Restaurant Paris

Perfumed Notes | As Myrrh from the Tree

“The physical transformations of Paris can be read as a ceaseless struggle between the spirit of place and the spirit of time.” Eric Hazan

Lunch in Paris is always a good idea. Even on the city’s saddest day – Nôtre Dame is smouldering. It would be a tremendously good idea to go to a hotel with three Michelin starred restaurants one of which has three Michelin stars. Les trois pour Le Cinq. Praise be for Four Seasons George V and its most intimate offering L’Orangerie. Just 18 covers; that’s 18 seats, that’s 18 people, that’s 16 other guests. It took Head Chef David Bizet a mere eight months after opening to snap up a Michelin star. We never tyre tire of the gastronomic galaxy. We’re all dressed up (Calvin Klein | Duchamp | Vivienne Westwood) with somewhere to go.

“By the way, did you know that in Paris everyone has the best bakery at the end of their street?” Inès de la Fressange

We are swept through reception on a French flow of impossibly suave direction, past achingly orgiastic triple epiphanic inducing ceiling tipping floral arrangements – lavender’s lemon – through Le Galerie to our table d’haute. Normandy born David shares, “As someone who loves nature, it is important for me to work with the wonderful products of the French regions. My cuisine has a particular elegance and subtlety, and my take on the product can be appreciated in both its taste and visual appearance.” He further describes his cooking as “a traditional French contemporary cuisine of elegance, refinement and femininity”.

“There are little things that thrilled me more… it is one’s own discoveries – an etching in a bookstall, a crooked street in the Latin Quarter – a quaint church in some forgotten corner, these are all the things one remembers.” Samuel Barber

The interior of L’Orangerie is as starry as its culinary accreditation: a crystalline prism presents a welcome foil to the solidity of Lefranc + Wybo’s original Art Deco white stone architecture. Designer Pierre-Yves Rochon used 2.5 tonnes of glass, 160,000 pieces of Carrara marble and a few Lalique lamps to up the ante, to max the effect, to dazzle with pizzazz. L’Orangerie overlooks the Marble Courtyard; it’s perpendicular to Le Cinq and opposite Le George (the third restaurant). We could easily get distracted by this visual feast and that’s before the feast on (textured, sculptured and abstract) plates arrives. There’s a new axis tilting lunch menu and Charles, the Monsieur Divay variety, Directeur of L’Orangerie and Le Galerie is here to explain, “We’ve more vegetables and seafood on our new menu.” Fantastique! We want to savour the vegan and pescatarian savouries.

Incidentally, the sixth Michelin Guide published by André Michelin, the 1926 edition, set out its raison d’être: “For a certain number of important cities in which the tourist may expect to stop for a meal we have indicated restaurants that have been called to our attention for good food.” Restaurants were graded in three categories, as they are today, from one star “simple but well run” to three stars “restaurants of the highest class”. La Tour d’Argent was one of the first Parisian restaurants to achieve the ultimate recognition.

“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter… but now it’s spring… Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway

Very incidentally, second floor apartments attract a premium in Paris. Much of the city was rebuilt in the 19th century under the direction of Georges-Eugène Haussmann. A uniformity of design meant the ground floor of blocks was usually commercial with the shopkeepers housed immediately upstairs. The wealthy lived on the second floor or “étage noble”. Far enough from street noise but not too many stairs to climb. The most generously sized apartments with high ceilings and long balconies are still on this floor. Monsieur Haussmann blessed Paris with four square streets of gold, a little bit of heaven come early. The lost and found generation. Paris is always worth it. Sequins of events on a glittering grid.

“The copper dark night sky went glassy over the city crowned with signs and starting alight with windows, the wet square like a lake at the front of the station ramp.” Elizabeth Bowen