We went to Paris for my birthday this May, hopping on a Eurostar after work on the Friday to arrive in time for a late dinner. I had the perfect birthday weekend eating Michelin-starred food, drinking copious amounts of Champagne, visiting an art gallery, doing a bit of shopping, brasserie-hopping for apéro time and staying at a beautiful hotel in one of my favourite cities.
I love the modern art gallery Jeu de Paume (I've featured the excellent Erwin Blumenfeld exhibition and Garry Winogrand exhibition there before) so we dropped in for the final day of the François Kollar retrospective. Showcasing 130 vintage prints by the Hungarian photographer, the expo includes studio self-portraits at the beginning of his career, luxury advertising campaigns, Harper's Bazaar shoots, a state-commissioned set of French West Africa in the 1950s, fashion portraits including Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Pierre Balmain and a huge series about the world of work in the 1930s covering all areas: industry, agriculture, aviation, crafts, automotive, water and railways. Whilst we were there we also went round the Helena Almeida exhibition featuring the Portuguese artist's mix of black and white photography painted with strokes of cobalt blue paint.
We had a gastronomic dinner at the historic Drouant by Antoine Westermann one evening, excellent bistro food at La Régalade at Hôtel de Nell another evening and visited the ever-popular Le Chateaubriand for the delicious tasting menu. For lunch we had simple crepes in St Germain one day and visited the typical 19th century brasserie Le Valois opposite Parc Monceau. After lunch we walked through the park watching little kids ride ponies, couples sat on benches in the sun and young families picnicking and playing in the long grass whilst I wandered around taking photos of dozens of flowers (my favourite pastime). After a quick stop at Galeries Lafayette we went up to the pretty Square des Batignolles in the 17th for more of the same. Parfait! Merci pour le beau week-end, Paris - à bientôt.