Paris: And It Sizzles

By Thom Nickels for PASSPORT Magazine
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Paris' beauty is something to behold. From the formal gardens, historic architecture, lively streetscapes, and the regal buildings along the Seine, to hip new restaurants, hotels, and galleries, this is a city built to seduce the senses and instill a sense of wonder in everyone who comes here.

On a recent visit, my stepping-off point was the luxurious Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris (51-57, rue de Courcelles. Tel: 5836-6706) an Art Deco hotel designed to resemble a 1930's transatlantic liner. Located near the Arc de Triomphe, and just minutes from the Champs Elysées, the hotel's Brazilian rosewood and Chinese jade interior will put you in the right mood to enjoy The City of Lights. Besides suites and rooms with terraces and balconies facing the Eiffel Tower, some rooms also overlook the grand Andalusian Patio with its fountain and palm trees. Executive Suite guests have access to an executive lounge with a complimentary buffet of hors d'oeuvres, coffees, fine French champagne, and wines.

Paris' new boutique hotel, Hotel Keppler (10, rue Kepler 75. Tel: 4720-6505) has 39 large rooms and suites designed by noted designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. Just yards away from the Champs Elysées, this glamorous addition to Parisian hotel life offers cool sophistication in the center of the city. Complete with personal safes in each of the rooms, televisions and telephones in the bathrooms, and a tea room and library just off the lobby area, the colorful room décor with Rochon's ingenious designs will ward off the worst cases of existentialist angst.

No trip to Paris is complete without a trip to a museum. The city's two newest additions are the Musée des Arts Decoratifs and the Musée du quai Branly.

Housed in a wing of the Louvre, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs (107 rue de Rivoli. Tel: 4455-5750), is a retrospective of French interior design, featuring entire rooms from old chalets, examples of wallpaper, textiles, furnishings, and recreated rooms from the distant past to the present day.

Located on the Left Bank at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du quai Branly (37, quay Branly 206. Tel: 5661-70 00) is the largest new museum to open in the city since the debut of the Pompidou in 1977. The museum's extensive collection includes over 300,000 religious artifacts, textiles, jewelry, masks, sculpture, and photographs from around the world.

For a concentrated city tour I contacted Manstouch Travel (13 ave Duquesne. Tel: 4551-5380), an American company that specializes in private guided tours. Founded in 2002 by Larry Davis, Manstouch offers different introductions to the city. I took the "Gay Soul of Paris Tour," a four-hour walk through Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, Rue Mouffetard, and the Luxembourg Gardens. With my trusty guide, Rotem Dahan, we took detours that included a look at Gertrude Stein's apartment house and the once famous existentialist café, Café de Flore, former hangout of Jean-Paul Sartre and Andre Gide. Literary types no longer linger or write here, but those with lots of cash to spend on drinks and dinner do.

Manstouch also has tours of Montmartre, the gay Marais district, and something called "Erotic Vision of Male Beauty in the Louvre." The erotic vision tour will take you inside the Louvre where the focus will be on erotic works that celebrate the male body. Manstouch Travel promises that this tour will be like a time travel trip "through the centuries of male seduction." For the fashion-minded, Manstouch also offers the "Be a Fashionista" tour where a guide will take you to the chic fashion shops along the Rive Droite. This tour also includes an introduction to the gay history of Paris. Some of the tours include dinner, drinks, and visits to "a fine French sauna."

Published: 13 Aug 2008 | Last Updated: 1 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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