Monday, April 13, 2009

10 Things I love this week / April (singing in the) Showers

1. La Societe

Where have all the celebrities gone? They’re not at l’Hôtel Costes anymore, le Baron is SO 2004-2007 and no one is home anymore (see: second French commandment, Thous shalt not sit inside at home when it’s nice outside). Don’t worry, I have located all of your favorite celebs – well, minus perhaps Dany Boon who is soaking up the Los Angeles sun as we speak or Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard who are galavanting around Manhattan, but I’ve found the rest. They’re all at La Société, the latest addition to the vast Costes empire.
Société [ sɔsjete ] noun. 1. French for “society,” a structured community of people. 2. The new Costes restaurant in Saint-Germain-des-pres serving “Germanopratins”* [*term designating inhabitants of the 6th arrondissement who rarely leave said neighborhood and frequent its establishments notably the Café de Flore and its environs], stars and wanna-be stars for a much too expensive menu of mediocre food in a chic setting with model-like waitresses.
Finally, the Germanopratin community can rejoice – “Left Bank chic” is back in style. After le Montana, the latest in La Clique’s master plan to take over the world, one nightclub at a time, comes THE place to be for the privileged, “look at me” crowd. Celebs from all domains have been coming out for the new restaurant located in what used to be le Bilboquet jazz club. Think: fashion fathers the Fendi family and Dolce and Gabbana, political heavyweights like Rachida Dati, gourmet gurus like Alain Ducasse, every French actor or actress ever to hit the big screen and even “American Idol” media powerhouse Ryan Seacrest, who dined across the room last Saturday night. So what are we eating, folks? [insert laughter here] Oh please, as if anyone comes here to eat. In any case, it’s classic Costes cuisine, read: the same menu that we all have memorized at this point. With the exception of a few Germanopratin additions such as the “Club Saint Germain,” an onion soup and a quinoa and asparagus risotto, the menu remains unchanged, namely a shrimp risotto, spring rolls (“nems”) or a mandarina crispy duck. It’s très cher (very expensive), that's for sure, but, with Carla Bruni sitting to your left, Karl Lagerfeld to your right and Brad and Angie across the room*, who really cares ? (*note: this scene has yet to be recorded in Societe history, but it would be pretty cool, huh?) The très chic décor is signed Christian Aliagre and the musical selection provides a relaxed feel. Financial crisis? What? Let’s go sip 20Euro glasses of wine and munch on slices of hard avocado for 18Euros. Oh come on, you know you love it. (I do.)
See photos taken at La Societe last saturday night.

2. Ca m’enerve

While ostensibly Helmut Fritz may seem like just another pissed off French guy, his latest pop sensation “Ca m’énerve” (“That pisses me off”) is my latest guilty pleasure. It plays on the radio about every .004 seconds, so “c’est normale” that I can’t get it out of my head. Basically, Mr. Fritz sounds off on everything that annoys him about Paris – getting snubbed at Costes or le Baron, not being able to find a taxi or girls who wear Jimmy Choos and can’t walk. He attacks the Zadig&Voltaire-wearing, black Amex card-carrying population, saying “For all of you who have borrowed bangs from Kate Moss.” At the end, he attacks “you who wait in line for macarons at La Durée” then adds, “But ok, I hear they’re pretty good.” Check it out for a good oh la la laugh.

3. Paul & Joe Eyewear

Last week, the stars came out for the launch of Paul & Joe Eyewear at the Grandoptical store on the Champs-Elysees. The designer herself, Sophie Albou, welcomed actresses Julie Depadieu, Marina Fois and Cristina Reali, actors Stephane Freiss and Tomer Sisley (aka “Largo Winch” – see attached photo of us at the Cesar Awards. Don’t we make a lovely couple? Yes, I think so too.) plus TV personalities Ariane Massenet (yay for “Le Grand Journal” !) and Sandrine Quetier (the host of E! News France, aka my dream job). The new collection of shades are what you would expect from Albou – the classic Paul & Joe style of simplicity and practicality with a splash of fun. I left with a beautiful pair of oversized black, round shades (see photo taken inside the Ritz) which I plan to wear as soon as the sun decides to make its way for a long stay in Paris, France.

4. Twilight

Teenage vampires in love. It’s like “Romeo and Juliet” with fangs. While I am perhaps the last mortal on earth to see the movie “Twilight,” I just had to express my adoration for the title. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about and rented the film from iTunes (long live LEGAL downloading, ladies and gentlemen). The film, based on the popular young-adult vampire novels by Stephenie Meyer, is a love story about a young girl named Bella who falls in love with a vampire named Edward. It is impossible not to fall in love with Edward – Robert Pattinson has “heartthrob” written all over his face. The story is completely ridiculous, the acting mediocre and the special effects déjà vu, but somehow it all works. Catherine Hardwicke strikes again with her adolescent angst expertise mixed with vampire thriller. I’m hooked, and looking very much forward to the upcoming sequel “New Moon,” so I can spend yet another night with Edward, my favorite vampire.

5. Ryan Seacrest or “I followed Ryan Seacrest into the bathroom last night …”

I followed Ryan Seacrest into the bathroom last night …
You know you’re about to hear a good story when it starts with following Ryan Seacrest into a bathroom. Actually, it sounds like the title of a book. Have you read “I followed Ryan Seacrest into the bathroom last night” by Rebecca Leffler? The scene: La Societe (see above). Saturday night, circa 10 pm. A young (well not that young, more like youngish) man flirts with our tall, gorgeous waitress on his way back from the bathroom. He is speaking American. (yes, not English, but American.) It’s Ryan Seacrest ! Part of me wants to jump up on the table, grab a fork as a makeshift microphone and belt out my rendition of “A Moment Like This,” but I decide against this course of action (maybe the acoustics aren’t quite as good as they are in my shower?). As I did not want to disturb Mr. Seacrest, who appeared to be enjoying his meal with a pretty blond woman and two other unidentified people (who have very nice back of their heads, that’s about all I can say about them), I gave my card to our waitress to pass along to Monsieur Crête de Mer (that’s “Seacrest” in French). Shortly thereafter, the waitress told me to go down the stairs towards the bathroom. “Monsieur Seacrest would like to speak with you now.” My mind began racing. Could it be that, while taking a stroll during his Easter vacation to Paris, Ryan Seacrest overheard me singing in the shower and thinks I am the next American Idol? That must be it. I begin to rehearse Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” in my head as I follow the waitress down the stairs. Ryan is waiting for me. Then, I realize that perhaps this is more like a scene from “Pretty Woman” than a scene from “American Idol.” Maybe he thinks I work nights? Turns out that Seacrest – who is a household name in America and probably enjoyed a weekend of anonymity in a country where no one watches American reality TV – simply wanted to talk in a more private setting. Probably to avoid papa razzi lenses – the headline “Seacrest and famous French TV star caught making out in Paris restaurant” probably wouldn’t be so good for his image. As for mine however… Anyway, so turns out Mr. S is quite friendly and down-to-earth. (Well, he was eating at one of the most chic, more expensive restaurants in Paris so perhaps I’d say more “closer to earth than most celebs” than DOWN to earth per se.) He even came over to our table afterwards to introduce himself. (Only natural as we are now best friends, of course.) I am waiting for my phone call – any day now – requesting that I become the next Guiliana Rancic and host my own French-accented version of E! News in Paris and at the next Cannes Film Festival.

6. Hotel Bel Ami

Want to meet my new dear friend? The Hotel Dear Friend, aka the Hotel Bel Ami, is among my favorite spots in the 6th arrondissement. The contemporary hotel in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-pres, has a prime location – directly across the street from the Café de Flore, down the street from la Hune and l’Ecume des Pages bookstores and just a hop skip and a jump (actually, I have yet to see any French person hop, skip or jump in my life) away from chez moi. I’ve filmed countless TV shows inside in the bar area, and the hotel staff is always warm and welcoming (a rare occurrence in most of the small boutique hotels in this neighborhood, may I add.) The bar/café area is a great place to meet for a coffee or a glass of wine – less touristy and less expensive than the Flore, and I recommend the hot chocolate which arrives as a hot glass of milk and a chocolate lollipop that then dissolves into the milk to create a frothy, delicious blend. The rooms are pretty basic, yet modern and clean, and relatively affordable compared to most of the other options in the neighborhood. The hotel also offers a quite impressive small fitness room and spa – “The Wellness Center by Payot” – for relaxed, modern luxury. Yes, “modern” and “Saint germain des pres” are not always synonymous, so it’s quite refreshing to see the contemporary touch at the Bel Ami. They even have a blog where guests and visitors can read about the various music-related events the hotel offers from time to time – how modern ! WWJD? (What Would Jean-Paul Sartre Do?)

7. Sliimy

He’s skinny, he’s French and he can sing. Sliimy, aka a skinnier, Frenchier version of Mika, has the entire country hooked on his unique sound. His hit song “Wake Up” has been echoing in my head for weeks (in between “Ca m’enerve,” Lady Gaga’s “Poker face” and admittedly Britney’s “If You Seek Amy”). Check him out:

8. A smart car convertible

I was strolling along the rue Jacob on a sunny Paris afternoon when I spotted this car and had to stop to take a photo. A smart car convertible. Now why didn’t anyone think of that before? I can just see the advertisement now: “Too tall for your tiny French smart car? Try our roof-free version.” For anyone who feels too confined in one’s itsy bitsy mini-vehicle, now there’s a warm weather-inspired way to enjoy a more spacious ride. It’s the latest in French technology (yes indeed, the terms “French” and “technology” are not in fact mutually exclusive contrary to popular belief). The ridiculously tall person’s smart car. Ah, how I love this land !

9. L’Instant Critique

This week’s “Instant Critique” segment on “Le Grand Journal.” I review movies for a weekly segment on Canal Plus’ popular nighttime show here in France called “Le Grand Journal” or, in English, “The big news show” (think: “The Today Show” meets “Jay Leno sitting around a table with David Letterman, Barbara Walters and lots of really pretty young girls”). Here are clips from this week’s episode and that of two weeks ago. Stephen Frears’ “Cheri” hasn’t come out stateside yet, but, when it does, RUN to the theaters. Michelle Pfeiffer is more radiant than ever in Frears’ melodramatic yet gloriously romantic adaptation of Colette’s novels.

9.5 While we’re watching me on TV, I thought I’d bring back some “Johnny Saucisson” for old time’s sake.

Despite it’s cult fan following, “Johnny Saucisson,” after a strong five-episode run on Canal Plus, wasn’t renewed for a new season. Here’s some “Johnny Sausage” nostalgia for those of you weeping in its absence (you know who you are).

10. Jelly beans, peeps and other Easter candy NOT found in Paris

As a former member of the Jelly Belly Flavor of the Month Club (yes, I was actually sent new flavors on a regular basis up to age 15) and a peep addict (wow, that doesn’t sound very good – to clarify, I am referring to the marshmallowy bunnies and ducks), I find the lack of bunny-influenced Easter candy in Paris to be UNE SCANDALE. I mean, how better to celebrate Christ rising from the dead than with popcorn-flavored sugar-coated gelatin and marshmallows shaped like ducks ? While jelly beans can be found at select locations such as the Bon Marche Grande Epicerie, the ubiquitous candy we know and love in America is scarce in these parts. Chocolate eggs are found everywhere, but non-chocolate products (see: my intense aversion to chocolate since birth) are hard to track down. So, all you Americans, remember how lucky you are as you enjoyed toasted marshmallow or watermelon-flavored jelly bellies, Cadbury cream eggs (or at least the middle part, my favorite) and pink peeps and think of those poor, unfortunate souls in Paris condemned to a candy-deprived Easter holiday.

****Sick of me yet ?

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Bisous mes amis ! à la prochaine…

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