LL Cool J…”Mama Said Stay at the Mama Shelter”

Mama Shelter

Designed by Philippe Starck of Royalton (New York) and Delano (Miami) fame, the Mama Shelter rocks funky.  The ceilings are grafittied blackboards, the walls are exposed or waxed concrete, and the light fixtures are made from birdcages.  On the first floor is a hip restaurant overseen by Chef Alain Senderens, who has created a menu that highlights the best of French regional cuisine.  Before dinner, check out the rooftop bar and enjoy a mean cocktail…or three.

Rooftop bar

Stylish & trendy, this hotel is located in the offbeat Charonne, a colorful neighborhood of art galleries, bookshops, tattoo parlors, and vintage boutiques on the edge of Paris. It is indeed hip Paris at its best.

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Artisanal Ice Cream in the Heart of Paris


For ice cream lovers, Berthillon is a must.  Opened in 1954, this family-owned shop is world famous for its artisanal ice cream.  Each day, the chefs create fifteen flavors that reflect not only the season, but also Parisian haute cuisine.  Favorites include candied chestnut, pink grapefruit, and honey nougat.  Located on the Ile Saint-Louis in the heart of Paris, you will easily find the shop by the long line out front.  It is worth the wait.

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The Lost Art of Umbrella Repair

Floating Umbrellas

I love Paris for many, many reasons, not the least of which is artisanal umbrella repair. Being a native Floridian, I am practically a connoisseur of umbrellas, and as with most people, when one breaks, I simply buy another. But that need not be the case if you are in Paris, where Thierry Millet is skilled in the lost art of umbrella repair. Ribs, springs, and handles dot his repair studio, which lies upstairs from his shop selling exquisite French-made umbrellas. So, next time you are in Paris, stop by Pep’s Maison on the Passage de l’Ancre.  Even if your umbrella is not broken, Pep’s is worth a visit to experience a world before the “disposable everything”…

Photo:  Floating Umbrellas

Classic 70s Chic in Paris

Hotel Le A

Imbuing the sophistication of the left bank and tucked away on a side street near the Arc de Triomphe, the Hôtel Le A evokes classic 70s chic. A minimalist, all white boutique hotel, it channels the styles of Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and Claes Oldenburg.  The café/bar echoes the clean open space of a New York loft and the library features dark brown velvet sofas where guests can peruse one of the many art, fashion, and design books that line the shelves.  Embarking from an elevator that indicates floors by changing color inside, guests find their rooms, each of which is cozy and uniquely appointed with items that reflect a specific theme.  The Hotel A is contemporary yet charming and espouses the essence of Parisian chic.

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A Literary Bar in Paris…

la belle hortense

Combining a bar, a bookstore, and an exhibition space, the cozy, old-world styled La Belle Hortense offers a unique Parisian experience.  Gather around the classic zinc bar for a drink or wander through two high-ceilinged rooms that have changed little since the days of Balzac and Zola.  Bookshelves line the walls and are stacked high with centuries of French literature, as well as books about art, history, and culture. Don’t miss the lounge in the back, where exhibitions by local artists in a variety of media rotate out regularly. This literary bar is located in the fashionable Le Marais district, a labyrinth of medieval cobblestoned alleys filled with art galleries, restaurants, & design shops. Grab a glass of red and spend the afternoon perusing…