Winter in > Paris is a Caillebotte painting. A photograph by Cartier-Bresson. The rainwater collects in pools and reflects the iron-grey sky, the wet grey walls, the black umbrellas everywhere unfurled against the persistent drizzle.
But spring? Spring is that off-the-shoulder number by Olyana Sergeenko, red roses in rack and rows; its the snow-drop daisies of Chanels newest line. Its like Marimekko after months of prison drabs. In the gardens of Versailles, its carpet of anemone tucked between newly greening-up boxwood; its the sun-warmed play of a thousand fountains in a hundred little bouquets lined with fresh clusters of violets.
Now imagine > Paris in Spring as a carefully-curated, ultra-luxury experience. Guided by an insiders insider. Someone whos made the city a home, like our > Time & Place Paris Concierge. Imagine what you could do in the City of Light? Fortunately, you dont have to. Our Concierge has your ultra-luxury experiences -based on your personal passions planned and ready. Heres our Paris chic cheat sheet:
* Queen (or King) for a Day at Chateau De Versailles:
When Marie Antoinette walked here, as anyone who chooses a Chateau de Versailles tour can, her footfalls were softened by early green moss punctuated by tiny-faced pansies and sweet-scented lilies of the valley (the fleur de lis of her husbands family). Her apartments, part of either the day or the night tour? Scrumptious. In the rest of the palace: gilding, murals and art of every kind. An art-historian explores the history and value of the furnishings, the statuary, the architecture and the art. Dinner at Le Trianon, reportedly a trysting spot for the dashing queen? No problem; our Concierge can make the reservation. On Mondays, lunch instead comes with the tour at La Flotille nestled beside the Grand Canal.
* Flowers: Theyre not Just for Bouquets Anymore:
The food, of course, is French. But it could be new-French. New, like the spring flowers. Flowers that might just end up on a priceless bit of Limoges, in fact. Nasturtiums, violets, chrysanthemums, roses and more. Crushed in sauce and then tossed with spring greens. Imagine blooms lining a cake pan, or decorating ganache or a pure white fondant. The world-renowned chef, Alice Caron Lambert, knows all about it. Shell offer a taste of whatevers growing and a cookbook for later for people whod like to explore floral gastronomy.
* Master Chef Alain Passard Opens up His Secret Vegetable Garden to You:
Palate a little less wild and a little more lArpge? The former owner, Alain Passard, presides over the most locavore Luddite, haute cuisine available. Tours arrive by helicopter or first-class train about 150 miles out of Paris in the pristine French countryside, where everythings done slowly. Slow plows behind horse and oxen. Slow growth in the cool ground, leaves unfurling in the heating sun. Hand-picking only the ripest vegetables and fruits. Slow roasting, slow grinding; slow and delicious, healthy eating.
* Tour and Taste Bubbly Perfection
Afterward, the next day? Champagne and fine cars. To Reims, the heart of Champagne country in a Mercedes. Arrive at Veuve Cliquot, the house of the first woman champagne maker. A raging success, she made champagne the drink of her century, and the next. Her brew is still the champagne of royalty in Europe. Afterwards, coast through the vines on back roads in an antique Citron or Ferrari or Triumph, stopping like royalty along the way to sip the wares. At last, arrive at Mot et Chandon and travel down, down, down into the labyrinthine cellars. At the very bottom, a tasting and some to take home too will be waiting for your arrival.
* Paris from an Open Carriage
When the weather smiles, as it does in spring in Paris, the warming breezes are filled with the scent of flowers in window boxes; cut flowers in racks and rows, gardens tucked wherever they can be. The best way to take it all in? A convertible tour. A vintage convertible tour! Top down, cruising for nearly 100 miles in any direction in a rag-top Lotus, Mercedes, Alpha Romeo. Follow your nose to the flowery villages outside town. Have a picnic of baguettes and farm-local pat under spreading maples or horse chestnuts just coming into sweet bloom. Come back as the sun sets and the lights of Paris switch on against a cool, clear night of blossoming stars.