Paris Social Diary: A Paris Visit

To commemorate New York’s Twin Towers, Jean-Pierre Heim erected two ten-story-high towers with the names of 9/11 victim inscribed on them.

Before I returned to Shanghai after the summer, I was in Paris with my daughter Stephanie, who is studying there. Who knew that so many friends from Shanghai would be in Paris as well?

One of them, French architect Jean-Pierre Heim, invited us to a 9/11 commemoration arranged by “The French Will Never Forget,” an organization that he co-founded.

Place du Trocadéro was ideal for the ceremony, located as it is between the twin buildings of the Palais de Chaillot, across from the Eiffel Tower.


The official and solemn remembrance began with a moment of silence at 14:46 in Paris, which is 8:46 a.m. U.S. time, when the plane hit the first tower, and it continued until 16:28 (10:28 U.S.), when the second tower collapsed.

Despite torrential rains, the crowd of 1,300 simply opened their umbrellas and stayed put. Their discomfort was so minor compared to what nearly 3,000 victims endured on that fateful day. As the ceremony finished, the sun came out as if to reconfirm that there were still bright days ahead.

People of all nationalities and ages came for speeches and an appearance by NYC firefighter Tony Benetatos, a 9/11 hero.

Paul Bensabat, Jean-Pierre Heim, Patrick du Tertre, and Christian Millet, founders of “The French Will Never Forget,” which is a tribute to the longstanding American-French bond.

A French children’s choir performed with the Académie de Musique of the Palais-Royal Orchestra and Young American Presidential Scholars of The Arts.

Parisian Mayor Betrand Delanoe (left) and U.S. Ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin spoke at the 9/11 commemoration.

I was touched that I could participate in this solemn and important occasion.

Stephanie Lawrence.

Daughters of New York City firefighters.

The participants holding the “Flag of Heroes,” which bears the names of those who gave their lives to save others.

The French and the American flags, side by side.

At a reception afterward, the views were breathtaking.

American hamburgers, “French style.”

Laurence Lemaire and Laurence de Gramont.

Arnold Franco, 88, helped liberate Paris from the Nazi occupation as a young soldier; with NYC 9/11 Fire Department hero Tony Benetatos and family.

Jeanne Lawrence against one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower.

On the evening of September 11, “The French Will Never Forget” held a concert and a night vigil.


Another one of my Shanghai friends I met was Thomas Chabrieres, at a Champagne reception honoring a team (average age of 28) of motorcycle sidecar riders who rode from Shanghai to Paris in 130 days.

The team, called “Side by Side,” stayed in homes, hotels, tents, and even a police station in a town in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstani police said their vintage motorbikes weren’t safe – “It’s like Chicago here!” (I guess they watch American TV!) – and offered to keep them in the station. The team preferred to sleep in the jail rather than let the cycles – their only means of transport home – out of their sight.

Another highlight of this trip was that Thomas proposed to fellow rider Valeriane Barjhoux. How many can say they became engaged on such an exotic quest.

In Shanghai, I met Thomas Chabrieres when we took his “SideWay” motorcycle sidecar tour he founded. He’s an example of the many enterprising foreigners living in this metropolis.

The Changjiang 750 sidecars are replicas of the 1930′s vintage WWII BMW 7.

Jiayuguan pass at the Great Wall of China. Their dream was to follow the Silk Route on their motorcycles from Shanghai to Paris.

They passed through Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where in l961 Russian Yuri Gagaran became the first person to go into space.

They rode through 14 countries and some of the world’s most difficult terrain. On their worst day, they averaged 120 miles in 14 hours.

“Side by Side” arrive at Paris’ Arc de Triomph after completing their trip along the ancient Silk Road trade route.

The team was jubilant as they completed their long voyage.

Kewen Wu, Thomas Chabrieres, Jeanne Lawrence (not a team member), Valeriane Barjhoux, François de Regloix, and Gernot Schulz.

On the route, they skirted around dangerous areas that are known for illegal drug and weapon trafficking.

In Paris, even in a motorcycle shop, one can hold a Champagne reception!


Another friend from Shanghai, Magda Danysz, also happened to be in Paris when I was. She travels constantly between her gallery in Paris, which she considers her home base, and her Shanghai gallery, 18 Gallery, which she opened a few years ago.

Art collector Nadia Rottger and I visited Magda’s Parisian gallery to view the work of Wang Keping. One of China’s pioneering sculptors, he moved to Paris in 1984. He is known for his wood sculpture but is currently exploring new mediums.

Galerie Magda Danysz is on rue Amelot in the 11th district.

In Shanghai, Magda’s 18 Gallery is located in Bund 18, one of the historic colonial buildings on the Bund.

Yue-Sai Kan and Magda Danysz at an opening at the Shanghai 18 Gallery.

Art collector Nadia Gomez Rottger and Magda Danysz.

Jeanne Lawrence and Magda Danysz, in front of a Wang Keping’s iconic wooden sculptures.

One of Wang Keping’s latest installations, “All smile.”


Stephanie and I have been to Fashion’s Night Out in New York, conceived by Vogue‘s Anna Wintour. While in Paris, we thought it would be fun to see the counterpart, Vogue‘s Paris Night Out. I didn’t see anyone I recognized, but then, I’m not a local.

Along with the visual treats, invited guests enjoyed Champagne, hors d’oeuvres and macarons.

Thousands swarmed the fashionable streets of the 8th arrondissement—Avenue Montaigne, George V, rue Francoise 1er, and Franklin-Roosevelt.

It seems that the fellows are the fashionable peacocks in Paris.

Many stores had lines, but standing and watching the fashionistas arriving and departing seems to be part of the fun.

The luxury flagship boutiques, including Dior, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, and LVMC, stayed open from 6-10, to give retail a boost.

With all the fashionistas and gawkers coming and going, there was heavy traffic late into the night.


While we were in town, Lancel threw a launch party for the Daligramme handbag collection, inspired by the legendary surrealist artist Salvador Dali, at the well-known Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette.

The collection was inspired by the love affair between Dali and his Russian-born wife and muse Helene Dimitrievna Diakonava (known as Gala).

Dali created an eight-character alphabet for Gala that was made up of significant letters—G for Gradiva-Gala, D for Dalí, and S for Salvador—and which he called Daligramme. He said it was not art but a declaration of love.

At Galeries Lafayette, Lancel exhibited its special collection for three weeks.

The show featured never-before-exhibited photographs of DalĂ­ and his Gala.

In 1970, Lancel created a collectible leather handbag featuring Dalí’s graphics with a bicycle chain handle attached— a symbol of the couple’s devotion to one another.

Just a few pieces from Lancel’s new collection.

Nadia Gomez Rottger, Jeanne Lawrence, film producers Antoine Cayrol and Pierre Zandrowicz of Fat Cat Films.

It’s a ritzy party when foie gras is on the menu.

Stephanie Lawrence with Dali’s alphabet graphics.

Nadia Gomez Rottger with Sophie d’Aulan.

Afterwards, our entourage dined at the newly opened restaurant in the Opéra Garnier that was designed by Odile Decq.

To protect the historical monument, a veil of glass was placed behind the pillars, and it created a totally transparent façade.


At the reception I heard about the new “La Suite” service offered on the penthouse floor of Galeries Lafayette, meant to give you a highly personalized shopping experience.

As I don’t like to shop, I was intrigued. After I learned more about “La Suite” from Isabelle Dubern, the creative force behind the concept, I’m looking forward to taking advantage of it on my next trip—if the dollar is stronger.

Nadia Rottger and I met with Isabelle, who showed us the private salons and explained the services that were available.

Our personal shopper had brought wardrobe selections and accessories to our room, where afterwards we had lunch.

Nadia bought this coat. It was a pleasurable and easy shopping experience, because everything is handled for you—from alterations to deliveries and taxi calls.

Isabelle Dubern is a principal with Vendome 10, a luxury consulting firm.

The amenities in La Suite include a library, a kitchen, a beauty parlor and even a massage room.

This space is private, light and bright, with incredible views of Paris and Montmartre from the private terrace.


I was in Paris with my daughter Stephanie, who recently graduated from college, to help her settle in as she continues her studies.

Stephanie found a charming little apartment in the 7th arrondissement, with a terrace that offers an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower.

I was mesmerized by the ever-changing views of the Eiffel Tower.

And the views of the rooftops aren’t bad either.


On another day, art collector Nadia Rottger and I visited the studio of Julien Marinetti. His monumental “Doggy John” sculpture stood guard in the courtyard of New York’s Palace Hotel following a reception in May 2011 co-hosted by nightclub impresario Amy Sacco.

Julien, who began painting at the age of five, has classical training, but he considers himself an “instinctive painter.” He is best known for his Doggy John sculptures, made in bronze, then lacquered and finally painted. He personally creates each unique piece.

Julien Marinetti shows us the original painting that inspired his “Doggy John” works.a


He’s very prolific, but works without assistants. “Mine is mine,” he says.

Julien considers the lacquered bronze sculptures as simply a surface for his paintings.

Julien Marinetti and art collector Nadia Rottger.

Julien Marinetti and Jeanne Lawrence.

Right now, the artist is taking a new direction and moving back to painting.

In New York, Julien Marinetti’s “Doggy John” sculpture was placed in the Palace Hotel courtyard.

European patrons Nadia and Fritz Rottger with Jeanne Lawrence in front of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


One evening, my daughter and I met interior designer Susan Gutfreund, a Francophile, in her antiques-filled apartment on the Left Bank.

Susan collaborated on her apartment décor with the legendary French designer Henri Samuels.

Stephanie Lawrence and Susan Gutfreund in front of L’Atelier de JoĂ«l Robuchon where we dined. Awarded two Michelin stars, it is one of Susan’s favorite restaurants.

I was introduced to Chateldon 1650, a mineral water that was drunk by Louis XIV at Versailles.

Foie gras, fatty goose liver, which the French adore.

The chef prepared this salade nicoise especially for Susan.

Baby lamb chops.


We met Etienne de Damas for dinner at Le Violon d’Ingres, a two-star restaurant that is one of three places Christian Constant owns on rue Saint-Dominque.

Etienne de Damas and Jeanne and Stephanie Lawrence.

The restaurant became one of our favorites.


Journalist and author Mort Rosenblum with Stephanie Lawrence, at his houseboat on the Seine.

Mort and I met in Paris in the 70’s, when I was a student at the Sorbonne and La Varenne culinary institute, and he was an Associated Press correspondent.

Jeanne Lawrence with Mort Rosenblum, who has written twelve books, most recently Plato’s Cave: How America’s Blindness to the Rest of the World Threatens Our Survival.

Despite distractions such as bateaux mouches drifting by his home office, Mort has contributed articles to many major magazines, ranging from Foreign Affairs to Vanity Fair.


Author Mary Duncan, formerly a professor at San Diego State, splits her time between San Diego and Paris, which found a place in her heart.

Mary writes in the morning and treats herself by having afternoon tea with friends. Her memoir, Henry Miller is Under My Bed, will be out in 2012.

Books—many written by friends—are part of the décor in Mary’s apartment.

Mary and Jeanne in Mary’s home, where she hosts literary dinners and events for such distinguished writers as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Russian novelist Victor Erofeyev and biographer Noel Riley Fitch.


We lunched in the courtyard of Hotel Costes, located in a fashionable district and favored by the international crowd.

Jet-setters Janna Bullock, Lucia Hwong Gordon, and Paola Bacchini were in town to attend a magical wedding in Versailles.

The Napoleon-style interior, intimate and cozy year-round, is especially inviting in the winter.


I met up with New Yorker Christine Schwarzman at the Hotel Le Meurice just before she and her husband Steve were off to lunch at the home of Hubert de Givenchy, the legendary designer.

The public rooms at the elegant Le Meurice have been newly renovated by Philippe Starck.

We sat in the Restaurant Le Dali, whose design was inspired by the surrealist painter, who at one time lived here.


Stephanie Lawrence, with Haley Parkes and Harry Williams, friends visiting from New York. They dined at one of the wildly popular Le Relais de l’Entrecote restaurants.

All the Relais serve one dish only: the classic bistro meal steak frites (a cut of sirloin steak with fries), plus a special sauce Stephanie’s pals say is “good enough to drink.”


I lunched with Sarah Wolfe, who splits her time between Paris and New York, at L’Avenue on Avenue Matignon; the people-watching and the food are both first-class.

The beef carpaccio salad.

I ordered the asparagus salad with artichokes and truffles. Don’t even ask the price!—but it was delicious.

We spotted paparazzi at the curb and then noticed Avril Lavigne leaving with Brody Jenner, stepbrother of the infamous Kardashians.

Place de la Concorde at dusk: the view on our walk home.


Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence.

*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.

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