“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: L’AVENUE



 
To see or to be seen: that is the question

Whether it is Kate Moss, Jacques Chirac, Beyonce, Steve McQueen or Lana del Rey, to name but a few, L’Avenue is Paris’ hottest spot to eat or have a cocktail where you can play at spotting the high-wattage clientèle for hours.




Conveniently situated on the boutique-strewn Avenue Montaigne and opposite Christian Dior, the chi-chi brasserie has become one of the 8th arrondissement‘s mainstays where the models waitresses strut their stuff to serve their celebrity guests simple food from breakfast till very late at night when L’Avenue turns into a moody DJ-ed cocktail lounge.

Keen to see by himself what the fuss was all about and what the decor was like, A-Gent of Style put his best Trench coat on and…followed the Birkins.


If you are a fan or even a guest of Hôtel Costes (which will help to get a table), this latest eatery by the Costes brothers won’t disappoint. They called upon le grand maître of French Interior Decoration, Jacques Garcia, to work his magic. And I must say, it works.


Situated at the corner of Avenue Montaigne and Rue de Marignan, white awnings and curtains trimmed in black hang over the white-linen tables and white-cushioned iron chairs of the starred terrace to give way inside to an opulent, dark and sexy 2nd Empire-style boudoir layered in plush garnet-coloured velvet furniture with either gold edging, long fringes or studs, Murano chandeliers, gold-paint washed walls and a diamond-patterned bar reminiscent of the French Art Deco genius, Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann.

 A-Gent of Style did spot Lee (Bouvier-sister of Jackie O/Kennedy) Radziwill there who also happens to have an apartment next door – just saying.

“…To Heaven and back…”


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GIN PALACE




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Now that the Tangerine Dream Café is open and the gardens supposedly in bloom – despite the abysmal spring we are being subjected too – here is another fantastic reason to visit the delightful Chelsea Physic Garden.




The Gin Garden will open a ‘living botanical bar’ at Chelsea Physic Garden on two evenings during the Chelsea Fringe Festival.



Starting tomorrow from 4pm until 8pm until 7 June, the bar will be selling signature drinks developed by ‘The Herball’ containing herbs, summer fruits, flowers, local honey and of course, gin.

 



During the evenings, visitors will be invited to: enjoy the tranquil calm of the Garden as they watch the sun go down and sip drinks specially created for them; learn more about the health giving properties of plants and superfoods as they walk around this walled oasis; leave with mini-packets of herb seeds and recipes for health promoting drinks they can recreate at home.

 



A ‘living wall’ of herbs will surround the bar and be used to create health-promoting drinks. A herbalist will be on hand to explain how to introduce these amazing ingredients into our daily diets.



The Gin Garden’s ‘Living Botanical Bar’ promotes the garden as nature’s medicine cabinet and explores the idea that our bodies benefit from gardening to maintain optimum health.




Will yours be a “Tale of Two Chamomiles”, a “Galium & Elder”, a “Fleur de Prunelle” or a “Nettle & Dandelion Gimlet”?




Medicinal and healing! Make A-Gent of Style a double then please. Cheers!




“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: MONSIEUR BLEU








When it comes to interior decoration, A-Gent of Style has always had an immoderate taste for Art Deco and also the colour combination of green and blue – as the colours of this site can vouch for. Last night, Monsieur Bleu blissfully offered A-Gent of Style both. At the same time. And he got bowled over by what he saw.


Monsieur Bleu is the sensational new hip and immensely handsome restaurant hinting at Art Deco and Berlin modernism
which opened a few weeks ago at Le Palais de Tokyo.


The interior could be the brainchild of a collaboration between David Collins (Massimo restaurant in London) and Joyce Wang (Amno restaurant in Hong Kong)

The interior could be the brainchild of a collaboration between David Collins (Massimo restaurant in London) and Joyce Wang (Amno restaurant in Hong Kong)


Joseph Dirand, the Paris-based architect who created this tour de force of design, envisioned and shaped the space around a fictional character, Monsieur Bleu: “Elegant and cultivated, mysterious and suave, Monsieur Bleu is a true bourgeois gentleman, artist, gastronome and dandy that lives simultaneously within and outside the codes of the city, culture, conventions and everyday life”.



The labyrinthine underground levels of the west wing of the 1937 monumental Art Deco building was excavated a few years ago and the idea of creating a vast restaurant in the bowels of Le Palais was born. A jib door on the mirrored wall in a corner of the once-derelict Level -1 (now transformed into art spaces) keeps the entrance a well-kept secret.


 

Monsieur Bleu‘s monochromatically white terrace is effortlessly handsome, très parisien, and within eyeshot of the scenic Eiffel Tower. Note that the awnings are at the exact same angle as the stairs.

 
Joseph Dirand – the rising star of French design who was awarded the 2013 Scènes d’Intérieur Designer of the Year at Maison & Objet and one of my favourite designers at the moment – was called in to wave his magic decorating hand on this sizeable project. And he delivered superbly well once again.



A-Gent of Style first discovered Dirand and his work in 2011 at Artcurial’s Intérieurs exhibition where twelve French designers were given free reign to showcase their relationship with art. His signature style can be summed up like this: sometimes dark but highly refined scenographies of understated elegance, timeless sophistication, clean and smooth lines, lustrous surfaces, masculine-chic metals and graceful proportions.






But back to Monsieur Bleu where marble is omnipresent: skirting the white-striped tiles on the floor and delineating the imposing architraves on the wall (black with white and brown veins, possibly a Noir Saint Laurent), gracing the fireplace (possibly an Emperador), encasing the sofas and adorning the floor of the lounge area by the entrance (green moss this time, Connemara possibly).

Connemara marble on the entrance floor




The colour palette of white and black hard surfaces with gold detailing is punctuated by different shades of green, pale blue and greys in the soft furnishing thus producing a chic chromatic effect.


 

The comfortable 1950s vintage-looking armchairs are upholstered in fabrics of various hues ranging from cold blue and grey to teal, lichen and almond-green through to the paradoxical accent ‘caca d’oie’ green (or ‘goose poo’ – a recognised colour) on the button-backed, velvet sofas – more ‘Monsieur Vert’, surely? The stylish furniture surround chic black, glass tables with brass edging.





The industrial-looking sky-high walls above dado rail are bedecked in undulated white-painted corrugated iron sheets and are the perfect backdrop for the Tom Dixon-esque, oval-shaped, brass sconces to stand out.




The other show-stopper is undeniably the colossal, bespoke, white-papered, geometrically boxy ceiling lights by Michel Boyer which anchor the room altogether, prevent it from being a cavernous and soulless warehouse-like space and give a modern sense of theatricality.






A-Gent of Style was told by the extremely charming staff that Le Palais de Tokyo kindly let Monsieur Bleu have the four stunning original Lalique bas-reliefs which were found in the cellar and now ornament both side of the walls of the two more intimate dining areas.








The imposing, angular bar at the entrance is made out of solid, polished gilt brass and has an impressive wall of bottle display that goes up to the ceiling.





The seats of the low-backed Wenge stools are a pale shade of lichen.


 

 

 A-Gent of Style was kindly granted access to the upstairs private dining room where the mood changes and Monsieur Bleu finally reveals his true colours…


The once-again discreet entrance is at the back of the restaurant, on the left-hand side of the colossal polished brass backwall, itself an echo of the entrance bar, via exposed bricked walls.





The private room is a warehouse-type space redolent of Susie Atkinson‘s delicious Soho House Berlin and Shoreditch House in London, featuring a long dining table, a loungey area by the Crittal windows (see my post Crazy about Crittals), and a glitzy, gold kitchen-island area at the back. The palette this time is composed of grey, off-white, gold and..bleu!




Monsieur Bleu
, we finally meet!

Vintage 1950s armchairs and sofas in electric blue velvet.



 The dining table is made up of ten ‘café-terrasse’ small tables that can sit up to twelve guests.





The table set is simple, urban, uncluttered yet elegant.




The shiny kitchen island is once again made of solid polished, mirrored brass similar to the back wall of the bar but also the original island Dirand exhibited at Artcurial’s Intérieurs exhibition back in 2011.



A-Gent of Style particularly liked the vintage, black-iron, Gio Ponti-esque dining chairs – the same as the terrace’s – and the details on the edging of the tables.



The atmosphere here is more relaxed and homely: unmatching pieces of vintage furniture and lighting amongst original features.





Oh, and the food…

Monsieur Bleu is very much like a high-class brasserie during the day in the sense that it was conceptualised to offer its guests an oasis of style, grandeur and tranquility with simple, classic dishes which transforms itself in the evening into a dimly lit, sexy, DJ-ed, hyped-up, neo-dandy of a haunt offering seductive cocktails with refined food ranging from Teryaki turbot, suckling pig, frog legs (so 1980s but back in fashion in France) to caviar and a ‘raw bar’ of sea food and crustaceans.

My starter: Crab with Wasabi dressing (only for the sake of research of course)



Next time you are in Paris, make Monsieur Bleu your restaurant destination



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