Bonjour mes petits et bienvenue! I’m so pleased to be back with you for our French Fridays. Welcome back – l’ete c’est fini (the summer is finished) and it’s time for la rentree (the re-entry), a time when les Parisiens celebrate the commencement of the new school year. For some reason this occasion is marked by people who are not even the parents of pupils ….
Anyway, in the spirit of academia, let me share with you some of the best places to find La Belle Epoque, which is my favorite period of French history. First of all, make your way to the Musee d’Orsay (metro: Solferiono), which was probably already on your list as it houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist art. But you’re there to see the train station itself, which was never a very viable transportation hub as it was too short to accommodate the new long trains that were put into service while the station was being constructed. Look around at the glorious architecture of the building, then visit the first floor furniture collection, which many people skip.
Another museum you will want to see for its fabulous Belle Epoque structure is the Petit Palais (metro: Champs-Elysees Clemenceau). Imagine yourself swishing about on the paths in a long skirt … Paris at its most romantic. Which means you need to find a romantic spot for dining, Belle Epoque style.
There are two places I am especially fond of for their splendid Belle Epoque architecture and their fine French menus. The first is Montparnasse 1900 (metro: Montparnasse). I’ve been going here for years and I have never seen anyone have a bad meal. This place has it all – fabulous location (walking distance from St. Germain des Pres, a lovely stroll of several blocks through a Parisian neighborhood shared by tourists and locals), excellent service, and delicious food that’s not so “French” that only people like my husband can stomach the menu. The second beautiful Belle Epoque eating establishment is La Fermette Marbeuf (metro: Concorde), mere minutes from the Champs-Elysees. Although this restaurant is frequented by many tourists, its interior is a treat that must be seen for my fellow Belle Epoque fans.
So now you know my favorite era. What about you? Where have you eaten so that you could enjoy a dining experience that included unique architecture?