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Skating Toward Another New Year in Paris

It’s so cold that the moisture is running down the inside of my windows while the sky is a bright blue. That’s been the scene in Paris for several days now, making for a bright Christmas-New Year holiday in the City of Light.

Hats, gloves and mufflers are selling like hot cakes. My daughter’s boyfriend was wearing women’s tights under his jeans to warm his wind-exposed legs while riding his scooter around town. With zero degrees on the thermometer, we expect some snow to come down, but there’s no sign of that…”quel dommage!” — a white New Year’s Eve would be just perfect.

Friday night an old friend who moved to an untouristed part of town not all that long ago suggested having a drink at “Mama Shelter,” a hotel in the most unlikely spot not far from her apartment and not near any Métro. It’s opposite the “Flèche d’Or” Bar-Resto-Club in a Roland Castro-designed contemporary building on rue de Bagnolet that reeks more of “Hotel Six” or an office building in the suburbs than a Paris “hôtel de charme.” The names on its label are impressive — designed by Philippe Starck, created by the Club Med-founding Trigano family and the philosopher, Cyril Aouizerate.

You might call it “Bohemian Chic” — with 172 “sensual and elegant rooms” equipped with iMacs and high-quality MyBed bedding. It was sold as a “leaseback” property — a totally hands-off, fully managed property investment that allows a guaranteed, but small profit. The equally chic “Murano Urban Resort” just around the corner from me on boulevard du Temple has a similar provenance. (See more about leaseback investments at /frenchproperty/consultation)

The restaurant and bar at Mama Shelter are too “branché” for my own britches, laden with all the mistakes designers make who don’t consider function along with form, although the French expressions written on the dark ceiling as if in chalk on a blackboard, are at least amusing. The lighting at the bar is cleverly disguised in an ice-like surface, and by images on television screens imbedded in glass, but ladies, this lighting is not exactly flattering! What were they thinking?! And don’t go in winter when there is absolutely nowhere to park your coat or bag…that would mess up the sleek-rustic confused contemporary decor. It’s a good thing the handsome young bar tenders (five of them manning a bar seating 20) were worth the not-so-terribly overpriced drinks, but I wouldn’t have wanted to have dinner at a wooden picnic table with backless benches. (For more information, visit, at 109, rue de Bagnolet, 75020 Paris.)

Saturday midday was spent visiting with a French designer friend we’ve known since before moving to Paris and who once employed me to do some graphics for her then line of children’s clothing. Corinne Prosé is a brave French creative entrepreneur who is an avant-garde thinker struggling to be recognized in a less-than entrepreneurial world. Now installed in her own concept boutique, “Kawaiko,” on the up-and-coming red-light district street of rue Saint-Denis, she is the innovator of Kawaiin style centered around four young fictitious caricature women, whose clothing and accessories, as well as toys and gadgets reflect the future of an international youth. To visit her store of goodies for young (and youthful thinking old), trek up to Kawaiko at 146 rue Saint Denis and ignore (or take advantage of) the sex shops along the way.

The “Joy of Sex-y” workshop Saturday afternoon attracted a handful of diehard women who braved the cold to learn more about their own sexuality and how to get a man by not needing one! Sound confusing? Actually, no, it’s quite simple, according to Victoria, Paris’ Pleasure Coach,” it all starts from within ourselves to give ourselves permission to enjoy sex. Once we do that, she says, others will recognize our openness and willingness and therefore will attract the opposite sex in a natural way.

She came prepared with feathers we could take home and use to tickle and tantalize and bananas we tucked into our jeans so we could understand the same sensation a man has that we women don’t. It was certainly enlightening and while many of you missed the opportunity, waiter Pascal at La Pierre du Marais didn’t — he took one look at the gadgets on the table and understood immediately what our workshop was all about!

Sunday the sky stayed bright and the skaters on the rink at the Hôtel de Ville were undaunted by the freezing temperature. The ice is up till March 1st, 2009, and in two other locations in the city — at the Tour Montparnasse and near the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand. If you’re a “klutz” like me, you’ll just be an observer, but if you want to have fun, if not a fall, then lace ’em up! For more information, visit

A la prochaine…till the last day of the year…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions? Make your dream to live and invest in France come true…this year. Come to the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference in New Orleans March 21-22, 2009. Scroll down to learn more or visit /frenchproperty/conference


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