It’s not the first time a popular TV show uses Paris in its plot. You may remember way back on 90201, when Brenda’s relationship with Dylan began to crumble, she spent the summer in Paris with Donna. There she pretended to be French to woo another American students she met while Kelly seduced her man back in sunny L.A. Another teen favourite, Dawson’s Creek ended with Joey standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in a not-so-subtle sign that she had gotten too big for Capeside. In the seventh season of Gossip Girl, Lorelai and Rory’s dad Christopher eloped in Paris. Friends’ Rachel got offered a job in Paris as a series concluded, much to the chagrin of Ross and Joey. She never actually made it onto the plane and eventually reunited with Ross giving everyone the series finale that they wanted to see. And of course, there’s Sex and the City. In the series’ finale Carrie left the City that Never Sleeps to join “the Russian” in the City of Light only to hate it and return to New York City with Mr. Big. Heck, the Bachelor even had a season in Paris and the Simpsons travelled there to visit Euro Itchy and Scratchy land. So it was only a matter of time before the Manhattan socialites of Gossip Girl would say au revoir to the Upper East Side and bonjour to the left bank.
Last night season’s premiere of Gossip Girl L(or should I say l’Elite de New York as it is known in some francophone countries) found Blair and Serena in Paris. Since I care less about the actual plot of the episode than I do about how they portrait my hometown, here are a few highlights of the places spotted on “Belles Du Jour.”
OMD — that would be Oh Mon Dieu 😉 — the first scene of the episode features the two gal pals walking across Le Pont Des Arts, with Serena holding something I could recognize with my eyes closed: a lovely Ladurée pastel green bag. Standing right next to her is Blair, bien sûr, eating macarons out of a cute pink box. J’adore!
The next few scenes go over how les filles have spent their summer. We see Blair walking on Le Boulevard des Invalides carrying LOTS of shopping bags, Serena walking with a beautiful man on the banks of the Seine, and Blair reading Colette’s Gigi or “eating sugary snacks like a modern Marie-Antoinette” at a terrace facing the Eiffel Tower.
“She shopped at Saint Laurent and ate at Drouant…” but while we never see Blair munch on oysters at Chef Antoine Westermann’s famous Place Gaillon establishment, we do see her meeting up with Serena at Chez Julien. Chez Julien is located at 1 rue du Pont Louis-Phillipe, a mere 2 blocks away from where I went to middle school. Cross the Louis-Philippe bridge and you’ll be on l’Ile Saint Louis where you can find the best ice cream in the whole city at one of the many Berthillon outposts on Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile. But I digress. Blair is wearing a béret (how cliché) and Serena is confessing to her weakness for French waiters (which by the way, no-one in France actually calls garçons) and “bartenders and museum docents and anyone on a vespa or bicycle or wearing Zadig and Voltaire.” Founded in 1780, Chez Julien is technically a “bistro” but it was also renovated recently by the Costes family (of Hôtel Costes and Hôtel Costes Presente CD compilation fame), meaning it is now a chic yet traditional restaurant in the historic neighbourhood of Le Marais (my ‘hood!!) serving high-quality traditional French dishes in a romantic location facing the Seine. It’s a completely different restaurant from Julien, another traditional French bistro owned by Brasserie Flo and located closer to the Grands Boulevards which also happens to be an excellent option for dinner out on the town.
Break to commercials and a few scenes in New York City and we now found ourselves at Le Musée d’Orsay, a modern-art museum housed in a former railway station and known for its impressive impressionist collection. Blair is trying to find comfort in Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, her favourite Manet painting when she meets a beautiful young
French Monegasque man prince.
Following this chance encounter with a potential real life prince charming, Blair and Serena go on a double date with the Manet-affecionado and his chauffeur, but do a little retail therapy beforehand bien sûr. They stop at Paris’ famous Grands Magasins, Le Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayettes (which are worth going into just for the breathtaking dôme stained glass ceiling), Tally Weijl, rue Saint Honoré and of course, Avenue Montaigne, a street in the 8th arrondissement which boasts numerous high end stores like Dior, Chanel or Valentino. Just the kind of places you need to hit before diner at Baccarat Cristal Room.
This restaurant located in the Baccarat museum-boutique boasts a stunning decor by Philippe Starck, one of the best known designer in the New Design Style. Baccarat is actually a small town in Lorraine, a region of France I recently visited, and is now synonymous with fine crystal glassware. The restaurant and museum are located in a superb former hotel particulier and while I’ve never personally eaten there, the chef, Guy Martin, is very well rated and has the Michelin stars to back it up, so I can’t imagine that the food wouldn/t be as spectacular as the decor.
After a quick not-so-accidental dip into the Fontaine Louvois (which, by the way, is nowhere near Baccarat… but I guess it’s a little late to question the realism in GG), the girls have a heart to heart and end the episode on the best of terms, both looking forward to starting the new school year at Columbia University in New York City. But that probably won’t be until a little bit ore French drama as Chuck is spotted arriving at La Gare du Nord with his new girlfriend, played by French actress and model Clémence Poésy, best known for her roles as Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Chloe in Bruges.
OMD – bonjour drama! Bisous bisous!