City of light, city of fashion and temple of gastronomy, we love the capital for its cultural life and its little secrets that have survived the centuries. Follow the HEC greeters.
Gabrielle Arnault-Lazard (H.15)
One day, she decides to change her life to devote herself to her passions: Paris, theatre and history. Her nickname? the « Marquise of Gossip ». She wanders the streets of the capital in a large toilet to reveal its most intimate secrets. Here are three well-guarded secrets.
The Iron Lady
In the 1920s, a conman named Victor Lustig pulled off the incredible trick of selling the Eiffel Tower! Claiming that it would soon be dismantled, he invited Parisian scrap merchants to bid on it before making off with the loot. His nasty scheme is so successful that Lustig even tries his luck a second time before being denounced.
Few know that the sumptuous gardens of the Palais-Royal were the place in Paris where prostitution was allowed, hence its nickname « the whore market ». It had the particularity of being an enclave forbidden to the police. Parisian prostitutes could therefore practice there without being worried. Their second option, certainly less attractive, was the enclave of the Cemetery of the Innocents.
How do you get that special brown, between brown and ochre, with an incomparable shine? With mummy flesh ground into powder and macerated in alcohol! This is one of the many secrets of the Louvre Museum. Painting with mummies was a proven practice in the 19th century. Three hundred years earlier, mummies were already being turned into ointments or drinks for their curative and mystical virtues.
Aideen Halleman (H.05)
After more than fifteen years in cultural institutions such as the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, or the Gaîté-Lyrique, Aideen Halleman has joined the Hangar Y, in Meudon, which is scheduled to open in September 2022. She also runs Artips, the art history media. Here are her favourite Parisian spots.
The Gustave-Moreau Museum
This delightful little museum in the heart of the 9th arrondissement was the home of the symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. We stroll through the different rooms of the house before reaching the master’s magnificent two-storey studio with its monumental staircase. Numerous paintings and drawings are displayed in a peaceful and inspiring atmosphere.
The Hunting and Nature Museum
Nestled in two superb private mansions in the Marais, this museum offers a journey on the animal in its natural environment. The place is magical both for its scenographic finds and for its numerous works of contemporary art. Some very nice exhibitions are programmed as well as a cultural agenda full of surprises.
The Army Museum
If the site of the Invalides is world-famous, the museum is less so. Its permanent collection is exceptional and very eclectic, ranging from toy soldiers to military musical instruments, uniforms and weapons collections. The temporary exhibitions, two per year, are often fascinating and go far beyond the framework of military history.
Time to tell the truth
While admiring the Comédie Française, one might think of re-establishing a truth about Voltaire: the great philosopher of the Enlightenment was a man who loved money, to the point of imagining a great swindle. At the beginning of the 18th century, he joined forces with the famous mathematician La Condamine to exploit the flaws in a lottery and pocket a handsome sum of money that would keep him out of trouble for the rest of his life.
Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux (H.08)
Promoted in 2017 to the title of « Entrepreneur of the Year » by the Gault&Millau guide, this striking duo is at the origin of a French institution of Italian gastronomy: Big Mamma. An empire that extends over Paris with nine establishments, but also Lille, Bordeaux, Madrid and London.
As a good traditional French restaurant, the Baratin in Belleville serves lamb brains, kidneys and sweetbreads. The establishment also boasts one of the finest natural wine cellars in Paris. It’s like being in Amélie Poulain’s Fabulous Destiny, the owner is the cliché of the gruff restaurateur with a big heart. You can meet starred chefs from all over the world.
The rue Mouffetard, its market and its shops of craftsmen pork butchers, cheese makers and especially… bakers. It was here, at Morange, that we found our favourite bread. The chef’s forked baguette is undoubtedly the best in town. Continuing towards the Place Monge, don’t be shy: ring the bell at the Maison des trois thés. It’s a delight of refinement.
Run by artisan butcher William Bernet for over thirty years, Severo is undoubtedly the best meat restaurant in Paris. Its reputation precedes it, and it is true that the steak frites are perfect. As for the wine list, it is full of rayas (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and other rarities if you know how to charm the sommelier.