Frank Gehry Retrospective - Centre Pompidou

Fondation Louis Vuitton maquette - Frank Gehry
We might as well just rename October "Frank Gehry Month" in Paris: not only is the legendary architect's spectacular, vessel-like building for the Fondation Louis Vuitton opening on the 27th October, but the first major retrospective in Europe dedicated to the his career is also opening this week at the Pompidou Centre. 

The exhibition spans the Pritzker prize winner's work the world over, with 67 maquettes on display, from his debut in 1960s California right up to his iconic international projects today - including his most recent project, the afforementioned LVMH project - via the Guggenheim Bilbao, LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall, New York's IAC building and more. From room to room we see how Gehry has revolutionised architecture's aesthetics, its social and cultural role and its relationship to the city, not only via the models on display but also through over 200 sketches - which are a long way away from tightly plotted blueprints - and Sydney Pollack's 2006 film, "Sketches by Frank Gehry." A must-see for fans of Gehry's distinctive work. 

Frank Gehry
8th October 2014 - 26th January 2015 
Centre Pompidou

Ciel - Japanese Patisserie in Paris

Sometimes* you can have your fill of eating flaky, buttery, creamy French pastry in gilded rococo tea rooms of the Ladurgelina calibre in Paris, but that doesn't mean you have to forego your afternoon sugar hit. The perfect foil to all that opulence is Ciel - a minimal Japanese patisserie set in a clean and airy, white space on the Left Bank, serving but one type of cake: fluffy and light angel cakes, which consist of a weightless (and butterless) sponge exterior encasing a subtle cream centre, in flavours ranging from sakura cherry, to yuzu, to earl grey to chocolate. The delectable little cloud-like cake can be eaten seated at the counter, washed down with all kinds of variations of Japanese tea, including an iced matcha latte or toasted green tea, or taken away in a beautiful origami box.  

Patisserie Ciel 
3 rue Monge, Paris 75005

*sometimes, but not often

all photos copyright Kim Laidlaw

Unlocking Paris with... Maheva

Swiss by birth, but Parisian by adoption, super talented fashion designer Maheva Ambresin has lived in Paris for 10 years and counting – working her sartorial magic at a selection of stylish French ready-to-wear brands and rubbing shoulders with the cool kids along the way. We caught up with the SoPi resident and gal about town at brand new boat Playtime for the first in our new series where we ask locals for their insider tips on what to do in the capital. Here’s what Maheva told us between dips in the pool and sips of Lillet on ice.

Where’s the best place in Paris for an al fresco drink?
Paris is known for its terraces but rather than being roadside or riverside, we all want a bit of greenery, a rooftop and some sun, so I’m afraid I’m going to say Le Perchoir, as, even if – victim of its own success – there are long waiting times and a slightly irritating clientele, the two Perchoir addresses remain the most beautiful terraces in Paris. I particularly enjoy sipping on a mojito granita and lying back on a sofa with my head in the clouds of Paris.

What are your favourite places for an off-the-cuff kind of an evening?
Unplanned evenings tend to happen after work, so I’ll head towards rue Saint-Anne, stopping by the Chez Moi boutique where Jean-Baptiste lives. You’re always welcome here to chat about future projects, to flick through books and admire the latest curiosities in store. Then Kunitoraya 2 is just a couple of minutes away and I can never resist dinner here – the waiters are too cute with their 100% Japanese shyness and the prawn tempura is incredible.
Concept Store Chez Moi

Most romantic place for a date?
Definitely Buvette. Try to nab the two places at the counter in the corner to the right of the entrance. The high stools allow for a bit of sexy leg flashing, the soft lighting hides all kinds of sins if your skin isn’t looking its best, and it’s all about small-sized sharing plates so you don’t look like a pig, and you can play with each other’s forks. Oh, and CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.
Chocolate Mousse at Buvette
Where is your favourite place in Paris to hole up when it rains?  
In my bed in a man’s arms. Or, for an easier option, L’Avant Comptoir   even if it’s standing room only, you’ll want to stay to sample the dozens of tapas-sized dishes, washed down with sparkling rosé. If Yves Camdeborde wants to adopt me, I promise that I’ll never miss a family dinner ever again.

Wine and tapas-sized bites at l'Avant Comptoir
What’s your favourite local hangout?
I’m going to give you two as I love my hood and it’s too difficult to choose. So the first – and, sorry, but it’s not at all glamorous - is Le PaprikaI go for one thing and one thing only: the owner is Hungarian and serves his grandmother’s goulash – and even 10 minutes before closing time he’ll serve you, eyes full of pride to be continuing the family tradition. And the second is Caillebotte – oh go on, and the third is le Pantruche. I call them regularly begging for a table because it’s always fully booked. Both are lovely places, with friendly staff, delicious food and unbeatable prices.

Pink Grapefruit with Tarragon Ice-Cream at Caillebotte

Thanks, Maheva! We look forward to dinner at Pantruche with you soon (if you can can get us a table that is… Otherwise we'll settle for late night goulash). Stay tuned for the next in the series of insider tips with another local unlocking Paris for us. 

La Table d'Eugène

We've been harping on about how the Northern side of Paris' 18th arrondissement is up-and-coming for a while now, singing the praises of Scandiwegian furniture shop Maison Nordik, Venezuelan areperia Bululu and hipster burger joint Le Ruisseau, to name just a few - and with the Unlock Paris HQ in this part of town, and most of our meetings held at the charming Cafe Lomi, it's an area we very much know and love. So imagine our excitement last Friday evening when we saw none other than the President of the Republic, François Hollande himself, dining at the gastronomic jewel in the crown of this neighbourhood: La Table d'Eugène. Proof that not only is this part of the 18th becoming hipsterfied - it's positively in the process of being gentrified.

Helmed by head chef Geoffrey Maillard and his sous-chef François Vaudeschamps - who have previously worked at Le Bristol, Le Plaza Athenée, Alain Senderens and Taillevent between them - the discreet Table d'Eugène has been drawing connoisseurs to rue Eugène Sue for the last five years since it opened (and is, as such, perhaps a trail-blazer for having set up in this part of town). Last September it unveiled its new decor - muted tones of beige, grey and oak - behind curtained windows cocooning patrons in its small, subtly luxurious dining room, where service is slick and the food takes centre stage. The menu is seasonal - changing every ten days - with high-quality individual ingredients sourced from small-scale producers being honored in each dish. Fixed-price dinner menus range between €55 and €99 and may feature dishes such as sea bream tartare with yuzu and daikon, or veal with truffle mashed potatoes, caramelised shallots and panfried chanterelle mushrooms, all beautifully presented and punctuated by amuses-bouches, palette cleansers and pre-desserts, and paired with wines from their superlative selection (the Pattes Loup Chablis, €48, goes down a treat). Weekday lunches are at the reasonable price of just €25 for starter+main or main+dessert, and, if you can't get a table here (book a week or so in advance) there is also a wine bar and tapas annexe, La Rallonge, just a couple of doors up, if you're looking for something more casual but still high-quality in the neighbourhood (and don't perhaps fancy rubbing shoulders with Mr Hollande). 

La Table d'Eugène
18 rue Eugène Sue, 75018 Paris
01 42 55 61 64

and for our little paparazzi moment....
François Hollande leaving La Table d'Eugène after dinner

all photos copyright Kim Laidlaw / Unlock Paris

Bululu Arepera Montmartre

Our radar is telling us that the "other" side of Montmartre - down the hill from the prime tourist photo-op territory of the Sacre Coeur -  is bubbling under as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Paris right now. We've already told you about burger bar Le Ruisseau, which is drawing local hipsters out of the woodwork, and trendy mid-century modern furniture shop Maison Nordik (check out our full round up in our piece The Other Side of Montmartre), and the area is continuing to build a solid empire of interesting, independent establishments, making this part of town a destination in and of itself. One of the area's top draws is  charmingly ramshackle Venezuelan sandwich joint Bululu - the only Arepera in Paris. In the small space, with chipboard tables and recycled tin cans as cutlery holders , a team of pretty girls with flowery headscarves in their hair explain the Venzuelan sandwiches on offer: made from freshly baked, golden, gluten-free bread, arepas are a filled with various key ingredients such as avocado, tajada (plantain), black beans, cheese and beef. Also on offer are fried plantain chips, and deliciously simple Obleas for pudding - wafer sandwiches filled with sweet Dulce de Leche - and there are a range of juices, beers and lemonades to wash it all down with. Open for lunch and supper, and brunch on weekends. 

20 rue de la Fontaine du But, 
75018 Paris
Open Weds-Fri: 12-2.30; 7.30-11pm
Sat-Sun: 12-11.30pm

all photos copyright Kim Laidlaw / Unlock Paris