Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Paris Je t'aime
"This city can change your mood completely,” said the director Sofia Coppola as we walked down Rue Madame in the Sixth Arrondissement of Paris. During the filming of “Marie Antoinette,” which will arrive in theaters on Oct. 20, she lived in a rented apartment on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, two doors from the famous Café de Flore.
Sofia stopped at Odorantes, a tiny flower shop that specializes in bouquets that are organized by scent rather than by color. Bouquets in Paris, unlike floral arrangements in America, usually consist of one flower or one hue. “I found this shop by wandering through the neighborhood,” she said, while waiting outside for the flowers to be arranged. “When I shop, it’s not so much about buying. Whether you get something or not, when you go in a store, you see what Paris is like.”
For a few days last May, I accompanied Sofia through several Paris neighborhoods: the Marais, the Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré, the Palais Royale. We visited the restored Museé de l’Orangerie to see the Monet waterlilies in their original home, and we gazed into the Seine from the Pont Neuf, but, mostly, we shopped as if we were engaged in a kind of sociological study of French customs and style.
Near the Place Vendôme, Sofia stopped at the custom shirtmaker Charvet, where she was having some of her mother’s Yves St. Laurent shirts from the 1970’s recreated as silk dresses. We went to the luggage store Goyard and admired the classic trunks that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor. At Dary’s, a jewelry shop that specializes in antique pieces, Sofia tried on an aquamarine ring from the 20’s, and at Hermès, we watched the other customers in the large, crowded store compete for the privilege of buying their coveted handbags. At Benneton Graveur, she studied the engraved stationery, particularly a notecard topped by a French and an American flag. Sofia is expecting her first baby in December with her boyfriend, Thomas Mars, the singer in the band Phoenix. Mars is from Versailles, and Sofia plans to have the baby in Paris, where the couple have just purchased an apartment. “This card will be perfect,” she said, admiringly.
In the Marais, we went to K. Jacques, a tiny shop that specializes in all types of classic leather sandals. The simplicity of the shoes immediately conjured up images of sunning in St.-Tropez. We stopped at a vintage magazine and bookstore called Les Archives de la Presse, which Sofia discovered while she was filming Marie Antoinette’s birthday party at the National Archives nearby.
Sofia first considered making a film about Marie Antoinette during a dinner at Chez Omar, one of her favorite restaurants in the Marais. Dean Tavoularis, the Oscar-winning production designer, who has worked extensively with her father, had researched that period for a movie he didn’t end up doing, she explained. “And he started telling me things about Marie Antoinette, like how young she was and her weird relationship with her husband, Louis. I’ve always been interested in the 18th century, and the story behind her persona intrigued me.”
In many ways, the finished film is an homage to all things Français, from the perfection of the period costumes and wigs to the clashing modernity of the post-punk 80’s soundtrack. Just as “Lost in Translation,” Sofia’s previous film, captured the beautiful strangeness of Japan, “Marie Antoinette” is a glimpse into the sense of refinement that still exists in Paris. “I have always been influenced by French films,” said Sofia, as she paid for the extraordinarily fragrant purple-pink roses that took 20 minutes to arrange. “I remember seeing ‘Breathless’ as a teenager and liking that not everything was explained. In American movies, you have to explain everything. The French leave things a little mysterious.”
Sofia walked toward the river and peered into the windows of various antiques shops, looking for a chandelier for her new apartment. She went past a vintage shop on a tiny street, but it was closed. In the window was a slinky black jersey Jean Muir dress displayed on a mannequin. The Cannes Film Festival was in a few days, and Sofia was looking for gowns. “I like that in Paris, you have to get it together,” she said. “It’s nice to see people dress up for dinner. After I interned at Chanel in the 80’s, I went back home to my little town in the Napa Valley, but I was changed forever. Everyone thought I was strange because I was getting French Vogue.”
After writing down the peculiar hours of the vintage shop, Sofia headed to the Jardin du Luxembourg. “My father was so taken with this place that he built a little fountain in Napa based on the fountain here,” she said, as she walked down the wide gravel path that leads to the heart of the garden. She motioned to a bench. “This place has always been emotional for me.” Right before she was about to get married to Spike Jonze (now her ex-husband), and before her first movie, “The Virgin Suicides,” was shown in Cannes, the stress had got to her: “I just sat here and cried.” She would come here while filming “Marie Antoinette” when she had serious things on her mind. “The beauty of this garden would always reassure me,” she said. “Paris has a way of restoring your faith.”
SOFIA'S ADDRESS BOOK
Azzedine Alaïa Boutique and shoe store. 4 Rue de Moussy; 011-33-1-42-72-19-19.
Benneton Graveur Stationery. 75 Boulevard Malesherbes; 011-33-1-43-87-57-39.
Bois de Rose Classic smock dresses for girls. 30 Rue Dauphine; 011-33-1-40-46-04-24.
Bonpoint Children’s clothes. 320 Rue St.-Honoré; 011-33-1-49-27-94-82. Go to www.bonpoint.com for more locations.
Galerie 213 Sofia especially likes the photo books. 58 Rue Charlot; 011-33-1-43-22-83-23.
Charvet Custom shirts and more. 28 Place Vendôme; 011-33-1-42-60-30-70.
Clignancourt Flea Market Sofia shops here for furniture. Porte de Clignancourt (Sat.-Mon.).
Dary’s Antique jewelry. 362 rue St.-Honoré; 011-33-1-42-60-95-23.
Deyrolle Taxidermy in a beautiful space. 46 Rue du Bac; 011-33-1-42-22-30-07.
Didier Ludot Vintage couture. 20-24 Galerie de Montpensier; 011-33-1-42-96-06-56.
Pharmacie Homeopatique Weber For beauty products not available at home. 8 Rue de Capucines; 011-33-1-42-61-03-07.
Free “P” Star Vintage clothing. 8 Rue Ste.-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie; 011-33-1-42-76-03-72.
Goyard Classic luggage. 233 Rue St.-Honoré; 011-33-1-42-60-57-04.
Hermès Sofia shops here for notebooks and bags. 24 Faubourg St-Honoré; 011-33-1-40-17-47-17.
Jöelle Ciocco Skin care. 8 Place de la Madeleine; 011-33-1-42-60-58-80.
K. Jacques Leather sandals. 16 Rue Pavee; 011-33-1-40-27-03-57.
Lanvin Albert Elbaz’s take on French tradition. 22 Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré; 011-33-1-44-71-31-73.
Les Archives De La Presse Vintage magazines. 15 Rue des Archives; 011-33-1-42-72-63-93.
Marc Jacobs Palais Royal, 34 Rue de Montpensier; 011-33-1-55-35-02-60.
Odorantes Flowers. 9 Rue Madame; 011-33-1-42-84-03-00.
Pierre Hardy One-of-a-kind shoes. Jardins du Palais Royal, 156 Galerie de Valois; 011-33-1-42-60-59-75.
Sabbia Rosa Lingerie. 73 Rue des Sts.-Pères; 011-33-1-45-48-88-37.
Serge Lutens Perfume. Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido, Jardins du Palais Royal, 142 Galerie de Valois; 011-33-1-49-27-09-09.
Restaurants and Bars
Café de Flore Centuries-old artiste hangout. 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain; 011-33-1-45-48-55-26.
Le Castiglione Known for its cheeseburgers. 235 Rue St.-Honoré; 011-33-1-42-60-68-22.
Chez Allard Famed old bistro noted for poulet de bresse. 41 Rue St.-André des Arts; 011-33-1-43-26-48-23.
Chez Omar Excellent couscous, exceptionally popular. 47 Rue de Bretagne; 011-33-1-42-72-36-26.
Gerard Mulot Pastries and chocolate. 76 Rue de Seine; 011-33-1-43-26-85-77.
Bar Hemingway Classic bar with great cocktails. Hotel Ritz Paris; 15 Place Vendôme; 011-33-1-43-16-33-65.
Ladurée Historic tea salon beloved for its macaroons. 16 Rue Royale; 011-33-1-42-60-21-79. Go to www.laduree.fr for more locations.
Le Voltaire Chic bistro on the river. 27 Quai Voltaire; 011-33-1-42-61-17-49.
Mathis Supertrendy bar. 33 Rue de Ponthieu; 011-33-1-53-76-39-55.
extracted from "The New York Times" /Travel Section, article courtesy of Penny Lane.