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PaperCity Houston Jan_Feb 2023

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A lthough I was lucky enough to live in Texas for many years, I have to say that Paris is the place that really gives me a charge. I lived in Paris for 10 years in the 1990s before moving back to New York and Houston to research and write Double Vision, the biography of Dominique and John de Menil. In the spring of 2019, I moved back to Paris for my next book, to be published February 28: Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld. Not coincidentally, when I moved back to Paris, I settled in the neighborhood that had been the most important for the de Menils and for Karl: the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Located on the Left Bank, in the 7th arrondissement, the Faubourg Saint- Germain is considered one of the chicest and most aristocratic neighborhoods in Paris — like River Oaks in Houston or Highland Park in Dallas, but with a few more centuries of history under their belts. It extends along the Seine from the Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the École Militaire, the great 18th-century military school in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The Faubourg Saint-Germain is home to some of the leading museums, from the Musée d'Orsay to the Musée Las Cases, a short, chic street filled with elegant apartment buildings and townhouses. The rue Las Cases, which now has three beautiful India Mahdavi shops, culminates in the Sainte-Clotilde Basilica, Paris' society church. In front of Sainte-Clotilde and its tree-lined square is one of my favorite spots in Paris: Mon Square, a modern French restaurant that looks out onto the leafy park. Around the corner is the Maison Samson, the best picture framer in Paris, where the de Menils had their first Max Ernst painting framed, while just a short walk down the rue Saint-Dominique, across the emerald lawns of the Esplanade des Invalides, is the headquarters of the massive oil service founded by her father, Conrad Schlumberger. The Faubourg Saint- Germain is filled with great restaurants. Some of my favorites are Le Voltaire, a traditional French restaurant on the Quai Voltaire, where old-school waiters wear black suits and the tables are covered with starched white linens; Gaya, for the freshest of seafood; Le Bourbon, an always packed brasserie looking out onto the Place du Palais-Bourbon; and, although not everyone is looking for Chinese cuisine in Paris, Lao Tseu, a red velvet jewel box on the boulevard Saint-Germain. The neighborhood's great commercial axis is the rue du Bac, starting at the Seine and running inland for barely a mile. It's packed with great cafes, including Les Antiquaires, Le Saint-Germain, and Café Varenne, with a classic interior that designers in New York would spend millions to recreate. The rue du Bac also has amazing shops such as Deyrolle, the historic taxidermy boutique where Dominique de Menil acquired a box of red monarch butterflies she had embedded in the wall of her living room; Olivier de Sercey, the printer where everyone f ro m A z z e d i n e A l a ï a t o Sofia Coppola has their note cards engraved; and Le Bon Marché, the great department store owned by LVMH, which one fashion friend considers the best department store in the world. Also vital is the Carré Rive Gauche, several square blocks off the rue du Bac, filled with 70 of Paris' best antique dealers and art galleries. There are excellent small hotels in the neighborhood, including the Duc de Saint-Simon on the rue du Saint- Simon, Hôtel Montalembert on the rue de Montalembert, Le Narcisse Blanc on the boulevard de la Tour-Mabourg, Hôtel d'Orsay on the rue de Lille, and the brand-new Pavillon Faubourg Saint- Germain on the corner of the rue du Pré aux Clercs and the rue de l'Université. I am lucky enough to be living on the rue de l'Université, with a view that looks out over the headquarters of Gallimard, the leading French publisher, and onto a host of 18th-, 19th-, and early-20th- century buildings. Karl Lagerfeld, when I first met him in 1995, lived at 51 rue de l'Université, the Hôtel Pozzo di Borgo, one of the grandest 18th-century townhouses in Paris. For a decade in the '60s and early '70s, he was at 35 rue de l'Université, a charming historic building. If I lean out of my windows, I can look William I'm a method biographer! Middleton's Rodin, and the most important French captains of industry, from Bernard Arnault to François Pinault, and it's long been the neighborhood where important fashion designers chose to live, including Karl Lagerfeld (for decades on the rue de l'Université), Yves Saint Laurent (rue de Babylone), and Hubert de Givenchy (rue de Grenelle). It's now home to such current stars as interior designer India Mahdavi (rue de Grenelle) and fashion designer Rick Owens and his gold-toothed wife Michèle Lamy (on the Place du Palais-Bourbon). Dominique de Menil, née Schlumberger, was born on the rue Researching and writing the definitive book on John and Dominique de Menil, Double Vision, brought William Middleton to Texas, but immersing himself in his newest opus, Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld, took him back to Paris. William Middleton

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