Paris: Falling in love with fall
WALK THE TALK - Cecilia Licauco (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2015 - 9:00am

The latest terrorist attack on Paris is another blow against urban security. But are Parisians fearful? Are they staying home until this problem is — if possible — solved? On the contrary, they refuse to be broken. While they grieve for the innocents who lost their lives, they will continue theirs in the city that is their home.

Paris in autumn is really pretty. The air is crisp, the sky is a cloudless blue, the leaves are changing color, but not all of them have fallen to the ground. It is overcoat, scarf and bonnet weather! There are not many tourists around, so I have the impression that the waiters and salespeople seem friendlier.

While walking by the Viaduc des Arts, near the Bastille, I chanced upon the shop of Tzuri Gueta, a designer and textile engineer. Born in Israel, he grew up on the shores of Hadara. Inspired by the ocean and nature, he has a preference for “hidden nature” as subject matter in his art —“not what we see every day, but those that are underwater, under a microscope.”

Early in his career, he moved to Paris, and concentrated on textiles, working in the fashion world with Thierry Mugler and Chanel. The city of Paris awarded him with the “Grand Prix de la Création” for producing his line of jewelry and accessories based on his patented process of “blowing silicon into lace.”

His inspiration is the sea and his medium is a combination of silicon and silk. His boutique gives one a feeling of walking among coral reefs, sea anemones and undulating ferns — all made with the same material. His necklaces are quite eye-catching because of the detail, but soft and light and easy to wear. His lamps and other decorative pieces are works of art — “jewelry for interiors,” always a tribute to the chaotic elegance of nature.

Gueta, who lives in Paris, goes back to Tel Aviv regularly. He says that because of his personal experience, he is always looking for tranquility, a diver’s peace.

Fleux is an exciting retail concept, which opened in 2005 in the Marais. Owned by Luc Moulin and Gaétan Aucher, it covers 350 square meters of merchandise spread over four separate stores. Each store has different products, but these are always quirky and well curated, “superfluous and luxurious” but totally useful. Packed with customers, it makes for a slow walk through the aisles. The eyes are tickled by black derby hats as lamps, water pipes as coat racks, lightbulbs with wires of happy colors. Now that’s retail entertainment!

On their 10th anniversary, Fleux celebrates with 10 limited editions by 10 different designers. Each edition is a close collaboration between the designer and Fleux, creating unique pieces following the colors defined by the brand. This year, the colors are rose, red sand, ochre, pebble blue and sea blue, among others. The themes evoke nature and uphold the values of “authenticity, simplicity, elegance, and joie de vivre.”

Les Caves du Louvre, on Rue de l’Arbre Sec, is a new interactive wine experience that invites drinkers and non-drinkers alike, to learn about French wine. The owners, Nicolas Paradis and Elodie Tornare, transformed an 18th-century royal wine cellar that belonged to King Louis XV’s sommelier (and candlemaker) into an interesting maze of rooms that awakens the five senses.



The cave refuses to be a formal wine museum. Instead, the visitor downloads the app into his mobile phone, and this app acts as the tour guide. The Terroirs room displays real vines from the different regions of France and videos explain the importance of the soil in wine production. The Aromas room displays the different smells that can be found in red and white wines on a beautiful wooden nested table. The visitor can pick up a cork and try to guess the smell. If he guesses it correctly, the nest lights up. The scents include hazelnut, tobacco, leather, almond, butter, acacia, orange blossom and more.

Guests can actually blend and “bottle” wine according to their taste preferences, complete with a personalized picture on the label. Of course, also available is the much-needed glass of wine at the end of the tour.

And, as with any museum, the visitor exits into the boutique run by the very hospitable Luciana Toledo. The shop sells wine, maps and posters, books and games, candles — a fitting place to purchase souvenirs of a most interesting experience.

And if tasting isn’t enough, the O Chateau, a bar also owned by Tornare a few streets away, has 700 bottles in its inventory and offers 40 different wines per week to its customers. So, as the wine bar changes its offering, the shop of Les Caves du Louvre does the same. Drink, bring home a bottle, or do both.

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