Steal This Starcation: Chris Noth in Paris
The allure of Paris is hard for anyone to resist, and Chris Noth is no exception. Long before he was Mr. Big romancing Carrie in Paris, the actor was reading (and re-reading) Ernest Hemingway's classic "A Moveable Feast" and falling in love with the City of Light. "My dream of Paris centered on that era in the 1920s," explains Noth about Hemingway's memoir of his expat years there. "It provides the best description of eating and drinking and creates the idea that drinking wine is an experience." So Noth took Paris by storm, searching for overflowing plates of escargot, great wine and a glimpse of past.
Andy Marlin, Getty Images
"Paris wears its history on its sleeve," says Noth. "I love the that there are restaurants that have lasted 100 years or longer. You sit in a chair and realize that someone else broke bread on it in another century." He also found time to run along the Seine and visited the famous Les Puces flea market (Hemingway, who was a struggling writer during his Paris jaunt, would have approved of the gratis activities.) Here Noth shares some of his favorite Paris spots and we offer some less pricey alternatives that still add up to a moveable feast.
Star: $1000 a night at Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris
Noth stayed at Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris, the same swanky Paris icon that enchanted Carrie when she holed up there. Set on one of the most esteemed shopping streets -- Dior, Valentino, Chanel and Bulgari are all neighbors -- the hotel lies in a jewel box of a setting. Picture balconies overlooking the Eiffel Tower and luxurious suites with either Louis XVI-style plush décor or more paired down art deco furnishings. "Coming from the serenity of my room into the lobby was like entering a little buzzing city that was always alive," says Noth. "There was always something happening there."
Address: 25 avenue Montaigne
Phone: 011 331 53 67 66 65
Steal: $200 a night at Hotel Résidence Lord Byron
The cozy Hotel Résidence Lord Byron may not have all the bells of the Plaza Athénée, but it has its own brand of charm. Less than a mile from Avenue Montaigne and a two-minute walk from the Champs Elysée, the 31 rooms are all different but each one features traditional French and Parisian furnishings that provide guests with a real sense of place. The flower-filled outdoor courtyard offers the perfect respite from the city's bustle. There's also free WiFi and high ceilings. Just because it's one-fifth the price doesn't mean you have to sacrifice views. Be sure to ask for one of the rooms on the 4th and 5th floor where you can see the Eiffel Tower from the window.
Address: 5 rue Chateaubriand
Phone: 011 331 43 59 89 98
Star: $120 for two at Chez André
Noth feasted on dover sole meunière amid the art nouveau décor at Chez André. "I finally understood the art of French cuisine," says the actor. Be sure to save room for dessert. According to Noth, the flaky layered cake "is a little bit of heaven."
Address: 12 rue Marbeuf
Phone: 011 331 47 20 59 57
Steal: $35 for two at Café du Maché
Neighborhood eatery Café du Maché serves delectable traditional French food similar to Chez André for around half the price (don't miss the steak frites). The café is on a busy corner and locals love lingering outside watching tout le monde pass by.
Address: 38 rue Cler
Phone: 011 33 1 47 05 51 27
Star: $24 for two tickets to the Louvre
It took Noth several trips to Paris before he finally found time to visit the Louvre and see Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa". "I had to do it," explains Noth. "I know that there's a huge crowd around the painting, but when you cut through the pop history and see it, you realize how remarkable she is. I understood why people are so fascinated by her. You can't go to any point in the room without her looking at you."
Address: 99 rue de Rivoli
Phone: 011 331 40 20 50 50
Steal: Free admission to the Louvre
Sure, $24 doesn't sound like a lot of money, but think what else you could do with a few extra Euros in your pocket. The Louvre offers free admission on the first Sunday of each month and on Bastille Day (July 14th). If that doesn't work for your trip, the museum stays open every Wednesday and Friday evening until 9:45 pm and the admission is just $7.50 (it's also the least crowded time to visit). For more culture for zero cash, download Rick Steves' free guided tour of the Louvre at www.ricksteves.com or from iTunes.
Address: 99 rue de Rivoli
Phone: 011 331 40 20 50 50
Star: $100 for dinner for two at Closerie des Lilas
Closerie des Lilas is one of Hemingway's old haunts and the bar is exactly the same as he described it in "A Moveable Feast" explains Noth. "There's even a little plaque where he used to sit and write. I had a beautiful night there filled with great wine, oysters and a lot of laughter. And I even made a toast to Hemingway."
Address: 171 blvd. du Montparnasse
Phone: 011 331 40 51 34 50
Steal: $55 for dinner for two at Au Bon Saint-Pourcain
Au Bon Saint-Pourcain dates back to the 15th century and sits on one of the most picturesque streets in Paris. Just a stone's throw from the Luxembourg Gardens, it's the Parisian eatery of your dreams with the menu posted on a blackboard, lace curtains, and a complimentary glass of Saint-Pourcain wine from the Bonduel vineyard. The restaurant has Hemingway history as well. Owner François Bonduel once waited tables at another of the author's haunts, Les Deux Magots.
Address: 10 rue Servandoni
Phone: 011 331 43 54 93 63
Star: $130 for boat ride for two on Bateaux Parisiens
When he was filming the final episode of "Sex and the City" (remember the scene along the Seine when Big tells Carrie she's "the one"?), he enjoyed a private boat along the Seine for a party where the vino flowed like water. Bateaux Parisiens does lunch and dinner shindigs where the guests feast on Camembert, prawns with creamy rice and salmon, and drink plenty of wine.
Phone: 011 331 76 64 14 54
Steal: $20 for boat ride for two on Bateaux Vedettes du Pont-Neuf
There's nothing like cruising along the Seine at night when Paris is illuminated. With Bateaux Vedettes du Pont-Neuf, visitors meander along the river passing Notre Dame, the Louvre, and a sparkling Eiffel Tower. There may not be a sit-down dinner, but the onboard bar will keep you supplied with wine. Be sure to book online in advance (tickets are $15 each if bought onsite).
Address: Square du Vert Galant (just under the Pont Neuf)
Phone: 011 33 1 46 33 98 38
Hotel: $1,000 a night
Bistro:: $120 for two
Museum: $24 for two
Dinner: $100 for two
Boat ride: $130 for two
Flights: $30,000 for two
Steal This Trip:
Hotel: $200 a night
Boat ride: $20 for two
Flights: $1,800 for two
Photo Credits: Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris - Courtesy of Hôtel Plaza Athénée; Hotel Résidence Lord Byron - Courtesy of Hotel Résidence Lord Byron; Closerie des Lilas - Courtesy of Closerie des Lilas; Au Bon Saint-Pourcain - Courtesy of Au Bon Saint-Pourcain; Cafe André - Courtesy of Cafe André; Café du Maché - Courtesy of David Rytell; Mona Lisa - Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Muller, AFP / Getty Images; Louvre - Courtesy of Loic Venance, AFP / Getty Images; Bateaux Parisian - Courtesy of Bateaux Parisian; Bateaux Vedettes du Pont-Neuf - Courtesy of Alainmichot93, flickr