Fondation Louis Vuitton
This eye-catching contemporary art gallery is enjoying its first complete season in 2015. World-class architect Frank Gehry designed the shimmering white building to appear like a magnificent sailing ship moored between trees in the Bois de Boulogne. Twelve curvaceous sails are crafted from 3600 glass panels. Inside, a clever architectural walk treats visitors to unexpected vista after vista, culminating in panoramic views of business district La Défense and its skyscrapers from the sky-high Terrasse Haute. Admission includes neighbouring Jardin d'Acclimatation.
The easiest way to reach the gallery is by shuttle bus from place Charles de Gaulle. Reserve a table for lunch at noon in its restaurant Le Frank, or be prepared to queue.
Treasure hunts at the Louvre
Inspirational THATLou tours with a twist at the Louvre have reached a new high: 2015 ushers in an activity pack for children aimed at entertaining and educating kids aged 5 to 11 years during treasure hunts – and afterwards over lunch, on trains and so on. Hunts last two hours and see participants photograph themselves in front of 20 to 30 works of art ('treasure') in the museum. Consider a meal afterwards at the sensational new Caffè Stern with Philippe Starck decor, inside an old engraver’s workshop in 19th-century covered arcade Passage des Panoramas.
Make sure a ticket for a classical concert at the ambitious Philharmonie de Paris is on your 2015 Paris bucket list. Designed by Pritzker prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, the shimmering metal-encased hall patterned with a flock of birds debuted in January 2015. Christened Philharmonie 1 to differentiate it from neighbouring Cité de la Musique (renamed Philharmonie 2), the state-of-the-art hall seats an audience of 2400 in a unique wraparound seating layout. Acoustics are world-class and creative family concerts and workshops turn conventional concert rituals on their head. Watch out for the rooftop walkway to open in summer 2015.
Forum des Halles makeover
Only Paris could rejuvenate an old wholesale market in such style. Meadow-like gardens and a giant rainforest-inspired, golden-hued glass canopy have mushroomed on the spot occupied by the city’s main wholesale food market for nearly 800 years. In September 2015 a glittering line-up of gourmet restaurants and 130 global-brand boutiques will open inside the remodelled Forum des Halles, the underground shopping mall that supplanted the market in the 1970s and extends four floors down to Paris’ busiest metro hub Les Halles. Target completion for the entire regeneration project is 2018.
Culture buffs visiting Paris in 2015 are in for a treat. Spring will see the reopening of Musée Bourdelle, at home in the belle époque house and workshop of Antoine Bourdelle, a pupil of Rodin. Its sculpture gardens have always been delightfully romantic, but the painter’s restored studio – open for the first time – now steals the show.
Up in fabled Montmartre at Musée de Montmartre, the studio-apartment of 19th-century painter Suzanne Valadon – hot in Parisian art circles during the Fauvist period – has likewise been restored and is now open.
Parisians are impatient for the gargantuan transformation of their 18th-century royal mint (Monnaie de Paris) to end – as is world-class chef Guy Savoy whose Michelin triple-starred gastronomic restaurant is due to move this spring into the neoclassical Monnaie de Paris on the Seine’s left bank. Code-named MétaLmorphoses (monnaiedeparis.fr), the complex will incorporate casual brasserie MétaLcafé by Guy Savoy, boutiques, craft ateliers and a Zen garden when finished in 2016.
Legendary hotel makeovers and hot new digs
Paris is now the proud owner of the world’s largest hostel – completely un-hostel-like in appearance, amenities and vibe. Generator Hostel (generatorhostels.com), inside an old office block, opened in February 2015 as a 950-bed hostel near Canal St-Martin in the hip 10th arrondissement. Think crisp white linens, en suite bathrooms, contemporary decor (including Paris metro ceramic tiling and wall art by street artists), rooftop bar with Montmartre panorama, nightclub, cocktail bar and snails on the restaurant menu.
Budget travellers might be mourning Hôtel Henry IV, former goldsmiths turned bijou hotel on Île de la Cité treasured for its remarkable one-star rates and five-star location. In business since 1840, the hotel closed on 31 January 2015 and will eventually reopen as posh serviced apartments.
A new legend among party travelers is born: Grand Pigalle Hôtel (grandpigalle.com) is a funky, 37-room B&B – meaning ‘bed & beverage’ – in Pigalle with cocktail bar mixing handcrafted cocktails. Interior design is by Dorothée Meilichzon, the creative energy behind Pigalle newbie Hôtel Panache (by the Hôtel Paradis team), to open in spring 2015.
Les Bains (lesbains-paris.com), a lounge hotel inspired by Los Angeles’s Château Marmont, will be a landmark 2015 opening. Its illustrious location is the former thermal baths and nightclub Les Bains-Douches in Le Marais, a quartier rich with new openings (favourite new eating-drinking addresses include Les Chouettes (restaurant-les-chouettes-paris.fr) across from Le Carreau du Temple; and Les Déserteurs (facebook.com) on rue Trousseau in the 11th arrondissement).
Neoclassical Parisian icon Hôtel de Crillon (rosewoodhotels.com/en/hotel-de-crillon) dates to 1758. It reopens after a complete refit in autumn 2015 with 18th century-styled rooms, spa and pool, wine cellar and tasting area. Belle époque beauty Hôtel Ritz (ritzparis.com) follows soon after.
Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé
This striking cinema and museum is a brilliant addition to the Paris flick scene. Where else can you watch silent B&W movies to the sound of a live pianist? The Pathé Foundation (fondation-jeromeseydoux-pathe.com) is tucked away in a former theatre and cinema dating to 1869 in the 13th arrondissement but only the façade, sculpted by Rodin, remains. The rest of the building is an unbelievable five-storey ‘slug’ of a creation by world-class architect Renzo Piano.