A visit to Paris is always full of wonder. You can eat everything you desire all day long and never gain a pound. How? Why? Let me explain. It's simply because God loves Paris, too, and rewards all of us who visit Paris. Those of us who have the joy to live in Paris are given miracle food that only exists there and nowhere else.
Fresh baguettes, croissants au beurre, crème caramel, moules marinière vin blanc aux frites, boeuf bourguignon, mille-feuilles. Eat like the French and try to gain weight. You can't! French food tastes unbelievably delicious and has absolutely no calories. I have lived in Paris for 45 years and only put on weight when I spent more time in my American home.
Think about it... Hitler had the choice to invade and bomb Paris and he just couldn't. He stopped bombing at the Compiègne Forest and made a peace, then he demanded to visit Paris with an architect and drove to the Opera, his favorite building where he marveled at the grand staircase.
Now if Hitler wouldn't, couldn't, didn't blow up even one cafe, it must be a holy place. Paris is Jerusalem for foodies! I promise you, God loves Paris too.
In front of the Cafe Flore I found this 65-year-old Parisienne on her bike with the happiest face in town. Why? She lives in Paris.
There is art, food, opera, fashion, movies, architecture, hairdressers on every corner and outdoor cafés with endless beautiful people walking by. There are couples kissing in doorways, on street corners, on park benches, in the movie lines and just about everywhere, but especially crossing the romantic bridges -- they kiss and kiss and kiss some more.
Crossing the bridges at sunrise and sunset is one of the secret passions of Parisiennes. I often sit and meditate at sunrise on the Pont des Arts.
Fall and winter are especially great times for foodies in Paris. The local épiceries all compete for "grab-you-inside-me" holiday windows and the competition is serious. The winter season brings foie gras, cheese, exotic puddings, special breads and pastry competitions as the best chefs are rewarded with honors -- Meilleur Ouvrier, the best worker -- in each field. Chocolatiers go nuts at holidays.
This is my little world of St-Germain-des-Prés, where I've lived and worked since 1966.
The Rue de Buci has our local epecierie. When I live in Paris I shop for food daily in the Buci Market.
Patrick Roger created this chocolate beast and his chocolate shop on Boulevard Saint-Germain is a must-not-miss.
The Saint-Germain-des-Prés indoor market has the best selection of cheese. You can bring five kilos, or 25 cheeses, into America at the airport. Wrap the smelly ones in double plastic bags.
Le Comptoir is such a popular three-star restaurant in Saint-Germain-des-Prés --
there is a line on the street to get in. There are no reservations and no one cares.
Hotel Saint Vincent.
Hotel Saint Thomas D'Aquin.
Hotel Saint Thomas D'Aquin and Hotel Saint Vincent are on a secret street in Saint-Germain-des-Prés that no one knows. Don't tell anyone. They are on the Rue Pré aux Clercs.
The rue Christine, another hidden street, has the beautiful Hotel Relais Bisson, the Jacques Cagnat restaurant and Gertrude Stein lived at number five. It's the tops.
L'Hotel near my shop was where Oscar Wilde lived, and where I had a party when America first landed on the moon in 1969.
Welcome Hotel on Rue de Buci is a budget hotel on the market street. Poor models lived there in the sixties when rooms were $20 a night. Enid Stulberger lived there until she married Donovan.
The latest "in" color for furniture is pale grey panne velvet. Behold this décor from Nobilis Tissue on Rue Bonaparte, the luxe de jour.
Coats are center front in the windows, variety in style is the spice of life.
La Palette is a landmark on the Rue de Seine for lunch and cocktails. Tallulah Rufus Isaacs and Julia Van Hagen run the space, my shop at 21 Rue Bonaparte.
I ate lunch here almost every day for 30 years when working in Paris. It was the art and decorator, center of the Paris left bank. I had my own omelette there... Vicky's "Everything-but-Animals Omelette" -- cheese, mushrooms, fins herbs -- and I ate it with French mustard.
Crazy me, my first studio in Rue du Dragon. Parents -- please don't send your student children to Paris. I wouldn't go home, and I bought an apartment at 23 so I wouldn't have to go home.
A visit to Notre Dame at sunset is a great place to thank God for being alive in Paris.
Vicky Tiel began designing clothes 40 years ago in Paris and still owns a boutique there. See Vicky and her new collection on HSN and online. Her couture is available at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and her perfumes are carried in Perfumania. Her memoir, It's All About the Dress: What I Learned in 40 Years About Men, Women, Sex and Fashion was published by St. Martin's Press in August 2011.