Paris: Meshes in the After Hours at the Palais-Royal


Dior sits pretty at the Didier Ludot, Jardin du Palais-Royal, Photos by Theadora Brack

Is that you Marsha White? Twilight Zone, After Hours, 1960 (Rue Montpensier)

By Theadora Brack

In high anticipation of the return of springtime and the critically acclaimed “Mad Men” television series, I’ve suddenly got a strong hankering for Champagne cocktails, heady scents, and beaded party gowns, along with some old-fashioned, toe-tapping, finger-snapping haughty-naughty tunes. For the love of all that is sweet, lowdown, and swanky, what would Don Draper do?

You’ve got that thing

Celebrating Mad Men’s approaching sixth, coming in April, let’s hobnob it over to the rendezvous-worthy bar Le Defender at the historic Hôtel du Louvre, and listen to some retro-lounge sounds, featuring Siegfried “Ziggy” Mandacé and his three fabulous quartets. Get ready to step out and I don’t mean maybe, guys and dolls. His beat can’t be beat.

Let’s do it

Located near the Jardin du Palais-Royale and shops, the joint flaunts a real surreal David Lynch vibe. Setting the scene: From floor to ceiling, the bar is decked out in warm tones of mahogany, gold, black marble, and red velvet with a Napoleonic twist. Don Draper would have felt very much at home here on the love seat.

Tip: It’s also a sublime people-watching hotshot spot. Performers from the nearby Comédie Française often pop by for drinks.


Siegfried “Ziggy” Mandacé at the bar Le Defender Photo by Hors Cadre

Give me one for my baby

Here’s the deal: The shows are free with a purchase of a beverage, and they’re wickedly expensive. But holy moly, when are you going to get another chance to kick back with a classic tiny-bubbled cocktail in hand, while listening to the tipsy-curvy jazz in the City of Light? Sometimes you just got splurge a little, is what my grandmother Helen J. Wentz would say.

Stardust Memories

So nurse your drink and make it last like there’s no tomorrow. And Don, yes, the coveted top shelf Armagnac from 1963 by Château Laubade is stocked. And the Champagne cocktail? Why, it’s “Ziggilicious,” the charismatic bandleader said with a wink.

Ziggy on fire

Possessing the spirit and style of stars and starlets from days gone by, the band’s chemistry is flawless, infectious and timeless. From the roaring 1920s to groovy 1960s, Ziggy’s playlist includes everything from Django Reinhardt, Georges Brassens, and Serge Gainsbourg, to Irving Berlin, Miles Davis, and Joao Gilberto.

BRACK Royal Ghosts 3

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Antiques Shop, (rue Montpensie)

You’ll find Ziggy and one of his quartets here at the bar Le Defender on Thursday and Friday nights at 9 PM. Drop my name, and if time permits, he’ll take your requests, avec plaisir! Want catbird seating? Arrive twenty to thirty minutes before the show, suggests Ziggy.

What to wear?

Suggested attire is “dressy,” so I’d recommend taking the fine vintage route. For a full-bodied time-travel experience, drop by the nearby Didier Ludot at 24 Galerie Montpensier-Jardin du Palais Royal. It’s a great place to window-shop for high ticket vintage garb. All big wig names are represented here.

And the band played on

Yearning for a little “La Vie en Rose” to take home with you? Before the show, trek it to Boîtes à Musique Anna Joliet. Located at the northern end of the Jardin du Palais Royal, Anna and her collection of hand-cranked music boxes have held court here for three decades. Prices start at only €8.

Looking for a specific tune? Just ask. Here you’ll find Debussy, Chopin, and Charles Trénet, along with Mozart, Beethoven and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, my fellow felines, “Memory” is always in stock.

Tip: In the mood for more tiny bubbles? Don’t miss the nearby Palais-Royal Métro bejeweled entrance. It has never failed to lift this gal’s spirits to soaring heights.

The buoyant Kiosque des Noctambules (The Kiosk of the Night Owls) was built in 2000 by artist Jean-Michel Othoniel in celebration of the Métro’s centennial. Created also as a nod to Hector Guimard’s curvaceous Art Nouveau entrances, its glass-beaded cupolas symbolize the dreamy meshes of day, night and afternoon. Where is the love? Trust me, it’s here.

In the words of Draper , “Live like there’s no tomorrow, just in case there isn’t one.” Mais oui!

Looking for some fine vintage duds to wear to your next shindig? Ask Virginia! Trust me. She knows. For the love of Joan, Don and Roger, be prepared to swoon. Golly, it’s perfection.

BRACK Royal Ghosts 12

Cat bird seating at the Jardin du Palais-Royal

Rendezvous at the Jardin du Palais-Royal

View of the Jardin du Palais-Royal through doorway on Rue Montpensier


Tiny Bubbles at the Kiosque des Noctambules

BRACK Ladies 50

60 thoughts on “Paris: Meshes in the After Hours at the Palais-Royal

  1. How exquisitely decadent. How marvelously retro. I’m digging waaay back in my wardrobe for the snazzy cocktail dress I wore in the Mad Men days. It’s heavy dark green satin with a fabric rose under the bosum . Perfect for adfter-hours at the Palais Royal. I’ll take tiny sips of my champagne cocktail. Cross my ankles in the most elegant manner (to show my ruby slippers) and perhaps across the room a stranger will catch my eye – or his. Another wonderful evening with Theadora. V.


      • I know! I know! Goodness Gracious, homme d’étain, thank you for sending over the yellow brick road directions and link. I’ve been working in the field, filing reports from the road. YES. What a swell evening. AND you AND you and you AND you were there! In high fashion, I also loved your outfit. You looked so dapper, indeed.

        Wasn’t Ziggy divine? And so were the Champagne cocktails! I must dig up a recipe.
        Someone get Chef Emil on the horn, I say!


    • Dear Virginia, I spotted both you and Monsieur Tin Man by the piano! I waved but you didn’t see me. The dress. The gloves. The glittering ruby slippers. Everyone was GREEN with envy. Oh, how they whispered as you made your grand entrance. Even bandleader Ziggy looked up, stopped playing and winked. You looked MARVELOUS. T. (I’m now off to get another look at your knock-out outfit. WOW. And thanks for the beautiful words. Apologies for the delay! I’ve been working in the field!)


    • Janet, I’ve known Ziggy for years, years. He’s so talented and handsome, to boot. It’s always a real treat to hear him play. Have a wonderful weekend! And thanks for meeting us at the Hotel du Louvre! T.


  2. sometimes, I swear you’re writing this just for me…rye, champagne, Art Nouveu, live music & Draper. *swoon*

    I’ve often wondered what goes into a champagne cocktail but have never had the courage to order one. That and a pink lady! I love all of the shots of windows, archways & doorways…I’ve got stacks of photos featuring the same.
    Brava, my dear! Thanls to you Paris keeps rocketing up my list of “cities I must visit soon”


    • Thanks, Doll! I’d love to see your architectural shots. Post, please! Say, I’ll dig up a Champagne Cocktail for you. I’ve sent our talented Chef Emil a message. Maybe he has one up his chef sleeve?! I’ll return in a jiffy! T.


  3. Oh my you have done it again, Theadora!!! This sounds just perfectly ziggilicious! I pulled out the Ruby Pumps for this one……begon the slippers. I stopped by to grab Virginia; however, she had already located her dark green satin cocktail dress and I saw here slipping into Hotel du Louvre just before me…….the vixen! What a marvie evening!


    • Gosh, Ziggy is so talented. I like his timeless looks and tunes. He’s such an old soul. Witty, too. And speaking of timeless souls, I spotted both you and Virginia by the bar or the foyer. The joint was packed and jumping! I can’t stop thinking about her dress. Have you seen the photographs. I’m off now to view them again. They’re stunners, really. Our friend, La Dauphine, is on the quest for a nifty Champagne Cocktail recipe. Perhaps Chef Emil has a historic mix in his bag of tricks? Fingers and toes are crossed! Big hugs, T.


    • For the love of ghost adventures, I love shooting store reflections. They’re so haunting. As always, thanks for stopping by the shindig! T. (Do you ever include photographs with your essays?!)


  4. So enjoyed your writing style and how your organized your content for an easy and enjoyable read. I created an image of what I would be wearing while I sipped my expensive glass of bubbly! ~Thea


      • Hmm… my image was of me wearing an evening gown made of satin fabric circa Marlene Dietrich but without the cigarette in my hand as I am a non-smoker.


      • Oh, la la !! Perfection. I love Marlene Dietrich! I recently watched Josef von Sternberg “The Blue Devil” (1930 film) with Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Gerron. What a gorgeous film ! T.


    • Oh, sigh! Thanks for the sweet words and swinging with the in-crowd in the Palais-Royal ‘hood. What AB-FAB fun for all. Same time, next week! Theadora (What smart garb did you wear?!)


  5. Had I been able, I would have shown up in simple black, because, Mlle B., black is the NEW black! With my short, whitish hair, dark eye make-up (a MUST!) and very long, hand-crafted silver earrings with a mild green gemstone surrounded by silver (Yay, I can wear them again!)…add a pair of heeled boots, black leather with silver leather lining, and my (black) cashmere shawl (from Odocini of Genova) with multi-color paisley silkscreened…ah, it would have been FAB, and this old gal would have knocked them out!

    Alas…I was not there…but had I been, I surely would have enjoyed the music…and some bubbly Perrier with lime, as no alcohol allowed for me these days!

    A marvelous tour, Babs, and your images are fantastique! May I add that ‘Helen J.’ must have been quite a wonderful lady? I’ll wager you miss her, but you ARE carrying on her work, aren’t you?



    • YES. YES.

      My grandmother Helen J. Wentz was a globe-trotting, go-getter. In her black slacks and black top (perfect for a wrinkle-free day to evening transition), and London Fog coat (In beige, of course), she’d explore the world. I miss her every day. I still have her telephone number memorized! She was the first person I’d call with exciting news.

      And speaking of fabulous outfits, I loved your description of the garb you wore to the Hotel du Louvre. Silver leather lining? Impressive. You’d love my newly-acquired silver-heeled boots from Zara. And a cashmere shawl (from Odocini of Genova), to boot? And oh, yes, you did knock them out! Ziggy was amazing, wasn’t he?!

      Enjoy the week!


      • Oooh, please show those silver-heeled boots sometime, please, Mlle B.? My cousin was production manager for Odicini for many years, and would give me shawls and sweaters…always silk or cashmere or or combo of both! It was he who challenged me in 1978 to come to Italy, which I did, in 82 and 84! No time/$$ since, but he moved back to his homeland (Slovakia) after over 30 years in Genova…he retired very wealthy (Swiss bank account)!

        Helen J. must have been really great…my kinda people!


  6. Love the Draper quote ” “Live like there’s no tomorrow, just in case there isn’t one.” Mais oui indeed, it has take me a lot longer to come to this conclusion than it has you – hence you are living a dream in Paris, where I was too timid to take the leap. Thankfully I woke up and now love to travel…. lovely nostalgic post!


    • Thanks! I also love Draper and the quote. It’s a swell mantra to have up one’s sleeve, I think. I really appreciate your words. Yes. Living this way is not always easy, breezy. I need to remind myself this every day. Every day. To keep the ruts away! Here’s to a productive and creative week for both of us! T.


    • Thanks. Richard! YES. Ziggy is one cool and talented dude. Ah, you’d take wonderful portraits of Ziggy and his fellow band members. Perhaps one day?! T. (And thanks for your sweet words. The snow has been very pretty, lightly coating the city of Light with a melancholy but soothing vibe. Like a warm blanket, it fits and suits me. Enjoy the week! T.


  7. As always, your stories transport me and my soul alike, almost making me feel like I’m really there! Thanks for another fabulous post!


    • Hello, there! Say, your shots of the Kiosque des Noctambules are sublime beauties. Flaunting silver screen-worthy black and white, you dressed the sculpture well. Thanks for sharing! Theadora


  8. You’re making me thirsty with that Champagne cocktail. I’d love to be in Paris in spring, do endless window shopping and people watching. 😉


    • Malou, do you have a favorite Champagne cocktail recipe? My good friend Edith adds a splash of peach liqueur to Champagne. It’s wonderful, wonderful!! T.


    • Merci, Patti! The Champagne Cocktail is the perfect ticket for some smooth time travel! Plus, the spirited Ziggy recommends it! T. (The Hôtel Louvre is located in a prime people-watching spot. Especially during the warmer months. Jardin Palais Royal is a favorite. There are plenty of benches!)


  9. I enjoy your writing, but the photos are really what I enjoy. One of these days my wife and I will make it over to Paris. My step-daughter minored in French and went on an exchange program where she stayed in France for six weeks or so. I know something about the ” City of Light “, but have learned a great deal more reading your blog. Thanks for your time and effort for keeping this going … Frank Hardy


    • Ah, thank you, Frank! I appreciate your words. In fact, I’ve read them at least ten times! Of course, I’ve been enjoying your photographs. YES. Do make it to Paris, one day. Again, you’d love visiting the photography dealers at the brocantes and flea markets. Enjoy the weekend! Theadora


  10. Theodora, I adore your writing style! So effortless and charming. Please come to Chicago and help me romanticize our city!


  11. Pingback: Paris Teaser: Lights! Camera! Action! | Paris: People, Places and Bling!

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