Paris glitters with romance, history and possibility

View of Paris and the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero (Lheusinkveld )

That account has no doubt been embellished with each retelling, but there's no doubt of Hemingway's love for the iconic Paris landmark, as he noted, "When I dream of an afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place at the Ritz Paris."

The bar named in his honor has changed little since that evening in 1944. Black-and-white photos of famous literary drinkers Marcel Proust, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Graham Greene and Noel Coward line the walls.

If Hemingway was the past resident celebrity, today that honor goes to Colin Field, a Brit who conquered France with a shaker instead of a saber. The Ritz's head bartender since 1994, Field has twice been named the best bartender in the world by Forbes Magazine.

"Some people like to talk with a bartender. Some don't," Field says. "My job here is to be the host, the showman, the life of the party."

He is that, although he does have to share the spotlight with his cocktails. Model Kate Moss, who wrote the forward for Fields' book, "The Ritz Paris: Mixing Drinks, A Simple Story," is partial to what is reputed to be the world's most expensive drink: the Ritz sidecar (champagne, cognac and Cointreau). Field prefers his signature drink, the Serendipiti, a mix of calvados, sugar, fresh mint, apple juice and champagne.

During my stay, "Midnight in Paris" became more than the title of Woody Allen's movie. It was the (be)witching hour, the last chance to see the nightly light show that takes place every hour at the Eiffel Tower.

Standing at my window at the Shangri-La, I watched the glittering lights sparkle like diamonds up and down the length of the tower, and thought to myself that Paris is indeed the stuff of which dreams are made.



WHERE TO STAY: The Shangri-La Hotel. One of the city's newest luxury hotels, it is ideally located near the Seine and Eiffel Tower, and it's close to many of Paris' museums. Its 81 rooms and suites have been beautifully decorated by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The hotel's Shang Palace Restaurant, serving Cantonese cuisine, often requires a two-week wait for a reservation, but I preferred its other restaurant, L'Abeille, which is unabashedly French in style, service and cuisine.