Washington, DC:
an unexpected take

Washington, DC: an unexpected take

Washington, DC:
an unexpected take

Belying its reputation for being a tad stuffy and provincial, the US capital turns out to be an accessible, airy and welcoming city, where life is enhanced by a plethora of gardens and museums.

1.

Less edgy than New York, an hour away by plane, Washington has long been seen as a somewhat sleepy city. It has changed over the past few years, so much so that in 2014 Forbes ranked it the “coolest” city in the US. The Michelin Guide drove the point home last October, anointing a host of new bistro-style restaurants featuring highly inventive cuisine, including Rose’s Luxury and the Tail Up Goat. The recent renovation of the Watergate and Loews Madison hotels, plus the upcoming opening of the Line Hotel (a cousin of New York’s très chic NoMad) in a Neoclassical church, brings Washington full frontal into the cocktail-bar-and-the-rooftop-lounge-with-oversized-sofa realm. The W Hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Washington Monument and the White House.

Rose’s Luxury 717

178th St. SE. Tél. +1 202 580 8889.

www.rosesluxury.com

Tail Up Goat

Adams Mill Rd NW. Tél. +1 202 986 9600.

www.tailupgoat.com

The Watergate Hotel

2650 Virginia Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 827 1600.

www.thewatergatehotel.com

Loews Madison Hotel

1177 15th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 862 1600.

www.loewshotels.com/madison

Line Hotel

1770 Euclid St. NW. Tél. +1 202 588 0525.

www.thelinehoteldc.com

W Hotel

515 15th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 661 2400.

www.starwoodhotels.com

2.

As in all the major cities of the world, the former working-class neighborhoods are undergoing some intense gentrification. On U Street, shops selling custom-designed perfumes and artists’ sneakers have replaced some of the dodgier bars; in the Adams Morgan area, vegetarian lunches are served on the terrace in between two bicycle shops selling seven-speed models; and on H Street, the Maketto concept store looks like a mini-colette.

Maketto

1351 H Street NE. Tél. +1 202 838 9972.

www.maketto1351.com

3.

Food for thought

If you’re eating quinoa salad and drinking ginger tea while listening to a reading of Langston Hughes’s poetry, you’re most likely in Anas Andy Shallal’s place. This American-Iraqi is the owner of Busboys and Poets, a chain of restaurant-bookstores that has six different locations in Washington. Shallal has a penchant for business, a sense of community and a flair for decor. He’s the one who made the frescoes of John Lennon, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and other peace and social justice champions that decorate his restaurants. Shallal is a utopian who found a way to achieve his dream by feeding body and soul.

Busboys and poets

4.

Beauty by design

Landing at Dulles International Airport is a joyful experience. Designed by Eero Saarinen, this steel, glass and concrete building that seems to be taking off paved the way for other modernist designs in the city. The Brazilian Embassy was designed by Olavo Redig de Campos, a contemporary of Oscar Niemeyer. With its tinted glass facades, it is reminiscent of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, one of Mies van der Rohe’s last works. In contrast, the stunning Kreeger Museum (photo) shimmers all in white. Designed by Philip Johnson, it was once the home of collector David Kreeger, and is as prized for the Monets, Picassos and Braques on display as it is for the purity of its forms and the bucolic grounds. For those who like their architecture more hard-hitting, the city has a number of federal buildings with Brutalist designs. The J. Edgar Hoover Building, a concrete colossus housing the FBI, is a perfect example of the style.

Ambassade du Brésil

3006 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

901 G Street NW. Tél. +1 202 727 0321.

www.dclibrary.org

Kreeger Museum

2401 Foxhall Rd NW. Tél. +1 202 337 3050.

www.kreegermuseum.org

5.

Natural selection

Green is the color of the city, enhanced with the red of maples, the white of cherry blossoms in spring and the yellow of ginkgos. The huge Rock Creek Park, the landscaped gardens of Dumbarton Oaks, the wild banks of the Potomac and the more melancholy ones of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal give the capital a surprising country-like aura.

Rock Creek Park

Tél. +1 202 895 6070.

www.nps.gov/rocr

Dumbarton Oaks

1703 32nd St. NW.

www.doaks.org

6.

Cultural enlightening

Thanks to its federal status, Washington is the only city in the US where virtually everything is free, including the centenary bonsai at the National Arboretum, the pandas and bison at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the daily performances and shows at the Kennedy Center, Friday concerts in The Yards Park and especially the countless gems housed in the 17 Smithsonian museums. Most of the museums run along the National Mall, which offers a veritable art marathon for over three kilometers. The Rothkos at the National Gallery of Art, the Giacomettis at the Hirshhorn and the Hoppers at the American Art Museum will keep you going for well over a week.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 633 4888.

www.nationalzoo.si.edu

The Kennedy Center

2700 F St. NW. Tél. +1 202 467 4600.

www.kennedy-center.org

The Yards Park

National Gallery of Art

6th Constitution Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 737 4215.

www.nga.gov

Hirshhorn Museum Independence

Ave. 7th st. SW. Tél. +1 202 633 1000.

www.hirshhorn.si.edu

Smithsonian American Art Museum

8th & F St. NW. Tél. +1 202 633 7970.

www.americanart.si.edu

7.

Charmed living

Charmed living As a result of a 1910 Act of Congress restricting the height of buildings, Washington has no skyscrapers. So although it governs the planet, the city, far from touching the heavens, is a low, well spaced out capital with row houses. These aligned narrow houses are clustered throughout the center; the older ones can be found in the well-heeled neighborhoods of Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill. The houses are multicolored today, but in the 18th century the owners left the brickwork exposed.

8.

Creative hub

It’s difficult to complete alternative projects in a city that is home to the federal government, the FBI and the IMF. All the more reason to head to 52 O Street Studios, a tall brick building where some 40 designers can be found. The place opens to the public only twice a year, but you can make an individual appointment with the residents. Upstairs, alpaca jackets and hats by Virginia Arrisueño, who’s of Peruvian origin and launched the DeNada Design label, help you get through the cold winters. A few doors down, artist Kelly Towles creates frescoes inspired by Japanese anime. He organizes the Pow! Wow! festival every May in Washington, which invites graffiti artists from all over the world to come and jazz up the walls of the city.

52 O Street Studios

52 O St. NW.

www.52ostreet.com

DeNada Design

9.

The art of dance

Dana Tai Soon Burgess, who founded his company in 1992, is the Benjamin Millepied of Washington. The son of artists, he has been forging links between dance and the fine arts for 20 years. He has collaborated with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Kreeger Museum, and was named choreographer-in-residence at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016. Twice a year, his dance company introduces movement into the museum’s static space, creating another link, more carnal and metaphorical this time, with the works. The month-long rehearsals take place in the rooms where the paintings and photographs are displayed and are open to the public. The final performance is held under the museum’s large undulating glass roof, itself a work of art.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess dance Company

515 15th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 661 2400.

www.dtsbdc.org

10.

Monumental history

Located near the statue of Abraham Lincoln, the man who helped put an end to slavery in the US, the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) reflects sunshine off the cast-metal lattice facade that looks almost like ceremonial lace. From the outside, the building designed by architect David Adjaye evokes a three-tiered Yoruba crown, vying with the Washington Monument obelisk. Inside, Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, Rosa Parks’ dress and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves all pay tribute to black empowerment and the battles fought and won over time.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 633 4751.

www.nmaahc.si.edu

The Fairmont Hostel

Newly renovated (since January), the Fairmont doesn’t skimp on anything, not the marble bathrooms, the soft king size beds, the beige and gray tones of the rooms, as big as ballrooms, nor the size of the indoor pool. As you would expect, this a flawless establishment, classical in spirit, yet with a hint of minimalist contemporary design, and a super central location in the chic Georgetown area, making it one of the best places to stay in the capital. Somewhat more surprising are the herbs and cherry trees growing in a large patio, where you can have brunch in the morning or a drink late in the evening, and the beehives installed on the roof, which produce an aromatic honey that is used to make the BeeTini, the house cocktail.

The Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown

2401 M Street NW. Tél. +1 202 429 2400.

www.fairmont.fr/washington


© Philip Johnson & Richard Foster Architects 

© Ragnar Kjartansson, «Women in E», at the Hirshhorn Museum, 2016. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik. Performer Caroline Weinroth - Jurgen Weber, ADAGP, Paris 2017 

© Wooden Wave 

© Courtesy Louie Palu - Adjaye Associates with Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond and SmithGroup JJR 

© Katharina Fritsch, ADAGP, Paris 2017 

Alcohol abuse is harmful to your health. Drink in moderation

Carnet d’adresses

Rose’s Luxury 717

178th St. SE. Tél. +1 202 580 8889.

www.rosesluxury.com

Tail Up Goat

Adams Mill Rd NW. Tél. +1 202 986 9600.

www.tailupgoat.com

The Watergate Hotel

2650 Virginia Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 827 1600.

www.thewatergatehotel.com

Loews Madison Hotel

1177 15th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 862 1600.

www.loewshotels.com/madison

Line Hotel

1770 Euclid St. NW. Tél. +1 202 588 0525.

www.thelinehoteldc.com

W Hotel

515 15th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 661 2400.

www.starwoodhotels.com

Maketto

1351 H Street NE. Tél. +1 202 838 9972.

www.maketto1351.com

Busboys and poets

Ambassade du Brésil

3006 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

901 G Street NW. Tél. +1 202 727 0321.

www.dclibrary.org

Kreeger Museum

2401 Foxhall Rd NW. Tél. +1 202 337 3050.

www.kreegermuseum.org

Rock Creek Park

Tél. +1 202 895 6070.

www.nps.gov/rocr

Dumbarton Oaks

1703 32nd St. NW.

www.doaks.org

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 633 4888.

www.nationalzoo.si.edu

The Kennedy Center

2700 F St. NW. Tél. +1 202 467 4600.

www.kennedy-center.org

The Yards Park

National Gallery of Art

6th Constitution Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 737 4215.

www.nga.gov

Hirshhorn Museum Independence

Ave. 7th st. SW. Tél. +1 202 633 1000.

www.hirshhorn.si.edu

Smithsonian American Art Museum

8th & F St. NW. Tél. +1 202 633 7970.

www.americanart.si.edu

52 O Street Studios

52 O St. NW.

www.52ostreet.com

DeNada Design

Pow! Wow!

Dana Tai Soon Burgess dance Company

515 15th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 661 2400.

www.dtsbdc.org

National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave. NW. Tél. +1 202 633 4751.

www.nmaahc.si.edu

The Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown

2401 M Street NW. Tél. +1 202 429 2400.

www.fairmont.fr/washington

Restaurants

Blue Duck Tavern

Offering a fusion of American and French cuisine, the restaurant at the Hyatt really does deserve its Michelin star. All dishes are prepared using locally sourced products, from the wood oven-fired prime steak to the crab cakes with celery root puree.

Park Hyatt Washington. 1201 24th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 419 6755.

www.hyatt.com

Union Market

If you’re on your way to H Street, stop for lunch at this huge covered market, where you can eat Mexican empanadas, fresh Neapolitan pasta and Korean tacos.

1309 5th St. NE.

www.unionmarketdc.com

DC Metro Food Tours

The cosmopolitan feel of the restaurants in Washington, DC reflects the diversity and richness of the city’s ethnic communities. This association offers theme-based tours that give a glimpse of the city from a culinary and sociological perspective. The Little Ethiopia Tour along U Street, with Christopher as guide, is fascinating.

Le Little Ethiopia Tour dans U Street, avec Christopher pour guide, est passionnant. Tél. +1 202 851 2268.

www.dcmetrofoodtours.com

Shopping

Maketto

OPeople come here for the A.P.C. sweatshirts, the Durkl shirts and the Raf Simons sneakers, and also for the delicious Taiwanese and Cambodian food, four kinds of espresso served on the patio, and free yoga classes held Sunday mornings on the roof.

1351 H Street NE. Tél. +1 202 838 9972.

www.maketto1351.com

Bucketfeet

This place in the newly gentrified area of U Street specializes in limited-edition sneakers designed by artistsgraffitied, cinematized and more. A shrine to cool.

D1924 8th St. NW. Tél. +1 202 847 3294.

www.bucketfeet.com
Overview
Overview
Address Book

Going There

www.airfrance.com

Flights Frequency

Air Francehas 1 daily flight to Washington, DC from Paris-CDG.
KLM has 1 daily flight to Washington, DC from Amsterdam.

Arrival airport

Aéroport international de Dulles.
À 40 km.
Tél. +1 703 572 2700.

AIR FRANCE KLM Office

À l’aéroport.

Bookings

— Depuis la France : Tél. 3654.
— Depuis l’étranger :
Tél. +33 (0)892 70 26 54.

CAR RENTAL

Hertz, à l'aéroport.
Tél. +1 703 471 6020.
www.aifrance.fr/cars

FURTHER READING

Washington Gallimard
coll. Cartoville


Washington en quelques jours Lonely Planet
Washington National Geographic


Washington DC Phaidon coll. Wallpaper
City Guide

 

© Parko Polo / Central Illustration Agency. Map for illustration purposes only