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Paris all Aglow

Paris all Aglow

Thanksgiving Week, 2017
Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Time for a quick holiday visit to Paris on our way back from the south of France to the US – and we’re checking out a new-to-us hotel this time. We arrive around noon after a speedy TGV (fast train) trip from Aix, and the Grand Hotel Dechampaigne, red geraniums tumbling from every window of the 16th century former townhome, has a room ready for us – thanks for the early checkin! That red theme continues into our boudoir-like room and spacious bathroom of this excellently located hotel. After 3 plus hours in the train, we’re ready to walk, and take in the Parisian eye candy (this is a metro stop!) on our way to the Grands Magasins (big department stores) whose Christmas windows we’re eager to see. We’re meeting our friends, Ed & Sandy, beside the opera – can’t miss it! And from there to Galeries Lafayette, whose windows this year are themed as a “fairground with a surrealist twist” – hmmm. The tree inside (a candy theme here) is spectacular – worth jostling through the crowds to appreciate!
As in past years, Printemps wins my vote for the best windows, with their playful Magical Journey theme – the Thalys (train from Paris to Brussels) whizzing by in one window, a vintage VW van chugging along in another, Parisian icons gleaming beside. I love this tradition of meeting friends and seeing the holiday lights and sights!
Ed and Sandy want to see the lights along the Champs Elysees too – and we’re game! We all stand in the middle to snap a shot of the shimmering boulevard. Then we just keep walking, and as we head down sparkling Avenue Montaigne the Eiffel Tower across the river begins to twinkle….aah, Paris, you’re ever a sparkling jewel!

From Blooming Aix to Rosy Paris

From Blooming Aix to Rosy Paris

Weekend of  January 22, 2017
Aix en Provence & Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

We’ll hop on a train for Paris later today, but just have to take a market stroll one more time! It’s warmed up a bit, and the market’s back to life, with flower-sellers filling the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville as they usually do. Even though it doesn’t last very long, I bought some of that fragrant mimosa earlier this week – it’s such a winter-brightener!
In Place Richelme the daily market is packed – a few winter tourists join the local hordes, enjoying the life and color. All that you need for a warming pot of soup is right here! The thrice-weekly larger produce market has moved from Place des Precheurs  to Cours Sextius, and I notice a few newbies, such as this Corsican vendor. On a corner or two are individuals selling mimosa and violets – perhaps they’ve driven in from east of here, where mimosa grows in such abundance that there are festivals at this time of year!
Good bye to Aix, as we hop on the train to Paris. As we walk to our friend’s home for dinner, the sun sets over the Seine – remember, Paris is always a good idea!
A rosy sky greets us the next morning from our hotel balcony, and we quickly pack up and get ready to fly, leaving ourselves time for one last stroll around the City of Lights. Just around the corner is the Pompidou Center, and we wave goodbye to Dali – we’ll be back soon!

 

Paris When It Shimmers

Paris When It Shimmers

A Holiday Weekend, November 2016
Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Those holiday windows and city lights call out to me every year, and the ones I enjoy the most are in Paris, so if I have the chance, I’m there! We finish up our errand-filled week in France with a speedy trip to the capital, past vineyards, fields and forests more golden cam15407than when we sped south a week ago.
Dropping off our bags at a new-to-us right-bank hotel near the Seine, we quickly hop on a bus to meet our Virginia friends Sandy & Ed (who spend a couple of months here in fall and spring) at the Grandes Magasins (department stores) – first stop, Galeries Lafayette, where white is the theme this year. cam15418One “polar bear express” window after another, cool white and blue, delight the kids peering in.
The piece de resistance, as usual, is the massive tree, a white paper goliath towering to the top of the balconies. cam15420Not my favorite of their trees – I prefer a little more color – but worth seeing. Shouldering bravely through the crowds, we head for Printemps, where the colors enchant, each window featuring a designer: can-canning shoes from Jimmy Choo, cam15426videosparkly baubles from David Yurman, chic French fashions prancing on a catwalk…cam15429Oh yes, more my style! Such fun to gaze along with all ages – the windows aren’t just for kids!
Dinner with another friend provides a chance to catch up – it’s been too long – at a charming little bistro (thanks, Alec Lobrano, for your always-excellent recommendations!), Le Petit Cler, cam15441and we make tentative plans to meet in the countryside when we return in the spring for the annual Rendezvous France event.
In no hurry to get back, we walk all the way to the hotel, through the 7th arrondissement, sparkling its pedigree with the famed tower in the background, cam15442and across the river to the popular Grand Roue (big wheel), cam15455then on to the Ducs de Bourgogne, our home (which we recommend – for quiet comfort, excellent location, and friendly helpful staff) for the next couple of nights.
One of our favorite Paris markets is the Bastille (what fun it was to introduce our grandaughter to the markets we delight when we were in Paris together the summer of 2015!) and we find an inviting café to fortify us for the hunt cam15462before meeting Sandy and Ed at the 14th of July column. cam15465videoA jazzy combo gets everyone into the buying spirit.
I find the perfect scarf (crafted from a sari remnant by a savvy entrepreneur) for a new sweater, and Sandy finds an irresistible bracelet or two. cam15467It’s the food stalls, through, that keep me oohing and aahing. A cascade of Coquilles St. Jacques, cam15473an artist’s palette of colorful vegetables, cam15474it’s such eye-candy! And the buzz and interest of shoppers intent on finding the best for their Sunday lunch is infectious – truly one of Paris’ most vibrant markets.
Then we’re free to wander through the always-delightful Marais, peering into inviting courtyards,cam15482 pausing for the soprano trilling melodies through the arches surrounding the Place de Vosges, cam15485detouring to take in a vine-draped façade.cam15497Another market takes place daily along the river – the bouquinistes, showcasing their used books, postcards, or calendars, from ancient to modern. cam15503Isn’t it wonderful that although so much changes, that so many things stay the same? These storied vendors have occupied this spot since the Middle Ages!
One last walk through the shimmering streets, cam15512and we fill up a few tables in Sandy and Ed’s favorite restaurant, Petit Pontoise. cam15516We’ve heard so much from them about their friend Daniele, front and center, through the years that we feel as if we’ve already met! And our good friends from Aix, Jean G and Jean C, are in town so we get to introduce them to our Virginia friends for the first time! Back and forth the conversation spins between French and English, with everyone enjoying each other and the delicious dinner, then we’re off, walking together along the Seine, saying goodbye-til-the-next-time, and heading our separate ways. Two delightful days in Paris – ALWAYS a good idea!

 

A Whirlwind Paris Weekend

A Whirlwind Paris Weekend

August 8-10,2015
Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

Just a weekend in Paris before heading south – with our grandaughter! How would you spend that time in the City of Lights? What would be your must-sees? Or must-tastes?
Our early morning flight from Dulles arrived even earlier than scheduled, so we were ready for breakfast as soon as we dropped off our luggage at  the hotel – 08071602 breakfastpain au chocolate was Cassidy’s choice, and then we hit the ground running, stopping first by Notre Dame,08071602 notredame then walking through the Louvre courtyard, staying outside to keep awake!08071602 the louvreThen back to the hotel, where our room was already prepared, nice and early, so we could change into lighter clothes as the temps rose in Paris. After more French tastes –  08071602 welcome changemoules-frites for this adventuresome eater- 08071602 x moules fritesfollowed by an Amorino gelato (yes, Italian tastes too!), 08071603 amorinowe crashed on our beds for a short nap.
Next Paris icon? Montmartre! 08071603 montmartreThose steps will wake us up again!08071603 montmartre after napHotel Welcome, our simple and comfortable lodging for the weekend, is in a terrific location – on Rue du Seine just off Rue de Buci, surrounded by some really good restaurants, cafes and bakeries. Cassidy wants to try a Savoy fondue place, so that’s our dinner, then we’re off to sleep early, almost before the sun sets (yes, that’s the Eiffel Tower, from our 5th floor window).08071603 to bed after early dinner tartifletteSunday morning calls for some good strong coffee to get us started, and Malongo is just down the street.08071701 breakfast malongo One of Paris’ best markets, Bastille, is on Sunday 08071701 market bastilleand we find some treasures to take home – marinieres (striped sailors tees) for us,08071701 market bastille marinieres a handcrafted tote for Cassidy. We’re offered lots of nibbles along the way too – sausage from one stall, nougat from another, a piece of ripe peach here, a crouton with tapenade there.
One of Paris’ most beautiful and historic squares is not too far away, the Place de Vosges, 08071701 vosgesand under the surrounding arches a very talented harpist stops us in our stroll. And soon we’re in the thick of the hopping Marais district, where Uniqlo has opened one of their newest locations in an historic Ash Factory (where cinders from jewelers waste were sifted through in search of gold generations ago). 08071702 uniqloI love how the Parisian team has designed the simple Uniqlo basics – such style!08071703 accessories from tees sweaters etcA peek into the courtyard of the Carnavalet museum, 08071702 carnavaletsome bulot (seasnails) for lunch, 08071703 seasnailsand more music on the streets – Dixieland08071702 dixieland video too hasn’t she got the moves?! On the way to our next Paris icon we pass a magnificent man in his flying machine – 08071703 the magnificent man in histhe Marais is full of interesting characters!
Have you guessed where we’re heading next? The Pompidou! 08071704 cassidys good at selfiesA stop at the quirky Stravinsky fountain,08071704 fountainthen a vintage shop,08071704 vintagethe Hôtel de Ville (town hall), where a serious game of beach volleyball is going on, 08071704 volley beachand we metro to dessert by the Tuileries. Any guesses?
The most luscious hot chocolate in the world, in my opinion –08071705 angelina dessert in the Belle Epoque beauty of Angelina!08071705 belle epoqueA stop next door, to goggle at the magnificent lobby of Hotel Meurice, 08071705 meuriceand Cassidy leaves her mark on the framed ice. 08071705 meurice c was hereA late afternoon break, then escargot and a croque monsieur for dinner08071705 snails and croque in the sunset,08071705 sunset and then  – can’t miss it! – the twinkling Eiffel Tower (it glitters like diamonds for 5 minutes on the hour after dark) before bed.08071705 twinkleWe fit in one more Paris favorite Monday morning before hopping on the train to Aix en Provence, the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens,08101501 garden summer plantings obviously well-watered even in the unprecedented heatwave of July and August. 08101501 plantingsWe take in today’s  regatta, going strong on the pond,08101501 regattaread and relax together, 08101501 wait and readthen head for the Gare de Lyon, home of the gorgeous Train Bleu restaurant,08101502 gare de lyon

where we board the TGV (FAST train) to Aix. She’s snoozing at 300 km/hr! Have we exhausted you too?!08101502 hurtlingWelcome to Aix – 08101502 to aixcan’t wait to share our home with the first family member to visit!

 

 

 

Paris, from the Lido to the Pompidou

Paris, from the Lido to the Pompidou

Monday – Wednesday, March 30 to April 1, 2015
Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer – join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast in July?

A quick flight from Toulouse to Paris Orly Airport, on the bus with other Rendezvous France participants, and we’re soon whizzing up to the top levels of our Seine-side hotel, with views to Paris’s own Statue of Liberty 30 plus floors below. 03301503 from 30 stories upTonight we’re invited to the Lido, a first for us….and we had no idea that these Parisian shows included not just those renowned high-kicking girls, but a sword-swallower, acrobats, ice-skaters, a playful mime,03301503 lido mime clowns, and more! In between bites of a quite good dinner we took it all in – a calliope rather like a one-man-band, 03301503 lido musicParis-in-the-rain sketches, 03301503 lido show all I knew about was can cansmiling showgirls03301503 prancing around with headressesstrutting around with head dresses nearly as high as they were tall,03301503 lido showgirls guess I knew about that tooand what had been billed as “an epic can-can” 03301504 can can at last – my favorite part of all!
The gorgeous dresses were lined with pink feathers!03301504 feathery skirts and high kicksAfter a full day of meetings with travel suppliers from around the country, we crossed the Seine at sunset for another evening of fun, 03311501 cross seine at sunsetthis time at the Pompidou Center – more dancing girls,03311501 dancing girls again and I love Pariscrooning “I Love Paris…”03311501 I love Parisand a private look at the Jeff Koons retrospective. Yes, we knew about his balloon figures, 03311501 koons

but not about this exotic mirror (his Antiquity series), 03311501 mirroror the Gazing Ball series – classical figures adorned with spheres It’s always a pleasure to view art in a quiet non-crowded setting. 03311501 reclining ballWe finished our Paris quickie with dinner with our dear friends from Virginia 04011501 better chef than photographer(the proprietor was a better server than photographer!) – we’ve enjoyed memorable meetings with them in Paris through the years. Perhaps my favorite was that November when we looked at the holiday windows of the Grands Magasins together. Kirk enjoyed his only snails of the trip that evening.04011501 only snails of the tripNext stop – back to our beloved Aix en Provence!

 

Interlude – A Paris Weekend, continued

Interlude – A Paris Weekend, continued

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

One of our favorite French words (and activities!) is flaneur. It describes a person on a leisurely stroll or wander,usually in a city, just enjoying and taking in the sights, sounds, smells on the way. No particular destination, no tasks to accomplish, just reveling in the beauty and life of one’s surroundings.11231401 am walkSo today, Sunday, we’re flaneurs in Paris, stopping to admire whatever we want such as this pretty building on rue Madame, taking our time, counting our blessings as we stroll.11231401 house on madameStop a while and listen to a bit of Dixieland jazz here, pause for a lunch of French classics (Onion Soup for Monsieur, goat cheese salad for Madame),11231402 more classic frenchenjoying the views as we sit in prime flaneur seats, both facing out at our tiny café table.11231402 with great views and wafts of jazzAnd what flaneur doesn’t engage in a little leche vitrine (window licking – French for window shopping)? Russian Christmas decorations here,11231403 leche vitrinea tropical macaron fantasy at Laduree…11231403 macaron tropicsIt’s a quiet Sunday on the Seine – Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle that way,11231403 quiet sunday on seinethe Eiffel Tower a hike away in the other direction.11231403 tower that wayWe were reminded, by an article received from France Today this morning, of the Palais Royale, which we haven’t visited in decades, so we seek out the striped columns in one courtyard, 11231404 france today article palais royaleand the gardens11231404 gardens arcades shops in another courtyard 1surrounded with boutique-lined arcades in another.11231404 gardens arcades shops in another courtyardA few steps further, and there’s pretty Galerie Vivienne, Paris’ predecessor to shopping malls, but how very much more charming!11231404 vivienneThe bookseller and most of the shops are closed, the tearooms are open  – an inviting pause.11231405 books antiqueI have to admit, we do have one item on our agenda – the windows of the Grands Magasins (department stores), the holiday extravaganzas of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. 11231405 printempsThe Noel Monstre (monster Christmas) of Galeries Lafayette is of no interest to me – though the children packed before the window obviously love it! The Burberry Magical Voyage of Noel windows of Printemps, though, are adorable, 11231406 burberry windowswith charming and playful scenes of snowscapes, Paris and London and beyond.

11231406 soldiersReturning across the Seine with a smile, we watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle, 11231406 twinkles video tooand enjoy a few decorated streets of the big city11231407 lightsbefore returning to cozily small Aix tomorrow.