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!




The Glories of Paris

The Glories of Paris

September 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

Journees de Patrimoine, Heritage Days, takes place every September, and after traveling back and forth to France for decades, we’re finally HERE on the weekend when historic properties, homes, gardens and more are open to the public for a few hours! We’ve planned our visits carefully before an important afternoon appointment, beginning in the 6th arrondissement (Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, spiraling out from number 1 in the old center), where we’re staying, with a return to the Luxembourg Gardens –

but INSIDE this time, as the Senat is open to visitors. An elegant marble staircase sweeps us up to the reception rooms for dignitaries, draped with priceless tapestries,

and through a resplendent dining salon, Baccarat chandelier glittering above a sample table. The floral arrangements throughout are provided by the extensive gardens and greenhouses surrounding the Palais Luxembourg.

A winter garden fills an interior courtyard,

and beyond are chambers of the senate, and their fabulous library,

looking out over those gardens right where we sat last night for our aperitif.

We’ve passed huge photos of the senate chamber in one office and hall after another, making us more and more eager to see the real thing…. and finally, here we are! As we gaze around the famed chamber we listen to senate proceedings broadcast through the room, reminding us of the important decisions made here through the centuries.

In an adjacent room is a wall-sized painting of Napoleon, beside a marble plaque, also wall-sized, with his decree to the senate. And beyond, a gilded jewel box of a reception room,

which just cries out for a double senate selfie 😉

What a stunner of a palace….after walking through the gardens for years, it’s a privilege to finally see the inside!
A favorite fountain, the Medici (this palace and gardens were designed to the specifications of Catherine de Medici when she married the king of France), doesn’t let us pass without a photo.

We’ve taken so long to see these marvelous rooms that we haven’t left time for the second planned visit to an historic property, and just have time for lunch before heading across the Seine to our afternoon appointment. Our neighbor in Aix, Jean Gabriel, is the President of the Syndicat des Antiquaires in France, and when we were together in Aix last month, he invited us to the Antiques Biennale in Paris – our main reason for coming here before going to Aix. It’s always in the Grand Palais… oh no, not this little gem, it’s just the PETIT Palais 😉

THIS is the GRAND Palais... tres grande, no?

Our invitations await at the entry, and J Gabriel says hi and gets us a map, marking the best dealers to visit, before getting a call to meet the Minister of Justice to show her around. 

The theme of this Biennale is the Gardens of Versailles,

with greenery and fountains leading to exquisite booths filled with treasures.

Top dealers have constructed entire rooms for the ten-day event,

where even the antique carved wooden walls are for sale!

Lines snake around the corner by Dior, Cartier, Graff and other big names. and hefty guards stand silently keeping watch over the glittering jewels. Recognize this gorgeous necklace? Part of Bulgari’s Heritage Collection, it formerly graced the throat of Elizabeth Taylor.

Eyes glazed with all the wonders we’ve seen, we walk out into the sunlight of a summery Paris day,

and across our favorite bridge, the Pont Alexandre III.

Obviously not just OUR favorite, it’s the perfect spot for wedding photos, the Eiffel Tower beyond… we see at least three bridal couples posing this afternoon.

Merci, Paris, for sharing your treasures, inside and out, with us!

Park-hopping, Brussels and Paris

Park-hopping, Brussels and Paris

September 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

From Washington Dulles to Brussels, then on to Paris, we’ve been traveling by car, jet, bus and train since Thursday. We took a few morning hours in Brussels to stroll through a favorite park,

Petite Sablon,

and then through the Grand Place, counting the chocolatiers,

admiring a sky as brilliantly blue as in Aix.

In around 80 minutes we’ve sped through Belgium and northern France, and find a cute café. complete with quintessential Paris reflections across the way, to sit and wait for Stephen and Joy to arrive.

What fun it’s been to see these long-time friends so often in the last couple of months. They stayed with us in Virginia, then we connected again in Provence a few weeks ago, and now we’re staying with them in Paris.  We love their new St. Germaine area apartment – with another typical Paris view from our window.

Are we too tired for an aperitif in the gardens? Not at all – what a wonderful idea! So with a basketful of goodies,

we walk through Luxembourg Gardens,

spread out our nibbles and sips on a bench-with-a-view,

and chat and relax

until the whistle-blowing guards move everyone out for the night.  Paris, you’re as lovely as ever!

A Well-Seasoned Update

A Well-Seasoned Update

Autumn, 2013

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  We’re looking ahead to Spring – May in Venice, Barcelona, or Prague, and our newest  – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival (stay tuned for updates!)
Has Fall been as gorgeous where you are as where we’ve been? From France, to Italy, to New York, and right here in Virginia, we’ve been dazzled and delighted by the rich hues of autumn….here’s what we’ve been up to:
Our France/Italy adventure began in Paris, where the Luxembourg gardens slipped gracefully into their seasonal dress,

and then to our place in Aix en Provence, where the colors in the market enticed us every day… what can we make for dinner with this gorgeous squash?

We walked uphill out of town to Cezanne’s studio, remembering the thrill of holding one of his works (an autumnal landscape) owned by an Aixoise friend…. knowing that in a few weeks we’d be joining these friends in New York to watch the painting go on the block at Sotheby’s.

We always enjoy this walk, today tinged with fall colors, and imagine the artist climbing the hill for some of his favorite views of Mont Saint Victoire.

Next stop? Rome (our low-fare flight took us via Barcelona, so that day we had breakfast in France, lunch in Spain – at the airport – and dinner in Italy!), on our way to Molise. Molise? Never heard of it? Well neither had we….until Kolidur Tours, who is working with a special European Community commission to help the little region get onto traveler’s itineraries, invited us to come on an Educational Tour of the region. We’ve got lots more to tell about Molise, but keeping to our fall theme – here’s a colorful place to take a break in the pretty little village of Pescocostanza.

Sometimes coming back to Virginia is rather ho-hum, but not this time, because our son and family arrived the day after we did and we loved every minute of our fall week with them.

They live in Texas, so do not have the gorgeous colors that we have during this season… and this year’s colors have really been spectacular. Our morning walk around Lake Anne in Reston holds new surprises every day, as the leaves turn. Ivy took home a bag of oranges, reds and golds to show and tell.
Last but not least of our fall adventures – New York City! We arrived in time for the Sotheby’s auction, which was a wonderful experience – the excitement of the bidding, the chance to just sit and view one beautiful Impressionist work after another – spent some time with our Aixoise friends, and the rest of the time we walked and walked (and ate and ate!).

Here’s a fun and pretty brownstone from the Upper East Side – just one of the charmingly decorated homes we appreciated as we strolled the city streets.
What’s next for us? Back to France in a few days, and meanwhile we’re hard at work planning our newest tour in our beloved Aix en Provence… an early  spring week (April 19-26) of glorious music (from the new Easter Festival) and luscious sights and tastes in the south of France. We’ll be in touch with details soon!


In a Paris Garden

In a Paris Garden

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Why not join us in Italy for New Year’s Jazz

What shall we do today?
Lunch out and dinner with friends are on the agenda, but otherwise – let’s just enjoy another lovely day in Paris with a relaxed stroll through Luxembourg Gardens.
I never tire of the views here… it could be a long vista down an allée of precisely trimmed trees,

plumes of grasses surrounded by colorful flowers,

blazes of crimson around the Senate building, guarded by spiffy soldiers every few feet,

bursts of pink in all shades,

or Kirk’s favorite fountain, the lovely Medici work of art, with elegant garlands of ivy running down each side.

Bonjour Paris!

Bonjour Paris!

Monday, October 14, 2013
Paris, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Why not join us in Italy for New Year’s Jazz

France and Italy call us back across the Atlantic this month, and I’ve come a couple of days early to spend time with a dear friend in Paris before meeting Kirk in Aix. Would I mind stopping by Maison Kayser for croissants on my way to the apartment from the airport? Certainly not – that award- winning bakery is the perfect wake-up- your-senses introduction to Paris!
A croissant for Karen, with whom I’m staying, and a chausson aux pommes (apple pastry) for me, then we’re off to do a few errands, passing by favorite spots in the area – rue Vavin, the closest shopping street, blooms tumbling out onto the street, the florist sharing the beauty with passers-by – merci!

Just a stroll through Luxembourg Gardens on the way back to the apartment, please?

While Karen checks emails

I amble the quiet paths of this elegant beauty – lovely in every season.

One of my favorites vistas Chez Karen is from her living room – those quin- tessential Parisian rooftops. The little balcony is such a perfect spot (when the weather’s warmer) for a morning coffee or an afternoon glass of wine – join me?