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!

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!


Paris Glitters for the Holidays

Paris Glitters for the Holidays

Paris, France
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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?

Our Christmas gift to each other continues with lunch and views of the Christmas windows of the Grands Magasins (Department Stores) with our friends, but before that we fit in a visit to the latest exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville (Paris’ grand town hall), Paris Vu par Hollywood (Paris Seen by Hollywood). We’d been warned of the long lines (the exhibit has received great reviews from the critics, so has become a “hot ticket”), so arrive just after opening time, 10 am, and wait under our umbrella in the drizzle for a few minutes before getting in.

From the silent era (Mary Pickford et al) to the latest hit, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the vast hall is filled with memorabilia, including rare movie storyboards, letters from and to directors, and original sketches and costumes, such as this gold spangled white gown from Jean Renoir’s French CanCan.
Several screens, including the large one, filled with classic Audrey Hepburn clips, feature Hollywood’s best images of the city. One quote says that the Paramount sets of Paris in the 40’s and 50’s were even better than the real thing – ha! The exhibition’s on until 15 December and makes a great way to while away a drizzly hour or so in between strolling real live Paris.

Back to the hotel, where Anne, Jack, Sandy and Ed await us, then around the corner for lunch at Aux Chai Moi (a play on words – Chez Moi means “my place”, and sounds the same as Chai moi, which means “my wine cellar”).
Sandy and I had both been searching and asking in- the- know friends for a restaurant near the Grands Magasins, and everyone agreed that there’s nothing nearby but touristy places. The pleasant lady at our hotel’s front desk said so too, and suggested the “petite bon resto” just around the corner. It is indeed a little gem – we’re seated on the top floor (there are a few tables on several floors)

and order from the suggestions for today, seasonal treats such  as a creamy parsnip soup speckled with crispy lardons (bacon cubes),
roasted guinea fowl, and sea bass on a bed of buttery mashed potatoes – all accompanied with wines from the Chai.
Descriptions of this year’s delightful windows, and Sandy’s inviting emails  – come up to Paris for a day! – were what prompted this Christmas gift idea

Under a canopy of lights stretching down Boulevard Hauss- mann, the scenes enthrall…

skaters revel, dressed to the nines in exquisitely tailored miniatures of outfits available inside the store – a discreet price list and directions to which floor carries the item is at the bottom of each window. 

We three ladies stop snapping photos and video for a minute to pose together – can the children be enjoying this any more than we are?!

And the show goes on –
the elegant marionettes dancing,

riding a carousel, floating in a balloon.
The workmanship, both of the gorgeous clothing and accessories (those miniature purses – love ’em!)  and the scenery, is fabulous.

On to Gallerie Lafayette, where the windows (Louis Vuitton) are not at all as interesting as the Dior at Printemps, but the Christmas tree inside, under the stained glass dome, can’t be missed! Swarovski this year, it’s surrounded by tourists and locals snapping a photo.

Well, we have to return to Aix… with plans to meet again in Virginia (we’ve persuaded Anne & Jack to stay a few days before returning to Atlanta) for an evening of music. The train home is non stop, so in just a little over three hours we’re walking to our apartment. The holiday lights have been turned on in Aix too – the Hôtel de Ville is draped in a curtain of lights
Joyeuses Fêtes!