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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!

 

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!