Tag Archives: France

Travel Tips: Paris

Recently, some friends of mine traveled to Paris.  Some were newbies, others were “repeat offenders.”  Having visited “The City of Light” on 3 different occasions myself, I sent them a list of things to do and see.  I love receiving and giving personal recommendations, as it takes some of the guesswork out of travel planning.  However, I realize that some folks may enjoy more spontaneity during their vacations, and that’s all good too.  Regardless of how you roll, here are my travel tips for Paris:

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PERFECT TIMING
I love Paris in the…SHOULDER SEASON!  Seriously.  I’m talking April – June, and September – October.  Having visited during Spring, Summer, and Fall, I enjoyed myself more when I avoided the summer crowds.
TALK THE TALK
Yes, many folks speak English.  However, I challenge you to learn some French before you go, so that you can engage in basic conversation with locals.  It goes a long way.
READY. SET. GO!
Go to a tourism office and purchase a L‘Open Tour bus ticket for a ride around the city that can help you to get your bearings and take in some sights.  While you’re there, purchase a museum pass for 2,4,or 6 days of access to museums and monuments, depending on the duration of your stay.
DAY TRIPPIN’
Versailles :  It’s an easy train ride from Paris to see this opulent palace and explore the town.
Loire Valley :  Take a minibus tour to see the chateaux…MAGNIFIQUE!
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EAT
Angelina, an institution with AH-MAZING hot chocolate, has packaged products which you may purchase and take home!
404 serves delicious North African food in a cool setting.
Go to Ile St. Louis and get some Berthillion Ice Cream.
Enjoy Parisian people-watching at Cafe de Flore.
La Varangue is a tiny restaurant, with great food, that is owned by a nice guy named Philippe.
Make reservations in advance, and savor Afternoon Tea at The Ritz-Place Vendome.
Try the famous macaroons at Laduree.
Gentle Gourmet Cafe offers vegan cuisine that is “strong” in presentation and flavor.
A must for any vegetarian, Le Grenier de Notre Dame is Paris’ first vegetarian and macrobiotic spot.
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PRAY (OR SIMPLY ‘PRECIATE THE ARCHITECTURE)
La Mosquee (Psst…they have a hammam and tea room there.)
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LOOK
Louvre:  You could spend hours…days…looking at all of the permanent collections housed in this museum.  However, if you have “been there, done that,” then why not check out their special exhibit and pick up some gifts at the shops?
Musee D’Orsay:  This former railway station is home to art work dating from 1848 to 1914.
Musee de Cluny:  Head to the 5th Arrondissement for a look at the Medieval art housed here.
Musee des Arts Decoratifs:  Check out furniture, interior design, altar pieces, religious paintings, objets d’arts, tapestries, wallpaper, ceramics and glassware, plus toys from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Eiffel Tower:  No explanation needed.  Just. Go.
Tuileries:  Enjoy people-watching and/or promenading in this Parisian public garden.
Seine River cruise:  See Paris at night during a Bateaux Mouches excursion.
SHOP (WINDOW OR OTHERWISE)
Printemps and Galeries Lafayette:  So many departments, so little time.
Champs Elysees:  Stroll. Shop. Sup. Stay.
Marche Aux Puces:  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  And it’s ALL about the hunt…
What are your favorite things to do and see in Paris?  Please comment and share!
Merci et bon weekend!  XOXO
 

 

31 Rue Cambon

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

Fashion lovers and Francophiles unite!!!

During a trip to Paris, I had the rare opportunity to tour 31 Rue Cambon and the private apartment of Coco Chanel.  This experience was one that I’ll never forget.  I shared it with my cousin; and now, I am going to share it with you.

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Just standing outside of the building at this famous address is enough to excite any fashionista.  We arrived early enough to take a couple of deep breaths, calm our nerves, and prepare to savor this incredible moment.

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In the lobby, we waited for our guide next to a console with a picture of Coco hanging above it.  It was almost as if we were checking in with Chanel before entering her domain.  It reminded me of how I felt on my wedding day:  I was excited and overwhelmed, yet determined to focus, so that I would not forget any details.  So, I whispered a quick prayer for calmness and clarity, then braced myself for all sorts of fabulousness…

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The Haute Couture salon is absolutely STUNNING in black and white!  This is where approximately 200 clients worldwide are shown exquisite pieces from Chanel’s Haute Couture collection, and have them made to order.  I could have luxuriated on the couch for a while; but there was so much more to see.

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The mirrored staircase (designed by Chanel herself) is truly spectacular, and I was more than happy to make the climb.  This is where Coco debuted her collections.  I’m told that there is a clever way to take a picture of the staircase where a heart shape is formed behind the subject.  I now have an excuse to return…

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The fifth step from her apartment is where Coco Chanel sat and watched her shows, spied on her guests, and observed people’s reactions to her collections.  Retracing her “steps” was such a rush, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

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Upon entering Coco’s apartment, guests are greeted by a pair of blackamoors.  Chanel referred to them as her “friends.”  Life-sized and impressive, they really make a statement in the entry.

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Coco’s use of Asian screens as wall treatments, her eclectic mix of furnishings, and one-of-a-kind pieces made especially for her by friends (i.e. Salvador Dali), lends a world traveler vibe to the place.  Love that!  As we sank into the silk-covered chair in the entry, we were convinced that we each *need* one in our lives.

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Chanel did her own thing, both in fashion and in home decor.  She had her famous over-sized suede sofa custom-made for the salon, which was considered radical back in her day.  Numerous celebrities,  politicians, and royalty have been entertained in this room.  I felt honored and quite comfortable.

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This gorgeous custom-made chandelier was hanging over my head, while seated on the sofa.  Adorned with amethyst crystals, CC’s, and 5’s (Coco’s lucky number), it had me completely mesmerized.  *Sigh*…

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Fresh camellias, Coco’s favorite flower, are placed on this table daily.  Although this is routine for the staff at 31 Rue Cambon, as a visitor it seems as though they are making preparations for Chanel’s return.  The bouquet was so beautiful and inviting, that I felt inspired to place fresh flowers in my home on a weekly basis.

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Coco Chanel’s apartment has amazing statuary throughout the space.  There are so many stories behind the items and their placement, and the vignettes are captivating.  I would love to have just one of her fabulous pieces!

171Notice anything unusual?  The apartment does not have a bedroom.  Coco used this space for work and entertaining, then left to sleep in her suite at The Ritz.  In lieu of a bedroom, there is a lovely sitting room.  I had no problem finding a seat and basking in the ambiance.  Once again, Coco made use of screens as wall treatments:  beautiful, meaningful, and functional, just like the pieces in Chanel’s collections.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?  I pulled up a chair at the dining table, topped with gold dishes and lions (Coco was a Leo).  But with the gorgeous chandelier, Italian mirrors, statuary, and screens, there was so much to take in.  Who could eat with all of that eye candy?!?!?  I can see where Chanel’s current designers draw their inspiration for each season’s collections.

During our visit, Karl Lagerfeld was working diligently in his 4th floor studio to prepare for the Chanel fashion show during Paris Fashion Week.  We had hoped to meet him personally; however, it was not meant to be.  Still, we could feel the creative energy flowing.  Next time…

As we descended the cream-carpeted stairs, said our thank-yous and goodbyes, and left the building, we couldn’t help but feel a little sad that our time had come to an end.  Once we were outside, it hit us…DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN???

It’s good to be back on the blog.

Bonne Semaine!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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