Monthly Archives: February 2012

12 Days in Paris: BONUS – French Fashion Trends!

You may have noticed that there were many references to walking around and checking out boutiques. Although I bought very little, I loved seeing the trends for fall/winter. Animal prints and ballet flats were everywhere!  Sometimes combined!  I also found it amusing to see antique-style shoes after attending the exhibit at Versailles on the influence of 18th century fashion on modern designers.  I tried to capture the interesting windows, but it was hard because of glass reflections. Below are the successes from that effort, now a bit outdated, but winter is still with us…

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12 Days in Paris: Day 12…Le Fin!

Monica and I started our last day at the botanical gardens.  The gardens were free, but underwhelming, so much so that I didn’t deem them photo-worthy.  I noticed a lot of joggers and I think it would be a lovely place to work out, but New York’s botanical gardens are far more impressive.  After strolling around, Monica and I went to the cafe at the Great Mosque, since I liked it so much when Véronique and Jacqueline took me and it was right down the block.  The courtyard was full, so we sat in the front garden, which was equally lovely.  I ordered the pink almond pastry again and of course mint tea.

We ordered pastries from this nice man and then waiters came around with trays of mint tea

Repeat pink almond pastry and sweet mint tea

Monica in the front garden

I visited a lot of stores during the trip, but I was waiting until the end to make most of my purchases because I wanted to make sure I had seen everything.  After tea, we walked to the very crowded Marais, since it was the only neighborhood where stores are open on Sundays (making up for the fact that many of them are closed on Saturday for Shabbat).  Place des Vosges was extra crowded because it was the day of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s (DSK) first homecoming, which certainly dates this post…hehe.  DSK was expected momentarily so there were large crowds and media crews spilling into the street at the front entrance of his apartment.  Later we saw more paparazzis at the surprisingly plain back entrance.

Crowds outside DSK's apartment

Media crews

Paparazzi's at the back entrance

Monica and I met up with Véronique and Jacqueline and then shopped.  My favorite purchase was a pair of purple Bensimon sneakers, which are considered the French Converse.

Bensimon's = the French Converse

That night we had a lovely dinner at home with my family friends who hosted us.  One of our friends took us to the trendy Hôtel du Nord for a farewell drink, and though I didn’t take a photo, I enjoyed the company and the bar’s classic decor.  The next day I left early in the morning to return to NYC….

Packed and dressed in my travel uniform with only one bag more than I came with...I think I travel light.

Please check back tomorrow for an extra special Paris post!

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12 Days in Paris: Day 11

This is going to be a short post, since day 11 got off to a late start.  Upon waking, Monica and I headed to Port des Vanves to check out the marché aux puces (flea market), which is known for vintage clothing, dolls, and jewelry (all of my favorite things!).  In order to find good deals you are supposed to go early, but we were both more interested in browsing than shopping.  The only thing I liked was a 300-something Euro antique doll (too high, even if bargained down), so I left empty handed.

Shoppers at the Port de Vanves flea market

Table at the Port de Vanves flea market

After the flea market, Monica went to meet friends and I walked to Montparnasse, a neighborhood known for its intellectual and artistic heritage (Picasso, Léger, and Soutine were among the artists who moved there when the rents in Montmarte became too high).  I stopped in the Montparnasse cemetery and visited Marguerite Duras, who is one of my favorite writers.  It was a bit difficult finding her grave, since she is apparently less popular than Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Man Ray, who are also buried there.

Marguerite Duras' grave has a lot of shrubbery

Notice the canister of film appropriately placed on Man Ray's grave

Sartre and Beauvoir's joint grave is very popular

Following the cemetery I checked out boutiques along the Rue de Bac and then visited the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse (Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal), which is a pilgrimage site across from Le Bon Marché department store.  I finished my walk early around Saint-Sulpice, since I was going to have dinner with family friends in Neuilly and I wanted to change (Neuilly is a suburb of Paris that is a bit far out).

Delectable cakes in the window of Gérard Mulot Pâtisserie

Macaron Eiffel tower in the window of Gérard Mulot Pâtisserie

Later that night I met up with Monica, Véronique, and Jacqueline and though we had planned to hang out on the Canal Saint-Martin, it was raining, so instead we happened upon a dance party at the House of Architecture (I’m not sure how many architecture-related events actually take place there since I only saw the center used for lounging and partying, but it was a cool space nonetheless…hehe).

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12 Days in Paris: Day 10

BONJOUR MES AMIS!  It seems a bit absurd to still be posting about a trip from six months ago, but I blog slowly and some recent events necessitated a break.  I am back now and in the interest of completion, I will finish the last three days of the Paris trip series, with an extra special fun post at the end (think French fashion trend spotting!).

Day ten followed a relaxed schedule as I started the day at the Petit Palais.  The Petit Palais is a beautiful Beaux-Arts building that was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and now houses the Paris Museum of Fine Arts.  Admission to the museum is free, although I paid extra to see a photo show.  I must have been really tired that day because I forgot to photograph the Petit Palais and instead photographed the Grand Palais (a grander Beaux-Arts building across the street that was also built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and also shows changing exhibits).

Grand Palais

After the exhibition, I walked along the fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, which is the Paris equivalent of Madison Avenue (in addition to nearby Avenue Montaigne).  I read in my Timeout guide about Jean-Paul Hévin, an upscale chocolate store that specializes in cheese-filled chocolates, and I decided to go there to buy gifts for my family friends and my parents.  Although the chocolate-cheeses sounded a bit odd, I figured if they were the specialty, they had to be decent.  I was wrong about this…

Window of Jean-Paul Hévin

Weird cheese-filled chocolates (the fact that this box sat in my house for several months until being chucked following this photo says something about their popularity or lack thereof)

I walked from Saint Honore to the Madeline, a famous church surrounded by Paris’ most well known and upscale specialty food shops (Fauchon and Hediard).  I went into the church and then browsed some of the shops, which sold beautifully packaged luxury food products, exotic fruits, teas, etc…

Colorful fruit display at Hediard

From the Madeline, I took the subway to Notre-Dame-de-Lorette to pick up Moroccan glasses for my mother (this is a ritual that is done on every trip, since we are continually breaking glasses and only one store has the specific pattern we collect).  I was not very familiar with the area, but I knew I was near the original location of the Rose Bakery and since I liked the Marais location so much, I wanted to try it.  The minimalist decor and interesting people watching were similar.  I ordered a pizzette with side salads and once again the food was delicious!

Market fresh produce at the entrance of the Rose Bakery

Pizzette at the Rose Bakery

In the afternoon I went back to my friend’s apartment in the 10th arrondissement to drop off my purchases and then met up with Véronique and Jacqueline for a pick me up.  They took me to a lovely outdoor cafe in the nearby House of Architecture.  I ordered grapefruit juice because I wanted something different and had never had it before (I realize grapefruit juice is available in the US, it’s just not something I usually drink).  I may have also ordered it because pamplemousse (grapefruit) is the funniest French word to me…hehe.  The drink was a bit bitter for my taste, but the bobo (bourgeois bohemian) people watching was even better than that at the Rose Bakery.

Friends with Coke and pamplemousse (grapefruit) juice

House of Architecture Cafe

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Canal St. Martin and had an informal dinner at a family friend’s apartment.  After dinner, Monica and I went to a nearby bar where we met some UNESCO interns and then hung out with them along the Canal St. Martin.  Unfortunately I did not take a photo, but after dusk the canal turned into the hottest spot in town.  Picture groups of friends camped out on picnic blankets with booze, refreshments, etc…

I am scared of American motorcycles, but for some reason Vespas are very appealing to me.

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