Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14


Last night I dreamed I was shopping for produce at an open-air market in Paris. Actually, last night I dreamed I was teaching people how to shop for produce at an open-air market in Paris: always say bonjour, never touch the produce unless the seller hands it to you, etc. I was very smug, in my dream, about my ability to communicate with le vendeur, and he was very charming and gave me some complimentary strawberries. Even in my dreams, Paris loves me.

Now I must buckle down and make this dream come true. No Buy still holding, although I have been tested by a big sale at I got a decant of Tubereuse Criminelle in the mail yesterday from an advertiser on my Style Spy site, which was delightful and reminds me how much I want a full bottle of that fragrance, and I have to go to the Palais Royal for that. My first bell jar, although not my first Lutens. It's not a perfume for everyone, but oh, how I adore it. I plan on strolling out of the boutique with my shopping bag in my hand, positively reeking of slightly perverse tuberose chicness, and having a glass of wine at one of the sidewalk cafés here in the garden. Must hold onto that image.

It's going to be a long summer...

photo: Mary Twiss Connolly

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 10

Here's a good article about some architecture in Paris. Putting it here mostly to remind myself to check them out in October. I also need to explore the Institut du Monde Arabe, designed by Jean Nouvel, one of my favorite architects.


He's also responsible for the Fondation Cartier and the new Musée du Quai Branly, both of which are amazing. I can't believe I'm staring down the barrel at my fifth trip and have still never been to any of these places. Disgraceful.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

May 8

A view of the Louvre from inside the Orsay. Paris is so filled with artistic masterpieces that you can throw a rock from one museum to the next. And a lot of it isn't even in museums

Fabulous sculpture & art everywhere you look, just lyin' about the place, as Eddie Izzard would say.

This was the most amazing installation in the Pantheon called Leviathan Thot, which I totally lucked into on my visit in October 2006. This? Was unbelievable. Huge and spooky and almost irresistibly touchable (I did not. I didn't wish to be hustled ignominiously out of the Pantheon.), it took up much of the main chamber and poor little ol' Foucault's Pendulum was dwarfed by comparison. The artist's name is Ernesto Neto, and the sculpture is made of what looked like the pantyhose of Gargantua, sewn together and filled with tiny styrofoam beads.

More from inside the Pantheon:

As we wended our way to the top of the Pantheon (the view from which is not to be missed -- there are not a lot of places to be that high up in central Paris), we passed many little secret alcoves and nooks. This image still haunts me -- a room full of spare sculpture parts, tucked away and waiting for... what? This image is much brighter than it was in real life, a flash was necessary to get any of the detail. A dark room filled with shadowy gestures and secrets.

All photos mine.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May 6

Views from my window in the Artus Hotel during my first trip to Paris in August 2005.

Looking south down the rue de Buci.

Looking north at the Blvd. St. Germain.

In the first photo, the street that intersects rue de Buci at the orange awning is the rue de Seine, which is where the current top pick for my stay in October is located. It's a 6th floor walk-up, which is a bit of a challenge and may go a long way to explaining the extremely reasonable rental price. The rest of the way is explained by the tininess of the apartment. So -- tininess and steps, but I'm not very big and I have very strong legs and since it's located a dangerously short distance from the rue Bonaparte location of Ladurée, I figure any opportunity to burn off all the palmiers I'd eat is a good idea.

I've gotten word from the agency about the cost of the rental and I have the money to hold the apartment for a week in October right now. I do not, however, have the money for the airfare, which is a problem. Don't yet know how refundable things are with the agency, but if I don't have a ticket it seems silly to have a place to stay. OTOH, I have to do one or the other of them first. Oy. There's also the question of do I wait to buy a ticket in hopes that prices come down a little. In the past, there's always been that golden hour for air tickets -- book too early and you pay too much, book too late and they sock you for waiting until the last minute. But with gas prices the way they are, part of me is thinking that it would be a good idea to get a ticket as soon as I can, despite the fact that everything I'm looking at for my dates is over $1000. I don't think it's going to come down much, and it's likely it will continue to go up. When I total up all the money I need to have to do this and not be miserable, it makes me waver a little. But when I think about an indeterminate amount of time without another Paris visit, it makes my soul hurt.

So. More belt-tightening. Ignoring the e-mail from Neiman's this morning about the private one-day sale with lots of wonderful things going for 40% off. (It will be even more difficult because I have to physically go to NM today to pick up a load of pre-shopped stuff for a client that I'll be delivering to her tomorrow. This is going to take more willpower than Weight Watchers...)

I loveloveloved the quartier pictured above. It's a very specific part of Saint Germain, and while it was certainly a little bit touristy, it just has the most wonderful feel. It helped that the first time I was discovering it it was August, and therefore a little more quiet than it would have been normally. There is an open-air market on the rue de Buci, and my first morning in Paris I popped up and got ready, then I bought a peach at the market and after wandering for a few minutes, I stood in the courtyard in from the the church of Saint Germain and ate my peach in the Paris morning light. It was the most delicious peach I have ever eaten.

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 2

Thinking a lot about the weather for the next trip. I was in Paris in October of 2006, and it was absolutely gorgeous -- as I recall I was comfy in a cardigan or light jacket most of the time. I'm hopeful it will be the same this year. I was stunned by how cold it was last November, especially since I'd been there in October the year before and it had been so mild. That's when I took this:

which was one of the more delightful finds in all my Paris trips. This is the patio of the museum café of the Musée d'Art Moderne, which is located in the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th. This is an absolutely wonderful small museum of 20th Century art (all my favorite stuff) that is small enough to explore very thoroughly in an afternoon but large enough to give a real "museum" experience. After I wandered through there I decided to have a little late lunch and headed for the cafe. I purchased my glass of wine and my quiche lorraine (and probably a pastry) and headed outside, where that gorgeous view surprised me. It was pretty blissful. Tucked away and quiet, I really felt like I'd found one of Paris' little secret hideaways. From there I wandered on to the Trocadero and across the Pont d'Alma to the Tour. It was a lovely afternoon.

Thanks to dear Tracey, I've been exploring my options for rental apartments on Lodgis, and am pleased to report that it looks as though I can get something just perfect for a reasonable price, provided I get my ducks in a row early enough. There seem to be some really good places available in Montorgueil, which would make me very happy. I've come to really love that neighborhood, where my friend Dominique lives.

This is the nighttime view from Dom's front window. She lives on rue Marie Stuart, and the cross street (going left to right) is rue Montorgueil. It's a wonderful neighborhood, pedestrian only, filled with great shops and grocery stores and since I've stayed there so much it feels like coming home every time I visit. It may have actually supplanted St. Germain as my favorite quartier, if for no other reason than there are hardly any tourists there. (On the other hand, I could still be talked into an apartment on the rue de Seine, which I also saw in my web explorations.)

Yesterday I found an IRS website that allows you to calculate the amount of the refund you'll be receiving due to the stimulus package. Turns out it's going to be enough to get my lodging mostly paid for, which makes me very happy. (Now I just need to not spend it on anything else!) There is something deeply satisfying to me about knowing that the money that Our Clueless Leader and his Squad of Flunkies are sending me in order to "stimulate the economy" is actually going to stimulate the economy in Paris. Hah. Take that, W.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 1

It's May Day. I've given myself a good spritz of Diorissimo to celebrate, but it is a very gray day here in Austin. Gray days here seem like a mistake, whereas a gray day in Paris always just seems sort of atmospheric and moody. I've been there in cold weather a couple of times now, and while I certainly prefer not to be shivering and having Raynaud's episodes, there is something about that steely gray winter light that does really move me. Maybe because we just don't have it here, we're too far south.

The photo above was taken in early evening last November, just after I'd left the Orangerie on a Sunday afternoon. It was my next-to-last day and I was feeling melancholy about it, so I was very in sync. I loved the glow of the lights on the Crillon -- someday I'll stay there. Maybe. It might be less fun to stay somewhere so very tourist-oriented than to scoot around in the back streets of my favorite neighborhoods and feel like I'm getting away with something and slowly becoming Parisian.

At any rate, it was very, very, very cold that day. Am hoping October will not be quite so bone-chilling.