Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to Renaissance

The other day, I wrote about how clothes or accessories can bring back amazing memories when you wear them. Sometimes, they can also transport you to a completely different time or country. It is the case with my brocade skirt. Even thought it is not real silk and it is definitely way too short to have been worn in late Middle Ages or during Renaissance, it still has an antique, exquisite and aristocratic feel to it. It is what you'd call a statement piece of clothing. With a very simple white t-shirt and flats, it steals the show. Plus, it has a bow. What more could you want ?

Maybe to take it out for a walk in the gardens of Paris and feel like a princess.

PS.: There is now a goat in charge of the lawns in Jardin des Tuileries.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Top of a Diamond

Rooftop terraces are right up my street. I can still hope I will have one some day, somewhere... For now, visiting some when they are open is the only thing I can do... This last terrace was special, it was on top of a diamond, once the biggest known diamond, the Koh-i-Noor.

For generations now, most little children in Central Europe start their drawing career with a set of coloured pencils from Koh-i-Noor Hardmuth. I still own two sets  of these pencils plus one of aquarel pencils. They last and have beautiful colours. 

The company was originally founded in the Austria-Hungary Empire in 1790. By the beginning of the 20th Century, they've expanded to Milan, New York and Paris. In Paris, a very contemporary building was built by the company in 1906, mostly of metal and glass. Koh-I-Noor Hardmuth doesn't own the building any more but it is newly renovated and opened to the public during the European Heritage Days. It's a hidden gem, a real work of art in a small street, a real diamond.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Northern Lights

Back in my student years, we went on a study trip to Finland, to the Helsinki metropolitan area. It was late November. I hope for snow but we got only cold wind and rain.

I am a sucker for Scandinavian design. In the little free time we had, I went to the Marimekko shop. Fortunatelly for me, in Finland, design is everywhere. Which means I didn't need free time to see it. My favourite part was definitely the Alvar Aalto Technical University Campus in Espoo.

A few shots from real Finland:

And a few shots from Finland in Paris:

This is the newly renovated Finnish Embassy in Paris. A beautiful mixture of old classic design (as Alvar Aalto lamps) and current young Finnish designers generation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome to the Queen's Table

2013 is an important year for heritage in France. 100 years of the 1913 "Monuments" law and the 30th edition of the Heritage days. Created in France 30 years ago, with an endorsement from the Council of Europe and the EU, they are now a tradition all around our continent. A weekend when monuments and sites are open to the public for free and when many places you can't normally visit open their doors. The exact weekend may differ from one country to the other, but always is a weekend in September. 

The British Ambassador kindly opened his Residence to the public for a day. Nice of him. He was even there in person to welcome the visitors. Very nice of him. He had set the big dining room table for 60 people. There was a short video showing the meticulous procedure of assembling and setting the table (two layers of one-piece tablecloths being ironed directly on the 26 pieces table, then the central pieces, the silverware, the cutlery, the bouquets, the name tags, the chandeliers...). The menu and name tags dated back to 1972, to a dinner hosted by the Queen herself. Among the invited - Mr and Mrs President George's Pompidou, Mr and Mrs Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Mr and Mrs Edouard Balladur, a few other ministers, counts and earls... The Embassy's butler was there in person to answer all our weird questions about protocol, food, plates and flowers. Thank you for making us feel welcome in your home, Your Excellency!

My favourite parts - the conservatory, the bouquets, the dining room, the garden and the chandeliers. 

It was a very British visit, we queued in heavy rainfall to get in then we all got bags for our soaked umbrellas upon the arrival and walked out through the garden in heavy rainfall again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Are You Photoshopped, Mr Cloud?

Paris has a special sky. It knows very well, how to be gray and heavy with rain, there is no doubt about it. But it also has moments when the light is so surreal and the clouds so spectacular, that you would think they are either photoshopped or painted by Michelangelo, Rubens or maybe Turner. It might be that the sky here got inspired by what it sees in the Louvre...

Most of the time, this kind of sky spectacle happens when I am walking from work (or basically at any given moment when I don't have my camera with me). Last weekend though, I decided it was a beautiful day and that taking my camera for a walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg might be a good idea. I am not saying more, you can see the result for yourselves...

Can I go and play, too??

Thursday, September 12, 2013

American Wine Tasting

Wine tasting is an activity I find quite pleasant, anytime. And this time it went along with a really tasty dinner. It also was a gift my husband received, which made the experience even nicer. You eat great food, you taste nice wines and at the end, you don't have to pay... Thanks guys!

This particular wine tasting dinner took part in a place called Ô Chateau, in the very centre of Paris, very close to Les Halles, that part that Zola used to call "le Ventre de Paris" ("the Belly of Paris"). It was French wine and French food but it had one specificity. It took place in english. Which was fine with us, we understand english, you know. It just meant that we were the only non-Americans in the room. And all the other guests were quite excited about our chance to live in this amazing city. I should have probably put this as a quote.

We were quite happy we decided to dress up. Americans always dress up for dinner and this one was definitely not an exception. French people don't do that at all. Unless maybe when invited for a dinner at the Ritz or somewhere. That's one thing I really don't get here in France, people's ability to wear jeans everywhere, even to the Opera...

Everyone in the room was very friendly and had excellent art of conversation. No one was left out of the discussions. That would probably never have happened with French people, either. Because nobody would have thought about presenting himself in the first place (me included, I have to admit). It was a nice change and a very pleasant evening.

But back to the dinner. We had champagne for apéritif, a very nice Blanc de Blanc. Then, with entrée we had a light Sancerre. With the main course (a very tender pavé de Salers), the sommelier went for Haut-Médoc (Bordeaux). We were very lucky on that one. They used to do the wine tasting with the 2008 vintage but ran out of it about a week before we came over for dinner. Which meant we had the 2009 vintage (the best year for red Bordeaux wines in the past decade along with 2005). This one was my favourite. The Malbec from Cahors we had with dessert was not bad either, though.

For a "wine tasting" it was more of a real dinner with a lot of good wine. No spitting, no small amounts. Real big glasses of all of them. At the end, I had to refuse the sommelier's offer to pour me another glass of my favourite wine of the evening, because I still had two unfinished glasses in front of me (none of them contained water...).

What an evening!