Les Jours en Paris

May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Paris is the unexpected.

In the window of an art gallery is a display of ancient sculptures. Off to one side is the capital from an old column….three pomegranates are scattered across the top.

A lady dressed in all black, glides by on her black motorcycle – mais elle chausseures est rose! Her red leather ankle boots with 3 inch heels are what catch my eye.

The Longchamps travel tote carried by women when traveling, while useful, never appealed to me enough to buy one. The other day I see a woman is carrying a red one. All of a sudden it has a new spirit, this rather utilitarian piece.

I’m standing in line at the grocery store and a couple walk in, he with a day’s growth of beard, in jeans and casual. She with her hair coiffed and a fancy barrette holding back one side, bright red lipstick, a floral print dress and shimmery gold shoes. She walks next to him in a rather timid manner. What is their story I wonder.

Les Heures Bleu... Paris is blue. Perhaps in winter it is another color. But for now, in the month of May, it is blue. Indigo. A deep navy blue. In French, “bleu marine”. Pour les dames est les hommes. The lovely bright but rich summer shade of blue I only see here – for the clothes and accessories meant to travel to the South of France and the Mediterranean. A scarf, a shoe, a handbag. It is seductive and I want some in my closet – a few blocks away is Escales, a shop that is a blue and white heaven. Fait accompli!

The color shows up in other ways. In the daytime the sky is a powder blue. At night, before turning into the deep dark night sky, for a time it is a luxurious shade of blue…. it almost glows. If you could touch it I think it would feel like silk velvet.

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I discovered an old Frommers guide in our apartment. Excerpts….

“…Paris. Few words can evoke more emotion and promise than this one.

…It is here that you can best contemplate what it is you want from life.

…There is the visit , and there is the return, the tiny thrill of re-connecting with the person you were in Paris. The person in you that you like best and can’t always be.

…It simply is inexhaustible in its ability to charm, to seduce, to please, and to invite you to search deeper and with more intensity.”

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We’ve just been to see “David Bowie is”, an exhibition traveling the globe, now in Paris at the Philharmonie. About writing songs and where his inspirations and ideas come from, he says “…all these influences had an affect on me and I put them into my memory bank.”

 

 

Paris is in my memory bank.

Meeting a starving artist…really…seated at the table next to ours while we’re having lunch. He introduces himself, ” my name is Louis, like the King”, asks if his smoking will bother us. Apologizes for his poor English, which is actually rather good. We talk about this and that. He finishes his coffee and gets up to leave, asks if we would like to see his art exhibition at a gallery a short distance away. We agree to come after we finish lunch…. I’m not sure whether he thought we would really come. I think there might have been a small hope we would buy a painting…..when we arrive he introduces us to the gallery owner, gives us a tour and explanation of his work, which he describes as “uncomfortable”. And it is, until you listen to the story behind each piece. Well, okay, it still is…. He previously worked in the theater as a dancer and singer but something was missing, wanted to express himself in a deeper and different way, put all his money into his painting, and lives simply in a 10 square meter apartment on the 8th floor of a building with no elevator. One day recently he got a phone call – someone had seen his work and recommended it to this gallery. Louis was thrilled. One piece sold right away so he now has money to buy better brushes and paint…..We wish him great success and leave empty handed but for the unexpected encounter.

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How to turn a day around……..we set out to visit the Fondation Louis Vuitton that just opened in the Bois de Bologne. After trying in vain to secure tickets on line, we decided to purchase them there. We arrive, taking pictures of the building as we make our way to the entrance. To our surprise there were hundreds of people in a queue who were also there to buy tickets! We decided to save it for another day. On the way out we notice a small sign pointing where to enter if you purchased your tickets on line. Since there was no one in it perhaps we were not the only ones defeated by the web site. So what to do? Eat, of course. We had passed “Sequoia” as we headed to the museum. Tom said he saw food that looked good and we should have lunch. He was cold having worn only a light sweater and was determined. I was a bit skeptical since it is right in the path of people coming and going to the museum which can sometimes mean “captive audience, no effort required”. But then the restaurant has been there far longer than the museum……in we go. Great lunch.

With no plan about what we would do next we pull out my list to check for possibilities and head to The Baccarat Museum which turns out to be well worth the visit. Some of the pieces are so delicate and the patterns so elaborate …. one room has a table filled with designs created over generations for royalty. In one pattern there is a glass that passes through the hands of 15 people before it is declared finis!

Do you happen to know how red crystal is created? Very interesting….you mix 24 carat gold powder with liquid glass, heat the glass to 540 degrees centigrade, and it turns red. The exact process was developed in 1847 and remains a closely guarded secret. Any other colors are achieved by adding metallic oxides to liquid glass.

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Feeling much better about the day we walk toward the Champs Élysées and Tom notices a sign for an exhibition devoted to Jeanne Lanvin, a woman who began her career making hats and went on to create one of the most famous couture houses in Paris. The display of dresses and gowns is breathtaking.

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As we pass the Hotel George Cinq, we decide to go in and have a drink in the bar. I remember coming here with my parents and little brother in the early 1950s. There was a television in the bar that we would watch. No more television, but the bar is still in the same spot. Tom and I stayed here for the millennium celebration in 1999. The hotel budget for flowers has to be astronomical….here is a glimpse of what we encountered this day. Peonies in the most amazing color. In the courtyard are purple orchids. These pictures should stop you in your tracks!

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Oh dear, cocktails or tea….what to choose….. We chose tea and I ate enough clotted cream to frost a three layer cake!

image From my cushy chair I could watch people come and go – we needn’t have worried about how we were dressed. It was all over the map! From grand dames to the rock staresque to a swarthy group who looked like they could be a swat team to sweat pants (even with a designer bag, really?) ….all against the backdrop of flowers and grandeur.

So that is how you turn a day around if you happen to be in Paris…..

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