Saturday, November 29, 2008

Après Champagne and Turkey

Ah, the day after Turkey Day.  Weighted down by insane portions of stuffing and corn casserole and bread pudding and apple squares and pumpkin pie....all so wonderful in the moment.  Yet, this morning, my body was a bit angry with me for participating in this yearly food marathon.  I didn't want to offend the hostess, my sister, who worked so hard on the meal.  So, eat we all did.  

This year was a bit different however.  It was the first time that all the 'cousins', my daughters and my nieces were able to participate in the obligatory champagne drinking.  Six extra champagne flutes all waiting to be filled throughout a six hour get together.  That accelerated the consumption and contributed to going through a whole case of the bubbly.  Today, some of us are feeling better about all that drinking than others.  One of my daughters and I decided to just continue the celebration.  As we made our way through the crowd of humanity on Michigan Avenue this afternoon, we decided midway through our errands to sit at our favorite little champagne bar, Pops For Champagne and just keep drinking.  After all, it is the holidays--all holly jolly and such.  As we sipped away I thought Champagne would be something good to post about what with all the celebrations you might be celebrating over the next month or so. No serious details here--just some fun, helpful information that you may or may not know. 
Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman with her beauty.
-Madame de Pompadour

Yes, Champagne is a wine albeit a sparkly one that initially was thought to be inferior as man struggled to make a still wine.  A Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, living at the Abby of Hautvilliers, has been credited with perfecting the machinations required to increase the bubbles and make a great tasting Champagne wine.  One cannot give him all the credit as this drink of the gods has a history as far back as Roman times.  While there are 'sparkling wines' made throughout the world, two elements work together that allow bubbly wine to be called Champagne:
  1.  It must be made in the region of Champagne, located on a mere 85 hectares of land    about 90 kilometers outside of Paris, near the Belgian border and
  2.  All Champagnes are a blend of separate wines made with three types of grapes;  Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the pinots both being red grapes.
Some fun facts to know and impress your friends with: 
  • The word Champagne comes from the Latin word campagnia, referring to the countryside north of Rome.  
  • If you are watching your figure this holiday, a 5 ounce glass has about 104 calories.  I'd pass on the cookies. 
  • Silence is golden.  A loud POP on opening wastes bubbles and is not the way to go.  The cork should be eased out of the bottle and according to a Frenchman in the know, a Champagne bottle correctly opened should, 'make no sound greater than that of a contented woman's sigh'. He didn't mention which woman.  Lots of ways to go with on that one, indeed!
  • While the verdict is still out on having a different shaped glass for the vast array of wines out there, Champagne should be drunk out of a flute.  The reason being:  the carbon dioxide rubs against the side of the glass with the resulting friction causing the gas to burst into bubbles.  The increased pressure at the base of the flute encourages long thin trails of tiny bead like bubbles to float to the top. 
  • The tinier the bubbles the better the Champagne.  You do not want to see soda sized bubbles going up your glass.   
  • Do NOT use a coupe (those saucer shaped glasses you might see at weddings) to drink your Champagne from.  Legend has it that this type of glass was invented in a porcelain version by Marie Antoinette who used her left breast (closer to her heart) as a mold to drink her champagne from.  Terrible for the bubbles.  
  • To assess whether the vintage you are giving or receiving is worthy outstanding vintage years for Champagne were 1982, 1988, 1990 and 1996.  Very good years were 1985, 1989, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2002.  
Here are some brands that would be considered the superstars in the Champagne world that you might splurge on for special events or the upcoming holidays.
  1. Bollinger
  2. Krug
  3. Moët & Chandon
  4. Mumm
  5. Piper-Heidsieck
  6. Taittinger
  7. Veuve Clicquot

Finally, as I look forward to Christmas when the same family that was together for Thanksgiving regroups with the addition of east and west coast relatives to celebrate the arrival of Santa and sit around in warm holiday pajamas watching White Christmas for the ump-teenth time (we can recite whole scenes from memory), I need to really plan how many bottles of the yummy stuff to have on hand.  Since we went through a case yesterday, I'm thinking lots.  Here's a breakdown of bottle sizes to fit all needs:
  • Split=about one and a half glasses.  Hardly suitable for much of anything. 
  • Half-bottle=two and a half glasses.  A bit better.
  • Bottle=about five glasses.  
  • Magnum=2 bottles or about 10 glasses
  • Jeroboam=4 bottles or about 20 glasses 
  • Methuselah=8 bottles or about 40 glasses
  • Salmanazar=12 bottles or about 60 glasses
  • Balthazar=16 bottles or about 80 glasses
  • Nebuchadnezzar=20 bottles or about 100 glasses. Ooh La La!
Not sure how I am going to get that great big ol' Nebuchadnezzar home with me.  Maybe Santa will put it under our tree.  

Additional information:  The Wine Bible 

Photo credit:  .hi3photo@flickr, tanakowho@flickr, wikipedia

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

For all of you in the U.S., I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving.  For everyone else, I hope your day is fabulous.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging

I started blogging very serendipitously, not having a clue what I was doing, yet hopeful that I would figure it out (the art of blogging) and through writing figure some things out for myself.  The blogging part is simple really once you get going--the rest....well, time will tell.  I would have to say that no matter what we attempt to do or create in our lives we walk away having been exposed to many unexpected things, both good and bad.  For instance, no one ever told me when I started blogging that I would 'meet' so many wonderful people throughout the world who have entered my life and feel like they have been my friends forever.  Many times, I have been touched by their kindness and concern when things weren't going so well and felt their joy in my celebrations in life's happy moments.  What a blessing all this has been for me.  

And it continues to be so.  Yesterday, I received a comment on one of my recent posts from Toma, The Antiques Diva, telling me to visit her blog as there was a little gift waiting for me on her site. You must know that this woman is my idol as she has managed to weave together all her passions into a life that she shares with a wonderful husband in Amsterdam.  Take a look at all that she does--you too might become a regular reader.  Anyway, yesterday, she had honored me and five others bloggers with:

She had been given the same award a few days prior from someone that's a regular reader on her site.  With all the blogs out there to read and share, it is nice to know that someone thinks enough about what you do/write and tells others about it. Recognition is not why I blog but is heartwarming when it happens.

There are some stipulations attached to this award that I need to follow through on.   First, I must let The Antiques Diva know that I have mentioned this award which I am in the process of doing right now.  Second, I have to list 6 things I value in this world and 6 things that I don't. Finally, I must send you on your way to visit 6 blogs that I would honor in a similar way--ones that I read daily and really enjoy.  OK--let's get started.  

Things that I value:  
  1. First and foremost, my family.  Both the one I am responsible for creating and all the crazy characters around the world that I share DNA with. 
  2. Blogging-it has opened some interesting doors for me. 
  3. Being open minded and global in thought and action
  4. Being able to laugh at myself 
  5. Constantly wanting to learn new things 
  6. A great glass of wine
Things that I don't value
  1. Narrow  mindedness
  2. Pettiness
  3. Intense aerobic exercise (walking is good)
  4. Traffic--hard to avoid in the cities I love most
  5. Hot flashes
  6. Crappy wine
Blogs that I feel deserve the same award which you should check out. 
  1. Cucinae Lontano--an Italian blog featuring Mediterranean inspired foods written by my friend Jean-Michel                                 
  2. BibliOdyssey--a treasure trove of unusual and eclectic bookart
  3. Stuff Parisians Like--a very irreverent look at issues that consume the French mind 
  4. The Nihon Sun--a guide to all things one must do in Tokyo written by my friend Shane Sakata                                  
  5. A Huge Expanse of Sky--a young woman making her way through the twists and turns living in Chicago. (my beautiful daughter Taylor)
  6. À La Belle Étoile--musings of living and teaching English in a small provincial town in France. (my beautiful daughter Lindsay)
There you have it.  I do believe I have fulfilled all requirements.  I have to say, it was more difficult than I thought.  Going through all the places I visit each day and choosing only six was difficult but I do believe you will enjoy the visit.  

 Photo credit:  andyp uk@flickr

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lydia Courteille

I am in love with this graphic--my daughter found this website, sent it my way telling me I was going to love it and she was right.  This woman, Lydia Courteille, creates some of the most amazing and very 'out there' pieces of jewelry.  Her interpretation of frogs in green diamonds clinging to large translucent stones become much less amphibious.  A snake covered in pink diamonds doesn't look quite as evil as they are made out to be. I'd be OK with this one winding its way up my wrist!  Located on rue Saint Honoré, I thought I should share with you both her address and website just in case someone is looking for a little somethin' somethin' for the upcoming holidays. Promise you will check out the cameos!!

Additional information:  Lydia Courteille 
                                             231, rue Saint Honoré
                                             Métro:  Concorde, Tuileries

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mystery, Masks and Music at Musée d'Orsay

Today the letter M is going to work its 'magic' while we make our way through the Musée d'Orsay.  Several exhibits that are happening as we speak are worth a trip to my favorite museum in the city.  Mystery, Masks and Music.  Let's get moving!

Manet's Portrait of Irma Brunner

Mystery and Glitter is the first exhibit we're going to that takes a look into the world of Pastels.  These pigmented powders, shaped into sticks held together by chalky water and a binder go back as far as being mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495.  In the late 18th century, pastels became popular among portraitists who were able to manipulate this medium allowing them to produce incredible detail, texture and skin tone that mystified and delighted the aristocrats who were being 'pasteled'.   Degas and Manet took this art form to great heights: Degas through his revelation of dancers in unexpected lighting and perspective and Manet in his beautiful portraits.  These works will captivate you leaving you to wonder how one could work with a substance so powdery and create such amazing detail.  The lighting captured by Degas will have you believing the shadows in his works are coming from lighting the museum has created.   

Degas' Dancers

Masks, whether for protection, performance or ceremony, have played a role in revealing mans stories and history forever.  Think tribal masks from Africa or pre-Columbian masks used for Christian rituals. Or perhaps carnival masks in Venice or those worn to masked balls held throughout Paris.  When you think about it, all cultures can be traced to having used some form of masks.  Looked at from that point of view, they are objects which deal with identity--or the temporary loss of it either ritually or spiritually.  

The Musée d'Orsay has brought together a collection spanning the globe to illustrate just how universal this art form is.  Through photography, graphics, bronze castings and stone, the mask is exposed in forms grotesque, decorative and as portraiture.  Indeed, an interesting study on how history has provided man with ways to lose, or perhaps, find him/herself.
Last, but certainly not least, between now and June of 2009, the museum is hosting lunch time concerts, free to the public, that juxtapose one art form in the setting of another. Nineteen different concerts have been planned, bringing in both amateurs and professionals whose repertoires range from Romantic music to French Chansons.  If that isn't something you can make happen, perhaps you can get to the museum this Tuesday evening as the Grand Hall will be the setting for a performance by the Orchestre national de France.  I have not been, but can only imagine how incredible an experience that will be.  So hope you are in Paris right now to take advantage of that!

Additional information:  Musée d'Orsay 
                                            Metro:  Solférino, Assemblée Nationale
                                            Closed Mondays
                                            Pastels in the Musée and Masks, now thru Feb. 1, 2009

Photo credit:  Musée d'Orsay, natalamc@flickr

Friday, November 21, 2008


I know that if you are reading this blog because you love Paris, then you surely have come across information far more in depth to anything I can write about Ladurée here.  And you have probably come across countless blog posts, articles, etc. that allude to the fact a visit to Paris is incomplete without a visit to Ladurée.  I would have to concur.  For me and many others, it is the complete sensorial definition of 'l'Art de Vivre' that the French have mastered so well.  Sight, sound, taste, aroma are woven together in such way that you are carried off to another time and place--one that no longer exists in our everyday world.  The company has masterfully created a sense of wanting to 'be' Ladurée.  

Recently, in celebration of their ten year anniversary of their location on the Champs Elysée, Ladurée ventured into the future with the addition of Ladurée Le Bar, a completely different way to experience the world of petite fours and macarons.  Located behind the salon de thé,  Laudurée Le Bar looks more like a lounge you might find on Starship Enterprise:  weblike barstools and an illuminated ship shaped bar feel more space age than belle époque.  If you're going to do something that feels entirely different from what already exists, this would be it.  

What does remain the same is their connection to the macaron flavors they've created for their patisseries.  Drinks like Pistache (my flavor choice), a melange of Grey Goose pear vodka, ginger liqueur and pistachio syrup is served up with a pale green pistachio macaron on the side.  Perfect.  Rose, Citron, Café and Cassis/Violette get the nod as well.  You can order non-alchohalic drinks, including their Thés Ladurée, all delicious.   
There is a menu available as well, serving breakfast and interesting light meals throughout the day.  Inventive and elegant would be a way  to describe them--read:  it will not be cheap but it will be memorable.  Whether it's the salon du thé that pulls you in or Le Bar, Ladurée, one way or the other is not to be missed. 

Additional information:  Ladurée
                                            Ladurée Le Bar
                                            75 avenue de Champs Élysée or 13 rue Lincoln 
                                            Métro:  George V

Photo credit:  Ladurée, L'Express Styles

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Champs Élysées Gets Ready For Christmas

Eric Kayser

Fast food does exist in Paris;  they love their 'McDo' but hate to admit it.  And you'll see people taking their lunch break in the Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens eating emporter (to go) sandwiches.  The French version of fast food is a far cry from McDonald's--it's actually very good.  If you are on the run, what with all the things one must do here in a short period of time, I suggest you head to any one of Eric Kayser boulangeries sprinkled about the city for yumminess that gets you in and out in a hurry.  
I was introduced to these boulangeries by a Parisian friend who claims they serve the best breakfasts in Paris.  A bit skeptical since 'breakfast' here does not mean what those of you in the states are use to.  Mini shots of espresso and a quick croissant is usually what you will find.  I'm fine with just the croissant--it's the endless cup of coffee that my body needs to get me going in the morning that's missing.  You won't find an endless cup anywhere in Paris, but you can get a wonderful continental breakfast with orange juice, coffee and a basket of baked goodies here.  My friend knows what he's talking about.  If you are traveling with young children as I have done, meals can be the toughest part of a trip to a foreign country.  At least here, you can ply them with a great breakfast and might not get too many complaints.  

I do believe you'd be safe bringing them here for lunch as well.  They serve delicious sandwiches and savory tarts that people will stand in line outside the door for.  If tables are hard to come by at lunch time, why don't you treat yourself to dining al fresco with your family or whoever you're traveling with.  Get your meal to go (emporter) and create an impromptu picnic in the Tuileries.  Speaking from experience, lunch in the gardens is pretty darn magnificent.  

Additional information:  Maison-Kayser
                                             Locations throughout Paris(see website)

Photo credit:  Maison-Kayser, mo foo@flickr, SevillaSD@flickr

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just Because....

Two of the world's most famous Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie, celebrated their 80th anniversary this past week, with the news of that event in the states for some reason remaining under the radar.  What with the presidential election and our economic crisis screaming at us 24/7,  it may have gotten lost but I think celebrating their birthday would have been most welcome on some of these darker days. Oddly enough, during Fashion week in Paris last month, designers showing their latest spring/summer lines took time out to create one-of-a-kind outfits in honor of the lovely Miss Minnie that were auctioned off at Christie's in Paris with proceeds going to Maison de Solenn, an organization helping young adults suffering from bulimia, anorexia, depression and other disorders. Kind of odd that it was such a big deal in France and not in the states. Hmm.  

Here are my favorites:

Minnie Lagerfeld
My favorite by far.  She and I have exactly the same 'goofy' legs. 

Photo credit:  Jacques Brinon

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ingres: Neo-Classical Genius

All this eating, drinking and shopping we've been doing has got to stop for a moment so we can get down to the nitty gritty of why one comes to Paris.  There are millions of reasons I know, but let's start with one of the more obvious-- art at its finest.  With that as our goal, the letter I is going to take us into the world of one of my favorite artists, Jean Auguste Ingres.

Jean Auguste Ingres was a student of the neo-classical school, having been taught by Jaques Louis David (another favorite of mine).  His biography is long and eventful and I don't need to go into great detail here as to all the awards he won and places he studied.  I just want to post some of his works that I find fascinating and each time I stand before them, some new element regarding his work is revealed. 

His portraits done for wealthy clients during his early years have been both revered and criticized.  His work has been called too stylized, while others feel his representation of women and fashion and the wearing of that fashion allows us to 'situate ourselves' within the painting. One is able to feel the weight of the fabric or hear the sound satin makes while rustling against legs trying to maneuver underneath it all.  He hated seeing obvious brush marks and that absolute precision, sometimes to a fault, comes through in his works.  Skin is milky and luminescent--it's tinge of blue hinting at life that lies just below.  The fabric's folds are meticulous and crisp, creating a sense of weight and volume.  I never tire standing in front of these works and breathing my own life into them.

His career covers numerous styles, including religious works (not my favorite) and at a very low point when work was not to be found, he took to doing pencil sketches of tourists making their way through Rome where he was living at the time.  With the skill he possessed, he felt this work unworthy of his talent, yet these sketches numbering over 400 are some of his most admired.  

Then of course, there is the La Grande Odalisque, which I present to you not one, not two, but three ways.  The top is the original which can be found at the Louvre.  It was painted for Napoleon's sister Caroline Murat of Naples for which he was never paid.  It shows an odalisque or concubine, reclining on sumptuous fabric surrounded by Turkish inspired accouterments.  I can't say why exactly I am so drawn to it but every time I visit the Louvre I pay homage to this painting while the rest of the world visits 'La Joconde'.  The middle is a pencil sketch that Ingres created as inspiration and finally there is the work in Grisaille that you can find at the Metropolitan Museum in New York which is attributed to assistants of his. Not knowing of its existence, when I entered the room it was displayed in, it just took my breath away.  The minute I saw it, there was that pull again. It's so strong that I had to use it as the mast head for my blog.  It's weird so I just go with it. 

Sending you off in other directions if any of this is of any interest to you.  Certainly if you are making your way to Paris, you are going to run into Monsieur Ingres at some point so I thought you two should be introduced.  

Additional information:, artchive, ingresweb
Photo credit:  wikipedia, ingresweb, metmuseum

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hidden Kitchen

We are off to do some more eating, but what you are going to experience is like nothing else you might encounter in Paris.  It use to be under the radar in terms of things to do and places to go when you are here but with its charming hosts and creative menus offering great cuisine, paired with equally great wine, it wasn't going to stay on the QT for long.  Come join me as we make our way to Hidden Kitchen.

Talk about living the dream, Braden and Laura, the brains and brawn behind this Hidden Kitchen, decided in 2007 to make the big leap of faith and head across the ocean from their safe haven in Seattle to experience life in Paris.  A dream destination for both of them, it was a now or never decision.   Originally looked at as a sabbatical before grad school or settling into careers, they packed their bags and hit the road.  Realizing that with no school or jobs as social outlets, meeting people and making new friends was going to be tricky.  With Brandon's previous restaurant experience they decided to create weekly tasting menus, inviting 12 people over to their spacious pied-a-terre for great food and conversation.  Word spread quickly about this new 'underground' restaurant and as the saying goes, the rest in history.  Now with three weekend seatings in their dining room that are sold out in no time, I do believe grad school will have to be put on hold for these two.  
My reservation for a Sunday last February was the last one available and with good reason. Their seven course tasting menus, influenced by seasonal organic ingredients found locally are interpreted into sublime American cuisine with twists of French technique.  Items that you might find in front of you are seared scallops with chorizo and black bean hash, tri-color beans with deep fried cauliflower and spicy buttermilk dressing or butternut squash bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce.  Nothing short of amazing.  A well chosen organic wine is paired with each course, enhancing the meal and evening.  

The winds of fate put you at a table with others like you who enjoy good food and are looking for an out of the ordinary way to experience Paris.  On the particular evening that I attended,  I found myself with a lifelong Parisian, an architect from Boston who just completed a week long mosaic class in Venice, an American ex-patriot about to publish her 'chick-lit' novel of finding love in Paris, a surgeon from Los Angeles and an Irishman and his Swedish wife from London. Quite the diverse group and what an evening we had, one I would love to experience over and over again.  No one was in a hurry to leave after the final petite four was eaten, perhaps much to the chagrin of a very tired host and hostess--you know, the things that wouldn't leave.  Just  think, Brandon and Laura get to enjoy evenings like that every weekend.  What luck!!

Additional information:
Photo credits:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Galeries Lafayette

So far in our discovery of Paris we have been eating and drinking, both of which are good things (more of that to come). We know the lay of the land a bit and we smell good.  What else.....oh, I know, shopping.  Yes, people, no trip to Paris would be complete without at least a bit of aching arms as a result of being loaded down with shopping bags.  Therefore, the letter G is going to lead the way and drop us off at Galeries Lafayette. (Thank you letter G).

The Grand Dame of Parisian department stores, Galeries Lafayette opened it's doors on Boulevard Haussmann in 1896.  Under a magnificent Belle Époque stained glass ceiling covering a seven story atrium, this flagship store is the largest department store in Europe.  A visit here requires a good chunk of your day and may take an even bigger chunk out of your wallet.

Having witnessed some lean times, the entire store has been brilliantly re-outfitted to cater to every shopping need and then some that you could possibly have.  Divided into boutique-like areas, it features cosmetics and fragrances too numerous to mention, handbags and shoe departments that you just have to shake your head in disbelief and wonder 'How am I ever going to be able to make a choice'? Surrounding all this are haute couture boutiques, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, etc. to add to the confusion.  Oh, did I mention we are still on the first floor?

As you wind your way up, you will come in contact with some of the most beautiful cloths imaginable--the type that most of don't really have an opportunity to purchase on our runs to Target here in the states.  Luckily haute couture and the everyday knockabout kind of clothes peacefully coexist here so you are bound to find a little something for everyone.  And while it can be exhausting and require more time than you might think, not to worry.  They have ingeniously thought out every detail and there are several restaurants and even a champagne bar (I never wanted to leave once I saw that) which allow you to recharge your battery and keep on shopping.
But wait!! There's more.  If you go through the men's department (you are now in a totally different building and either have to walk outside to get there or through a glass walkway connecting the two) you will find the best reason to go to Galeries Lafayette.  Lafayette Gourmet is a full gourmet grocery store where you can find just about anything from the simple to the sublime. Not only can you get the goods to take home and prepare a great meal, with numerous food stations/mini-restaurants right there, you can treat yourself to some of the yummiest food in Paris and I say that in all seriousness.  The photo above is just one of those food bars that features Spanish Iberico ham that is out of this world and you cannot come by the real thing here in the states due to how it is processed (an FDA thing).  A seat at this counter is one of the most coveted of places to have lunch.  It took my daughters and I almost a year of trying to find three seats together to partake in a little food heaven.  But when we did, oh my!  Seriously, as crazy as it sounds, every time we are in Paris we make our way here for a great meal.  

OK--how's the arms?  Have you had enough?  It is overwhelming and if there is anyone who doesn't like to shop traveling with you, I just wouldn't bring them along.  Send them in a direction they will enjoy so you can do your thing.  Just make sure the right one ends up with the credit card!!

Additional information:  Galeries Lafayette
                                            40, blvd Haussmann
                                            Métro: Chaussée-d'Antin-LaFayette, Opera  

Photo credit:  bugatteeb@flickr, stevecadman@flicker, eekypooh@flickr,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fragonard: The Fragrance Kind

Since I could go one of two ways with the name Fragonard, we are going to have to revisit it at a later date in order to cover both important topics:  the artist and the topic for today, the perfumery.

Fragrance has been around as long, longer than mankind.  Plants and their scents that we know and understand today have been a part of our history forever.  Think lavender, basil, mint. Herbs that have been used for centuries as herbal remedies or offerings to gods have been with us so long that we take them so for granted and yet they at times were more precious than gold.
The world perfume is derived from Latin per (through) and fume (to smoke) illustrating how the first perfumes were obtained from the burning of wood, resins and other mixtures to create scent.  Odd to think that once again pre-history and antiquity were way ahead of our game.  As we found out yesterday, they were eating escargot in their loin clothes and togas.  Now this!!

It wasn't until the 19th century that perfume making and the entire industry saw huge growth. Modern discoveries and industrialization made it much easier to mass produce either natural or synthetic essences allowing chemists to create a multitude of scents.  Originally found in bath salts and sachets, the invention of the atomizer by French author Brillat-Savarin, made it possible to dispense spirit or distilled products and, hence, perfume as we know it today.  

One company that has been in this highly competitive and unlike any other business since 1791 is Fragonard.  Founded in Grasse, which is the perfume capital of the world, the company took their name in honor of the other Fragonard, painter Jean-Honoré, and has been creating fragrances, bath soaps and cosmetics ever since.  In addition, they have made available numerous museums throughout France and Paris that are open to the public to illustrate the incredible history of perfume.  I have read much about this topic and cannot do it justice in a short blog post.  At the end, I will send you off on your own little journey to delve deeper if you desire.

Paris is home to not one, but two history of perfume museums owned by Fragonard.  The one on rue Scribe in the 9th arrondisement is housed in an elegant town home built in 1860 and will take you back to that exact moment in time.

The second location in the 2nd arrondissement is the antithesis of its sibling.  Sleek and contemporary, it offers a subtle backdrop to vintage perfume bottles and distillation equipment that allows them to be set off and enjoyed for what they are with little distraction.  I love how the French can go either way--elaborate and historic or cutting edge and modern--and both work beautifully. 

These do not require lengthy museum stays and one can certainly tuck a quick visit into their itinerary.  The wonderful thing is they are located near other sites of interest which makes access to them easy and are a perfect way to round out a busy day.  

Additional information:  Fragonard 

                                             Le musée de parfum
                                             9 rue Scribe
                                             Métro: Opéra

                                             Le theatre des Capucines museum
                                             39 blvd des Capucines
                                             Métro: Opéra
                                             The Perfect Scent

                                             Perfumes:  The Guide

Photo credit:  Fragonard