Got myself an invitation to the Inaugural opening of Paris Tableau, an international fair for old master's paintings. It is dedicated to presenting Old Master's works from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. The fun part of all this is that if one is lucky enough to afford it, one can actually go home with a little something as the works are being presented by art dealers from around the world.
Today is the opening day, invite only. The event will be all weekend long at the Palais de la Bourse, the former Paris stock exchange, or as it is described on the website, temple of finance. Hmmm, these days, not so much.
Anyway, must get moving. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if you can't attend you can get the idea here.
A simple composed salad of tiny pears, bleu cheese, walnuts, honey, olive oil and fleur de sel from the Camargue all procurred at Saturday's rue Mouffetard market. People from all over the world make their way to this colorful, food-vending street. Poissonneries, boulangeries, chocolateries, tea and wine merchants abound. Lucky me....I live on this foodie heaven street. I stumble out of my apartment (I live behind the brown door in the photo below) and that friendly wine seller knows exactly which bottle of Côtes du Rhône to have waiting for me. The fish sellers on the other side of the door put on their daily "show" of exotic seafood displayed so beautifully. Today there were street musicians adding to the ambiance.
An absolute must for all you foodies visiting Paris.
These are just a few of the beautiful vintage Hermés scarves auctioned off here this past week. All of them, designs past and present, are complete works of art. A close friend has a closet filled with bright orange boxes, each one containing a gift either from someone or to herself and she uses them all. Clearly, I have scarf envy.
To take care of scarf envy, one need only head to the new Hermés store on rue de Sèvres in the 6th. A former indoor pool for Hôtel Lutetia right around the corner, this space has been magically transformed to hold not only beautiful silk scarves but home decor, clothing, a well curated book department, floral shop and tea salon. The children's department, yes, there is one, was the only place I could perhaps afford something....a coloring book for a mere 100 euros. What I did actually walk away with was a beautifully forced hyacinth in a green glass container for about 20 euro. My tiny purchase makes me happy every time I come in contact with its heady fragrance.
I used this photo as my facebook status yesterday to let my people know that lunch in Paris can be pretty darn sweet. I stopped by a boulangerie on rue Saint Dominique that offers a lunch "emporter" or take away lunch. In this case it was a sesame baguette with camembert and walnuts, a tarte abricot and a bottled water all for 6 euro. A short walk across avenue Bosquet and voilà, a mid-day meal at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
A Sunday in Paris...a day of complete and utter pleasure. No pressure here to do anything more complicated than to just enjoy the unfolding of the day. Hopefully that unfolding takes place with the special people in one's life. Yesterday included brunch with my daughter at Le Pain Quotidien, a stroll through Luxembourg Gardens and dinner with good friends.
With the weather turning balmy and working hard to be springlike, it was a perfect in every way.
The good news about coming home from a book store in my world is that generally, whatever I purchase will get read numerous times. The people in my immediate circle (read loving family) have similar tastes in our reading selections so our library has a number of dog-eared volumes that have been loved over and over. It does my heart good to see coffee stains, underlining or folded over corners in some of my favorite titles as I know they have been a source of inspiration and entertainment for others. And should I lend a book to someone, I let it go, not really expecting to get it back but hoping its journey is a good one wherever it ends up. Both my daughter and I just finished reading this latest classic discovery and have had numerous conversations about its message over glasses of wine these last few evenings while I fix dinner.
Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant, is the author's second novel written in 1885. Obviously a social commentary on fin-de-siecle Paris, it follows the cavortings of Georges Duroy, an absolute cad with an insatiable thirst for upward mobility. Owning no sense of decency, the reader holds one's breath throughout thinking Monsieur Duroy could not possibly sink lower....yet he never disappoints. Or should I say, he is a complete disappointment.
Contemporary politics and journalism are woven throughout only adding to the amount of deception that a society is capable of. Nothing that we don't see on a daily basis in this day and age in cheesy tabloids or "news" sites splashed throughout the internet. Clearly, this stinging, but oh, so entertaining tale illustrates all that de Maupassant wrestled with and condemned in his current moment.
I have saved the best for last on this one. Being released this year is Bel-Ami, the movie with the lead being played by Robert Pattinson. He is perfectly cast as the lead in my mind with Christina Ricci and Uma Thurman helping things out. All good choices. Depending on how you feel about books being made into movies, you might want to enjoy all that this one holds before heading to the movie theater. For me, movies are always watered down versions after having read such rich text. Pick your poison on this one.
When one arrives in Paris, the need to blend in is strong yet difficult. The chic, hastily thrown together nonchalance that embodies a Parisian's every movement, thought, conversation, fashion statement is not easy to duplicate. While we, meaning non-Parisians feel all out of sorts here....too uptight, too frumpy, too loud, too bright and want to fit in, the chances of becoming "French" overnight is impossible. Our fanny packs, white sneakers, shorts in the summer and vente "emporter" or to go cups from Starbucks are all dead giveaways that we are here for a weeklong immersion on foreign soil bringing all our wonderful habits from the states with us.
Enter Olivier Giraud. A handsome, talented comedian, and Parisian resident, Monsieur Giraud has very cleverly brought all the idiosyncrasies of his fellow countrymen together for a one hour session on how to master the ways of the Parisian. He pokes fun at their crazy ways and in so doing, empowers out-of-towners to feel confident in the ways of behaving properly in a cab, grabbing the attention of a haughty café waiter (good luck with that) and helping the elderly or pregnant women in the métro (they get to sit). All of this is done in English with a comic force that will leave you laughing at our faux pas and feeling much better about our crazy ways!
Make one of his shows first on your list of things to do once you arrive in Paris and your stay will become that much easier. Or at the very least, the frustrating ways of the Parisians will become....enjoyable