Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Edit: Apparently there were a few glitches with this post and the text was distorted for some people. I'm not sure what happened because it shows up fine on my screen, but hopefully this fixes the problem! If not, let me know and I'll try to figure it out :)


It's hard to believe we've come to the end of another year. I hope you all had a lovely holiday and are enjoying a much-needed break.


Normally I don't make New Year's resolutions but this year I am making one: get the most I possibly can out of my last month in Paris. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, and there's so much more I want to do before I leave. So I'll see you next year for more adventures as I sprint to the finish line.

Happy New Year and here's to a great start to 2010!


(This is the giant ferris wheel at the end of the Champs Elysees at the Place de la Concorde. My mom and friends were here visiting over Christmas so I finally had an excuse to go on it! So awesome.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More from Galeries Lafayette

Even though Printemps won the window contest, Galeries Lafayette definitely gained some major points for their decorations inside the store.




Can you believe this is a department store? Seriously, this place rivals the Opera House! The best part is that if you manage to trudge up the stairs all the way to the top floor, you can go out onto the rooftop observation deck! It's probably one of the best free views in the city, plus there's no waiting in line.





Ah, Paris.

It's moments like this when I can't believe how lucky I am to be here.

Holiday Window Shopping


I love this time of year, but one thing I don't like is how it gets dark SO early now. I mean, really, 5 o'clock? The lack of daylight was really getting to me this weekend, so I decided to go somewhere with lots and lots of lights - the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores.

The famous holiday window displays at both of these stores were incredible. The sidewalks were packed with people crowding around the windows, trying to get a good look. Actually the whole area was pretty packed - the two stores are literally a block away from each other, and they're right behind the Opera Garnier so it's basically a tourist heaven. But there were lots of families, too, with tons of little kids staring in awe at the dancing toys and gingerbread men.

The Galeries Lafayette theme was "gourmet holidays" so there were lots of food-related things that of course made me really hungry (i.e. towers of macaroons and really elaborate things made out of chocolate).





 These people don't spare any details - right down to the sprinkle-covered eyelashes and nails.

Printemps was definitely my favorite, though. They had kind of a Russian-doll/enchanted forest thing going on, with amazing designer clothes thrown in. I went a little crazy with taking pictures, but there was just so much cool stuff to see.



I liked these funny little dancing guys.












This one is my favorite - how amazing is that tapestry-covered horse?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rue Cler market

One of my favorite things about Paris is being able to shop at open-air markets. Now, in all honesty I usually end up doing most of my grocery shopping at Monoprix, which is roughly the equivalent of a SuperTarget and about as un-chic as it gets. However, I still like to go to markets and pretend to be all sophisticated and Parisian, imagining the fabulous meals I'm going to cook with all the exotic produce on display, not to mention the 3,000 types of cheese. I'll then serve said fabulous meals at a table decorated with the fresh flowers I bought, and - well, one can always dream.

Here's a little peek at my Sunday morning trip to one of the most well-known markets in the city, Rue Cler.

video





Monday, December 7, 2009

Amelie



I just wanted to take a minute to share this great post from Anne Ditymeyer of Prêt à voyager. Montmartre, where most of the movie Amélie takes place, is one of my favorite areas in Paris. It's full of winding streets and steep stairs, packed little cafes and lots of street artists, and at the top of it all is Sacre Coeur. I've spent many afternoons there just wandering around and people-watching. Anne's project focuses on the use of color in the movie and shows the differences between the real Montmartre and the film version - I think it's so fascinating.

Chateau de Carrouges

The Château de Carrouges in lower Normandy is much smaller than Vaux-le-Vicomte, although any house with a moat can't be all that small, can it? It definitely has a more homey, welcoming feel, and best of all - it wasn't swarming with tourists. In fact, there were only a few other people there, so we were able to see everything and take our time.


I always love a château with a moat - they remind me of knights and damsels and all that wonderful stuff of fairy tales.

Once you go across the water and into the courtyard, the first thing you see are these great pops of bright yellow and teal. Although these accents probably aren't historically accurate, I love the contrast of the bright colors against the brick and stone.



The interior was filled with gorgeous furniture, fabrics, and painted wall decorations. As much as I loved Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte, I actually prefer the smaller scale and coziness of Carrouges.

Vaux-le-Vicomte

Before I launch into pictures from my trips outside France, I thought I would share some more adventures around Paris.  First up is a visit to the château Vaux-le-Vicomte just outside the city.
A collaboration between the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André Le Nôtre, and the painter and interior decorator Charles Le Brun, the château was built in the mid-17th century for Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's minister of finance.  The king was supposedly so envious of Fouquet's château that he decided to build Versailles to show him up.

On a completely unrelated and more contemporary note, this is also where Eva Longoria and Tony Parker got married. Not too shabby.


These two little girls were running around the hall wearing period costumes. Cutest thing ever.

Love the all-yellow bed, even though I'm probably too tall to fit in it.







Though it started raining just as we were leaving, all in all it was a lovely day. I hope to be able to post château #2 tonight, so check back later!