Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Paris, Old Friend

It’s so wonderful to be in Paris again and to walk the little streets of the 7eme arrondissement where I am staying, and along the quai and up the Champs-Élysées, which I used to walk every day on my way to the Louvre.  I know I was amazed at each door and each storefront when I first saw them; every time I turned a corner there was something new and more unique to discover.  But after awhile, well, you lose some of that sense of awe.  It’s just Paris, it’s where you live, and you become accustomed to being surrounded by beauty, by grandeur and by perfection.  Paris is the culmination of French style, full stop.  Though I blog a lot about how much I love province, there is no refuting Paris’ position as one of the world’s most fascinating and stylish cities in the world.  How is it that one can become so accustomed to living in the middle of it all?  I have a theory that the Parisians do not ooh and ahh over the City in reaction to the throngs of tourists.  While the tourists snap away with cameras (and now iPhones and iPads), and crane their necks to see the tops of buildings, the Parisians wouldn’t be caught dead doing any of that.  They remain stoic and somewhat dispassionate about their surroundings.

But remove yourself for a time, and come back to it….it’s like rediscovering all of your Christmas decorations each year, only a hundred times better.  I know I never forgot it, but walking around the last few days has been marvelous~


It’s interesting for me to come back to Paris, a city that I know so well. No map of any kind needed to get around in the City itself, on foot or by metro or car; though sometimes I can’t tell you the address, I know landmarks and how to get places though.  Since living here, I have visited sporadically, usually for a few days as a stopover on my way somewhere else.  I sort of figured, “I’ve done Paris, I know it.”  I guess that sounds somewhat dismissive, and I don’t want to be dismissive of Paris, it’s just that there have been so many other places to discover in depth, Beaune and Burgundy, the Riviera and Brittany and Normandy.  Whether it’s Paris or France or anywhere else in the world, it takes multiple visits to really understand a place and it’s people. 

But as you know, we will be launching our Rêve series, and if you want to talk about France, Paris is the logical place to start.  And so here I find myself, for nine days, a short trip by many standards, but enough for me to see it all again, photograph it and give you some insights.  After two days, I can say that it really is like rediscovering an old friend, rekindling a love.  If you haven’t been to Paris in a while, or if you have always wanted to visit, let me assure you, it’s all still here. All the wonderful shops and galleries along Rue Jacob and Rue du Beaune…


There are paintings for purchase in dozens of galleries, but even if you don’t buy, the opportunity to view them is free~ 


The fabric stores…take your pick; I still love the classics, and dream of a room done in Braquenié ~


There is a wide range of textiles and bedding, from the best Provencal to the latest trends, though I still love the classics….


The doors, each a color more beautiful and interesting than the last, each with their own distinct hardware, seem to be polished daily~


Ladurée is still here, on Rue Jacob in the former digs of Madeleine Castaing. I will go here for tea this week~


And the vistas….the Eiffel Tower, the boats loaded with tourists cruising the Seine, and the monuments….at some point when you live in Paris you don’t give them a second look, but returning later…they are fresh again, and as beautiful as ever~


Yes, sometimes it’s good to leave something and then come back to it. I’m having a wonderful time already just rediscovering all of the joys and details of Paris. And of course, sharing them here.  Whether you are five or seventy-five, everyone loves Paris.   What is interesting to me too is how Paris continues to evolve.  As with any large city, I suppose, it changes in small ways.  Tourists can now be driven around in pedi-cabs, and through the Vélib program, you can share one of the 20,000 bicycles that are available at about 1,800 stations in Paris.  I’ve also discovered the Autolib program, which lets you share an electric car for short-term use around Paris, kind of like the ZipCar program.  I’m going to check this out today and hope to take one out for a few short trips around Paris.  Here is the charging station across from the Louvre~


There are so many big and little trends that emerge here and across Europe.  One is coffee, roasted on the premises in Paris, as well as the coffee cart…here is a pedal-cart at the flea market.  It was so cold on Saturday morning, I asked him if he had any cognac on that cart.  No, but the gregarious young vendor whose shop we were in front of said he had a bottle handy.  This was a really great cappuccino on the go while antique shopping, and he also makes amazing fresh-pressed orange juice~


The other trend (well it can’t be called a trend anymore…it’s seen in Italy and probably around Europe) is the locks phenomenon.  The idea is to write your initials or names and/or dates on a lock and attach it to the bridge over a river.  Have a little micro-ceremony of how much you love each other or how much you have enjoyed your vacation, attach the lock to the bridge and toss the key into the river~


Here is the footbridge over the Seine in front of the Louvre.  You can’t really see, but the length of the bridge is covered on both sides with locks.  Enterprising Parisians are selling locks on the bridge, in case you didn’t bring your own, and all day long people are having their ceremonies and tossing keys~


I am impressed with some of the locks, they are very elaborate, this one is scratched in and heart-shaped~


Others look like they’ve been engraved ahead of time~


Will they run out of space on the bridge for locks?  I think so, but just in case, there is another bridge nearby that also has coated-steel sides, which will accommodate a million locks.  Anyway, this is a trend that will not be slowing anytime soon, going strong for a decade or so now.  But it wasn’t here when I was here so it’s sort of new to me.

This morning we are off to two food markets, a little shopping, a lot of photographs.  Another séance de photo with the Eiffel Tower.  I’m going to try to blog about my daily activities next; in a few short days, I’ve already covered a lot of ground and done some great shopping.  So, welcome to Paris….

À bientôt~


  1. There is nothing quite like an insider's perspective on Paris - or any location. Waiting for the next instalment. xxx

  2. Wish I was there, but will enjoy reading about your journey...

    Sheila in Sf

  3. My dream is to spend time in Paris someday! Sigh!

  4. Oh the zip car program sounds so interesting. I can see us using it when we needed it!

  5. Oh how I love the textiles of France! I hope that you are able to share what is behind those beautiful doors in your magazine of dreams, my friend! The antique heart shape locks are magnificent! I just shared the images with my husband (he is home sick today)!

    ...and the barista on the move!
    You made my morning coffee perfect! Now off to the shower and office with daydreams in my head!

  6. It's been 8 years or so since I've been to Paris. I am planning to go back within the next year or so and will be following along on your trip! lol I've enJOYed being on tour with you!
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

  7. Dearest Andrea, thank you so much for sharing this beauty and for all you have done!

    Love and Hugs
    Art by Karena