Saturday, May 18, 2013

Paris vacation - day 5

Day 5 started with a long overdue visit to the Rodin Museum located in the historic hotel Biron.  Despite ongoing restorations (half of the museum and gardens were closed) it was an awe inspiring visit; great house, great art, great story. 
One thing I have to say is that it was nice to see a place that actually looked OLD, at least on the interior. Most things I find here are 'restored' to a state more pristine than their original form.  Whats wrong with old sometimes? Being a museum since 1918 has left it a little worn though.  The entry foyer was a beautiful space seen above.
The art is amazing of course. The movement found within the pieces is my favorite aspect; these large hands were so expressive and probably my favorite piece.
A (quick) stop next door to the Invalides is also recommended, but you don't need to spend too much time here (unless you're interested in military museums).  Check out the chapel and Napolean's tomb (you can't miss it, under the dome!).
After a quick lunch at a local bistro, we jumped on the subway to the Marais to check out the Cognaq-Jay Museum. Often overlooked, the charming museum is housed in a renovated hotel particuleur and is full of 18th century decorative arts and furniture (you KNOW I loved that).  Light on substance perhaps but lots of pretty.
Across the street is the enormous Carnavalet Museum - the museum of the city of Paris. The central garden courtyard, seen above, is gorgeous.  I had avoided this museum on past trips thinking it would be a dry but I was so wrong.
The museum tells the story of the city through its people and events, not dry numbers and facts. Models of the city and its monuments, paintings of celebrities, period rooms, ephemora from the revolution and different time periods: altogether a fascinating look at an interesting but dramatic city.
The period rooms are lovely, this boiserie was highly detailed. The photo above was of Proust's bedroom recreated along with a number of other celebrities.
A bust of architect Mansart lines one of the many stair wells. Don't miss the Carnavalet! Lesson learned.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paris vacation - day 4

After the excitement of day 3, Day 4 was spent a little slower and more organic.  After sleeping in we wandered over to the Place de la Bastille for the antique brocante market.  Above you see the last remains of the dreaded Bastille.
The brocante market is a moving event throughout the city where antique vendors come from around the world to display their wares. It was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Expect to pay about 10 euro for entrance.
 A late lunch in a cafe on the Place des Vosges was a great way to relax and people watch.
 The Place des Vosges is one of the most beautiful spots in the city. While the townhouses surrounding the square are all very similar, each is slightly different proving you dont' have to have perfect symmetry to have balance.
Wandering around the Marais is full of surprises. The oldest existing part of the city you never know what you'll stumble upon. Ancient buildings are filled with new and inspiring art and clothing galleries mingled with the cities most fascinating museums located in stunning hotel particuleurs.
Make sure to stop into the church of St Paul St Louis to see the stunning Delacroix paintings in the side chapels.
Even after a gloomy, rainy day, Paris will surprise you with a fantastic evening and an even more spectacular sunset!

Paris Vacation - day 3

Day 3 was meant to be one of the trip's highlights and did not disappoint. I scheduled a Pariscityvision tour of both Vaux le Vicomte and Fountainbleau - a little out of the city.
 For the most part I can't recommend these bus tours highly enough; 'leave the driving to us' and enjoy your trip!  Vaux le Vicomte is an amazing 17th century chateau which led Louis XIV to create the Versailles we have today (and imprisonment for its' owner who dared build a greater palace than the sun king!)
 The interiors mostly have been brought back to this early creation but glimpses of the future styles to come still remain as well.  We were lucky with the weather and the chateau was astounding.
 On the way out of the chateau don't miss the large carriage museum and lunch at the cafe located in the stables; very charming.
 Next on the trip was Fountainbleau, country home to French Kings and later emporers for more than 7 centuries.
Fountainbleau will take your breathe away by sheer size and the number of styles included. Really though it is an architectural 'hot mess' that is delightful and magnificent.
 Napolean left the largest mark on the chateau perhaps because he was the last person to make significant changes. Above you see about 1/3 of a corridor showing his family portraits (big family!).
 Napolean's camp bed has been set up within a tented room - so chic!
 Napolean had a throne room set up within the apartments of king Louis XVI. cheeky.....
Which was set up next to Marie Antoinette's bedroom.  I will never understand the flow of these 18th century palaces and their enfilades. How do you live here? bedroom attached to bathroom attached to throne room.
The tour ends at the Hotel Regina across from the Louvre and I suggest you end the day with a drink in their elegant bar as I did.
After dinner at L'Ilot Vache on the Ile St Louis (one of my favorite retaurants I find myself at time and again), I was thankful to climb the million steps up to my own Paris Pied a terre just across the street. Long but fabulous days!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Paris vacation - first days

Dear Reader, I again find myself blessfully and blissfully on vacation in Paris.  The first two days have been spent organically, wandering around the city and reacquainting myself with different charming nooks.
I spent a fair part of the afternoon wandering around the Luxembourg gardens after a delicious lunch at one of my favorite restaurants that I come to again and again; Chez Fernand on the Rue Christine.
I particularly loved these stone urns planted with simple geraniums in the gardens. Also not to be missed is the Chagall exhibit at the nearby Musee Luxembourg.
A walk past the wonderful Invalides convinced me I need to visit inside sometime this trip!
No post on Paris is complete without the ubiquitous shot of the Eiffel Tower.
On the left above is the Hotel Crillon (the clean part of the building) which is sadly closed for renovations. We caught them loading the last of the contents into trucks(famously auctioned off last month at staggering prices).
Paris is full of beautiful doorways but the one above, in a very Parisian turquoise, boasts newly cleaned brass hardware. While I love the patina of age something is just so beautiful about frequently and lovingly maintained old hardware.
After a long day of wandering around the city nothing is better than returning to your own little apartment in the city seen above (rented of course) with copious amounts of stinky cheeses and a still-warm baguette from the local boulangerie. I am again staying in a cozy apartment on the well-located Ile St. Louis which I can't recommend more highly; just say no to hotels!