Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Novica gift ideas

I don't often do giveaways here on the blog but NOVICA is a company I really believe in and love to share (I've done a few giveaways with them in the past). They're offering a $75 gift certificate to a reader of my blog.
Use it towards a larger purchase like the Celadon Vase at the top or something less expensive like these fabulous stone obelisks above.
This stone sphere would be really great in a tablescape and I'm loving the classical lines of the Parota wood table lamp below too. A silver heart-shaped necklace would make a great gift.
To enter, simply leave a comment below. Leave additional comments for sharing this on Twitter and on Facebook for even more chances to win! I will randomly select the winner Tuesday, May 28th at noon. Good luck!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paris vacation - day 7

Rainy day 7 was spent primarily at the Louvre. Overwhelming, immense, claustrophobically crowded, and over the top in every way possible, who can visit Paris without a visit to the Louvre?
The apartments of Napoleon III were luckily open and were awe inducing even after the splendors of Fountainbleu. The Grand Salon, seen above, reminded me of a hotel lobby in scale and how I would have loved to have had a drink there!
It was fascinating to see the furniture of Madame Recamier (including HER recamier) as well as numerous portraits of her including the famous one by David. The museum is so immense it is difficult to even follow the maps given upon entering under the Pei Pyramid but treasures abound around every corner.  While the highlights of the museum such as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo, etc., draw huge and overwhelming crowds, other parts of the museum are quieter and cafes are to be found in all sorts of corners for museum breaks.
I think the biggest surprise upon seeing many of the paintings I studied back in art history school is that many of the paintings by David and others of that time period are LIFE SIZE if not larger!  'The Consecration of the Emporer Napoleon' must be at least 30feet long and 20feet high. Vertically challenged Napoleon never looked so big.
The stairwells are so large that you would think you were in Grand Central or some other train station. They provide excellent meeting points however and many have cafes or small gift shops.
Rounding the corner on my escape, I was shocked to see both of Michelangelo's slaves with no one paying any attention to them. It was a joy to be able to study them closely without being jostled about.
'Winged Victory' flies over a palatial set of stairs, straight out of Funny Face; The only thing missing was Fred Astaire!  A quick run over to the Marais for last minute shopping (I'm keeping Mariage Freres in business) before a quiet night at home and packing rounds out this magical trip. I hope you've enjoyed my daily recaps and find something useful for your own trip to the city of lights!

Paris vacation - day 6

As you can probably tell we've done a lot in just a few days! So day 6 was kept intentionally slow. We decided to stay close to home and at the recommendation of a couple we met at dinner one evening checked out the Conciergerie.
 An odd museum, it encompasses the prisons used notoriously during the revolution. The history of the building goes much further back however as it was part of the old Capetian palace from the 15th century. Here you can see a recreation of Marie Antoinette's cell as well as a memorial to her and Louis XVI. I have to be honest and recommend that you skip this museum; so many other greater things to see in Paris!
The bonus to visiting the Conciergerie however was buying tickets to the adjacent St Chapelle and avoiding the horrendous lines!  I had never visited the 13th century chapel before and can literally say it took my breathe away (and not just the tiny circular stair which takes you up to the main Upper Chapel). If you can visit SOON as the restoration of the windows is nearly complete and it is so interesting to contrast the restored windows versus the unrestored.
I have to say some of the worst behavior I've ever seen at a tourist attraction was exhibited here from people of all nationalities and ages.  People were touching the painted surfaces everywhere (despite constant warnings not to and numerous signs) as well as being incredibly loud and disrespectful even though silent signs were everywhere and guides where shushing us like kindergarden children. Really a disappointing environment to have in such splendor. 
The weather has been damp with daily rainfall but even the flooded Seine is a sight to behold in the evening.