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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

"Paris is always a good idea" - Sabrina

As I emerged from the Louvre the sun was shining for the first time since I arrived in Paris.  I hadn't planned to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, then I thought to myself... hang on, you're in PARIS, go atop the Eiffel Tower.  And I did. To watch the sunset.

Many misconceptions were cleared up about this magical city:

- the French are not rude. The service isn't friendly, it's professional. It's refreshing
- most people speak English.  Say bonjour and ask if they speak English in French and they will help out
- it is preposterously expensive to buy a drink at a cafe or restaurant (I paid 7 euro for a juice and 6.80 for a pot of green tea)
- the metro is meritorious. 12 euro for a 10 trip and trains on all lines run every two minutes day and night
- I heard that Paris was dirty. Not what I saw at all.
- macarons at Laduree trump those at Pierre Herme.  My favourite Laduree macaron is vanilla.
- walk into every store on Rue Montaigne and touch everything.  Nobody will mind.  And it's surprisingly more affordable than elsewhere

Monday, 28 November 2011

3 pairs of shoes in a week? I need an intervention!

2010 was proudly the year that I did not purchase a single pair of shoes. The 6 inch "Kardashian Kraze" was not to my liking at all so I stuck to what I had.  As I teenager my mum did not let me wear heels. So of course I locked away pocket money and went with my best friend when we were both nearing our 18th birthday to purchase the highest pair of heels I could find and afford (I think they were about $60 from Williams).  My friends parents were a little more understanding than mine so my shoes stayed hidden at her houses and I totted around in them every time I stayed over.

My mum had never worn heels so thought it was the right choice for me as well.  I had all the freedom in the world - to go where I want and wear what I want.  But no high heels.

You see my mum was one of those chic European women who had an enviable capsule wardrobe. Her winter coat cost 5 months of her (very high at the time) salary.  I remember when she went to Italy to buy it.  But she wore it for 10 years. I remember her amazing leather sandals and belts and jewellery and stunning silk blouses.  I remember every piece and I swear had any of it survived our rushed move to Australia I would be wearing all of it now.

In the wide open spaces of Australia we drive everywhere.  I know people in their 30's who have never stepped foot onto a train.  Paris, being a relately small city area wise with such a huge population had no traffic.  Why?  Because everyone used the metro.  Walking everywhere and up and down the stairs of the metro meant that flats was the foot wear of choice.  And everyone looked chic all the same.

This has inspired me to rethink my shoedrobe.  Most of my shoes are torture devices.  They're fine when I try them on, they're fine for the first hour or so, but after that I'm in agony. Maybe my mum was onto something.

Since returning home from my trip I have acquire 3 new pairs of shoes... Including these wonderful brighton Zara sandals.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Musee de Louvre - my favourite day in Paris

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I packed seriously wrong.  I lugged two pairs of boots, a coat and gazillion layers as everyone kept telling me it was COLD.  Well they were wrong.  It was overcast and thus rather muggy.  Melbourne is cold when it's 15C, Paris is NOT despite what the Parisians may think.  By the end of it I was quickly tiring of overheating and pulling layers on and off, especially in the very, very, overheated indoors.

The day I chose to visit the Louvre ended up being the first sunny day in the 5 days I had spent there, so I used my time efficiently and decided to spend the afternoon at the Eiffel Tower to maximise the clear skies and picture opportunities.

I don't know what's better, the Louvre itself or the art within it.  I didn't know whether to look up, down or sideways.  Honestly, there are museums and then there's the Louvre.   The 8 departments today house over 30,000 works! It's impossible to see everything unless you have a couple of solid days.  Best done in genres.  The Denon and Richelieu wings were my personal favourites.

I suggest getting there at opening to avoid the queues.  By midday it does fill up, even during low season.  And as I said, try and get to the Louvre at closing time prior to your visit and pre purchase museum tickets from the tobacco store which are undated and can be used at any time.  The process is so much quicker and you are not charged a premium.

Just me and an empty Jardin Tuileries on a Paris morning.  Bliss.

No queues!

My favourite Da Vinci. So hauntingly amazing.  It was his last ever work.  A painting of St John.  It's often overlooked as everyone races over to the Mona Lisa.

The views from inside are wonderful.  In my opinion the best views in Paris.

Zomp boots, 2 pairs of Wolfords layered, Kookai bandage skirt, H&M wrap cardigan, Scanlan & Theodore belt, Zara goat skin bag.

The Mona Lisa.  A painting that haunted Da Vinci.  He carried it with him for 5 years and was never completely happy with it.

Napoleon's apartment

Apologies for the overload of images.  I just love this place.

Paris - Musee d'Orsay & Musee de l'Orangerie

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to visit Paris was for the museums.  My list was huge, but with only about a week dedicated to the city in my itinerary I knew I could only manage 3 which I could see thoroughly - so cue Musee d'Orsay, Musee du Louvre and Musee de l'Orangerie.

I could do 3 posts on each, but I will try to keep it concise and in one post.  But the Louvre deserves its own one!

Musee d'Orsay was a repeat of the trip to Canberra  but since most of the work was painted in Paris by artists that lived and worked in Paris it seemed fitting to see it all once again and connect it to the places.  I  do love travel during the off peak travel periods.  I encountered no lines at all - and people did warn me that the Louvre can take 2+ hours to enter.  My tip is this... go to the Louvre 15 minutes before it closes the day before and find the tobacco store which sells undated advance tickets (at normal prices) to all the museums in Paris.  The pre paid lines are always much faster!

Since Monet's garden had JUST closed in time for winter Musee de l'Orangerie was a natural choice. Monet had chosen to space to exhibit his Water Lilies for people to visit and find tranquility.  

It's a small and quiet space, perfect for reflecting.

Downstairs houses a wonderful array of Renoirs, Cezannes, Rousseaus, Matisses and more.  All who were in ways connected to one another while living in Paris and who were an integral part of the "modern" art movement in the early 20th century.

Both museums are suitable for beginners or real art lovers and are not overwhelmingly huge.  A great introduction to French art.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Paris.. continues

Apologies that the regular posts suddenly seized.  I wasn't getting much sleep and was out from 8am until well after 9pm so the last thing I felt like doing was editing and uploading photos.  Which I do regret as I would have loved to preserve the memories in writing while the little bits and pieces were still fresh in my mind.

So the Monday was the 3rd full day, again without much planned.  So why not head shopping and to Laduree before finishing the day with an espresso at Cafe de Flore in St Germain?  St Germain in the end ended up being my absolutely favourite arrondissement.  It was utterly chic and cool and also understated.

One thing about Paris is the shopping.  While there's nothing out of the ordinary (I didn't come across a single unique store, nor a really good vintage store [probably had no idea where to look]) but I did thoroughly enjoy the high end experience.  At Chanel I toted around a 2.55 reissue for 40 minutes and nobody thought I was too dirty to look at the bag, unlike in Australia where I don't dare even walk into a store.  I felt as welcome and as I do at Zara.. which may have something to do with walking out with unexpected purchases at both Hermes and Chanel.  When you open up that world to the people, they will buy.  Hermes was at least 20-30% cheaper so if you're planning a trip to France, definitely check out the store on Rue Royale.  Huge range and utterly lovely service.  And you must ask for Tatiana at Chanel on Rue Montaigne.  You will never come across a more lovely sales assistant.  If I can find a way to email and give feedback on her service, I most definitely will!

Adoring the balloons in the window

Chanel on Rue Cambon

Ah Alaia store in St Germain.

My future Paris apartment.  At only 11,500 euro a month