Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Where's the first place you go as soon as you arrive in Paris?

Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. Photo taken with a zoom lens from the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.

"After you dump your suitcases at your hotel or apartment, where's the first place you go as soon as you arrive in Paris?"

Judging by the overwhelming number of responses that I received after posting the above question on "Out and About's" Facebook page, people are always happy to return to the French capital!

If you're planning your first trip to Paris, here are some helpful ideas for making it extra memorable.

Nate Cochrane: Jardin du Luxembourg then a little place around the corner for Nutella-praline crepes and a red wine at a nearby cafe.

Nancy Reinstein Bettencourt: I go to meet my friends...... location unimportant, just great to reconnect. 

Majell del Castillo: We just walk around and soak it all in. ...

Rodney De Coster: Well I actually arrived Thursday and my first stop was Angelina's. They have the best onion soup surprisingly.

Learn Parisian French on Skype: Shakespeare & Co - invariably 

Elizabeth Anderson: I have a Kir Royale. Or two. Sometimes three.

Janet De Acevedo Macdonald: The Tuileries. I walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre and, weather permitting, linger in the green chairs in the garden of Catherine de Medicis.

Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Thilde Peterson: Notre Dame... a small bouquet of flowers for placing at the feet of St. Vincent de Paul, then off to Shakespeare & Co. The same ritual since I first landed in Paris at the age of seven. Old habits die hard! 

John Raddish: My wife and I go to Les Invalides first. Hit a cafe. Then all is well in Paris!!

Candi Duncan: A walk to check out my favorite buildings.

Mary King: Depends where we're staying, but it's never far from the river. Just wander and soak it all in.

Whitney Webb: The sidewalk. No matter the jet lag we immediately hit the sidewalk for a nice walk and a cafe stop. I LOVE PARIS!

Vickie Cunningham: We dump the bags, and go to a tiny little tea room right next to POILÂNE for lunch and some wine. It's always good to walk around after being on the plane for so long! Luxembourg Gardens is good for that. 

Sandra Taylor: Lovely parks and places to see, a stroll along the River Seine is also nice. Paris is a wonderful city to wander around.

Nancy Warren: Lived on rue Jacob and frequented le Café Mont Cenis. Loved living in Paris! So beautiful.

Julie Makepeace: I go to Place du Trocedero, sit in a cafe and look at that amazing view of Paris.

Travel-fairy Stewart-stevens: We head to a cafe then Sacre-Coeur.

Gail Cohen Wish Young: Café du Marché on rue Clèr, 7ème, my old "Cheers" stand-in when I lived nearby!

The Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg)

Ann Marie Walker: My first stop is Jardin du Luxembourg then a stroll on Rue Vavin.

Harriett Godwin: I go sit in the Luxembourg Gardens and then head to a café and sit outside with a glass of rose.

Anne Schwartz: Any place that requires you to just keep moving. Sitting down is not a good idea!

Steffen Pihl: Place de la Concorde. So beautiful. And I love the view of the Eiffel Tower from there.

Mary Veronika Porter: Place des Vosges.

Christine Betts: Buy a crepe from the kiosk behind St Germain des Pres and walk to Les Invalides then across Pont Alexander III.

Sandra McCarthy: I find a good place to sit and have a delicious Cafe Creme and just give thanks that I am in Paris!!!

Tony Thai: Sit on the steps and watch people pass by and Paris below !!! Bonne nuit.

Sunset at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fashionistas - Don't miss Sotheby's Paris first auction of Haute Couture on July 8, 2015!

Photo credit: Sotheby's Paris.  (Left) Balenciaga, 1960. Black satin evening dress embroidered with carnations on the bodice. (Right) Christian Dior, Winter 1957. Lavender blue ottoman. "Louveciennes" dress. Dior's last collection.

On 8 July, Sotheby’s Paris, in association with Kerry Taylor Auctions, will stage its first auction of Haute Couture, which gathers together 150 items from the private collection of Didier Ludot.

Didier Ludot, France's greatest "fashion antiquarian”, surely needs no introduction: his legendary Palais-Royal gallery is a must for any fashion-lover visiting Paris. Specialising and dealing in vintage fashion for more than forty years, he has carefully selected and set aside many of the most important pieces he has handled for his own personal collection.

With designs by Paul Poiret, Yohji Yamamoto, Madame Grès, Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Azzedine Alaïa, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, John Galliano and Comme des Garçons, Didier Ludot’s collection provides a comprehensive overview of 20th-century fashion. The 150 items in the sale are a vibrant tribute to French haute couture and the time-honoured expertise of its craftspeople, including tailors, embroiderers, leatherworkers, feather merchants and lace makers. Each piece was carefully chosen by Monsieur Ludot for its technical skill, its beauty, the trademark style of the couturier who created it, or the elegance of the woman who wore it. It is to these women, famous and anonymous alike, whom Didier Ludot owes his vocation. This sale unveils their wardrobes and individual style: Chanel’s sequinned “little black dress” owned by Romy Schneider; the Duchess of Windsor's psychedelic 60s dress; Loulou de la Falaise's Yves Saint Laurent hat; Mona Bismarck's Balenciaga cape; the sculptural dresses Alaïa created for Bettina; the impeccable Dior jacket designed for Josette Day; Barbara Hutton's Cartier jewel box – and so the list goes on. These elegant women of past and present are an endless inspiration for our fantasies.

There are some stunning surprises among the 150 garments and accessories, produced between 1924 and the early 2000s. These unique pieces – still in their original condition, all brimming with history, all emblematic of a moment in fashion or a designer's style – make up a collection of extraordinary quality. They will appeal to private collectors, museums and stylish women the world over who buy vintage fashion to wear.  -- Photos and text via Sotheby's Paris

From July 3-7, the items will be on display at Sotheby's Paris. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The sale is July 8, 2015.

Fri, July 3, 2:00-6:00pm
Sat, Jul 4, 10:00am-6:00pm
Sun, Jul 5, 2:00-6:00pm
Mon, Jul 6, 10:00am-6:00pm
Tue, Jul 7, 10:00am-6:00pm

Photos and text via Sotheby's Paris

Photo credit: Sotheby's France. (Left)  Yohji Yamamoto, Winter 2006. Cage corset in black jersey. (Right) Yves Saint Laurent, Fall/Winter 1968. Buckskin cocktail dress embroidered with precious stones by Lesage.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

For those celebrating today, Happy Mother's Day! (France's Fêtes des mères is on May 31 this year.)

While I was in the USA last week, I found some old photographs taken during my mother's and my only trip together to Paris. The year was 1984, and it was her first time traveling abroad. The fading images show us standing in front of Versailles and walking through the Tuileries Garden. In one picture, my mother is wearing a silk shirt and trousers. I'm dressed in a blue and black dress. We're gazing intently at the Eiffel Tower, each of us lost in our thoughts. Try as I might, I can't remember what we talked about. I wish that I could.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Triumph" - Meet gutsy gals, mothers-on-the-edge and anti-heroines in Lizzie Harwood's interconnected short stories!

Book review by K.S.R. Burns

In these fourteen short stories, Lizzie Harwood’s skillful and beautiful prose guides you to a country that is, surprisingly, seldom visited in literature—the country of women’s minds and lives as they really exist today. Hers is a penetrating, close-up, and cleanly honest perspective that may make some readers uncomfortable—because these women are not eager to please us. They are not looking for good husbands, necessarily, or even good jobs, and their friends are too often unreliable. They are on their own, battling unseen forces, and you worry for them, maybe more than they worry for themselves.

All that would be excitement and challenge enough. But then Harwood throws in setting. Glorious setting to spirit us from New Zealand to India to Rome to Amsterdam to Paris to Canada, each locale stunningly real and as diamond-sharp as the woman or girl in it. Harwood accomplishes this feat with ease and authority, filling you with nostalgia for countries you may have never even been to. Story collections are often bound together by consistent geography. Harwood’s is united by the freshness and precision of its globe-trotting diversity.

You’ll want to take your time with these passionate and complex tales. And when you come to the last one, you may well want to return to the first, because this is literature that reveals new gems upon re-reading.

Book giveaway! Click here to leave a short comment for the chance to win a signed copy of Triumph: Collected Stories. The drawing will be May 3, 2015.

If you can't wait to start reading Triumph, Amazon.com and Amazon.uk are offering it on a special Kindle promotion for $0.99 until April 28. Better hurry!

K.S.R. Burns is a Seattle author, whose latest book, "Rules for the Perpetual Diet", is a suspenseful, moving, and at times hilarious tale about love, loss, motherhood, Paris, food, and finding yourself. Burns lived and worked in France for 3 years. She currently writes a weekly jobs advice column for “The Seattle Times".

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Rules for the Perpetual Diet" - Discover a Paris few travelers see with K.S.R. Burns' gripping novel!

Book review by Lizzie Harwood

O, Amy Brodie is one messed-up narrator! (The best kind, in my opinion, because complex makes for interesting.)

This immediately engaging novel by K.S.R. Burns, author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, sees Amy Brodie, a 29-year-old childless wife in Phoenix, teetering on the edge. Amy’s in the grip of many issues at the beginning of this enthralling contemporary women’s fiction: grief, an eating disorder, self-denial… to name a few. Her husband is the epitome of the solid, don’t-change-stuff, immutable provider; her best friend just died of cancer; she views co-workers through a prism of revulsion. The ballast in her life is these rules. Her perpetual diet.

When I hit the first of these rules (there are 30-odd), my heart sank a little. In this intriguing novel, the rules came as a manifesto for anorexia and there’s a wee bit of fatism going on with Amy. But we quickly realize how her rules are just so—real and important to talk about in contemporary literature. Who among today’s teens, pre-teens, and young women hasn’t turned against their own body by following some rules of eating? To lose weight, or get healthier, to get a man, or control all the outward chaos by reigning in our own innocent flesh. It’s terrible and it’s true. So many women are on some perpetual diet right now. However, when Amy leaps on a plane to Paris, her City of Light snaps her out of her rules with some very unexpected plot twists.

Burns’s prose underpins this novel with deft humor and laser-sharp descriptions and characterization. This is a funny read. And surprising. As Amy delves deeper into Paris—literally descending into hidden catacombs—she shucks off the past to embrace a present-moment style of living that leaves the reader applauding her bravado. This is no sugar-coated, pink-bowed, fairy tale of Paris!

I was reminded of Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women: "I felt that it was not so different from all the other advice handed out to women, to girls, advice that assumed being female made you damageable, that a certain amount of carefulness and solemn fuss and self-protection were called for, whereas men were supposed to be able to go out and take on all kinds of experiences and shuck off what they didn’t want and come back proud. Without even thinking about it, I had decided to do the same.”

I loved how Amy Brodie decides to do the same.

Lizzie Harwood is the author of "Triumph: Collected Stories" and has a memoir, "Xamnesia: Everything I Forgot in my Search for an Unreal Life", launching late May 2015. When she isn’t writing, she’s neck-deep in editing. Visit http://www.editordeluxe.com and http://www.lizziehbooks.com, Lizzie Harwood Books on Facebook, and @lizziehbooks on Twitter for the latest.

Photo credit: K.S.R. Burns