Friday, May 29, 2015

Homage to Helen Bordman, the first American volunteer at Giverny!

Helen Bordman in front of the house where she stays when she's volunteering at Giverny. June 2013.

Guest post by Karen Samimi

I’ve been to visit Claude Monet’s home in Giverny about a dozen times over the past 22 years. I especially like to go there when my friend Helen Bordman is in residence.

Helen is the first American volunteer at Giverny since the grounds were opened to the public in 1980. Through her hard work over the last 35 years, she has been largely responsible for the renaissance of Monet's home and garden. She also appeared in the 2004 documentary Monet’s Palate – A Gastronomic View from the Gardens of Giverny that was written, filmed and produced by her daughter Aileen Bordman and narrated by Meryl Streep. In addition, she founded Giverny’s volunteer program and has resided on site each spring, sharing her passion for Monet and welcoming visitors from all over the world, giving lectures and tours.


I met Helen in Giverny for the first time in 1996, but I had already been there once before a few years earlier. I hadn’t realized at the time that my great aunt was her best friend growing up in Brooklyn, New York and that the two had remained very close for all those years. My aunt had always longed to visit Giverny, and I promised that I would go and meet her dear friend.

I quickly realized what an exceptional lady Helen is. Her smile, her laugh, her humble and unpretentious manner, and her cozy anecdotes about all kinds of things make you feel immediately welcome. I loved her personal tour of the house and gardens because it really made them come alive. She is a true authority on the history of Claude Monet’s life and family. I recently learned that Helen, too, is an accomplished painter, and not surprisingly, much of her own work is inspired by her many spring seasons in this charming village.

Whenever I think of or talk about the house and gardens of Giverny, I immediately think of my friend Helen. For my family, and certainly for many others, they are inseparable.

Helen's daughter Aileen Bordman is the author of the newly released Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny.


For the first time in history, Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny brings Claude Monet’s beloved kitchen garden back to life. Written by filmmaker Aileen Bordman, and garden writer Derek Fell, the book includes sixty recipes linked to Monet's two-acre kitchen garden near his home at Giverny, France. Included is detailed information about the vegetables he grew, plus photographs and descriptions of the house interiors and gardens capturing Monet's extraordinary lifestyle. Meryl Streep has written the Foreword and the recipes are beautifully photographed by Steven Rothfeld. ...

The recipes were developed using the abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables found in Monet’s kitchen garden. Some of Monet’s favorites to grow in the kitchen garden included zucchini, cherry tomatoes, radishes, pearl onions, brussel sprouts, asparagus, rosemary and mint. A few of the recipes are of French origin, such as the famous Normandy apple tart. Others are from locations abroad where he traveled in search of motifs to paint, such as the Savoy Hotel, London where Monet acquired their recipe for Yorkshire pudding. Exquisite photography and inspired recipes brings Monet’s kitchen garden back to life.  --Excerpt from Monet's Palate, Aileen Bordman's website.

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.