Apr 052011

Yes, the museums are full of art and so are the streets.  A small street ensemble that seems to play frequently near the Palais Royale.  They sell CD’s and take donations, and usually draw a crowd with their classical music.

Looking up from a stoplight, I noticed what looked like the work of street artist Space Invader.  If you saw “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” you already know his work:

I don’t think Chanel appreciates street art at least on their buildings.  Here is the graffiti on a construction barrier on the Rue Montaigne in mid-March:

Same one, all clean, later:

Some antique store windows, across from the Louvre:

These are quite clearly hundreds of years old.  Another:

I loved this fan:

Crafts, crafts everywhere:

Cool antique scissors:

I’m 99.9% sure that a Gossip Girl scene was filmed at this cafe near the Seine:

Window detail:

I’ll be heading home in a bit, so I may not be around to approve comments for a while.  I have some posts ready to load in my absence.  Thanks for reading about my Paris adventures, I’ve enjoyed your emails and comments along the way!

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Mar 302011

Here are some famous Paris landmarks.  I bedazzled the pictures a little, just to keep it interesting.

I’ve been gravitating around the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, which is loosely organized around this Abbey.  It’s a beautiful area, and a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.  It is said that intellectuals such as Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir had many discussions in the cafes around this area.

One of the famous cafes is the Cafe Flore, which is a great sidewalk cafe area (even in the chilly days of March), and an Art Deco interior.  The last time I was there, the waiter told me to sit at over at the “Tabula Rasa.”  I love a timely Latin reference, don’t you?

Notre Dame Cathedral, still going strong as a working church today.  Go when it’s sunny for the best view of the stained glass.  There’s a tiny museum of church artifacts in the back.  Also, there are occasional concerts there in the evenings.   I’ve never climbed to the top, but it might be fun to try.

L’Opera Garnier.  Perhaps the best way to see this theatrical landmark is to go to an event there.  You do not need to speak French to enjoy a ballet or symphony, and the operas may be in Italian or German in any event.  You can buy tickets online here, or go to the box office.  Buy well in advance, as most things sell out far ahead of time.

The pictures above and below are of the Opera Garnier, which inspired The Phantom of the Opera.  An alternative forum is at the Bastille, a much more modern theater, where many large productions are held.

And we can’t do a Paris landmark post without the Eiffel Tower, can we?

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Mar 292011

Here are more lovely moments from Paris….

From Shakespeare & Co.

Near the Notre Dame Cathedral, this bookstore is literally stuffed to the ceiling with English-language books.  Most Mondays and Thursdays, there are author nights and other gatherings–the events are listed on their website.  The shop has a rich history of supporting both readers and writers, and is well-known for this inscription on the second floor, “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”

From the Pompidou Center, an exhibit of the work of Jean-Michel Othoniel

Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre Museum

A collection of bee-themed perfume bottles at Guerlain on the Champs-Elysee

Laduree window

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Mar 282011

Chanel Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Fauve (Ombre Essentielle No. 90 Fauve) is a shimmery mauve-taupe released as part of a small collection.  Currently, this is available outside the U.S. (Chanel has not responded to my email about possible availability in the U.S.).

The texture is high-shimmer.  Here, you can see Fauve swatched next to Chanel Taupe Grisee, which is much deeper in tone and more satin/matte in texture.

To my eye, Fauve seems more mauve and more shimmery than Chanel Safari Soft Touch eyeshadow.  Unfortunately, I do not have my Safari with me for a direct comparison.

I was pleased to see that the sparkles in the pan seemed to smooth out nicely when properly applied with a brush.  The texture is slightly harder than Taupe Grise (which is an extraordinarily soft texture).  If you’ve read this blog, you know what my advice is with respect to harder textured shadows–push harder or use a stiffer brush.  Problem solved.

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Mar 282011

Thank you to everyone who has been so kindly commenting on my Paris posts.  Here are a few more that I thought you might enjoy.

An antique shop window that looks like a blend of magic and science:

Souvenir and home decor shop window (which belongs perhaps in London, not Paris).  And, yes the raised hands are attached by springs that wave back and forth in the royal way:

I wonder whether they have any lipstick in those purses?

This is a bridge that leads across the Seine from the Louvre Museum.

The grated sides are covered with locks, proclamations of love from those who’ve visited the bridge over the years.

These seem to be from all over the world.

I wonder where the big, red heart-shaped one is from?

The lovers write their name and sometimes the date on the locks:

A street vendor sells extra locks:

A typical French flower stand.  These are always so beautifully arranged.  I miss them when I’m not here.

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Mar 252011

Those lovely light, creamy confections are everywhere–usually in two sizes. These are the larger–

Some of the most prominent sources:

  • Laduree – Most of their locations seem to have both an enormous selection, as well as a restaurant for tea or for a girly lunch.  Very “white tablecloth.”  I always love to see the gorgeous scarves, handbags and the little dogs that the ladies bring.
  • Paul – These are scattered throughout Paris.  They have wonderful breads, quick sandwiches (on tiny baguettes), quick little quiches and various desserts.  Their macarons are usually sold out by mid-afternoon.
  • Pierre Herme – Their confections are perfection.  Elevating the taste of a macaron with an impeccable presentation.
  • Lenotre – Extremely fine gourmet food source.  Yes, they have macarons, sure.  Their food goes well beyond desserts to gourmet meals.  Some of it looks like fine architecture.

Aside from these larger sources, on any given day you can pass by a dozen small bakeries with gorgeous things inside.  You can see that things have been made by human beings.  Here’s a secret about those little bakeries–they are a source of incredible “fast food”–for about 5 euros you can get an amazingly large sandwich (half is way too much), using amazing cheeses and meat on a fresh little baguette in under a minute.  Add a little more for water, and you begin to question why fried fast food exists.  If you see a line outside one of these, get into that line.

These macarons are from Angelina, an historic restaurant on the Rue de Rivoli in central Paris.  I’ve heard that Coco Chanel used to drop by for tea, as it is just down the street from her shop on the Rue Cambon.  Recall that one of Chanel’s Rouge Coco lipsticks is named for Rivoli?  Yes, this is that Rivoli!   Although the meals are not much different from standard cafe fare, the desserts are noteworthy.  Angelina is best known for its Mont Blanc dessert (reviewed here), but that’s insanely large. Here are their macarons (here, the small size):

I found Laduree’s dessert cookbook in a bookstore, and found several macaron recipes inside:

The recipes are in French and the measurements are in metric.  I don’t care–I will learn!

Some challenges are worth it.

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Mar 232011

At Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royale, I purchased a lipstick in #6, Mauve de Swann ($70).  I tried on another color, a deep red, and was very tempted, but decided to go with this neutral instead.

The bullet is encased in a deep red-brown hexagon, and refills can be purchased separately ($55).  The line has a range of ten colors:

My wonderful contacts at the boutique were kind enough to provide this sample card to me, which includes six of the shades to swatch for you:

As you can see, these six shades include three reds and three neutrals:

  • Mise a Mort:  A warm red
  • Roman Rouge:  A deep, cool red
  • Pourpre Maure:  A deep plum
  • Or Perle: A sheer gold cream that is very moisturizing
  • Rose des Glaces:  A soft cream-rose
  • Mauve de Swann:  A soft mauve-pink

To see the swatches, click “continue reading”….

Continue reading »

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Mar 212011

While in Paris, I had the pleasure of visiting Les Salons du Palais Royale, conceived by the creative genius Serge Lutens (website here).  Lutens is one of those rare individuals who infuses everything with an extraordinary, magical and highly original touch–a film maker, makeup artist, perfume creator, photographer and fashion designer–his creations seem to affect one at an aesthetic and emotional level.  He adds to an already long history of excellence, having worked with Dior, Shiseido and photographed for Vogue.  He has a touch that is both other-worldly and intensely human.

If you are in or near Paris, go to Les Salons du Palais Royale. This is a “must.”  Go.

Lutens founded these Salons in 1992, establishing this colorful and universal space based on Féminité du Bois, a scent still available today.  As you can see from the above image, entering this space is a transformative experience–the atmosphere is warm and quiet, comfortable, foreign yet familiar, grounded in history and completely different from the real world.  Anything seems possible.  Les Salons du Palais Royale is a testament to the fact that there are some places that are magic in this world.

Sandrine, the manager, made herself available for my visit, assisted by her very pleasant and extremely knowledgeable staff.  Their multi-lingual capability is excellent, so if you are nervous about your French, let me put you at ease. It seems customary to be offered tea when one arrives for a longer visit, which was a treat.  I also went up the magnificently detailed metalwork staircase to the Morrocan-themed meeting room above.  Unlike the mauve and purple tones below, the upstairs is paneled with warm yellows and red accents, both exotic and welcoming at the same time.  There is a long, low conference table upstairs, populated with the Serge Lutens product line and surrounded by modern, diamond-backed wooden chairs.  Large windows upstairs look out onto the pleasant trees of the Palais Royale, reminding me that I had not left Paris (although I felt completely transported).

This boutique sells both Serge Lutens perfume and makeup. Because of the wide range of products, I’ll discuss perfume today and makeup tomorrow.

If you have not visited this location before, you should know that there are two series of perfumes offered here.

First, the Exclusives are sold only in this boutique and to a limited number of locations within Europe online.  Period.  There are currently 28 or so perfumes in this series, sold in this beautiful bell jar.  If your time allows, you will be able to have the jar personally engraved (if you go early during your stay, it may give you enough time to have the engraving done).  The range is deep, gorgeous and every one more life-changing than the last.

There are paper swatches of the scents out for you to review, which I suggest you use to narrow your choices.  As you become interested in a certain scents, then apply them.  I suppose if you have enough skin area you can try them all.  You can also ask to be directed to particular kinds of scent (I was interested in leather and smoke, for example).  Prepare to spend some time, the range is vast and each scent is complex and gorgeous in its own way.

A word about the beautiful bell-jar-A few years ago, I bought Fumerie turque and hand-carried it home at the time before airline liquid restrictions began.  Today, of course, the world has changed.  The boutique cannot assure you that these bell jars travel perfectly well in packed luggage because the bell jar is closed with a glass stopper only.  (you didn’t hear it from me, there are some places on the Internet which can give you a few pointers about how to get a bell jar home in packed luggage). Right now, I’m very tempted to go back for Boxeuses (referring to a female boxers), it’s gorgeous and I’m finding it difficult to put out of my mind.

The boutique also displays one of the custom bottles created every year around the holidays.  Each is thematically engraved to coordinate with an Exclusive fragrance chosen for the series, and only thirty are made each year.  As one example, the year that Fumerie turque was featured, the bottle was engraved with swirling smoke shapes.  There are several of them featured on Serge Lutens Facebook pages.

Here is the most recent bottle, for Boxeuses:

I love how it reminds me of both stars, and boxer punches at the same time.  Serge Lutens plays the edges of light and dark beautifully.

Second, are the Serge Lutens spray bottles are sold here and are also carried elsewhere in Paris and throughout the world (sometimes referred to as the “export line”).  You can buy these in the U.S. at Barney’s, and I’ve noticed them on Beauty Habit and Luckyscent as well.

I fell head over heels for Jeux de Peau (‘skin game’), a scent inspired by Serge Lutens childhood memories of visiting a bakery in his childhood.  From an interview (from the Serge Lutens Facebook page):

I was often distracted: “Don’t forget to get the bread!”

If I described the bakery as a “golden place”, it’s because that’s how I saw it. Part of its bright aura was due to the amber loaves of French bread – bâtards, ficelles and baguettes – waiting in fragrant rows.

When I got to the bakery, I woke up from my day-dreaming to enjoy the sight of the bread. “Bread opens your eyes” just as surely as it whets your appetite. The crowning touch was the whiff of freshly baked bread, still warm, coming through the basement window.

At first glance, there was nothing but good humour on the face of the lady at the bakery. Her make- up gave her face a jolly look, yet one suspected that it was a mask concealing bitterness.

What could she have been suffering from that would, at busy times of day, make her purse her lips sharply and suddenly? The fact that it was barely perceptible made it even more obvious. Obeying a suspicious mind, her mouth, like the seal affixed to a judicial document, passed judgment on all comers. The smile that she gave when returning change had infinite variations: it could be suspicious, jaded, resigned, disdainful, stiff or disillusioned….

Something about Serge Lutens fragrances are so honest and centering–the impact on me is hard to describe.  Jeux de Peau has a bready, milky sweetness, but there is also a sandalwood, as well as some deeper incense notes that Lutens seems to love.  It’s insanely beautiful, and I’m sure that my description is not doing it justice.  It’s comforting and edgy, and has an undeniable ability to affect my metabolism.

I purchased a full sized bottle (and may return to the boutique to get Daim Blonde as well).  The lovely boutique gave me a sample Jeux de Peau which I’ve been using up since the day I obtained it, together with a much lighter sample L’Eau Serge Lutens, which I haven’t yet opened (but hope to as the weather warms).

Sample Jeux de Peau

L’eau Serge Lutens:

Sample L’Eau Serge Lutens

The boutique provided me with a book of perfume samples of the Serge Lutens range:

According to Sandrine, Serge Lutens has never discontinued a fragrance, and has no current plans to do so.  Although different fragrances float in and out of the export line, they all appear to be here to stay.

I cannot imagine going to Paris without visiting this treasure.  Les Salons du Palais Royale is a one-of-kind experience that evokes history, the senses, imagination and a full range of emotion.  You. Must. Go.

Note:  One of the best ways to keep up with Serge Lutens is to “like” them on Facebook, and follow them in English on Twitter.

Tomorrow’s post:  Serge Lutens makeup at Les Salons du Palais Royale.  Non-watermarked images are from Serge Lutens.  Any typos are mine (let me know if you see any in the comments, pls!)

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Mar 182011

The Place Vendome is an octagonal square in the center of Paris, an elegant and historic area surrounded by beautiful stone buildings.

One of the most famous buildings is the Ritz Hotel, once frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and of course Coco Chanel (readers will recall that one of Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick’s is called Vendome):

The most striking part of the Place Vendome is the proliferation of high end jewelry boutiques.  For fun, I took a pictures of a few of their windows for your enjoyment.

Dior has a vibrant, colorful tropical collection shown:

Buccellati, an Italian jeweler, had this gorgeous brushed metal clutch with a tiny watch at the clasp:

Chanel has a beautiful collection of diamond jewelry:

I love that Chanel used the handbag chain-and-leather strap to hold the delicate little swing:

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Mar 172011

Yes, if you go to Paris you want to see the Louvre Museum, of course.  But just up the street, please don’t miss out on Les Arts Decoratifs, which has rotating curated shows examining fashion.  There is a beautiful and interesting permanent jewelry collection, as well, and as complete a fashion bookstore as I have ever seen.

In the past, this museum has had gorgeous shows featuring the works of individual designers, such as Valentino.  Last year, Les Arts Decoratifs had a show documenting significant pieces from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Currently, this museum continues the story with an examination of various works from the 1990’s and 2000’s.  Here are just a few pieces so you can see how beautifully done this is.

Claude Montana:

Vivienne Westwood:

Dolce and Gabanna (this piece is metal and the writing on the box says “Handle with Gloves”):

John Galliano for Dior (despite the controversy, his pieces remain here):

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel (this piece must be seen in person, the couture detailing, and the sensitive use of color, are just unbelievable):

Les Arts Decoratifs only takes a few hours to go through, and well worth the time to visit for fashion-lovers worldwide.






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