Tag Archives: shopping

Paris Window Candy

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Now less than two weeks from my return to Paris, I am in that awkward limbo period during which I lie awake at all hours of the night, making lists in my head. They look something like this: People I Need To See Before I Leave, Reservations To Be Made For Paris Restaurants, What I Want To Take To Paris With Me, What My Kids Need From Me, Who Is Visiting When?  I could go on, but I don’t want to put you to sleep over what keeps me awake. We will be gone for three months, with a brief August interlude to help our daughters get settled back into school. And to savor that hell that is August in Texas, of course.

Speaking of summer, I have been enjoying a French aperitif wine called Lillet Blanc. It is crisp and light and slightly orange- infused. I am liking it with a splash of soda and a twist of lime, but rumor has it that it’s good in a glass of ice all by itself. Last night I even got so bold as to order a Vesper, which is a martini with Lillet in place of vermouth. Try a bottle this summer if you are looking for something to shake up your cocktail repertoire.

And if you live in Texas, you will be happy to know that I bought some Fredericksburg peaches last weekend and they were the best I have had in ages! Think sugary juices running down your chin and forearms! Be on the lookout for them and buy them while they last.

Pour yourself a refreshing Lillet, pick out a fuzzy sweet peach, and enjoy these Paris windows.

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ok, it's not a window- it's an arcade- but it's beautiful

ok, it’s not a window- it’s an arcade- but it’s beautiful

giant Lindt bunny made of Lindt bunnies

giant Lindt bunny made of Lindt bunnies

fancy yellow stove

fancy yellow stove

 

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Thanks for taking time to peek into my window! Stop by again soon.

I am going to bed now. I have lists to make.

 

 

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A Little Luxe for Le Lundi

I am pretty sure I have mentioned that my apartment sits just meters away from Rue Faubourg-St. Honore, which is known to be quite the high-fashion and high-dollar (or “high-euro”) shopping mecca.  I enjoy the street for its fabulous store windows, which I rarely venture beyond.

When I returned to Paris at the end of August, I was eager to see what the new window candy was on one of my favorite walking streets.  You know I am not the best at capturing store windows without glare or my own very un-glamorous reflection, but here are a few of my recent attempts.

The current Hermes windows are not nearly as breathtaking as the rotating color wheels that were there when I left in the summer.  They have shimmery, metallic-y , glamorous fabrics hanging as a back-drop, and then various Hermes fabulosities in front of them.  I thought they were kind of “meh”.

This crocodile bag was 30,000 euros.

LOVE the color of this saddle.

This gorgeous disk was hanging in the window that was displaying china. (Please friends, do not let your daughters register for dishes at Hermes. Thank you.)

A bit farther down the street was a window displaying champagne and caviar.

And of course there is Laduree, which is celebrating its 150 year anniversary.  Macarons are  not really all that “luxe”, but this Laduree store drips with elegance and their windows are always creative.

Finally, we close with the always elegant Louis Vuitton. These windows are kind of creepy, actually.  Octopus legs and giant eyes and mannequins that look startlingly real.

Any guesses on what they are selling here?

I hope you enjoyed a bit of luxe for lundi (“Monday”, a francais).  And just so you know,  I am spending my Monday wearing an apron, mopping, cooking, and ironing.

Keep it real, mes amis!

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A Stroll Around St. Germain

After eating my little picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg I ambled aimlessly around the lovely streets of St. Germain and pretended like I lived in this oh-so-chic neighborhood.  The shops are incredible over there!  I thoroughly enjoyed gazing at the windows, wondering what it would be like to be able to afford all those gorgeous things.

I thought these shoes were interesting.  According to the little sign, they are a mere 590 euros.  I would have to display them in my apartment, I think, rather than wear them on the streets of Paris!

There were many shops of fabrics and trims for pillows, window treatments, and furniture.  The windows were amazing, drenched with unfurled bolts of fabrics that  I was dying to touch (but didn’t).  

Each of these pitchers was covered in a luscious  fabric.  Oh my.

I wandered through an open passage  and saw this beautiful staircase.  I wonder where it leads?

While searching for the Musee Delacroix, I became enamored of this little shop which was next door to the museum.  I couldn’t find its name anywhere, but it had lovely gardening tools, among other treasures, in the window.  I think I should go inside next time.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  We are off to Nice, so get your swimsuits and designer sunglasses ready, dahlings!

P.S.  I keep forgetting to send out a big shout-out of appreciation to a wonderful group of Mais Oui Paris devotees who took me to lunch on the day before I left Houston.  Merci, y’all- it was wonderful to finally meet you!

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Hermes!

Shortly before I went home for the holidays I received the January schedule for the American Women’s Group, whose tours I go on regularly and always enjoy.  One event particularly excited me- a tour of the Hermes workshops in their gorgeous store on Faubourg- St. Honore, which is smack dab in my neighborhood.  The tour was limited to 10 lucky people, and for once I didn’t procrastinate and managed to get on the list.  Woo-hoo!  I got lucky, and now you can get lucky, too!

The Hermes store always has incredible windows, and before this tour, they are as close as I got to the inside of the store.  I learned that the windows have been done by the same artist, Leila Menchari,since 1977,  and actually are more like museum exhibits than store windows.  Many things in the windows are not even actually for sale.   The displays are kept for about three months, and then put into a storage facility, from which they may be retrieved and recycled into future windows.     Here is an article with many pictures of her amazing Hermes windows.

The street level Hermes is the retail store, brimming with gorgeous things and gorgeous people.  We spent most of our time on the upper two floors, in the workshops for the special orders.  Yes, apparently there are plenty of people for whom the ordinary, “off the shelf” Hermes is just not special enough.  Those people can bring in their own designs or design ideas, and even their own materials.  The designs have to be approved by someone at Hermes, and then the customer works with one artisan who is responsible for making the item, by hand, from start to finish.  Each artisan has an album with photos of all of the special items he has made.  We were able to look through one, and it was fascinating.  The first photo was of what appeared to be a small, round shoulder bag that looked like an apple.  Actually, it was an apple carrier for a woman who took an apple with her every day.  The inside was lined with metal, and the top held a small tool that peeled and sliced the apple.  Other interesting items were a baby bottle holder, a case for an elephant gun (really?), a stand for a Rolls-Royce hood emblem ( so it could be displayed on a desk), a large suitcase made to hold nothing but shoes, a tennis bag, a purse made from a needlepoint canvas, and a dog  carrier.  Doesn’t your dog deserve Hermes?? I would love to have taken pictures of some of the more outrageous creations in his album, but we were not allowed to take photos of any special orders.

Special orders take at least six months, including the time it takes to receive approval for the design.  Every Hermes bag and saddle is made entirely by hand, be it special order or just “standard”.    Each item is then marked (unobtrusively, of course) with the date, the place, and the artisan.  We were able to watch the artisans work for a short time, and I was totally charmed by  how traditional it all felt.  Some of the tools looked as though they could have been used for centuries.

pattern pieces for a much sought-after "Birkin" bag

crocodile skins supplied by a customer for a special order

After a fascinating hour or so on the floor where bags were made, we went upstairs to the saddle workshop.  I didn’t know that the first product Hermes made , way back in 1837, was horse harnesses.  In 1879 they expanded to include saddles.  Although I know nothing about horses or horsie equipment, even I could appreciate the beauty of these saddles.  The saddle guy demonstrated the entire process of saddle making for us.

They even make these tiny decorative saddlesl

OK- this is really cool.  They have these large books in which they  have logged every single saddle they have made since 1909.  Actually, it may be only the special order saddles they have made, but whatever.  It’s all entered in longhand, with a diagram.  He said that recently someone brought in a saddle made in 1920 and they were able to find it in the log and make a record of any repairs made to the saddle.  I love it!

Hermes man at work

At the end of our tour we were taken down to the store, where we got mini-lessons on shoes and scarves.  I confess that by that time I was getting kind of tired.  At one point I tuned  out our lovely tour guide and watched a young American woman who was down the counter from us, trying on scarf after scarf.  The Hermes woman pulled out each scarf, folded it expertly, handed it to said young American, and she turned around to the mirror and tied it around her neck.  Then she returned each one to Hermes Woman, who refolded it and put it back in the case before pulling out the next one.  I wonder how many she tried on?  I feel certain she bought one (or more), but I didn’t have time to wait around for the culmination of the exchange.

You may have noticed that I have not made any mention of price.  That’s because there was no information given about price of any of the special orders we looked at.  Even the scarves in the retail case didn’t have prices on them.  I assume it’s the old adage , “if you have to ask…..”.

Today I walked back down to the store to take some pictures of the inside of the retail area, because I wanted you to see how gorgeous it is, but alas, as one so often hears in France, “eet ees eempossible”.   I guess you will just have to make a visit there for yourself.    However, as I had walked all the way there on a cold, grey day, I hung  around and looked more closely at the things on display, and the people buying them.  Only one person was buying a bag at the time  I was there.  An Asian man was having a gorgeous purse boxed up, and from his appearance, it very well may have been for his own use.  Interestingly, many of the bags had signs saying that they were for display only and not for sale.  Huh?  My favorite bag that our tour guide showed us was the “Lindy” bag.  I found this picture on the internet.   When she showed us the one off the wall (which was a to- die- for light pink color) , someone in our group finally was bold enough to ask how much a bag like that would be, and the answer was “between 3 and 5 thousand euro”.

I don’t know about you, but I am not accustomed to being given a range of $2700 when I ask how much a bag costs.  TJ Maxx always has just one price right there on the tag, and that’s the price you pay.   (I saw a Lindy bag on Ebay in crocodile listed for $35,000 dollars.  Quick- go bid before someone else snatches that one right up!) I suppose if I were to buy a Lindy bag, the ever-chic Hermes salesperson would give me endless options on leather grade, color,  etc., and that’s what makes the price so variable.   It would take me longer to buy that bag than it took the woman at the scarf counter to pick out a scarf, and then I would have to wait several months for it.  During that time I might even recover my senses and wonder what the heck I was thinking buying a bag that cost that much.  Maybe.  Or maybe I would consider it the perfect thing to always remind me of my magical time in Paris.  Whew.  I think I need some fresh air.  I’ve been sniffing too much leather.

I know this has been a long post, but I hope you enjoyed your tour of the Hermes workshops.  I know I did.

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A little something for everyone

Description: Coffee cortado (An latte art exam...

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My parents and I strolled around the first arrondissement and stumbled upon countless parks and squares with the requisite fountains and general fabulosity to which one gets kind of numb after awhile.

We installed ourselves at a sidewalk table on a cafe in front of a theater called La Comedie Francaise and savored cups of coffee and the bustle of rue Saint Honore.  An interesting note about coffee here- coffee with cream in it (which the French never drink after breakfast) is twice the price of black coffee.  Mom and I have decided that the “cafe allonge” , which is basically espresso in a larger cup with water added to it, tastes exactly like the black coffee we drink at home.  How unusual for me to prefer the cheaper variety of anything.

I took Mom to a ceramics shop that my friends and I went nuts over when we were here in April.  It’s hard to capture the charm with my camera because the shop is very small and snakes back to an even smaller room.  The shop is called  Astier de Villatte  The dishes are made in Paris and are to die for.

This link will show you infinitely better pictures of the shop and the dishes.

Here is a picture of the bowl I bought myself for our wedding anniversary back in April.  Mark wasn’t really all that into the bowl, but he was happy to be relieved of gift-buying duty .  And I love, love, love it.

That night we tried a restaurant recommended by a friend of my sister’s called Les Papilles (which I thought meant “butterfly” but in fact means “tastebuds”).   It was in one of my favorite neighborhoods near the Luxembourg Gardens, and we took a cab in order to enjoy the scenery and not be smashed into the metro at rush hour.

Like many Paris restaurants we have tried and loved, it was tiny and full of personality.  Bottles of wine are lined up along the wall, and we were told to go select a bottle or two to go with our meal.

Les Papilles  prepares only one menu a night, so one would be advised to check on the offering if one is a picky eater.  It was so nice not to be forced to make any difficult menu decisions (which often are more of the  “what the hell does that mean?”  variety than the “hmmm- what should I choose?” variety) and they brought out our food in large dishes set in the middle of the table. Voila!

Delicious little mound served in bowl before soup added

Words cannot describe how delicious this parmesan soup tasted

Amazingly creamy, buttery polenta and pork tenderloin

The brie was a bit stronger than we are used to- I think only my dad ate it.

cold dessert concoction went down easy

The remnants of a great evening!

This is a terrible picture of the restaurant, but it gives a glimpse of the colorful tile floor and the  width of the restaurant.  We were at a round table at the very back, which was perfect.

And now, a little reward for those of you who have read this entire post!  One of the more entertaining parts of the evening- the large movie poster hanging next to our table.  Vive la France!!

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Just Taking the Dog On A Walk…

Friday night, my daughter’s 19th birthday, and I am riding solo.  Mark is in Houston, spending the afternoon with birthday daughter before they go celebrate at Fleming’s.  Martha went home from school with a friend and will not be home until tomorrow.  I ate dinner early (well, early for Paris) and decided to show Sawyer some Paris streets he hadn’t seen before.  He was excited at the prospect.

Usually we walk straight up to the Champs-Elysees and then turn and walk along it, with all the tourists and a few Parisians riding their bikes to and from work.  I love the boxy trees and the Arc and the and hustle and bustle.  Tonight, however, we crossed the Champs and walked to the river.

Sawyer's first view of the Seine. He was underwhelmed.

After crossing the river we walked along a nice park area.  We wish we had something like this in our neighborhood.

When we reached the end of this quai we were at the Pont d’Alma, the bridge we would cross back over on.  As you can see, this bridge is pretty darn close to that crazy Eiffel Tower.  Too bad it was still kind of early – it would have been a prettier picture if it had been lit.

This traffic looks a lot like Houston's but without Suburbans.

At this point Sawyer is telling me to put down the damn camera and get out of the street.

So, if you have been following my narration closely, you know that we are now walking back toward home, but on a different street.  This street is called Rue Montaigne, and it is one high dollar street.  I just snapped pics as we walked on by- it really is literally one designer boutique after another.

I don't even know where to begin with this window.

Those guys sound familiar,

This pic actually took a long time to get because that mannequin spun very s l o w l y.

Whoa.

This would have to be a FURragamo, wouldn't it?

Cutest children's boutique window. I may have to go back and get a better picture so you can appreciate it. Darling.

As we got back to the Champs, there was an invitation-only art event of some type in this lovely building.  Sawyer and I were missing the required orange envelope, but we enjoyed watching the more fortunate.

So we crossed back over the Champs Elysees and headed home again down the street that is our new equivalent of Memorial Drive.  Isn’t  this a pretty florist?  I haven’t indulged yet, but it’s inevitable.

This is our home metro stop, which means we have come to the conclusion of our designer showcase.

Pardon, can you direct me to the nearest T. J. Maxx?  Non?  Merde.

Sequel: Le chien and I  did a similar walk tonight, Saturday, when we found ourselves once again looking at each other with nothing to do.  The light was a little prettier, so here are a few more.

This time we walked along the river instead of crossing it.

closer view- isn't that gold incredible?

I don't know if this pic came out any better. It's a car with bunnies hanging out, and a suitcase coming open on top, with clothes flying out. These French people are really creative.

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