SANDY’S NOTES: I am taking full advantage of my big sister being here to blog with me with her amazing writing skills! Judith gives you – in detail – her take on our fourth day in Paris. But first, my take….in brief.
Going to the end of Judith’s note, I have to agree with her statement – “Holy crap sister! We’re in Paris!”. The weather, the shopping, architecture, food, wine, people, art, fashion, the absolute beauty that awaits you at every corner, is as good as it gets. Again, sister and I cannot speak French, and believe me we have had some challenging moments, but overall, the French have been so gracious to help. I know that if we were able to hang out with some French speaking friends, we would probably pick it up – a little! Our first few days have been a little low key because we have experienced major jet lag. I haven’t slept WELL in 2 nights. Last night I felt more “aware” all night than I slept….kind of strange. Anyway, we do have some plans for the week that are going to be exciting, daring and adventurous! One HUGE thing I can NOT wait for is the Fashion Night Out in Paris on Thursday night! I can assure you that Judith and I will be “dolled” up and out schmoozing with the fashionista’s on the streets and venues of Paris! We are planning to go see the “lady” today, walk along the Seine and take in more shopping. Then later this week I am hoping to get to Versailles, I have never been there and understand it is a photographer’s dream! Finally, as Judith mentions below, we are working on a secret project….it is going to be fun, so stay tuned. And I think she is full of it when she says that she is bolder than me….hump! We will see! The challenge is on sis!
JUDITH’S NOTES: OK – to start, this is some fabulous weather. Reminds me of LA. The high today was a lovely 81 degrees and sported blue skies and a light breeze. We woke up at 8:00 and looked at each other -yea! -we did it….finally…. we slept. All night. Well, actually, I did wake up once about 3:00 a.m. to that great fresh- baking -bread smell again but forced myself to lay back down and sleep through it. When morning came, the first thing I did was open all three of the balcony-tall windows and let the breeze and the early morning street sounds fill the room.
Sandy headed straight for the espresso maker. She steams milk in this short stainless electric pot (really cool) every morning making sure it cooks long enough to get lots of “beautiful foam.” She pours the espresso into these little teeny white cups and tops it off with the steamed milk. Today, along with our espresso, we had sliced apples, almonds, yogurt and dried fruit. We spent most of the morning at the table working on our new secret project that I think lots of women will surely enjoy. The project is not to be revealed quite yet, so stay tuned – maybe by Friday….maybe earlier. That depends entirely on how aggressive we choose to be tomorrow. When we tell you about the project you will understand how a bit of daring is required. It is going to be fun though. And actually, speaking of daring, quite to my surprise I discovered today that I seem to be the braver of these two sisters – pretty amazing, huh? Wouldn’t you have thought that Sandy would be the more daring? Not so. (Ha! She’s going to love this.)
Anyway, I had to get out today and get down to some serious shopping….we’ve pretty much scoured the dozens of specialty boutiques within a 4-block area surrounding our apartment and I was ready to stretch. So, we made a plan, got dressed, and after mapping our destination, headed out on foot (love all the walking you do here!) to Le Bon Marche.
Le Bon Marche is a store here on the Left Bank that we had heard about and where many Parisians love to shop. It covers 3 city blocks and is 4 stories high. Until we were standing in front of Le Bon Marche we were under the impression that it was a mall-like shopping structure with many stores, but to our surprise, it is actually one very large store. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Le Bon Marche is noted for its plethora of famous cosmetic lines and high-fashion designer brands, and upon entering the store, Sandy and I realized very quickly that this shopping experience was going to be extraordinary and would most likely live up to its reputation.If you love the art of fashion then you would love Le Bon Marche. We saw great new fall pieces from Channel, Paul Smith, Prada, John Paul Gautier, Vivienne Westwood, Hermes, Stella McCartney, Chloe, Givenchy, Balenciaga, and so on.
And the shoes… oh my gosh! Eye candy for the shoe lover. And oh how I love shoes. These particular little darlings were all fine pieces of art. We probably spent an hour or more just in that department alone, and ultimately, YES I did! I splurged on a pair…hey, all shoe lovers ought to have a pair of Paris shoes… (Right now I’m thinking about Tina Thompson…my friend at work – she loves little pieces of art too!)
Le Bon Marche has a sister store that is right across the street – Au Bon Marche. It is about the same size as Le Bon Marche and boasts foods of every kind from all over the world – it’s like Whole Foods or Central Market on steroids. Amazing. We were wishing we could take bites of everything.
A little trivia: as I understand it, Le Bon Marché is the biggest department store on the Left Bank and the oldest department store in Paris. It was designed by Gustav Eiffel who also designed the Eiffel Tower and it was first opened in 1852. If you want to check it out go to www.lebonmarche.com.
At early evening, with shopping bags in hand, we left Le Bon Marche and began the 12-city-block walk home. About halfway we decided to stop at Café Mabillon for an end-of-day dinner. After grabbing a street-side table (these always provide the best views for little voyeurs like us) I ordered a glass of white wine and Sandy had her regular Burgundy; for dinner we shared smoked salmon on toast points, and on the side, a salad of big, juicy red tomatoes atop 3-inch mounds of creamy mozzarella cheese sitting on a bed of greens. (This meal seems to be becoming our regular thing to order- the smoked Salmon is so yummy here.) I do have to say one thing about dining out in Paris: finding a great place to eat is like looking for Bees in a hive. If you aren’t feeling the restaurant in front of you, just consider the one next door; or no? Not that one? How about the one on the corner two doors down? Or, okay, maybe the one next to that? I mean, it’s crazy– eating out in Paris is so much fun and the choices are endless: Thai, Mandarin, Sushi, Mediterranean, French, Indian, soups, sandwiches, salads, fish; we even happened upon a “back to the 50’s” café – jukebox, counter and stools, hamburgers and milkshakes, and of course, frites…
We had some tasty dark, rich espresso to top off dinner – we were in such a good mood…oh yeah, we were ready to P A R T A Y…. (Bridesmaids!) Of course I had mine with lots of sugar…big mistake. Big. Normally, I will drink a cappuccino in the morning – maybe, but rarely, one in the afternoon if in Paris; but espresso? Na….so here I am at 1:30 in the morning writing – hmm, I’m starting to think that espresso is why I’m up, writing, and writing….STOP!!! Ok , I guess I should start heading that way….pray I sleep tonight. I’m just having way too much fun…
But, okay, one more thing before heading up to bed. I want to say this: what I love about Paris is the juxtaposition between the old and new. By that I mean, everywhere you look, down every street are the most beautiful old buildings – the architecture is truly spectacular. And the feeling you get is that the French really work at preserving their history by maintaining these fabulous centuries-old buildings and landmarks. (Sandy has a really hard time walking anywhere without going for the shot and behind me I can always hear the click, click, click of her camera – it’s tough for a photographer who does not want to miss a great shot – I mean, great shots are everywhere in Paris.) So, the juxtaposition? What you see against the backdrop and essence of the very old, is the very new – the very modern. From fashion to cars (small compact and lots of smart cars – no big, gas-guzzling SUVs) , to furniture and accessories, to lighting, and even the toilettes…this is a very modern city – a city rich with art and history but very forward in its thinking, innovation and design. That combination makes for a very interesting experience for the traveler/adventurer who truly entertains the “City of Lights.”
In closing, I just want to say…HOLY CRAP! Sandy! We’re in PARIS….!!