Hello from Paris!
I decided after my accident and subsequent brain surgery to not follow the routine of the last few years but go to Paris this January. While January is not Paris at it’s very best, I am not fazed by grey skies and some rain. I used to have an apartment in Paris and went there in the winter time for three months. Why then, one might ask? Because the gardens at Weatherstone were covered in snow and ice, and as yet I was not spending much time in Aspen. That Paris apartment is long gone—after the fire at Weatherstone I felt all my attention, efforts, and money should go back to rebuilding the grand old house in Connecticut. But Paris has remained a place where I feel at home, and so after this last very challenging year I felt the need to travel to the place I have always gone to for beauty and inspiration. The grey skies of Paris work so wonderfully with the colors of the many magnificent grey buildings. I also had not been to Maison & Objet, a trade show of design and decoration, in several years. It is held every September (when I love being in Aspen for the fall colors) and in January. So the spirit said, go to Paris! I did and it did not disappoint.
I am also very lucky to have a close friend there who shares a similar a visual vocabulary and yet is always nudging me forward to what is new, as she stays abreast of what is “ au courante ” in design. this partnership allows me visit to the venerable old places I love as she keeps moving me forward, albeit slowly, into the future. One might also ask why do I not have that same experience vis-a-vis the new and edgy in New York. I think there are several reasons — but as this is not my diary, I will spare you that analysis. Maybe I simply do not get downtown enough!
What I love about Paris is there is always so much that is new! In our increasingly homogenized world I see so much of the same thing in every city. Originality is the most important element we have in design and Pais always seems to be a fertile ground for the new idea or the new boutique. This,side by side with the classic elements of this marvelous city make it a haven for those of us who revere the past accomplishments of a civilization and yet are inspired by seeing the new. There is no call for “out with the old, ” declaring that all that is new is the only way that excites. The blend of diverse universes is what makes Paris such a special place for me.
The new things I discovered and will show here are not big or necessarily earth-shaking; they are often small artisanal shops, a type of packaging, a new florist, a beautiful ribbon, things that illustrate that wonderful French expression ” une certaine je ne sais quois.”
Thus these photos are a small glimpse of what caught my eye—or mouth — at that moment. Many of these places may be things you already know, but just in case, Hello from Paris!
Pictures from Maison & Objet (which was okay, but in my humble estimation not riveting). Perhaps because I was not buying for a project or a shop or for my website, my eyes were not as focused as usual. I am merely sharing images of things that I liked — as simple as that. I hope you enjoy!
We have all seen green walls and flower walls but I thought these were especially lovely. The orchid wall: a beautiful combination of complementary colors and texture.
Mixtures of beautiful greens from a company called Ran–let me know if you want the contact info ( photos above and below).
More green and textures in this charming dog below, from a company that makes very well done artificial flowers (the next 3 photos).
As you well know, I am a total sucker for animals and flowers, so a couple of more photos of both.
You know my love of birds because of the bird room in Charleston, but these beauties from Meissen are as wonderful today as they were in the 18th century. I would love them for Chilsolm, but they are MAJOR Meissan so some reproductions and minor antiques will have to suffice for now.
Sea fans covered with something glittering: the photos do not capture how alluring these decorative objects are! (The above photo is from an interesting French company called Cranatomie.)
One trend throughout was the fair was oversized scale, which I love. By the way, the stated trends of show were “Techno Made, Nature Made, Human Made.” Go figure.
I think these feathered chandeliers are fun!
Love these oversize vases!
The scale of the four photos above was enormous — I especially love the large vases.
I regret that the photos above do not show the one magical moment (I did not have video capability) to show you a collaboration between the porcelain company Bernardaud and the French tea company Marriage Freres. The combination of technology and traditional Japanese art was so peaceful and lovely. We heard that this has been been posted many many times via youtube: you could enjoy a cup of tea with birds flying around, trees blossoming, and petals falling.
An Italian company (above) has the best looking plastic or acrylic (not sure which) products. They take classic models and create them in wonderful colors. Of course the ones I prefer are the classics reinterpreted, such as the Adam salt and pepper holders or Baccarat-style candle holders. But the modern shapes are handsome as well.
Love hats, love the colors, love the display!
The faux lavender looked looked so real!
Now, back in Paris:
The new Foundation Louis Vuitton is very interesting and the “shadow room” (its unofficial name) is fun! There is barely a straight line in the Frank Gehry building. It was evening when I went so do not have an exterior photo– sorry. It is quite a construction!
Clowning around with my dear friend Sylvie.
Moi, in the shadow room.
I love the fish floating above the restaurant!
All the above photos are of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Definitely worth a visit!
Above (and two photos below) are of a new restaurant for me, La Société. It is considered a hot spot on the Left Bank, just off of Boulevard Saint-Germain.
I had the very hot pasta with lobster but the best thing there, in my humble opinion, was the mashed potatoes . Amazing!
My favorite things in Paris: Food, Flowers and Femininity, the French way.
Every trip to Paris means going to Le Cabinet de Porcelaine on the Left Bank.
I love all the flower displays on the small streets of Paris.
As promised, from an earlier post when several of you asked about the golden candle cages that are in the library at Chisolm House. They are from Laparra Silversmiths – 157 rue du Temple, 3rd arrondissement.
As I said, I am always amazed at the beauty of the food. Just look at the richness of the two breads and cakes below from patisserie/restaurant Bread and Roses (7 rue de Fleurus).
Christmas is long over but the decorations are still in some places. The photo does not do their beauty justice.
Again, the specialty food stores are such a treat for the eyes. The following pictures are from Hédiard .. love the red currants and cherries snuggled in leaves!
Like the photo at the top of this post, I love how the French cover an ugly construction site with a faux facade. Above is the Hôtel de Crillon, totally covered in a trompe l’oeil canvas. Notice the figure in the upper lit window—no ugly scaffolding in Paris!!!!
Sylvie and I went to Versailles for an exhibit of the ultimate in French furniture, from the mid 1600’s to the early days of the first Empire. The quality of the pieces was extraordinary. While these are the periods I love, I’m confident that anyone interested in great craftsmanship would find the exhibition interesting and informative.
As you can see in the photo below, they are restoring the gilding on the roof — certainly too bright for now but it will surely age gracefully (I hope).
The photos above and below are trompe l’oeil. Notice how even the fence and stone facade are faux, but are so successful. They really do “fool the eye.”
Back again in Paris
A miniature saddle in the Hermes window. How chic!
Another flower shop. J’adore.
Like everyone else, I always make a stop at the George V just to see the flowers: cute gigantic bears and lots of orchards and roses this time.
Love the simplicity of a line of primroses at an ordinary cafe — a small touch but so appealing.
My custom for the last 40 years has been to buy flowers for my hotel room. I stayed in a new hotel this time, so set out to find the nearest florist. In the past I always went to the vendors of Place de la Madeleine to buy nosegays of whatever is in season (my favorite is violets). It is a treasured ritual.
I have always adored the way the French package their upscale products—the quality of the tissue paper (called papier de sois), the quality and weight of the cellophane and boxes, the texture and finish of the boxes, paper, and ribbon, and the stylish graphics make something seem so much more special. I know people who collect Hermès boxes and, of course, my favorite is the magical packaging from Ladurée. Small things, but in my mind they make all of the difference.
I am crazy about the Christian Louboutin nail polish and its packaging. Yes, I know it was really crazy to spend almost $50 for nail polish, but it was stunning and cheaper than another pair of shoes. The bottle is so fabulous!!
Wonderful packaging from Hédiard
A relatively new boutique, a throwback to another time and style in an ultra-modern world…but the Parisians love it and so did I! Buly 1803, 6 rue Bonaparte, on the Left Bank.
Paris has always had wonderful shops for chocolate but this time I have noticed an explosion of designer chocolates. As with so many things, the French have taken a simple product and made it into an art form. I bought more chocolate on this trip than anything else because I was so intrigued by the thought and design.
Architectural shapes in chocolate created for the fair and presented at Maison & Objet by the Japanese artist/ designer of the year, Oki Sato. I just found them to be creative and wonderful.
Above—brought these amazing chocolates home and remembered I had 19th century majolica plates that matched these modern chocolates beautifully. So there was couture chocolate everywhere! There are no more pictures of these miniature masterpieces as I ate many before I took photos. Sorry!
My last night in Paris I went with friends to another new restaurant that is, for the moment, very much a hot spot. It is called Lazare and sure enough it is just outside the Gare St. Lazare, run by the chef Eric Frechon
It was classic bistro food. Delicious!
It may not look like much in the photo, but the shrimp – tempura style were yummy!
Just a view from my window as I return home to snow and my dogs. I have not forgotten your many comments on the Chinoiserie room at Chisholm House. Perhaps I shall get around to responding to differing opinions– or not. As soon as I return and have my puppy fix I am off to Charleston to continue planting the garden. So in case I forget to respond to some of you, let me say this. I realize one cannot appeal to all tastes and one is entitled to one’s opinion…. it makes everything more interesting and we all learn in the process, new things from one another. Maybe this old American expression says it best, ” That’s what makes horse races!”
I hope this post was not too tedious, I just wanted to share a bit of what I saw. Sadly, I lost my travel camera, so all photos are via iPhone — c’est la vie!
I hope my next post will not take a month to do!!! There is never enough time. I do this by myself and it takes me forever, so again I apologize for the infrequency and typos but if I keep going over this bloody thing I shall never post it —I need obviously need an editor, but I do love staying in touch, regardless.
For the next post I want to show all of you the work of an extraordinary French artist. She has painted the rooms of the “Beau Monde” in Paris and has painted each and everyone of my beloved pups. She is such a true and special talent that I know all of you who the decorative arts will appreciate her work . Until then…. Carolyne