Being There: Paris

These are the last shots from Paris, except for the now backlogged second installment of shopping in Paris.

It was quite interesting to find a book called “Amerikkka” (note that this is tome 7, “objectif Obama.” Oh, good.) I also like the sign for “tampon plastification,” although I know it’s not really about, um, plastifying (?) your women’s hygiene products – tampon has something to do with making stuff tamper-proof. And how great is the movie title Bébé Mode de Emploi? (Although the French don’t come across particularly adept at translating movie titles, huh?) I wonder if that’s also the title of a parenting book in France. A parenting book for babies that come from Ikea. And of course it’s great that Starbucks‘ card readers say ‘Bonjour’.

Paris was a lot of fun. I was there ten years ago with my father and we stayed in a hostel near Montmartre. I remember slipping in the rain and eating croque monsieur. This trip was also cold and wet, so I’ve resolved not to return to Paris until it’s summer, as I can’t say I fell in love with the city like I thought I would. I told my mom that I’d be camping out on French Vogue’s doorstep until they hired me (to do what?), but I have to admit that I didn’t feel the compunction within city limits. But I just watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona so now I have an idealized and not-planted-in-my-head-by-factual-representations compulsion to move to Barcelona. It’s probably a spiritual thing and you wouldn’t understand.

Paris is an attractive place, of course, don’t get me wrong, and I loved the people I stayed with. Couchsurfing on this trip (as a whole) went the best it’s gone so far. My first hosts in Paris I found on the site and they were absolutely charming, had a delightful place, and took me out for vin chaud the first night I was there. My last two days in Paris (ah! Two Days in Paris, have you seen the Julie Delpy movie? I highly recommend it) I stayed in the apartment of a girl I’d met in Basel, an incredibly nice and totally awesome girl, obviously, whose apartment  was very rustic French country kitchen à la that one episode of AbFab when Eddie and Patsy go to France. She had a potluck on Thursday night and I met some of her friends, who were gracious and totally righteous enough to invite me over to their place the next night for dinner (and chocolate-chip cookies).

Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies. My travails at the train station are detailed here, and the trip to Amsterdam had a bit of a rough start as well. More on that…sooon!

P.S. I recently found a bunch of my mother’s old photos, including a ton from a trip she took to Europe thirty years ago! It was really magical to find them just days after coming back from my own Euro-trip, so I was inspired to start an entirely new project called Photos From My Mother (did I mention I’m currently unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands?). Photos from her trip to Paris are up now!

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Shopping in Paris: Part 1

…is magical! But you knew that already. I’ve been a bit torn about whether or not to post this, because I did buy some things in Paris that I quite like, but I shipped them back to the States (God, anything to not have to carry extra crap around with me while traveling). I wanted to maybe shoot them also, but alas…they are not here for an impromptu photo sesh. I bought a deep blue velvet blazer in just-my-size at vintage mecca Espace Kiliwatch, along with a green fringed pashmina wrappy-thing (more masculine than that makes it sounds, I swear) and a silk paisley scarf (gorgeous colors – some sort of photographic celebration of its glory will be available in the future).

The stores above are as follows:
1) The first three photos are from Le Bon Marché. Gorgeous, fabulous, fun. Those candles are Cire Trudon. Die. I WILL eventually own an apartment with a mantle and these will be displayed there. Prominently. They also had gorgeous bust candles (like, ancient Roman-style busts) that I thought were quite clever. My friend I was with explained to me (briefly) the M.O. of the company, if you will. They’ve been around for forever and their candles have these deep historical references. For instance, the Cire Trudon candle she had in her house was supposed to smell like Versailles – and she said that it actually did! Plus there was another one that smelled like Waterloo or something to do with Napoleon…the company’s been around for like, 150 years.
2) The 4th is a picture of the exterior of the A.P.C Surplus store in Montmarte. Which was closed the day I stopped by.
3) We stopped by the new Hermès flagship store. The space was formerly an indoor pool that was completely gutted and reimagined as a four story Hermès emporium. I bought a saddle and five pairs of riding boots. Joke! I bought nothing. The wooden structures you see are these…well, wooden structures that showcased different elements of the brand’s home lines. It was very busy and quite nice, but we both agreed we expected something a little…more.
4) Next up are two pictures from the flea markets just outside the city limits. Pretty!  We got there late in the day…so no fun stories, sorry 😦
5) The last two pictures are from Merci, a concept store I read about in Vogue like, two years ago. It was up on my list of must-see Paris stores along with Colette and Didier Ludot (the latter of which I’ll admit to first hearing about on the Rachel Zoe Project. I didn’t get to it, probably for the better). Colette, I must say, was a disappointment. I think because I’ve been reading about it for so long I expected something really rather amazing, but aside from a quite-sexy display of the latest women’s fashions on the second floor…I didn’t really find much to get me jazzed. Merci was pretty cute and has the best home section of any store I’ve ever been to. I didn’t know I could want so many chandeliers. And tables. They also had some Liberty-print suitcases that were stunning, great floral prints, but I don’t think I could pull off a bright pink floral miniature suitcase.

No pictures, but I stumbled across Noir Kennedy on Rue du Roi de Sicile one night. There are two Noir Kennedy shops on that street, actually, a first one that sold mostly black jeans and a little vintage (you should have seen me in the jeans they had…if you know me you know I’m like the king of the Elves, but my thighs did NOT fit into these jeans [it was INSANE]), and a second one a few doors down that sold a lot of vintage. Very hipstery and I want to say it was pretty awesome even though I wasn’t moved to buy anything. At some point I popped into Printemps and tried on the most AMAZING Balenciaga coat ever and it was 895 Euros and then I died. So that was fun. Another (special) shopping post coming soon!

This Is Where I’m Not

That’s a beach in Stanley, Hong Kong…oh, the memories. Currently I’m in Rotterdam, Holland (and when I actually get around to posting about my Netherlands trip I’ll explain the Holland/Netherlands thing to the best of my abilities). I’m still trying to get all of my pictures from Paris edited and posted, which I think makes me the worst blogger ever. I already left Amsterdam and there’s been not even a peep about that! To make it up to you I’m providing this link to a blog that I just discovered, An Apple a Day. It’s author just took an eerily-similar-to-mine trip and posted great photos and lots of ’em (Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris). It’s way better than my blog, let’s just be serious, so check it out and then out of pity for me and as a thanks for letting you know it existed, come back and visit mine occasionally. We have a deal? C’est bon! (But seriously, I took almost no photos in A-dam because my friend I was touring around with had her camera out the whole time and I was too focused on making sure we got sufficiently lost so that she could really feel like she’d traveled with me. When she posts photos there’ll be more linkage! Bisou and frommage!)[I don’t know how to say, let alone type, anything in Dutch. So I’m still on the French thing.]

Walking Around the Jardin des Tuileries

The Jardin des Tuileries is most famous in my mind for being the location where Tommy Ton (and many others, for that matter) shoots every Paris fashion week. For that it was rather “must-see” if you will, despite the cold cold weather. I didn’t see anyone famous or particularly well dressed even, but it was pretty. French gardens, as opposed to Chinese gardens or English gardens, are very obviously focused on symmetry – this is nothing new to anyone who has some awareness of world gardens, but that person is not I, so I thought I’d share my observation. This was apparent especially in the Luxembourg gardens, where they’d trimmed the trees to look like box hedges on stilts.

As I write this I’m sitting in a very romantic and typically Parisian spot, McDonald’s, waiting for my train. I have a Eurail pass, but no one at Eurail told me that I’d need to buy a supplementary “booking reservation” for all high-speed trains, so when I arrived at the station this morning there was an episode of sorts. It went something like this:

I went to board second class. “No, you need to get a seat reservation,” said the train man, “you have to go to the front of the train and get it from the ticket manager.” So I imagined I would walk up to some benevolent train-figure and he would say “Ah! A Eurail pass! I know you paid hundreds of dollars for that and there were no stipulations of this nature mentioned on the site, so here is a seat reservation just for you without complication.” But instead I asked the wrong man first, then turned back around and found the right man and told him I needed a seat reservation. He said, “No, you have to buy a full-price ticket.” I said “No, this is a Eurail pass I already bought my ticket I don’t need another one you’re wrong,” and he said “No,” and I said “Yes,” but with gusto, so he said “Be quiet right now or I will call the police!” (And tell them what, I want to board your train? “With gusto,” keep in mind, does not mean I was yelling – or even swearing! I think this is a French thing. If I’d been in China this would have gone a lot differently.) So I shot him a look that said “You are an angry little dwarf man,” and went to the ticket counter where indeed, I was right, I did not have to buy a full price ticket, but I was wrong, there was a booking reservation and it did cost me money. I got really lucky then, apparently, on the train coming into Paris – not only did I not pay for a supplement for the high-speed train, but no one even bothered to check my pass! Very lucky, indeed.

It’s snowing rather hard and France is not a country that’s particularly well prepared for snow, so I hope that my train isn’t canceled in the end. I will be…frustrated.

I rather need to be in Amsterdam tonight, as I’m supposed to meet a friend there that I haven’t seen in over a year…but she’s having delays too! Europe. Quel horreur!

Amélie Will Go To There?

Around Sacré Couer. I have so much to say and share, but not much time so obviously I’m going to tell you nothing and leave you with a few pictures. A thousand words each, right? C’est bon!

One is the Loveliest Number

Ugh I’m feeling sick today, achey all overrr. This is bad because 1) I’m not getting out on some of the last warmish days when the trees still have leaves on them and 2) tomorrow I’m headed to Zurich! I’m going to be Couchsurfing again, which is exciting. I’m supposed to be doing a ghost walk on Friday evening followed by a a night on the town (the first chance the Swiss have to show me How They Do). Luckily my aunt has an exhaustive supply of tea and is a great cook (I love good things that run in the family) so being bedridden with the ouches isn’t so bad as it could be.

P.S. My friend Ariel is going to Hong Kong for a few days and then Japan, which makes me jealous although not too jealous because, well, you know. Check it out, see how it compares to my experience! (I loved HK, have fuuunnnn Ari…)

P.P.S. Vintage shopping in Antwerp, Belgium. Looks amazing. I recently purchased my Eurail pass to France, Benelux*, and Germany, which means I’ll be heading to Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin sometime in the next month anda half. *(Benelux is an acronym for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg…did you know that? I had no idea. I was ordering my pass and freaking out like, “I need to meet my friend in Amsterdam! Why can’t I get to the Netherlands? Did they secede? And what the hell is Benelux? How did I not know about this country?)[also I sort of didn’t realize Luxembourg was a country. Oops.]

P.P.S.S. Oh, right. FYI I’m headed to Amsterdam (and maybe briefly Rotterdam?) in December to meet up with this lady. Weeeee!

Px3S(?) Oh, right! I almost forgot, I didn’t take that picture! It’s from Florence and my friend Jeremy took it. Go Jeremy!