Back from three great weeks in France. Trust me, I wish I had a laptop because I have so much to tell! OMG! As usual, the drama follows me around like a shadow. It was almost Dickensonian for a while. You know—”It was the best of times. It was the worst of times!”
The Leaning Tower of Eiffel–an indication that my stay would be a bit unsteady!
CAVEAT: The worst meaning I allowed myself to become upset by little thing–but, we all are well aware of my penchant for drama!
My anxiety was in full swing for a while over a couple of things that I’ll tell you about….like a broken elevator, a broken door to the outside of the apartment building—which meant it wouldn’t open from inside the courtyard NOR would it open from the outside. We also experienced the huge cab strike, the news of a crazy employee murdering his boss, the incredible heatwave in Paris and throughout France known as the “canicule“, as well as the mistral in the South. And finally—news of my beloved daughter’s being transferred to Arkansas!
But first, let’s start at the beginning.
Did you enjoy your vacation from me? I hope you didn’t. I hope you missed me!
- So right before we were to leave, my car got broken into. Contents of my stolen items were found down the street in a neighbor’s car. Right away, this set off anxiety of leaving and having no house when we returned. Luckily, our local police department allows you to put your name on a “vacation” list and the police will check up on your home while away. Check!
We left Philly on Saturday, June 13th to an easy flight to CDG in Paris. While at the airport Bonaparte almost had a melt-down because the airport, in the process of “upscaling” got rid of the McDonald’s booth. Yes. This from a Frenchman!
Once I see that little sign lit up with flight info, I brighten up!
We arrived in Paris early Sunday morning. Luckily for us, the cabs hadn’t gone on strike yet! When we arrived at Daniele’s apartment, the elevator was working—so carting our luggage only took two elevator trips (those French elevators are so stinking tiny!)
The only stairs I like to climb are the ones leading to our loft area at Daniele’s apartment! Isn’t it cute???
Danièle, Bonaparte’s aunt, was very happy to see us and we were welcomed with fresh coffee and croissant. We spent the day unpacking, relaxing, and taking a drive to Garches to pick up a baguette at Desgranges—our favorite place for bread.
Desgranges in Garches. Worth the drive for….
It’s salty and chewy on the inside and ..well, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t lose any weight while we were away!
This little baguette never made it back to the apartment in Paris. We ate it! My thighs are slightly larger these days!
As we were enjoying the sights while driving around, I received a text from Oona telling me she may be moving from New York. My angst was surfacing…
Anyway, the first night was fun. We had dinner at a local neighborhood place, Bistro St. Andre. This is our “go to” dinner place when we want casual, easy, and non-fussy food. It’s also a very “familiar” place.
Bernard and colleague at Bistro St. Andre–it’s like being at home!
We’re comfortable there and have been enjoying simple meals for ten years at the bistro! Anyway, we sat down to an aperitif and I spotted Bonaparte’s cousin, Andre, walking down Rue Seguier. I stood up and waved and he happily joined us!
My dinner–a very hearty Pot Au Feu made with duck. It was delicious!
Monday: I went to Daniele’s office at Zazi Films and used her computer to submit my unemployment claim for the previous weeks. (Remember this—OK?)
Daniele’s office at Zazi films.
Me. Happy to be here….
Why–even my feet are relaxing outside of the office. It’s great to be back in Paris!
We also took a trip to the new “Fondation Louis Vuitton” building. The building it beautiful and shiny and glassy and modern—and I’m normally not a fan of modern architecture, but Frank Gehry, the American architect who designed the building did a beautiful job.
Part of the Fondation Louis Vuitton…I love the sparkly initials!
The other half of the building. It really is impressive!
Interior view from top floor.
Look at the sky. This building is just so cool!
Bonaparte and Aunt Bonaparte! We had a blast! That IS a sculpture they are standing in front of!
Anyway, it’s a museum of sorts but the art is really modern and abstract and there is performance art to deal with….I’m not a fan of that scene, but it is worth going to just to see this magical building!
A sample of some of the art displayed. This isn’t my thing, but I kind of liked this…
I liked this portrait of Josephine Baker by Warhol better!
Dinner this evening was cooked by me! I whipped up some omelets with cheese and ham and olives and Danièle loved and ate everything!
Tuesday: Another morning of glorious weather greets us!
Coffee, croissant, and a discussion about our daily plans is the best way to start the day–the three of us love our happy mornings–especially when the weather is like this!
After ten attempts. Yes. TEN attempts. For years, I’ve been dying to visit Giverny, home of Claude Monet and for ten years, something always came up. This time—I made it!
Finally!!! After so many years–but first..lunch!
The weather was spectacular—not a cloud in the sky. Bonaparte, Daniele and I headed out of Paris and in no time we were at Giverny. Daniele was a bit hungry when we arrived so we enjoyed a light lunch at a cute little restaurant “Le Petit Girveny”.
Daniele admiring the little garden in front of Le Petit Giverny!
We had lunch at the table on the far left. The setting was perfect!
It was kind of a touristy place, but nevertheless an adorable and happy little setting. The service was great and the salads were fine. So it was all good.
My lunch..a salad of salmon, calamari, shrimp, scallops and pamplemoose, aka grapefruit! The dressing was fantastic–a light lemony dressing! Yum!
Then—we strolled up to see the house and gardens. It was somewhat surprising to see a pretty long line for admission—especially since it wasn’t high season yet.
I was not expecting the enormous crowds that were there! The home of Claude Monet is charming and beautiful and filled with character! Unfortunately it was also incredibly filled with tourists (Yes. I know. I am a tourist too..but still!) It was nearly impossible to even take a few moments to stop and wonder about what life was like in the house because of the crowds. Anyway, I was still able to get some decent pics.
The home of Claude Monet. I’m not kidding when I say that I had to wait a good ten minutes to find the one second to shoot this pic with no crowds!
Bedroom–I was lucky to get this shot because I almost got pushed out of the way!
This studio made me want to curl up with a good book..it’s so tranquil!
This yellow kitchen is so happy. Makes me want to bake!
All that copper cookware makes me swoon!
The gardens were amazing. Just amazing! The flowers. The pond with the lily pads. I almost felt like I was in a dream—a very happy and colorful and fragrant dream!
There is something so enticing about lily pads in a pond! Even moreso with those beautiful willow trees!
Is this heaven on earth or what?
This little path leads from the house!
The hypocondraic in me panicked without an epi pen–but the bees were only interested in the flowers! Thank heavens!
Isn’t it pretty?
I’m really happy to have finally visited Giverny, but in order to really have time to appreciate it, I need to revisit when it is less crowded!
Giverny needs to be revisited by me when it isn’t so mobbed. I would love to return during the early spring when all the flowers begin their new annual lives! Take it from me, if you go to Giverny during the summer months, be prepared for crowds so do yourself a favor and get there early in the morning!
On the way back we stopped at Dalloyau, Bonaparte’s favorite patisserie of all time, for dessert and our dinner was a great lamb tajine with homemade couscous—prepared by Daniele’s housekeeper. Her housekeeper may not be the best at cleaning house, but she is a really, really good cook! She’s the only person I’ve ever met who makes couscous from scratch!
Best desserts ever! I don’t know what is to become of Dalloyau because a recent newspaper article mentioned the possible selling of the family-owned shops!
Wednesday: We decided to take a walk to the Musee D’Orsay. As we were waiting for the elevator in Daniele’s building, we noticed it was taking an awfully long time to arrive. We could also hear a lot of noise coming from a couple of floors below. We decided to walk down the stairs and witnessed a Chinese family, strollers and babies in tow, trying to squeeze into the small, narrow elevator that states no more than three people should be in it at one time. There were six members of this family making an attempt to fit in!
I don’t think they understood French or the rules of French elevators.
We walked right into the museum and enjoyed the Bonnard exhibit;
One of Bonnard’s nudes. He’s a happy painter. Very beautiful colors!
my man Gustave Courbet’s paintings and many others.
Self portrait of Courbet. He was soooo good looking! I wanted to post his “Origin of the World” but Bonaparte said some people may be offended. It was pretty scandalous–you can Google it though!
Well, well, well–look what we have here! A Claude Monet painting!!!!
Edouard Manet’s “Le Dejuener sur l’herbes”. Luncheon in the Grass. The first time I saw this painting close up, I was moved to tears. I LOVE this painting!
Henri Fantin-LaTour is another painter who’s work I admire. I swear I could spend all day here! He’s in the white shirt!
I love the Orsay so much. It is on a much smaller scale than the Louvre and, for me, more intimate!
The Orsay is always a pleasure to visit..
The large clock in the middle of the museum is striking more than time!
And the other clock offers a different view of Paris!
We spent a good part of the day at the Orsay and afterwards walked around the 6th on Blvd. St. Germain. We walked along Rue Bonaparte!!
I couldn’t resist! Bonaparte on Bonaparte!
I picked up some body lotion and soap at Fragonard and when we arrived back home to the apartment, we arrived to a broken elevator! Now—I didn’t want to point fingers, but when an entire family of six people—strollers and all tries to squeeze into an elevator in Paris that is meant for three very thin French people, you can bet your ass that you’re gonna be walking up lots of curvy stairs!
Seven. Floors. About 15 steps per flight. When you are carrying stuff—it is no longer exercise. It’s torture!
But what really bugged me is that Daniele is just a few months shy of 90 years young! She cannot walk up and down seven flights of stairs. OK????
It gets better.
Bonaparte and I had to make a run to the offices at Zazi to check emails and I wanted to ensure that my unemployment money made its way to my bank account.
After walking the seven flights down the stairs, we got to the outdoor courtyard. Now. Understand. In order to get to the street, you need to open the huge and heavy door that leads from the courtyard to the outside world.
This building is full of doors. See that door in the back–to the right? That is another door with it’s own code! I love this courtyard, but really wanted to get outside!
The door didn’t open. The building’s concierge was nowhere to be found.
People from the outside couldn’t get in and people from the inside couldn’t get out.
Then I noticed something. A tiny piece of clear plastic tape was sticking out from the latch that catches the door. I pulled on it. The door opened. Apparently, the door was being repaired and the workers failed to tighten the tape!
Cathe saves the day—for a few minutes!
Walked back to Place Dauphine to get the car and drive to the office.
Our car is parked under Place Dauphine, but it’s my favorite square in all of Paris!
I had high hopes that my funds would be placed into my account. Look at Daniele’s pictures in her office–her photos looked hopeful!
On second thought–perhaps Daniele isn’t looking at me with high hopes!
The money was not placed into my bank account.
Between the elevator, the door, money that was due me, and news of my daughter’s pending transfer, this day was not turning out to be a good one.
It isn’t Paris’ fault though. I’m letting little things go to my head!
Thursday: Cool temperature in the morning but with a broken elevator, it’s actually a good thing! This morning we decided to take a walk to E. Dehilleran, the epic foodie supply store that professional chefs and non-professional chefs salivate about! The place where Anthony Bourdain famously purchased a duck press and bragged about it!
If I could afford it, I would have purchased every gadget for cooking known to man. And woman!
I could have spent all day in that store! In fact, I threatened to.
I was practicing my *cough* knowledge of the French language with a sales man at the store. He looked at me after allowing me to ramble on and said:
“Ou know, we ahr only open till sees o’click tonight” (Bonaparte ready to burst out laughing at this remark)
To which I answered:
“Well, pull up a chair and be prepared to close late, because by the time I finish trying to speak your language it’ll be 8 o’clock!”
I had an instant admirer who was incredibly helpful. The French love a good repartee and I’m a giver!
The duck press that Anthony Bourdain gleefully purchased. Watch out Anthony. When I win the lottery, I’m getting one for me!!!!!
My purchases were a silicone madeleine mold and an Herbs de Provence dispenser.
As we were walking back to Place Dauphine to get the car to run some errands, it happened. I went to take a photo with my phone and the phone went black. Dead. Nothing. Nada.
I couldn’t understand because it was well-charged.
The elevator. The door. The non-employment funds. Oona’s possible move. Now the phone.
I was an emotional house of cards that was about to tumble. Seriously. I am great at overreacting!
Bonaparte decided we should drive to Rue de Rennes and stop off at FNAC to see if we could get the phone fixed or at least find out what the problem was.
As is usual with the French, their customer service can be a bit different than ours here in the States. It’s more complex. We were told to go to the back area where people go to have electronics and phones fixed. However there were separate lines for computers and phones and other items. You also had to take the appropriate ticket.
Two people were working. Ten people were waiting.
After twenty minutes, I simply gave up. I was festering very bad emotions.
Bonaparte took it upon himself to go to the phone accessory department. He found a sales assistant; spoke to him while pointing the phone. The assistant magically pressed down the button to start my phone while pressing the little rounded square at the bottom of my phone.
The phone was fixed. I was so incredibly happy that I made a stop across the street to Sophie Sacs, my favorite store for purchasing Nat & Nin bags for a great price!
The charming proprietor of Sophie Sacs. Always welcoming!
…and an assistant stands amid the new look and expansion of this great shop!
Sophie Sacs, a narrow little alleyway of a shop, had a makeover! The store expanded by a few feet and new flooring and better lighting brightened the place up!
My new Nat & Nin bag. I love the color!
New bag in tow, I forgot about my unemployment! (For a few hours)
We came home to an elevator in working order. It was going to be a good day after all!
We had a great and delightful evening! Bonaparte’s cousin, Jean Denis and his wife Marie joined us for dinner. We always have a fun time with Jean Denis and Marie and Daniele was enjoying every moment!
Friday: Leaving Paris for Theoule-sur-Mer!
But wait. The elevator broke. Again!
That meant walking down seven flights of stairs with two large suitcases. Two carry on suitcases. My purse, in which I placed a ton of belongings.
….and the story continues…Part Deux tomorrow–stay tuned!
I’m happy to be back and I hope to continue to entertain you!!
Now..for some musical entertainment.. Joe Dassin singing “Aux Champs Elysees” XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX!