Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paris----City of High Fashion

Well......I was very lucky to stumble onto a couture fashion show as I was walking back from the Eiffel Tower.
All of a sudden I came upon a crowd of very serious photographers and then I became one of them!

A Closer Look

Wow, this is a very, very fancy dress! The model was more than happy to pose for me and about 25 other photographers at the show.

Do You Speak English?

Because I don't speak French, I was always looking for someone to give me directions or information while I was I Paris. Luckily, I'm very friendly and find it easy to walk up to perfect strangers to ask quesions. I looked around and saw this gentleman taking it all in, so I approached him and queried, "Do you speak English?". His response, "Sure, I'm from New York, what do you wanna know". This friendly chap, Craig, was "in the know" and gave me lots of details. He's a professional photographer who travels the world and takes pictures of models when they aren't working. He has a web site:

Everyone was There

Georgina, in the leather jacket, is a stylist for French Vogue, a very upscale fashion magazine. Doesn't she look stylish? She was attending the fashion show with her friend, Julie, on the bank of the Seine because that's what she does-----it's part of her job to be involved in the latest trends in clothing and accessories.

He Didn't Even Notice Me!

This was the entrance to the couture fashion show and, because I had accidently happened upon it and didn't have a formal invitation, I just stood at the entrance and took photos and interviewed interesting people. This fellow was so absorbed in making sure all was going smoothly, he didn't see me at his feet! The designer's name is displayed on the sign next to him, just tilt your head a little sideways and you'll be able to read it!

High Fashion at the Museum

The building where the fashion show took place is a museum and it hosts many other designers' new collections throughout the summer. If you are in Paris and want to see the latest in fancy outfits that cost thousands of dollars or just be part of the hubbub, google the museum and see what's on the schedule.

On Being Very Prepared

Should you take in the fashion show when visiting Paris, make sure you have all the right equipment, just like this photographer above. He WAS prepared for anything. But most of all when you are traveling anywhere, be sure to take a positive attitude and wear a great big smile! It will take you far and you'll make lots of new friends like I do!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Crossing the Seine in Paris

Yes, that is the Eiffel Tower behind me! I'm walking from the Right Bank to the Left Bank on one of the many pedestrian bridges crossing the second longest river in France, the River Seine. See that little boat in the background, you can take one of those on this waterway and have a grand tour of Paris; lots of tourists do just that!

How Tall is the Eiffel Tower?

When looking at pictures and photographs, I never dreamed the most famous landmark in Paris was sooooooo high! Can you guess the height?
It's 1,063 feet tall; that's 81-stories! It took over two years to build and is the most visited paid monument in the world.

At the Base of the "Iron Maiden"

Yes, the Eiffel Tower is nicknamed the "Iron Maiden". There were so many men hawking minature towers to the tourists; there must have been at least 25. They were everywhere. The crowds were thick, so if you decide to visit the tower, make sure you get there early.

Under Construction

The Eiffel Tower has two sets of elevator-like cars that carry you up to the next level for a better view of Paris. The one on the right side was down for renovation, so you can imagine how long the lines must have been----and they were. Did you notice the construction worker above the red panel? See how little he is compared to the tower base.

Ready for a Ride?

Look carefully and you'll see the orange cars/elevators that take you to the next level of the Eiffel Tower. There are two restaurants up there. As I said, the crowds are thick, so make sure you arrive early to stand in line for tickets. Bring a book----you will have time on your hands; or people watch, that's fun too! Visitors come from all over the world to see this impressive structure which was the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair.

Everybody Was Safe

French soldiers patrol all the frequently-visited tourist attractions in Paris. I liked having them around because, always, one of them spoke English and I could ask for directions if I lost my way (which I did sometimes).

On the Quay, Pronounced "Key"

Do you know what "quay" means? It's the walkway along a river bank where boats can dock. Here I am looking down on the River Seine quay after a fun afternoon exploring the Eiffel Tower. I recommend a great chapter book for children that Mom reads to her third grade students about this exact location. It's called FAMILY UNDER THE BRIDGE by Natalie Savage Carlson.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Way to Claude Monet's Pink House

Outside of Paris, to the north and about one hour away, is the village of Giverny and one of the most famous gardens in the world. The garden was built by the "Father of Impressionism", Claude Monet, so he could paint it. View the next dozen photographs and take the tour of one of France's most visited tourist destinations. Remember: Click to enlarge.

Taking Care of the Grounds

The whole village is very small and well kempt. The parking lot for visitors was mostly grass under large-limbed, leafy trees. Francois (holding me) and Frederic were trimming the hedges which enclosed the parking area. Many tourists come to the village by train from Paris to Vernon and then rent bicycles and pedal over to see the sights in Giverny.

Inside the Gift Shop--a Portrait of Claude

Well you know Mom, she always has to see what's for sale, especially if there are any bargains, and the gift shop at Claude Monet's house, which is now a museum, was no exception. I must say it was fabulous----huge----with lots of wonderful mementos and gifts. We left with a number of childrens' books to take back to the students of P-17 at Sunset Beach Elementary.

Even the Bathroom was Beautiful

This is the view to the outside of the ladies room at Claude Monet's residence. Everywhere I looked took my breath away. I sure was a lucky pooch to be in such a beautiful place.

Everything is Painted Giverny Green

I made up that green color name. I'm not exactly sure what color of green it is, but it's all over the grounds of Claude Monet's residence and in his house too. I loved it! This is the exit from the gift shop into the garden. Itsn't it heaven!

On Staff for 20 Years

Remy was so delightfully informative and he knew so much. He just talked and talked to me even though I didn't speak French. I asked him lots of questions and so did my companion for the day, Keely. She's the hostess who put me up in Paris and drove me to Giverny.
I must confess, we got lost on the way back to Paris. It's difficult when the road signs are confusing to begin with and then the language was not in my mother tongue. We finally made it back, though, and parked our car in the very secured underground lot that was a 15-minute walk from Keely's apartment.

The Pink House

Claude Monet's home is so, so famous. Thousands of visitors come every year to see the residence of one of the world's best painters. And you know what, in the beginning, his work was rejected by the art critics----it was too unrealistic and colorful.
Luckily for us, Claude kept painting and gave the world inspiring pieces of art that sell for millions of dollars today!
I was able to sit in his studio and just feel his presence, and appreciate the light streaming in through the floor to ceiling windows knowing that he painted right there.

The Garden from Above

This is the view from Claude's bedroom window. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the house, so you'll just have to do some research to see what the inside looks like. Just Google: "Claude Monet Giverny" and see what you can find.


The little girl peering out the window is staring from the kitchen inside Claude's house. It was huge, especially for its day.
The yellow and blue dining room adjacent to the kitchen was always full of guests who visited the painter during the 40 years he lived in Giverny.

Ahhhhhhhhh, the Water Lilies

Probably Claude Monet is most famous for his paintings of the water lilies in the pond he built at his residence. At the time, in the late 1800s, he made his neighbors upset because he diverted water from the River Epte to fill his pond. It's all okay now except for an abundance of weeping willow tree leaves. That's why the young man in the boat is using a net---he's scooping out the leaves to keep the pond pretty and clear.

Anyone for a Boat Ride?

This boat is in one of Claude's paintings, but here is a little more history about boats in his life. Mr. Monet loved painting outdoors, unlike the traditional painters of the day. He like being outside so much, and especially being on the river and his pond, that he built a boat that had a roof on it that would protect him while he painted. I've read that one time he was so upset with a painting that he hurled his paints and canvas into the drink. Can you imagine getting that frustrated? I think he needed to do some deep breathing. What do you think?

A Hotel with History

When Claude Monet moved to Giverny he rented his house. A few years later he had sold so many of his Impressionist paintings that he had enough money to buy his home. Well......when young painters learned of Monet's village one hour outside of Paris, they flocked there, especially the Americans. Before long there were over a 100 painters living nearby. The Hotel Baudy was the epicenter of it all. The owners had 20 bedrooms put in, built studios out back, and installed a tennis court out front to please the Americans. Meals were served and dinnertime went into the wee hours with visitors laughing and talking and sharing stories! I imagine it must have been a wonderfully inspiring place. Some of the guests ran out of money, so they traded their paintings for payment. Today no one stays there, but it's a great place for lunch and dinner. I know, I ate at the Hotel Baudy and had a tasty soup and salad! Sometimes restaurant goers leave sketches and they are posted on this bulletin board.

The Streets of Giverny

These are two of the very few streets in Claude Monet's village. I suggest you visit there sometime and do your best to spend a few days. There are a number of bed and breakfasts in which you can stay (I might be there too)! Bring your sketchpad and watercolors and appreciate the beauty of Giverny and one of France's most popular destinations.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The 25th Anniversary Performance

Les Miserables in Paris and I was there! The music, the actors, the set-----wonderful! It was a bit warm in the theater, though,
there was a heat wave going on in the city and no a/c. Yikes. I'm a spoiled American pooch.

Something to Drink?

I had an orange juice during the intermission of Les Miserables. It hit the spot! I needed a little ice and there it was; I didn't have to ask, I just had to scoop it up.

My Friends in Paris

Here I am with Mom and the dear family who "put me up" in Paris, Bruce, Keely, and their daughter, Keegan. (Morgan, their older daughter, was the photographer). It was an exciting visit as there is lots to see in the capital of France. My favorite part was exploring the open markets! The white peaches were divine!

The View from My Room

There are balconies everywhere in Paris! This one was mine on the Avenue Victor Hugo in the 16 Arrondissement.

The French Chef

Etienne came to make a delicious supper for me (and several other guests) when I was staying with my American Embassy friends.
I talked to him as he was preparing dinner and learned all about an insider's view of Paris. He was born and raised here!

Yum, Yum, Yum----I Love Paris!

Here are two of the dishes Etienne served. Aren't they beautiful? And they were soooooo tasty and healthy, too.

Yes, its a Great Place to Stay

I loved being on Avenue Victor Hugo-----close to open markets, bistros, pastry and bread shops, and lots of boutiques. There was always something new to see every day. My little doggie brain was always firing and making new connections--I know I got smarter just by observing and seeing all the new sights around the neighborhood.