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Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Putting on the Ritz!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Paris When It Sizzles!

Here's John standing in the gorgeous Place Vendome outside the Hotel Ritz Paris last Christmas. We had just taken the overnight train from Berlin to Paris, and some R&R at the fabled Ritz certainly soothed our travel-weary selves.

Gang:

Happy Election Day! John and I stood in line for 3 hours today to vote in Brooklyn… The situation was a mess… And there were no writing utensils to be had to fill-in the voting SAT exam-like “bubbles” once we made it inside. Happily, we happened to have a pen in our bag… Wow! Didn’t we learn anything from the whole “chad” situation a few years back?

On another–and more serene and lovely–note, I thought I would revisit our stay at the fabled Hotel Ritz Paris last holiday season. John and I are so lucky to experience some really amazing hotels, and the Ritz certainly ranks right up there. The Ritz recently closed for a multi-year renovation, so John and I were thrilled to stay for a few nights before the hostelry shuttered its doors for a top-to-bottom overhaul.

I have been to Paris many, many times, but I had never stepped foot inside the Ritz. Frankly, the hotel scared me. I figured that I would be looked down upon or told that the hotel was for guests only or something. But, no, I could not have been more mistaken: The staff was beyond lovely and gracious. There was none of the Parisian attitude that I have come to expect in the City of Lights. And our hotel room, although certainly ready for a bit of freshening up, was luxe and very spacious… And the views over the city were stunning. And don’t even get me started on the myriad call buttons scattered about the bedroom and bath to ring the maid and the valet. I delighted by sitting in the tub and pulling the cord entitled “Maid.”

I cannot wait to see the Ritz when it reopens in two years.

And now it’s time to open some wine and watch the election results…

Deluxe Digs!

Here's our very luxe bedroom on the top floor of the Hotel Ritz Paris. John and I loved all of the gold detailing... Very Marie-Antoinette, n'est ce-pas?

And So to Bed!

An assortment of buttons to push beside the bed. I kept pushing buttons, and John got mad every time there was a knock on the door because of my antics. The "femme de chambre" and I became quite close.

Room with a View!

Here's the stunning view from our room at the Ritz. The Vendome Column in the distance sits in the center of the famous Place Vendome, the Ritz's main entrance.

Marble Marvel!

Here's our marble-clad bathroom with its gold-plated swan faucets. I felt like the Queen of Sheba in this fabulous and over-the-top loo.

Maid in the Shade!

I loved these two pulls in the bathtub for ringing the Maid and the Valet. I want these at home, n'est-ce pas? Fabulous. The Maid was very accommodating and was more than happy to add more hot water to my tub.

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Let Them Eat Cake!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

 

Marie-Antoinette!

An easy-breezy portrait of the doomed French queen Marie-Antoinette, a gal who much preferred life in her charming "Hameau," or hamlet, tucked into the sprawling landscape at Versailles, to the intricate and very formal life at the nearby court.

Gang:

John and I are currently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we are bopping about this terrific city and scoping the dining, cultural, and shopping scenes. What a sleeper gem!

But a few weeks back during our European Grand Tour we paid a visit to Versailles, the fabled palace outside of Paris constructed by Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the 17th century. I have been lucky enough to visit this sprawling chateau and its glorious gardens a few times before, but I had never ventured far enough into the park to tour Marie-Antoinette’s charming “Hameau,” or hamlet. This country-style retreat, tucked behind the estate’s Petit Trianon villa, houses everything from meadows and streams to a Temple of Love…

The highlight of our visit to the Hameau was Marie-Antoinette’s collection of rustic buildings–a veritable town–built beside a large pond. Only reopened in 2006 after 200-plus years of neglect, this incredible collection of peasant-like structures includes a dairy, a farmhouse, a mill, a lighthouse, a barn, a boudoir, and a dovecote constructed around charming kitchen gardens overflowing with vegetables. Back in its day, the complex was an actual working farm run by a farmer that produced milk and eggs as well as fresh produce.

Marie-Antoinette might now be best known for her “let them eat cake” attribution, but once you visit her Hameau you realize that this woman had many complex layers and was perhaps not the vain, self-centered peacock as portrayed by history. In fact, our Versailles tour inspired me to read Marie-Antoinette: The Journey by famed British writer Antonia Fraser: It’s a fabulous book with amazing insight into this much-misunderstood queen.

Here’s a quick tour of Marie-Antoinette’s rustic-chic domain at Versailles…


 

Fit for a Queen!

John huddles on a cold December afternoon in front of Marie-Antoinette's charming Hameau with its various buildings constructed around a free-form pond.

Buying the Farm!

Situated at the edge of Marie-Antoinette's hamlet, the farm grew vegetables and raised livestock.

Fit for a Queen!

The Maison de la Reine, or Queen's House, occupies the center of the charming hamlet. The building housed various spaces including a dining room and a game room.

Tour de Force!

The Tour de Marlborough, or lighthouse, stands tall above Marie-Antoinette's hamlet.

Cottage Living!

A chic thatched-roof cottage that seems worlds away from the gilt and mirrored halls of nearby Versailles where pomp and circumstance ruled the roost.

All Choked Up!

Leafy artichokes fill a wintry kitchen garden surrounded by tightly clipped boxwood hedges. Note the rural landscape that dominates in the distance.

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En Route from Berlin to Paris!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Train Time!

John catches up on his Paris-Berlin reading on our nine-hour overnight train adventure from Berlin to Paris. The sleeper car was a tight fit but lots of fun.

Gang:

We love a good train trip: There’s something magical about hitting the rails especially in Europe where there’s still some mystique unlike the cookie-cutter, impersonal Amtrak. So when it came time for me and John to head to depart Berlin for Paris, we booked a sleeper car on the overnight train, purchased a bottle of wine and a baguette and some cheese, and checked into our private cabin, a steal at $300 for the two of us.

And our sleeper car adventure–a nine-hour ride–was really fun, albeit a tad cramped. We drank a bit too much, cranked up the iTunes, read some Kindle and a few magazines, and arrived refreshed at the Gare du Nord early the next morning.

Never ones to sit down and rest a bit, we checked into our very chic Parisian hotel and immediately set out to browse the city’s famous Marche aux Puces flea market. A quick Metro ride carried us out to the Porte de Vanves, and we hit the stalls. We are just crazy about the Marche aux Puces where you can find everything from fabulous furniture to bric-a-brac and everything in between.

Says John, “The Marche has something for everyone, and the price point can be amazing. Jason speaks French fluently, so that makes things even easier.”

Jason concurs, zut alors, mes chats…

So here are some snaps from our shopping escapade.


 

John Scopes the Scene!

John gets ready to hit the scene at the Marche aux Puces near the Porte de Vanves with gobs of Euros in hand like he is headed to a Chippendales showcase.

Sundry Assortment!

A sundry assortment of objects... I purchased the hand-holding sconce in the middle of the photo and plan to have it rewired.

Landscape Lovelies!

A delicious assortment of far-flung landscape paintings. These would be so fun to frame and hang en masse behind a sofa.

Embroidery Elegance!

John and I loved this vintage embroidery, but we knew that it would not fit in our suitcase so we had to pass. So chic, huh? And French, too!

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