Surfacing briefly to report...

- Paris is still pretty, rain or shine (mostly rain today, but who cares?).

- Everybody should see a concert at Sainte-Chapelle. Especially if it is the Requiem. At sunset.

- COS: The most awesome store to ever not exist in New York. Well, possibly. But seriously -- they have a Topshop now, why not COS? From the people who brought you H&M -- COS is H&M's chic older sister, at a Zara pricepoint. Their specialty is ultra sophisticated not-basic basics...you follow? Also I am digging their rather snazzy grosgrain-handled shopping bags. For a "budget" store they have really nailed the importance of having a consistent (and consistently stylish) vision.

[Not my picture. Sorreee! But I did love that sofa.]

- You know, I have a pretty thick skin where my name is concerned, but watching French people wallow around trying to pronounce it for five minutes is progressing from funny to just plain sad (I beg them to give it up! It is a lost cause, that dreaded -th sound at the end, which they are unable to pronounce, but noooo - they think they will be the one to finally crack it). Settling for being called "Blight" as the lesser of many evils is a pathetic compromise indeed. OK, Americans have done this too and really they have NO excuse.

- Also. French eggs? I can deal with the day-glo orange yolks but what is up with them and their nasty strong sulfur taste? Also, ditto with the tap water. Though I think we may be able to blame the flouride and steroids and who knows what other scary chemicals we have gotten used to drinking in the good old US of A.


10 Things I Loved About Paris -- Yesterday

1. The screening room at the musée des Arts décoratifs filled with design-y chairs (I sat in the Eames lounge but was eying the Eero Aarnio Bubble Chair, like everyone else). They showed the most fabulous clips from super stylish movies from the sixties and seventies (Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?, 2001: A Space Odyssey, La Piscine, Casino Royale -- the first one!) and then, at the end, identified the design chairs that had been featured in each clip. Fun stuff.

2. And yes, I am still obsessed with all of the chairs there...

3. I also loved the exhibit, Assez Rouge Que Possible (as red as possible), which cleverly displayed red furniture and artworks of all eras together.

4. My snack at a cafe in the Palais Royal. When one must be pampered, one can't do much better than tea and gooey chocolate cake. And hey, I took a picture this time!

5. The Palais Royal itself, which, despite being a construction zone, still managed to be stunningly beautiful.

6. The Calder show at the Centre Pompidou. Which, somehow, I managed to miss when it was at the Whitney. Like most people, I have always identified Calder with his mobiles but not known much past that. But his wonderful circus, and spare yet somehow incredibly apt and cutting wire portraits, are really remarkable and I am glad that he is getting so much attention with this retrospective!

7. Also, I got a kick out of the fact that Calder's Paris studio, where he produced wire portraits of luminaries like Josephine Baker, and Kiki de Montparnasse, was on my tiny little street, two doors down from my apartment. Here's Kiki outside of the studio, with her portrait.

8. The Kandinsky exhibit was overwhelming. But stunning.

9. I was happy to go back to the exuberant Niki de Saint-Phalle fountain outside of the Pompidou...

10. ...And to end the day with a sunset walk along the Seine.


Musée des Arts décoratifs

So ... aquamaniles are always fantastic but I loved this one.

Gorgeous intarsia panels...nothing beats the Gubbio Studio, but these were pretty great.

Amazing, amazing cabinet filled with row after row of little knicknacks and doodads - perfume flacons, tiny figurines, compacts, and lighters all lined up like toy soldiers.

Bon appétit!

I heart this chair (oh lord did I really just write that?).

The most amazing little traveling tea set! For a very chic pique-nique indeed.

An elegant Parisian drawing room circa 1790.

I wanted to take this Empire tea set home.

Giacometti hardware for doors and drawers (wretched photo, sorry).


Honestly, my favorite part of the whole museum was the view out of its quirky little windows...the Tuileries, the rue de Rivoli, the Tour Eiffel... well, you really couldn't go wrong.

More tomorrow...I am nodding over the keyboard (this seems to be a common theme lately). I can only blame the murky photos on the fact that flash photography was verboten.

ETA: And tack on about 9 hours to the timer below, because it is actually more like 1 a.m. - I am not ancient or indolent!

Wouldn't you want to live here?

"It was one of those delightfully irregular houses where you go up and down steps out of one room into another, and where you come upon more rooms when you think you have seen all there are, and where there is a bountiful provision of little halls and passages, and where you find still older cottage-rooms in unexpected places, with lattice windows and green growth pressing through them. Mine, which we entered first, was of this kind, with an up-and-down roof, that had more corners in it than I ever counted afterwards, and a chimney (there was a wood fire on the hearth) paved all around with pure white tiles, in every one of which a bright miniature of the fire was blazing. Out of this room, you went down two steps, into a charming little sitting-room, looking down upon a flower-garden, which room was henceforth to belong to Ada and me. Out of this you went up three steps, into Ada’s bedroom, which had a fine broad window, commanding a beautiful view (we saw a great expanse of darkness lying underneath the stars), to which there was a hollow window-seat, in which, with a spring-lock, three dear Adas might have been lost at once. Out of this room, you passed into a little gallery, with which the other best rooms (only two) communicated, and so, by a little staircase of shallow steps, with a number of corner stairs in it, considering its length, down into the hall. But if, instead of going out at Ada’s door; you came back into my room, and went out at the door by which you had entered it, and turned up a few crooked steps that branched off in an unexpected manner from the stairs, you lost yourself in passages, with mangles in them, and three-cornered tables, and a Native-Hindoo chair, which was also a sofa, a box, and a bedstead, and looked, in every form, something between a bamboo skeleton and a great bird-cage, and had been brought from India nobody knew by whom or when. From these, you came on Richard’s room, which was part library, part sitting-room, part bed-room, and seemed indeed a comfortable compound of many rooms. Out of that, you went straight, with a little interval of passage, to the plain room where Mr Jarndyce slept, all the year round, with his window open, his bedstead without any furniture standing in the middle of the floor for more air, and his cold-bath gaping for him in a smaller room adjoining. Out of that, you came into another passage, where there were back-stairs, and where you could hear the horses being rubbed down, outside the stable, and being told to Hold up, and Get over, as they slipped about very much on the uneven stones. Or you might, if you came out at another door (every room had at least two doors), go straight down to the hall again by half-a-dozen steps and a low archway, wondering how you got back there, or had ever got out of it.

The furniture, old-fashioned rather than old, like the house, was as pleasantly irregular. Ada’s sleeping-room was all flowers — in chintz and paper, in velvet, in needle-work, in the brocade of two stiff courtly chairs, which stood, each attended by a little page of a stool for greater state, on either side of the fire-place. Our sitting-room was green; and had, framed and glazed, upon the walls, numbers of surprising and surprised birds, staring out of pictures at a real trout in a case, as brown and shining as if it had been served with gravy; at the death of Captain Cook; and at the whole process of preparing tea in China, as depicted by Chinese artists. In my room there were oval engravings of the months — ladies haymaking in short waists, and large hats tied under the chin, for June — smooth-legged noblemen, pointing, with cocked-hats, to village steeples, for October. Half-length portraits, in crayons, abounded all through the house; but were so dispersed that I found the brother of a youthful officer of mine in the china-closet, and the grey old age of my pretty young bride, with a flower in her bodice, in the breakfast room. As substitutes, I had four angels, of Queen Anne’s reign, taking a complacent gentleman to heaven, in festoons, with some difficulty; and a composition in needle-work representing fruit, a kettle, and an alphabet. All the movables, from the wardrobes to the chairs and tables, hangings, glasses, even to the pincushions and scent-bottles on the dressing-tables, displayed the same quaint variety. They agreed in nothing but their perfect neatness, their display of the whitest linen, and their storing-up, wheresoever the existence of a drawer, small or large, rendered it possible, of quantities of rose-leaves and sweet lavender. Such, with its illuminated windows, softened here and there by shadows of curtains, shining out upon the star-light night; with its light, and warmth, and comfort; with its hospitable jingle, at a distance, of preparations for dinner; with the face of its generous master brightening everything we saw; and just wind enough without to sound a low accompaniment to everything we heard; were our first impressions of Bleak House."

From the sixth chapter of Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. Also, don't miss the superb BBC adaptation.


Things that don't have anything to do with Paris but make me smile anyway...

This story about a series of magical boats built out of New York "garbage" and sailed to Venice for the Biennale. I call the one with the swing!

Izia bag, by Jamin Puech. Because, well, it's gorgeous. via

This exhibit, now in Florence, which I am sadly going to miss ...

Back to working on my paper...unfortunately a very UN-smiley task.


10 Things I Loved About Paris Today

Computers really suck sometimes. And I'm bone tired. But still - I'm in Paris, I can't complain! Now on to the good stuff.

1. My perfectly French breakfast of tea and tartine at a sidewalk cafe on the rue Daguerre. Sorry, no pictures! Because I am still bashful about taking photos of my food in public (unlike some).

2. Meeting an old old friend with the sense that nothing had changed -- even though we hadn't seen each other since I was a wee high school student. We just picked up right where we left off. And lunch near the Panthéon was yum.

3. Despite the rainy day, a plucky blue patch of sky still peeked through. A few gratuitous Seine pics ahead - because, well, you can never have too many of those. It was raining when I took these, on the Pont St. Michel (you can see the Conciergerie to the left).

4. I got my reader's card at the BnF, which was about a hundred times easier than I had expected, no red tape in sight. Just loads of marble and a marvelous tiny bookshop, where I picked up these two lovelies on sale:

5. I left the library, worn out (not even having done any research or looked at any prints...I'm telling you, this registration business is life-sucking), and sat in the park across the street...London may have the most parks but Paris has its fair share of lovely bits of green.

6. I then stumbled over to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (the BnF is just north of the Palais Royal so it's just a bit further south to the Louvre). They were closing in a demi-heure,
so I just took refuge in the gift shop which was design heaven. Don't mind the gross window reflections...

7. Speaking of reflections -- this window in one of the antique shops near the Louvre killed me. It's hard to tell from the picture but this vignette is made entirely of sea shells...pure whimsy. Um, don't mind the umbrella...

8. So I finally went back to my favorite bookstore in the world (so far). Seriously. Have you ever been to a store where it seems like all of the inventory was chosen with you in mind? Well that's how I feel about Galignani. And today their windows were done up in an 18th century/revolution/Napoleon theme which just proves it. Also, they have Persephone books...this alone is reason for a visit.

9. I always come out of Galignani with a mile-long wishlist. Not sure how this is a good thing...it just is!

10. The best reason to go to Galignani, besides Galignani itself, is because it is next door to Angelina, where you too can taste their Chocolat African hot chocolate (pure heaven). I had a Coupe Mont Blanc, which is basically their famous Mont Blanc dessert in ice cream and now I can go to sleep with sugared chestnuts dancing in my dreams...wait, that's not quite it...