Paris: Open Studios this weekend in Menilmontant

Ateliers Menilmontant

Eighty-five artists in and about the 20th arrondissement (Belleville and Menilmontant) are opening up their doors to visitors. A great opportunity to meet them personally, see their work, their ateliers and walk the streets of this still authentic quartier. Start at 26, rue de la Mare (metro: pyrenees) or MJC Haut de Belleville, 43, rue de Borrego (metro: saint-fargeau) or Champsecret, 49, rue de la Cour des Noues (metro: gambetta) for a map and introduction. The streets are alive with fantastic graffiti, quaint bars and cafes, authenticity.  Make a day of it, here’s the scoop: Ateliers de Menilmontant.

portesOuvertes

I was lucky enough to take a three hour hosted tour through three of the photography ateliers, each artist explaining their work. See what’s going on through the official tourism offices of Paris and make a reservation. Many are free, others charge just 10 euros. Note: they’re in French.  Today on my schedule, a tour of Montparnasse writer and painter addresses of the past. Can’t wait.

mlleyo

Niki de Saint Phalle, Guy Laroche, Arche de la Defense, Rochas

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Niki Saint de Phalle

Today, in that order. Killing time before the Laroche show I took in Niki at the Grand Palais. A rare opportunity to see all her work assembled and presented chronologically with videos and narratives. A real WOW.

guy laroche 2015 Paris #PFW

At noon the Laroche show blasted down the runway also at the Grand Palais. I had a front row seat entering with the photographer brigade. Inspired by Claire McCardell, the mid 20th century American designer and master of luxurious sportswear, the collection opted for streamlined graphic shapes. Following the house’s trademark, duality between male and female, light silk overalls were worn as tuxedos and paired with simple bikini tops. I’ve always found the Laroche staff most cordial and welcoming at PFW. Again they didn’t disappoint.

la defense Paris
With metro line no. 1 steps away and two hours before the next show, I thought a photo shoot at Le Grand Arche would fill in some time. Popping up from the metro I was met with dark grey menacing skies and scurrying business folk. One gets the feeling of being miniature in the stark geometric cement landscape.

The Rochas show started at 5 with stuffy personnel turning everyone without an invitation away. Luckily there was an opening in the sound booth above so I crept in and shot the grand finale. The most enertaining spectacle was post-show with Anna Della Russo kicking up her fringed heels for the freelance photogs. Bill Cunningham and Scott Shuman discretely clicking away, Vogue’s Grace Coddington a standout and French personality and models from the show posing and walking the walk.

rochas defile Paris

anna dela lrusso

Anna Della Russo heels #PFW

The day was exciting and full but what I took away was something unexpected. Yes the photographers are seasoned pros and jostle, careen and sometimes crash getting their shots (it is their living) BUT as I was standing in the Palais de Tokyo cavern with beautiful light hitting the enormous pillars, the pro standing next to me was clicking away aimed at a figure below. I asked him who the person was and he said, no one special, he was just enjoying photgraphing the moment, obiously loving what he does. He showed me the shot, sublime.

Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2015 Officially Opens

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Pascal Millet 2015 Paris

No Worries Paris was there in the front row for the Pascal Millet show. Held at the Palais du Tokyo the show was met with favorable applause from the packed house. Tomorrow on my list, Guy Laroche, noon at the Grand Palais and Rochas, again at PT. Balenciaga is at 8 but at a secret location, too late for me.

Fashion Week Begins September 23 Paris

Fashion Week Begins September 23 Paris

fashionweekParisSept2014

Gare de Lyon – take time to dine

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Train Bleu Paris

One of Paris’s Belle Époque dazzling restaurants is located in none other than a train station. A great suggestion for an afternoon is visiting the Jardin des Plantes and finishing it up with a late lunch at Le Train Bleu.

Originally created to cater to visitors of Paris’s Universal Exposition 1900,
the beginnings of this restaurant are linked with those of the Gare de Lyon. In the planning stage, the Compagnie Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (the PLM) decided to build a new railway station with 13 tracks capable of handling tens of thousands of visitors. The station’s buffet has an immense, richly decorated rectangular dining room, basket-handle arched ceiling, Caryatides, rococo mermaids, gilding, mirrors and 41 murals painted by 30 renowned artists evoking the most beautiful French landscapes traversed by the railroad: a view of the Mont Blanc, Antibes, Marseille’s old port, the Lac du Bourget, etc… ‘No restaurant is more beautiful than that of the Gare de Lyon!’ wrote Louise de Vilmorin.

Gare De Lyon

Having narrowly escaped destruction by the SNCF (French national railway company) after WWII, Le Train Bleu has been listed in the Historic Monuments Registry since 1972. The TGV menu is served in 45 minutes; it consists of a slice of home-cooked foie gras, a beef steak tartare with freshly fried potatoes and a cup of coffee.’  Don’t miss the traditional baba au rhum: the maître d’hôtel sets it down in front of you, cuts it in two, douses it with rum and leaves the bottle and the bowl of Chantilly cream on your table to be used at will.

Le Train Bleu
Place Louis Armand
75012 Paris

Coming to you from the Jardin du Luxembourg

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Gendarme Paris

This weekend France celebrated the Journees Europeennes Du Patrimone. Open were many buildings not often offering access to tourists. I spent hours at Hotel de Ville and Palais du Luxembourg. Both were immense historic edifices clogged with patriots celebrating their heritage. The Elysees Palace was the most popular on the free ticket, requiring a six hour wait in line. I ended my day in a vacant chair with a full on view of flowers, grass and puffy clouds.

Luxembourg Gardens Paris

Air France Expo at Grand Palais

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It’s free and a must-see. Download their app while there, interact with the exhibit and win Air France tickets. No Worries! Here I am on their swing today visiting their global destinations through video.

JanineAirFranExpotSept18nwp

Vogue Fashion Night Out Paris 2014 extravaganza

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It ended about two hours ago. Over 150 fashion houses mostly along rue Saint Honore and the Madeline quartier in partnership with Vogue magazine opened their doors around 7 p.m. to invited guests. The official roster included: A.P.C., A.TESTONI, AGENT PROVOCATEUR, ALAIN FIGARET, ANNE KERVALL, ANNICK GOUTAL, BALDININI, BARRIE KNITWEAR, BERENICE, BLUMARINE/BLUGIRL, BOTTEGA VENETTA, BURBERRY, CARITA, CHANEL – Rue Saint Honoré, CHANTAL THOMASS, CHURCH, ,COLETTE, COMPTOIR DES COTONNIERS, DDP, DIOR, DOLCE & GABBANA, DSQUARED2, EMPORIO ARMANI,ERMANNO SCERVINO, ETRO, EX NIHILO, FAUCHON, FURLA, GERARD DAREL,GIAMBATTISTA VALLI, GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI, GLASHUTTE ORIGINAL, GLAZED, GUCCI, GUERLAIN, HOGAN, HUGO BOSS France, INGLESINA, IO&ES, IRO,
ISTITUTO MARANGONI, JIMMY CHOO, JOHN GALLIANO, JUN ASHIDA, JUNKO SHIMADA, KIEHL’S, KRISVANASSCHE, LANCASTER, LANVIN, LEONARD,
LONGCHAMP, LORIBLU, M.A.C COSMETIC, MAILLE, MAISON MICHEL, MAJE,
MANDARIN ORIENTAL PARIS, MANOUSH, MARC BY MARC JACOBS, MARC JACOBS,
MARINA RINALDI, MIU MIU, MM6 MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, MONCLER, MOYNAT,
OMEGA, PATRIZIA PEPE, PAUL SMITH, PHILIPP PLEIN, PHILIPPE FERRANDIS,
PIERRE MARCOLINI, PINKO, PIQUADRO, PORSCHE DESIGN, PRADA, RALPH LAUREN,
ROBERTO CAVALLI, ROGER VIVIER, SALAVATORE FERRAGAMO, SANDRO, SARTORE,
SATELLITE, SEPHORA, SERGIO ROSSI, STONE ISLAND, STRELLSON, TALBOT RUNHOF,
TARA JARMON, TOD’S, TOUS, URBAN DECAY, VICTOR & ROLF, VILEBREQUIN,
WOOLMARK, YVES SAINT LAURENT – Beauté, and ZADIG & VOLTAIRE.

I was one not holding an invitation but managed to barge in on the fun. Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler) was in on the action live. Portraits of the guests were instaprinted, sheep were grazing in pens near YSL courtesy of The Campaign For Wool, makeup and manicure sessions were featured, there was cotton candy, mechanical bull riding, balloon giveaways, champagne of course and the glitterati (mostly twenty-somethings) dressed to the teeth clogging the long street.

Vogue fashion NightOut Poster

vogue fashion night Paris

berenice buckaroo Paris

chez Chanel VFNOPARIS

carita VFNOPARIS

VFNOparis Window

Longish lines were in front of the most coveted houses and guards controlled the numbers inside. The highpoint of the evening for me was the visit to Chanel, her famous mirrored staircase, small rooms with minimal samples of her elegant products, plush dark grey carpet, Mailbu red cocktails or pear juice in goblets served on silver platters by her welcoming staff. Lowpoint the t-shirt I bought celebrating the occasion from what looked like official vendors on the street. Unwrapped it once I got home. Emblazoned on the front: “2013, Fashion Night Out, September 17″. Maybe that’s why it was only $7. For more info go to the VFNOPARIS webpage.

Coming right up: Paris Fashion Week 2015

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September 23 through October 1: Paris is the biggest, brightest and most avant garde of all the fashion weeks. It’s superbly organized by the French Federation of Fashion as always.  I’ll be there for the exciting Ready To Wear Collection for spring/summer. Front row seat, you’ve got my number.

PARIS fashion week 2015

Tour Eiffel: the world’s most viewed attraction

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The sane approach is with the No Worries Paris guide.

tour eiffel no worries paris

Perhaps the world’s most beloved and recognized structure, the Tour Eiffel was not received warmly by most Parisians when it was built as part of Exposition Universalle in 1889. Some 300 artists and civic leaders signed a petition of protest. Later, novelist Guy de Maupassant used to lunch on top, since it was “the only place in Paris where I don’t have to see it.” Colleague Alexandre Dumas called the “hollow candlestick” a “work of uselessness.” Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the framework for the Statue of Liberty, won a contest among engineers to build a tower of 1,000 feet, which was nearly twice as high as the Washington Monument, then the world’s tallest.

A communications tower on top brings today’s height to 1,063 feet, the tallest structure in Paris. It was scheduled to be torn down and scrapped after 20 years, but meteorologists and communications scientists won a plea to let it stand. Find a spot amid digital shutterbugs directly underneath the tower and look up to behold the stats: Under Eiffel’s direction, some 300 workers labored for two years (incurring zero fatal accidents) to assemble 18,000 pieces of prefabricated iron lattice weighing a total of 10,000 tons with more than 2.5 million rivets. The project came in under budget and a week early. It is the world’s most-viewed attraction with nearly 300 million visitors, coming these days at a rate of ten million per year. The first level is at 187 feet, the second at 377 feet (these two reachable via stairs), and the top is lofted at 899 feet—where wind sways the structure up to five feet.

TIPS FOR VISITING TOUR EIFFEL: Given the essential sights on the remainder of this walk, you’ll probably want to save an ascent for another day. To avoid lines and save time, arrive a little before it opens, normally at 9:30. It’s cheaper and faster, given the lines, to walk the first two levels, which takes about 15 minutes. If you want to go to the top, you can buy an elevator ticket in addition to the stairway ticket (at the south tower). To ride all the way to the top (you have to get out at the second level anyway), use the east tower ticket booth. Don’t miss the cinema and museum on the first level. The second level is ringed by two viewing decks, and the height is just right to check out the sights of the city, laid out like a 3D model. Since Paris has a seven-story height limit on buildings, the well-known monuments are plainly visible. Many people will want to reach the top as a matter of principle, but the airborne view is less intimate. At night, on the hour, Tour Eiffel turns into a light show. Closing time can be as late as midnight, varying with the season.

Jerry and Janine Sprout. No Worries Paris (Kindle Locations 354-370). Diamond Valley Company, Publishers.

Paris Street Smarts

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parisblogSAFETY

“Street violence is almost unheard of in Paris, in spite of its revolutionary history. Van loads of police, smartly dressed in Navy helmets, sweaters, and pads, are parked about at the ready. Small squads of military men toting machine guns sometimes patrol tourist zones. Thieves are common enough, however, and you should keep an eye on your stuff. Street hucksters are also around, often teenaged “gypsy” girls, who will approach with a well practised tale of woe, intent on ridding you of spare money. If someone approaches and asks if you speak English, the best answer is usually, “no.” Paris does have a few punks, who vandalize with spray cans (as opposed to real grafitti artists) and entertain themselves by verbally abusing tourists—and everyone else. These guys are infrequently at train stations and in the outer neighborhoods. Not a big problem.”

Excerpt From: Jerry and Janine Sprout. “No Worries Paris.” iBooks.

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