Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Highlights of Our Paris Vacation


Yes, honestly, I looked down at our feet, and the wee heart-shaped pebble was right there between our toes... It was that kind of vacation!

It really was one of the best trips ever - everything fell into place for us to a degree that's almost impossible to describe. We had 20 minutes of rain (during which we stood under an awning and discussed the rest of our day), we ate like crazy people, discovered some new (to us) cocktails, did some excellent shopping, and walked about 10 miles every day. Despite the mad amounts of eating and drinking that we did, I lost weight...

The first highlight - we got to see the Paris Marathon. As runners (well, in my case, as a fast walker/runner), seeing the elite runners at the head of the marathon was an absolutely breathtaking experience. Those men have taken a natural human function and absolutely perfected it - there's not a wasted movement, no part of their body that doesn't help propel them forward. It's very motivating...

 

The sheer number of participants, and the absolute ordinariness of many of them, was also a potent reminder of the fact that we can, in fact, run as far as we want to, if we just commit ourselves to doing it. In the midst of all of our eating and drinking, it was a good thing to remember!

Speaking of eating, we discovered these astonishing little gems, seen below. They're called Merveilleux, and they're basically little meringues with a dab of filling and a covering of some some wonderful little fragments of tastiness. We ordered a couple of the coffee flavored ones (charmingly named the l'Inpensable - the Unthinkable); eating them was like biting into sweet coffee-flavored crispy air! It would easily be possible to eat a dozen of these, and then spend the rest of the day kicking yourself for your folly...

I could eat most of these....
 
tasty morsels of wonderful from Aux Merveilleux

Aux Merveilleux has a handful of locations around Paris, so if you bump into one, take advantage!


denise acabo | parisbymouth.com
Image courtesy of Paris by Mouth

One of the shopping highlights was visiting Denise Acabo, pictured above, at her absolutely unforgettable candy store, A L'Etoile d'Or. The story of her shop is a tribute to her - there was a gas explosion in a shop nearby, and HER shop was also destroyed in the overall horror. But she was able to re-open it about a year later, and it looks as charming as it should, as a setting for her.

SHE is wonderful. She dresses like a schoolgirl, and has the energy and effortless, sweet charm of a child. She gives you samples of things, explains why she carries only certain candies (must be all-natural, and preferably something with history and heritage), and makes you feel like you're rediscovered a long-lost friend from childhood. You walk out of there carrying more candy than you ever imaged you would purchase at one time, and counting the days until you can go back. While the neighborhood, near Le Moulin Rouge, isn't filled with wonderful tourist attractions, it's worth a special trip. Trust me.

Wandering the streets of Paris looking for somewhere to dine is one of the great dilemmas of life. Sunday evening, when many things were closed, we were walking down the very quiet rue Claude Bernard, when we spotted a woman standing in the window of a small restaurant, rolling out pasta dough.

To me, that's a good sign....

So in we went, to Pasta e Fagioli, on 82 rue Claude Bernard, and sample the first Aperol spritz we'd ever had that used PROSECCO instead of sparkling water... Not a bad substitution, I have to admit...

And the pasta was exceptional. We kept passing our plates back and forth, trying to decide which of the 2 of us had ordered the better dish. I think we'll have to go back there and try again, to settle the debate!

dress - & Other Stories, coat - COS, not on their website

Did I buy any clothes? Heck yes!


I didn't buy anything for myself at Agnes B. this trip, although I did pick up a tee shirt for a dear friend. Agnes B. is one of my favorite stores - I feel like everything there was designed with me in mind!

But I did buy things at 2 other places: an oddly-named store called & Other Stories, and my favorite COS.

The dress shown above is light, breezy, and sports the weirdest print I've seen in a while! With cropped leggings and sandals, it will be in heavy rotation all summer. (assuming summer ever comes...)

And the coat, from COS, is a lightweight spring and fall classic that I have been wanting for a while. I started wearing it as soon as I took off the tags, and found that it was the perfect weight over my dresses, while we were walking all day.


We visited quite a few museums, too! If you were following me on Instagram, you got to see some of the wonders of the Musee Guimet - one of 2 Asian art museums in Paris. (the other, Musee Czarnowski, is closed until June for renovations) We also went to the Louvre, of course, and had a startlingly wonderful visit to the National Museum of Modern Art in the Centre Pompidou! You're going to be seeing a LOT of art from the last here on The Vivienne Files in the upcoming weeks and months.

I've got lots of photographs - my favorite ones of street art and graffiti, and a lengthy study of the wonderful of the Parisian costume jewelry world. My mind just whirls trying to remember everything, and to keep it all somewhat organized so I can tell you about it without sounding confused and silly...

love,
Janice


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22 comments:

  1. It sounds marvelous. Isn't it great to uncover some little treasure in a neighborhood?
    You also are an advertisement for the benefits of walking.
    & Other Stories is quite popular with the fashion set; it's part of the H&M corporation with only two stores in the U.S. so far.
    And remember, there's lots more to see (and eat) in France outside Paris ;)

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    1. I'd heard of & Other Stories through the one "style set" blog I follow (Pardon My Obsession), but it's nice to see someone interested in it who is much more my speed, style-wise. Didn't know they were H&M related! Fun dress, Janice.
      Leah from www.thriftshopchic.com

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    2. Ps loved the description of Denise Acabo! Mentally filing this one away for some future (I hope!) visit...

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  2. Dear Janice, Next Saturday, on 16th of April, Belgrade (Serbia) will host Marathon. Every third weekend of the April for the last 30 years, Belgrade organize marathons. If you ever decide to come to Serbia, believe me, April is excellent choice. Everything is blooming and Sun is very friendly. Belgrade also has excellent restaurants with large variety of dishes and sweets and drinks from beers to vines and rakia. It could be very interesting for foreigners to see our fashion shops. Just decide to take the plane ticket from Chicago to Belgrade and make reservation in one of many small hotels in our pedestrian zone. Please visit bgdmarathon.org.
    Best wishes for all your excellent posts, Maja

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  3. I've also discovered merveilleux this year, and here in NYC so not so far away as Paris. Love your posts. Though I have to admit that I barely skim through the ones in colors I don't like.

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  4. You always make trips to Paris sound like a movie -- peaceful and exciting at the same time. I love visiting virtually through your descriptions. And I do follow you on Instagram, so thank you for those pics as well. I had a lovely time. ;)

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  5. I love an Aperol spritz and just had a few during a quick trip to London. Funny, I've only had spritz with prosecco (and a splash of soda). Joan in Chicago.

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  6. Sounds like a marvelous trip (pun intended)! I'm looking forward to a few days in Paris in July and will be keeping my eye out for those delicious goodies.

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  7. Oh my,, I must get back to Paris. It's been too many years (actually decades!) but first - Italy! I've visited many places but not Italy or Greece! Your trips are so full of joy and adventure ! Really looking forward to more photos and the jewelry! Love that dress! How I wish I could wear it - but you so inspire us to appreciate what we CAN wear. Thank you Janice, for That and so much else you do. Janice Collins. Washington DC

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  8. I enjoyed your Instagram pictures a lot. It took me back to my Rue St-Jacques days. It's been almost 2 years since I've been to Paris and it is my favourite place on earth. Your dress will be a perfect summer piece. I'm going to Ireland and London in August and I hope to visit a COS store. Their clothes look like fun.

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  9. Janice,
    Here's another voice saying "thank you " for the Instagram photos ! It was fun being able to "travel" with you, seeing Parisian sights once again ! Were you ever approached by young people about the gold ring you must have "dropped "? We were approached three times, once it was on both sides of the same bridge ! I fell for it the first time, not knowing better, and I still have that "gold " ring as a reminder to not be so naive !

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    1. Oh yes, we fell for that one years ago - it's still one of our favorite stores about how we're not as savvy as we would like to be!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  10. I avidly followed you on Instagram...and loved being transported back to Paris.
    Would you consider sharing details of where you stayed and how you planned your itinerary?
    COS in the Marais was my favourite shop but I never made it into Agnes B.
    Isn't it fabulous that you can eat well and lose weight in Paris? It is all the walking...

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    1. We stayed at the Hotel des Grands Hommes, again, as usual. And we were in the exact same room that I was in when I was in Paris alone back in December! That's why I didn't bother to show any pictures - you've already see it!

      When we schedule our trip, we do everything online. Our travel dates this time were chosen because we were using free tickets, and we had to work with open travel dates for that. And then I emailed the hotel - we've stayed there so many times they have all of our information. But they have a great website too, so booking them is really easy!

      Other than that, we didn't really plan anything. I ordered a Carte Musee for us, and had them delivered to the hotel, but other than that, we pretty much played it by ear. A surprising number of restaurants that we considered had online reservations available - many of them in English! Scheduling and arranging travel becomes easier every day...

      hugs,
      Janice

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  11. Thanks for the travelogue; I'm so glad you two had a charmed Springtime visit to your beloved Paris. I love COS, and have a few pieces that I bought in Berlin in 2008 and still lovingly wear! Both COS and & Other Stories are in the H&M family, I think. It's always fun to return to favorite stores when revisiting favorite cities! - nancyo

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  12. How do I follow you on Instagram? I couldn't find the link. I want to see more of this wonderful trip.

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    1. At the top right of this page, above my photograph and the search bar, there's a wee picture of a camera. That SHOULD take you to Instagram... If it doesn't work, just search for #theviviennefiles!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  13. Looking forward to your costume jewellery pix, I too was fascinated by those little stores. Loved your IG feed.

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  14. Thank you for this excellent report Janice. I'm glad that you had such a good time in the beloved city. It sounds like a Janice wardrobe story!

    Robyn in Tasmania

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  15. Thanks Janice. It is always lovely to hear about your trips to Paris. What were the temperatures like? I will be in Paris in just over 2 weeks & I am trying to decide what to pack. Thanks Maryann in Sydney.

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  16. Cute dress! That looks perfect for summer! I enjoyed your Instagram posts as well. B's too! Thanks for including us on your journey! I hope someday to return to Paris, but if not I can live vicariously through you! :<)

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  17. Great post, Janice. That's brought us up to speed on what's happening in Paris, it's like I was there!

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