Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Window shopping in Paris part 1

Shopping in Paris, well, is like an abundant feast for the senses.  It's no secret, I'm a shopping junkie.  I have loved shopping since I don't know when.  I went straight into professional buying after college for The Gap and have not slowed down since.  They have pretty big checkbooks at The Gap.  It was fun!  My husband is a pretty good sport about shopping in Paris.  He can get excited (he's going to cringe at that statement) about the eclectic mix of things to buy in Paris.  His tastes lean towards music, history, alcohol, and food.  Mine are all about color.  I cannot resist a Parisan shop window full of color.  I was looking at the pictures I took on our last trip to Paris without the kids and all of them have some sort of color arrangement that make the goods on display straddle the line between something to buy and something to eat.  It's inspiring. 

While my husband is a good sport, I'm often found short on time.  I could linger for hours.  Evan is good for 1-2, at most.  While here last spring, we wandered through the Montmatre area near Sacre Coeur Basilica.  The hilly area of town.  Great shopping, great cafes, and wonderful artists & musicians everywhere.  Upon returning home, we realized the photo we took of Le Consulat cafe was not so original.  Turns out, it's kind of like pictures of the Eiffel Tower.  Oh well, it inspired us, as much of Paris does. 

So back to shopping.  I've become obsessed with finding delicious shades of lipstick while I'm in Paris.  The women in Paris have show-stopping colors they wear.  I stopped into this vintage perfumerie shoppe and saw this whole book devoted to Lip Color.  

While there I picked up an adorable art deco-style perfume atomizer for Mom.  Evan had gotten one for me on a previous business trip from the famous macaroon and confectionery shop, Laduree.  It was a vanilla scent inside this sweet lilac-colored perfume bottle with a squeeze balloon thing to spray yourself with the perfume.  I feel like Betty from Mad Men every time I use it.

We walked further down the street and stopped by to pick up a business card from this playful lighting place.  I was imagining what my daughter Maggie's room would look like with these hanging down from the ceiling. 

Deeper into the heart of Montmatre we came upon what I would describe as the "Haight-Ashbury" area.  Eclectic shops selling things I love looking at but wouldn't have a need for.

I wish we had more stores like this near us.  I love the deer in this one.  It's very kitchy.

Yesterday while walking through the more upscale area of Saint-Germaine des Pres I had to take a double take at these windows.  A rainbow of ladies gloves.  It reminded me of the Steve Martin book, Shop Girl.  I wonder if they sell a lot of gloves?  I'm tempted...

Then, of course, you have to talk about the street vendors.  We took this shot for the kids because it's not often you can get your Moulin Rouge on AND buy some fresh cotton candy!

Shops selling colored delicious, it makes me want to buy it and learn how to do something with it!

Evan stood, mouth agape, at the "Gin, Vodka & Eaux de Vie" shop window. 

I haven't even gotten to the haute couture stores...we cruised into Hermes like we belonged there.  We were rubbing elbows with the ladies with Rolls Royces idling out front of the store.  It is a sight to behold.  YSL, Chanel, Dior...all beautiful.  It was crazy when we were here in March because it was Paris Fashion Week and it was also the time when legendary fashion visionary John Galliano had a tragic public meltdown.  As we walked by the windows at Dior, I marveled at the fabric choices and the beautiful accessories.  Wow!  Evan's colleague had recommended checking out La Perla, site of the infamous Galliano meltdown, so we stopped in to have a drink.  It's sick, I know.  If you are a fashion junkie like I am, you'd understand.  

National Lampoon's Parisian Family Vacation - day 1

Where do we begin about Paris with the family?  Talk about baptizing the kids by fire on the streets of Paris (our oldest is 8 and our youngest is 6 years old). We'll explain later in the post.

We let everyone nap and shower until around 4p after our 1pm arrival to the apartment.  We were trying to get everyone on the new time zone.  We ducked out, briefly, to the local boulanger to get fresh sandwiches for everyone.  We were famished.  After we'd eaten in our chic little Latin Quarter pied-a-terre, we took the kids for a short walk to Notre Dame.  We took the Pont Neuf route because we wanted the kids to see the River Seine.  They were wide-eyed and completely overwhelmed with the pace, the people, and the vast array of languages being spoken.  Jack, our youngest, really had trouble because in his whole life he's never had to worry about running into anyone who's walking in the opposite direction (in SoCal we drive everywhere).  Needless to say, he's quickly gotten a lesson in the pace of Paris and French people.  
Kids on the River Seine

We finally reached Notre Dame and the kids were amazed.  The 5:30p bells were ringing as we walked up and the tourists were out en masse.  We took a bunch of photos of everyone in front of the church.  We took a tour through the church which had a mass happening.  It was ethereal because a soloist was singing this melancholic rendition of a hymn while the Padre was swinging a smoking vessel through the air.  We stood watching for a while as the smoke wafted above the congregation into the ancient air of Notre Dame.  Evan's phone rang and he quickly jumped over to the side.  Our friends called to let us know they were all on bikes near the Louvre.  We made a quick plan to circle around the Eiffel Tower somewhere and try to hook up.
Notre Dame

We'll talk about the kids' first Metro ride later but needless to say, Jack is not a big fan of the people on the Metros of Paris.  We were on our way back down to the Metro to catch a ride to the Eiffel Tower as Jack started groaning, "Oh no, not the Metro again?!  It's too crowded!"  Little did/does he know it's going to be our mode of transportation for the next 4 days!  We made it to the Eiffel Tower, and we met our friends in a cute little cafe and had a glorious meal.  The kids got their first world famous, Parisian, cheesy hot dogs with frittes.  The adults enjoyed some much needed yummy Cote du Provence rose and Sancerre blanc wine with dinner.  Our friends casually mentioned during dinner that it happened to be the "Fete de Musique".  He went on to tell us it was the one night musical artists were allowed to perform on the streets of Paris without obtaining a permit.  
Cheesy Hot Dog avec Frittes

We finished dinner and made our way up a little alley to the sound of music in the park adjacent to the Eiffel Tower.  A great little cover band with some long-haired, hippy-looking Parisian youths were playing.  The kids ran around chasing each other in the little grassy area behind the band.  Our friend's 3-year old danced away to the musicWe all enjoyed watching everyone swigging their wine out of bottles while listening to the scratchy sound of music coming out of the garage band's makeshift Marshall stacks.  

It was starting to get late so we decided to head over to the Eiffel.  When we got to the base it started "sparkling" as our friend's toddler put it.  Our son, Jack, kept saying "Wow! Mommy!  Wow!" "Look, Mommy!".  You can imagine how stoked he was at seeing it for the first time in all its sparkling glory.  We took pictures and decided we'd better hit the Metro because Jack was getting crazy and tired.  
"Sparkling" Eiffel Tower at night

Once we reached the Metro we had an uneventful trip to our stop.  However, when we got off the train all we saw were mobs of people being held back by french Metro officials.  We couldn't figure it out.  Where did all these people come from?  Evan thought a show must have just gotten out or something.  Our apt is on the edge of the Latin Quarter so it wasn't that far-fetched an idea.  We struggled our way out of the Metro and once on the street started freaking out because the masses were EVERYWHERE!  It was "FETE du MUSIQUE" in Paris!  Again, we didn't realize exactly what this meant to the thousands of struggling French musicians.   For ONE night a year, ANY musician or ANY streetband can play ANYWHERE on the streets of Paris!!  We are staying literally near the epicenter of hip bohemian culture in Paris so every single corner we turned onto had a band playing on it.  Our kids had their feet barely touching the ground behind us as we hung tightly onto their hands just trying to get near our street.  Mind you, any normal person would have been excited to have this night happen while they're in Paris...for us it meant an extra 30-45 minute walk to get the already falling asleep kids home to bed.  As luck would have it, Maggie woke up at 11am this morning and said, "I really liked the one girl singer who was singing Bon Jovi, Mom."  Poor Jack didn't open his eyes until 1pm-ish.  Oh Paris...

Today we got our start at around 3pm.  We ate at a delicious Swiss mountain-themed place with yummy fondue.  The kids have never eaten food on a stick that you dunk into yummy goat cheese and french Emmenthal cheese with beer.  We took them to Luxembourg Gardens and they played for about  4 hours.  We stopped in at the local grocery store on the way home and grabbed a bunch of stuff to make an apartment picnic.  It's 10:30pm now and Maggie is busy reading a book to Jack in bed.  They are both complaining of sore feet.  Oh Paris...
Luxembourg Gardens

Evan and I are enjoying the last few drops of a delicious Sancerre Rouge wine we picked up to go with dinner.  Paris, as you would expect, has been amazing so far.  We'll post about the Street Art fair we accidentally walked through in front of Saint Sulpice later.  Tomorrow, if the weather holds up, we'll be on top of the Eiffel Tower (as promised to Jack before touching Paris' soil).  We plan on taking them to our favorite open air market on Rue Clare and then we'll have a family picnic in another great park - Champs du Mars.  We're teasing Jack that he has to walk up the Eiffel stairs, and that only his family gets to ride in the elevator.  He's saying it's going to be "no problem"!  Oh la la!