May 18, 2016
I’ve lived in Paris on and off for the last two years, so I was curious what I would learn about my adopted city from Stephanie of Sacrebleu, who, I soon realized, is not your average Paris guide.
Before we met, Stephanie wrote to me to find out my age, interests, favorite kinds of stores and food, and whether I preferred to walk or drive around the city. Normally, Stephanie likes to set up a Skype call to meet each client and get a sense of who they are, what they want to see in Paris, how they travel, and answer any questions before they arrive.
March 23, 2015
We wrote in October with tips for navigating Paris’ Marché aux Puces St-Ouen, specifically where to find the best in oh-so-popular mid-century modern furniture. Why? Because with more than 1700 vendors spread out over 14 different markets hawking wares from 1960s lighting to vintage copper pots, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the idea of a visit to this market, which is the largest in the world. But identifying what you’re seeking in advance and knowing how to find that item will make for a smooth day of treasure hunting.
March 18, 2015
Empress Eugenie’s Diadem
From the glittering Eiffel Tower to the lights dancing on the Seine, Paris is a city that shimmers, and not only on the outside. Considered by many to be the capital of fine jewelry, the city is a treasure trove for collectors and enthusiasts with its famed jewelry houses at Place Vendôme and historical pieces in museums across the city. However, it can also be an exclusive and secretive world. Graduate Gemologist and antique jewelry expert Alexis Vourvoulis is trying to lift the veil through her company Bijoux Society. On her website she blogs about up-and-coming jewelers and jewelry auctions and offers excursions to places like Place Vendôme, the Marché aux Puces, and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.
Start of Opera tour; Marché aux Puces
October 14, 2014
Haven in Paris, Julien Hausherr
I’ve just booked my Haven in Paris apartment for a week in the City of Love. Sigh… Going to Paris has always been a dream of mine, and I want it to be just perfect. I am working with Haven in Paris to fill my days with the luxury service discounts they are offering during this winter’s low season. While my activities aren’t fully booked, I have already started daydreaming about how I will spend my days.
Champagne from Paris Wine Company; Les Deux Stations/Le Bon Georges, Palmyre Roigt
October 10, 2014
The 20ème is one of the largest neighborhoods in Paris, covering the areas of Nation, Gambetta, Ménilmontant, and Belleville. Largely overlooked by tourists, this unique quartier is full of locals-only bars and restaurants, art galleries, theaters, charming backstreets, hidden pockets of nature, and a diverse population. As much as I love the familiar streets of the Marais and the Latin Quarter, after spending three months living here this summer, a part of me will always be called back to the 20ème. Here are a few of my favorite historic and cultural spots worth discovering.
View from La Bellevilloise
A historically working class neighborhood, the 20ème was the center of opposition to Emperor Napoleon III during the eve of the First World War, and the very last neighborhood to surrender during the Paris Commune of 1871. Predominantly an immigrant community for the last century, nowadays young entrepreneurs, artists, and bobos flock to the area for its affordable rents, active nightlife, and thriving arts scene.
May 31, 2012
Brocante finds in action (Laurence Amélie)
At My French Country Home in Normandy, we love to go antiquing. We welcome guests from all over the world, from private shoppers looking to experience real French brocantes (flea markets) and hopefully bring back a special souvenir of their holiday in France, to professionals looking for hidden gems to add a little French je-ne-sais-quoi to their boutiques.
Here is how it went for a recent client, Jeni, who came to shop for her vintage rental company in California. She was only here for 24 hours, but thanks to careful planning and her ability to make quick decisions, she managed to purchase all kinds of amazing loot!
Experience Gertrude Stein’s Paris: Picasso, Matisse and Other Stein Favorites Reunited at the Grand Palais
November 4, 2011
It’s 1905 in Paris. Visitors to the Salon d’Automne are outraged. Who is that flamboyant woman with the audaciously colorful hat? Or rather who could have painted such a daring work? Matisse’s Woman with a Hat shocked most viewers. However, it was avidly appreciated, and swiftly purchased, by two new art connoisseurs; Gertrude and Leo Stein, sparking a fabulous legacy of 20th century art patronage and perhaps the greatest collection of Modern art of the era. This collection is currently brought together for the first time in decades in Paris, in a special exhibit at the Grand Palais.
The Stein family, based in San Francisco, first came to Paris in 1878 when the siblings Gertrude, Leo and Michael were still children. This initial visit must have struck a cord, as they each eventually gravitated back to Europe as adults by 1904. Having sold off their family’s holdings back in the U.S., the Steins could live a comfortable bohemian life in Paris and were quickly drawn to collecting art.
The Grand Palais exhibit opens with some fine examples of their earliest acquisitions, several works by late impressionist masters, in particular Renoir and Cezanne, purchased during their first visit to the Salon d’Automne in 1904. These works would not only adorn the walls of the Steins’ respective apartments on rue Madame and rue Fleurus, they would also serve as inspiration for the next generation of young artists who started frequenting the Steins’ Saturday night Salons, lively evenings of conversation and debate over the ensuing new ideas of the modernist movement.
The next year’s Salon d’Automne also featured the more “traditional” artists, however, just as the impressionists had shocked the art world with their innovative works forty years prior, new artists such as the bold Fauves were causing a stir. While it was Gertrude and Leo who purchased Matisse’s aforementioned masterpiece, it was Michael and Sarah who became avid collectors and friends of the artist. Over the next few decades, they almost exclusively focused their collection on his works, many of which are shown here, several displaying the unique bond Matisse had with Michael and Sarah such as the two portraits he made of them and some paintings featuring their son Allan.
Matisse might have been one of the most important leading artists of the turn of the 20th century, however, he was fervently rivaled by another visionary artist; Pablo Picasso – who in turn was greatly supported by Gertrude and Leo. Gertrude first met Picasso in 1906 and they quickly formed a strong, if not turbulent, friendship. The exhibition features a number of wonderful Picassos from their collection, including the imposing Cezanne inspired pre-cubist portrait of Gertrude, but perhaps the most intriguing are eight original sketches and studies for Picasso’s first cubist work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), tightly displayed together on one wall, just as they might have been hung on the walls rue Fleurus.
September 30, 2011
Contemplating Van Gogh in Paris – Giovanni Giorgini
There are so many tours to choose from in Paris… Whether you want to be whisked off on your adventure by bike, boat, balloon, Segway or foot (I have yet to find a horseback tour, but I’m sure someone, somewhere is cooking one up), a tour exists to help make that dream come true.
Having that many options at your fingertips can be overwhelming. That’s why we make it our duty here at Haven in Paris to scour the city tirelessly for the very best tours to recommend to our clients. I’ve been lucky enough to meet more than my fair share and have compiled a list of four of my favorites, chosen because they are so original, in depth and because the people behind them are amazing characters themselves!
Musée D’Orsay (Manolo Blanco)
Sara Towle’s “Time Travelers Tour” StoryApp (downloadable to the iPhone) is one of the most original Paris tours I’ve experienced. This labor of love started out as a book geared towards children and has evolved into an fully interactive, fact-filled, historical adventure through Paris. The first tour in the series, “Beware of Madame la Guillotine”, reveals the stories behind the landmarks and personalities associated with the French Revolution. It’s perfect for adults and children alike (I had a great day out following the tour with my husband)!
September 1, 2011
Typical Parisian flea market (Josh Leo)
I first visited the Marche aux Puces (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen) 5 years ago. I was feeling adventurous and had a new house I dreamed of filling with amazing finds from the famous Parisian flea markets. As soon as I arrived, however, my confidence and sense of adventure plummeted. There was so much, and it was all so beautiful, I couldn’t decide where to begin. I didn’t know if bargaining was de rigueur, and I was timid about asking for prices because I assumed most of the dazzling objects that caught my eye had to be out of my price range (especially since most of them looked like they came right out of Versailles). I found some amazing light fixtures and chairs, but they weren’t going to fit into the overhead bin on my flight home, and I hadn’t the first clue about how to arrange to shipping. In the end, my eyes got their fill of gorgeous pieces but I left empty handed.
My experience, sadly, is not uncommon. The flea markets of Paris can be very intimidating and the vast maze of memorabilia is more than a little overwhelming. My fellow HIP gal pal Andrea knows exactly what I mean; she’s suffered from the flea market frazzle too!
So this summer, when Toma Haines and Franca Giagnacovo from Antiques Diva reached out and offered to take us ladies at HIP on a shopping tour of the Puces, we jumped, of course! After all, these women are bonafide experts on all things antique – maybe they could do something to salvage our dream of decorating our American homes with authentic French finds.
Walking the Paul Bert market at Clignancourt (Dave Bloom)
Our fabulous guide Franca met us in the morning with mini bottles of bubbly and personalized tote bags to carry home the treasures we were to collect that day. She gave us a great info package with maps and a brief description of each market within the Puces so we could pinpoint exactly where to go and what we wanted to see. Andrea and I were both on a mission to feather our nests, so we focused on furniture, house wares and art. She steered us effortlessly through the slightly rough looking streets leading to les Puces and around the sea of cheap plastic knickknacks and designer knock offs that precede the “real” flea markets. Once inside, she knew exactly which vendors had what we were looking for, and she was willing to help us haggle (a very accepted practice). Andrea has the scoop on the amazing treasures we saw.
August 22, 2011
Spending a summer in Paris is a dream come true, but as the Parisians rushed away to enjoy the famous French summer holidays, we got a bit envious and started dreaming of our own escape into the countryside. Thankfully, we were in for a treat: a day trip to one of the most famous regions of France…Champagne! We were invited along by Sydney Kruger, owner of A Tasty Side to Life, a private tour service that specializes in unlocking doors to some of the best small producers of the region.
Picked up in the morning by a private driver, Sydney, a girl who knows her way to my heart, had croissants waiting for us in the car. As we made our way out of Paris to the fresh air of the countryside, she filled us in on the history of the region (still one of the least visited in France), and gave us some great information on how champagne is actually made. By the time we arrived at the first vineyard, we had enough knowledge to taste like the pros.