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A French Life: An artists’s memoires of Paris

american in paris

A short while ago, we published a guest blog from an artist called Madeline who makes the most exquisite thread creatures and embroidered knick knacks

As an artist in Paris, Madeline found it to be a wonderful place with inspirational sights and sounds, as an American in Paris she found it quirky and fabulous!  Madeline takes her inspiration from Paris and in particular the times of Louis XIV and we asked her what she loved most about Paris and what are her favourite places and what she’d recommend to others visiting Paris:
If I just had one magical day in Paris, these would be on my must-see list:

Musée Carnvalet: My daughter, Leah, did not want to visit this museum with me. With much complaining she indulged me and it turned out to be one of her favourite places in Paris. Devoted to the history of Paris, two mansions chock full of art and furniture, are surrounded by a truly pretty courtyard. The main building is the Hôtel Carnavalet, built by François Mansert (mid 17th c.) and once home to Mme de Sevigné, the celebrated letter writer. (Ed: The museum puts on fabulous exhibitions year round – check their website for details).

american in paris

After such a stupendous history of Paris visit, our senses needed refreshing at L’Occitane, not far from Musée Carnvalet. Soaps, perfumes, yummy lavender. Now a worldwide brand, L’Occitane Marais treated each purchase like the King’s firstborn, gingerly handled and tenderly wrapped each purchase with colourful tissue befitting royalty.

Lunch in the Place de Vosges, one of the oldest and most beautiful squares in Le Marais (historic district of Paris which was once home to the aristocracy and boasts a wealth of magnificent architecture), across from the very site where King Henri II lost his life in a jousting match. Beautiful arcades and once home to writer Victor Hugo and Cardinal Richelieu. The day we were there a group of musicians played Mozart as we munched on our chicken.

For the best free 365 degree view the rooftop café at former department store, La Samaritaine was incredible. I’m sad to hear it’s gone (Ed: it is now owned by LMVH – luxury goods maker).

Walk along the Seine and visit the booksellers set up outside. I found some vintage postcards, stamped, some lovely finds. Take a Batobus hop on/hop off tour or Canal Saint Martin tour to see a completely different view of this old city.

A nice stroll that could take up lots of time is the luxury Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré chock full of lush shops (Hermes, Chanel, Dior etc.) and incredible window displays.

Paris is lyrical and she offers a wide variety of free performances of concerts, subway troubadours, and street musicians. Pick up a small weekly pamphlet called LYLO (Les Yeux Les Oreilles/The Eyes The Ears) at record stores  [Ed: or check them out LYLO online]. It lists, by genre and area, nearly every musical happening. We saw two free concerts in small, local chapels that were just amazing in the candlelit glitter of the night.

american in paris

After saving all of that money on concert tickets, head for Notre Dame to see the gargoyles, the toy shop with handcrafted puppets, and lots of other funky shops, plus we stopped for a double scoop of Berthillon ice cream (29-31 rue Saint Louis en l’ile) laced with real fruit, goodness and no preservatives then shaped into flower petals.

Chateau de Versailles hosts a fireworks extravaganza called Les Fêtes de Nuit, a musical rendition of the dreams of the King. Absolutely unforgettable evening. We met a lovely French couple who invited us back to their flat for a nightcap.

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