December 10, 2017

A Norwegian Christmas market in Paris

Be it French, Swedish, or Norwegian with less than one month until Christmas, more and more festive markets are popping up all over Paris. No need to wait until Christmas Eve to get the festivities started in my eyes.

For the past five years I have been looking forward to a very special Christmas market celebrating the best of Swedish festive traditions. Their stalls serve fresh salmon, cranberry jams, brioche and other tasty winter recipes from the Nordic country. The candlesticks and Advent chandeliers are particularly beautiful and are as big a tradition in Sweden as they are in Switzerland.

Embracing change, I decided to visit the Norwegian Christmas market this year. Much to my surprise the queue was enormous eventhough I arrived 15 minutes before the official opening. Who knew Norway was so trendy?

With melt-in-the-mouth waffles, cinnamon rolls and Eau-de-vie made for potatoes, as well as jumpers and other cozy items in traditional prints, the Norwegian Christmas market combined fashion, food and Nordic design. 

Producers, artisans and artists from Norway travelled to the French capital to present culinary specialties such as elk sausage, salmon, cheese, chocolate and alcohol as well as gift ideas like reindeer skins, knitwear, jewellery, design objects and books at their unusual Christmas market. 

This is probably what makes it so attractive to Parisian searching for something special and unique and who are gradually becoming aware that Christmas markets are an essential part of the festive season.

Time to embrace the holidays, Scandinavian style... God JUL!

Welcome to a piece of Norway

God Jul

Norwegian delicacies

A original Christmas tree ... recyclable for years to come!

Obviously a Norwegian traction?!?


... a term used to describe various supernatural beings in Nordic folklore
and storytelling traditions, which has roots in Norse mythology.

Reindeer sausage requires a bit of effort for the feeble hearted...

... as does reindeer fur!

He made me smile 

The Norwegian version of a rocking horse?!?

Intriguing... Eau de vie made from potatoes

God Jul to all!

December 4, 2017

From one world to another...

It is amazing how far removed you can get within a 50 minute plane ride. Such are the advantages of living in Europe. If you can manage to get passed airport security control without too much hassle, it is actually all worth it.

Going from a grey metropolitan Parisian city life...

... jumping into the glorious healthy Hampshire countryside!

But then again, we all know that both sides have lots to offer. Without going into further detail, I thought I'd share a discovery that stopped me in my tracks while Christmas shopping in England last week.

Seriously? Pick & choose your frozen pastry in a British supermarket.
 This cannot have passed the Food& Drug Adminstration test?!?

It might be more expensive but I'll stick to my "café avec pain au chocolat" in a French bistro anytime.

December 3, 2017

To share a Christmas wreath

When visiting your bestie in the English countryside chances are you'll experience "un dépaysement"  from Paris. A thatched 17th century country house with chickens running around in the garden, cats lounging on the window sill and tail-wagging dogs waiting to go for a walk in the freezing cold was awaiting me. I passed the muddy wellingtons and green tweed jackets lined up in the entrance and headed straight for the warmest place in the house, the AGA in the kitchen!

My friend doesn't hang around so she's never cold. Sure enough, I dumped my bag in the hall way (something I never do at home) and we were off to visit an Austrian friend of hers. Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) was what I was expecting but oh, the fun was only about to begin.

We entered her most amazing white kitchen and it felt like walking into a photo of Homes and Gardens. The exposed wooden beams were fully decked with Christmas decoration. Now, this is a lady after my own heart. But it gets better, we were offered a mug of coffee and invited to create our own Christmas wreath. She had laid out the materials on her enormous wooden table with light streaming in the window from all sides.

Over the next two hours I stepped into the daily routine of by best friend, meeting people that share her English life, digging in and getting my hands on some serious crafty work. Admiring how different each of our homemade wreaths had turned out given we had all used the same materials, I could not help but think how wonderful it was not having to rush around worrying about being late in my hectic city life.

These ladies took time to listen to each other, learn from each other, laugh with each other and truly appreciated each others company while creating something from scratch to make their homes more beautiful for families and neighbours in celebration of Christmas.

Thank you ladies for a lovely gift, for I consider time spent that morning a wonderful present of Christmas cheer and friendship.

A tiny little detail to set the mood.

The bare necessities are no longer a secret.

Everyone brought greenery from their gardens...

... and got to work.

Off to a good start 

A little break with scrumptious little Mincemeat pies

One beautiful Christmas wreath by one of the ladies

A joint effort with my friend...

... after having decided not to add any red roses!

Picture perfect cottage entrance

November 30, 2017

The joys of travelling by plane

Trying to catch a flight nowadays is like an obstacle course and I cannot rid the feeling I am participating in a TV reality show challenge.

Braving heavy Parisian traffic on the periferique (ringroad) at 7 o'clock in the morning and - 35 minutes later - managing to find a parking spot a million miles away from the terminal, I enter the airport to be stopped at the sliding doors and asked to open not only my handbag but also my carry-on for a standard security check. At this point, I have not even set foot in the terminal yet... Let the gymkhana begin!

Having not being allowed to check-in online because of some obscure reason, I set off in search of flybe's check-in desk.

About to go through my first passport control to reach the desks when the friendly airport usher tells me the check-in is the other side with Air France. 
Off I trod only to be told by yet another friendly Air France assistant to return where I came from. A friendly banter with the first usher to tell him Southhampton is indeed located in England and not in the US for him to let me pass after having checked my passport.

3 minutes later - after another passport control - I am holding my boarding pass.

Heading towards the boarding area I am asked to show my boarding pass and stand in line for yet another passport control by the police this time before I go through security control (after queuing patiently) and a second check of my boarding pass.

A good 50 minutes and I have finally made it from the airport entrance to the boarding area. I wonder how long this would take during high season?!?

A quick coffee and a croissant and it is time to board. Another passport and boarding pass check and I am expecting to board the plane.

But wait, we are now ushered into a bus and driven half way around the enormous Charles de Gaulles airport for 10 minutes to another terminal area before we are allowed to cross the tarmac and finally board our little plane to Southampton... WITHOUT having our Boarding passes checked.
The crew were clearly not expecting their passengers since we "caught" them enjoying their breakfast break on the plane.

The flight from Paris to Southampton took exactly 45 minutes!!!

Where  on earth are we heading to... the UK via bus?!?

Is it the aircraft company or the airport authorities
that is making a traveller's life so complicated?!?

Finally taking off!!!!

November 26, 2017

Photographing a cake can be art

Two months ago I was mingling with the models trying to make my way around the Grand Palais during Vogue's Fashion Night Out not really taking in the art work on the wall but the works of art strutting around on their long lanky legs swishing their wonderful hair does around and showing off the latest fashion items.

Therefore it only seemed fair returning to the Grand Palais to join a guided tour and pay tribute to one of the greatest fashion photographers of the 20th century, Irving Penn.

The exhibition looked back over this remarkable man’s 70-year career, with more than 235 photographic prints, all produced by the artist himself, as well as a selection of his drawings and paintings. Thanks to our thorough French guide from "Les Mots et les Arts" - expert in contemporary art - we took in a comprehensive vision of the wide range of genres Irving Penn worked in: fashion, still life, portraits, nudes, beauty, cigarettes and even debris. 

A photographer who states that Photographing a cake can be art can only be brilliant and fascinating in my book.

As usual it is pouring ... making my way to the exhibition

My absolute favourite venue for exhibits in Paris: Le Grand Palais

Feeling inspired to create a similar still life with my Thanksgiving ingredients tonight!

How many times can you be on the cover of Vogue?

Forever Christian Dior
Dorian Leigh, New York, 1949

One of Irving Penn's most renowned shots:
Girl with Tobacco on Tongue (Mary Jane Russell), 1951

A group shot of the Top Models of 1949

A photographic study of the Small Trades: Le Chef

Le garçon

America, Inc, a fascinating article written by Gerald W. Johnson

Recognize this young man?
A fashion designer who recently inaugurated a museum in Marrakech?

Who's hiding in the shadows?
Spain's most famous painter.

 Irving Penn's used the same simple backdrop for all these photographs: a theatre curtain he’d found in Paris that he then kept in his studio – on display in the exhibition. Astonishing and moving!

The man's best friend 

My interpretation of his photograph.

November 25, 2017

Curious about French vintage luxury

When you live in the world's fashion capital there are always occasions to dip into the feeling of luxury even if only from afar. I am not talking about window shopping on Ave Montaigne lined with designer boutiques and exquisite hotels but a simple viewing of vintage luxury.

At the very beginning of Avenue Montaigne at the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées lies the auction house "Artcurial". Conceived as a cultural venue fifteen years ago, it now boast more than 25 areas of expertise, from fine art to decorative art to street art, collectors’ cars, jewellery, fine wines and, of course, fashion.

Since 2005, the Hermès vintage sales created by Artcurial have become an international reference.
Once in a while, on a rainy Sunday afternoon my husband and I will check out the public viewing of a fashion auction.

Last Monday the "Fall Fashion Arts" sale included a fantastic collection of Japanese fashion, as well as a great selection of Hermes accessories: beach towels, shoes, belts, bags, bedcover, bracelets, jewels, gloves, and more. Furthermore, beautiful Louis Vuitton scarfs, bags, accessories and wallets were also on display. As were a whole lot of black gowns and suits.

It makes me wonder where does all this merchandise come from? Who were their owners and why have they decided to sell? Every piece has a story to tell but sadly no one will ever hear it.

Who are the people that decide to buy a certain bag or pair of shoes? Is it for a special occasion or have they had their heart set on this particular object for a long time?

These vintage sales - offering a journey through time and personal stories - leave me begging to look beyond the luxurious, incomparable world of brands that stands for elegance and refinement à la française.

Feeling curious? Check out the catalogue here.

Where to start? 

Taking a deep breath and peeking out onto Avenue Montaigne

Would you pay 1500.- Euros for a second hand Hermes bag?

These vintage Kelly handbags dating from 1945 to 1980s sold between 1000 and 2000 Euros according to the Artcurial site.

This Hermes saddle sold for 650.- Euro the next day

Louis Vuitton Gallore

I wonder how much my Louis Vuitton boots from 2001 would bring in?

I like the funky sunglasses

Black fashion forever... très Parisienne

Oops, where do these fit in with French fashion?

This delicate Hermes tea set sadly remained unsold

Impress your dinner guests!

A rather sober looking catalogue 

Autumn snapshot onto the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées
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