Blog posts tagged with 'lifestyle'

I like to say that a day in Paris holds many lifetimes.  That's how it feels to me anyway-- so much can happen in a day!  
My street wakes up early around 7:30AM with restaurant deliveries at Le Cherche Midi and Atelier Vivanda (two great bistros to note).  A bit later, apartment windows open, horns begin honking, and dogs begin their morning strolls off-leash -- yes, they know what they are doing and where they are going just perfectly!  Beautifully dressed Parisians whizz by on their bikes (Vélib is the great bike-sharing system here) on their way to work avoiding all the traffic snarls. Cigarettes begin to light up (one of my least favorite things...), the sun begins to touch the tops of the buildings, and I finish my coffee and leave my kitchen window perch to start my day.

My spring sejour is coming to a close but before it does, I want to share my idea of the perfect Left Bank shopping day in the neighboorhood!  Ready?

  I walk down the street to Poilâne -- one of the most famous Parisian bakeries, to buy my croissant and return home to have it with my coffee and watch the City wake up. If you are up early,  I recommend having a café au lait and Poilâne toast at the charming Cuisine de Bar next door to the bakery-- they open at 8:30AM. Take your time, no need to rush as most of the boutiques in the area don't open until 10:30-11:00.  I like to take a brisk morning walk up to the Seine River and back to breathe the fresh air and gear up for the day.  The view across the River is always breathtaking!

Shopping in this 6th arrondissement is heavenly!  Just at the corner of the rue du Cherche-Midi is the intersection called the Croix Rouge. You'll know it by the huge Centaur sculpture in the middle of it ( Centaure de Cesar). From this intersection, any of the little streets you decide to go down will take you to some of the best boutique shopping on the Left Bank.  There are the obvious favorites like Céline, Christian Louboutin, Maison Margiela, Inès de la Fressange and Prada and that's just on the rue du Grenelle alone!  

I like to go a bit off the radar with a stop at one of the most gorgeous leather goods shops around, Peggy Kingg. She was the art director for Madame Grés as well as Balmain, Céline and Cartier and has now opened her own atelier/shop on the Left Bank.  If you must have a more well-known brand of leather goods, Hermes Left Bank store is just around the corner on the rue des Sevres.  Even if you aren't in the market for a Birkin, just a look inside at the architecture of what used to be a public swimming pool is worth it.  Afternoon tea in Le Plongeoir upstairs is worth every penny you spend on tea and cake! For shoes, I love Laure Bassal.  These are classic hand-made shoes that can be made-to-order in a full color range.  My personal favorite is called Dijon-- it reminds me of my dance days....

For their beautiful white porcelain dishes, paper goods and perfume, Astier de Villatte just opened on the Left Bank.  I always bring home table candles in the many luscious colors offered by Cire Trudon, and for the perfect gift, I go to Buly 1803 for their many potions, creams, soaps and fragrant matches. Love the fragrant matches!  For beautiful silk and cotton caftans, Liwan has long been a favorite. She also carries beaded coin purses and unusual costume earrings. For antiques and home treasures, try Yveline Antiques and Galerie Salon.   For cult beauty products, I go to CityPharma on the rue du Four. It's always crowded, but the pharmacy staff is so knowledgable and quite organized in their own French kind of way. I just stocked up on my two favorites: La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 and Redermic R Corrective.

And then there is jewelry....!!!! For vintage costume jewelry, I go to L'ibis Rouge-- Vivianne's knowledge of the history of costume jewelry is remarkable and her shop is full of treasures. If you are looking for a particular piece or designer, be sure to ask. She has a basement archive that has been stocked and added to for 35 years!  For antique fine jewelry, my absolute favorite is Curiosités on the rue des Grands Augustines. Monsieur Brisbois has a remarkable collection of bijoux and the prices are reasonable. He is only open in the afternoons so plan for a later visit in the day.

Ready for lunch? Try Brasserie Lipp-- an institution in Paris for 135 years! Another classic is Josephine Chez Dumont.
Restaurant Christine
 is pure charm and great food. It's on a very small and quiet street if that is your mood!  It's best to make a reservation for any of these restaurants. There are so many cafés and bistros in Paris. If you want to be spontaneous,  dine early (before 12:30) or later(after 2:00PM)  and you shouldn't have trouble being seated.  Bon Appétit!

At the end of the day, go to Jade d'Orient for the best accupressure foot massage you can imagine.  You'll deserve it after all that hard work called shopping!

Paris is a place where we can leave behind who we think we are and reinvent ourselves. It's a City of art, beauty, fashion, and love. As John Berger put it, "Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman."  
I'll sign off by chiming in with Gertrude Stein to say that "America is my country and Paris is my hometown."  À bientôt!


Poilâne: 8 rue du Cherche-Midi

Cuisine de Bar: 8 rue du Cherche-Midi


Peggy Kingg: 9 rue Cöetlogon

Hermes: 17 rue de Sevres

Laure Bassal: 3 rue de Grenelle

Astier de Villatte:  16 ru de Tournon

Cire Trudon: 78 rue de Seine

Buly 1803: 6 rue Bonaparte

Liwan: 8 rue Saint-Sulpice

Yveline Antiques: 4 rue de Furstemburg

Galerie Salon: 4 rue de Bourbon le Château

CityPharma: 26 rue du Four

L'ibis Rouge: 35 Boulevard Raspail

Curiosités: 26-28 rue des Grands Augustines



Brasserie Lipp: 151 Boulevard Saint Germain

Josephine Chez Dumonet: 117 rue du Cherche-Midi

Restaurant Christine: 1 rue Christine



Jade d' Orient: 11 rue Monsieur le Prince

xx Carla 



You might not think of going to a puppet show when you are in Paris, but if you find yourself strolling in the Luxembourg Gardens (and you should!), consider attending one of the famous Guignol shows in the charming  theatre.  

When our daughter Camille was little, we took her to the garden to sail boats in the small lake there and to attend these puppet shows. When the theatre bell rings in the park, all the children (with their parents not far behind) come running to get a seat on the little wood benches in front of the stage. The parents get seated along the wall or in the back rows.  There is so much excitement in the air all of which gets boosted during intermission by the old-fashioned bon-bon sales ladies with their big trays of candies strapped in front of them.  The candy is wrapped so beautifully that it is impossible to resist!  Watching the children pay with their own carefully saved coins and then seeing their faces light up with delight when receiving their bon bons is part of the show! The whole experience is truly precious and I still make time to see Les Guignols once a year.  While there, I close my eyes and can still hear Camille's laughter and feel her delight.  

While visiting the Luxembourg Gardens, don't miss the beauty of the Medici Fountain or the opportunity to sit in one of the semi-reclined French garden chairs and take in some sun and people watching. There is an Angelina cafe at one end of the garden -- known for their famous hot chocolate and, just recently opened, La Table du Luxembourg-- a gastronomique restaurant in the upper garden by Michelin star Chef Philippe Renard (Lutétia).

Les Guignols puppet shows:

Sundays: 11:00AM and 3:30PM
Wednesday: 3:30PM
Thursday: 10:30AM and 3:30PM
Friday: 10:30AM and 3:30 PM
Saturday: 11:00AM and 3:30PM
Arrive 30 minutes early for a good seat. The show lasts 40 minutes.

Angelina in the Luxembourg:

19 rue de Vaugirard 
Open every day 10-6

La Table du Luxembourg: 

Jardin du Luxembourg
7 rue Guynemer, porte Fleurus
01 42 38 64 88 for reservations


xx Carla

My love of string instruments began in 4th grade.  I had the opportunity to take violin lessons at school with Mr. Kantack and persuaded my parents to buy me a used violin. I was so excited! I sat in my chair with my music stand in front of me-- sheet music staring me in the face... I had no idea how to read it! Mr. Kantack wasn't very patient and so I made the decision to play the music by ear. It was easy for me and everything was going well until the day came that I didn't turn the song page at the right time and I was caught!  There was no flexibility or kindness on the part of Mr. Kantack, so I quietly put my instrument away and never went back to class.  Fortunately my love of the violin never left me.

This week in Paris, I learned that spring concerts were starting at the Sainte-Chapelle.  This intimate chapel is located inside the Palais de Justice and was built by King Louis IX.  It was finished on April 26, 1248 and since April 26th is my birthday, I decided this was my sign to attend a concert there! I chose the Vivaldi, Mozart, and Haydn concerts for violin, cello  and bass.  To say that this 1 hour music concert was wonderful, is an understatement. It was more a transportive experience-- The beauty of the gothic-style chapel, the expertise of the musicians (from the National Superior Conservatory of Music) and the charm of the notes written by their composers,  easily took me someplace far away from which I didn't want to return... There is something about the sound that comes off the strings that penetrates the heart more deeply than most instruments.  As the 18th century French writer Edmond de Goncourt once said: “A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin.”

I watched the violin players mostly-- especially, the young woman in her pencil skirt and classic Louboutin black heels-- the red soles showing with each twist.  As she stood and played, I realized that the posture required to hold a violin is quite beautiful in and of itself.  Everything about this evening made me feel so alive!   I highly recommend the concerts at Sainte-Chapelle for your next visit to this City of light, poetry, music and romance! 

La Sainte-Chapelle: 8, Boulevard du Palais:

Have a glass of champagne at the Brasserie des Deux Palais (3, Boulevard du Palais) across the street before or after the performance

Concert website:


xx Carla