Header image by Natalie Rapoport. Antoni Gaudi. Sagrada Familia. Barcelona.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paris reflections

Bonjour my dear blogging friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I missed you. I guess I have an excuse  being away overseas. We’ve just returned from two weeks vacation in France and I have more than 2500 images to choose from, to share the best and exciting moments with you.
Plenty you might say, but 10 days of wondering Paris streets I simply couldn’t help it…
And as our apartment happened to be an unfortunate misadventure we tried to spend as less time inside as possible, thus the big catch of the day(s).

What a journey it was! At last I’ve got to places I always wanted and never got around like Art Nouveau marvels by Guimard on Avenue Mozart and Rue de La Fontaine. I savored architectural details grand or barely noticed but always appreciated by my wondering and wandering eyes.
We spent a leisurely boating evening on the serene lake in Bois de Boulogne.
We visited finally the Musee Marmottan with wonderful Berthe Morisot special exhibition, Atget exhibition in Carnavalet, precious Netter collection of Modigliani, Soutine and the Legends of Montparnasse in Pinacotheque gallery on Place de  la Madeleine.

The first step is always the hardest. It’s a tough decision where to start.  Maybe reflections?  A journey through the looking glass…
 I found myself drawn to these shiny, whimsical, often distorted street reflections, constantly moving and changing the scene which tripled  window  shopping fun and added another dimension to reality. Actually it was a bit of a challenge to position myself so not to become a part of image.

Some of them were  magnificent like this huge curvatious window in a newly opened Opera Garnier Restaurant.  Phantasmagoric space in red and white by a very talented architect Odile Decq. The reflection became the part of a decorating idea.
A gorgeous addition to Palais Garnier.

Grand  Palais reflecting Petit Palais.
Some reflected just the opposite side of the street with typical Hausmann building or the square jammed with  traffic.

While my husband and junior enjoyed the slow stroll in Tuillerie I spent some time in nearby Jewelry department of Musee d’Arts Decoratife with amazing  collection of Lalique and his contemporaries.
We browsed bookstores and had a delicious little picnic in beautiful Parc Monceau.
At last  we allowed ourselves to splurge a bit  in the few finest patisseries exquisitely selected by  Paris Patisserie blogger, immensely talented and utterly pastry obsessed writer.
I followed many of your helpful advices regarding hidden gems for which I’m very grateful.

We took a day trip to carefully restored Rouen where I’d be happy to take  you later, and to Chateau de Fontainebleau so overlooked by tourists.
We ended up  with 3 days in a beautiful city of Strasbourg even climbed the magnificent Cathedral, and spent a wonderful day in the sweet and tiny  town of Colmar. If eye candy means something that was literally it.
Everything will come to you in time.

Paris end of July-August always feels so deserted by locals and succumbed to hordes of  tourist nomads. Each time I’m trying to find those Charlottes Gainsbourgs quintessential parisiennes and can’t. Beautiful Clarins girls  don’t fluttered around comme les silphides either.

Where are all those mysterious parisiennes we all try so hard to imitate?  Slim, confident with clear complexion, epitomes of style and elegance?
Am I always in wrong places even away from beaten paths? There are billions of wise, witty and funny advices on blogosphere how to look and be stylish and even behave like parisienne. Beautiful (propped and styled images) feed our loving and willing imagination but for some reason I start to think it’s all just a playful, amusing myth.
This time we had to use metro a lot, sometimes at rush hour.  And parisiennes didn’t look any different  by the end of a hot and humid day than New Yorkers or Torontonians. They spoke French though fluently or texted and disappeared in music waves of earphones as anywhere else. Dressed accurately but otherwise unremarkable, no hint of a chic. They look …well… normal, a bit tired, never smile back.
I have to admit, the older ladies are completely different, surrounded by the aura of parisiennesness, even if her Hermes scarf has seen better times,  happy to engage in conversation, tolerant to my accent and efforts.
The most funniest thing happened when once I was probably mistaken for a local as I’ve seen a lady from a tourist group pointed at me to a friend commenting and swiftly took a picture. Sad and funny.
What actually did I hope to see? I’m no expert in night life scene, maybe that’s when parisiennes emerge?
But wait a moment, there were a few split seconds, when the girls stop the scouters and take off their helmets and shake their head to fluff the hair, a tiny gesture so simple, sexy and natural. Only Parisian girls can do it that way…But I’m not riding a scouter and still hoped to catch a glimpse of Charlotte Rampling  crossing the street with umbrella…Have you seen one?

 Saint Germain des Pres.

Hermes  window with beautiful  reflection.
Shakespeare and Company.

Thank you very much for coming and see you soon.

* All images copyright by Natalie Rapoport


  1. This is my kind of post! Paris and reflections! :)

  2. Welcome back Natalie. It sounds like you had an amazing trip, and have now to sort through many, many photos... Rather enjoyed this reflections series. Thank you for sharing with us. Didn't you just love the Atget exhibit at Carnavalet? It was a favorite of mine this summer. So sorry you did not see many elegant Parisiennes (this tells me you did not pass my mother-in-law in the Metro, ha! ha!) One thing I have noticed over the years: Elegant Parisians tend to be found more often in specific neighborhoods (where they live and/or shop) and on specific subway lines. Sections of the 7th and 16th arrondissements come to mind. Otherwise, I agree with you: Parisians at the end of the working day tend to look every bit as tired, grumpy and hot as New Yorkers! :-) Can't wait to see more. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Merci Veronique, vous avais raison. I wish I could meet Mutti.
      And yes , I loved Atget. He did for French photography what neo-realists did for Italian cinema: he documented daily life of ordinary people truthfully and captured it as an artist. It's a bygone era now, a history, faces, characters... A girl street singer was my favorite. It could be little Piaf, n'est pas?

  3. What a great visit you must have had! Love the photos of the vitrines. I always enjoy looking at displays when I'm in Paris.

    So glad you made it to Rouen - a place I saw at 15, and again, some 3 decades later to visit friends. It's really a lovely city, very manageable. Many fond memories for me...

    As to the myth of the French Woman, I sometimes wonder if it requires being in certain locations at certain times among a certain set of people... I have certainly encountered many who fit the (positive) stereotype - and of all ages - but I haven't encountered them on a crowded metro during a sweaty commute. You're so right - like NYC or any other frantic city - tired people, just wanting to get home.

  4. Oh my goodness, I am very late to this post! But how glad I am not to have missed it--leave it to you to share such a unique take on Paris. :)

    And I have to say that I was absolutely baffled when I first moved to Paris after NYC--where were all they stylish girls? They are everywhere in Manhattan, you trip over them! During the four years that we lived in Paris, a super sighting was very rare indeed. I think it is that so many "real" Parisiennes don't take public transport and they are in their neighborhoods. The best people watching ever was in the Monoprix near the Opera believe it or not!!



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