Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday photo - Ladurée macarons, Yum!

Carrying on with the tea room theme...Ladurée is famous for its delicious macarons, but I think it's worth it for the décor alone.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tea for two at Le Loir dans La Théière

This cosy tea room takes its name from the sleepy dormouse who gets dunked in the teapot at the Mad Hatter's tea party in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. But you certainly won't feel lethargic when you walk in, with so many colourful retro objects and posters to look at, yet nor will you feel as though you've fallen down the rabbit hole; bar a few discreet murals, the cafe is not Alice-themed. The atmosphere is shabby-chic, with flea market finds such as vintage toys and lamps scattered around and a 70's style decor with mismatched chairs and tables. Comfy and casual are the buzzwords here.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Paris - Fashion Capital

I had a quick go at the sales on Saturday but my heart wasn't in it. I suppose that's a good thing, but it's no fun, so to get some fashion inspiration where better than a haute-couture show? Alas, it's not Paris fashion week so I made do with a different kind of show- the current fashion exhibition at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, the slightly overlooked museum in one of the wings of the Louvre.


This show, called '1990-2000 Histoire Idéale de la Mode Contemporaine' focuses on the ten seminal years of fashion history that came directly after the decadence and flashiness of the 80's. The exhibition claims to focus on the effects of the socio-political changes of the 90's on the fashion industry and on the new techniques being developed in the past two decades. The industry became more professional, designs more radical and apparently the fashion world became more discreet, as the accompanying guide to the exhibition puts it, “breaking completely with the excesses of the preceding decades”.

Well this is not necessarily evident in many of the designs displayed in the exhibition, including a stuffed pheasant that passes for a hat, and a dress created entirely from jewels, but I suppose I am not the most extravagant of people anyway, perhaps this is standard 'pop-to-the-supermarket-wear' for some.


In any case, even if the show does not achieve its lofty socio-political aim, it does present a concise and very interesting retrospective of some of the best known designers of today and yesterday with a strong emphasis on the blend of innovative techniques and traditional craftsmanship. One hundred and fifty designs are on show representing important creators such as Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood.

There are some fantastic pieces, some in the true sense of the word such as a crazy marshmallow-cloud style dress by Comme des garçons, or a conceptual jacket made of synthetic blonde wigs by Maison Martin Margiela, and some in the more everyday sense, with a beautiful multi-coloured sequin bomber by Dries Van Noten, smart tailoring by Yohji Yamamoto and chic daywear by Prada.

It is well laid out, easy to absorb and visually pleasing, which is just what I was looking for and has inspired me anew, but I'll stay away from the taxidermy headgear for now.

Where?: Les Arts Décoratifs - 107 rue de Rivoli
When?: Until 8th May 2011. Closed Mondays
How?: Metro : Palais-Royal, Pyramides or Tuileries. Bus : 21, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95

Friday, January 14, 2011

Buyer Beware - Avoiding rental scams

We've all heard the expression, "When it's too good to be true, it probably is." Unfortunately many of us have fallen prey to dubious characters who offer us a deal that just seems to good to resist.

We used to advertise our properties on Craigslist when it first launched its Paris listing site. It worked quite well and we were pleased with the results but unfortunately we were not alone. Everyone starting using Craigslist and that was not limited to owners or property managers but also to those individuals who saw it as a risk-less way (for them), to make fast cash. They took photos from other listings and and large company sites like Homeaway to create their false listings to draw in their victims.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Travel Safe. Travel Smart.

The Christmas holiday now behind us, and my bags safely home after their long tumultuous voyage through the baggage system of Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, I thought I was sufficiently past the emotional stress of the situation and could retell my story which turned out to be the story of oh so many people including some of our apartment guests.
It was even somewhat comical . . . I said somewhat.

What happened exactly? A bit of snow fell and the world - at least the part in which I live, came to a stand still. Thousands of people were stranded in airports across Europe, ticked off and not sure of how or when they would ever get home or join their families. I saw tears being shed and fists being raised and looks of pure annoyance when overwhelmed airport and airline staff looked them point blank in the face and said, "I can't help you". I admit that I was one of the exasperated.

When we arrived at the airport on December 20th bound for Copenhagen we had already noted that the flights before ours that day had been canceled but ours was still marked as on time. I think we must have checked a hundred times. It was no longer snowing, it was just cold, there was no way that our flight wasn't going to take off, right? After one hour or more of standing in a line that didn't seem to be advancing at all and no staff to indicate to us what we were expected to do exactly, we finally starting moving forward (hope!). An Air France staff member informed whoever was in the line who didn't already have a boarding pass that they weren't about to get one so they should kindly step aside . . . "the flight is full". A girl in front of me refused. No way! And you had to understand her stress, she was Danish and Paris was not her home and she had already been stuck for 2 days and wanted to go home.

I was just relieved when we got up to the counter and handed in our bags. At least that's over, I thought. So we passed to security with such ease, I should have known better. Not 5 minutes that we were standing at the gate when suddenly they announced on the PA that our flight was CANCELED! What? That can't be! Why in the world did they take our bags if there was no flight. This is where the story turns for worse. Foolishly we agreed to leave our bags in the hands of the airline or airport or whoever swallows up the baggage at CDG and peacefully (ticked off of course), left the airport to go home and wait till the next day to try again on another flight. Since we were home I took the opportunity to put a bit of extra underwear for at least 24 hours in my suitcase (call it the girl scout in me - though I never was a girl scout).

On the 21st of December we made it to Copenhagen but our bags of course did not. My warmer articles of clothing were neatly packed in my luggage as were my toiletries. Seeing as how we can no longer carry any reasonable amount of toiletries, you have little choice but to put all your things in checked luggage.

Our bags never came to Copenhagen. We had to go out and buy new things and given that it was the holiday season we didn't have much time to do it in. Christmas came and Christmas went and still no bags. We returned to Paris and you wouldn't believe me if I told you but we checked our carry on bag since it now contained liquids (of the items we had to re-buy), and guess what! The bag never came either. I was livid. This was ridiculous. The curse of the lost bags continued. We now had two dossiers going with baggage claim. I just wanted to go home.

We were told that we would be compensated especially since now they had lost ALL our luggage. The baggage claims employee even said herself that they were beyond pathetic - a small comfort. She gave us all the necessary paperwork for filing claims and getting refunded. And now we just had to wait.

When we finally received news on our bags it was to find out that our bags which had never made it to Copenhagen were sent there once they were found, even though we had been back home for several days! This was becoming even more ridiculous.


Our bags finally all made it home on January 5th.

This is not an unfamiliar story to many travelers and has just become one of those really annoying things that can (though apparently it's rare - ha ha tell that to the owners of 25,000 bags that were hanging out at CDG airport), put a real damper on your travels. Books have been written giving travelers tips on how to avoid the aggravation.

Tip #1 - Take travel insurance - We all seem to think we don't need it until of course we do. You will get more back for your lost bags if you have insurance than if you don't. If you think your home insurance covers you in the event of such a situation, read the fine print and make sure it is really the case. Travel insurance can not only help you in the invent of lost luggage but also if you have to cancel or postpone your trip and the cost is minimal when you think about the overall cost of your holiday.


Tip #2 - Take a carry on. I know many travelers who prefer to be empty handed when they are flying, yes it makes going through security faster but seriously having a bit of toothpaste, small soap, underwear and even one shirt could make a world of difference. I do think Pamolive and other brand names have made a killing on the airline restrictions. You may be arriving into town on a Sunday where in many countries almost everything is closed.


Tip #3 Try to pay for your tickets with a credit card that offers some form of insurance. They write these things in the small print on the pages and pages of policy you receive when you first apply for the card.

Tip #4 And this one is hard at times - Try to stay Zen. It's only luggage after all. I can say that now since I go mine back. Ha ha!
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