Thursday, August 09, 2018

Champagne Taittinger, Reims

With all this Champagne immersion of late it seemed the right thing to do. Hop on the TGV for a quick 45 minute ride to REIMS, Champers (British for Champagne) country.
Its off season so you don't need an advanced reservation for a visit to the Caves. And there is no better place to be during the heat wave by the way. I thought I'd start off at TAITTINGER thinking I'd make the rounds to 3 other houses. That did not happen. Immersion in one house is perfect for a day trip.  Reims now has terrific small shuttle buses that carry you from the train station to the houses. Plus there is a branch at the station of the tourist office to help you out with maps and reservations etc. Of the many trips I've made to Reims this was one of the best, hot as it was.
The outside may not look impressive but the 13th-century chalk cellars were once the property ofSaint Nicaise abbey.
There were just 6 of us so we got the full historic story of the wines and the house. Taittinger is the 7th largest house in the area producing 6 million bottles per year (Moet is the first). Its also the last of the large family-owned houses. They did sell out at one point and then bought it back. There is a total of 5,000 (!) champagne makers in the area. Its easy to understand why they are so protective of the name 'Champagne'.
We go down another 70 meters where the finest wines are aging. We did take an elevator back up merci deux.
The bottles are still turned by hand to aggitate the sediment in the neck. One person can turn thousands of bottles per day..maybe 70 (!?). During WWI many Remois hid in the caves for months at a time and left carved initials on the walls to prove it.
Upstairs in the tasting room we got to sample glorious wines. The bubbles (bulles) are tiny.
'Nose' the wine and sense the buttery, toasty, briochie and creamy flavors. So delicate and light. I didn't feel the least bit heady or drunk as I usually do with this amount of wine. No wonder Remois tell you they drink Champagne for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If its this refined quality I'm happy to join in. I think I've been painting my bubbles too big and splashy :-()
Taittinger Champagne was the wine sponsor for Les Bleus in Moscow. There must have been massiv celebrating when they won the world cup!
Time to turn in my plastic still life flutes and step up. The elegant ribboned box alone is a treasure.
Lunch was at the wonderfully 30s style CAFE DU PALAIS across from the opera house.
The interior is a mishmash if adulterated artworks and objet trouvé. The cafe is a favorite with the champagne winemakers. Note the old fan behind the statue. No AC here. The food is fine with a 36€ formule you get 3 courses and 2 glasses 🥂 of Champers.
A boater hat is exactly the right attire for Cafe du Palais.
You can not visit Reims without stopping in the cathedral. All the kings of France were coronated here darlings.
Besides its a cool refuge from the blasting heat outside.
Back on the TGV (with AC ) I made color studies from a rose window postcard.
I asked for an empty TAITTINGER Brut reserve bottle for my still lives but they insisted on giving me their top of the line vintage COMTES DE CHAMPAGNE Rosé bottle (around 170€). La creme de la creme..
Lots of Champagne envelope fillers are waiting if you buy a bottle green watercolor dear PBers. What a lovely day trip! I highly recommend REIMS.Thanks for reading Parisbreakfast. If you'd like to receive Parisbreakfast letters, maps and Champagne in your mailbox, look in my Etsy shop.
I don't want Summer to end 🥂🍾.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Champagne rue Bonaparte

Did you know patisserie Laduree has their own Champagne and the bottles are really pretty on 21, rue Bonaparte?
I bought this rose-framboise religieuse to paint in front of their bottle (I stole a few shots). I ate it but the painting looked Hellish. See below.
Do you know FLOWER on 14, rue Bonaparte?
A delightful shop to browse in.
Art book publisher ASSOULINE has a terrific shop at No. 35 great for a stop on.
BOUTIQUE FABRICE has been on rue Bonaparte for as long as i've been coming to Paris at No. 33
Great for leche vitrine
Here's a newish shop to discover at 21. LITTLE GREEN, a bespoke paint and paper decoration shop from Manchester, England


They have stunning catalogs and color charts to take away. They mix up your paint to order on the stop.
A small street off of rue Bonaparte that makes you think of
Small side streets in Aix non?
Now is the time for pretty bottles of Rosé...in a small epicerie on Bonaparte. Why not start at the Seine and wander up the rue?
Today I'm wandering off to Reims. Its been a year or two and all this bubbly immersion has made me curious to go see some more bottle green since I've been painting Champagne over and over. Thank you for reading Parisbreakfast. If you enjoyed this post, forward to a friend. Subscribe to Paris maps or letters in your mailbox + French souvenirs at ETSY. Bottoms up🍾🥂!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Painting Portraits at a wedding at Chateau de la Tour, Chantilly

July has been quite the month. First the terrific surprise of seeing my watercolors in the Paris Metro. Then playing performance artist at a champagne tasting painting bottles and pastries onsite. When MING from my pool asked if I'd like to paint guests at a Chinese wedding at CHATEAU DE LA TOUR in Chantilly, I thought why not? Ask me to do the tour de France this month and I'd have said OUI!
But how to dress rehearse for this event? I needed a sample piece to show the groom.
First I bought a bunch of French wedding magazines - useless. Then I sketched guests at Duchess Megan's wedding like Amal Clooney...getting nowhere fast.
Have you seen KILLING EVE, staring actress Sandro Oh. Thank you Sandra for getting me on the right track.
How to draw Chinese men? Luckily I found a story on China's top 10 billionaires! Perfect sketch material. Love you Google.
Voila my wedding guest sample watercolor of Sandra Oh + billionaire. We decided a small vignette of the chateau should be on every portrait and they could be painted ahead of time. 25 chateaux drawings later, once on the premises on Tuesday I realized this was not going to work.
First of all it was a morning brunch the day after the wedding. Everyone was dressed casually in shorts and polo shirts. Did I mention it was a 'destination wedding'? Half the guests had come in from Shanghai. Sebastien, my taxi driver from the train station told me he was taking many back to CDG later. Oh.
The red striped awning became my portrait setting. I simply used the backs of the prepared sketches.
When you're a performance artist you have to improvise seat-of-the-pants style.
And perform and entertain. Guests gathered round my little table watching me draw every line like I was a magician.
I couldn't possibly say, Hmmm..you're standing in my light. I just kept drawing.
And prayed a little...
They seemed to like them fortunately
The bride and groom are on the lower left. Doesn't he look like the Mongolian warrior, Genghis Khan? Chinese men are handsome and have the most fabulous hair and haircuts! I still have to tell you about my Friday watercolor class held in my studio, but that's another July story. Meanwhile I'm celebrating. I survived painting wedding portraits. You can get the Champagne of your choice among other Paris goodies on Etsy. Thanks for reading Parisbreakfast.  If you liked this post please share. Bon Dimanche