Sunday, April 24, 2016

19 Secret Signs of Spring in Paris you may not know about


It took me 3 years living in Paris to 'get' Picard frozen food's annual Italian food promotion (April 4-24) is a sure-fire sign Spring has arrived! Everything is 'elaborée' (made) in Italy. I forget the number of products but it's huge. I, myself have partaken of their pistachio ice cream for 21 days religiously. If you're in Paris and see big signs up saying "CIAO ITALIA" you know Spring has arrived no matter the temperatures or the leafless trees. C'est comme ça.
Every shop suddenly is offering tiny watering cans and mini cutting shears for your possible balcon jardin. I once fell victim to the grow-your-own strawberries in a lovely Spring-green tin can. Forgetabout that happening. Never again. And I don't have a real balcony. Just a bit of rooftop, but I had high hopes.
2 sundays ago it was glorious out. It must have been official 'GET YOUR 1ST ICE CREAM' of the season. Ile Saint Louis was invaded. The lines were ginormous. I was still working on my pistachio and did not join in.
I did partake of a Tai chi class at Jardin des Plantes. All the Parisians not lined up for a Berthillon were here gazing at pansies like it was the 1st time ever.
Last Sunday was lovely too btw.
Parisian kidlets have taken to the streets big time.
Yesterday I saw TWO trench coats = Spring, even though temperatures are in the 40s. Hope springs eternal.
The produce stands are loaded with asperge blanche. I'm embarrassed to say I have never cooked them or even eaten them. I Must do something about this and soon before they disappear.
Strawberries (les fraises) have hit town big. Strawberry juice even! Why didn't I get that?
As window decor too.
Pierre Hermé has them.
So has Lenotre.
Fauchon has big signs outside of strawberries sitting in chairs...I forgot to show you. Pls forgive.
Strawberry-colored Bensimons stacked high in Galeries Lafayette and everywhere else is a sure sign. Do not ask me why they hide the shoelaces. ??? You can not go wrong wearing Bensimons in Paris. Ever.
Luxe department store Printemps brings out their annual Spring flower bunny. It's a tradition.
Bottles of rosé are showing up everywhere.
The 1€ bunches of dafs (jonquils) for sale in the marché show up like clockwork.
Flower baskets of those greens I've been trying to paint are a constant reminder of what's waiting around the corner, even if it's in the 30s today.
Last but not least, I sent off the Springy May Paris sketch letters yesterday. Hooray!

BIG MERCI PBers for all your kind thoughts and comments!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Paris Assignment - 10 years later


10 years ago I started Parisbreakfast.com on a dare and a prayer.
My first blog post ever was on April 20, 2006.
I'd just returned from a trip to Paris.
My assignment: eat a lot of Paris breakfasts (petit dejeuners).
Then paint them. So many breakfasts. So many watercolors of those breakfasts. The blog became my raison d'etre for many more watercolors and many more wonderful trips to Paris.
If you had told me back then I'd be living in Paris I would have laughed myself silly.
And living on the Ile Saint Louis no less.
Even better, just around the corner from ice cream parlor, Berthillon salon de The.
With my darling Parisian pal, Bear, the best Paris expert in the world.
Bear and I are racing to get out our May Paris map and Sketch letters before we take off for the Luberon near Avignon end of next week.
Wouldn't you know the latest PB letter art requires a lot of GREEN too! Ha. By the way my computer was in repair Tuesday so now I can enfin correct the link to Vivian's Garden book.
If you had told me when I started Parisbreakfast, April 20, 2006 and 2251 posts ago, I would be mailing out thousands of illustrated letters and maps from Paris, I would have been ROTFLOL big time! I guess you could say I'm celebrating between mixing up pots of green paint.
You never know do you?
Life can be one big fabulous adventure if you let it.
THANK YOU PBers for being there.
And for all your support!!
xxx Carolg et BEAR

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gardens of awe - Jardins d'Orient - Institute du Monde Arabe

I was told to avoid greens like the plague. One of the hardest colors to paint with. Brave soul, Vivian Swift has filled her new garden book only with greens.
Gardens of Awe and Folly focuses on 9 gardens worldwide including Long Island.
I never visited Square du Vert-Galant featured in Vivian's book till today. It's hidden on the very tip of the isle de Cité in the middle of the Seine.
You can get there via Metro 9 Pont Neuf. You can also catch the Bateaux Vedettes du Pont Neuf  there and cruise up and down the Seine. A must-do at least once in your life. Check.
I brought along Vivian's book.
In New York they would call this quiet corner garden a 'pocket park'. Paris has at least 600+ parks and I have the app to prove it, PARK LIFE. Every new Paris mayor feels duty-bound to create more parks. Jacques Chirac took old forgotten parks, refurbished them and renamed them, like my favorite, Square Marie Trintignant. Past Mayor Delanoë created 79 acres of new green spaces. We can thank current mayor Anne Hidaldo for removing the wretched 'love locks' on Paris bridges which may be equal to creating 100 new parks for the peace of mind it gives us.
Speaking of peace of mind, this morning I read in the NYTimes, 'How walking in nature changes the brain'. "A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health...etc., etc." If you can't get out to stroll in nature in L.I., Rio, Edinburgh, London, Key West etc. try Vivian's Garden book. It should have almost the same effect.
Today is the first day of Institute du Monde Arabe's spectacular new exhibit (both indoors and out).
JARDINS D'ORIENT de l'Alambra au Taj Mahal will be the hot ticket this summer in my opinion. If you're a mad gardener head here, not the Louvre. Even if you're not a garden nut, you'll be endlessly delighted.
The two floor indoor exhibit are infused with bird song
Plus bird designs incorporated into rugs, fabrics, Persian and Indian miniatures.
The background sound of trickling water fountains will give the little brain cells a nice rest too.
'Oriental gardens have rigorously straight and geometric lines
Shaped by water - the canals that convey the water and the large basins that serve as reservoirs.
The tradition dates back to Achaemenian Persia (c.600-530 BCE)'.
'Water is the core element in an Oriental garden...water is allowed to flow naturally and quietly; the trickling water enhances the garden's relaxed atmosphere'. I feel relaxed already just reading that.
'Certain plants are emblematic of Oriental gardens: citrus, cypress, vines, roses...a garden must stimulate all the senses'. I'm quoting from excellent wall plaques, happily in English plus French. Hooray. And they are NOT placed at toe-level so you don't have to squat to read them (like at some French fashion exhibits...Grrrr).
Shall we venture outside to the real gardens? The bookstore on the ground level has perfect Oriental gifts if you're so inclined.
Fabulous gardens outside were designed by Michel Péna, somewhat like a flat desert environment.
I recommend getting a light lunch available at the kiosk
Relax, stretch back in lounge chairs provided. "Luxe, calm, volupte" Only a roaming peacock is missing.
Here's a peek at a hidden garden (18th c) behind my house. Private garden tours actually come in to see this. And here's a green no one can object to: pistachio ice cream I ate in the JARDINS D'ORIENTS garden.