Paris Tips: Paradise Found

LE TRAIN BLEU COCKTAIL WITH NAPOLEON’S FAVORITE CAMP STAPLE: COURVOISIER (Photographs by Theadora Brack)

Pass the new-fangled Ambre Solaire, 1935 (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

This week, as a teary adieu to Mad Men, let’s catch some bliss and sunrays. On gossamer wings, follow me to the terrace at the Musée d’Art Moderne, located on the eastern arm of the Palais de Tokyo. Built for the 1937 Exposition Internationale, here is one of my favorite havens in Paris. The wine is affordable, while the view of the Eiffel Tower breaks hearts faster than Don Draper.

On the terrace, you’ll also find voluptuous nymphs chill-axing by the poolside. Wearing nothing but sheer confidence and stylish do’s, don’t hate them because they’re still beautiful. According to master coiffeur Acacio Pezzutti da Silva, our mod squad is sporting the softer 1930s rolled-up version of the bobbed hairdo, originally fashioned by Antoine de Paris in 1909.

Never underestimate the power of a flattering hairdo. Perhaps this explains the strength they exude?

As my grandmother Helen used to say, “If you look like a million bucks, you’ll feel like a million bucks.” I couldn’t agree more.

Trekking to Paris?

Don’t leave the city without indulging in a beverage (or two) on a café terrace. Sure, your drinks may cost a little more than in a grocery store, but the upside is that you’ll have courtside seats for people-watching, and you can stay as long as you like. So don’t forget to pack your sketchbook or selfie stick! (more…)

New York: A Shopping Spree

A Pretzel Break at  Bergdorf Goodman and the Grand Army Plaza (Photographs by Theadora Brack)

A Pretzel Break at Bergdorf Goodman and the Grand Army Plaza (Photographs by Theadora Brack)

An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant (Image: Movieposterdb)

An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant (Image: Movieposterdb)

By Theadora Brack

Start spreading the news! Grab your glad rags and shopping bags. This week, we’re trekking to New York, New York for some springtime faire du lèche-vitrine.

Whilst day tripping, time is precious. However, it’s possible to visit most of my favorite centuries-old department stores in one day. I’ll also throw in a few cinematic tidbits. I’ve been walking Fifth Avenue since the age of eight. I’m still cuckoo for it.

Here’s how Anaïs Nin described New York City to Henry Miller: “I love the proportions, the amplitude, the brilliance, the polish, the solidity. I look up at Radio City insolently and love it. The newness. The vitality. Just bring your own contents, and you create a sparkle at the highest power!”

All aboard? Let’s glow.

Miracle on 34th Street

We’ll kick-off our jaunt outside Macy’s at Herald Square. Commandeer a few chairs, while I trap the still almighty hot-to-the-touch salted pretzels.

After we’ve admired the vitrines and massive pots of tulips, we’ll gaze up at the nearby Empire State Building, the closest thing to heaven in this city. It’s still true. However, before crossing, do look both ways or else you, too, will have a star-crossed Affair to Remember! Besides, Cary Grant left the building years ago. (more…)

Springtime in Paris: Rise and Shine!

Get to Packing! We've got places to go and people to see! (Images: T. Brack's archives)

Get to Packing! We’ve got places to go and people to see! (TWA Press Shot, 1958 Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Full Steam Ahead! (TWA, 1958 mage: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Calling all Guys and Dolls: Get ready to step out, and I don’t mean maybe. Start packing! Springtime has arrived, making it easy, breezy to tour, explore, and adore. This season we’ll not only brave New York’s concrete canyons to take a bite out of the Big Apple’s vitrines, but we’ll also waltz back in time to the Eternal City of Rome with one of my favorite photographers.

And that’s not all. In the weeks ahead we’ve also lined up a rendezvous at a centuries-old Parisian fashion house. So there’s no need to pack your ball gown yet. I’ve got you covered, Cendrillon! O, sigh do sew! Pinch yourself. That’s how we roll.

Today, though, let’s rise to the occasion at Le Grenier à Pain in Montmartre. Hook, line, and teeth sinker! Here is where I buy most of my baguettes and jambon-fromage sandwiches. Consistency, attentive service, and a wild house selection of cakes, breads, and tarts are just a few of the Grenier boulangerie’s captivating qualities.

Flour Power

Add award-winning to the mix, too. Back in 2010, Boulanger Djibril Bodian won the 2010 “Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris” which not only earned him a medal and cash but also earned him the honor of baking bread for the Palais de l’Elysées for one year! America’s own White House pales in comparison! (more…)

Paris: A Sentimental Journey

A Lovin’ Spoonful by Chocolatier Daniel Mercier at the Lyric Hotel on rue de Gramont (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Lieut. Joseph E. Trounstine Published in 1918 by Leo. Feist

By Lieut. Joseph E. Trounstine Published in 1918 by Leo. Feist

By Theadora Brack

Fully embracing World Book Day and the bittersweet “gallop of remembrance,” this week I’m sharing my growing stash of patriotic sheet music. I’ll also include an excerpt from one of my favorite love letters, by poet and founding surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire to Madeleine Pagès, written in 1915 while he was enlisted with the 38th Regiment of Field Artillery.

Setting the Scene: Living with Gusto

Madeleine Pagès was his muse. A cartridge casing served as his inkwell.

While serving in uniform in Champagne in the Premier Guerre Mondial, Apollinaire showered both his sweethearts and fellow artists with daily dispatches from the front: “Polishing galore, theory more than galore, maneuvers on foot, sabre, musket, revolver, horse management, riding, gymnastics, and a reasoned, practical and thorough study of the 75, which is a beautiful weapon, as beautiful, strong and sweet, I think, as one of my poems.”

Oh, say can you see?

Often by moonlight the prolific poet penned his calligrammes and signature “fireworks in steel.” Way ahead of the Dada hairpin curve, Apollinaire’s sensuous, erotically charged poèmes simultanés are still almighty hot to the touch, just bursting with joyous desire. I am in awe of his composure to compose his burning lines of verse while under actual fire, again and again. (more…)

Paris Valentine: 50 Shades of Sepia

Un baiser c'estcomme un poème! (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Un baiser c’est comme un poème! (French sweetheart postcards below: Theadora Brack’s archives)

C'est lui parler pour un instant (Image: T. Brack's archives)

C’est lui parler pour un instant (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

In celebration of Saint-Valentine’s Day, next week I plan to share my all-time favorite love letter by poet and founding surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire to Madeleine Pagès, written in 1915 while he was enlisted in the French army’s 38th Regiment of Field Artillery during the Great War.

Apollinaire’s prose is pretty darn steamy. You are in for a treat, in fifty shades of glorious sepia.

In the meantime, let’s salute to love with our annual toast. And yes, let’s share another sweet-and-sour Sidecar!

Repeating myself: Invented at the Ritz during the aforementioned Great War by head barman Frank Meier (and author of the “Artistry of Mixing Drinks”—Harry’s New York Bar devotees, look away!), you go and grab the cognac and Cointreau while I squeeze the lemon and crack the ice. You know the thrill!

But especially on this special day of the year, let’s not forget Frank Meier’s neat credo about what makes a great bar truly great. It’s not the drink recipes, and it’s not the décor. It’s the people. So spread the warmth. Straight up! I say, like there’s no tomorrow.

Until next week!

My love I am sending you a butterfly’s wing that I found today.

Butterflies have beautiful names but I don’t know them, beautiful mythological names.

May the autumnal hues of this wing suggest to you the even more delicate shades of love.

—Guillaume Apollinaire to Madeleine, October 1915 (more…)

Paris: Voyages Extraordinaires

La Grande Roue at Place de la Concorde will keep on turning until February 15, 2015 (Photographs by Theadora Brack)

La Grande Roue at Place de la Concorde will keep on turning until February 15, 2015 (Photo by T. Brack)

Gloria Swanson was a shopper (Madame Sans-Gêne, Paris, 1924)

Gloria Swanson Shopped Around (Madame Sans-Gêne, Paris, 1924)

By Theadora Brack

Trekking to Paris in February 2015? This post is for you. I’ve got three tips up my zigzag sweater sleeve. So grab a pencil and the Dubonnet, while I crank up the ice machine and Érik Satie. Now, Voyager! It’s high time to sail thou forth, to squeak and shine.

1. Big Winter Sales

Got passion for fashion? Cuckoo for a steal? I hear you, loud and sincere, my moon glow. The “Soldes d’hiver 2015” (big winter sales) launched on Wednesday, January 7, and will continue through Tuesday, February 10.

Repeating myself: Prices start to drop and keep on dropping, so it’s a judgment call whether to pounce early and get the best selection, or wait it out a little and get the best deals. Again, to be perfectly honest, I do both.

Also, avoid the masses at the grand magasins by shopping during the weekday mornings. However, if browsing cheek by jowl with the Longchamp-toting crowd is your scene, well then, go with the flow. Giddy-up, I say!

Tip: Planning to shop at Galeries Lafayette? If so, do ask for one of their “Exceptional 10% Discount” cards. Present your passport at the information desk, located on the ground floor store near the rue Mogador entrance, and then get to bargain tag popping. (Printemps has a new V.I.P program. I’ll keep you posted.) (more…)

Paris, France: Grief

BRACK Grief

Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris (Photograph by Theadora Brack)

Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris

 

 

 

Paris: Up, Up and Away with the Angels

Up, Up and Away in Paris! View of the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop at Printemps (Photos by Theadora Brack)

Up, Up and Away in Paris! View of the Eiffel Tower from the rooftop at Printemps (Photos by Theadora Brack)

Feeling Groovy among the plants (Elle 1956, T. Brack's archives)

Feeling Groovy among the plants (Elle 1956, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

“Yoo-hoo!” as my Aunt Doris liked to say. Trekking to Paris during the months of December or January? Mad about shopping sprees? This post is for you. ’Tis the season to be jolie, so grab your tasseled handbags and batons. Let’s go conduct some retail business.

Here are a few dates to keep in mind while planning your jaunt to the City of Light. The “Soldes d’hiver 2015” (big winter sales) will launch on Wednesday, January 7, and continue through Tuesday, February 10. Prices start to drop and keep on dropping, so it’s a judgment call as to whether to start early and get the best selection, or go later on and get the best deals. To be perfectly honest, I do both!

That’s not all, Folks: The grand magasins typically launch their “Vitrines de Noël” (holiday window displays) during the month of November. It’s always quite a show. Heads-up: Stay tuned for the report with beaucoup photographs. I always snap the night away.

Lumière! Moteur! Action!

In the meantime, let’s trip the flashback fantastique into another recent window-shopping dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of the mind. That’s right. In celebration of the promised return of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” television program in 2016, let’s get a little surreal with a “damn fine cup of coffee” and a little roll along Boulevard Haussmann, shall we? Hang on to your hats. (more…)

Weird Paris: Saints and Sinners

Whilst traipsing through the Jardin des Tuileries, watch-out for “Le Petit Homme Rouge” ("Spring" by sculptor François Barois, Photographs by Theadora Brack)

Whilst traipsing through the Jardin des Tuileries, watch-out for “Le Petit Homme Rouge” (“Pomona” by François Barois, Photographs by Theadora Brack)

Now, let’s go raise some spirits! (La Nuit, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Calling all saints and sinners: Snuggle tight because it is time to crack open my slim, spellbound volume of spirited adventures in Paris for another retelling. For tricks, I’ve added a few new tales and photographs. I’ve also got the flashlights, pillows, and blankets, along with the marshmallows and bubbly for toasting. Here are eleven of my favorite spooky grounds.

Now, let’s go raise some spirits!

1. The Unknown Celebrity of the Seine

Among the artsy clutter that once adorned nearly every artist’s lair was a plaster face with a mysterious smile. These were cast from a famous death mask called “L’inconnue de la Seine,” made from an unknown 16-year-old who washed up on the banks of the river in the 1880s with an eerily pleasant expression on her corpse.

Copies quickly became popular fixtures in artists’ studios and salons as well as the inspiration for numerous literary works. Camus called her the “drowned Mona Lisa,” and Nabokov celebrated her in his poetry.

In the 1960s, the nameless girl’s visage was resurrected once again as the face of “Resusci Anne,” the rubber CPR training dummy. Because of this, hers is sometimes called “the most-kissed face of all time.” Consider tossing a flower in the water for her as you stroll along the Seine. (more…)

Paris + Running = Bliss

À vos marques, prêts, partez ! The Start of La Parisienne at the Eiffel Tower (Photograph by Roger Manley)

À vos marques, prêts, partez ! The Start of La Parisienne at the Eiffel Tower (Photograph by Roger Manley)

Swanky Ensembles by Jacques Esterel for the French athletes at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Swanky Ensembles by Jacques Esterel for the French athletes at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Jet setting to Paris? Cuckoo for running? Well then, why not just go with the flow, pack the shoes, and compete in one of the city’s grande classiques?

Here’s the squeal: Racing in France is thrilling. The excitement is palpable, even before the gun sounds. Every race is different and half the fun is getting into the groove of the course du jour. Plus, I can’t think of a finer way to hobnob with Paris’s past and present, than by charging cheek by jowl with the compression-clad, while dashing past the bright sights of the city. Gushing all Proustian: It does the trick every time.

As Papa Hem once preached: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus, you remember them as they actually are.”

That goes double for traveling by foot. In fact, I am training for a few upcoming races. So tighten your laces. Here are a few of my favorite races in France. Bygone it, Atalanta—Ready! Set! Bolt! (more…)

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