Paris Tales: Swinging with the Kitties in the City

In celebration of the upcoming international Pet Travel Safety Day, let’s spend it with a few of my own favorite felines in the Paris, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

In celebration of the upcoming international Pet Travel Safety Day, let’s spend it with a few of my own favorite felines in the Paris, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Flying sky high on a lark, I knock. Grab a perch because I’ve got a feathered tale to tell. A great ball of yarn to re-wind, so to squeak. Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie on the family television set at the age of nine, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques. There. I have said it.

Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques (Image: Moviestillsdb.com)

Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques (Image: Moviestillsdb.com)

Set in Paris

A story I tell often, frankly. That cartoon flick was a game changer. Not only did it leave me yearning to be the rhinestone-laden Parisian glamour puss (a.k.a., “Duchess”), but I also fancied running away with her swashbuckling, orange tabby beau, the flamboyant prince of the boulevard, “Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley—O’Malley, the alley cat.”

Oh, c’est très jolie, monsieur Thomas,” I’d murmur again and again at my own reflection in the mirror, channeling my inner-Duchess.

She's a bird watcher: Le Fabuleux Destin de “Kitty” (Photo by Theadora Brack)

She’s a bird watcher: Le Fabuleux Destin de “Kitty” (Photo by Theadora Brack)

And now, I see cats

I see cats in Paris. All the time. Where? Where? They’re everywhere. Heck, once during a winter tempest, I rescued a teeny, tiny tortoiseshell cat found trembling on the wet cobblestones outside the Grand Hotel de Clermont, just a fur ball’s throw from where Édith Piaf made one of her legendary busking debuts in Pigalle. She’s still with me now, in fact.

Anaïs Nin once wrote, “What I cannot love, I overlook,” but I’d push it a little further and say that what I do love, I can’t help but notice. Getting reflective, “Bonjour, dame de chat,” is what I now say to my handheld mirror. With a decade-old Kitty still on my lap, and still purring in French, of course.

Market Mouser finding her center in the center of the red pepper bin (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Market Mouser finding her center in the center of the red pepper bin (Photo by Theadora Brack)

All alone in the moonlight

So in celebration of the upcoming international Pet Travel Safety Day on the 2nd of January 2020, let’s spend it with a few of my own favorite felines in the city. Gifting all with grab-the-phone moments as they work their magic on our hearts, mine eye has seen their glory. When out pounding the pavement, strutting the streets, or slinking down the alleyways, keep your own eyes wide open for cat sightings. After all, cats are practically a part of the landscape in Paris.

As poet Jean Cocteau once wrote, “I love cats because I enjoy my City, and little by little, they become its visible soul.”

Star Struck: Lana the Grumpy Cat on her first stroll through Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Star Struck: Lana the Grumpy Cat on her first stroll through Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Looking for more cat inspiration?

Well then, treat yourself to a visit with Lana the Grumpy Cat. Based in Paris, the glamour puss was recently given a starring role in a Roger Vivier commercial, shot by Anthony Seklaoui. Dripping in shiny new confections by Gherardo Felloni, our purring pal held her own next to model Sophia Hadjipanteli, not only effortlessly hitting her marks, but also stealing the scene. I’m not at all surprised.

How did Lana prepare for the coveted role?

“Oh, it’s a natural thing for me, no need for preparation!” Lana recently shared with me.

I completely concur, and with a contented purr.

Living her best life: Based in Paris, glamour puss Lana was recently given a starring role in a Roger Vivier commercial (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Living her best life: Based in Paris, glamour puss Lana was recently given a starring role in a Roger Vivier commercial (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Want to be Fan or Stan of Lana?

Follow Lana’s adventures: @grumpy.lana. Now, if you’re sharing your photographs on Instagram, please leave a link below. Always keeping my peepers peeled for gorgeous inspiration, I’d love to visit.

Here’s where to find more of my Paris pics: @theadorabrack

Happy Holidays! And Happy Tails to you! 

No big surprise: My childhood bedroom was plastered with Théophile Steinlen posters, Lait Pur de la Vingeanne Stérilisé 1894, Souvenir Shop, Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

No big surprise: My childhood bedroom was plastered with Théophile Steinlen posters, Lait Pur de la Vingeanne Stérilisé 1894, Souvenir Shop, Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Whenever I need to briefly escape the hassles of the world, I seek out the gentle caretakers of the Cimetière de Montmartre, les chats (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Whenever I need to briefly escape the hassles of the world, I seek out the gentle caretakers of the Cimetière de Montmartre, les chats (Photo by Theadora Brack)

The sleek poise and expressive eye contact of the cemetery’s clowder never, ever fails to raise my spirits or touch my heart, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

The sleek poise and expressive eye contact of the cemetery’s clowder never, ever fails to raise my spirits or touch my heart, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

There is something hopeful about seeing their contagious contentedness in this place of death that makes them all the more glorious to watch, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

There is something hopeful about seeing their contagious contentedness in this place of death that makes them all the more glorious to watch, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

#TBT (Throwback Tabby): Recognize the kitten? Here’s a shot of the same cat above in 2017. Yes, she’s always up for some Fancy Feast, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

#TBT (Throwback Tabby): Recognize the kitten? Here’s a shot of the same cat above in 2017. Yes, she’s always up for some Fancy Feast, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Hear me soar: Levitating cat by Henry Blache, @saxartwork, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Hear me soar: Levitating cat by Henry Blache, @saxartwork, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

What’s new pussycat? Favorite greeter at the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

What’s new pussycat? Favorite greeter at the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Like a ray of sun: I can see your halo kitty, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Like a ray of sun: I can see your halo kitty, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Jane Goodall may have her chimpanzees, but I’ve got my cats at the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Jane Goodall may have her chimpanzees, but I’ve got my cats at the Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

La Tournée du Chat Noir by Théophile Steinlen, 1896, Souvenir Shop, Montmartre-Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

La Tournée du Chat Noir by Théophile Steinlen, 1896, Souvenir Shop, Montmartre-Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Did you know that Steinlen rescued and adopted many feline muses from the Montmartre cemeteries? (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Did you know that Steinlen rescued and adopted many feline muses from the Montmartre cemeteries? (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Steinlen’s Chat Noir and the cats of Paris still inspire art, Street art by Liselee, @liselee_art, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Steinlen’s Chat Noir and the cats of Paris still inspire art, Street art by Liselee, @liselee_art, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

What I do love, I can’t help but notice: The autumn leaves of red and gold—and cats, of course, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

What I do love, I can’t help but notice: The autumn leaves of red and gold—and cats, of course, Cimetière de Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Ground Control to Major Kitty: Cat-Related Street Art is still having a moment in Paris, Space Tabby by @_kvich, Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Ground Control to Major Kitty: Cat-Related Street Art is still having a moment in Paris, Space Tabby by @_kvich, Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Writer and cat whisperer Théophile Gautier wrote: Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Writer and cat whisperer Théophile Gautier wrote: Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Dear @saxartwork, Thanks for the reminder to stretch and live in the moment, Chilled Cat by @saxartwork, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Dear @saxartwork, Thanks for the reminder to stretch and live in the moment, Chilled Cat by @saxartwork, Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

How much is that mouser in the purple window? (Photo by Theadora Brack)

How much is that mouser in the purple window? (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Happy Holidays! Happy Tales to You! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Happy Holidays! And Happy Tails to You! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Marie-Claire Magazine, 1937 (T. Brack's collection)

Marie-Claire Magazine, 1937 (T. Brack’s collection)

 

Paris: Seeking Light and Fashion on the Boulevards

Dispatch from the K-Collection show: I spotted gift bags filled with K-beauty facial masks, crystal manicures, blue tresses, and irresistible bejeweled felt caps at the Palais Brongniart, historical home of the Paris stock exchange. (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Dispatch from the K-Collection show: I spotted gift bags filled with K-beauty facial masks, crystal manicures, blue tresses, and irresistible bejeweled felt caps at the Palais Brongniart, historical home of the Paris stock exchange.

By Theadora Brack

One recent blue-skied day during Paris Fashion Week, I got to sit on the front row at the K-Collection show at the Palais Brongniart, historical home of the Paris stock exchange. Here, behind the massive columns surrounding the entrance, three Korean fashion houses presented their Spring-Summer 2020 collections: J. Chung by Jaesun Chung, Wnderkammer by Hyeyoung Shin, and Bmuet(the) by Byungmun Seo and Jina Um.

Mesmerized by the meshing of old and new: edgy mod and frilly prairie, I spied wild kinetic fringe, ruffled multi-tiered skirts and tops, and cheese-patterned frocks. Baguettes in bags, too.

Now, on the K-Collection catwalk, I saw asymmetrical hems, frilly mock turtlenecks, long flowing, souped-up sleeves, ruffled multi-tiered skirts and tops, and cheese-patterned frocks. Baguettes in bags, too! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Now, on the K-Collection catwalk, I saw asymmetrical hems, frilly mock turtlenecks, long flowing, souped-up sleeves, ruffled multi-tiered skirts and tops, and cheese-patterned frocks. Baguettes in bags, too! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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Paris Tip: Embrace the Rain

The weather in Paris can change at the drop of a Schiaparelli hat, so pack your camera and parapluie, Pont Alexandre III, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

The weather in Paris can change at the drop of a Schiaparelli hat, so pack your camera and parapluie, Pont Alexandre III, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Ahoy! Calling all Instagram Aficionados: This summertime grid tip is for you. Decked out in fifty shades of pearly grey, the Pont Alexandre III is the perfect backdrop for your photo-op. Rolling across the bridge has never failed to break this siren’s heart.

Designed by architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin, Pont Alexandre III was one of the showstoppers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle—along with other new-fangled marvels like talkie movies, escalators, and mechanical sidewalks.

A picture perfect opportunity still, here the dramatic cloud cover high in the sky is your friend, so why not shake up the scene with a red trench coat or blue parapluie?

Favorite Nymph of the Seine by Georges Récipon, Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Nymph of the Seine by Georges Récipon, Pont Alexandre III (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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Paris Flea Market Guide: Off to the Puces!

Throughout the year, the City of de-Light stays retro-active with weekend flea markets and pop-up bazaars (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Throughout the year, the City of de-Light stays retro-active with weekend flea markets and pop-up bazaars (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Bewitched by kitsch? Join the rave. Throughout the year, the City of Light stays retro active with weekend flea markets, along with open-air and tented pop-up bazaars. With so many venues, where to start? Here’s a Paris treasure hunt guide.

Meet the fleas: The infamous rag and bone pickers (forerunners of today’s dumpster divers) got the puces party jumping in the late 19th century. Two favorites still exist: Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves and Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (a.k.a. Clignancourt).

At Porte de Vanves, you’ll find everything from key chains, perfume bottles, bolts of fabric, fancy fans, and heartthrob Elvis, too—oh, sigh! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

At Porte de Vanves, you’ll find everything from key chains, perfume bottles, bolts of fabric, fancy fans, and heartthrob Elvis, too—oh, sigh! (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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Paris: To Notre-Dame with Love

Paying tribute to Notre-Dame (Photo by Theadora Brack, River Boat Ride, March 2019)

Paying tribute to Notre-Dame (Photo by Theadora Brack, River Boat Ride, March 2019)

By Theadora Brack

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s 18th century Grand Organ was rescued—with all of its 8,000 pipes still intact, we think. “None of the pipes have appeared to collapsed,” organ builder Bertrand Cattiaux told The New York Times. “We can just cross our fingers and wait.”

The bell towers were also saved. I’m still waiting for an update on my bells.
Did you know they have names?

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ and bell towers were saved (Photo by Theadora Brack, March 2019)

Thanks to the courageous firefighters and emergency workers, Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ and bell towers were saved (Photo by Theadora Brack, March 2019)

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France: Two Tales of Tenacity

Celebrating two heroes: Louise Weiss and Marie Marvingt ((Photo by T. Brack), Girl Power Graffiti by @_kvich, Montmartre)

Celebrating two heroes: Louise Weiss and Marie Marvingt ((Photo by T. Brack), Girl Power Graffiti by @_kvich, Montmartre)

Let’s pedal push it up to Montmartre—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Let’s pedal push it up to Montmartre—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground (Image: Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

By Theadora Brack

This week, I’d like to introduce you to one of my heroes: suffragette and writer Louise Weiss.

So grab your bicycle and helmet, and let’s get to pedal pushing up the Montmartre slopes to Abbesses—Louise’s old “fight for the right to vote” stomping ground. It’s time to pay homage.

Traffic is heavy, but don’t fret yet. The autumn sun is still on our side of the rue.

As we round the butte, we spot the spot, close by Vincent Van Gogh’s former digs (at 54 rue Lepic). At the school just around the corner is where publicity maven Louise instigated one of her famously stormy powder puff battles.

Let’s prop our bikes up against the lamppost, and try to imagine the scene. (more…)

A Regal Run: Loping Through The Luxembourg

Let's re-charge the soul and soles with writer George Sand at the Jardin du Luxembourg (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s re-charge the soul and soles with writer George Sand at the Jardin du Luxembourg (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Fall Inspo: Why not rock the vote and head-to-toe grey with a splash of mustard? (Elle, 1951, T. Brack's collection)

Fall Inspo: Why not rock the vote and head-to-toe grey with a splash of mustard? (Elle, 1951, T. Brack’s collection)

By Theadora Brack

This week, for just one moment, let’s take a brief break from the news cycle and go for a jog in the park.

Personally, I can’t think of a finer way to re-charge and experience the City of Light’s past and present than kicking down the old cobblestone rues.

As writer George Sand once wrote, “Don’t jibe at the very wise advice that sentences you to one hour’s walk a day. You imagine the work of the mind takes place only in the brain; but you’re much mistaken. It takes place in the legs as well.”

I completely agree.

So grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg. Created with a Florentine twist by Queen Marie de Médici and gardening theorist Jacques Boyceau during the 17th century, it opened to the public in 1778.

Here, I’m not only able to run, but also mingle with the statues of French queens, saints, big cats, and writers. I’m hardly a martyr, or a monarch or a literary giant (yet!), but up my black Lycra sleeve I do have a few tips for a picture-perfect storybook run.

Let’s go!

Let's grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg

Let’s grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg

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Statue of Liberty: Where is the Love?

La Statue de la Liberté, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Let’s once again doff our “bachi” to my favorite Franco-American collaboration, the gigantesque statue of Lady Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in the New York harbor. Still looking fierce in her spiky nimbus (that’s right, mythically speaking, it’s not a crown) and matching floor length chiton in all its copper green tonalities.

This week, I’d also like to share four copies of my new favorite book about our iconic idol: Her Right Foot. Created by writer Dave Eggers and artist Shawn Harris in 2017, this illustrated Junior Library Guild selection revels in the history of the 151-foot-tall international shining star, from her four-foot nose down to her fast-grooving toes.

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

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Paris: Favorite Bench in the City

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Everybody’s got a favorite bench in the world. I’ve got mine, too. So this week, let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre. Here the unstoppable showstopper Dame Nature dresses to the nines—winter, spring, summer, and fall, and definitely at l’heure bleue. Slaying picture perfect moments as she works her 24-karat magic on the ancient buildings. Mine eye has seen the glory.

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L'Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L’Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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New York City: Fifth Avenue Stroll

A PICK-ME-UP: LET’S CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY WITH MY FAVORITE LIONS: FORTITUDE AND PATIENCE, SCULPTED BY EDWARD CLARK POTTER AND THE PICCIRILLI BROTHERS, 1911 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

A PICK-ME-UP: LET’S CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY WITH MY FAVORITE LIONS: FORTITUDE AND PATIENCE, SCULPTED BY EDWARD CLARK POTTER AND THE PICCIRILLI BROTHERS, 1911 (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

By Theadora “Golightly “ Brack

Celebrating Galentine’s Day, I’ve got a wonderful idea! Let’s do things we’ve never done before, starting with Champagne before breakfast. It’s in the icebox, darling! Pop open the bottle while I make a list of sights to see along Fifth Avenue. Never a thumping bore, we’ll shop hop ’til we drop. Grab your sunnies!

Don’t you just love it?

Love what? Macy’s at Herald Square, that’s what. Commandeer a few chairs, while I trap the pretzels and French fries. I’ll tell you one thing: I’m mad about this place.

After we’ve admired the vitrines, 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.

HURTLING INTO THE BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT: IT’S RAINING BEADED BAGS ON FIFTH AVENUE, SO DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNNIES, BUCKETS, AND WHEELBARROWS, TOO (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

HURTLING INTO THE BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT: IT’S RAINING BEADED BAGS ON FIFTH AVENUE, SO DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNNIES, BUCKETS, AND WHEELBARROWS, TOO (PHOTO BY THEADORA BRACK)

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