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.
Do pack the camera and a sketchbook because this square is also the perfect spot to mull over art’s function in urban street planning, day and night. The Art Nouveau street furniture blends so well with the trees that the eye can’t always separate the organic from the man-made. Power dressing right on point, the city’s attention to harmonious detail and its resulting beauty never, ever fail to re-energize my spirits.
Now, let’s commandeer one of the coveted benches. Scoot on over!
On the left
You’ll see Pablo Picasso’s former digs. Named “le Bateau-Lavoir” because of its resemblance to one of the laundry barges on the Seine, this former piano factory was converted into artist studios around 1880. Rent was just fifteen francs, noise and chaos abounded, and newspapers served as table linens. From 1904 to 1909, Picasso shared a tiny room with artist Fernande Olivier, three dogs, and one mouse.
It was here that Picasso also met Georges Braque, who was living on the other side of the hill. “Notre pard,” Picasso took to calling the six-foot boxer, race car driver and dancer, a phrase he pinched from “Les Histoires de Buffalo Bill.” A tight bond was formed, and Cubism took flight. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon—considered by many art historians to be the first modern painting—was painted here.
Tip: Where did Picasso and Fernande shop for their secondhand duds? At the nearby Halle Saint-Pierre, that’s where. Located in Montmartre’s fabric district, the former 19th-century market is now an art museum, similar in spirit to Switzerland’s Collection de l’Art Brut and Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum. Featuring works by self-taught and outsider artists, art lines the walls in the café, too.
Sample HSP’s house red and the homemade quiche and gaze up through the big windows at Sacre Coeur to your heart’s desire.
Now, on the right
Meanwhile, back on the bench at Émile-Goudeau, your eye will spy one of the Wallace fountains, rocking a monochromic emerald green with high waist detail and a slit at the knee. In Paris, there are 108 such “fontaines Wallace” and three functional “puits artésien” (artesian wells). The largest model, nicknamed the “Brasserie des quatre femmes” (brewery of the four women), sports four caryatides, each symbolizing kindness, simplicity, charity, and sobriety.
Shape of water: The Wallace fountains were named after the British philanthropist and art collector Sir Richard Wallace, who generously financed the installation of the first 50 fountains throughout Paris after the Franco-Prussian War left the city with almost no clean drinking water. Designed by Charles Auguste Lebourg, these cast iron fountains in four versions remain celebrated darlings of the Paris streetscape.
Tip: Thirsty? Don’t fret. You’ll find the Wallace fountains in various sizes located in all the city’s busiest parks, squares and at intersections in each arrondissement. The water is free for the sipping; all you need is an empty cup or bottle. Most grocery stores stock these, along with other sightseeing supplies: contact solution, eye-drops, bandages, Ibuprofen, and the almighty important sunscreen.
Just do it. Because as famed Francophile Benjamin Franklin once put it, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water, my friend!”
Happy Spring! Stay hydrated!
(Instagram fanatic? Please leave a link below. Here’s where to find more of my Paris pics: @theadorabrack)
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.
By Princess Theadora
Bonjour! Bonne Année!
Rocking a New Me for the New Year—this week, I’m taking you to the 70th anniversary Christian Dior exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. That’s right, we’re going slink along the icy Mink Mile (faux, please) in the breath-taking Queen City. So grab my pearl-studded mitten. Grab your girdle, too!
Curated by Dr. Alexandra Palmer, the show shines a bright spotlight on 38 wasp-waisted wonders, advertisements, sketches, and photographs, along with endless catwalk clips from Paris and Toronto fashion shows. After a few spins around the rebelliously boned and flared showstoppers, I could hardly breathe from excitement.
“Give me your A, H, and Y-shaped silhouettes, Monsieur Dior! Tulip, too! Bring it!” I squeaked, suddenly feeling the polyester seams in my own nipped-waist blazer by Zara working overtime.
The mind reels! Whilst imagining the logistics of the tight maneuvering, rib-popping squeeze into one of the vintage Christian Dior numbers, then and there I pledged to self never, ever to feast on another half-dozen cookies, or at least not in one sitting. But luckily for all the bakers in world, my one-hour resolution was just a passing fancy. #Gottobeme (more…)
By Theadora “La Salle” Brack
Ernest Hemingway once said, “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.”
But that goes double for traveling by foot, especially at my favorite sacred stomping ground, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont—the hilliest, and perhaps most weirdly “scenic” park in Paris.
This week, I’d like to take you along for the excursion, so grab my hand. Let’s take a restorative, explorative stroll, shall we? Donning head-to-toe faux fur, get ready to channel your inner-surrealist.
It’s time to rumble!
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Designed in 1867 by Emperor Napoleon III, engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, and horticulturist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, this floral showstopper with its mountain-village vibe opened with razzle-dazzle during the launch of the Paris Universal Exposition.
This park has everything: As we make our way along its narrow winding paths, prepare to be bug-eyed at sights ranging from caverns complete with waterfalls and faux stalactites, to a lake fashioned from a former gypsum quarry surrounding a craggy island topped with a neo-Roman temple, reached by a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel himself. (more…)
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By Theadora “Dancing Queen” Brack
Whenever my mood is in need of a reboot or an overhaul, I hoof it on over to Dalida. Because energy flows where obsession goes, my tête-à-tête with the high-spirited pop idol extraordinaire does the trick each and every time—especially during the fall season. With the trees boasting 24-karat autumnal hues, the blues completely vanish.
This week, I’ll take you along with me on this restorative glide. ’Tis the season!
Hello guys! I’m Victorine-Louise Meurent: Artist. Model. Musician. Singer. Tutor. Paris Lifestyle Blogger. Welcome back to my back-to-the-future sartorial site, dear fellow time trekkers.
This week, I’d like to share my recent clothing haul from Zara at the Passage du Havre, kitty corner from the Gare Saint-Lazare. Actually, there are now four Zara shops in the Opéra ’hood, ideal for shop-hopping. Some call it crazy luck. I call it heaven. Seriously, this is how this busy “V to the L-O” gets it done during the big summer sales.
By Theadora “Twinkle Toes” Brack
Embracing restorative #summertimegoals, let’s revel in some retro merrymaking, shall we? For the occasion, we’ll hoof on over to the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre. Up my sleeve, I’ve got some new postcards, illustrations, and scrapbook clippings, along with a swell cinema-related tale about the venerable dance hall.
But first, let’s also salute the recent World Theatre Day! Created in 1961, writer Jean Cocteau wrote the International Theatre Institute’s first message: “Nations, thanks to these World Theatre Days, will at last become aware of each other’s treasures, and will work together in the high enterprise of peace.”
I completely agree. It’s what the world still needs.
Now, let’s do an old school prance back in time. Step by step, I’m with you. (more…)
This just in, from the streets of Paris.
Cats have ousted dogs in the affections of French women.
Whereas, in the past it was considered fashionable for your typical Parisienne to promenade the boulevards with a little dog sporting a neat, tight-fitting coat, today this same Parisienne is often out with her cat of priceless value.
But cats do not wear coats. They wear specifically-fitted and made hats.
Below the Sacré Coeur, up at Montmartre, there lives a hatter. In his shop window, he has an exhibition of the tiniest hats ever seen in France. (more…)
By Theadora Brack
Paris is no longer Paris? Au contraire! The City of Light is still a special place, a very human place, and a place for the whole world to cherish. And as this world turns, I think yes, the city changes a little—but then again, it always has. After all, that’s what made it what it is today.
So in celebration of international friendships and robust innovation, let’s ride the escalators up to the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette. Located on Boulevard Haussmann, here my inner-lion never, ever fails to roar after a soda pop and some tête-à-tête action with WWI pilot, Jules Védrines.
Grab your goggles and tweed knickerbockers, and follow me. I’ve got a story to tell. (more…)
By Theadora Brack
Lend me your whiskers and pointy ears.
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 at the age of nine on the family television set, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques. There. Full fur confession.
Set in Paris, the cartoon flick was a life changer. Not only did I yearn 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 purr again and again at my reflection in the mirror, channeling my inner-Duchess.
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. Kitty was coming home with me. (more…)