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Paris Tips: 4 Favorite Splurge-Worthy Sweet Spots

The Devil Wears Vintage Valentino (20 euros, Abbesses Brocante, Paris) Photos by Theadora Brack

Happy 150th Birthday, Ladurée!

By Theadora Brack

Feeling very much like a sweet voluptuous tart this week, I’ve decided to update my personal list of favorite splurge-worthy treats in Paris. I’ll also include a few tips, sweet spots, and flashbacks, too. So grab a spoon and a blindfold—let’s make a squeal!

Tip: You’ll find pâtisseries on practically every block in the city, so keep your head and be selective. I recommend starting your gastronomical quest with a little “window licking” (faire du lèche-vitrine) because sometimes it is possible to judge a joint by its cover—or window display. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a line snaking out the door. That’s always a good sign of the times!

Big Macaron

The ultimate instant sugar blush—but what-the-hey? “We all have sins to confess!” That’s what she said. She being Catherine de Medici, whose Italian pastry master chefs introduced the macaron to France in the 16th century, and they’ve been a dessert staple in old Parigi ever since.

Long live the queen!

Christophe Roussel’s macaron at the “I Love You” Wall

So where to go?

Since 1862, Ladurée has been donning pastels like no other. Belle Époch poster artist Jules Chéret outfitted their Saint-Germain tea salon at 21 Rue Bonaparte. Gone Baroque, putti make a dramatic fly-by, dressed as pastry chefs. Pack a hankie and comfortable shoes. The wait time in line is sometimes a full hour!

What’s New Pussycat? Every year Ladurée Chef Vincent Lemains rolls out a “flavor of the year,” along with a matching set of gift boxes.

Recently, the shop curled up with Hello Kitty and Lanvin artistic designer Alber Elbaz. According to Ladurée, Elbaz’s bubble gum-flavored macarons “not only make women beautiful but also prove that sweets and beauty can go hand in hand.” Mais oui!

Dear Sex and the City Fans, Carrie Bradshaw “ate here” during the season six finale. Also, Ladurée’s macaron pastel colors inspired the color schemes in Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” These little beauties make cameo appearances throughout the flick!

Drowning at the Gérard Mulot Pâtisserie

Palette Cleanser

On the flip side, sparky new kid on the block Gérard Mulot at 76 Rue de Seine has been pouring on the pizazz with a vibrant palette since 1975. From the get-glow, Mulot’s shops, macaroons, and gift boxes have been bursting with his trademark set of fluorescent colors. Tours of the flagship and workshop at 93 Rue Glacière are offered. Contact the shop prior to your visit.

Let’s not forget also to mention Christophe Roussel’s chocolate-dipped macarons at the Chocolats and Macarons shop at 5 rue Tardieu. Located in Montmartre, the shop’s interior is bright and trippy, rocking a psychedelic color scheme in green, purple, pink, and orange.

Here I felt a groovitational pull and—in a fit of crave—I scored macarons by the dozen. Soon I was in the 5th Dimension, embracing the sugar rush, and singing “Let the Sunshine in” as I floated up, up and away to the “I love you” wall in the square behind the entrance to Metro Abbesses. Sometimes a nod to peace, love and understanding is infectious!

Tartes and Cakes

Again, Gérard Mulot Pâtisserie tops my list. Along with their macarons, you’ll find a mind-boggling array of tartes and cakes that are gastronomical works of art. With provocative names like “Magie Noir,” “Sortilège,” “Coeur Frivole,” and “Miroir Passion,” the sculpture-like sweets will seductively lure and tempt like sirens, so pace yourself!

Top this at the Gérard Mulot Pâtisserie

After picking up your treats at Mulot, I suggest trekking to the Musée Rodin Sculpture Garden at 79, rue de Varenne. The walk should take you about 45 minutes, but with the architectural tours de force whizzing by, it will feel like fifteen.

With your Mulot sweets beside you in the Rose Garden, you’ll be able to delight your tongue while feasting your eyes on Rodin’s chocolaty bronzes and sugary marbles (a comparison that even the artist himself was aware of; he sometimes called them his “pâtisseries”). Oh, la la. You get the picture!

Tips for the road

Don’t leave Paris without tasting a tarte at Les Petits Mitrons. Located in Montmartre at 26 rue Lepic in Abbesses, the shop is just up the rue from the Moulin Rouge. You can’t beat Chef Samie Didda’s caramelized but light and fluffy bottoms! Single slices are available, too. His soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies are also to dive for, my friend. Looking for a picnic spot? The “I Love You” wall is just a hop, kiss and a jump away.

In the words of Julia Child, “Everything in moderation, including moderation!” Bon Appétit!

Le Baiser by Rodin, Snow Globe, Musée Rodin

Ladurée, Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Gérard Mulot, Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Gérard Mulot, 93 Rue Glacière

Gérard Mulot, Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Gérard Mulot, Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Gérard Mulot, Saint-Germain-des-Prés

My name is Marie Antoinette and I approve this message!

Sculptor Auguste Rodin with his assistants and “pâtisseries” (1905)

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95 thoughts on “Paris Tips: 4 Favorite Splurge-Worthy Sweet Spots

    • Thanks, Shira!! I also love the image of M.A. Great expression, eh? I found the little side plate at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market. I now collect the historical plates like baseball cards. I just scored the Sun King! T. (Say, did you make it to a Flea or Ladurée during your recent Paris jaunt?)

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      • Hi T! I am obsessed and enamoured with all thing Versailles ever since visiting…the next time we go I am planning to devote and entire day to exploring the grounds better. So many amazing stories..
        We did get to the Laduree on our first day touring around St Germain…it was wonderful!
        XO

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      • Hi Shira! I love strolling the grounds of Versailles. The gift shops are also pretty darn fabulous. Did you catch one of the fountain shows? If you’re now obsessed with M.A., I highly recommend Antonia Fraser’s “Marie Antoinette: The Journey.” Sofia Coppola “Marie Antoinette” film was inspired by Antonia’s book. It’s a page turner! T. (By the way, your Paris photographs are beauties!!)

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    • Thank you for such kind words!! Lovely. Lovely. T. (You can’t go wrong with a Julia Child quote. The French Chef’s “My Life in France” is an interesting read. Confession: I’ve read it many times. Julia had a way with words and food!)

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  1. Yummy post! This reminds me of my first visit to the famed Angelina for macarons, and all I could think the whole time was “man the Ladurée ones totally kick butt compared to these!” 🙂 I can’t wait to do afternoon tea at Ladurée as well one of these days.

    Interesting to hear about the Catherine de’ Medici angle. I guess just like Renaissance art & architecture, sometimes the best things in Paris came from Italy!

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    • Thank you, Monsieur French Frye! I haven’t tried the Angelina macarons—YET. Everyone raves about the hot chocolate. Have you tried it? Give Gérard Mulot and Les Petits Mitrons a shot. Also, Arnaud Larher at 53 Rue Caulaincourt in the 18th arrondissement is another favorite. Do you have a favorite Pâtisserie? T. (Catherine d’Medici is my new favorite queen. What a character!)

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      • Oops, just realized I misspelled the queen’s name earlier. J’ai honte!

        Funny you should ask because I went to Angelina expressly to get this chocolat chaud everyone raves about. The location is classy, the décor is swanky, and the female servers are dressed in authentic garb, but the hot chocolate didn’t exactly blow me away. Granted, I’m not one of those dyed-in-the-wool chocolate addicts so maybe I’m not the best barometer. But I didn’t think it was necessarily better than other hot chocolates I’ve had in Paris. I’ll give some of your suggestions a shot, thanks!

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      • Hey, say, thanks for the “Angelina” report! Interesting! Did you file a report with photographs on your site? If so, give us a link! (By the way, I love your “A French Frye in Paris” site!) Take care, T.

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  2. My favorite way to ingest macaroons–with the eyes! I’m not a big fan of the treat, so I very much appreciate this feast for the eyes, as your photos and text are always rich without being filling. Another great job!

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    • Thank you!! It’s always fun to window-shop in Paris. On every street and corner, there’s so much to see. It’s a great lift and gift! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

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  3. Thanks, a lot, T! I haven’t even read the article yet, but have gained at least 10 pounds by just glancing at the photos. Oh, and by the way, may I borrow those pink shoes? 🙂

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    • Thank you, Anita! Feel free to borrow the shoes anytime. Warning: They are Pretty in Pink but hard on the dogs (feet) as my grandmother would say!! T. (I gained 10 pounds during the “research” phase. And the editing phase, too!)

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  4. Those shoes are as delicious as the pasteles! Who knew food was so photogenic! My husband was pretty much licking the screen! (He misses Euro-desserts.) Every post gives me a new reason why I must go to Paris! Thank you so much T!

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    • Thanks for the big giggle!! Pâsteries AND shoes are great fun to shoot. T. (I found the shoes at a brocante in Abbesses. It was love at first sight. I threw my money at the dealer, beating another buyer to the punch! They’re pretty but pretty darn uncomfortable, so I display the handsome devils most of the time. Like trophies!!)

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    • Thank you!! I love the color pink. Now I’m thinking of the “Funny Face” film with Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson. I love Kay in the opening “Think Pink” scene! It’s pretty darn fab. Have you seen it? T.

      Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX6TaA6IRkk

      Think pink!
      Forget that Dior says black and rust.
      Think pink!
      Who cares if the new look has no bust.
      Now, I wouldn’t presume to tell a woman
      what a woman oughtta think, But tell her if she’s gotta think— think pink!

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      • I was thinking about “Think Pink” too! As always, another lovely post. Oh Laudrée…I practically cried when I had their cherry blossom flavor in March. Thank goodness we have one in NYC!

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      • Cherry Blossom? What did they taste like? I guess they were pink. Lovely. Lovely. I read recently that New York is getting a second Ladurée shop. Have you started collecting the boxes? They’re quite sturdy. Perfect for storing jewelry, coins, trinkets, and knickknacks! T. (Ladurée has also worked with Christian Louboutin, Christian Lacroix, Sonia Rykiel and Chantal Thomass—just to name a few. Art + Sweets = Bliss!)

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      • I LOVE the colour pink but I simply cannot wear it – I am therefore drawn to to all things pink- the clip is fabulous, thank you! I may even have seen that film with my mum when I was a little girl, will have to seek it out and watch it.

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      • “Funny Face” is a great film! I’ve watched it many times. I now sing-along with Audrey, Fred, George and Ira Gershwin. Bonjour, Paris! T. (And again, thanks for the lovely shout-out!)

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  5. Love the fact that Marie Antoinette has given her approval, Mlle B.! After viewing this most lovely tour, I can feel my jeans becoming tighter and tighter…well worth it! Beautiful images of so many tasty treats!

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    • YES. The “research” was great fun. And well worth it! B. (And speaking of world-class food, I’m now a huge fan of Chicago Chef Rick Bayless of the PBS show: Mexico – One Plate at a Time. He’s a doll. He’s also the Chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago. Whenever I venture out for a run or experience a horrific hair day, I throw on my “Topolobampo Chicago” black cap. I wear it with pride!)

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      • Have never been, as I do not ‘eat out’, but I’ll take your word for it. Tonight’s dinner was 4 oz. steamed salmon, baby asparagus, 1/2 cup of Wisconsin cottage cheese and a half tomato, chopped and sprinkled with dill weed and balsamic vinegar…quite the gourmand, I am!

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      • Gosh, now I’m very hungry!! Jotting down your recipe now. Merci! B. (Years ago, I discovered Rick Bayless PBS show: Mexico—One Plate at a Time. He’s fun to watch AND read. Yes, I also own a few of his cookbooks. I’m hooked!)

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      • I shall search out those cookbooks–absolutely! I’m always looking for new ways to make the ‘same old ingredients’ tastier and prettier on my plate!

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  6. Delicious! Well, ok, I don’t really like sweet things, but I can make a small exception for macarons (and fruit alfajores in Buenos Aires).

    I gotta say, though, I do find it a little odd (ridiculous) that Ladurée make all their macarons in Paris (and then fly them to New York, Tokyo or Hong Kong). Think of the air miles and just get your (svelter) self to Paris!

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    • Rob, yes! I wonder how the new Manhattan Ladurée shop is doing. I think they plan to open a second shop in SoHo. Did you venture inside the joint during your recent New York jaunt? So they’re flown from France to New York on a daily basis. Wild! I love this tidbit. I wonder what time they arrive. It would be interesting and great fun to follow their journey: A Day in a Life of a Ladurée Macaron.

      I usually nibble on my macarons in the little Paris parks and on the stoops of churches, while people-watching. Would the experience be the same without the Haussmann architecture and cobblestone? Would the colors still pop? I love New York’s Black and White Cookie. Heaven! And they look great with a clay brick background. It’s all about location, location, location! T.

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      • Not been to Ladurée, but had my friend’s *excellent* homemade macarons with an Asian twist (azuki and yuzu fillings) – so good!
        I’m pretty sure I went past Ladurée Manhattan a few days ago, will try and swing by this w/e.
        Oh wow, black and white cookies! So good – the ones from Cranberry in Brooklyn Heights are amazing. And I don’t even like sweets!

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      • Homemade macarons? Wow. I am VERY jealous. I love the Asian twist! T. (Also, thanks also for the Cranberry in Brooklyn Heights lead! I used to score my black and white cookies at Zabar’s! Talk about heaven.)

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  7. What a wonderful post!!!! With all these dangerous things! Your post gave me the idea to shoot tomorrow’s pic from my local French inspired cafe ” Gateau”! Hugs

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    • Merci, A.! I’m looking forward to seeing your “gâteau” report and shots. They’ll be spectacular—I just know it! Do you have a favorite bakery? T.

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    • Yes, I’d add both Ladurée and Gérard Mulot in Saint-Germain to your list. One ‘hood and two world-class shops! It’s possible to macaron shop-hop in one afternoon. Avoid the crowds by visiting the shops during the week. They’re both mad houses on Saturday afternoons! Oh, la la. T. (Again, bon voyage!)

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    • Thanks, Richard! Yes, I also dig the word “Groovitational.” I clipped it from my heroes Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement Flight of the Conchords. They’re brilliant! T. (“Bowie’s In Space” is the name of the tune. It’s a clever nod to David Bowie.)

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  8. Ahhhh, always a lovely time when I can trip the light fantastic of Paree with you, Theadora. I wish I were really there to indulge in some of these goodies. I visited the Rodin Museum in the 70’s when I spent a year backpacking around Europe (and working and skiing the winter away in Grindelwald, Switzerland). Even though I knew I shouldn’t (and the signs forbade me to do so), I had to surreptitiously touch some of the so-touchable sculptures. thanks for another delicious trip! We’re fortunate to have a young woman who studied in Europe doing macarons and other French and French-inspired delicacies at our Saturday farmer’s market. Hey! That’s tomorrow!!! I’ll have to check and see whether your younger daughter bought macarons from one of these places when she was last in Paris. She said they were fabulous and wherever it was is supposedly “the” place to buy them in Paris.

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    • I loved reading about your backpacking year in Europe!! I am green with envy. Did you take photographs during your stroll through the Rodin Museum and garden? Also, did you make it to the Farmer’s Market today? Perhaps you’ll post a photograph of her treats? What else does she create? And let me know where your daughter scored her macarons during her Paris trip! I love new leads. Thanks for dropping by the site. It’s always fun chit-chatting with you!! Take care, T.

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      • All the pictures I took way back then are slides! I have to go through them and put them on DVD one of these days but the cost might get a bit high. We’ll see. I lazed this morning since the fridge was full and didn’t go to the market, so the only pictures I have are ones you’ve seen earlier this summer: http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/farmers-market-at-shaker-square/. You’re welcome to share the picture/s if you like. As for what else she creates, you and your readers can see on the website: http://www.coquettepatisserie.com/. (I don’t know how to upload the pictures here.) I’ll have to email Megan and ask her where she got her macarons, but since she and a friend went to NYC for the weekend, I probably won’t hear for a bit.

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  9. Cute shoosies! Also, I am struck by how the fruit is so opulent upon the tarts… definitely makes the tarts in my US town look skimpy, in contrast. Love your posts, Theadora. Thank you for the lovely Parisian trips. ~ Lily

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    • Thanks, Lily! Shoosies? I love it! Yes, Gérard Mulot’s fruit arrangements are mini-sculptures. I also dig the joint’s vibe. Because it’s a hotspot for for visitors and locals, it’s also a great place to people-watch. I’d love to tour the macaron factory. One day! T. (Enjoy the week!)

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  10. Pingback: Blogging for France… « Whatever takes my fancy

  11. hey there! thanks for liking my post “Laduree Macarons”

    your blog is great! I love love love french pastries! i will have to give these other shops a try when i someday return to Paris! The last time i was there i was in a “must..find..Laduree….” state of mind.

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    • Merci!! I loved your site. I loved your exquisite nod to the macaron. I agree! Ladurée’s pistachio-flavored macaron is ‘S Wonderful, ‘S Marvelous. Great color, to boot. Your photographs were lovely. I plan to give your recipe a shot. I’ll report back! T.

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  12. Aha…un peu coquette with this post and pastries I see! – they look almost naughty, which they are, at the level of indulgence you are gently hinting at! I love your attention to detail, while keeping the information fresh and easily-accessible..always a delight to return to your blog, albeit a naughty delight this time!

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    • Ah, it’s always nice to “see” you here!! Your sweet thoughtful words always, always make my day. Thanks for that! T. (I’m now singing the “42nd Street” tune: “Naughty, bawdy, gaudy, sporty, Forty-Second Street. . .Oh, la la.

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      • I loved Gerard Mulot, delicious and they were quite happy to answer a hundred questions. I also really enjoyed the macarons at La Petite Friandise in Reims, where they use biscuits rose base to make some tasty macaron treats.

        When I visited in April, I just pursued the macarons every day. The variety of flavours can’t be beat!

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    • Oh, YES. I’m now collecting the boxes! They’re perfect for storing coins, bling and knickknacks. T. (I thought of you today. I’m in the process of rescuing a tiny feral kitten. It’s not easy. Her eyes are big, bright and blue.)

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    • Thanks! The shoes steal the scene. I shot them in the early Sunday morning light. Fetching! They are pretty but oh, my, so “uncomfortable.” Enjoy the week! T.

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  13. I so love learning about the pastries of Paris! For those with a sweet tooth these descriptions and photos of various baked delights are treats in and of themselves. If and when i ever get a chance to visit Paris again (only have been there once, 9 years ago now), these pâtisseries are going to be among the first on the list to find.
    P.S.. And thank you for visiting my blog today and liking it!

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  14. Those are my tears dripping onto my licorice red shoes. I am sad because I am not indulging in the wonderful sweets of Paris. Our first restaurant , Theadora, was a dessert restaurant (why are you not surprised.) The signature dessert was a four layered chocolate and raspberry cake made with ground almonds (no flour), with chocolate ganache filling and topping. The recipe came from Fachon’s. At that time a single slice was 7 francs and that was quite pricy. But I came away with the recipe. I won’t say how I obtained the recipe – that is another naughty and indulgent story. Thanks for the memories. Virginia

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  15. I dropped by to give you this:

    http://tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/the-wonderful-team-member-readership-award-and-another-crown-of-laurels/

    and instead ended up ogling those chatoyant pasteles of yours again! I don’t know to whom it is a greater testament…the pastry chefs or your photography talents…it’s incredibly difficult to make food look appetizing on film! (Yes, I know I said that already, I’ve just lost my appetite looking at my share of cheap menus. *shudder*)

    Hope you’re well!

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  16. I wanted to eat the pictures!!! Ah, Laduree and high tea. I will make it a point to visit Gerard Mulot’s Patisserie when I’m in that neck of the woods!

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    • Ah, thank you Mary-Ann! And speaking of spiffy shots and vibrant colors, your recent nod to the Palio di Siena was spectacular! I loved the shots. I loved colors. Enjoy the weekend! Theadora (And yes, Gérard Mulot is worth the trek!)

      Like

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