Paris: Voyages Extraordinaires
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.)
2. Need inspiration?
Gather ’round and jump on my train because I’ve got the cure, see. Prior to your shopping jaunt, I highly recommend spending some time with the late, great Sonia Delaunay, the undisputed queen of Orphism.
Curated by Anne Montfort and Cécile Godefroy, “Sonia Delaunay: Les Couleurs de l’Abstraction” will run though February 22, 2015 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Dear mod squad of Downton Abbey flapper-wannabes: The well-rounded retrospective features 400 works: paintings, posters, prints, murals, rugs, and furniture, along with photographs, fashion show clips, fabric swatches and bolts of printed cloth, too. Here you’ll also find Sonia’s Atelier Simultané confections: frocks, beachwear, pajamas, scarves, hats, and shoes. Keep your eyes peeled for the coat she created for Gloria Swanson in 1924. It’s still close-up worthy, Monsieur DeMille! I have seen the glory.
(Cinema Buffs: Sonia’s garb was pricey, though apparently Gloria Swanson had the cash to splash. According to Stephen Michael Shearer’s book “Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star,” while she was in Paris filming “Madame Sans-Gêne” in 1924, Gloria also spent $6,000 on perfume, $50,000 on gowns, $10,000 on lingerie, $9,600 on stockings, $5,000 on bags, and $500,000 on bling—and that was back when you could buy a brand new car for under $600. The Marquise was no budget traveler!)
Dancing with the stars
Sonia also designed costumes for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and for Tristan Tzara. Like a jazz musician, our Lady Dada improvised with color fragments, creating trippy rhythm and movement. With keen Kaleidoscope-like vision, again and again she captured the surreal, heady sensation of experiencing the high rise of planes, trains, and automobiles, along with the electric bright lights in her ch-changing big city.
Sonia wrote: “I liked electricity at night, during our walks. We entered the era of light, arm in arm. Halos were making colors and shadows turn and vibrate around us, as if unidentified objects were falling from the sky, friendly and crazy.”
3. La Grande Roue
Come forth! Come forth! After traveling back to the Cubo-Future with Sonia Delaunay, I suggest hotfooting it on over to The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde.
Recently, whilst stepping out down the Champs Élysée, I spotted La Grande Roue, calling out to me like a siren. Facing my fear of heights, right then and there on the cobblestoned spot I decided to take a spin.
Time was on my side. At precisely one hair before l’heure bleue, I channeled my inner-Jules Verne, and made the leap aboard the swaying chariot.
It was worth every centime.
Riding solo, my little eye spotted the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, and Les Invalides, along with Sacré Coeur, the Église Saint-Augustin de Paris, and Catherine de’ Medici’s Tuileries—all bathed in a saturated golden hue.
Feeling very much like a queen in my cat-bird seat, I even stood-up, briefly, for an existential “selfie.” Yes, I proved, I was still there! It was scary, but royally fun—I assure you.
Tears of joy reigned. Through the smudged, rose-colored glass, I fell in love with Paris all over again. Heck, I even reclaimed my mojo.
As Henry Miller once wrote: “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
Or pinching from Jules Gabriel Verne, “Yes! But the earth is very large, and life is very short!”
I couldn’t agree more.
Now let’s take a few spins around La Grande Roue, shall we?
Carpe Diem! Et Bonne Année!
(In the mood for another Paris jaunt? If so, hobnob it on over to our chum Virginia over at Bel’ Occhio for Paris: Voyages Extraordinaires Part Two!)