bonjour et bon weekend! i hope yours has already started on this summery friday night. i’m still decompressing from the trip to paris and going through the photos and digging deeper into the friends i made. i wanted to share what went down but must confess there are so many layers to everyone and everything that i burned out for awhile. but i’m chilling now and back in the saddle. so tonight i’d like to introduce another of the aforementioned friends, our co-hostess for EmbraceParis, norma thiessen who is also the founder of mybeautifulparis.com.
as you can see she’s high spirited as well as gorgeous and an absolutely fantastic photographer (check out her instagram). norma fell in love with paris on her first trip and began a website that’s loaded with advice and information where to go in the city as well as the surrounding countryside. it’s a wealth of information and i can see it growing every day with new inspiration! norma’s a girl in the know and also one to share stories and pass along knowledge. AND she’s a social media expert (check out her twitter). she believes in empowering women, celebrating them and not competing but rather, complementing each other. we were paired in a workshop together, (not sure if it’s because we were similar or opposites) from a strengths poll we did, (more on that later) but brainstorming and getting personal with her showed me what a sincere, open hearted lady she is. (you can contact her on FB here), so if you’re heading to paris, let norma take care of the details for you, she’s a master planner and loves to handle those little touches that others (like me), just cannot do. she’s that girl you want to know before you go!
the day we got acquainted was the second day on the town. she and co-host carina had arranged a trip to ChâteauVauxleVicomte, an enchanted world that’s just outside paris. it can easily get lost in the shadow of versailles. but instead of choosing that obvious gilded lily (just kidding, i love versailles!), the girls set up a private lunch and tour with 6th generation owner and curator of the estate, Alexandre who lives on the grounds with his family. i couldn’t help but feel it must be both a blessing and a curse to be the steward of such a place, with endless responsiblities to the grounds, the staff, the repairs, the maintainence, restoration, events and so much more…(they just redid the outer roof of the dome)! but he was obviously born to care for it and is doing so beautifully and graciously.
the day was pure magic and we could feel the love and care that was given to every inch of it. and they obviously enjoy it. take a look at one of the costume balls they held last season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYTqJnp7368&feature=youtu.be (apologies if you tube makes you watch a bad commerical first)
norma picked up this book during the tour and really got me intrigued with the history of the place. apparently the owner was louis xvi’s finance minister. when he held the very first party, louis couldn’t believe that he could have built such a lavish place on his salary and threw him in jail for the rest of his life! then they looted everything and it all went to versailles. well, that’s the story i got from the bits and pieces i overheard. we’ll have to read the book to find out the truth!
anyway we all hopped into golf carts and took a spin around the grounds. this time i drove and what a joyride that was! our on site videographer, andrea shot this video for us of the tour.
the chateau is especially grand on saturday nights when they light 1000 candles and serve champagne at dusk. you can make a private booking, so check out this link for a really special evening: book a VIP trip – vaux-le-vicomte.com
like everything in france, there’s so much history that it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole. if you want to go deeper, delve into their twitter page for gorgeous pics and lots of history:
i tend to go to the historical aspect of places like this first. i love to see the old engravings, and just try to comprehend how the entire undertaking was conceived. it’s mind boggling how someone could painstakingly etch the renderings, or even have the imagination to create such a masterpiece…right out of thin air. vive la france!
that’s me, princess for a day, strolling the grounds and going back in time (thanks, andrea)
an early plan for the grounds, still manicured and maintained in the same tradition today
looking out from the main hall
the main hall
a watercolor from 1661
the grounds today
the gardeners who have tended to the precision of the topiaries, flowers and hedges for centuries to the delight of the guests. yet these hard workers are easily overlooked. but appreciated by the family no doubt!
it’s their work and dedication that keeps the place alive. their attention to detail and ability to never let you know they were there.
it’s just a dream…don’t look at the man behind the curtain, this happens by magic!
looking back from the gardens (that’s the new dome that they had a master builder repair in the french tradition).
once we went inside it was a whole other adventure. every interior inch is on design overdrive. alexandre grew up here before they moved into one of the other structures. it was such fun hearing about them playing as children, putting away personal objects and books before the tourists arrived…
the game room
maybe i have my head in the clouds but i tend to look up at the beautiful and highly detailed ceilings.
some are in need of restoration and the ceiling in the main hall is next on the to-do list for alexandre.
this gorgeous ceiling was never officially finished and i love it just the way it is
as you can see there’s a dedicated group who care for every nook and cranny.
working on old documents, manuscripts and keeping them preserved is a job in itself.
if you’re intrigued to go, i highly recommend spending the day, having lunch and enjoying the solitude. it’s a place you can really unwind, think deep and have some space. you feel like you have it all to yourself cause the crowds aren’t heavy and there are lots of places to find silence.
and so, a great big thanks to the chateau, norma and carina for putting an unforgettable day together.
if you’d like get in touch with the chateau through social media, they’re very active, friendly and receptive. they’re interested in making sure this new century includes both the old and new ways and the staff is open to all sorts of wonderful events. mostly they enjoy sharing the place with all those who appreciate the majesty of it. say hello to them if you get a chance! and now mes cheres, i bid adieu. have a bon nuit!
bonjour mes amis, ça va? i’m back from paris and have unpacked and downloaded the photos but the the trip is not quite over, and in a way it’s just begining. the experience of #embraceparis was one i’ll hold close to my heart for as long as i live, not only for the magnificent hospitality of Le Meurice, but the truly unforgettable ladies who came together from around the world for 3 days to share their knowledge and passion regarding their businesses and social media. at the end of the trip we each discussed what we’d like to do regarding the recap and for me, it was to profile each gal and introduce them and what they’ve shared with me. i can say that we just scratched the surface and doing this post alone was a real eye opener. so without further ado…please meet the first lovely lady i got to know very quickly when we shared a tiny car and we cruised the streets of paris, day one… the inimitable blogger, lynne knowlton.
we were a small group of 10 and i’ve heard the story of how it all came together a couple of times but still am not exactly sure how it went down, but the adventure started something like this: some friends were getting together at what’s affectionaltely known as lynne’s ‘treehouse’.
she was hosting some friends for a restorative retreat. one couldn’t make it and tweeted to their mutual friend that it would be fun to do something in paris, maybe even hold it at one of her favorite french hotels. well, the tweet became reality and voilà, #embraceparis was born. it showed the women the scope of social media and that became the focus of the event. the rest is history and a lesson that for me was really powerful.
what was just a playful idea became reality and for the next year carina and norma put it all together.
they gathered together a small group, each with a website, blog, FB, twitter and instagram. what was really striking is how much we learned from one another, with lynn, we talked about connecting, creating passive income, linking with affiliates, monetizing our websites and businesses with apps and podcasts. she details lots of this on her blog and is all about empowering others to do the same so if you get a chance, take a visit!
lynne’s home is such an inspiration and i can only imagine the good time they all had at that first retreat.
and what was a dream became reality and before long we were all checking into the hotel, oohing and ahhing at the beauty of the oldest palace in paris.
all the photos in this post were taken by lynne who is a fabulous photographer and even wrote a great e-book on editing pics:
we were warmly welcomed with flowers and champagne, a memory stick, a candle, postcards and chocolates!
ok i took this one…my room!
lynne and i got to know each other pretty darn quick in the twiztour car we shared as soon as we met. we couldn’t stop talking and still have lots to catch up on in the days to come.
you can get to know lynn through some of her social media but there is a lot of information on her life and design projects throughout the web and on her site.
if you get a chance, take some time to follow lynn, subscribe to her blog and get to know this wonderful lady, mother, wife, and playmate. she’s the funny friend who made you laugh in the back of the class…
lastly, take a look at the real lynn and don’t hesitate to contact her, you’ll be glad you did and so will she!
allo et bonjour mes cheres amis!
checking in from paris where it’s 3:30 am and most sensible people are asleep.
at home i seem to need a solid 8 hours but here i’m getting by on 4 or 5.
guess it’s an obsession; a bit of not wanting to miss anything and being determined not to let these days slip through the cracks unaccounted for. so it’s editing, cropping, downloading and uploading photos after long days of walking for hours.
that said, i wanted to just say hello and post a few shots of the day at the market and around town. i’m still on my social media kick and it’s been a lot of fun tweeting and hashtagging and posting and learning what works as i go along. what i’m really enjoying is having no agenda for a minute and just taking my time and not feeling rushed.
i have a travel companion who is patient and understanding. and i think that may be the key to the whole social media and tech revolution. when i was fervently trying to text and tweet and multi-task in real time, it was impossible to focus and not one thing got uploaded (correctly anyway)! it’s only when i can sit quietly and go through images and edit, tag, interact and think that it works for me. otherwise it’s a burden and i can’t stand any of it! and that’s my tip for the day and note to self. stop rushing and be mindful with the content we’re creating. best of all, now that i’m not just hoarding pix and actually dispersing them of various channels, i’m actually having fun again and seeing my world of photos take shape and i like it. well, have a great night and enjoy the rest of the weekend. it’s official, i’m off to bed!