leaving for paree in 10 days. it seems like a dream and i’m so tired i’m sleepwalking! no rest for the weary till i tie up the annoying loose ends that bind me! my friend carol k’s been helping make that happen. i see how important a brilliant team is, so thank you girl! now just putting final touches on the itinerary. i appreciate but can’t go to monuments in paris. what gets me are places that were homes, apartments, salons, or Hôtels (aka mansions). i did mention i was a voyeur…
one palace i love is Hôtel Carnavalet, a little palace in the Marais and former home of Madame de Sévigné who was famous for hosting parties in her Salon. she wrote hundreds of letters to her daughter during the reign of Louis XIV. they’re like a diary of life in 1600’s paris and tell about her life’s struggles.
Soubise is another beautiful mansion in the same neighborhood. lots of the marie antoinette film was shot there. i love the turquoise ceilings.
i’m dreaming about staying longer, forgetting ny for awhile and drifting along the french countryside in october. in my fantasy i’d rent a car and jet down to provence and explore more. a blogging friend invited me and i’d love to take her up on a cup o tea down south. But my REsPoNsIbIliTieS!!
i fell in love with the countryside as a kid travelling with my family. after graduation i went back with Volunteers for Peace for something to do between college and the real world. i just came across the ran into the link yesterday from another cool site:
maybe i want to re-live the good times i had? it really was THE best time, restoring ancient chapels and living with such fun people. you choose your country and interests. france has 45 camps going on right now that you can live/work and and have a blast for like 2 weeks, $250. i’m gonna check out what’s happening now. (it was 20 years ago)!
i just found this one:
Project: The municipality of Montendre has already played host to several
international work camps. The restoration of the town’s castle, using traditional,
old-fashioned techniques is something many of the local people keep close to heart,
but currently, their castle is in need of a hand from the younger generation! The main
objective of this year’s work camp will be to repair and refill the joints of a section of the
wall, in order to keep it in good condition. The local community, now well accustomed to
the work camp dynamic, are present on a regular basis to meet and exchange with the
volunteers. ACCOMODATION: tents. LOCATION: 75 km from the sea and to the north of
wait tents? maybe when i was in college…now i want to sleep in the castle!
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!