“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere” -Van Gogh, The Paris Years

Boulevard De Clichy, Paris 1887

Bonjour toute le monde, ca va? I’ve been with my family the past few days and we’re watching old movies and
reminiscing about trips we’ve taken over the years. My mom has always loved Van Gogh and with the passing of Kirk Douglas it was only natural that we watch Lust for Life the other night. It got me thinking about sweet, sensitive Vincent and his life so I started searching for paintings he created while living in Paris from 1886-1888.

The Parisian Novels, 1887

View from Theo’s Apartment, 1886

He was someone who purposefully looked for beauty. Somewhere between the years of sunflowers and starry nights, he lived with his brother Theo in Montmartre. His Paris works exceed 200 pieces, so it’s incredible that he only sold 2 canvases in his lifetime. What’s also amazing is how fascinated he was by the same things in Paris that we are today. The view from his window, the rooftops, the chimneys, the light…his works are a sort of gentle, visual map of a changing city at a pivotal time. His letters are a real insight into his mental state, personality and true lust for life.

Theo’s Apartment, 1886

View from the Apartment, rue Lepic

appartement-de-theo-van-gogh-rue-lepic

View of Paris from Montmartre, 1886

I love how lush this one is and how we can almost feel the coolness of the green leaves on a summer day. Montmartre is still one of the best places in Paris to find trees outside a window. It’s easy to see why he was so inspired to capture the essence of the day.

View of Paris, 1886

Like a puzzle, we can piece together his two years in the city and understand what his life was like while living there. Such a wild time. It was the Industrial Revolution after all. An incredible era with exhibitions and new inventions, photography, steam engines, a building boom and a world evolving at the speed of light. Painters, writers, sculptors, philosophers, architects and new plans for every corner. It was probably a lot to take in and he was a sensitive, delicate soul. Seems like he may have spent a lot of time looking out the window onto the busy city, just happy to be an observer sometimes.

Paris Rooftops 1886

As much as the rooftops fascinated him, he did go out and when he did was all over the city from top to bottom, sketching and painting every inch including the places we know and love like the Louvre and the Opera.

The Pont du Carrousel and the Louvre, 1886

It’s amazing to see how much was undeveloped. Paris is an ancient city and yet at that time it still had wide open spaces.

View Of Paris With The Opera, 1886

Allee Jardin du Luxembourg, 1887

Avenue in a Park, 1888

The parks were a refuge then as they are now. Some things just don’t change. As a sensitive person he sought out places that provided a quiet solitude.

In the Boulogne Forrest, 1886

He studied the passersby as well at their daily activities, fascinated by the lives and times of typical Parisians.

State Lottery, Paris 1887

The Brothel, 1887

To get away from the bustling commercial center of town, he spent a lot of time just outside the city limits, in Asnières, an area in the northwestern suburbs along the Seine. His paintings show how Paris was developing and progressing, but he was able to find places of silence and simple pleasures by the Seine, enjoying the boats, the restaurants and gardens and open spaces while documenting the development during those two busy years.

Fortifications of Paris with Houses, 1887

It’s truly fascinating to see how open and uncluttered Paris was at the time. He must have looked for places to set up his easel where he could find glimmers of nature. He really leads us through a changing world and must have kept one step ahead of to avoid the confusion and noise. If we look at his body of work as a whole, his main focus is usually on color, light and natural elements. Cities aren’t normally convenient places to find any of that but he sought it out and translated it onto the canvas.

Walk on the Banks of the Seine in Asnières, 1887

On the Outskirts of Paris, 1887 

The Laundry Boat on the Seine at Asnières

Restaurant de la Sirene at Asnières

Restaurant, La Sirene at Asnières, 1887

Exterior of La Sirene at Asnières, 1887

Banks of the Seine at Pont De Clichy, 1887

The Banks of the Seine, 1887

The Banks of the Seine with Boats, Spring, 1887

 The Seine at the Pont de la Grande Jatte

The Bridge of Courbevoie, Paris, 1887

The Seine at the Pont de Clichy

As much as he loved the outskirts he found his way back to Montmartre and that seemed to be his touchstone as it was also home base. Many of his paintings feature the windmills and gardens and vineyards and cafes which were part of everyday life.

Montmartre, Paris, 1886

Vegetable Gardens in Montmartre, 1887

The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry and Windmills, 1886

Terrasse du Café la Guinguette À Montmartre, 1886

Le Blute-Fin Mill, 1887

Le Moulin de la Galette, 1887

Le Moulin de la Galette, 1887

Montmartre Behind the Moulin de la Galette, 1887

Montmartre Windmills and Allotments, 1887

Factories Near Montmartre, 1887

Sloping Path in Montmartre, 1886

Impasse des Deux Freres, 1887

Sunset At Montmartre, 1887

There are so many more pieces but I guess they will have to wait for another day. For now, dear Vincent continues to live on fascinating us with his life and times and beautiful perspective on the places we know and treasure. His paintings never get old and have an innocence that still touches us to this day. I’m feeling nostalgic about him today, wishing he had found peace and love and satisfaction. We know though that he never did, so Iet’s just end with the song that says it all…

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soulShadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colours on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of China blue
Colours changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Oh, now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen nowFor they could not love you, love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

Oh, starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
Oh, what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

February 19, 2020. Tags: , , , . art, France, Paris, Paris Apartments, Van Gogh. 3 comments.

Top 10 French Coffee Table Books for 2020

May I Come In?

Bonjour toute le monde! It’s that time between holidays when there are a few moments of quiet to get lost in the wonderland of the web…and you know what they say, the time we enjoy wasting is not wasted time! That said, it did take a minute to round up this wishlist of books, some of which are written by talented women I’ve admired for years. Each is filled with art, furniture, fabrics and trim, decorated doors and ceilings, chandeliers, outdoor spaces, architecture and style that has stood the test of time. I’d love to have any one of them on my cocktail table. If you’re looking for the perfect gift, check these beauties out for yourself and get lost in a world of imagination. And so, for those who’d rather curl up with a book than a phone…we say, happy reading!

Have more cocktail books to recommend? Please share in the comments below!

French Interiors

At Home in Paris

PEONIES

Paris in Bloom

French House Chic

My Stylish French Girlfriends

Haute Bohemians

Biblio-Style

In the Company of Women

PARIS

ok this last one isn’t really a book, it’s a decorative journal with blank pages but i do love the cover!

Just fyi, please note that some of the links are affiliate. I only recommend products I love because I think you’ll love them too!

December 2, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Books, France, Interiors, Living, Paris, Paris Apartments, Reading. 1 comment.

10 Chic Boutique Hotels in Paris, 2019

Bonjour et Happy Spring! I hope you’re doing well and coming out of winter hibernation.

This time of year we get lots of requests for hotel recommendations so I put together a list of my personal Parisian favorites. Below is a list of Boutique hotels (I normally stay in apartments but do love a great hotel now and then). Like the image above, most of us would be happy with just a bed by a window…They were chosen based on aesthetics (can’t tolerate bad decor, especially in Paris), price and amenities. (I’m a sucker for a fireplace or pool, good sheets, central location and a view).

If you’d like to add any to the list please let me know. In the meantime I hope you enjoy these even if it’s just an armchair vacay for now! (image via Pinterest)

1. Hôtel Mansart – Esprit de France

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Hôtel Mansart – Esprit de France A colorful Boutique Hotel

Set on the on the corner of the prestigious Place Vendome, this hotel offers refined guest rooms with old world charm that’s traditional but not too serious. It’s got all the modern conveniences we love in good hotel. The air-conditioned rooms are equipped with flat-screen TV, satellite channels, WIFI and mini-bar. All rooms are decorated with antiques and include tea and coffee makers.

A continental breakfast is served each morning in the elegant dining room. Guests can enjoy a drink in the hotel bar. A 24-hour front desk, newspapers and laundry services are provided.

2. La Maison Favart

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La Maison Favart – A Light-hearted Boutique Hotel

This is a fun hotel that’s done in a playful 18th century design. It’s in the heart of town and is only  a 5 minute walk to the Opéra and the Grands Boulevards. A sauna, gym and pool can be enjoyed for free on site.  Flat-screen TV and  WiFi are provided in the air-conditioned rooms.

The rooms also have a coffee machine as well as a mini bar. A morning buffet is served daily in the breakfast room and the hotel has a 24-hour reception desk. some of the rooms have questionable decor so ask which you’re booking if want a more subtle palette.

3. Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais

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Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais – A Charming Boutique Hotel that takes you back in time

This is one of my favorite small hotels in Paris. It’s in the heart of the 4th arrondissement, the perfect location to do absolutely anything including walking around at night. Not far from from the Place des Vosges and Musée Carnavalet, it’s one of the most precious boutique hotels in Paris and was once an entire house. There are 19 rooms in total, each designed to evoke the Paris of the past. Rooms and suites are decorated with French furniture and decor, chandeliers and whimsical details. Breakfast is served each morning in a wonderful original room with exposed stone walls and a working fireplace.

The hotel has all the amenities and comforts including WIFI, USB plugs, minibars and flat screen TVs. There’s an elevator that goes to all floors, air-conditioning and some of the rooms have small balconies. Book early as it fills up quickly and is difficult to secure during high season.

4. Hotel des Grands Boulevards

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Hotel des Grands Boulevards – Very special hotel with exceptional service

This is a lovely boutique hotel with beaucoup style and all the modern trimmings. It’s meticulously run with great pride without being stuffy. The air-conditioned rooms are equipped with flat-screen TV, WiFi and dimmer switches for soft lighting. There is also a coffee machine with organic coffee in the rooms, as well as a radio and phone.

Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast each morning. The hotel’s restaurant serves a variety of dishes and also offers vegetarian options, and guests can enjoy drinks and dining in the hotel bar. Staff at the 24-hour front desk are very helpful.

5. Hotel Saint-Germain des Prés

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Hotel Esprit St Germain – Welcoming & intimate with a spa & fireplace

This is a fantastic 5 star boutique hotel that has the feeling of being at a private residence. It’s on the Left Bank in a lovely location. It’s been the winner of the numerous awards for being a top hotel worldwide. The design is understated and has been thoughtfully decorated throughout the lobbies and in the 28 rooms and lounges. Guests are greeted with personalized service, and complimentary drinks are offered throughout the stay while sitting by the fire.

For those who love the left bank, this is the perfect location, situated on a small quiet street with shops and restaurants steps away. Hotel Esprit Saint Germain was created to pamper guests with elegance and comfort as well as all the amenities (WiFi, A/C), as well as a gym and sauna. Ask which room you’re booking as some of them are decorated in wild colors of you want a more monochromatic palette.

6. Hôtel Providence

Hôtel Providence – An oasis in the 10e Arrondissement

Located in the neighborhood of Strasbourg-Saint Denis, this boutique hotel is setting trends and raising the bar on boutique hotels. There are only 18 rooms in this little gem but each is decorated in vivid colors like bright ochre and draped in velvets of French blues and deep hues. Every detail has been considered in both decor and hospitality and the hotel also has a bar and restaurant. There are special touches like 27-inch iMacs and cocktail bars in each room. There’s a fireplace on the main floor which keeps the ambiance cozy. This is becoming a very popular neighborhood and the hotel books up quickly so if you’re looking to book, plan as far in advance as possible. Of course it has all the amenities you could ever want including a fantastic restaurant and charm galore!

7. Hôtel Verneuil Saint Germain

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Hôtel Verneuil – Quiet opulence on a petit Parisian street

This lovely hotel is only 26 rooms and is located in a 17th century building on a very quiet street. Just around the corner is all of Paris, gourmet food shops, famous restaurants and all the major landmarks. It’s quite a unique location and famous for being the street where Serge Gainsbourg once lived. The rooms are very small but have everything in place for a perfect stay. Some have beamed ceilings, others have a stone interior. The team is very helpful and will provide museum passes upon request, reserve tables in neighborhood restaurants, and are on site 24 hours. The small size of the hotel is designed for guests to feel at home with a warm lounge and crackling fire. 

8. La Chambre du Marais

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La Chambre du Marais – A jewel in the center of Paris

La Chambre du Marais is located in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. It’s well done with updated bathrooms and pretty decor. It’s in the middle of everything and still maintains a gentle, quiet vibe. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar, high speed WIFI, air conditioning and flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some units feature an en suite room. Each room is equipped with bathrobes, slippers and toiletries. 24-hour front desk service.

9. Le Metropolitan, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Paris

Le Metropolitan a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – Elegant and modern with a Parisian spirit

Situated in a 19th-century building at the Place de Mexico, this hotel is the epitome of minimalism to the max. The hotel is an eco-friendly property in the 16th arrondissement, with a direct views over the Eiffel tower and walking distance from the Champs Elysées. This contemporary and sophisticated boutique hotel features stylish guest rooms and suites, all equipped with WiFi, a personal smartphone with internet access and unlimited international calls.

The hotel also features a restaurant that serves innovative cuisine of locally sourced ingredients. The bar area has a fireplace and offers a welcoming place to relax with a drink. After a long day, guests can enjoy the pool and Hammam steam room or indulge in a luxurious spa treatment.

10. The Hoxton, Paris

The Hoxton, Paris – Casual and Comfy

This is a fabulous hotel that’s a little on the masculine side as far as decor and its very luxurious with comfy beds and ultra soft sheets. It’s in a central location and just a few yards from from Grands Boulevards Metro. The hotel has a beautiful restaurant and bar as well as a lounge.

The Hoxton, Paris features standard amenities including WiFi throughout the property as well as A/C, room service and flat screen TVs. But hey, who watches TV in Paris anyway!?

PS This list is my first foray into affiliate partnerships. I personally recommend each of these hotels. Some of the links go to booking.com and they pay a commission on bookings that come through these links. I know this is old news but it’s new to me :)

If you’re interested in finding out more about it let me know, we can all be using this system in our own individual ways.

March 25, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Boutique Hotels, France, Hotels, Paris, Paris Hotels, Travel. 4 comments.

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