Paris was everything I hoped it would be and more. Visiting the city was a dream come true, and for most of the time, really all of the time, it seemed too good to be true. Three miles shy of being four thousand miles away from home, I often found myself taking in the sights, the sounds and the scenery and thinking, somebody pinch me. Like when my dad, my step mom and my step sister were laughing together at some lame joke my dad thought was funny. Keyword – thought. Or when my dad and I spent each morning, until around noon or so, reading outside on the hotel terrace. Me with my book, The Girl on the Train, and he with his newspaper, The New York Times International. Another moment – when my step sister beat my dad for the umpteenth time in backgammon and we all had our hands raised in the air as if the Super Bowl or the World Cup had just been won. One more moment – when we were all in front of my camera, smiling with our pearly whites showing, on top of the Eiffel Tower. Every moment was a great moment, and every moment is now a great memory.
(see larger images of photos below here)
Straight off the plane and rather jet lagged (red eye flights suck!), my first stop was Montmarte to meet Julie and her daughter, Lola, and Lola. Two Lolas! She greeted me outside Terminus Nord, a cafe, with a kiss on one cheek and then a kiss on the other – so French. I only spent a short time with her, but her joie de vivre was just as I imagined any French woman’s would be. She laughed often, very often, and while browsing the fabric stores, she stayed attentive to me, asking if I was finding everything okay. When we said goodbye, she hugged like a hug when you receive a truly great gift – a tight squeeze. Well, I guess meeting Julie was a truly great gift. And her daughter – too damn cute! As we were taking photos, she took front and center, striking a pose for each. Typical model behavior. Tres chic!
Gasp! I didn’t buy any fabric. Gasp again! I didn’t buy any trims either. I didn’t intend to; I have a pretty good fabric/trim assortment at home. Lingerie was still on my mind, but I was in search of inspiration, not supplies. I hit up many of the lingerie stores – Aubade, Princess Tam Tam, Etam, La Perla, Wolford and more – studying the construction and fabric. Ying and Elma received their fair share of texts/emails from me while I was there – “Oh! See how they sewed that!?” I more than splurged on a few sets – my first lingerie purchase in more than a year! – and they’ll be popping up here on the blog in the future as I try to replicate their methods for my own me mades.
We spent that Monday and Tuesday in Normandy – my family and I took a train north. We share a passion for history – we geek out over Charlemagne, The Hundred Years War, William the Conqueror, etc – so we visited the area to see where the Battle of Normandy took place. Additionally, my great grandfather was one of the men who stormed the beaches as part of the D-Day Invasion. It is incredible to believe that 71 years ago, France was occupied by Germany. I can’t imagine what I would do if the U.S. started bombing Philadelphia, started bombing their own people and country. That’s what happened to the city of Caen just prior to the invasion. But it was part of the plan, a plan that took over 2 years to execute. The battle was only the last, little portion of it, and without extensive logistics, which included misleading the Germans to believe an invasion was occurring somewhere else, dummy tanks (some inflatable), and fake paratroopers and more, the battle would not have been successful. Sorry, me being a nerd and cliche. Let’s get on with the recap, shall we?
While there, we stayed at truly remarkable place – Chateau D’Audrieu. Between Caen and Bayeux, it is an 18th century house that sits on 20 acres. Life moves slow here in a good way. There is little cell phone reception – at best a bar or two – no computers and no gym. Each night, we played backgammon on the patio. We got so into it that on the last night, we made a night out of it and filled the table with wine, cheese, baguettes and sausage. Game on! Like I wrote above, Kirsten, my step sister, killed it. I lost terribly.
Back in the city Wednesday through the remainder of the trip, I shopped (Le Marais was my favorite area), visited museums, ate croissants, ran along the Seine, and walked, walked and walked. I visited the Musee D’Orsay and saw one of my favorite pieces in real life – Degas’ Tiny Dancer, Age 14. There are more renditions in other museums, but seeing it in Paris is an experience. I also hit up the Jean Paul Gaultier installation at The Grand Palais. A designer who has dipped into the world of lingerie – cone bra, corset, inner wear as outer wear – it was incredible to be so close to his garments.
This trip was my first true vacation since I was a child. I’ve never been away from work or home for more than 4 or 5 days, holidays included. This past month and year have been busier and more stressful than ever. I can’t complain because it’s all good things that are(have) happening(ed) and I consider myself lucky for the opportunities. That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a break, and this trip was a break that I desperately needed. I arrange my schedule around work/Madalynne, and I turn down really too many opportunities because of a due date for whatever. I’m going to make an effort to do the opposite – arranging my work/Madalynne schedule around those opportunities. Work and Madalynne will always be there, experiences and opportunities won’t. I may have to push a project to next week or next month, but you know what, I’ll probably be too busy having a good time to even notice. The sun will still rise and set if I don’t make a particular due date; life will move on. It is only me who is pushing myself, sometimes too hard. I still have goals – too many that are probably too lofty for my own good – and I’ll get there, but why not have some fun along the way, eh? Ya feel me?
Au revoir, Paris! Until next time, because there will be a next time, keep it real. In the meantime, does anyone know an American company (read: they speak English) looking to hire? : )