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One of the pleasures of living in Paris is that it is centrally located in Europe and a major hub for other cities. Going away for a day in London or Brussels is like driving from LA to San Diego, but without the requirement of either car or driving. I have friends who live in Brussels so I went for the week-end on the Thalys. For 25€ (about $35) each way and a little over an hour, not only can you experience another city, but another country! The new IDBus does the same trip for only 9€ (about $12) each way, so I may try that next time since I was seated in the “wrong” direction on the train and got slightly “train sick” (half of all seats face opposite directions since trains don’t turn around at the terminus).

We didn’t make any set plans on what to do other than eat 🙂 but on the train my friend bought a magazine which talked about an exhibit at the Villa Empain and it turned out that both my friends in Brussels wanted to go, so we set out early to what used to be the building housing the German and Russian Embassies. It was abandoned and squatters lived it it for years until it was renovated into a center for art and dialogue between the cultures of the East and West. The architecture is art deco and has been restored beautifully. Entrance to the exhibit was 10€, with discounts for seniors and free for children under 12.

You can walk around the grounds and enjoy the sculptures which dot the grounds.

Unless you are part of a private tour you can only visit the pool area with your eyes.

The building has two floors of exhibit space and the basement has a few pieces, along with a tea salon which serves snacks and champagne. These water lily lights filled the atrium between the first and second floors.

The most stunning piece was a tapestry made of individually knotted candy wrappers which took up an entire wall of about 20 feet. There was a video of the artist creating the work and I can only imagine the patience she had.

There was a wide variety of artwork from textural tapestries, to clothing, jewelry, photographs, painting, and mosaics.

We were all hungry afterwards so we headed to brunch (tomorrow’s post)!

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During Fashion Week, I saw so many tall, thin, young people with beautiful bone structure, that I felt as if I was walking through the pages of Vogue as I walked the streets of Paris. Since this is a fashion mecca, there is a fashion museum called the Palais Galliera. The entrance is as beautiful as the clothes inside.

The expositions are all temporary and Azzedine Alaïa is featured until January 26, 1014. If you’re not a fashionista, you would still recognize his clothes since he has dressed rock stars like Tina Turner, Madonna, and Grace Jones. There are no barriers between the clothes and the public, so as tempted as you may be to touch the pieces, do not! Even photographs are not allowed (so that they can sell you postcards in the gift shop), but a friend snapped these before security intervened.

Just a few blocks away the Village de Noël at Trocadero and the Quai Branly offered a smaller more intimate version of the Village de Noël on the Champs-Elysees.

Colorful kites and small Alpine themed shops lined the fountains.

There was even a small ice skating rink and Santa greeting the children.

It was packed with locals and tourists, like all shopping venues before Christmas, but the difference

here is the unique view.

As evening approached, I headed back to the center of town

to the largest ice skating rink in Paris, set up at the Hôtel de Ville (or city hall). Admission is free if you bring your own skates, or you can rent them for $6. Most people came to watch the skaters, and for the comfort and safety of all concerned, that’s what I did too!

 

The light here really is pink.

Bonne Année!

Cartier. The name is an icon, having adorned royalty and celebrities for decades, the pieces on display at the Grand Palais in Paris until February 16, 2014 are breathtaking. The only Cartier piece not shown is Elizabeth Taylor’s 69.42 carat diamond, but with so many other dazzling works of art, it was not missed. I didn’t take notes as I took pictures, so today’s post will be mainly a feast for your eyes:)

Many tiaras and crowns were on a rotating display as you entered the room.

My favorite was the one worn by the Princess of Wales, Diana 🙂

Crowns came in colors too.

There were also necklaces with colored stones and diamonds.

This necklace and matching bracelet was privately commissioned by the Maharajas of Patiala and the value would probably be the budget of a small country today.

Grace Kelly’s jewelry was at the exhibit.

The necklace she wore on the cover of Match magazine

and her engagement ring.

This was Queen Elizabeth’s brooch that she wore on the cover of Time Magazine.

Queen Elizabeth’s brooch was not the only one on display.

There were watches throughout the exhibit and one case had about 40 from various eras.

Sets of earrings and brooches, bracelets, bags, and even binoculars were shown throughout.

The immense perfect stones in some pieces seemed to defy nature.

The exhibit expanded my imagination for what is possible:)

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