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22 Amazing Places to Visit in France (Part 2)

France is oh-so beautiful I had to do TWO posts on all the amazing places to visit in France (check out the first 22 Amazing Places to Visit in France). Hope you love these places as much as I do and let me know in the comments where you would most like to go in France!

1. The Loire Valley, Indre-et-Loire. Home to dozens of gorgeous Châteaux, vineyards, fruit orchards, and artichoke and asparagus fields. It is often referred to as the Garden of France.

                                                    Château de Chambord

                                                    Château de Villandry

2. Cantal, Auvergne. A group of extinct volcanic peaks cover much of the region. Come here to immerse yourself in glorious, untouched nature.

3. Château de Pierrefonds, Oise. The chateau looks like a fairytale in the snow. It’s also on the edge of the Forest of Compiègne. I like to think this is where Beauty and the Beast could have taken place.                                            The castle on the inside

4. Étretat, Haute-Normandie. Best known for its gorgeous cliffs, it’s easy to see why artists Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, and Eugène Boudin were drawn here.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaA painting of Étretat by Monet

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Brassai, Pour L’Amour de Paris: A Stunning Romance with the City of Love in Photographs

My dear French Seams readers,

Happy New Year! Wishing you all a ridiculously wonderful ringing-in of the New Year and a very prosperous 2014.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of viewing the exhibition Brassai, Pour L’Amour de Paris, currently on display at the Hotel de Ville in Paris through March 8th 2014. For your viewing and reading pleasure is a bit about the exhibition and some lovely photographs by Brassai, all taken in Paris. Hope you enjoy!

Cheers, champagne, and all good, bubbly things,

The love between Brassai and Paris is a passionate affair, captured best in his photographs of the City of Love after dark. Luckily for anyone in Paris (and those are lucky ones, indeed), Brassai’s photographs of Paris are the subject of the exhibition, Brassai, Pour L’Amour de Paris.

Brassai captures romantic moments between couples in cafés (one might imagine Hemingway and his wife Hadley as one of the couples), thick-built prostitutes staring down the camera with defiance, and the abstract curves of the cobblestone streets. The images are gritty and vibrant at once, imbued with the burbling life that flows through the city.

In our imaginations, and in Brassai’s photographs, Paris of the 1920’s and 30’s celebrated life in all its forms, making it a haven for oddballs, artists, and lovers. Brassai was one among the most prominent artists who gathered in the City of Lights, many of whom he knew and photographed, including Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Genet, and Henri Michaux.

More interesting, though, is Brassai’s focus on strangers. In his photographs, policemen bike around the city in chic capes, a young boy loses his red balloon, prostitutes undress in front of their client, and young people gather in bars to drink and be merry. Brassai’s photographs of strangers are like visual conversations between the photographer and his subject. His subjects allow him into their world for a moment and he shows their most intense, beautiful moments—a passionate kiss in a café, the vulnerability of the prostitutes when they are lined up before a client so he can choose one of them, the overflowing joy in a child as he plays with a sailboat in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The exhibition is chronological but also categorical, beginning with Marcel Proust’s Paris, a city whose streets are dominated by a mix of cars and horse-drawn carriages and a (then new) Eiffel Tower. The “Walls of Paris” section focuses on the prolific graffiti strewn across the city. The exhibition then takes you through Paris at night, with a whole section devoted to the mostly-naked women of the Folies Bergère cabaret. The final section of photographs is dedicated to the breathtaking curves of a woman’s body, carefully contorted so her body is de-sexualized. The photos are erotic but never pornographic.

Brassai captures his intimate and loving relationship with Paris through his photographs, giving his audience a new lens through which to view the City of Love.

At the end of the exhibition, there is a short film by Brassai, “As Long as There are Animals,” filmed in the Zoo de Vincennes. The film shows the monkeys hopping around and swinging from the trees, the giraffes flitting their tongues, and polar bears splashing around in the water. It is a humorous and fun end to a quietly beautiful exhibition. It’s also very nice to sit down to watch the film after standing for hours to admire the photographs.

If you are fortunate enough to be in Paris, go see the exhibition. It’s free, too, though if it’s busy you have to wait outside to get in, as they limit the number of people in the exhibition to prevent it from being too crowded. If you are not in Paris, enjoy the Brassai photos (most of which are included in the exhibition) below!

Brassaï Pour L’amour de Paris

Free Exhibiton

from 8 November 2013 to 8 March 2014.

Hôtel de Ville, Salle Saint Jean

5 rue Lobau 75004 Paris

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30 Beautiful Photos of Christmas in Paris (and France!)

My dearest French Seams readers,

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Whichever holiday you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful, warm time with family and friends.

Given the holidays, I thought you might all enjoy some sumptuous photos of Paris, the French Alps, Provence, Versailles, and other areas of France all dressed-up for Nöel, as the French call Christmas. I had so much fun pulling together these photos. They’re so sparkly and cozy, full of all the cheer and joy of the holiday.

Hope you all enjoy! Which region of France would you most like to visit during Christmas? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers and purring kittens under the tree,


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27 Amazing Photos of Paris in the Spring

My dearest French Seams readers,

Hope you all are staying warm, wherever you are. Here in NYC, the streets are all gray and white with ice and salt. Paris, too, is all gray and dreary in its own quietly beautiful way.

While winter is lovely, I thought you would all enjoy an escape to Paris in the Spring. I’ve put together a gorgeous collection of photos for your viewing pleasure. There are 5 bonus photos of Versailles in the Spring, too. Enjoy!

Big, colorful flowers and joy,


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Reims Cathedral: The Ridiculously Gorgeous Union of Gothic Architecture and Marc Chagall

My dear French Seams readers,

Hope you all are doing well and enjoying the holiday season!

During my recent trip to Paris, I spent a quiet, chilly afternoon in Notre Dame de Reims, a beautiful Gothic cathedral about one hour outside of Paris. Its magnificent towers look down on the small town of Reims, which is bustling with shops and restaurants. The cathedral’s intricately detailed facade and height is breathtaking.

When approaching the cathedral, you are impelled to look upward to take in the towers’ full height, which is an intentional function of the cathedral’s architecture. Looking upward is supposed to remind you of God (they were some clever architects!). Although the towers were originally designed to be rise 120 m, or about 394 ft , they are (only!) 81 meters tall, or about 267 ft. Their ambitions for approaching the heavens fell short.

Inside, the cathedral is built with long, strong stone bones that provide an exquisite contrast to the delicate, richly pigmented stained glass. The stained glass is by far the most enthralling aspect of the cathedral (at least, in this Francophile’s opinion). I loved it all and photographed it obsessively.

The modern glass comes in two sets (that I am aware of), one trio of windows by Imi Knoebel, and another trio of windows by Marc Chagall. Knoebel’s windows are composed of abstract fragments of red, yellow, and blue glass and appear like scraps of primary-colored paper strewn across the windows. They reminded me a bit of comic books and superheroes, which is fitting, given that Catholicism has its own fleet of heroes in bible stories.

Chagall’s windows are a dream of color. They appear to have been painted with colored light in shades of blood-red, lavender-purple, peony-green, corn gold, and river-blue. No photograph does the colors justice. The colors reference the natural world but transcend it, transporting the viewer to a fantasy world that is like our world but beyond it. The windows are supposed to tell a story, but I hardly care. I stood at the windows for an hour and photographed every centimeter of them and admired them even longer. If you visit the cathedral, don’t miss these windows. Seriously.

Hope you enjoy the (very many!) photos below! Let me know which part of the cathedral is your favorite in the comments below!

Cheers and cherries,


Exterior view of the chevet (also, thank you Wikipedia, I missed this side of the exterior myself) ;)

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Paris, Home Sweet Home

My dear French Seams readers,

For those of you who are of American persuasion, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with plenty of delicious food shared with good friends and family.

I recently returned from a wonder-tastic trip to Europe, including a week in Paris. I have so much from this trip to share with you all—incredible museum exhibitions, delicious food, and an awesome trip to Reims to see Notre-Dame de Reims, where the Kings of France were crowned.

During my trip, I made the brilliant decision to devote more of my time to this blog, so you can expect a blog every Tuesday! There might also be a post on Thursday, too, on occasion. :)

To give you a taste of all I did on my trip, I’ve included some photos below, as well as a list of some upcoming posts. Note that the titles are works-in-progress.

If you would like to see posts on a particular subject, or would like to see one of the below posts ASAP, please let me know in the comments section below!

Stay warm and Happy December!

Cheers and big kisses,

Cute graffiti cat on the side of a building :)

The animal statues in front of the d’Orsay. LOVE the horse, it’s my favorite.

The Louvre from the Left Bank.

Pont des Arts is FULL of locks. SO MUCH LOVE here.

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Paris, My Sweet: Author Amy Thomas’ List of Top Bakeries in Paris

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas is a decadent romp through the many pastry shops and bakeries of Paris. Enjoy Ms. Thomas’ list of bakeries in Paris, and the mouth-watering photos, too! Check out her book on Amazon here: ** Please note some of the bakeries below have closed their doors since Ms. Thomas’ list of bakeries in Paris was published.

A l’Étoile d’Or The best candy shop in Paris, especially according to this fabulous article by David Lebovitz:

A la Flute Gana Delicous artsian breads, and quiche! Here’s the link to the bakery’s listing on Paris by Mouth:

Angelina Known for their AMAZING hot chocolate. They also have many other scrumptious-looking desserts and the atmosphere is Rococo-esque decadence.

A la Mére de Famille A gorgeous chocolatier, charming inside and out. Check out their website:

Laura Todd The best cookies in Paris. Multiples come in a cute blue box! Here’s a link to their website:

La Patisserie des Rêves Probably the coolest patisserie in Paris with upgraded takes on classic French pastries. Check out some stellar review of the patisserie on yelp: Their website is also pretty incredible:

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6 Gorgeous Art Exhibitions at Versailles

Versailles has chosen one major artist to display their art at Versailles yearly since the first major art installation at Versailles by Jeff Koons in 2008. Each exhibition is magnificent in its own right (though my favorite is Murakami) and brings the staid grandiosity of Versailles alive again in new ways.

Enjoy the photos and tell me which is your favorite in the comments!

1. Takashi Murakami (2010)

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Beautiful Photos of the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) Glacier in the French Alps

The Mer de Glace is France’s largest glacier at 7km long and 200 m thick. This historic site marked the start of Alpine tourism in the nineteenth century and offers a panoramic view of famous peaks such as Les Drus (3754m) and the Grandes Jorasses (4208m).

Tours of the “Grotte de Glace” (Ice Cave) takes visitors into the very heart of the glacier. Re-sculpted every year, it describes the life of mountain people in the early nineteenth century. It can be entered either by a walk of around 20 minutes on a footpath, or by gondola lift.

If you’re thinking of visiting the Mer de Glace, check out the official website of the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix for more information: Enjoy the photos below!

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Beautiful Paris Illustrations by Artist Lotta Nieminen

Lotta Nieminen’s illustrations of Paris are charming, innovative, and a pleasure to look at. It’s no wonder her work has appeared everywhere from Le Monde to window displays for Hermès and advertisements for Volkswagen and United Airlines. All of her illustration are eye candy. Check out her illustrations for Le Monde and Hermès below, and for more of her gorgeous art, here’s the link to her portfolio:

Illustrations in Le Monde

Le Monde | Lotta Nieminen

Le Monde | Lotta Nieminen

Window Displays for Hermès

Hermès / Lotta Nieminen

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