He lives and breathes.
Le Fantome de l’Opera.
As I stepped through oversize, gilded doorways, and arches, and marble staircases, snapping away at every single square inch of Paris’ famous, incredible Palais Garnier Opera, his spirit and presence, magically captured in each photograph.
These images – which I thought were so clear and magnificent capturing the exquisite decor…so hauntingly beautiful.
I first fell in love with the gothic Phantom of the Opera, by French writer Gaston Leroux back in college.
I was studying at Richmond College in London, and instantly fell in LOVE one night upon seeing the Andrew Lloyd Webber version live onstage.
I couldn’t wait to see the Paris Opera myself, up close and in person.
The story opens in Paris in 1911 at an auctioning of the contents of the Paris Opera House.
The contents include a fabulous chandelier in which the auctioneer proceeds to tell the story of the legend of the Phantom of the Opera.
Suddenly you are transported back a time when the Paris Opera House was at the height of its powers.
At that time, the opera house is, claimed by many, inhabited by a phantom.
If he is in anyway offended or annoyed then he will cause mayhem in the opera house.
The phantom decides to help a lowly chorus girl, Christine, by giving her music lessons through the wall of her dressing room.
He pretends to be the spirit of her dead father, and eventually she becomes a talented singer who is then thrust into the limelight.
Phantom worships Christine and is determined to make her a star.
When she isn’t given the lead in the new opera, he is angry, and decides to cause chaos in the opera house.
You tell me…
Do you still see him?
The kids have assumed the usual weekend position for a Saturday morning.
Clearly, they both just adore this french luxe cushy sofa from Ligne Roset in the Ile St Louis apartment.
Sit on one, and you’re done.
Most friends who have visited this summer have sat down, and quickly fallen into a cat nap.
We are now hooked for life.
And yes, that is two small children and dozens of stuffed animals.
Do your children fill their suitcases with favorite stuffed friends for family vacation?
So we’re off to the market.
The french brocante flea to be precise.
And what fun finds we did see.
We collect these french metal plaques, and have a fun, colorful collection over our dining room entrance.
Some are canine, horse show, livestock…
Aren’t they all so lovely?
Mike grabbed this iron fleur de lis for my collection – they are so easy to tuck into tablescapes with groups of petite vases and candles, all year long.
My obsession with french monogrammed linens at the brocante came to a shining, glorious, heavenly ahhhhhhhhhhh bathed in a sunbeam moment.
C’est magnifique, non?
A gorgeous tablecloth that might actually fit my 12′ long dining table.
A DL european sham for my big french toile bed at home in Chicago.
Oh happy day.
Ahhhh, the pure Parisian tradition of bistro dining that is Chez Georges.
Year after year, no matter the season, absolutely everything is exactly the same.
Just as it has been since 1946.
The handwritten, in lilac fountain pen, menu has not changed even one menu item.
Just as it should be.
This is classic Parisian dining, cheek to cheek at charming, teeny tables pushed tight together down the entire dining room (you can’t get up from the banquette until a waiter helps pull out the table for you!).
Upon being seated, our favorite petite plate arrives of radish, salt, salami.
The Lentil Salad, amazing.
Like nothing I have ever tasted.
A famous house specialty.
The melon jambon, a delicious combination of sweet and salty.
The steak frites, just perfection.
I order mine with au poivre – pepper sauce – the piece de resistance.
To end the meal, don’t think of anything but the fresh berries, fraise o framboise, strawberry or raspberry, with their housemade chantilly, whip cream.
It’s out of this world.
Our friend John ate the entire bowl of chantilly – well, let’s be honest – he had a bit of help around the table – and Anthony, our favorite waiter, immediately brought him another.
(which we promptly devoured immediately, bien sur).
We shall return tomorrow, pour dejuner.
I. Can’t. Wait.
Do you know that favorite french word?
The most famous french word in the world?
It is used one finds something irritating.
I love it, and hear it everywhere I go, every single day in Paris.
Well, it’s my turn.
La rentree has arrived again.
The return from summer.
Back to school.
My babies are packed up, flying home, and starting school today.
Summer has ended.
Togetherness 24/7, nowhere to be but side by side, in eachother’s great company, finished.
But alas, we celebrate, a beautiful summer of family and friends, and a fabulous new school year.
Cheers – and happy happy Back to School today Lilly et Parker!
Shall we spend the day together, en Paris?
Oui, bien sur.
Let’s Sunday window shop, along lovely, oh so glamorous avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement.
This is one street you do NOT want to miss when en Paris.
Major window eye candy.
Major gorgeous window fashion dressing.
Originally called “allée des Veuves” (widows’ alley) as in the 18th century women in mourning gathered here.
Avenue Montaigne comes from a french renaissance writer, and in the 19th century became famous for it’s sparkling, colorful Mabille balls each Saturday eve.
No wonder I love it.
Kindred past spirits.
By the 1980s, avenue Montaigne was coined “la grande dame” of French streets for high fashion and accessories, even more important than the previous ruler of couture, rue de Faubourg Saint Honore.
Up and down each side of the block, boutique windows are dressed to the high fashion couture nines inside Louis Vuitton, (Mike just surprised me and bought an anniversary present here!) Dior, Chanel, Valentino, Celine, Nina Ricci…
Not to mention the world famous red awnings of Hotel Plaza Athenee, where I was lucky enough to spend several nights as the guest of Dom Perignon, living a total Parisian dream.
Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton group, LVMH, one of my favorite clients to work alongside in Chicago, owns the major portfolio of the street’s real estate.
Marlene Dietrich, starlet extraordinaire, lived at No. 12 avenue Montaigne for many years.
Being so magnifique, Comité Montaigne has created an interactive map, complete with backstage fashion access, street style, so you can explore step by step yourself! Just click here.
The Prada dresses Gatsby story full of fashion sketches for days is my personal favorite, click here to read.
At 15 avenue Montaigne stands the famous Theatre des Champs-Elysees, the main character in the beautiful french film Avenue Montaigne.
Have you seen it?
It is just beyond lovely.
Such prestigious address and beauty does remind one that every rose has it’s thorn.
You may remember, in December 2008 the iconic Harry Winston boutique at 29 avenue Montaigne was robbed of more than 80 million euro, (roughly $100 million in dollars) worth of glittering glam, from diamond rings, to necklaces to luxury watches by a “gang of three or four” armed men just before closing. It had also been robbed in October 2007, when a similar heist netted the robbers about 20 million euro.
Strolling through Paris, trend spotting, is my number one order of business each day.
How gorgeous is this Pierre Frey window, on my favorite design district street, Rue du Mail?
This ultra chic, comfy, swanky lounge beckons to sit a spell, and soak it all in.
It would be the absolute hit of every single wedding after party, event cocktail area lounge and so many more.
We so need these stunning lanterns for our very own A Perfect Event windows…and many an upcoming party, non?