Paris in Bloom

Spring has made its way to Paris! And with it comes the charm of discovering cobbled paths that lead to secret gardens, where you can sit for hours and lose yourself with a good book, or better yet, a good friend.

A favorite of these spots can be found in the Marais, of course. Where exactly? 60 Rue des Francs Bourgeois.

The Archives Nationales is the heart of Parisian history since 1808. Within two regal buildings, Hôtel de Soubise and the Hôtel de Rohan, all the pre-French Revolution archives are stored. Upon entering, you discover an enchanting space hidden within a bustling city.

Pass through the small entrance on the north side of the courtyard, and the scenery quickly changes from architectural marvels to verdant landscapes. A maze-like path weaves through fountains and rock formations. The four gardens you encounter were designed by French landscape architect Louis Benech, also known for the Tuileries Gardens. Have a seat on one of the benches surrounded by the scent of roses, and enjoy this clandestine Parisian paradise.

If you’re looking for more ways to the spend the perfect afternoon in Paris, here are a few tips in my recent collaboration with Eurostar. Though I warn you, you may never want to leave!

summer in the city

For those of us staying in Paris or visiting the City of Lights in August, the month when most Parisians leave town and head to their preferred holiday destinations, where to go to get away from the crowds and relax beneath the late summer sun? Thankfully, I’ve discovered a few favorite spots that I’m happy to share with you.

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The annual Paris Plages along the banks of the Seine is back for its 14th year, with plenty of spots in which to lounge, and with some of the most impressive views in all of Paris. Sand at your feet and rosé in hand, not a bad way to relax. You can also take a dance or tai-chi class or play pétanque. From the Louvre to Pont de Sully, this year it lasts even longer, ending September 4th. 

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One of my favorite discoveries has been the Jardin à l’heure d’été (summer garden) at the Swedish Institute in the Marais. By simply borrowing a book, you sit on the ample lawn all day, lounging in the sun. There’s a cafe for snacks and smoothies, Swedish of course. With activities for kids, there are plenty of toddlers running around. Entrance is at 10 rue Elzévir. Open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12:30 to 7:30 until August 25th.

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If sipping cocktails on a rooftop is your idea of a night well spent, then I’ll meet you at Le Perchoir in the Marais. “Hidden” on the rooftop of department store BHV, this urban escape is the hotspot of the summer, if you don’t mind waiting on line to experience the sunset vista. There are a few locations including the new Le Perchoir de l’est, in the east of Paris. Entrance on 37 rue de la Verrerie. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 8.15pm to 2am, and Wednesdays 9.15pm to 2am well into September.

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A new addition to Paris’ rooftop scene is the recently installed terrace at Galeries Lafayette, where the Cube Bar greets you with a spacious lounge, down tempo tunes and breathtaking views. With an assortment of champagne cocktails and Mediterranean appetizers, it’s the perfect spot to take a shopping break and take in the city. Located on the 7th floor at 40 Boulevard Haussmann, from 10am to 8pm until August 20th.

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For those in Paris, enjoy your summer in the city!

hidden romanticism

Clandestinely situated down a long alleyway on an unassuming street in the 9eme arrondissement, sits the house of painter Ary Scheffer, also known as the Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of the Romantics). How did I not know about this earlier? I decided to venture there on a sunny morning, with friend and fellow romantic Jacquelyn, to explore this artist’s home, dedicated to the arts and literature of the first half of the XIXth century. Truly a hidden gem!

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It is here that much of writer George Sand‘s memorabilia are displayed including portraits, pens, jewelry… even her hair! An impressive collection. Incidentally, this famous writer and mistress of Chopin, once lived on my street in the Marais!

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After touring the house’s many chambers, filled with landscape paintings by George Sand and portraits by Ary Scheffer, we took our romantic musings to the garden.

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A memorable morning spent with the romantics… and a new favorite hideaway in Paris.

Musée de la Vie Romantique
16 rue Chaptal 75009

Provence in a bag

In honor of what almost feels like summer in Paris, and simply due to inspiration during my travels in the South of France, my latest handbags are aptly called the Provence Collection. Filled with colors and flowers to brighten up the grayest of days, in Paris or anywhere for that matter. With the help of photographer Louise Chester, these bags came to life and are now available online at www.kasiadietz.com. All bags and totes are reversible, limited edition and of course, made in Paris!

Flowers tote

Flowers tote and matching clutch.

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Colors bag and matching purse.

Colors bag and purse

Wishing all a colorful summer, wherever you may be in the world!

pique-niqueing & pétanque

IMG_2670 2When the sun comes out, so do the Parisians. On a recent spring-like day, moods were high and there was a lightness evident in the air. Now this is what spring is meant to feel like! My Italian and I joined a group of friends at the gardens of the Palais Royal for my favorite summer pastime, le pique-nique. It was here too that I played my first game of pétanque, the famous French sport so often played in and around Paris. Immediately I took a liking to this game of ball throwing, even winning a few times. Perhaps the champagne helped!

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It was beneath these blue skies that once again, I felt lucky to live within such immense beauty.

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On the way home, a little surprise in the form of fashion to end a well-spent day, la vie parisienne.

winter white

I’ve never been a great fan of winter, finding short days with a lack of sunlight hard to bear for so many long months. Not to mention the bitter cold. But when it snows in Paris, the landscape is nothing but magical. This is the winter that I love. Time seems to stand still as a blanket of calm covers the city. This past week Paris turned from gray to white, and at it’s onset I convinced my Italian to venture into the snowy stillness of our neighborhood, le Marais. 

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The following morning I awoke to find a brighter shade of white.

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All the way to Place des Victoires, Henry XIV braved the snow, appearing even more regal.

afternoon with Rodin

Every first Sunday of the month, Paris art aficionados receive a gift from the city. Many museums and cultural institutions in and around Paris are open, free of charge. Though I believe art should be free and museums should admit their patrons by donation only. On such a recent Sunday, the sun was shining over bright blue skies, and there was no way not to enjoy it, in the company of art. We chose one of my favorites, the ‘progenitor of modern sculpture’, Auguste Rodin.

Musée Rodin reveals one of the most spectacular gardens in Paris, home of The Thinker.

Sculptures amidst trees, strewn in the late afternoon sunshine.

The Gates of Hell, one of Rodin’s most notable sculptures.

I sat by the lake and thought of the life Rodin must have led, and what inspired him to create.

Perhaps withing this regal structure I will find the answers.

outside {art}

During the recent days of FIAC, my Italian and I spent a glorious Sunday in the Tuileries Garden beneath the early Autumn sun, surrounded on all sides by art. This the outside feature of the contemporary art show. Was it the bright light or the unique sculptures that captured our eye? Perhaps a mix of the two. Enjoy the tour amidst a setting worthy itself of admiring.

Beginning with the carved wing of a plane.

A floating silver sculpture by Antoine Dorotte, glowing in it’s pond.

A Richard Serra-esque composition by artist Danh Vo.

Art competing in scale with the Louvre itself.

A wooden shining star.

Last, but certainly not least, an inflatable monkey hanging out of the Louvre. Pourquoi Pas?

 

garden of art

My neighbor is Picasso. Rather, his art collection, contained in the Picasso Museum. How privileged do I feel living in such close proximity to some of the greatest art works in history? Very. But for the moment, a long moment ending sometime in Spring 2013, the museum is closed. That leaves me to explore the artwork surrounding the museum, more modern in style, some of it equally abstract.

Anyone who lives in Paris or visits often knows that you need only to look up to find artistic expressions in the form of graffiti, posters, murals… Often times the art found on the exterior walls of Paris is more interesting than that found inside the museums. If you take the time to look for it.

The beauty of the Picasso Museum lies also in it’s structure and surrounding garden. An ideal place to seek refuge and read a bit of French philosophy, do some writing of your own, share a baguette, or play a game of ping-pong. The latter one of my favorite Paris past times. And the composition of the sky above the museum at dusk is in itself a masterpiece.