Monday, October 18, 2010

Place Vendome

The 44 metre Column - made mainly of stone, covered in the bronze of 1250 cannons taken at the Battle of Austerliz , was designed in 1805 by Denon, Gondouin, and Lepère and designed in the style of Trajan's Column in Rome. Constructioned between 1806 - 1810, the spiral bronze bas-relief was created by Bergeret.

Atop this statue was Napoléon, but a statue of Caesar replaced him. Like playing King of the castle Henri IV had been the earlier figurehead topping the column, but the 100 Day (1815) put pay to that when Napoléon returned from Elba and attempted to regain power, which is when his likeness was unveiled.

The column was torn down during the Commune in 1871, by the Communards, in more recent times a pop group, lead by Gustave Courbet the artist. Courbet was ordered to resurrect the column as ordered, though he died in exile in Switzerland. During 1873 - 1874, the column was reestablished at the center of Place Vendôme with a copy of the original statue on top.

Surrounded by exclusive shops like Chanel, Cartier and Piaget, not to mention the Ritz hotel, Place Vendome is an institution in history. Ernest Hemingway used to frequent the bar at the Ritz Hotel and it is now named in his honour, left exactly how it was with wood paneling, have a drink here and remind yourself this is one of the last locations Princess Diana spent time at before that fateful night.

Place Vendome has been the site for many a designer to set their ateliers in, even composer Chopin once lived here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


It is possible to take a tour through the sumptuous theatre, up grand staircases and great apartments at L'Opera with a company called Purple Beam. It is definitely worth visiting the venerable institution as it is such a magnificent palace.

The statues on the roof are gold leaf and glimmer even in the dimmest of light on a grey clouded day. They are what makes Paris, Paris.

Currently undergoing restoration, it is one of the only buildings in Paris where Napoleon was able to ride up in his carriage to the side entrance completely under cover, so as not to get wet nor mingle with onlookers, he could go straight in close to curtain up for any performance.
Lavishly garnered in majestic columns, statues and galeries a style typical of Des Beaux-Art L'Opera was formerly known as Academie Nationale de Musique.

L'Opera was a feat of engineering on a difficult site, and it is a triumphant monument to architecture. Built between 1857 and 1874 by Charles Garnier its neo baroque style stands central to Avenue de L'Opera, flanked on either sides by Boulevard de la Madeleine and Boulevard des Italienne (left and right) and at the back Boulevard Haussmann.
If you every want inspiration for what to wear and how to wear it, just glance around you on the streets of Paris. On Ave. de L'Opera Bud was taken by the beauty of her legs, I do agree, wish I had pins like that. I love the jacket and handbag, Parisienne women just have so much panache.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parisian flat containing €2.1 million painting lay untouched for 70 years

Behind the door, under a thick layer of dusk lay a treasure trove of turn-of-the-century objects including a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.

The woman who owned the flat had left for the south of France before the Second World War and never returned.

But when she died recently aged 91, experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions and homed in on the flat near the Trinité church in Paris between the Pigalle red light district and Opera.

Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris' 9th arrondissement, one expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.

"There was a smell of old dust," said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery. Walking under high wooden ceilings, past an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, he spotted a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war, as well as an exquisite dressing table.

But he said his heart missed a beat when he caught sight of a stunning tableau of a woman in a pink muslin evening dress.

The painting was by Boldini and the subject a beautiful Frenchwoman who turned out to be the artist's former muse and whose granddaughter it was who had left the flat uninhabited for more than half a century.

The muse was Marthe de Florian, an actress with a long list of ardent admirers, whose fervent love letters she kept wrapped neatly in ribbon and were still on the premises. Among the admirers was the 72nd prime minister of France, George Clemenceau, but also Boldini.

The expert had a hunch the painting was by Boldini, but could find no record of the painting. "No reference book dedicated to Boldini mentioned the tableau, which was never exhibited," said Marc Ottavi, the art specialist he consulted about the work.

When Mr Choppin-Janvry found a visiting card with a scribbled love note from Boldini, he knew he had struck gold. "We had the link and I was sure at that moment that it was indeed a very fine Boldini".

He finally found a reference to the work in a book by the artist's widow, which said it was painted in 1898 when Miss de Florian was 24.

The starting price for the painting was €300,000 but it rocketed as ten bidders vyed for the historic work. Finally it went under the hammer for €2.1 million, a world record for the artist.

"It was a magic moment. One could see that the buyer loved the painting; he paid the price of passion," said Mr Ottavi.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jean-Paul Gaultier's Mah Jong sofa

Jean-Paul Gaultier's Mah Jong sofa was beautifully displayed at Galerie Lafayette, these shots show is unique take on the 1970's original design.

Quirky, elegant, spirited and visually rich, I love these designs.

Galerie Lafayette

If you're on a whistle stop tour of Paris or with family who just don't want to shop all around Paris, see if they might like to choose a department that suits them at Galerie Lafayette. You can make a beeline to womens wear and take in 100's of designers all under the one roof. It doesn't just provide a stage for couture. Try make up, jewellery, mens, womens, childrens wear. Everything's under one roof, well actually several as they have now bought premises across the road. Its divided into mens store one side of the street and womens the other, with home wares and decor in the adjacent block.

I saw everything from Jean Paul Gaultier Mah Jong sofas to Debeers Diamonds. The basement shoe department for women was to die for. Every quality shoe designer you could think of all vying for your attention, not to mention the womens couture, pret a porter, from evening wear to casual.

Thank goodness for Théophile Bader and his cousin Alphonse Kahn,who in 1893 opened a fashion store in a small haberdasher's shop at the corner of rue La Fayette and the Chaussée d'Antin, Paris. In 1896, the company purchased the entire building at n°1 rue La Fayette and in 1905 the buildings at n°38, 40 et 42, boulevard Haussmann and n°15 rue de la Chaussée d'Antin.

Théophile Bader commissioned Georges Chedanne and then his pupil Ferdinand Chanut to design the layout of the Haussmann location. A glass and steel dome, and Art Nouveau staircases were built in 1912.

Paris flagship store

The flagship store of Galeries Lafayette in Paris is a 10-storey department store. It is located at 40, boulevard Haussmann, in the IXe arrondissement.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bourse The French Stock Exchange

Historically, stock trading activities have been located at several spots in Paris, including rue Quincampoix , rue Vivienne (near the Palais Royal), and the back of the Opéra Garnier (the Paris opera house). In the early 19th century, the Paris Bourse's activities found a stable location at the Palais Brongniart, or Palais de la Bourse (designed by architect Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart).

From the second half of the 19th century, official stock markets in Paris were operated by the Compagnie des agents de change, directed by the elected members of a stockbrokers' syndical council. The number of dealers in each of the different trading areas of the Bourse was limited. In the case of the agents de change (the official stockbrokers at the Paris Bourse), there were around 60. An agent de change had to be a French citizen, be nominated by a former agent or his estate, and be approved by the Minister of Finance, and he was appointed by decree of the President of the Republic. Officially, the agents de change could not trade for their own account nor even be a counterpart to someone who wanted to buy or sell securities with their aid; they were strictly brokers, that is, intermediaries. In the financial literature, the Paris Bourse is hence referred to as "order-driven market", as opposed to "quote-driven markets" or "dealer markets", where price-setting is handled by a dealer or market-maker. In Paris, only agents de change could receive a commission, at a rate fixed by law, for acting as an intermediary. However, parallel arrangements were usual in order to favor some clients' quote[clarification needed]. Moreover, until about the middle of the 20th century, a parallel market known as "La Coulisse" was in operation.

Until the late 1980s, this market operated as an open outcry exchange, with the agents de change meeting on the exchange floor of the Palais Brongniart. In 1986, the Paris Bourse started to implement an electronic trading system. This was known generically as CATS(Computer Assisted Trading System), but the Paris version was called CAC (Cotation Assistée en Continu). By 1989, quotations were fully automated. The Palais Brongniart hosted the French financial derivatives exchanges MATIF and MONEP, until they were fully automated in 1998. In the late 1990s, the Paris Bourse launched the Euronext initiative, an alliance of several European stock exchanges.

Seen here from the front the majestic pillars soar skywards.

Around the back of Palais Royale the little streets take you directly to La Bourse, just down this small street the domed roof of Bourse looms.

Amongst the local shops around Bourse this one shines with a splended array of blooms and pot plants that share the footpath with pedestrians. In this small city street this one doesn't mind having to walk around the shopfront it smells so good.

In the close knit community around Bourse are many small shops that have been there for decades. This hat shop is one of them.