Posts Tagged ‘found money’

The Indomitable Hermès

June 16, 2011

Hermès emits rays of chic on the rue faubourg Saint-Honoré

The Experienced Travelers know that when life’s trials loom large, a girl needs an article of unparalleled exquisiteness that inspires her to overcome adversity.  We assure you — no accessory rises to the occasion like an Hermès scarf.

From the moment we landed in Paris, there was a giant ET magnet drawing Melinda and me to 24 rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the home of Hermès since 1880.  What began as a harness and saddle workshop in 1832 has become one of the premier luxury brands for silk, leather goods and fragrances.   We took in the rarefied air – a combination of new leather, perfume spritzers and smoldering American Express Centurion cards.

A stairway to heaven for any girl with a sugar daddy

The interior is classic French chic that suggests a Dior-ed Zsa-Zsa Gabor (“Lovely to Look At”, 1958), or my hero Audrey Hepburn as Gigi, *after* the Paris finishing school.  I was completely out of my league, but the polite staff overlooked the obvious and behaved perfectly.

She is laden with bags, and still goes for the scarf!

The scarf counter did a booming business in luscious hand-screened silk squares that made my eyes water.  I admired a scarf ring which would complement the Hermès scarf that Nurse gave me for my 50th birthday.  It was pretty.  It was chic.  It was about $170US. For a scarf ring.  (Nurse : u r at  hermes. so what. get a 2nd mortgage )

But I summoned my strength and passed on the purchase.  Immediately I made a quick ET calculation and converted it to Found Money.  These emotional decisions form the foundation of the ET Found Money strategy, and they build character.

The new Hermes - it's not just about horse motifs anymore

It was just kismet that we found the newest Hermès store in the rue de Sèvres and we had to investigate.  Maybe the aura of wealth would adhere to our ET molecules so we could float through Paris on a wave of privilege.  Well, we didn’t float, but we were completely awed by the modern, sophisticated style of the store.  If Hermès in the Faubourg is headquarters for the doyennes of Paris, then the rue de Sèvres is it’s trendy equivalent.

It's strangely similar to the chair we got at Big Lots - but maybe not.

If you long for an Hermès living room ensemble, or an Hermès tray, set with Hermès china for your breakfast in bed with Hermès tea, this is the location for you.  Though I didn’t find Hermès paper towels it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  I’ll check with Melinda, but I think I recall Hermès cocktail stir sticks for your Hermès martini.   It’s replete with air and light and Found Money of all denominations pouring into cash registers.  They’re all living the Hermès life.

A text message from Command Central (i am hungry. send food pics) jolted us from our dreams of wealth.  We left Hermès for the Cafe Flore to make a dent in that Found Money. Even in the 70-degree sunshine, we spotted Hermès scarves around chic shoulders.  We knew that those ladies would have to never stand down in the face of adversity.

Melinda inaugurates the 14 glasses of wine we relished on that first day in Paris

The “No Wine Left Behind” Tour

April 15, 2011

No Wine Left Behind: ETs Melinda and Julie working hard on behalf of the Blog

The Experienced Travelers can authoritatively state that a crisp côtes du rhône on a sun-filled cafe terrace in the Place Saint-André des Arts is the recommended treatment for cobblestone-worn feet.  And a carafe is even better. Associate ET Melinda and I had five fantastic days in Paris, while Nurse enthusiastically directed our activities from home base.  Melinda is every bit her mother’s daughter, and having her along was like Virtual Nurse throughout the trip.

St. Agricola of Avignon, the French patron saint of good weather, smiled on us with buckets of warm sun.  Thus the Parisians were in good spirits, and well-disposed toward tourists like us who leaked euros wherever they went.  Adding to the climate, Melinda’s glowing Texas charm melted the cool French demeanor and raised our cachet all across town.

Nurse supernaturally knew when it was meal time. We reported dutifully on this omlette and goat cheese salad

We went everywhere (one of us in stylish wedgie sandals) and photographed like mad. Nurse carefully monitored our pictures via Dropbox to make sure they were perfect for the Readership. Under strict direction from Nurse’s texts (what r u eating?) we documented every meal, so there are several scrumptious posts in our future! 

Melinda claims I am a travel taskmaster, but that just isn’t true!  It’s perfectly reasonable that, on our jet-lagged day, we breakfasted on the Rue Cler and tried the first macaron in our Taste Test, hit the Bon Marché food hall, shopped the rue de Sèvres and visited the chic new Hermes store, stopped for a pick-me-up and people-watching at the Café Flore and explored the rue Montgoreuil market for the second macaron in our Taste Test at Strohrer.

The dreaded cobblestones tested the ET endurance

After a short metro ride, we genuflected before E. Dehillerin and bought lovely new knives, tried fresh oysters and a crisp vintage at Au Pied du Cochon, passed the construction site over Les Halles, made our way to happy hour at a faux-Mexican bar on the rue de Bucci and had a light dinner of an omlette and a chevre chaud salad (with wine, n’est pas) at the Café Danton.  Taskmaster?  Moi? 

Over the next four days, we had Paris at our feet – which we would have realized if we had any feeling left in them. Early on, we ordered wine at every opportunity.  By the end of Day 1, we consumed 14 glasses between us.  By mid-day 2, we invoked emergency ET legislation requiring us to drink Perrier every other round. Yet by the time we dined in Montmartre that evening, we passed an amendment suspending the Perrier rule after sundown.  As we toasted the throng in the Place du Tertre,  the portrait artists lured willing subjects and the lady inside warbled Piaf songs to a piano accompaniment.  Exquisite.

Toasting the crowds in the Place du Tertre

Watch for more reports on our Parisian sojourn in future posts!

Versailles – the town

October 20, 2010

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Experienced Travellers are flexible.  Our free airline ticket was immediate “found money”, but it meant we arrived in Paris two days before the apartment was available.
We needed someplace to stay, and Versailles was a perfect choice. Staying in town gave us the flexibility to visit the Chateau after the tour busses depart for Chartres.  ETs are all about crowd avoidance.

Hotel Trianon Palace, Versailles. Our "found money" deal thanks to Amex points.

So how did budget-mided ETs end up at the 5-star Trianon Palace ?  Amex Membership Rewards points!  Now, if I had to pay for a hotel, I would have budgeted 130-euros per night.  So two nights on Amex points at the luxurious Trianon Palace **saved** 260 euros – which went into the “found money” account.  You’re getting the hang of it now, aren’t you?

The handicapped bathroom in our room. You shower in the bathroom (on the left). Don't blowdry your hair afterward or you risk electrocution from the water on the floor.

Even without the room charge, staying at the Trianon is astronomically expensive.  The ETs paled at the 30-euro continental breakfast and promptly found a nearby cafe.  Our fantasies of aristocractic living in Versailles were short-lived.  (Though that didn’t deter us from having our Gordon Ramsay lunch in his restaurant in the hotel.)

Look up when you walk in the Rue de la Pariosse

bThe town of Versailles held much promise for ETs,  and we spent time around the Marche de Notre Dame.  There’s plenty of 17-18th century architecture to admire, and an abundance of small shops and food stalls.

Like typical Versailles courtiers, we break for lunch at 1pm

ETs enter into the spirit of their surroundings, so when the French stop for lunch, we do too.  After a scholarly examination of  posted menus, we chose the Bistrot du Boucher. 

Nurse opened the proceedings with a Kir

paWe squeezed into a crowded banquette and looked forward to our lunch. The waiters were very accomodating and found a spot to park Nurse’s hotwheels.  Our neighbors were friendly and chatty.  The wine was good.  Everything pointed toward a pleasant afternoon spent in a buzz of full tummies and slight alcoholic daze.  

Our first pate of the trip met expectations

Nurse chose pate and tete de veau.  I more prudently selected steak-frites. Good, basic food to sustain us for the shopping that lay ahead.

Yes, I tried the tete de veau and yes, it was very good.

And since we’re on the topic of food in Versailles, I will bow to popular demand and do a second post on the Gordon Ramsay Lunch that features food photos.  The readership is clamoring for pictures, and so you shall have them.   As a student of history, I cannot ignore the will of the people.  I’ve learned from the 18c. residents of Versailles — for whom “chop-chop” isn’t the sound of mincing vegetables.  Vive la revolution!

Rue Toulouse in Versailles – la vie ancienne

  

 
 

 

Feet on the street – Part 2

October 11, 2010

La Fontaine St. Michel

I left off with that dreamy omlette, so I’ll resume my tale and take you through the 6th, past Les Invalides and add an addendum on our dinner.

The 6th arrondissement is perfect for ETs

There is an abundance of strolling, shopping and old things in this area.  Benjamin Franklin thought so too.  Cafe Procope was his hangout, so it’s only fitting that I should honor his legacy with a cafe express.  This cafe was the first to serve coffee in 1686.  The Founding Fathers all organized business trips to Paris – and often left their wives at home.  I wonder if they had French nieces too….

Robespierre, Danton and Marat also found it a convivial place where-from to run a Revolution.  I wonder who paid the check? (and I bet Citizen Robespierre didn’t have to wait 20 minutes to get it)
Rue de Buccci – the market street of the 6th

Experienced Travellers know not to travel the Rue de Bucci hungry.  I was still luminous from the omlette, so it was a permissable route.  This is the local marche, lined with cafes, epiceries, produce stands and shops.  My hero Janet Flanner lived nearby on the Rue Jacob and it was a favourite area for The Lost Generation.

Take-away salads on the Rue de Bucci

A popular spot for lunch and some mid-day flirting

I made my way down the Blvd. St. Germain and over the Rue de Grennelle, which takes me through Embassy Row.  Hmm. Lots of police , the road closed to traffic and absolutely NO SOUND except footsteps on the pavement.  Oh dear.  Even ETs can’t plan for every turn of events. 

I kept my head down and walked.  Very fast.  I’ve been reading too much Alan Furst. This must be what the streets were like at night during the Nazi occupation.  Alan’s heros duck into a doorway and press against the wall if a car approaches.  Especially if they’re  using forged papers and carrying microfilm.   Fortunately, I had no need of doorways or false alibis.

Les Invalides - army museum and military hospital

I emerged a little out of breath and regained my wits on a bench at the Invalides.  Les Invalides was established as a military hospital by Louis XIV – and his appetite for war consigned many of his troops to it’s care.  It is still used as a hospital today, and houses the Army Museum and the very grand tomb of Emperor Napoleon. 

The gold dome is beautiful at night when it’s lit.  The French are very very good at lighting monuments.  They’re also very good at integrating contemporary art with ancient or historical buildings.  I admired this installation in the Invalides garden.

Garden art at Les Invalides

Thank goodness it was time for dinner, and we had reservations at a wine bar called Number 7.  

The obligatory swirl

My knowledgable friend Terese encouraged me to order the St. Emillion, and I always follow her advice.  Now, I want to know if St. Emillion can be my new patron saint.

Nurse is a thurifer in our Church of St. Emillion

Nurse, resplendent after a day of rest, ordered a crab and zucchini terrine topped with chopped lime that was so refreshing.  The plates were sprinkled with a very interesting paprika.  So now we have to scour the market to find a small bottle for the suitcase.

Crab zucchini terrine. I had enough wine to wonder how they got the zuchinni to stick together.

This is where we learned that not all mashed potatos need to be mashed – some can be chunks! We finished the meal with a pear clafoutis and a cafe noir.

Pear clafoutis - the walk home will do us good

Thank goodness I walked all day.  I have a caloric theory that you can excercise ahead of time to offset the evening meal.  This operates on the same principle as “found money” and is equally sound.

The longer I spend in Paris, the more my theories are borne out. 


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