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Paris, You Had Me at Bonjour

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Paris was everything I hoped it would be and more. Visiting the city was a dream come true, and for most of the time, really all of the time, it seemed too good to be true. Three miles shy of being four thousand miles away from home, I often found myself taking in the sights, the sounds and the scenery and thinking, somebody pinch me. Like when my dad, my step mom and my step sister were laughing together at some lame joke my dad thought was funny. Keyword – thought. Or when my dad and I spent each morning, until around noon or so, reading outside on the hotel terrace. Me with my book, The Girl on the Train, and he with his newspaper, The New York Times International. Another moment – when my step sister beat my dad for the umpteenth time in backgammon and we all had our hands raised in the air as if the Super Bowl or the World Cup had just been won. One more moment – when we were all in front of my camera, smiling with our pearly whites showing, on top of the Eiffel Tower. Every moment was a great moment, and every moment is now a great memory.

(see larger images of photos below here)

Straight off the plane and rather jet lagged (red eye flights suck!), my first stop was Montmarte to meet Julie and her daughter, Lola, and Lola. Two Lolas! She greeted me outside Terminus Nord, a cafe, with a kiss on one cheek and then a kiss on the other – so French. I only spent a short time with her, but her joie de vivre was just as I imagined any French woman’s would be. She laughed often, very often, and while browsing the fabric stores, she stayed attentive to me, asking if I was finding everything okay. When we said goodbye, she hugged like a hug when you receive a truly great gift – a tight squeeze. Well, I guess meeting Julie was a truly great gift. And her daughter – too damn cute! As we were taking photos, she took front and center, striking a pose for each. Typical model behavior. Tres chic!

Gasp! I didn’t buy any fabric. Gasp again! I didn’t buy any trims either. I didn’t intend to; I have a pretty good fabric/trim assortment at home. Lingerie was still on my mind, but I was in search of inspiration, not supplies. I hit up many of the lingerie stores – Aubade, Princess Tam Tam, Etam, La Perla, Wolford and more – studying the construction and fabric. Ying and Elma received their fair share of texts/emails from me while I was there – “Oh! See how they sewed that!?” I more than splurged on a few sets – my first lingerie purchase in more than a year! – and they’ll be popping up here on the blog in the future as I try to replicate their methods for my own me mades.

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We spent that Monday and Tuesday in Normandy – my family and I took a train north. We share a passion for history – we geek out over Charlemagne, The Hundred Years War, William the Conqueror, etc – so we visited the area to see where the Battle of Normandy took place. Additionally, my great grandfather was one of the men who stormed the beaches as part of the D-Day Invasion. It is incredible to believe that 71 years ago, France was occupied by Germany. I can’t imagine what I would do if the U.S. started bombing Philadelphia, started bombing their own people and country. That’s what happened to the city of Caen just prior to the invasion. But it was part of the plan, a plan that took over 2 years to execute. The battle was only the last, little portion of it, and without extensive logistics, which included misleading the Germans to believe an invasion was occurring somewhere else, dummy tanks (some inflatable), and fake paratroopers and more, the battle would not have been successful. Sorry, me being a nerd and cliche. Let’s get on with the recap, shall we?

While there, we stayed at truly remarkable place – Chateau D’Audrieu. Between Caen and Bayeux, it is an 18th century house that sits on 20 acres. Life moves slow here in a good way. There is little cell phone reception – at best a bar or two – no computers and no gym. Each night, we played backgammon on the patio. We got so into it that on the last night, we made a night out of it and filled the table with wine, cheese, baguettes and sausage. Game on! Like I wrote above, Kirsten, my step sister, killed it. I lost terribly.

Back in the city Wednesday through the remainder of the trip, I shopped (Le Marais was my favorite area), visited museums, ate croissants, ran along the Seine, and walked, walked and walked. I visited the Musee D’Orsay and saw one of my favorite pieces in real life – Degas’ Tiny Dancer, Age 14. There are more renditions in other museums, but seeing it in Paris is an experience. I also hit up the Jean Paul Gaultier installation at The Grand Palais. A designer who has dipped into the world of lingerie – cone bra, corset, inner wear as outer wear – it was incredible to be so close to his garments.

This trip was my first true vacation since I was a child. I’ve never been away from work or home for more than 4 or 5 days, holidays included. This past month and year have been busier and more stressful than ever. I can’t complain because it’s all good things that are(have) happening(ed) and I consider myself lucky for the opportunities. That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a break, and this trip was a break that I desperately needed. I arrange my schedule around work/Madalynne, and I turn down really too many opportunities because of a due date for whatever. I’m going to make an effort to do the opposite – arranging my work/Madalynne schedule around those opportunities. Work and Madalynne will always be there, experiences and opportunities won’t. I may have to push a project to next week or next month, but you know what, I’ll probably be too busy having a good time to even notice. The sun will still rise and set if I don’t make a particular due date; life will move on. It is only me who is pushing myself, sometimes too hard. I still have goals – too many that are probably too lofty for my own good – and I’ll get there, but why not have some fun along the way, eh? Ya feel me?

Au revoir, Paris! Until next time, because there will be a next time, keep it real. In the meantime, does anyone know an American company (read: they speak English) looking to hire? : )

22 Comments

  1. Reply

    Cynical Girl Vintage

    Your photos are stunning. Loved the bit about the dummy tanks in the Ghost Army (http://www.ghostarmy.org/), which is going to be made into a movie directed by Bradley Cooper, I believe. Truly fascinating stuff. My hubby is a camouflage authority so I get to hear all about it. Welcome home.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Bradley Cooper and WWII – I’m in! It’s good to be back, but I miss France already!

  2. Reply

    embroiderpiccies

    Hi. Loved reading your post, so great you had such a wonderful action packed led time. I so look forward to reading your blog entries and I understand the work life balance. Getting it right is so important not only to our wellbeing but to who we are. I have been to Paris twice not for work – and several times for work – meeting and then home. Must aim to go again soon… I only live in London so not much excuse.

    • Reply

      maddie

      It’s a balancing act that’s like walking a tight rope. Sometimes, you sway to the right and sometimes, you sway to the left, but as long as you’re still standing, you’re okay. Perfection is over rated anyways, right?

  3. Reply

    oonaballoona

    we were super lucky to have a chateau at our pleasure (well, and *cost*) a few times…some of the best vacation memories ever. we’d play card games for hours accompanied by all the wine we could drink. your backgammon festival (the whole trip, actually!) sounds like perfection.

    • Reply

      maddie

      It was close to perfection and I was thinking of you and the other sewing ladies when I was drinking apple brandy – ahem – made locally. Miss you chick!

  4. Reply

    Adesays

    You just made me miss Paris all over again and again. I can’t wait to be back with a coffee in hand, strolling down the cobbled streets, people watch and just soak in the atmosphere!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Take me with you! I want to go back!

  5. Reply

    bimbleandpimble

    This looks like such a lovely vacation- sometimes you need a breather to recharge with your family and just chill away from the ‘net. Also, backgammon tournaments sound the best. In my family we do the antipasto spread and work on a giant jigsaw. So simple but so much fun 😀

    • Reply

      maddie

      Simple pleasures in life – cheese and (forced) family fun

  6. Reply

    Anna

    This doesn’t look like a vacation – it looks like a dream! I think you’ve managed to capture the true essence of Paris. And yes, I really know what you mean by rearranging schedules… It’s a wise thing to do – when we’re old we are never going to regret the time we took off from work but I’m pretty sure we’re going to regret not taking that trip we really wanted to! 🙂

    Welcome back, though!

  7. Reply

    megthegrand

    Sounds like such a marvelous trip! Your photos are gorgeous, as always 🙂

  8. Reply

    zilredloh

    Your photos are lovely and so glad you had a wonderful trip. But… it’s France, how could you not?! 😀 I’m going myself in about 6 weeks from now – your recap has me wishing it were tomorrow.

  9. Reply

    Michelle E

    It looks like Paris is exactly your esthete, beautiful photography… as usual. Welcome home!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I felt at home in Paris, and I could so live there!

  10. Reply

    mrandmrsadventure

    Maddie, you had me at Paris. What a beautiful way to celebrate your 1st overseas adventure <3

  11. Reply

    The Wardrobe Stylist

    Love the images…so inspirational! I am following you on Bloglovin, please follow me back to keep up with each other’s news 🙂

  12. Reply

    beatahill

    Beautiful post dear! Hope you have a lovely day.

    http://www.popprom.com

  13. Reply

    Clarinda Kaleidoscope

    What a beautiful post – thoroughly enjoyed your photos and musings.

  14. Reply

    J K Williams

    Exquisite pictures, priceless adventure, magical time with family. This is what dreams are made of!!

    Yes we must make enough money to pay for electricity, wine and cheese. Ambition is challenging, but I am glad to see you are learning early on to have a balanced perspective. Wisdom beyond your years!

  15. Reply

    Porfiria

    A beautiful dream.. So inspire…. reads like a fairytale.

    • Reply

      maddie

      It was a fairytale!

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