Friday, June 24, 2011

Très Désolée...

I'm a horrid blogger from abroad. It just got to be too much. There's so much to see and do and I want to relish every moment. { Can I just tell you how much I'd like to live here for a few years? Or a few months every year? Or maybe forever? THIS much. That was about the size of Canada, in case you couldn't tell.  Most of my this muchs are the size of Rhode Island. }

But I do promise that I've been wearing and photographing a 30x30 outfit every single day, and as soon as I get back stateside next week I'll begin editing and posting each one till I catch up.  And I've got some fun ones.  Like medieval villages that look like they're from a fairy tale. And jumping off of a waterfall into a river that flows into Lake Como in the Italian Alps. And biking around Lake Como. And Milan. And the Italian marvel of Cinque Terre. And diving into the Mediterranean. And more French Riviera, like Monaco. Oh, the fun I've had. I'll also catch up with comments and checking out everyone else's blogs and 30x30s.

I've got just a few more days of fun left, and I'm going to squeeze every bit of delight out of them as I can! So until Tuesday, mes amies!

P.S.  That's Monaco behind us in the photo up top. And the top I'm wearing is from Milan. It's officially been added as my third missing item for my 30x30, to make Outfit 14 you see above :)

*Très désolée = Very sorry; mes amies = my friends

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Late Francophone Friday: Les Marchés aux Puces and 30x30 Outfit 8

Skirt: Thrifted in Paris / Shoes: Clarks / Top, Earrings: Gabes (Express, Monet) / Necklace: Ruche / Belt: J Crew final sale

Bonjour from Cannes! We've been roaming the Côte d'Azur, or the French Riveria. The photos up top are taken at la Croisette, the famous Mediterranean beach in Cannes. I'm way behind on my 30x30 posts, but I'll catch up. This is actually outfit # 8. I still need to post #5-7, but I was getting ridiculously behind on this Francophone Friday post, so I wanted to get it in first. It's on, as promised,  Paris's famed Marchés aux Puces, a true marvel of antiquity. Here's what you need to know:

1. Marche aux Puces translates to Flea Market.  Paris features several of them. This is a great article about them.  I got the above skirt at the one at the Porte de Vanves, in the south of Paris.

2. Puce is also a term of endearment in French. Ma petite puce, which literally means my little flea, is a common love moniker.  Think of it as the French version of the love bug, though the connotation's a bit off :)

3. Paris's market at Saint Ouen is the largest vintage market in the world. It originated long ago when rag and bone pickers, known as les pêcheurs de la lune {moon fishermen- because they worked at night}, went through rubbish outside of royal homes and fortifications to sell on the streets. Their products, having been disposed of, were often flea-ridden. The pickers soon banded together and legend has it that someone looking down from the city fortifications exclaimed that it was nothing but a "market of fleas" and the name caught on.

4. Today, you can find charming vintage furniture...

...frames and paintings and pictures...

...random antiquities...

...and jewelry, like these brooches.

I just realized I didn't buy any of these. Clearly, my brain was already at lunch. I think I may be sick. They're gorgeous, versatile, from Paris, vintage, and reasonably priced and I passed them right up. Looks like I need a new alibi for my secret scheme to become friends with Jentine.

5. By early afternoon at Vanves, most vendors leave, some antiques vendors stay and put out clothes, and other vendors move in to sell new and used clothes.  This is where I got my goods.

I was overwhelmed. I wanted to buy everything, and most aren't priced and I'm a wretched haggler. I also couldn't  take much with me, so I focused on the used clothing because there were entire tables of items to thrift for 5 euros a piece. I found the lacey top I wore this past Tuesday, a dusty rose skirt and a very French sundress { which I'll feature after my 30x30} , and the skirt you see in the photos above, which is, I believe, the only piece that could be considered truly vintage. It's label-less, with a yellowed tag inside {any markings are worn off.} It's silky, striped, black and white, and pleated, That's about as French as you can get!

So if you ever make it to Paris, and happen to be there Saturday-Monday, you have no excuse not to stop by a marché aux puces and see what treasures you can find. We can't be friends, otherwise. But I might let you make it up by calling the love in your live "my little flea" then letting me know how they react :)

P.S. My friend Jaime asked that I photograph what people are wearing over here. I can't believe I didn't think about that in Paris, which is by far where I've seen the most interesting fashion, but I'm trying my best. It's not terribly convenient to discretely photograph the locals, or easy to get a good shot, but I'm trying!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I've been busy....

doing things like this...

and then this again..

and still being bested by the Husband like this:

Little show off daredevil. He's why I jumped in my dress. That's part of 30x30 Outfit 6 right there.  I couldn't leave to get my swimsuit. I couldn't not jump after he did either. There's a whole story and more from our day in Nîmes. I'll post it soon. Oh yeah, and I have my Outfit 5 post from the medieval Carcassonne to do.  AND Francophone Friday on Le Marche des Puces to do. Oh là là. It's all coming, I promise! I was going to work on it tonight. But we're in Cannes. And it was more fun to enjoy a fresh mozzarella and tomato panini and salted caramel gelato while sitting on the edge of the Mediterranean to watch a full yellow moon peek in and out between the clouds and palms.

P.S. That's the highest Roman aqueduct bridge in the world behind us in those photos. Built in the 1st century AD. Whoa.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Le Mont St. Michel: 30x30 Outfit 4

 Skirt: TJ Maxx (Patagonia) / Top & Bracelet: J Crew Factory / Shoes: Privo / Earrings: Gabes (Monet) / Hat: J Crew final sale /  Jacket: Gap

Do you know le Mont St. Michel? If not, it's my great pleasure to introduce you.  Mes amis, je vous présente L'Abbayé Merveilleuse*, Le Mont St. Michel:

Here are 10 fun little bits about this lovely dame:

1. The abbey you see at the top of this hill was begun in the 700s.  Throughout the years it was enlarged and a small town developed around it. It's been a famous Christian pilgrimage site for centuries.

2. The wall around the the town was added as defense against the English invasions in the 100 Years War. The abbey held strong and the town was never taken.

3. It's situated in an area that gets the second highest, most dangerous tides in the world, raising over 50 feet between high and low tide. Cars are warned to be out by high tide, lest they be washed away.  At low tide you can walk the mudflats around the abbey and hardly see the ocean line. At high tide water laps the town walls, turning it into an island.

4. The town circling the abbey is a twisted mass of cobbled streets lined with stone walls, hidden gardens and flowered terraces, cliffs, turrets, cafes, shops, bakeries, quaint hotels, and intertwining stairways leading up to the abbey.

5. Tourists like to bring their dogs. They get in the way. But then you hear perfectly British exchanges like this and no longer care:  A lady is on the left of a wall-lined path, her dog stretching his leash to the right. A gentleman comes to the leash, the lady says in a perfect British accent, "So sorry," and pulls her dog close. The man says, "That's a good lady, there," in an even more British accent, to which she replies, "Thank-ye, kind sir." You momentarily wonder if you've stumbled into Mary Poppins's world.

6. There are lots of small doors. Which no one answers.

7.  Baby birds live in the turret windows and cry heart breakingly when their mamas leave to find food. Then you see the mama return with food and jump in delight as the downy baby hops in equal delight.

8. Salted caramels made from the salt marshes near the abbey can make anything seem better. Even having your i-phone stolen. And used for lots of international calls. I hope they're looking at photos of me pushing the Hound in a swing at the park with remorse. Whoever has the Husband's phone is a big meanie. Whoever thought of salting caramel was a genius.

9. Cafés serving flambéed Normand dishes, like this apple and apple sorbet crêpe, won't flambé it in front of you because of the wind. Instead, they heat the liquor inside, then ask how much you want and you tell them to keep pouring because you want a big flame. They ask if you're sure, then drown your crêpe with a smile. You then find out that wind thing.

10. At night, flood lights point up towards the abbey, lighting it up as a beacon for miles around.  We wish we could've stayed to see this, but it's a long drive to Carcassonne and we needed to be going.  So you can check out professional photos of it here.

And there you go, l'Abbayé Mont St. Michel.  I really can't wait to edit my photos. It's been awfully cloudy. I'm calling it stormy and mysterious instead of annoying, but it's so hard to get good shots in that lighting with our camera.

À demain* from Carcassonne! { And yes, if you're a nerd like me that likes games like that, it is indeed the town upon which the board game of the same name is modeled. }

P.S. If you ever go to France, never never never stay in a F1 hotel. Simply awful.
*Mes amis, je vous présente L'Abbayé Merveilleuse...: Friends, I give you the Abbey of Marvels...; À demain = See you tomorrow

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Parisian Lace in Normandy: 30x30 Outfit 3

Lace Top: Thrifted at Paris's Marché aux Puces (Jus d'Orange) / Button-up: Consigned at Periwinkle (Calvin Klein) / Pants: J Crew final sale / Neckace: AE / Bracelet: Banana Republic / Shoes: Privo

Blogging abroad with limited wifi and a netbook is for les oiseaux*. I had a breakdown after hours in a MacDo last night. Who wants to spend their French evenings battling wifi at McDonalds?  The Husband was amazingly patient. Photos take forever to upload. I'm not even tempting editing. But I'm almost caught up with my 30x30 outfit posts. I must beg "Patientez, SVP" {Patience, please!} for future posts. We're moving on to southern France, the Riveria, the Alps, and Italy and I've no intention of using precious time on the Internet, so it looks like I'll be doing most of my work when I get home.

Yesterday was Lace Day for Everybody, Everywear, and I did wear lace.  I had grand lacey ideas after discovering a lace dress and skirt while thrifting in Eugene.  I had it all planned, then realized Lace Day would coincide with my trip and my fancy outfit didn't go so well, so I packed my teal lace top from Buckle instead.

But then I went to the Marché aux Puces {Flea Markets} in Paris. And you know what's better than thrifted lace? Thrifted lace from Paris! I found this darling, made in France lace top for 5 euro. The tag is Jus d'Orange and it's pretty faded, but I'm sure it's not old enough to be considered vintage by most standards. But still, it's French and old and from Paris's vintage market! So I've now 28 items in my 30x30. Two spots left!

Yesterday we also explored Normandy's D-Day beaches and memorials. The photos below were taken by the Town Hall {France has the most beautiful town halls!} of Carentan, where a key battle involving the Easy Company of Band of Brothers took place.  It was really exceptional to see these sites and think about what brave men did here to ensure freedom in the world. I feel so incredibly blessed to benefit from their heroic efforts.

The history here goes back even further than that, however, with William the Conqueror, the Norse invasion, the grand Dukes of Normandy, and the Battle of Hastings. The countryside is scattered with old castles, mossy stone walls, buildings, and turrets, and loads and loads of beautiful flowers.

The bed and breakfast farm we stayed at is over 300 years old. For breakfast Madame Sébire served fresh croissants and baguettes with homemade strawberry and apricot jam and fresh butter and milk from her own cows.  In a perfectly French kitchen. Add in the fancy Lindt cocoa she gave us to make hot chocolate and we were on cloud nine. Best hot chocolate in the world. Who knew milk could be so delightful?

By now, however, we've packed up and headed to Mont St. Michel, a fortressed abbey on an island right between Normandy and Brittany, and Carcasonne, a medieval walled fortress village.  It may be a few days before my next posts, but I'll keep documenting my outfits and get them out there soon :)  À bientôt*!

Lace | Everybody, Everywear

Meet Virginia Design

*les oiseaux = the birds; À bientôt = See you soon!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Le Tour Eiffel and a Norman Farm: 30x30 Outfit 2

Dress: Bebe / Top: Buckle / Shoes: Clarks / Necklace: Ruche / Earrings: AE / Scarf: Parisian vendor

We woke bright and early and got to the Tour Eiffel by 7:30 am, and as you can see there wasn't a tourist in sight! We came across only a few joggers and gendarmes* while taking advantage of this photo op. The gendarmes watched me like a crazy lady, but for once I didn't care. I was at Le Tour Eiffel {pronounced Eee-fel in French}! The Parisians hated it when poor Gustave was constructing it for Paris's World Fair. And petitioned to have removed. I bet he got a few tomatoes thrown at his abode. I also bet they were secretly glad he didn't cave. Bien fait*, Monsieur Eiffel.  Property by his work of art is prime real estate these days.

It was supposed to rain all morning, but miraculously the clouds parted for the hour we spent there. When we finished around 8:30, the queue for entrance into the tower was starting up. We considered waiting, because the Husband had never been to the top, but since it looked like it might rain again he decided we'd better just be on our way to Normandy. We strolled along La Seine on our way back to the Metro station...

 ...then checked out of our hotel and took the RER train back to the airport to get our rental car. 

We've been to Paris before, so we kept this trip short to maximize time in Normandy and the Riveria. After a ridiculously long wait for the car, and having to return to find out how to go in reverse in our spanking new Skoda Fabia  {it's where first gear is and you have to push down on the shift...bizarre} we hit the road to Normandy.  Along the way, we hit up a Carrefour for some snacks, stopped by this lovely wheat field {these little side excursions are the Husband's fave}...

...and this charming place...

...and finally arrived at the bed and breakfast farm recommended by Rick Steves for 38 euro, including breakfast, in the most enchanting 300 year old stone compound overgrown with flowers, two dogs and several cats and kittens, old wooden doors, and stone stairways.

Our room is through this archway...

...up this stone stairway...

...past this landing...

...and behind this wooden door.

Isn't it simplement parfait*?

Too perfect. Once again, we laid down for a nap only to awake at midnight. There went our idea to hit up some D-Day beaches that were only a few miles away.  That's why this post didn't get up in time. Oh la la!

P.S. I clearly need to train the Husband to warn me when my hair is misbehaving. I lost a few bobby pins with those chunks over my ears by the tower.

P.P.S. So sorry for the lack of accents on French words; I don't know how to make them on my laptop yet.

P.P.PS. This is getting ridiculous, but I'm dying to know what you think of this dress? I came across it shopping for EBEW maxi day, then couldn't resist it after we booked this trip. I thought it was perfectly French, but it turns out I needed my black leather jacket for an ace in that department. They're everywhere. In fact, there's lots of black in general. Black on black, black and white, black and nudes, and black and florals. I especially saw quite a few small print, muted floral minis with black tights or leggings and flats or boots.  Hmm...perhaps I'll have to find a floral skirt to add to my 30x30. I daresay I'd fit right in, then :) Except for my accent, of course. They always think I'm British, though, so I may be improving. Or it's my hair.

Linked up here for the Pleated Poppy's What I Wore Wednesday!
*gendarmes = policemen; bien fait = well done; simplement parfait = simply perfect

Travel & Paris: 30x30 Outfit 1, Patientez SVP

So, it looks like posting from Europe may not be as easy as I thought.  I missed my first 30x30 day!  We stayed in a little, rustic bed and breakfast farm in Normandy last night with no internet. The nearest town was several miles away, and we meant to go find wifi, but then took a nap and jet lag got the best of us...

Below you'll find my 30x30 Outfit 1, which I actually wore Saturday, since that's when we left and I packed only my 27 items {I'm getting 3 here, remember?}.  Since our trip took us from Reno at 6am to Paris at 6am the next morning {that's 3pm Reno time!}, and we couldn't check in to our hotel till 2pm, I also wore it Sunday.  I'm calling it my travel outfit, as seen here at our 2nd layover in Charlotte {I love layovers here- do you see all those real trees lining the hall? There are white rockers between them. Classic southern style :) }:

I have very specific rules for long distance traveling:

1) Wear pants with some stretch, a loose top, and closed-toe slip-ons for cold planes and airports.
2) Carry a jacket, toothbrush and paste, facial wipes, and oil blotters to freshen up between flights.
3) No makeup.  My face gets really oily, and somehow travel makes it worse.4) No contacts. Since hopefully I'll sleep a bit, I wear glasses. They also distract from my blond eyelashes. I've tried wearing just mascara, but it smudges and I end up looking like a hungover rock star wannabe.
5) Braided hair. Plaits keep it up and out of my face without an annoying bump when I lean back and also seem to prevent it from getting too oily. Then, when I get to my destination, I take it down and I've got fun wavies.

When we first arrived in Paris, we took the train to the Gare de l'Est and dropped our luggage off at our hotel just down the street, got some brioche and croissants from a nearby pâtisserie, then strolled down to Les Halles to find a charming street market selling fresh fruit and veggies, delicious paellas and poêles, meat, flowers, and cheeses.  With some yummy apricots in hand, we continued on to The Louvre's courtyard:

Top: LOFT / Jeans: AE / Shoes:Sperry / Watch: Skagen / Jacket: Gap

The line was ridiculous, and we'd been in on our last trip, so we headed on to the Tuileries, where we watched children floating mini sailboats in the fountain and men playing pétanque, then enjoyed the greenery on our walk down to the Place de la Concorde, where the famed Champs Élysées* begins...

...and stretches way down to Napoléon's Arc de Triomphe.

I checked out some of the French shops like NafNaf and Lacoste, but couldn't resist the less pricey, massive H&M. We then stopped by the Louis Vuitton flagship shop, where I ogled over the designer goods...

... then we hopped the Metro over to La Marché aux Puces, Paris's famous vintage Flea Market. I'll be doing my Francophone Friday past about Les Puces this Friday, so for now I'll just disclose that I scored some fab finds and am trying to decide which to add to my 30x30. After a quick bite from a crêpe cart, we headed back to the hotel by 3pm. We found an excellent deal on, getting a room at the Hotel Français with one of those quaint cast-iron Parisian balconies, very close to the Gare de l'Est {you can see it bottom, right below}, originally priced at 250 euro for 55 euro.

From here, I'd like to say we took a nap then went exploring. I really wanted to go to Montmartre again, revisit the shops by Notre Dame, and roam the charming Île Saint Louis once more. {This is my 5th time in Paris- but I'm saving all previous trip photos for future Francophone Friday posts. } Instead, we fell asleep and our intended 30 minute nap turned into 6 hours. We hadn't slept very well on the plane, obviously. By the time we woke, we had enough time to hit up a café for dinner then headed to bed. And voilà, our first day in Paris!

P.S. I haven't any photo editing software on my laptop and since time on the internet is precious little whilst we travel {and Blogger takes for e v e r  to load}, my photos will be in their unedited glory till I get home. So no fixing that harsh light, no cropping, and no fun collages. It'll drive me crazy enough to go back and redo all photos from these posts I get home, mark my word {editors note: mission in progress!}
Les Champs Élysées = The Fields of Élysées. Orignally a farmer's field for markets, it's become a frontrunner in fashion with flagship shops like Louis Vuittion, Chanel, and much more finery. It's currently the second most expensive strip of real estate in Europe and is known as the most beautiful avenue in the world.
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