A July Weekend in Paris

Lanvin shop model at Musée Carnavalet

Lanvin shop model at Musée Carnavalet

I went to Paris last weekend with my mum and little sister, a lovely treat from my mum! I’d only been once before and that was for a couple of nights in February (yes for Valentine’s Day, with an ex), it was freezing and we spent one day in Disneyland making time to see the city very limited. So in many ways this felt like my first real experience of Paris, and I loved it.

We were staying on the edge of the business district, La Defense. We had a really good value hotel and were able to get the metro into the city each day. We didn’t go with much of a plan, I’d done the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre before but I had some shops I wanted to find and I was keen to do a gallery of some sort. We saw all the sites and ended up doing much more than I expected. We walked a lot!

Some of what we did:

• We went to the Musee Marmottan Monet, a small museum full of Monet and other impressionists. I love Monet, I remember studying him for months for my A-level art coursework, so it was wonderful to see some of his paintings up close. I love his prints but I went for the cheap option, I bought a pretty postcard and then back home bought an old photo frame from a charity shop for less than £1.

• The only thing my little sister couldn’t leave without seeing was Jim Morrison’s grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery on the edge of Paris. If, like me, you’re not rock ‘n roll enough to know Morrison’s biography, he was lead singer of The Doors and died in Paris in 1971 aged 27. Going to the cemetery was definitely a highlight of my trip. I’ve always found cemeteries interesting anyway, but this one was unlike any I’ve ever seen. It was full of huge tombstones and little chapel buildings almost. Oscar Wilde was there too, he had an odd Egyptian looking monument in his memory.

Jim Morrison's grave was tiny compared to others around it

Jim Morrison’s grave was tiny compared to others around it

• We nosed around the shops. I wanted to find Merci which had been heralded by Time Out as a cool shop full of clothing, jewellery, homeware, books and ethical bits and pieces. Well worth a visit, it had a cafe area too. Lots of things I could have bought but I managed to restrain myself.

The entrance to Merci from above, it's tucked away down a side alley

The entrance to Merci from above, it’s tucked away down a side alley

• We had the most amazing hot chocolate at Angelina’s tearooms. Housed opposite the Louvre, Angelina’s was founded in 1903 as a patisserie and tearooms in a beautiful old building. The hot chocolate tasted just like melted chocolate, with a pot of cream on the side. The management probably won’t be happy with me for sharing this but we were visited by three little mice while we sat at our table. They ran out from the skirting board looking for crumbs. We found it quite entering and oh-so very French.



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New Year

Firstly, happy new year! I’ve been busy with work and family etc for the last couple of weeks, but should be getting back into things more now. Sadly, the year hasn’t got off to a good start with a death in the family and having a few days of illness, but I’m looking forward to 2011! There are two major goals for this year – one is to get a PhD studentship, two is to start my own small business – a lingerie fashion label (quality, ethical of course). If I have started one by the end of the year I’ll be super happy. I hope to continue my research into sustainability and work towards making a real difference to the world in some way. I think one of my key achievements for last year was boosting my confidence when it comes to public speaking, and that’s something I want to build on this year too. I will start each day saying ‘Today I will be the best I can be!’

Also, I want to share these pictures with you. I’m still cataloging needle work tools at the museum, and I came across these this week. The pictures don’t really do them justice, but they are delightful needle work boxes, one full of ivory bits and pieces, the other mother of pearl. They are from the 18th and 19th Century. This would have been a prize possession for the lady of the house and its lovely that they have survived as two sets.

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Museum Needlework

I have been doing voluntary work at my local museum, helping move the needlework and textiles collections to a new location. I love it, it doesn’t bother me that I’m giving up my time for free because I’m learning so much. They mainly have local church textiles, school uniforms, smocks and bonnets and accessories. They also have samplers like the one above, the pieces that young girls would work on at school to show different stitches.

It’s amazing seeing the time and care that has gone into making these objects by hand. Things are so different now – we can pop into a shop and buy a new garment so cheaply and because its so cheap and easy to acquire we get rid of it just as easily. I sometimes think I’m in the wrong time! Back when textiles were made with love and treasured, that has to be better?? I know the ‘slow textile’ movement is around, I went to a conference about it last year, but it needs to be more mainstream.

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