Thursday, September 30, 2010

my favourite paris window display

Wishing you a weekend of soft layers, gorgeous colour, a pair of sexy black heels.

Naf Naf store photo on the Avenue des Champ Élysées 
by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ponys, Puppets, and Carousels..........and innocence

Vintage Puppet Theatre at Jardin de Luxembourg.
Performances every Wednesday afternoon and weekends too.
Playground and Pond for sailing toy boats and model yachts.
Clapping hands, climbing feet, and push-offs.

Pony Rides at Jardin des Tuileries, the oldest park in Paris.
Ice Cream stands and trampolines too.

Innocent pastimes. Fine gravel dust and shaded chestnut trees. 

Chilled Brass Domes. Fresh Ice Cream.

Three flavours only, probably more than enough.
Something for the walk home. All ages.

A draped and gilded carousel in Jardin des Tuileries.
A menagerie of rotating ponies, ostriches, cars, and wagons in bright colours. Tea cups too.
There are over twenty-five carousel parks in Paris. All unique.

Music and lights. Simple pleasures. 
Going around and around as the generations before.
The royal toy of Louis XIV.

No glitter, no sparkles, no Britney Spears.
Children dressing like children.
In beautiful classic styles.

Children acting like children.
Polite and well-mannered too.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Monday, September 27, 2010

No maps needed............with Eye Prefer Paris Tours

This brave man came to our informal but female-dominated blogger meet at Les Deux Magots. Well, he is a blogger and we were delighted he joined us but that wasn't the first time I had heard of Richard Nehem or his tour business and blog named Eye Prefer Paris. In fact, his name kept popping up and I usually heed those weird types of connections, especially when they come from different sources across the Atlantic. Months ago my local friend attended the Eye Prefer Paris cooking classes Richard offers in Paris with chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook......  which sounds like a tasty way to spend time in Paris but unfortunately it wasn't going to fit the time agenda this time around so the name didn't mentally imprint as well as usual. When Vicki mentioned that we were going to meet up with Richard from Eye Prefer Paris for dinner, the name began to ring a strong bell.

Richard has one of those intriguing stories that I heard countless times while meeting new friends in Paris. Pack it in, pack it up, move to another part of the world, and follow a new career path. And why not? Who doesn't want to move to Paris? After running a successful event planning business in New York for years, the ex New Yorker took his extensive Paris travel experience and in 2005 he parlayed it into the successful Eye Prefer Paris tours and blog. The sociable guide admits "I meet the most wonderful people from around the world". The lively and diverse Marais district is now Richard's "hood" and he lives in a 18th century apartment within smelling distance of that rotisserie chicken that I wrote about here.

This would have been the second time I visited Paris without having seen the Marais district had it not been for meeting Richard and because Vicki and Carla (Carla Loves Photography) kept telling me it is one of the most fascinating and "must-see" districts of Paris. And they were all more than correct. By this time I was "mapped-out", or I should say my sister-in-law Louise (pictured above) was because if I asked her which way to turn one more time I think she was going to let me head in the wrong direction alone. I seem to have lost the internal GPS that used to serve me so well and I was more than ready to let Eye Prefer Paris take over and be our guide. 

The Marais quarter is unique because it so culturally diverse in its character and style, full of ethnic neighborhoods, small artisans, galleries, boutiques, 17th century mansions, private and public gardens, churches, synagogues, and a vibrant personality of old world and modern. I am not so sure I would have appreciated the Marais district fully without the insider peeks and personality provided by Richard and it was heaven to stroll and learn without referring to a. guide book b. map.

See the bubbles?

~ Louise and Richard ~

Our tour is just one of the many guided walking tours by Eye Prefer Paris. Though the Marais district is his "new hood", Richard can accommodate guided walking tours in whatever direction you wish to head in Paris. Just email him with your request. Even in another county. Eye Prefer Paris recently added New York Tours for clients visiting his "old hood". My local friend told me that the Paris cooking class which includes fresh market shopping, hands-on meal preparation in a professional kitchen, and a comfortable and delicious three-course lunch with wine was a highlight of their trip. The class takes place in the private townhouse of chef and instructor Charlotte Puckette and is located near the Eiffel Tower. Richard................sign me up for that one next time.

No compensation was received for this company review.
Photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dammann Frères.........and a hip gift wrap technique

Photo by Chris Everard

This photo has been sitting in my photo file for some time. With the intention of wrapping something that would capture this sleek but luxurious interior vibe. But then I noticed, someone beat me to it. I know you think I have forgotten all about gift wrapping haven't you? But I haven't, not at all and if you let me ramble on with the sights and sounds of what inspired me I can promise you this............more creativity ahead. It just works that way for me. Just in time too, we have a big gift wrapping season ahead.

Gift wrapping is all in the details and what this gift box shows is that there can be simple details layered into an elegant and understated form.............and I am crazy for the detail and execution of this product wrapping from Dammann Frères. Sometimes gift wrapping requires a bit of thinking outside the box so to speak and if you look carefully you will see some of the wrapping elements I have talked about before but something I doubt I would have conceived on my own.

No doubt Dammann Frères is working with some pretty remarkable design elements that add to it's sophisticated packaging and presentation. A blind-embossed and hot foil stamped logo label and a blind-embossed (which give the Dammann Frères logo it's raised look) and suble logo on black ribbon aren't exactly run-of-the-mill packaging in anyone's marketing book. You have seen me use both these basic gift wrap papers many times so it just goes to prove that it isn't always the materials but the detail and thought that shows your gift giving creativity.

But this is where they surprised me the most, they wrap their gift boxes right side up. Then they use a contrasting piece of black gift wrap paper folded like I have shown you a million times but they lay it over the top seam and tucked into the folded end. Are you following me here? This is not only a brilliant way to avoid jostling a box and it's contents (by turning it over so it is face down) but they actually work with a top seam as a design element. They simply do it in the most perfect way. 

The narrow logo ribbon is simply brought around the whole box and then overlapped at the top and sealed with the logo label. I don't know about you but I can see endless possibilities with this "flat" technique, all types of colour variations. This "no fuss" gift wrap style would be perfect for masculine presentations and travels well as you can see.

The Dammann Frères store located in the Place des Vosges in the Marais district of Paris is a retail designer's dream as well, artfully blending old-world and hip at the same time and if you are a tea lover this is your retail mecca. The wall of teas, caddies, and chests are displayed in a visually repetitive but organized manner which works perfectly with the overwhelming selection and the courteous staff know their trade. We found this store via our tour guide Richard from Eye Prefer Paris who is pictured to the left, but I will tell you his story next week.

My package ready for pick up.

I can't think of too many gifts that are more special that the Dammann Frères selection of Tea Chests. Wouldn't any tea lover adore their own traveling set of teas? Visit the Dammann Frères website, watch the video, and explore their long and interesting history. And if you are in the mood for some serious virtual travel inspiration then link over to the Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice where each afternoon they serve the Dammann Frères teas in the Bar Longhi at a civilized High Tea Ceremony..............along with a selection of traditional Venetian pastries.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shopping with Bad at Zara

While we worked ourselves up to a shopping frenzy behind this groovy sales girl at Zara, we speculated that maybe she was talking to Zara head office in Spain "there is a run on long brown skirts, ship more". There was a Zara run on many stylish and affordable items including faux fur vests, peg leg pants (been there and so not doing that look again) and long brown skirts. I would have liked the faux fur vest had it fit but stock sizes were going fast and furious.

Apparently we have Zara in Canada and certainly one must be closer than I knew across the border in the US. In other words, I have to do some distance to get another Zara fashion fix.........I can do that. 

What I won't find at any of the Zara stores in North America is a canine shopper checking out the fashion groove. Those adorable dogs go everywhere in Paris, even evening shopping on the Champs-Élysées in the pouring rain. He was giving me the look that said "lady that skirt is so not age appropriate". So I put it back on the rack. He was so right.

On the other side of his monogrammed collar was the word BAD. So that's what I called him.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

High Colour Maison et Objet

It seems like weeks ago that I walked the aisles of the Maison et Objet show in Paris. Well, actually it was but when I downloaded a second set of photos from my smaller camera yesterday I felt like I was there again and having fun with Fabulous Vicki from French Essence as I personally refer to her now. If Paris is where the trends and colour direction start as claimed in the world of interior design then I would say there is a High Colour Alert headed our way................

Don"t you just love these decal-embellished and die-cut acrylic chairs?
The shoes are pretty good too. 

Gorgeous vases of brilliant colour were everywhere. A clever way to add sleek doses of high colour to more neutral environments and complement fresh floral arrangements. Look at that orange and pink together. Tell me that wouldn't be fun to set a party table with those colours?

Makes me want to have a colour party soon.

This chartreuse wall answered a question I have had for some time. What single colour to paint the long office wall I face each day. What colour will stimulate creativity for me and work with all the colours I work with each day? Read my original post here on Chartreuse here and why it will be my perfect paint colour choice. Think I should add one of those acrylic chairs in orange? Or chartreuse?

More vases and they make me want to design a high-ceiling room with matte black walls and ornate trim and mouldings painted high gloss black. I would line up masses of these vases on the huge stone mantel and let the exuberant colour mix and pattern take the room away. I have no idea where that thought came from but I like the room that just popped into my head.

Peeking through a display window and note how that coral orange wall sets off the more subdued taupe tones and weathered wood frames. Now this is what I came to Paris to see............ inspiration.

 Maison et Objet photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life
Photo 6 by Vicki Archer - French Essence

Sunday, September 19, 2010

men in white aprons..........

He was getting away from me fast which is why this shot is a bit blurry. Those delivery bags are filled with baguettes fresh from the oven and it was the smell as he walked behind me that alerted me to lift my camera and follow the source. I was told by a professional that you never directly photograph anyone in Paris (it is considered rude and unprofessional) without asking first but no one said anything about photographing them from the rear which I thought in most cases made for a more interesting shot anyways. Even if it is a bit blurry it is still one of my favourite photos.

Here at home I don't normally eat chicken as I find it bland and tasteless. Not so in Paris, the roasted chicken was incredibly moist and so delicious I am still thinking about it. This rotisserie chicken drips it's juices over a tray of potatoes, cooking them as it turns and the daily aroma of roasted chicken and potatoes can distract the entire neighborhood. This shot was taken in the Marais where our tour guide lives and breathes this delicious smell day after day. More about our entertaining tour guide who says he eats too much rotisserie chicken this upcoming week.

Fresh-squeezed juice anyone?
This lively waiter gave me permission to take his photo.........and I think he kind of liked it. 

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Working the Paris a beautiful white shirt

Yes, if I was 25 years younger (and thin and rich) this stunning creation would be mine. I am none of those things but I love the smooth silhouette of the simple top in contrast to the black-dipped edges, the pinned layers, the weightlessness of the fabric. Would I wear them with those fur embellished Paris shoes I showed you last week here? You bet........if I was young, skinny and rich. 

This one too.

This pic was to remind me to start wearing my high-collared Anne Fontaine white shirts and to style them in this simple fashion. Bring out the brooch pins too. Anne Fontaine has 9 stores in Paris, many more across Europe and in select US cities if you are looking for the most beautifully constructed white shirt made of the most wonderful of fabrics. And if you appreciate classic purchases that last for a very long time. If lucky you is visiting the Anne Fontaine store located at 370 Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, you can also quietly descend the lower staircase into the Spa Anne Fontaine where you can immerse yourself in soothing and luxurious spa treatments. I am all for indulgence when traveling (whether it be a box of macarons or a seaweed wrap) and I think this might be the place to do it. The restrained but creative interior was a collaboration between Fontaine and French interior designer Andrée Putman (who has a intriguing website here). The Parisian designer is best know for the conception of  the "boutique hotels" opened by Ian Schrager in the 1980's, the interior of the Concorde (could the airlines bring back a bit more of that comfort?), and product design for Christofle, Chivas and Louis Vuitton to name just a few.

Something dapper and classic for the guys.

And in case you think all I did was window shop, next week I will share the Paris neighborhood we almost missed, the tour guide who got us there, my two favourite stores, the hotel where I stayed, another hotel with a cool vibe, why I bought Gap in Paris, who shopped with me at Zara, and my favourite fashion window display. I am saving it for last. Oh, and a few more photos from the Maison et Objet show. Happy weekend....................and feel free to tell me when you have had enough.

Photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life


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