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From War in Israel to Fashion in Paris to Chocolate in Italy

The view from the garden at the Palais Galliera, Paris
The view from the garden at the Palais Galliera, Paris

I was packed and ready to board the flight for Tel Aviv on Friday, but the trip became too risky with Israel now at war. Fortunately my friends in Tel Aviv are hunkered down and doing fine. They are somewhat immune to it, living with the constant danger.

France 24 News on the Hamas attack on Israel

I have an inkling of what it is like to live in Israel under such circumstances as I lived there twice. It’s not frightening to me, but I am not foolish. Entering a war zone is not what I had in mind for my birthday!

Able to quickly react, the weekend trip has taken a turn toward Italy to visit my first cousin who lives in Perugia instead. I’ll fly to Florence on Vueling Airlines, then take a train to Perugia. It’s a whole lot safer. I spent a birthday there five years ago and had a wonderful time in the 13th-century town and the region of Umbria. This will be a kind of repeat performance, but with a different script.

Perugia, Italy

Perugia, Italy

As it just happens, the Eurochocolate Festival of Perugia 2023 is taking place that weekend. How did I luck out and how did they know I am a sucker for chocolate? And this is Europe’s largest celebration of all things chocolate luring approximately 900,000 visitors to the charming Italian city. I’ll bet I won’t be the only tourist on the train from Florence!

Meme for the Eurochocolate Festival

The crowd at the Euro Chocolate festival in Purugia Italy

Meanwhile, if Transavia cancels the flight to Tel Aviv, I will get fully refunded, and if not, then just the taxes and fees will be refunded if I cancel it. The other option is that the flight can be changed for different dates with a small change fee. We’ve picked new dates in December for the weekend in Tel Aviv, hoping that the war will have ended in two months (fingers crossed), and I’m sitting tight to see what Transavia will do about this Friday’s flight.

On top of it all, I’m juggling a passport renewal, as it’s now at the six-month mark and it takes 4 to 6 weeks to have it done by mail. It’s all about logistics. One way or another, it will all work out and there may be some money lost in the process, but “c’est la vie.”

My French “mutuelle” insurance policy will cover an emergency while traveling, but only at French scheduled rates, so when I travel outside of the EU, particularly to the US, I take out a special travel policy. When traveling within the EU, there is the advantage of having the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which attests to your rights to French health insurance. Here’s where you can learn more about how to get yours.

Example of a carte eruopeene d'assurance maladie

The Mutuelle tops up the French healthcare benefits and in my case, for a “whopping” 1,700€ a year I get 100% coverage with no deductible! The point is that all of this is so easy from France to anywhere in Europe and beyond. If I were living in the U.S., this would be a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive. We are both blessed and spoiled. And you will have the advantage of armchair traveling via my reports coming up next Monday and beyond.

When in Paris, which is less now that I spend so much time in Nice, I make a point of taking advantage of all it has to offer, and in particular, art and culture. A friend in the fashion industry suggested seeing the Azzedine Alaïa Couturier Collectionneur exhibition at the Palais Galliera. It just opened on September 27th and will be there till January 21st, so you have time to make your plans to see it…and do!

The Palais Galleriea

The Palais Galleriea

The foundation of designer Azzedine Alaïa (1935-2017) unveils his extraordinary private collection, that has never before been showcased. He was an avid collector of other designers’ work, embarking on this journey in 1968 with the acquisition of exquisite pieces when Cristóbal Balenciaga’s fashion house closed. His fascination with the haute couture creations of the Spanish master ignited a passion for the history of his own craft and he amassed over 20,000 pieces, documenting the artistry of his predecessors, spanning from the birth of haute couture in the late 19th century to works by some of his contemporaries. He held the world’s foremost collection of prestigious couturiers, including Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Madame Grès, Paul Poiret, Gabrielle Chanel, Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior. The exhibition also features contemporary creations by designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, and Yohji Yamamoto.

Promotion for Azzadine Alaia Exhibition

You’ll wander through a showcase of approximately 140 exceptional pieces that provide a journey through the history of this invaluable collection that Alaïa carefully assembled in complete secrecy, never revealed during his lifetime, neither in France nor anywhere else!

But, before you leave, be sure to go downstairs to see two more exhibitions—first is “La Mode en mouvement” (“Fashion in Motion”), on until March 15, 2025. This chronological exhibition, featuring approximately 200 artworks, traces the evolution of fashion from the 18th-century to the modern era, drawing from the museum’s extensive collections. It also explores a thematic thread centered around the concept of the body in motion. The exhibition features a diverse array of items, including swimming costumes, cycling outfits, side-saddle habits, motoring coats and accessories, jogging suits, and sneakers, all reflecting the distinct silhouettes of three centuries of fashion history.

Promotion for the Fashion in Motion Photo Exhibit

Then, don’t leave without seeing “Les Couleurs de la Mode,” also on until March 15, 2024. This exhibition showcases works from the autochrome collection housed at the Musée des Arts et Métiers  (CNAM, Paris).

These extraordinary images were created to showcase French luxury during a unique event that took place from 1921 to 1923 in Paris: the Salon du Goût Français. The exhibition’s uniqueness lay in its presentation, featuring ephemeral displays of autochromes illuminated like “stained glass windows in a cathedral.” One is more beautiful than the next…offering a fresh perspective on the fashion of the early 1920s. I think I would have been happy wearing such beautiful and elegant clothing!

Special note: The Palais Galliera has a lovely outdoor café in the heart of their garden with a view of the Eiffel Tower, perfect for a before-visit lunch or an after-visit drink. “Les Petites Mains” is open only until the end of October, weather permitting.

The outdoor cafe at the Palais Galliera in Paris

And if all goes well, the war in Israel will end quickly, there will be limited casualties and I’ll finally get there after too many years’ absence!

A la prochaine…

Photo of Adrian Leeds by Wendy PatonAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Photo of Adrian by Wendy Paton

P.S. Have you registered for our Expats in France Quarterly Financial Forum yet? It’s coming up November 15th! Details and registration are on our website. Sign up today! P.S. Have you registered for our Expats in France Quarterly Financial Forum yet? It’s coming up November 15th! Details and registration are on our website. Sign up today!


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