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Getting Reacquainted with Paris

The fountain in the courtyard of the Plais Royal in Paris

I was gone from Paris most of the summer and forgot how special the city really is…until taking a bit of time to rediscover what makes Paris Paris…like a tourist in my own town.

SHOCKING AND SURREAL

On the way over to meet up with a friend to visit “Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli” exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, I got off the bus at the top of Palais Royal just to walk all the way down to get a “fix” of the Paris that keeps us coming back for more. There are a few shops along the western arcade that were new to me and others that were not. In one, a small photo of a very young Queen Elizabeth II was posted, with nothing more than that…but it said it all.

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II in a shop at the Palais Royal

The passing of the monarch means nothing to me personally, except that I’ve admired her longevity (70 years as queen) and stoicism (through all the trials and tribulations of managing the family and the country) to reign with tremendous dignity, if nothing else. May she rest in peace.

Steps away, was a newish boutique of Manolo Blahnik shoes, their 20th standalone store, having opened in July 2019—but which had somehow escaped me—perhaps because these works of art are simply unaffordable and for me, unwearable, too. No matter, each pair of shoes is nothing short of stunning. Blahnik studied art at the École des Beaux-Arts and Stage Set Design at the Louvre Art School in the mid-1960s, before moving to London, and it was in Paris where he formed inseverable ties with fashion, making invaluable connections and lifelong friendships. You may know the shoes as Carrie Bradshaw’s favorites (a fictional character from the popular TV show, “Sex and the City”)—two fashion icons that will be forever intertwined. I drooled as I “licked the windows” (“faire du lèche-vitrine” in French, or window shopped).

Shoe display in the window of the Manolo Blahnick store at the Palais Royal in Paris

The Palais Royal is important spot on the Paris map, that many first-time visitors might overlook, even though its proximity to Le Louvre might make it tough to miss. But, it’s hidden in a way—there are only a few points of entry: from Place Colette on the south side, rue de Beaujolais next to the restaurant, Le Grand-Véfour, on the north side, and a small passage leading to rue Montpensier on the west side. Built for Cardinal Richelieu by French architect Lemercier in 1634, it was once a royal residence with an insalubrious past as a place of promiscuity and women of easy virtue, as immortalized by Honoré de Balzac. Updated for modernity, the courtyard and columns that exist there now were designed by Buren, and two mobile fountains by Pol Bury (1985).

The updated courtyard at the Palais Royal in Paris

The exhibition of Schiaparelli’s surreal world is worth a special visit—on until January 22, 2023. At the very start, you are introduced to her fashion illustrations papered on the floor and the walls. I thought of my own collection of illustrations from my years studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology that sit sequestered in a folder in my Paris cellar. Her drawings are just as beautiful as the fashions themselves.

Entry to the Elsa Schiaparelli exhibition at the Palais Royal in Paris

Elsa Schiaparelli drawings on the floor and walls of the Palais Royal in Paris

Born in Rome to an aristocratic family, she was rebellious and craved adventure. To escape marriage to a wealthy Russian her parents favored, she fled to London and fell in love with a “charismatic charlatan” named Willem de Wendt, a man of various aliases who was also known as Willie Wendt and Wilhem de Kerlor. She went along with his fraudulent schemes, when in 1915 the couple was deported following his conviction for practicing fortune-telling, then illegal. That took her to Paris, Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo, before leaving for America in the spring of 1916. When she met the couturier Paul Poiret in 1922, that launched her career in fashion. She managed to amass an incredibly creative group of friends and colleagues over the years that included Jean Cocteau, Salvadori Dali, Van Dongen, Horst, Cecil Beaton, Man Ray, and scores of other luminaries who contributed to her success.

High fashion dress by Elsa Schiaparelli in the exhibit at the Palais Royal in Paris

High fashion dress by Elsa Schiaparelli in the exhibit at the Palais Royal in Paris

An interesting fact I learned from the exhibition was that “Art Deco” got its name from the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative and Modern Industrial
Arts in Paris, a World’s Fair designed by the French government to highlight the new style of architecture, interior decoration, furniture, glass, jewelry and other decorative arts in Europe and throughout the world.

BEST WAY TO LEARN FRENCH AND HOW TO ESCAPE TO FRANCE

Saturday I made a one-hour presentation on Zoom for the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA to an audience of about 200 participants. It was the fourth time giving this same presentation: “Learn How to Escape to France!” Each time, we’ve had a lot of fun and have gotten an amazing array of smart questions from the audience.

Alliance Francaise promo for Adrian Leeds event

Here are a few of the best ones:

Q: How far in advance of a move should someone schedule a consultation with your office? Five years? Two years? One year?

A: The moment you have even the slightest idea to make the move, or make an investment. We are strategists who can really help you set your path and save you a lot of time and money reaching your goals.

Q: How many properties can an American own in France?

A: As many as you like!

Q: Do you need a French bank account to get a mortgage? I’ve heard getting a French bank account is very difficult.

A: You don’t need the account to get the mortgage, but you do need an account to pay the mortgage! Yes, it’s difficult to get a French bank account, but it’s a service we offer.

Q: What are the taxes on retirement income if you live half the year In France and half the year in US?

A: France doesn’t tax your retirement income, no matter how long you live in France!

You can watch the Webinar in its entirety by clicking here.
(Note: The video is expected to be available on the site by morning Eastern Daylight Time…so if it’s not there now, pay another visit shortly!)

FOR SALE: A STUDIO IN ONE OF THE OLDEST BUILDINGS IN PARIS

Sunday I took photos of a studio apartment in one of the three oldest buildings in the city (14th-century!) that we will soon be offering for sale! It’s small, compact, missing nothing (even has air conditioning, a washer/dryer and the building has an elevator!), and too adorable for words. The apartment is move-in ready; completely furnished—there is nothing to do to it!

Building facade in which the Studio Miron is in Paris

You know where it is…on rue François Miron between the Hôtel de Ville and Saint-Paul Métro stops—the half-timbered building that everyone stops to admire. There aren’t many units in the building and that makes the owners very privileged indeed. Apartments in this building don’t often come up for sale.

The interior of the Studio Miron for sale through the Adrian Leeds Group

Soon, we’ll have the apartment officially on our website for sale and you’ll get the full scoop, but for now, you can drool and send us a note if you’re interested to be on a special mailing list that will get first crack at the apartment! You could be one of the lucky people to own this apartment in one of the three oldest buildings in the city that dates back to the 14th-century.

BITTER CHOCOLATE BY BERTILLON

It’s been a fun return to Paris to do things tourists do since I got back—the kind of things that we residents forget to do! And let me tell you that American tourists are here in droves. I know because of how often I’m getting stopped or pointed at on the street and in restaurants by Americans who recognize me from House Hunters International!

A friend visiting from San Francisco and I decided to have lunch on the Ile Saint-Louis and watch the goings-on. We got a front-row table and could watch the crowds pass by while having a light brunch. Over our scrambled eggs and Salade de Chevre Chaud (Goat Chees Salad) we had the idea to splurge a little by stopping at Berthillon to have their Cacao Amer sorbet. You won’t find it on their website, but a little Salon du Thé on the Ile Saint-Louis carries it. My daughter introduced me to the flavor, for which I have been forever upset with her because there simply isn’t a more delicious sorbet in the world. I’d rather not have known about it! If you think I am exaggerating, then you must try it for yourself. It’s like eating cold pure dark chocolate and we weren’t tossing the cup until we had licked up every drop.

A cup of Berthillon's Cacao Amer Sorbet

Berthillon is Paris’ premier ice cream company on the Saint-Louis (31 rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île) founded by Raymond Berthillon. It’s THE BEST. The ice creams, sorbets, nougatine and caramel are made in a processing unit located behind the shop. However, it now has a network of about a hundred retailers in the Paris region who distribute the company’s products—especially during the annual closures—dedicated to the production of ice creams. And aren’t we glad? (Or sad!?)

IN MEMORY OF VICTOR, AT LES 2 AU COIN

Les 2 au Coin was a warm and welcoming place…a “plant bubble,” and what a new concept! This tiny neighborhood café owned and operated by Victor Pimentel, closed its doors officially on Sunday. Victor’s concept was to dine in the middle of the city in a green environment because as soon as you crossed the threshold, you were invaded by a decor made up of green plants of all kinds. Imagine sitting in the middle of this atmosphere for a meal, tasting a pastry, drinking a jasmine tea and wanting to leave with a plant? It was so delightful, that we taped a scene for one of our House Hunters International episodes there.

Les 2 au Coin restaurant in Paris

Victor Pimentel inside Les 2 Au Coin in Paris

Sadly, Victor died suddenly at the age of 52 in June of this year, leaving the café and all of its plants to his family of which to divest. I have one Kalanchoe that came from Les 2 au Coin that has prospered and always reminds me of Victor. Now I have a few more fabulous plants, including two very funny cacti, after visiting the café on Sunday, helping the family sell off the plants and giving me more reminders of this very sweet, loving man. May he rest in peace.

The Kalanchoe plant Adrian Leeds bought from Victor at Les 2 au Coin

The two cacti Adrian Leeds bought from Les 2 au Coin

FRENCH PROGRAMMING IN THE U.S.

Do you know about the new France channel TV?

Splashpage for the France Channel TV network

It’s a new French streaming platform available in the US!!! Inspired by Britbox, an SVoD service dedicated to British content, this new French streaming service is 100% dedicated to French culture and creation, calling itself the first “Culturtainment” platform, to attract all American Francophiles, French learners and French living abroad to simply enjoy the best of what France has to offer.

It brings together the largest diversified range of French programs, with the biggest selection of movies, series, documentaries and magazines, live shows, cartoons for kids and live, online broadcasting of France 24 international news channels, both in French and English. This new platform intends to promote France and French audiovisual creation around the world. relying on a large library of French cinema (350 to 400 movies), from “César et Rosalie,” with Yves Montand to “Rien à Déclarer,” from Dany Boon, but also including “Contre Enquête,” with Jean Dujardin, and “Arsène Lupin” by Jean-Paul Salomé with Romain Duris.

France channel also includes a large library of video content allowing one to fully discover French culture, in the areas like gastronomy, tourism, history, luxury, lifestyle and art de vivre with flagship programs e.g. “Secrets d’Histoire,” “des Racines et des Ailes” and “Échappées Belles.” “Daily soap,” a French series which achieved great success in France, is also available to the American public. New content is added every week to enrich the offer. France channel is also positioned as a tool for learning the French language with a selection of programs available with subtitles in both English and French. It’s available on the web, thru Apple and Android mobile apps, as well as on the Roku store. Soon, it will also be accessible thru Struum, a new platform launched by the former CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner.

I met with the creator, Julien Verley, an ex Canal+ and France Television executive, in the summer. He agreed to offer a special free trial to our readers!

You can get a FREE 7-day trial WITHOUT our special code, but WITH THE CODE “AdrianLeeds” (without the quotes), you will get ONE MONTH for the price of 50¢ for handling!

If you’re in the U.S., then you need no VPN, but if not, be sure to choose U.S. when you turn on your VPN, then click on “start your 7 day free trial” and use the code “AdrianLeeds” (without the quotes) to get your special FREE ONE MONTH TRIAL, thanks to France channel TV!

You will be asked to include your credit card information and you will be charged just 50¢.

Then, have fun watching French movies, TV and other programming!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with her friend from San Francisco, Gail KeikoanAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian with her friend from San Francisco, Gail Keikoan

P.S. I suppose I need to pretend to be a tourist more often! I’m off to Nice on Wednesday to host our Living and Investing in France Conference and Tour to Provence and the Occitanie! There are still spots left at the Conference. Visit our site for more information and to register!

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