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The Mystique of Vieux Lyon

February 26, 2015 @ 9:01 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Wandering through passageways in Vieux Lyon

As newcomers to this fabulous city, we were fortunate to make an acquaintance with a native, who knew every twist and turn in Vieux Lyon.  Our new friend guided us through his turf, introducing us to exceptional bistros, boutiques and secret little passageways in the old city.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon is steeped in history with centuries-old ties to Rome. The Old Town area of Saint-Jean and the Croix-Rousse area offer stunning examples of Renaissance and Roman architecture.

Throughout Vieux Lyon, fascinating traboules – secret passages – thread their way between houses and tiny streets, passages that were once a salvation for silk merchants en route to work and, more famously, a protective route for resistance members to elude German soldiers. Lyon was so important to the resistance movement, that General Charles DeGaulle in 1944 declared Lyon the “Capital of the Resistance.”

We walk along and suddenly, our friend pushes through an ordinary door.  With our guide, we find our way from “here to there” along passages we would never have known existed. They open on to large courtyards and dimly-lit halls, around corners and across cobblestones.  They are quiet, holding perhaps only the silent whispers of those who walked their corridors in the past.  And that was just one fascinating discovery in one of France’s most enchanting cities.

 

historic passageways of old Lyon

The mystique of Vieux Lyon’s traboules

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved.

The Restored Musée Rodin – Paris

February 20, 2015 @ 10:21 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Musée Rodin Paris

The exquisite gardens of the Musée Rodin

If you owned a Cézanne or Van Gogh painting, you would want to display your treasure in the best possible light. The same would hold true of an appealing, historic work of sculpture.

Thus, when we last visited the Musée Rodin in Paris, we were concerned to see patched parquet floors and woodwork falling into disrepair. Mind you those blemishes did not detract from the magnificent works and serene gardens!

Fortunately the foresight and funding came together to restore the enchanting 18th-century Hôtel Biron that is home to the Musée Rodin in Paris. For the past three years, work on Rodin’s museography and his elegant home has restored and improved the magnificent museum. Unlike the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay, this home to the astounding Rodin collection provides an intimate setting and charming gardens right in the center of Paris. Astounding, isn’t it that such a tranquil homestead and greenspace could be a stone’s throw from Les Invalides in the bustling 7th arrondissement?

Rodin Museum in Paris

18th-century Hôtel Biron

As the museum ‘wears a new coat’ and conforms to contemporary security and accessibility norms, displays still include The Kiss, The Age of Bronze, the bronze monuments in the garden – The Gates of Hell; the renowned Thinker and the Monument to Balzac. That roster merely scratches the surface of one of the finest museums of Paris.

The exhibition Rodin: the Laboratory of Creation will allow visitors into the mystique of the sculptor’s studio. Never exhibited works will be included among some 150 plaster and terracotta pieces taken from the storeroom for this special exhibit. The creative presentation will draw visitors into the before, will be taken from the storeroom for this special event. These pieces illustrate the advance of the sculptor’s extraordinary career. Visitors will be drawn into the core of the creative process, offering the viewpoint of Rodin’s formal thinking and the creative paths he followed.

The Thinker, Eve, Gates of Hell

A bite to eat in the shadow of “The Thinker”?

Through the process, facial expressions emerge, clothes drape perfectly-formed nudes, positions adapted – the artist continues to apply his imagination to produce the final masterpiece. The exhibit will include photographs taken in Rodin’s studios to highlight the evolutionary process of sculpting.

We can’t wait to re-visit the museum, though memories of past visits are exceptional. The spirit of Rodin seems to descend on you, as you view his works in the intimate rooms and step into a garden of magnificent bronzes. As one would expect, The Thinker looms as large in memory as it did in reality; but one of my favorite garden sculptures was Eve, head dipped in shame and stunningly beautiful.

Over lunch in the garden café, we felt that hushed respect for the combination of history and art the museum presents. We highly recommend placing the Musée Rodin at the top of your Parisian itinerary!

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

Exotic Le China in Paris

February 18, 2015 @ 8:09 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris Le China Club

The exotic, old Shanghai feel of Le China Club

Tomorrow the Chinese will launch this “Year of the Sheep” New Year’s celebration, the zenith of cultural lore and festivities. I am not steeped in Chinese culture; but my thoughts readily propel me back to a movie-setting moment of immersion in Paris, when the Asian mystique surrounded me.

I was visiting my dearest friend in Paris, who was doing her very best to dip me into every corner of her lovely, adopted home. One evening, we headed out along the captivating streets of the city to visit a wine bar and, as always, stroll along broad avenues and small lanes for a simple evening of enjoyment and discovery.

To digress a moment, some like careful plans and all things familiar. I appreciate both, relishing those things that ‘spell home’ … but what is that over there? I always welcome the appeal of new, different, unknown. I was not to be disappointed this fine evening!

In a pleasant albeit costly routine, we often cap off our evenings with a nightcap in one or another charming little place. This particular night, while heading back to the Latin Quarter from the Bastille area, she declared we must have a drink at Le China Club.

Le China, Paris

Singapore Sling anyone?

We entered an attractive building, like so many in Paris – not remarkable on the outside but instantly appealing and mysterious on the inside. Long expanses of crisp, black-and-white tile spread through the downstairs, while vivid red walls and subtle lighting set a distinct air of an old speakeasy club of Far East persuasion. I could well imagine Bogart and Boyer tipping back at the handsome bar.

As attractive as this first floor seemed, the real treat was up the stairs to Le China Club bar. We entered a candle-lit room of soft, shiny leather sofas and black lacquer, deep red velvet, colonial wood shutters and backlit whiskey bottles.

Some say the décor indeed recalls Shanghai of the 1930s – not my personal frame of reference, but I’ve seen enough opium-den movie settings to imagine all sorts of things. In fact, that Shanghai was known as the “Paris of the Orient,” where expats and city elites enjoyed a broad range of vices.

The overall atmosphere was refined and elegant, a place where discreet mischief might take place – or even be requested, quietly, of one’s attendant.  I hastily add, that is all my own imagination. I actually can’t recall another customer, save the two of us enjoying a nightcap near Bastille.

I would not have been surprised, though, if Faye Dunaway had glided into the room in a simple satin gown …brandishing a cigarette holder, of course, and laughing in hushed amusement.

 

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Bonne Saint-Valentin!

February 14, 2015 @ 8:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French Alps skiing

Our summer lodging at L’Isalou in Chinaillon

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today I remember romantic ‘getaways’ in France … a night at the Opera Garnier, many walks along the Seine, a fabulous performance and dinner in Aix-en-Provence – many lovely memories with my husband in France.

When we were in Le Chinaillon Vieux Village in the French Alps, summer swept over the land. The pace of life was easy, and hillsides were taken up with occasional hikers and, of course, cows in the upland pastures. A ski lift operated here and there to give you a sweeping view of the land, and the village offered an easy pace and plenty of room for dining under a summer sky.

We know the entire area bustles now with avid skiers, non-stop lifts and fondue pots bubbling through the evening. Mulled wine by the fireplace. Tired limbs and rosy cheeks. The ski season is a much faster, though exhilarating, pace.

Today, we won’t be on the snow-packed ridges of the Alps. Perhaps, we will take in a lovely breakfast at Gourmet Croissant in Florida, where we live…. or a lazy drive to the beach.

Le Grand Bornand

L’isalou in snow!

 

Bonne Saint-Valentin à mon chéri!