The softer side of Versailles

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Not every room at Versailles is gilding, glitz and glamour (the 3 G's). A set of rooms on the first floor enfilade feature some very pretty boiseries with colorful details.
I think they're the prettiest rooms in the palace and are a very cozy size of approx 15' square.The chamber adjacent is painted all white, I doubt this is original but I really love the look of this. It's as if you bought an old victorian or tudor house with dark paneling and wanted to brighten it up a bit. All that dark wood can get so depressing.
I just loved the way the sun streamed in across the face, picking out the brightness of the colors.
The room which was set up as a private library had beautiful red leather journals behind glass and a sparkling crystal chandelier.While the bed chamber of the apartment had a more delicate porcelain chandelier. Definitely a girls room.
This amazing turquoise rococo clock floating on mirror above a fireplace was just spectacular.Don't you think these are the prettiest rooms you've seen in a long time?I loved the subtle turquoise theme in these rooms - these chairs would have only been enhanced by footstools in red leather and maybe a sisal rug and a mirrored sidetable to hold a drink (but thats if this was my own house and not a historically accurate museum!).You just can't take a bad picture in these rooms!
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Now on your Kindle!

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Do you have a kindle? I have yet to get one but have heard glowing reviews from everyone who has one (it was even talked about on the skirted round table!). The benefits of space & environmental savings are obvious. Well, now blogs are available for subscription on the kindle and I've uploaded ArchitectDesign! It appears on the kindle similarly to reading a blog online: see last Saturday's post above.
The only complaints I've heard are that the kindle is still in b&w and most blogs (that I follow, including this one) are visual; color is important! Also, the larger sized device is both pricey and a little clunky. I'm still not sold completely on reading books on an electronic screen like this, I'm old school and LOVE books! I would love to hear what you think of it. Check out my blog on your kindle if you have one and let me know what you think!
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Love Locks

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The Pont des Artes or 'art bridge' (also known as the Passerelle), a pedestrian bridge which links the Louvre to the Institut de France, has become somewhat of an icon for couples in love in Paris.
Newly engaged couples attach a lock to the chain link sides of the 1802 cast iron bridge with their name engraved on it and drop the key into the Seine below. You don't have to be a genius to figure out what that signifies!
The side facing the Point Neuf (seen in the top photos) is the most popular for whatever reason -and no....Heather and I did not partake in this exercise (although we did take quite a few photos!).
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Crazy Gondola Bed

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This cold and rainy night here in DC has me thinking cozy thoughts. This crazy oval bed in the Louvre would be just the spot for a cup of tea and a good book. I wonder what sort of room it was originally in: courtesan's bedroom perhaps?
The wallpaper panels in the background aren't too shabby either! Love the collection of French blue opaline glass in the display case behind too!
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Marie Antoinette at Versailles

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One of the most popular rooms at Versailles is the queen's bedroom, most famous for its' last queenly occupent, Marie Antoinette. Her bust is seen on the mantlepiece.Meant to impress, the room is also very personal and displays her love of everything floral.
The beautiful tapestried walls hide a jib or hidden door that leads to her private boudoir.The room faces the gardens, as do most rooms in the palace, and the shutters feature exquisite gilding.The palace is designed in enfilade style and there is a series of rooms devoted to her, all elegant (as seen below) but none as pretty as her bedroom.It was here where the angry mob descended looking to rape and kill her (The women's march on Versailles) and finding her missing, due to her quick escape to the King's bedroom, destroyed the room instead. Marie and Louis of course left Versailles after that to live out the revolution in Paris at the mob's demand and Marie never used her bedroom at Versailles again.
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Weekend treats

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This weekend I've treated myself to a cake from my favorite DC bakery, Furins.
Chocolate cake with kahlua butter cream frosting and raspberrys -yum!!
Of course 1/2 of the taste is in the presentation! So my favorite wedgwood cuckoo pattern was used along with a royal doulton cake platter, wedgwood cobalt jasperware cream & sugar and limoge underplates.

I hope everyone has a delicious weekend!
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Chinoiserie at the Louvre

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One of the MUSTS for me in Paris was to visit the galleries of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre. It did not disappoint with an emormous collection, each piece more amazing than the last. The museum fills an enormous wing of the Louvre with one collection (by period) per floor. I was most excited to visit the collection of 18th century arts where we spent most of our time; and you can't have a display of 18th century decorative arts without some chinoiserie.A small display showed off the best of the best. Displayed against red lacquer panels, I think my favorite aspect was how colorful it all was!Above you see a lot of items that show the rococo influence also popular at the time. Chinoiserie really gained stride through rococo as the fantasty of it really mixed well with the design style's ideals. However, by the late 18th century, strict neoclassicism was in vogue and fanciful chinoiserie was mostly out. Chinoiserie wasn't about accurate Chinese design but rather a westerner's take on it: theater.The movement of chinoiserie really began with the import of china from the 'far east' in the 17th century and spread from there to include other household items, even entire buildings (although the style was mostly relegated to follies or particular rooms).Chinoiserie was especially popular in France, thanks in part to Louis XIV and Madame du Barry who had a special fondness for it. Even the term is French (chinese-esque)!
Later the theme began to include exotic 'Turkish' touches as well, although I didn't see much evidence of that in the collection.I'll end with this fantastic French barometer / thermometer which was in a case with a lot of china (which you know I loved). Small statues of men are housed in a pagoda form, on which rests a small tube of mercury (see it between the 2 statues at the base). Now if only I could find something like this on ebay......
For more on chinoiserie read a great summary on Wikipedia
and see current applications of the again popular style online at the Chinoiserie Chic Blog!
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Institut de France

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All this talk lately of new words being added to the English Dictionary (the verb unfriend via facebook?) reminded me of the Academie Francaise which has been in charge of the official French dictionary since being founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635. The 5 acadamies of the Institut de France (of which the Academie Francaise is the most famous) have been headquartered since 1805 in an amazing Baroque Palace from 1688 which dominates the skyline of St. Germaine along the Seine. It was originally built as the College of four Nations (a college meant for only 60 young noblemen from 4 acquired provinces) with money bequeathed to Louis XIV by Cardinal-Minister Mazarin.In the above photos, you see the front facade which faces the Seine. The amazing dome or cupola and public square were designed by the architect Louis Le Vau to relate with and complement the Louvre directly across the river.The rear portion is not as imposing but no less grand. These small streets curve around it and are full of lots of treasures to discover: parks, restaurants & charming shops.We always knew we were close to the hotel (and a Laduree snack break!) when we saw the beautiful dome.In these close up shots, you can see a building that is designed in a most refined manner and wears its' age and the building techniques of the 17th century well. The rear of the building is quite plain with the fine carving being reserved for the front facade (detail seen below).We had a direct view of this dome from our hotel room, 2 blocks away, and it was an amazing site to wake up to every morning....And watch during the sunset in the evening. Yet another reason St. Germaine was my favorite neighborhood!
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John Derian's "stuff"

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In the December 2009 issue of Vanity Fair (which smells really good this month, or am I crazy? Like the entire magazine is one big perfume ad), John Derian weighs in on his 'stuff' in the monthly column. I wrote about a visit I paid his beautiful store in Provincetown, Massachusetts HERE.Above is the decoupoge dish I purchased and holds my keys while home. Needless to say, I was so excited to read what his favorite products were as he has sold me some of mine!
I was happy to note he uses the same kiehl's products as me (I really love the amino acid shampoo seen above and highly recommend it) and he of course notes the Astier de Villatte products that he sells in his stores that I've grown addicted to myself.
I love that his 'stuff' seems very real, grounded and interesting (unlike lots of the celebrities who name-drop fancy companies and are probably paid to do so).
Also, two pages later (116) is an article about the fantastic new online magazine, Lonny.
Make sure to check out this issue of Vanity Fair -support the few magazines we have left!
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