lunch, shopping, Saturday

One of my favorite places to rendezvous is at the fountain in the Jardin du Palais Royal. I’ve been enjoying the graceful splendor of this hidden garden for ages.

There are restaurants and elegant shops under the arcades. Or you can just sit on a bench or chair and enjoy the sound of birdsong and the splashing fountain.

The garden is a perfect starting point for shopping and lunch. My friend, Monique, and I rendezvoused at the fountain at noon. We headed north to the Galerie Vivienne, built in 1826. See this splendid mosaic tiled floor? It’s the original floor created by Giandomenico Facchina, an Italian mosaic artist who did much of his work in France.

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It was lunch hour, but we got waylaid by some linen clothes in a boutique called Manuelle Guibal. We chatted awhile with the woman who worked there. She gave me the address of their boutique in Lisbon where I can find the same clothes.

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We then headed towards the Place des Victoires where I wanted to visit the English boutique that I rave over in London, The Designers Guild. This one had just opened. It was a lot smaller and, I’m sorry to say, the customer service didn’t hold a candle to the service you’d get in London.

Directly across the road was this restaurant where we sat at an outdoor table. I ordered a tomato mozzarella salad and a tiny glass of wine, Monique ordered a grilled chicken niçoise salad.

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When you think that you can buy a decent bottle of French wine for 6 euros and you’re charged 6 euros for a tiny glass, it’s a little bit scandalous. But this is the price you pay for the privilege of eating in a chic Parisian neighborhood.

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Speaking of chic, directly around the corner and located on the Place des Victoires is this gorgeous little boutique where I’ve been shopping for decades.

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Upon entering, we spied a bunch of gorgeous scarves. Italian made, some were silk, some were a blend of silk and modal. A type of rayon, modal is a bio-based textile made from the beechwood tree. Modal fabric feels silky-soft on the skin yet is hard-wearing and colorfast when dyed.

A woman can never have enough scarves, is my opinion. Again, we spent a long while talking to the friendly saleswoman and trying on scarves. 

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I ended up taking this (blurry) photo of myself in the mirror because no-one could figure out how to work my camera. Sigh. I always end up doing everything myself. The scarf I ended up buying – half silk, half modal – is a gorgeous swirl of mauves, greens, pinks and yellows. It’s lightweight, soft and warm and you can scrunch it up (great for travelling.)

Our last stop was Dehillerin, the kitchenware store located off the rue du Louvre. I was in search of a strainer, called une passoire in French. I have a cone-shaped chinois and a colander but, as you know, a strainer is a different animal entirely. I was also in search of a teeny-tiny strainer for my jasmine tea leaves. Not easy to find!

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The place is a sort of Aladdin’s Cave for people who like to cook. Before tourists discovered it, it was a sleepy dusty place. Now it’s super-popular and has a new lease on life.

The Secret Garden

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Sssshhhhh…..this is my most favourite spot in Paris. Frequented largely by Parisians, I don’t want it over-run with tourists. So if you promise to keep this address to yourself, I’ll tell you about it.

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It’s called the garden of the Royal Palace – le jardin du Palais Royal – and it’s a sublime and sheltered retreat tucked behind a courtyard near the Louvre. The long, rectangular garden is hemmed in by elegant arcades that border its perimeter. Exclusive boutiques are to be found in 18th-century shopping galleries. As well as two or three restaurants. And other treats.

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I love the faded grandeur of the buildings. The author, Colette, lived in one of these upper apartments overlooking the garden.

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You could easily spend half a day here. There’s a beautiful fountain in the middle. And tree-lined allées that provide shade.

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There are little squares of rose garden in which to read a book, contemplate life, people-watch … or write that memoir!

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Where young princes once strolled, today local boys play soccer.

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At the far end near the entrance is an inner courtyard containing the controversial columns designed by artist, Daniel Buren.

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I like the interplay between modern and classical.

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I love the jardin du Palais Royal. It’s French, it’s fabulous, it’s forever. Pour toujours.

And remember … c’est un secret.