Oh, hey there!
This was a very welcome break from a very busy year. To answer some questions: this is my twelfth (I think...counting on fingers...) trip to Paris since 1991. The longest stay was eight months, then three, then a series of annual month-long stays. I speak French fluently, I have a complicated and wonderful history with family and friends in Paris (who doesn’t?) and yes, that is a cup of Côtes du Rhône in my shoe.
You might be surprised that I didn't visit some of my usual places this year, and that was partly because I really wanted to keep my mind off work...and I plan to be back next year.
So what DID I do? Well, I went to a lot (a LOT) of vide greniers, which means "attic clearing". In other words: neighborhood garage sales. In Paris. All over Paris. These are the best, most fun and interesting kinds of sales to go to because they are (mostly) not professional dealers, but people who live in the quarter and have set up modest tables crammed with treasures they no longer want...
After buying an old ceramic hare for 15 euro that I had no idea how I'd get home (I carried it wrapped in a sweater on the plane), I spent a lot of time at the other end of the "second hand" spectrum: visiting the Paris auction houses!
(Don't cough, or you'll buy that Roman statue.)
I couldn't believe my eyes. I want everything. Gimme gimme...a bigger suitcase.
The intention was just to go one day to view the items on display the day before the auction happens just for fun, and instead we ended up spending three days in row attending the auctions. Oops.
Then, I saw something beautiful and heartbreaking (I've collected paintings for years) that gave me the extra tummy-aching wants:
Now, I realize "dead hare" is not everyone's decorating vision, but anyone who knows me personally isn't surprised I'd go for this.
There were paintings everywhere, but nothing like this. It was signed and dated 1872, and beautifully painted. Shouldn't this be in the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature? How could it be here? It's so sweet, so melancholy. A painting like this, that I'd expect to see in any European museum had to be worth like, a gabillion euro. Right?
I left an absentee bid just for fun. A bid so low I was sure the auctioneer was thinking "You silly American. That painting is going to go for money you can't imagine." Just a silly, little wishful bid.
Then, I saw THIS:
The most incredible, antique embroidery and sewing set in a mirrored and velvet box! Hoo boy. I had to calm down. I was leaving fingerprints and noseprints on the glass case.
Now, I don't know what everything in this set is used for, but the funny-looking things on the left are thread winders, and the "jardinière" to the right of the scissors is probably a needle case. Of course there's a thimble, to-die-for scissors and spools. The rest? I don't know! Do you?
I left an absentee bid for this set as well. Then, we needed a break from all the excitement and adrenaline and wishing.
Did you know it's free to go into the grounds of Versailles? (You need a ticket to go into the chateaus or visit Marie Antoinette's "Hamlet".) Did you know you can walk in with a bag full of wine, cheese, bread and a nap blanket and get lost in the far corners of the grounds? That's what we did. Wine, cheese, charcuterie and nap.
Though I've been to Versailles multiple times, I think this was the first time I'd found Marie Antoinette's grotto (above). That's about my speed. I'll be in there for the rest of the year if anyone needs me. I don't care if the stream is running through the middle of it. I love a water feature.
So, did I win the auction for the embroidery set? Well, no. I didn't.
But I did win something else:
If you want to see pics from my last trip to Paris, go here!