Archive for February, 2010

Awakening To The Paris Louvre

Posted in French Affair, French Quilts, French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis.

Feeling like being swamped in Art and bathed in French Culture when you’re next in Paris? Then go no further than the magnificent Louvre. It’s impossible to miss with its unmistakable glass pyramid in the central courtyard space (also made famous in Dan Bown’s, ‘Da Vinci Code’)

soaring from ground level on the Right Bank into a pearly Parisian sky. This glass pyramid designed by I. Pei celebrated it’s twenty years in 2009 and what a momentos occasion that was!

Check out the Louvre’s website at:

http://www.louvre.fr

This is where you can explore the tours and art eras in 3D even before you go and you can work out a plan of attack. Yes, if you have time prior to visiting, organise you’re best approach and perhaps you might like to stagger your visit to a certain section of the Museum each time you’re there, as it’s impossible to absorb the thirty five thousand art pieces, all in one day all under one roof!

Or, you can take the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-approach and remain impulsively open to wherever the crowd leads you. You can even go without paying (when admission is free that is, on the first Sunday of every month) but expect a very long queue on these days when opening at 9am.

The Louvre museum is actually open every day with the exception of Tuesday and some French public holidays like Christmas Day.

My french awakening was fired up the minute I walked through the Louvre’s stony walls. I was so ready to discover and be inspired like the other 8.5 million visitors each year moving in a steady momentum along the zig zag of honey coloured parquetry flooring. That same feeling of anticipation whirled around inside me and never seem to wade even when I retrace my steps every time I visit! You will love the Louvre and it’s a must see while you’re in Paris.

If you’re really lucky as you move along, you may catch a glimpse of a thin dark eyed man with curly hair wearing a suit of impeccable taste and a boyish grin. This would be the Louvre’s director and esteemed author in his own right, Henri Loyrette.

I have often thought that Henri has the best job in the world-no wonder he always seems to be smiling- surrounded by such an amazing collection of art which spans thousands of years. Also I liked his attitude of returning art works which don’t necessarily belong to France to their native country (take the case of the recent Egyptian artifacts) which he says “should never have left their place of origin”.

I like that. Very few Art Directors summon up the courage to give back that which is not theirs. Afterall, each art work  is like a child non? The finest of Art Directors cannot give up his or her intensively analysed work of art without losing a part of him or herself. Just like any parent.

As for the history of the building itself, the Louvre was once a fortress for protection against the Anglo Normans in the Middle Ages until 1364 when it was transformed into a royal residence with many artworks and a beautiful garden at one end. Later, the palace was extended and the art collection spread until the Museum took over all of its buildings.

So today, it remains for our own enjoyment. The Louvre is a metaphor for life really. May yours be colourful and inspiringly good with untold stories of grandeur and idealism.

To celebrate my own smaller versions of art ( my quilts) today my website commences. Let me know what you think will you? You can find it at:

http://www.quiltingthejourney.com

or you can click onto the icon at top right and it will take you to my own little quilting gallery. It’s not the Louvre, but I hope you find it inspiring.

Aur Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awaken to Celebrities Who Knit and Quilt

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Quilts with tags , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I’m going a little left field here, but I woke up this morning wanting to know more about celebrities who knit and quilt.I wondered if Angelina Jolie quilted, reading that her gorgeous hubby Brad Pitt knitted (just like Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker of  ‘Sex And The City’ fame and let’s not omit the nimble fingers of the seductive Cameron Diaz for that matter!)

Was that true? If you’re reading this Brad or Angelina, perhaps you can fill us in on the truth. It would do a world of good if we (the quilters of the world) actually discovered that you and Angelina can be ALL THAT and quilt too!

It would mean that quilting is not just for the older woman or grannies of this world whose children have left the nest and they wish to needle and thread their way back from “fading to black” – a phrase that my good friend Mary uses from time to time.

I know male quilters such as the gorgeously colourful Kaffe Fassett produces even more incredible knitting and quilting as he gets older and seems to still exude the original simple pleasure and passion for colour and design when he began.

You only have to take a peep at his work at:

http://www.kaffefassett.com/Home.html

and be truly inspired to keep quilting!

My french awakening broadened when certain French celebrities such as the famous French poppet Audrey Hepburn who starred in the memorable ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ was caught knitting while on set. And we all know that ANYTHING she produced would be oh so divinely elegant just like her, not to mention tres petite!

It just goes to prove that quilting and other handicrafts inspires us humans at any level of fame. That’s a perky thought which soothes the average quilter no doubt.
There’s certainly a place for the long lived handiwork of quilting and knitting across the globe.

But… perhaps we were never average after all!

Long live the humble needle and thread!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@ 2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To French Fabrics in Montmartre

Posted in East of France, French Affair, French Quilts, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I have another quilting secret from Paris. If, like me, you are on the hunt for more French fabrics while in Paris, a trip to Montmartre is always worth a visit. It has fabric shops galore snaking in and out of the Montmartre maze of streets (or rues) and is loads of fun as you join the treasure hunt for all sorts of quilting fabric!

I consider Montmartre “fabric heaven” and bargains are to be had here but be on the ready to bargain at times, particularly if you are buying metres and also check for seconds thoroughly while you’re at it.

To start, begin your hunt from the bottom of Sacre Coeur steps. I wish I could take you with me next time but for now I’d like to show you what I bought last time I was poking around in Montmartre. My french awakening grew costly with all my purchases, but I have used many of the fabrics I’ve bought since then and that’s actually a bonus in some quilting circles!

All you non quilters ( and I do appreciate there must be a few of you) MUST NEVER EVER under estimate the process of quilt construction.

Step 1: Acknowlegde that fabric choice is a long but never painful process for the quilter.

Step 2: Acknowlegde that fabric once chosen, can be rechosen after choosing countless other alternatives in between.

Step 3: Acklowledge that many quilts may spring to mind when choosing fabric for a single quilt but the quilt intended will always be acknowledged eventually.

Step 4: Acknowlegde that a pattern should be adhered to for the sake of complete dilemmas in the fabric shop.

Step 5: Take a friend, but realise that a quilting minded pal will stick to the golden rule  in the shop which is:- Be there, nod a great deal and take with you plenty of tissues when the last of the fabric bolt is empty.

Step 6: Acknowledge that colour choice was wise and make note of the shop’s opening hours for the rest of the fabric you decide to go back for in the morning!

Having done all this, take a peep at some of my Montmartre french fabric discoveries.

Here are some of the silks and woven cottons  of many colours which I made into a quilt for the wall.

And look at this beautiful cherry red toile which I have used many times (I bought so much of this gorgeous fabric) where every scene depicts a story. French fabric can say so much about…

Romance…

Contentment…

Passion…

And dreaming…

And if you like this, you may like my other purchase of divine little French motifs which I have used in my ‘French Country Quilt’. My website at http://www.quiltingthejourney.com

will have all my patterns including this one very shortly.

If you love blue, as many of you do, you will like these.

Or take a look at the Louis XIV prancing horses on fabric…

And the other circus menagerie which would look fabulous on any quilt.

Then, there are these pieces to inspire a medallion quilt of all sorts…

So, my dear quilting friends the treasure hunt begins in Montmartre! Don’t miss it next time you’re in Paris. Remember though that great things take time and fabric hunting is a work in progress!

Have fun!

Au revoir,

Best wishes, Therese Waddell

Awakening To Le Rouvray French Fabrics

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Affair, French Quilts, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour all quilters,

Quilting secrets should be shared I realise and this is a special blog to introduce my subscribers and friends to some fabulous French quilting shops and market places which I have used regularly when in France.

Purchasing gorgeous fabrics is a quilter’s haven and no doubt there is no limit to purchasing “must-have-to-die-for-fabrics”. We admit that our fabric stash is a work in progress and any information on quilting and patchwork shops and the exact location of divine fabrics and gorgeous remnants is a quilter’s dream. So here we are!

When you’re next in Paris, your first target is Le Rouvray.

This shop is located in the Latin Quarter, a stones throw away from the grand Notre Dame Cathedral at 3 rue de la Bûcherie – 75005 Paris. The nearest train stop is Maubert Mutualite  Subway and Saint Michel RER.

Firstly, I must tell you all that it is only open between Tuesday to Saturday from 1pm to 6pm. Always double-check before you set out as you will be soo disappointed if you miss it if you have a limited time in Paris. (Not to mention that your  partner will hear about this catastrophe for years to come).

Their phone number is 0 (+33) 1 43 25 00 45 and their website can be found at: http://www.lerouvray.com

At Le Rouvray (owned by the lovely American Diane De Obaldia with her trusty team of friendly French ladies) they speak “patchwork.” You will easily get by even if you do not speak any French at all (and if Diane is not in the shop).

They offer wonderful assistance and a gorgeous selection of fabrics and antiques. In fact, their collection of old home wares has grown over the years and many teapots, cutlery and crockery are an interest in themselves, so allow a lot of time here. (Was that necessary to say? I don’t think so!)

You are not just buying fabric by the metre, you can choose wonderful fabric packs of brilliant colours and designs. Also, if you do speak French, they have been known to offer first hand assistance and travel information when needed. Here, there are smiles all round constantly and as a bonus, I’ve had a number of free samples given to me each time I purchase.

If you are looking for very good quality cotton fabrics, including Toiles and French Provincial, Le Rouvray is your answer. Their ‘Promenade Collection’ is divine if not sold out already. Each year, there is always something new and equally gorgeous and they do offer classes in the latest quilt hanging in their window.

You can buy fabrics online but there is so much more fabric to choose in the shop itself. The website also offers a free pattern to download.

So next time you’re in Paris, take yourself (and a girlfriend) to Le Rouvray. You’ll be delighted with your choice and the experience.

Bonne Chance!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken To Hotel de Ville, Paris

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe is one lucky fellow. Firstly because he escaped assasination in 2002 and secondly, he has a view of Paris which could easily inspire him to action. His place of residence is the Hotel de Ville, which has actually been on this same site since 1357! Now that’s a long time!

Perhaps he was looking out his window one sunny afternoon overlooking the enormous cobblestone square beneath him and recognising the beauty of his city, came up with the idea of introducing the Velib system to all in Paris.

If you’re not sure what that is, let me explain. The Velib or public bicycle system has been really successful. One of 20,000 bikes can be  hired and utilised across Paris in a matter of minutes. Anyone is able to pick up a bike from any one of the self service bike rental depots (providing you have a credit card) and  pedal off in any direction to investigate his beautiful city. He’s keeping the pledge he made to reduce air pollution in Paris and doing a fine job at that.

Locals love Bertrand’s  bike system and as a tourist too, you can certainly get around into nooks and crannies very efficiently. Why don’t you try one yourself next time you’re in Paris?

All you have to do is buy a ticket for unlimited usage to the entire system for several days or even a year! The first thirty minutes is free and you pay a small price (eg one euro for the next half hour) or  get about on an hour basis after that. Follow the bike lanes and do your homework to make sure you know where you’re drop off point is going to be  (maybe even map out two depots in case one is full!) Ooh, I forgot to mention girls, you can wear your heels!

I’ve always enjoyed the vast area outside the Hotel de Ville- the Place de Greve at the front in warmer months, listening to the sounds of childish squeals on the putting green or on the continual laps of horses under the carousel. Colours of a menagerie of fantastical animals I haven’t seen before, whirl past me and I’m certain Bertrand Delanoe smiles like the rest of us plebians below. It’s a far cry from the public execution sight which used to take place here- decapitation of heads, bodies burning at the stake  or hung, drawn and quartered in general diabolical horror of the 1300’s.

On a less violent note, you can always watch the French rugby on the big screen these days from the lawn on the other side of the Hotel de Ville.

In the winter though, the Place de Greve offers a whole new experience and the outside of the Hotel de Ville turns into a magical ice skating rink for everyone to enjoy. My french awakening is thrilled to think about skating here in the deliciously cold air- whirling about as best I can! Maybe next time!

If you’ve skated here already, I’d love to hear from you.  I can only imagine ice skating out there in the open air with only the reflections under foot to remind you of how lucky you are or cutting the ice in the evening under Parisian lights? Just fantastique!

Ice skating is always possible outside the Hotel de Ville  from December 1st to February 28th and adds to the festivities during Christmas. It’s entirely free. You just have to pay for skate hire which is 5 euro. A great experience for you in Paris.

Cold weather doesn’t necessarily mean staying indoors especially in Paris. I am always reminded of Billy Connelly’s famous line (said with a broad scottish accent of course),

“There’s nooo such thing as bad weather-

It’s just inappropiate clothing!”

So, don’t forget your hat and gloves! Opening time for ice skating is the following:

Monday to Thursday 12pm to 10pm, Friday 12pm to 2am, Saturday 9am to 12am and Sunday 9am to 10pm.

Hotel de Ville has  its own metro station, so it’s very accessible. If  Bertrand had to get out in a hurry (which I hope is never the case) as others have done in the past, he could use the underground tunnel which was built in the early 1800’s as it connects the Hotel de Ville with a local army barracks.

While you’re in Paris, you can skate or enjoy the expos at Place de Greve, never giving that another thought!

Do enjoy!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To Valentines Day, French Style!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 14, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Happy Valentines Day (Joyeuse Saint Valentin) to you! I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by those you love but before you go and open the mail today or fill that vase with freshly plucked flowers, spare a thought to the romance of the French.

It may be a complete surprise to you (but absolutely no surprise to me at all), to learn that Valentines Day originated with a Frenchman. It was the Duke of Orleans in fact, who sent the very first Valentines Card ( or une cart de la Saint Valentin) and poem to his lover from prison,way back in the early 1400’s.

Do the French know the language of love better than anyone else?

You can only know the answer to this, but it is worth considering the origin of the devotion when you open up your box of chocolates or your bouquet of flowers or fruit plucked from the garden or your little hand made card with hand drawn hearts and kisses.

Let’s give some credit to the French for instigating such a romantic, thoughtful act of kindness and love years ago, then realise how lucky we are to have our your partners and admirers including the little people in our lives today.

Happy Valentines Day my dear friends.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes,

Therese Waddell

Awakening to Chanel

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

One of the best times you can spend in Paris is window shopping. It costs you nothing to gawk at these fabulous French windows and drool in appreciation of style and just plain pizazz!

Window shoppers are growing in numbers and they often seem immobilized mouthing the word” ooh” in front of many Parisien shop windows. This is because Paris shops ooze flair for amazing presentation and generally high quality.

It is also a well known fact (as my french friends and travel companions would testify) that they have been known to lure even the strongest into wanting and needing everything that stands behind Parisien glass.

My french awakening was enticed into exercising no judgement at all, when I pressed my nose against the glass shop window of Chanel for instance.

Those little black shoes with a nice pair of heels promised to give me so much pleasure and overcome any moral resistance I may have shown before crossing the street into the world of Chanel.

Oddly enough, so did the little quilted clutch bags…

…but then again, the necklaces were looking better all the time…


Did these art pieces in their divine shape and form mean to act as any type of decoy to trap or ensnare unsuspecting window shoppers? Hmmn.

Perhaps it is purely coincidental that they are simply placed on pristine glass shelving at a height which makes us all look upwards-a height that some of us can aspire to no doubt with the right bank balance.

In any case, there’s no harm in window shopping is there? You won’t find better windows than those of Paris stores.

Haute Couture is sprayed across the the Champse Elysee, Avenue Montaigne, Rue de la Pays, Boulevarde Haussmann,  Rue du Faubourg St Honore and Rue de Rennes, but there are plenty more windows to keep you breathing out long and hard. Arhh!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010Therese Waddell