Archive for February, 2014

Awaken to the Guillotine!

Posted in French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

Many people including Parisians, are not aware that here at ‘Place de la Concorde’ was the site of the Guillotine during the French Revolution.

DSC_0050

In the shadow of today’s Hotel de Crillon – one of the most expensive and most luxurious hotels in Paris, was once the site that locals referred to as ‘Place de la Revolution’.

Set in a blood stained field and now dark cobblestones, it was around 1794 during the ‘Reign of Terror’ that Paris mobs, thirsty for execution and bloodshed, stood in anticipation; For when the bell was rung, (a signal to release the guillotine’s handle) and the drums would stop beating, crowds stood motionless to witness the drop of a large single angled blade which lopped off the heads of Royalty and commoner alike. It’s been recorded that over 2500 people died by the dreaded guillotine just in Paris alone, including Louis XVI, his wife Maria Antoinette, Madame du Barry-mistress of Louis XV and many more, not to mention 92 year old Mary Anne Duay and the youngest victim who was merely 14.

The sound of the blade piercing soft flesh and hitting the bloody splintered wood underneath bought momentary silence (no doubt in the case of their King), then cries of “Vive la Republique!” And the crowds  would burst forward to the dripping head held high on a pole, to dip their wiry fingers and handkerchiefs into the gushing blood of a warm, decapitated head, particularly one which was blue blooded. Sometimes the mouth and eyes gave into opening and closing while the next cage of quivering victims rattled down Rue St Honore (today, the site of luxury chocolate shops) -prized victims like white circus tigers nearing extinction, from the Conciergerie Prison.

My french awakening to guillotines went haywire when I learnt that the last death by guillotine was in 1977!  The same year that Apple released its first computer with keyboard, the same year that Elvis Presley died, the same year that Barbie Road Trip with Motor Home goes into toyshops.

Paris….always raw.

AuRevoir,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

 

Awaken to L’Orangerie, Paris.

Posted in French Gardens, French Painters, French Travel, Paris, Paris gardens and all things green with tags , , on February 19, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

People often asked me, “If I had limited time in Paris, what would be a MUST to see?” Apart from the obvious icons, I tell them this:

“Head straight to L’Orangerie Museum on the western corner of the Tuileries garden”. You’ll need to enter through the main gates off the Place de la Concorde, pass the library…

IMG_2861

and a two minute walk upwards…

IMG_2864 (2)

DSC_0021

to the lawn of statues outside the Museum.

IMG_2870

Be an early bird and beat the crowds as I do. (This pic was taken after my visit not long after opening time.)

DSC_0024

Go straight ahead to the white rooms at the back of this small museum – the dedicated space of Monet’s “Nympheas.” Sit down on the leather bench dead centre of the room wrapped by enormous panels of French Impressionism and the gardens of Giverny (remember, https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/awakening-to-monets-garden/ ) in all its serene colour.“Nympheas” It’s nothing like you’ve ever imagined.

For a small virtual of what to expect go to the museum’s own website at:  http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/homes/home_id24799_u1l2.htm (Click onto Salle One and Salle Two to see the two rooms dedicated to Monet) . This doesn’t however, impart how you feel when you’re actually in there. Trust me. I have the same reaction every time I visit. And I watch others’ reactions and wait for them to simply exhale.

It’s  as if the very breath of Paris  essence has smacked each of us in the face.

If you do have more time, wander downstairs and see amateur artists copying the real thing in the Paul Guillaume Collection. There’s a saying here that “if the imitation is too good, the gallery will keep it” and you’ll find very friendly student artists such as Frank who will allow you to chat with him as he changes a small area of his work in order to take it home.

IMG_2874

Because that’s really what it’s all about here at L’Orangerie….

Everyone takes a piece of Paris home.

Happy travels and Best Wishes,

Therese

Copyright@Therese Waddell 2014

Awaken to the Closure of Le Rouvray Fabric Shop, Paris

Posted in French fabrics, French Quilts, Paris, Paris Shopping, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour friends!

For those of us who do some quilting, I have some sad news. It is with deep regret to inform you that the beautiful Paris fabric shop across from the foot of Notre Dame, ‘Le Rouvray’, which many of you have used, is now closed. After 45 years of patchwork and adventure in Paris, the lovely owner and co founder, Diane Obaldia passed away some time ago now and Le Rouvray has closed its doors for good.

Before her death, Diana wrote to me a expressing great interest in ‘My French Awakening’ and the article I did on her shop at: https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/awakening-to-le-rouvray-french-fabrics/

Good business deserves acclamation I’ve always thought and Le Rouvray was no exception. Diana was “touched and dazzled” by the article (which I felt was by no means brilliant) but beckoned “come have lunch with me” and that’s the kind of lady she was. No wonder her shop was filled with beautiful fabrics and beautiful service from quietly passionate people. Diana and her team made for a very successful business and above all, a business of friendship building. Well, that’s how I see it anyway.

I shall always regret not being able to share that meal with Diana Obaldia and hearing about her road to success and adventures in Paris. It would have made a much better story than the one I told.

What was your experience in Le Rouvray?

Best Wishes,

AuRevoir, Therese

copyright@2014Therese Waddell