Tag Archives: Paris


Fresh roses, rue des Archives, Paris, after the March snowstorm

IMG_0585Ile Saint-Louis church poster on wooden poster board

IMG_0504Grand creme, late afternoon lunch, at the ever venerable Les Deux Magots (1884).

IMG_0593The passing of time, church foundation wall, Ile Saint-Louis.

IMG_0856Spice and pepper stall, open-air spring market, Aix-en-Provence

IMG_0843Lemons fresh from Spain at Aix market.


IMG_0681Palais Garnier, Paris, was designed in the late 1800s by the young, unknown, competition-winning architect, Charles Garnier.  Because of the Palais Garnier’s wicked – and entirely appropriate – design drama I’d take this opera house (1875) any day over the tech-hygienic Bastille Opera House (1989), designed by another unknown, Canadian Carlos Ott.  At Palais Garnier, the painted-canvas house curtain is a lush interpretation of a draped curtain, complete with gold braid and pompoms. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium has 1,900 red velvet seats on the orchestra floor, balcony and arranged in the private ‘loge’.


My favourite ticket: 1ere loge, Palais Garnier.  Red velvet chairs that the Marquis de Sade would have thoroughly enjoyed.

IMG_06681ere loge, anti-chamber. Framed behind red drapery, this private, intimate room comes with a mirror, a fold away table and a red velvet couch.  If I could, I’d make my pied-a-terre apartment here as writer-in-residence.


Wall upholstery – dedication to the textures of red that the Metropolitan Opera in NYC only begins to explore.

IMG_0662Past the pleated drapery, looking out.

IMG_0678Views up to the fantastic crystal chandelier and, for the reinvented dome, Chagall’s riot of colours, completed in 1966, nearly a century after Garnier made his epic design move.

Mr. Nescafé, we loved your voice, but not your watery instant coffee.  Zap ahead a few decades to the real pours.  One of my all-time favourite coffee zones is the unfussy, slightly grungy Mercury Espresso Bar in Leslieville, Toronto.   The baristas are wizards and the wooden shelves are filled with freshly harvested coffee beans from across Latin America.  There’s usually lyrical art up on the walls.   I also like the no-cellphone-policy-while ordering. Respect for respect.

After beach volleyball and paddleboarding, the long weekend at Lake Huron was spent luxuriating with Tim Horton’s stored in a big tin and pulled out of a cedar cupboard.  Savoured in blue willow cups with vintage hand-stitched flag from Ontario.

Lining up last week for some fresh brew at the coffee cart on the elevated High Line park in NYC’s Meatpacking District. Perfect pours by unhurried baristas, despite the million or so visitors walking the High Line each year.

Manual drip has its charms.  Like music, which sounds infinitely better with record players.

Nice to wake up to: Very buttoned down hotel coffee, like this classic scenario at Pavilion de la Reine next to Place des Vosges, Paris.

Bloom is a luscious magazine published out of Holland.  More than that, it’s a changemaker that predicts design trends beginning with its “horti-cultural view”.  That may sound quirky but Bloom is considered a bible among fashion insiders, starting with thread designers.     Thread designers read it to help project new colours and textures for the future.  Their output of thread influences fabric designers who, in turn, catalyze new fashion trends.  One season after the release of Bloom, the vision of the magazine turns up on the walkways of the world’s most illustrious fashion shows.

Bloom’s feature on the British wallpaper designer, Marthe Armitage, describes how her intense, lushly coloured designs were an attempt to bring the plant life of the outdoors inside, to clamber up the walls of her friends.  She’s been making her lino-print papers for more than fifty years and only works with two or three colours at a time: like this one, “bushes” (1992) in which she layers turquoise with aqua blues and steely greys.

I admired the subtlety of her designs, but was reluctant to put wallpaper up on our walls.  Instead, I asked a painter to create three stencils of florals and layer various colours of blue over the wall in our Canadiana room. At a quick glance, the wall looks intensely blue – eventually, though, you can begin to make out the leaves and petals painted there.

My friend, Olivier Beriot, is an amazing costume designer based in Paris and he’s the one who gave me several issues of Bloom.  He designed the costumes for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, that masterful film by Julian Schnabel that shifts between the unthinkable and sublime fantasy.  Whenever I gaze at the mesmerizing plants and foliage in Bloom, I think of the blooming of Olivier’s creations, and the promise of thread design.