Friday, April 29, 2016
I learned so many things in France.
I learned that in the past 15 years everyone in Paris has learned how to speak English. Thank you!
I learned that all of the food is beautiful.
I learned that the food is so fresh and delicious that I am now ruined for this stuff we eat in America.
I learned that it's best to go potty on the train, because if you wait to go at the station it will cost you 9euros.
I learned that French people are the kindest, most helpful folks you will ever meet.
I learned that sometimes it's best to close your eyes when your taxi driver is determined to deliver you quickly to your destination regardless of traffic jams and road conditions. Yikes!
I learned that I could easily live in France and enjoy every moment of it.
I learned that just because the buildings are hundreds of years old on the outside doesn't mean they aren't new and modern on the inside.
I learned that French hotels don't put their potties in the bathroom, they like to hide them to see how bad you really have to go! LOL
I learned that no matter where you eat, the food will be amazing and the service will be great!
I learned that trains, trams and metros are really a much better way to travel than car.
I learned that the Eiffel Tower really is magical at night.
I learned that I love reading the history and stories that accompany the ancient landmarks.
I learned that strawberries from the local market taste nothing like American strawberries. They melt in your mouth and have so much more flavor!
I learned that I can go a whole week without any plastic products. Really.
I learned that those fancy little colored macaroons are as delicious as they are pretty!
I learned that I want to slow down and savor the small moments and simple pleasures like I did in France.
I learned that being a quilter connects me to some amazing people not only in France, but all over the world!
I learned that every time I go to France, I fall more deeply in love with it.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Friday was going to be my last day at Pour L'Amour du Fil and I had LOTS on the agenda for the day! So I made sure to eat my favorite breakfast before heading over for the day! A girl needs her strength for a day full of quilting!
First I was going to take a class with Brigitte Giblen. The super amazing quilter behind the books Feathering the Nest and Feathering the Nest 2. The class was called "How fussy cutting changed the world". And let me tell you, this class changed my world! First, I met the nicest folks (hi Sarah, hi Dominque) and just watching Brigitte share her 'process' was fascinating. She also had some handy tips on basting with paper pieces and using 'peepers' but her instructions on how to find the possibilities in the patterns and view the options using the folding mirrors may have changed the way I will approach fabric forever. I'm not trying to be dramatic here, just telling it like it is. Brigitte is so generous and just as gorgeous as her quilts!
I also got a chance to go back to the featured quilters 'rooms' and visit with some new friends that you may have heard of like Linda Collins, Margaret Sampson George, Mary Koval and Yoko Saito. We chatted and took photos and planned visits in Salt Lake City at market next month. Yep, I was completely and totally star struck but sharing quilting stories connects us all in a very special way. I love being with 'my people' no matter what part of the globe they come from.
And then the moment I had been waiting for arrived. I was to meet Cecile in front of the Bubbles quilt by Rachaeldaisy. Of course I had the minor mishap of losing my credit card, but it was being safely kept at the info desk (whew) so I came dashing up to the rendezvous a few minutes late! Cecile and Corrine were patiently waiting for me and we all exchanged excited greetings and hugs. We admired Rachaeldaisy's quilt and had fun watching others admire it. Then we found a relaxing corner to sit and visit. It's just so fun to find out how much we as quilters have in common.
Cecile made this gorgeous pin cushion for me and wrapped it with the most divine smelling soap and some yummy candies. She's so thoughtful! The time for our visit flew too quickly and Cecile and Corinne had to dash off to catch the train. My heart was so happy to have a special time with them.
And then I did the only thing I could do, a tiny bit more shopping...
In addition to the books I bought, I may have found a few more fabrics...
Trust me, this may look like a lot but the temptations were great and I think I showed some serious self control. Besides, my suitcase wasn't going to hold much more. :(
And then it was time to say goodbye to the most amazing quilt show and an extraordinary collection of quilts and quilters.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The Train To Nantes
Can someone please tell me why we don't have these wonderful trains in America? We boarded the train in Paris and arrived in Nantes less than 3 hours later. We crossed almost the entire country in comfort. We enjoyed the countryside while we zipped by it over 100mph. The ride was so smooth and quiet I could have easily slept the entire way but I was having too much fun looking at the villages, windmills, and hot air balloons. If we had these trains in the USA I for one would do so much more travelling.
We checkin into the hotel and found this lovely room when we opened the door. It's amazing what modern conveniences can be found in such gorgeous buildings that are hundreds of years old. I will admit to being a bit panicked when I went in the bathroom to find no toilet. Upon further search I found it in a tiny room near the door to the hall. Those french sure do love to hide their potties well. LOL
The Exposition Center
We wasted no time travelling from the city center to the Pour L'Amour du Fil show. The expo center is on the edge of town and sits next to a pretty lake. There were even two cute ponies grazing in the field between the entrance and the building the quilt show was located in.
Meeting Quilt Rock Stars
If anyone had ever told me that I would me Yoko Saito, Linda Collins, Mary Koval, Brigitte Giblin and Margaret Sampson George all in one afternoon, I would have had a good laugh. But that's exactly what happened! I found each of them in their little 'rooms' signing books and doing demos. (I have a signed book from each of them to prove it!)
They were each so lovely and friendly and happy to chat. When two of them told me they follow this blog I almost fainted. Seriously, they knew who I was? It may have helped that we were instagram commenting about seeing each other, but to walk into Linda Collins booth and be asked "Are you Diane?" Let's just say it was even more surreal than the room full of Liberty fabric I encountered the day before. Perhaps that explains the wild eyed crazy look on my face. LOL
Don't worry, I wasn't so star struck that I didn't enjoy the quilts. Oh the collections were amazing. Everything from vintage to Japanese denim, to current and recent quilts from the issues of Quiltmania. Getting up close to these masterpieces was so inspiring! I took so many photos, and I'm sure I'll share more. This quilt is from a recent edition of Quiltmania but I didn't get a photo of the information card. Duh.
Each of the designers' little rooms were decorated so wonderfully. It really felt cozy and charming. I think the Quiltmania show is the only one that does this and I must say I love it!
By the time we got back to the hotel for the night I was too exhausted to do anything. I ordered room service and ate the most delicious quiche and salad in my pajamas by the open window. Another perfect end to an incredible day!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
I want to start every day the way I started my days in France. A short walk to a local cafe, followed by a glass of fresh squeezed juice, a croissant, and the best espresso ever! This breakfast filled me up and left me satisfied until a late lunch every day no matter how much walking we did. Real ingredients in real food will do that for you. Sadly, none of that is a part of the typical American routine. I can't even find a croissant with less than 20 questionable ingredients. Sigh.
Because we had a full list of things to do, we saved time by taking a taxi to the gorgeous Sacré-Cœur cathedral. Mind you, they consider this building 'mediocre' by architectural standards, but the location on the highest hill in Paris adds to it's charm. We chose to climb the 255 steps to the top because we like torture. We took the tram back to the bottom as we had learned our lesson.
The details inside the cathedral were gorgeous and amazing. The tiniest of details were so precise. I couldn't help but see quilt patterns every where I looked. I just loved the mosaic and carvings. I'll spare you the 300 other photos I took.
Even the carvings on the exterior would make a great quilt border, don't you think? After taking in the view of the city and admiring all the details, we headed to the real quilter's paradise...
The Street of Fabric Shops
At the bottom corner of the Cathedral steps was a small side street filled with one fabric shop after another. I did a quick pass through the first four or five before making any purchases. I needed to my 'research' so to speak. I found fabrics made in France, some that were marked 'made in Europe' and then I found the jackpot...
Bolts and bolts and bolts of Liberty of London fabrics. I had never seen this much in one place or even dreamed this much existed! The tables were sorted by color, with entire tables devoted to just blue, or just pink. Imagine for a moment what this was like? I had to resist the urge to fling my body onto the fabrics and just bask in the glory. Parisians a very kind people, but I'm sure they would not have looked approvingly on such behavior. My heart starts racing just looking at the picture! LOL
I decided to limit myself to three fabrics, as the show would no doubt provide more temptation and my suitcase is only so big. I can tell you that those moments in that store were pure bliss. It's okay if you don't understand that kind of ecstasy, it's really hard to even put into words.
After a delicious lunch at a small cafe (yes this was the view from our table) we walked a bit more then took a taxi back to the hotel. Our next stop was the Louvre and our hotel was across the street, so we dropped off our purchases and bought our tickets.
The Louvre really could take days to explore. We had one afternoon. Actually, we had less, because after we saw the main things we came to see, we returned to the underground atrium to enter the opposite side of the museum. This requires you show your ticket again, and I had lost mine! Yep, somewhere in the shuffle to see the Mona Lisa or climbing the stairs in front of the Winged Victory I lost it. Smooth move.
Personally, I found the architecture and building itself as impressive as any of the paintings or sculptures. This is the ceiling in a section near the Mona Lisa. The detail and the sheer elaborate designs were breathtaking. Maybe I lost my ticket while photographing this ceiling?
For dinner I ordered a salad. Have you ever seen such a beautiful salad? It was just as delicious as it was pretty. Honey, brie, and roasted pine nuts over the artful arrangement of vegetables was just what I needed. Yum!
But jet lag was setting in and we returned to our beautiful little room. Good night Paris, thanks for an amazing visit!
Monday, April 25, 2016
We arrived in Paris on Monday afternoon. A quick taxi ride to the hotel meant we were out and about exploring the city by 3pm.
We had the most delicious sandwiches and espressos before heading of to find the first shop on my list.
Sajou was more wonderful than the photos I had seen online. The assortment of threads, needles and notions was mind boggling for such a tiny space. I had so much fun poking around in every little jar, bin and drawer checking out all of the amazing selections. I did finally decide on a few purchases. I was attempting to pace myself as I had limited luggage space and I knew the temptations would only increase!
Another taxi ride just barely got us to our dinner cruise on time. We had a lovely dinner while we drifted down the Seine. Viewing the landmarks, monuments and bridges from the river is so stunning. I highly recommend this experience even if it does seem a bit 'touristy'. It was a great way to relax and sight see simultaneously.
The artwork on the bridges is breathtaking. No two are alike and they are each stunning. Seeing the carvings and paintings up close from underneath the bridges really increased my appreciation for the artwork that is so integrally a part of the construction. Every detail is beautiful.
After the dinner cruise we walked to the Eiffel Tower. Both my hubby and I have been to Paris several times individually and a couple of times together. So the typical attractions have already been visited, but we had not been to the top of the tower at night. Lucky for us, there was no line and we enjoyed every minute of our time looking out on the sights and just taking silly selfies.
We returned to the hotel to drink our complimentary champagne and eat the diving little chocolates that were left for us. I was totally smitten with the Hotel du Louvre and would stay there again! They are beginning a major renovation this summer and I do hope it doesn't lose it's charm.
This was the view from our room.
The weather couldn't have been better all day! It was cool and breezy, and while the Parisians were dressed in down coats and wool scarves, we were completely comfortable in our cotton shirts. LOL The day had been clear without any clouds and the almost full moon was stunning from the Eiffel Tower. I can't think of a single detail that could have been better.
And that was just the first day!
Sunday, April 24, 2016
It's so hard to believe that just one week ago I was packing my bags to go to France and now I'm already back home. While it was a whirlwind trip, there are far too many photos to share, stories to tell and moments to remember for one blog post.
I'm going to have to break this up into several installments to completely document this amazing week. Honestly, I'm still absorbing the experiences and trying to believe how so many wonderous things could happen in such a short time.
I can tell you what happened at home while I was gone. The kids took great care of themselves and the animals, but the washing machine did not get run once. Neither did the dishwasher. The mail did get collected once or twice and the deliveries on the porch were dragged into the front hall. I appears as though the veggie garden got watered or rained on enough for survival. Time will tell on that one. And none of the fur babies seem to have suffered too much, though Boomer has already taken up residence on my foot while I sit at my desk. LOL
And truly, I'm a little bit ruined. After a week of good French coffee, unbelievably delicious food and gorgeous surroundings, it's a bit of let down to drink home brewed coffee and look out the window and such ordinary sights. Nothing breath taking here at all. It is home, so there's comfort in that.
I'll be back tomorrow with the first installment of my Grand French Adventure!
Monday, April 18, 2016
Tonight, the Mr. and I will be flying to Paris. We will arrive tomorrow and spend a day and half in Paris visiting places we've not seen before (it's been 15 years since our last visit) and then taking the train to Nantes for the infamous quilt show. I will spend two full days wandering around in quilt heaven while the Mr. amuses himself in the local pubs. Then we will fly home to our kids and fur babies. I'm sure it will all be over in the blink of an eye, but this is a trip I have wanted to take for many years. I suppose turning 50 this year will be a little easier knowing I'm checking off some biggies on the bucket list.
I'll post from the show if I can, and I'm sure I will Instagram far too many photos, but mostly I will be having the time of my life. I'm even going to get to meet a fellow blogger from France! So until we return...
Au revoir et a bientot!