Traveling, even if it’s just up the road to Ashland, Virginia (the self-proclaimed center of the universe that we wrote about here) always brings me some sort of inspiration. It could range from discovering a lovely garden plant or savvy technique, a delicious new cuisine at a restaurant or a clever furniture vignette that solves a problem in my home. Without fail, traveling offers perspective on my own life.
Recently LDB and I took the opportunity to visit daughter eBh who was working in Paris for a month. Just thinking about the beauty of Paris makes me weak in the knees. Rather than write about Paris and Normandy — I know you don’t want to view my modern-day slideshow — please no more photos of the Eiffel Tower — I thought I’d share one of my favorite inspirations from the journey: color.
Napoléon III appointed planner Georges-Eugene Haussmann to conduct a sweeping urban overhaul of Paris between 1853 and 1870. Notably, Haussmann achieved the city’s uniform architectural look
ordering the use of Lutetian Limestone. The result is timeless and lovely, like a strand of pearls.
While the uniform color could seem monotonous, I started to notice the accent colors complementing the limestone grandeur and began taking pictures. Parisians seem to know just what gorgeous shades of green, blue, red, gray and orange to use to make bistro chairs, storefronts, garden planters, awnings and flowers pop without ruining the elegant character of the city. Their knack is similar to how uniform-wearing school girls like to personalize their look ever so slightly. Take a quick stroll with me to see.
Massive green planters hold citrus trees, palms and other hardy evergreens in the Tuileries Garden above and the Luxembourg Gardens below.
I could burn up my phone battery capturing the shades of paint covering the Parisian doors. How do they get the impeccable shade of green time and time again?
Green metal chairs dot the fountains and walkways of the Luxembourg Gardens.
I couldn’t resist capturing the famous Ladurée macaron storefront.
bonus photo for your viewing pleasure
Verdigris and gilt lamps illuminate the Place de la Concorde.
How smart are these green-on-green bistro chairs?
Lime green makes an edgier, modern statement above and below.
The term French Blue conjures many shades in my mind of the exquisite blue seen around the city,
except for these adorable and clearly aqua bistro chairs. I’m slightly obsessed with the endless variations of the famous chair.
Gray, Pink and Yellow
Oh, if I had one day to just walk by myself in the city and stop whenever I wanted without annoying my companions, I would have oodles of grays, pinks and yellows to show you. However, trying to remain in the moment and not look too touristy or impede our progress, I have only a few choice ones to share.
The Hotel Clementine nailed the gray entrance.
Preppy pink and white striped awnings enliven Mulot, our favorite patisserie.
How fun is this salon with vibrant yellow and blue?
Rouge, black and tan are hard to miss.
I’m thrilled to report that independent book stores are alive and well in Paris.
More bistro chairs – I could have done an entire post on these!
The most surprising of all colors that moved me was French orange. Some may call it Hermès orange. Maybe it was a when in Rome/Paris moment for me, but I came away LOVING orange like never before. I wonder why this shade of orange is so synonymous with France, or more specifically Paris. Perhaps it’s the same color as the clay courts at Roland Garros where the French Open is played?
We were fortunate to see Jelena Ostapenko defeat Caroline Wozniaki in the quarter final round.
Regardless, orange is my new pink. Even the Walmart-like Carrefour hypermarket storefront looks stylish
with its orange shelves.
But the deal-clinching moment came in the Campana Cafe at Musee d’Orsay with its orange and blue color scheme.
My photo above doesn’t do the setting justice, so I found this one below that shows it better.
It wasn’t the Champagne that made me swoon over this color combination.
Paris is synonymous with fashion, and vibrant color elevates even the everyday items into fashion statements around the city.
Ok, macarons aren’t an everyday item, but they are seen everywhere.
How I wished to take home a grocery bag of these artful fresh veggies.
eBh spotted these multi-colored street posts on her last day Paris.
The Lightbulb Moment
Back home and still basking in the French glow, my eyes focused on a languishing project. I’ve had an old tray of my mother’s that I’ve been wanting to paint, but have been paralyzed as to what color.
Given my current crush on French orange and a new, more intense color scheme in the room where this tray serves, I’m inspired to try orange rimmed in a neutral gray. Stay tuned.
Lest you think the only inspiration I came home with was color, don’t be fooled. I’m a new fan of sipping Champagne.
Clearly I’m late to that party, but better late than never. Au Revoir!
June 21, 2017