Le Meurice is Le Fab!!

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Recently, the Sole Traveling Mama spent a delightful, better half of the day with a few dear friends at the gorgeous Le Meurice.    It may have been something about a Jubilee birthday celebration that started it all, but whatever the pretense, it was the perfect venue for reveling in glamour and luxury.

It all probably really started a year ago with STM’s darling Irish friend, “Miss Tiny but Mighty”.   Having 10 children between the 2 of them, they would desperately try to find the time to meet for a rushed coffee after the school drop-offs at a corner cafe, every few weeks.    For the sake of convenience, they would sit at a small, cramped table in the noisy cafe with their notebooks trying to align children’s playdate schedules and weekend activities while catching up on Life in general.

It was only in another coffee meeting in the elegance of Fouquet’s one morning that it dawned on Sole Traveling Mama…”I can pay 10 euros for a cup of coffee sitting in a huge, comfortable, velvet-upholstered chair with a mini croissant included and spend a pampered hour, OR pay 5 euros for a coffee with my uncomfortable wooden chair being jostled around amidst constant chaos…..hmmmm.   Now I’m no genius but even I can figure out that we’ve been doing something wrong and need to change our ways!!”

When the next Irish coffee meeting rolled around, STM suggested the Shangri-La, and so began their  tradition of splurging on themselves for a monthly fancy coffee/children strategy session.    And as their friend Long Island Lolita is one to say, “It’s cheaper than therapy!”

Now, STM is not one to just throw money around and she is always looking for a bargain, so don’t think she is advocating this on a daily basis – although it sure would be nice!   The value-added is in the pampering and living for a bit like a princess!!

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The Le Meurice coffee at approximately 12 euros is served with 2 delicious chocolates and considering the Philippe Starck decor in which one is ensconced  – it’s a bargain!!!      And the true beauty of it, is that one can sit and enjoy for as long as time permits – noone to rush you there.

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STM adored the fanciful chair legs and design.   What do you think about these well-heeled chairs?!    The vitrine with the hanging old hand mirrors and candles was stunning and the Dali like cubic tables  gave an edgy feel to the sumptuous furnishings.

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Le Meurice has been on the Rue de Rivoli, Paris, adjacent to the Tuileries Gardens since 1835.     Rulers from countries such as Jordan, Thailand, Serbia, Russia, Belgium, Iran, England and Spain, to name a few, have all stayed there.    Salvador Dali was a frequent guest at Le Meurice and possibly one of the most eccentric, with his outrageous demands of the staff.     It wasn’t ALL about the extravagance and Society though; during WWI it was closed as a hotel and used instead, as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

So what are you waiting for??!!    Step off the Rue de Rivoli and into the divine – after all, you work hard, you DESERVE it!!!

Le Meurice, the “Hotel of Kings” is located at 228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris 75001,  Metro Line 8, Concorde or Line 1, Tuileries

http://www.dorchestercollection.com

Come Walk With Me On Rue St. Honore!

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Looking for fashion in all the “right” places when visiting Paris?!   Then your first stop needs to be the Rue du Faubourg Saint- Honore.   Home to nearly every major fashion house in the world, this is Global eye candy at it’s best.

For years, this narrow, bustling street has been dedicated to fashion and luxury goods.    Find Ferragamo, Lanvin, Hermes, Prada and  Gucci, side by side, and clamoring for your euros.     This season,  fringe seems to be all the rage in Prada http://www.prada.com , and Hermes http://www.hermes.com  boasts a white, sand scene, complete with faux sand castles and silver crabs.

If you are planning on doing more than window shopping, it’s helpful to dress the part, so leave those trainers and fanny packs at home!

Easy access from Metro Line 8, stop Madeleine – fortify yourself at Laduree http://www.laduree.com with coffee  and sweets before shopping, or Metro Line 1  or 8, stop Concorde.    The Hotel Le Bristol http://www.grandluxuryhotels.com also makes for a refined stop for tea or champagne as well if you need to rest those aching arms loaded with shopping bags!

Diamonds and Rubies and Amethysts, Oh My!!

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It ‘s worth more than one visit to this stunning exhibition going on at the Grand Palais.   From now, only until February 16, this is your chance to see some of the most extraordinary pieces ever created by the House of Cartier.

The modestly named exhibition, “Cartier: Style and History” doesn’t begin to allude to the absolute treasure box of jewels on view.   Featuring pieces formerly owned by Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Swanson, American Heiress Marjorie Merriwether Post, and fascinating diamond serpents that seductively adorned the neck of Mexican film legend Maria Felix, the best that money can possibly buy is displayed for your enjoyment, and, let’s face it, disbelief!

The Maharajas of Patiala certainly weren’t ones to spare any expense, especially when it came to showing off their De Beers, cushion cut yellow diamond, weighing in at over 234 carats!!   The Patiala necklace (photo above) totals almost 1000 carats and was created for the Maharaja Yadavindra Singh in 1928.   Art Deco in style, the “bib” design of this masterpiece is comprised of 5 rows of diamond chains with large individual diamonds set in platinum.   Plan to spend extra time in front of this display case, as patrons just came seem to get enough and you will most likely have to wait  your turn to get up close.

The crowds have been large at this exhibition, and with good reason, so plan your visit accordingly.    Try to avoid weekends and best chance for viewing will be during the French lunch hours of 12:30-2:30 or towards closing time, end of the day.     Buy your tickets on line at http://www.grandpalais.fr  Tickets 12 euros, reduced fare of 9 euros for students up to 25 years.    Museum is closed Tuesdays.    Access Metro Lines 1, 9 , 13 stations Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs-Elysses Clemeceau, or RER Line C, Invalides, also Metro Line 8 stop Invalides

Interested in learning more?   Check out the following sites for further information.      www.en.vogue.fr/jewelry.com

http://www.reenaahluwalia.com/blog/2013/5/18/the-magnificent-maharajas-of-india

http://www.deleusejewelers.com/maria-felix-and-the-cartier-la-dona/

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Tiara Time – For the Princess in You!!

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Now, at the Grand Palais, is one of the most tremendous jewelry exhibitions that the STM has ever seen!!!    You need 1-2 hours to fully appreciate the quality, craftsmanship and jaw-dropping bling that Cartier exquisitely displays.     Running through February 16th, the Grand Palais is closed Tuesdays, but open Sundays-Mondays 10-8 and Wednesdays-Saturdays 10-10.   Adult admission is 11 euros and tickets for timed admission should be bought online at http://www.grandpalais.fr

These diamond tiaras are the first to greet you when entering the exhibit.   Slowly spinning and sparkling and calling my name, I could barely drag myself past them to admire all the other treasures!   Did you know that in 1937 alone, Cartier in London received commissions for 27 tiaras!!   And why, you ask??    Well, for the coronation celebration of King GeorgeIV, of course!

Strikingly unique is the 1914 special order tiara, below, made of platinum and blackened steel, of all things!   It was made for a friend of Queen Marie’s of Romania (one of Queen Victoria’s numerous grandchildren) and features 9 pear shaped diamonds and calibre-cut rubies.   Love it!!

Of course, if you are interested in standing out in a crowded ballroom, the citrine tiara may be for you!   A 1937 piece from Cartier, London,  it is gold and platinum with a spectacular 62.35 carat citrine as it’s centerpiece.   Truly, the splendor of  these gemstones rivals that of the diamonds.

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Aquamarines glow in this 1930 tiara by Cartier, London.   Called the “Laurel Tiara” it is currently in the collection of the Qatar Museums Authority.

So take your daughter or grab as friend, but whatever you have going on, do NOT miss this extravaganza!!   Store site  information at  www.cartier.com

Voting now on which tiara is your favorite!   Please share!

Breaking News from London!

Breaking News From London!!!
“Bulgari announces a new partnership with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where they will be the lead sponsor of The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, featuring Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari jewels. The first show of its kind worldwide, it will be the Victoria & Albert’s major exhibit for Spring 2014.” http://www.bulgari.com

Ohhhhhhh, how I adore the BLING and this show features not only 3 jaw-dropping pieces owned by Elizabeth Taylor, but 90 outfits and accessories from Italian powerhouses Armani, Gucci, Prada, Pucci and Versace, among others. As Richard Burton said during the 1962 filming of “Cleopatra” in Rome, “The only word Liz knows in Italian is Bulgari”. Sounds good to me!!

Sponsored by Bulgari with support from Nespresso, tickets are on sale as of today on the Victoria & Albert’s website, http://www.vam.ac.uk The show runs April 5-July 27, 2014. So what are you waiting for? Book that trip to London!!