Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fete des Vendanges Montmartre

My first time visiting the annual October Fete des Vendanges Montmartre. What was I waiting for?

There is a vineyard up in the18th arrondissement on rue de Saules. The only one in Paris that produces wine.

The fete goes on goes on for 5 days with a grand presentation on the weekend, a parade and a big degustation (tasting) purveyors from all over France, art exhibits, performances, contests etc.

All manner of conferrie (brotherhoods) dress up, sing, dance, beat the drums.

I managed to get inside the vineyard itself where the maire of the 18th and other people of note were gathering, singing, drumming.
Of course there's a queen of the harvest every year. Movie actress Sandrine Bonaire was honorary guest along with renown poet-singer Jacques Higelin.

The back of the head of poet-singer Higelin..

What to wear to this event? If only I'd known.

If you're not a member of a Confrerie and garbed in Medieval dress, come in black and red like singer Aristide Bruant as Toulouse-Lautrec painted him. 

Next year I'll know better.

After the Saturday morning ceremony the feasting begins.

Les Parcours du Gout (journey of taste) from 10 am till 10 pm followed by evening fireworks at Sacre Coeur.

Masses of Merguese sausages grilling to feed the masses of people. The Montmartre Vendanges is comparable to the Munich Oktoberfest in Germany on a somewhat smaller scale.

Gorgeous hams from Corsica, Basque, you name it. Buy the ham, not the ham sandwiches (sandwiche jambon). Only ONE slice within and no beurre, no nuttin'. There are far better choices. I learned the hard way.

A vast variety of wines to be tasted.

Reclette always turns up at these outdoor affairs.

Better save yourself for the truffled omelette from the Sud-Ouest. I should year.

I did have a dozen freshly shucked oysters from Cancale, Brittany for a 10er. Wonderfully fresh.

Two plateaux around Sacre Coeur double-sided with French regional tasting. Quite an undertaking but so much fun. People are picnicking on the steps with goodies from the tasting. Who knew right in the heart of Paris? I wish I'd stayed for the fireworks. Next year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sonia Delaunay, Kenzo ♥ Printemps

Trying to paint a geometric 'Sonia Delaunay' watercolor is not as easy as it first appears.

Everyone asks how I find out what's on in Paris as if I had some secret source and could I please fess up? My big ole secret is: 
I see a poster.
I shoot it.
If the poster is revolving as many do in Paris, I'll wait for it to come back and shoot it. I stash the photos in a file on my ipad and on Flickr. I noticed the Delaunay show was opening the 17th at the Musee d'art Moderne. So I ran over the day before and caught the press preview.  Very lucky.

This is one huge and very beautiful retrospective.

Delaunay lived to be 91 and never stopped producing artworks.

Her husband, Robert Delaunay, is perhaps more famous than she is and that's her doing.

He died at the beginning of the Second World War in 1941. She went on to promote his paintings assiduously while working in a multitude of mediums including fabrics, home furnishing, fashion.

I don't know if Delaunay turned her hand to design in the kitchen(cuisine). Most likely. If you want a break mid-show, which isn't a bad idea, go next door to the snack bar (called Smack) in the Palais de Tokyo - one of my favorite quick lunch places in the 16th on Avenue President Wilson. Healthy, yummy and reasonable.

Delaunay was a prolific fashion designer first only for herself and then, because of the demand, for others.

Her gouache sketches are simply wonderful.

Many of her designs turned up in the theatre. The brilliant colors and geometric patterns were perfect for dancers. This is a don't-miss show in my opinion. You will leave deeply inspired I promise.
More SONIA DELAUNAY pictures on Flickr.

More geometry and bright colors at Printemps' homage to Designer Kenzo.

These might well be the perfect outfit to wear to the Delaunay show.

Printemps has lit up the entire store for Kenzo.

I was turned upside down by the jazzy bright colors.

Don't miss the jazzy religeuses at Cafe Pouchkine inside Printemps.

Witty windows. I could use an extra pair of hands in my purse..

There's a new accessory floor (the 4th) and LE SNEAKER is the IT shoe if you can believe it.

Downstairs more crazy patterns from Kenzo and cupcakes from a Sugar Daze pop-up shop. Or you can get your geometric kick (licorice Allsorts) in a red-striped bag at the outdoor stall at Metro Odeon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jam Trouble - Paris Sketch Letter

It's that time of the month again when I go through torture creating the newest Paris Sketch Letter.

Inspiration for October's letter came last Spring when Coco Jobard showed off her wonderful old Alsatian jam(confiture) dish towel. Jars of luscious fruity jam spell Fall to me. I'm crazy for the hand-written labels, the fluted glass jars. Jam on toast or a croissant plus tea and a good book is the best no?

But researching jam for 3+ weeks is maybe not the best kind of immersion for the easily tempted.

These jam hats (chapeau pot de confiture) made me swoon. You can find a wonderful variety of hats on

Some of the best hats are worn on the best jam made in France by Alsatian Christine Ferber. She hand-ladles her heavenly jams into each pot to maintain quality. I dream of visiting her shop in Niedermorschwihr if I ever figure out how to pronounce it. These jams are in the new Galerie Lafayette's Food department, moved across the street from the main store.

Three glorious floors of food boutiques and mini restaurants and everything is clearly marked out. Le Grand Epicerie feels like a maze since they redid it. I forever get lost and can't find what I want.

Do come prepared and wear battle gear to browse the huge jam department at Galeries.

If you plan to make jam yourself you'll need a different kind of armor.

Head over to Librairie Gourmands on 92, rue Montmartre 75002 for the best selection of cookbooks in Paris, two floors of them. some are in English. All of them gorgeous.

Their windows right now are full of jam cookbooks. I bought this one though I'll never lift a wooden spoon or stir strawberries in a copper pot. Look for 'cuit au chaudron' (cooked in a caldron) on the labels. Traditional copper pots are great conductors of heat. You want to cook your fruit quickly and evenly.

They have adorable boxed preserves sets with all the essential  accoutrement for jam-making. So tempting.

Researching jam requires a visit to La Chambres au Confitures. There's a new branch in the Marais.

Inside it's wall-to-wall jam divided into seasonal flavors. You can sample every jam in the place and I almost did before deciding on fig. See my sampling spoons below.

If you're like me and have 'impulse control issues' you'd best stick to collecting miniature jars of jam. Once a jam pot enters my house it's 'Gone Girl' in the blink of the eye.

Painting jam, on the other hand, is a perfectly safe activity for the jam-addicted. It is advisable to work from photographs rather than the real thing.

Frenchy script on jam jar labels (etiquettes) always intrigues me. My first banner for Parisbreakfast was a jam label. If you're mad for these little paper stickers the best source is BHV, second floor craft department.

I used mini jam jars to sketch from, to minimize the damage of wolfing down big jars of apricot jam in one fell swoop. Size matters.

Parisbreakfast readers often ask for old watercolor still lives so I decided I'd make the Sketch letters more washy.

Finally, after maybe too much jam research, the October letter is done and on it's way to you.

You can see ALL of the October letter uncovered on Etsy. If you've been resisting subscribing here's an enticement. A jar of pear jam (an original watercolor 4" x 6") sent as a bonus if you subscribe to the Paris Sketch Letters. This is the perfect time of year for jam don't you think.