You all know that I have a soft spot for anything French. I can wander for hours at Marche aux Puces in Paris imagining the lives that once were and stories that happened. Needless to say that on any possible occasion I had while living in Paris, I’ve escaped to the countrysides peppered with magnificent chateaux. From the enchanting Chateau de Fontainebleau to grand Chateau de Chambord, elegant Château de Chenonceau to almost fairy-tale Azay le Rideau or Château de Chantilly, Valencay, Villandry, Compiegne… You name it! Quite intentionally i did leave one behind. A very special one for for a special occasion.
Honoring the gleaming past of hosting the most illustrious festivities of its time, Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte required more than a leisurely touristic stroll. But as it usually occurs, life happened and my summer in France was over before I knew it leaving me with one regret – never making it to that special place. Thats’ why when Rizolli reached out to me to review a fresh-off-the-press book “A day at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte”, I jumped to the occasion hoping it would fill the void at least in the meantime. So one afternoon I took the book to one of my favorite spots here in LA, The Graystone Mansion (the closest I can get to a French Chateau around here), to spend a relaxing afternoon and indulge my Francophile heart.
We’ve all heard the story of the jealous king, Louis XIV, seizing the chateau form his Superintendent of Finance, Nicolas Fouquet, less then a month after his fist visit there and throwing the poor guy (or not so poor, actually) into the jail. But there are more stories to this place than that. I won’t give any details, but just say it had a chance to be anything from a hospital to almost a complete ruin as well as the scene of a murder and a suicide. Being one of a few still privately-owned chateaux in France, the Vaux (as it’s being affectionately called by the family) continues to have a life much fuller than that of a museum.
“A day at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte” is written by three bothers, Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé, whose family has inhibited and managed the chateau since the late nineteenth century. A very easy and entertaining read takes you on a tour though decades of chateau’s history sharing some insights for those who admire the work of the legendary French trio: Louis Le Vau, Charles Le Brun and Andre Le Notre.
Very intimate and atmospheric photography of Bruno Ehrs managed to capture that romantic dust you feel when you visit a place with centuries worth of history. It not only gives a change to marvel at the elaborate decorative details but transports you, even for a moment, to the captivating world of past grandeur and splendor. I honestly can’t stop flipping through the pages as every time some new details stops my eyes. Needless to say, it takes a proud spot among my coffee table books now.
One can only imagine what it feels like to grow up or live in a chateau but for the de Voges family it is a reality. Though managing a domain of this scale and historic significance is not an easy job to say the least, they are doing their best to make it a fun one. Hosting a variety of exhibitions and festivals every year they also let you in on the magic with stunning candlelit evenings throughout the summer time when you can have a dinner at the chateau grounds lit with thousands of candles followed by a fireworks show. Now THAT is on my traveling list for the nearest future!
Pick up your own copy of “A Day at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte” here or here.
I always have mixed emotions when it comes to Halloween. I’m all for playing dress up and distorting the reality for a day (just a trip to the Grocery store on that day is a treat with all the characters down the isles) but some people need to take it to the NEXT level. The kind of level that makes you want to close you eyes and erase the memory.
We are all here for boo-tiful and tasteful kind of darkness so let me present you Vivienda En La Finca by Spanish architecture and design studio A-CERO.
The design team created quite a unique setting which could totally be the dwelling of a modern-day Dracula. All elements are there: strong interplay of light and dark, seductive art curiosities and luring Gothic volumes. Everything is so well though-through, it give me the designer goose bums.
There is something forbidden but very tempting at the same time. Would you dare to come in?
<images via here and here>
Ask and you shall receive and sometimes received BIG, in my case “Bolshoi” BIG. Just when I brought up being spontaneous, I managed to get 2 tickets to one of 5 sold-out performances of Swan Lake by Bolshoi Theater in LA … the night before the show. The newly-born spontaneity guru in me is having blast, the planner in me is terrified of me almost missing the one performance I was dying to see for a long time due to lack of organization and proper scheduling.
Needless to say, the performance was magnificent: immaculate techniques and out-of-worldly grace and elegance of the dancers; lavish costumes and, of course, the Music so powerful and consuming. Everything came together for a one in a life time experience. Juxtaposition of love and fate, beauty and passion, light and dark totally transfers you to a surreal world of imagination.
I give this one to the planner girl, I wish I had time to savor the anticipation a little bit more. May be one day (when I grow up:), I’ll actually get to experience this ultimate perfection of art on the home field, t.e. The Bolshoi Theater. After the remodel, it looks simply stunning. Quite an experience of its own.
<images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-10>
All I see is cobalt blue skinny jeans and a red scarf with a white tee…being in my shopaholic mode lately
What about you?
<image via UnprobableView>
May be because I’m still under the charms of the recent “hearts’ day” or may be it’s the unlimited bubblie with today’s lovely brunch that I really want to share another part of that “Grand Voyage” all the way back in September. This part is the most dear to my heart and I guess I was saving it to a special day.
After leaving the city of lights, we drove to Loire Valley where we allowed ourselves to submerge into the good days of chivalry and romanticism of the Golden Era of France back in 16-17th centuries. Our first stop on that discovery was the magnificent Chateau de l’Epinay, privately owned B&B with history going back to the 13th century.
With the mixture of Gothic and Early French Renaissance architecture, this secluded castle captured my heart instantly.
Not touristy polished, it gives you that dreamy authentic experience so worthy of the side trip.
Me, letting the chair down and dancing in the sun. Dream moments captured forever.
Fresh flowers with home made breakfast.
Being the only guests that night we got the luxury of having the chateau all to our own even only for a day.
Here’s what sold me to make this side trip in an instant. This blue bedroom with the set of caned bed and wardrobe. I just HAD to see this pair! And the authentic terracotta tile so soft on the bare feet.
To explore the magic Chateau de l’Epinay for yourself, click here.
<images via moi>