A Day in the Jardin du Luxembourg: Part 1

park pink petunias stone urns balustrade chairs trees Jardin du Luxembourg

We enjoyed another amazing brunch of avocado toast, bright green vegetable laden risotto, juice and coffee at Judy’s. Sitting next to the window we watched the Sunday rhythm of the street, people walking dogs, families on their way to a day of fun, people sunning themselves on the terrace across the street. As we left the restaurant the Jardin du Luxembourg, or Luxembourg Gardens, beckoned from the end of rue de Fleurus. We’d planned to spend the afternoon at the Musee d’Orsay, but it was too beautiful a day...

A Day Trip to Arles

cobblestone street pastel houses and shutters Arles

As the train pulled into the station at Arles on a mild November morning, I found myself entirely unprepared. I’d set off for a day trip to Arles from Montpellier on a whim, intending to go where the wind blew me, finding joy in discovering things for myself, a true flâneur. Usually I do more planning, but it had been an extremely difficult few months, and I was exhausted. I knew Van Gogh had lived in Arles for a time, had painted prolifically, cut off his ear, and was...

A Winter Day in Rome

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome river bridge angels ancient Roman building sunset

One night, I dreamed that I was alone in the darkened streets of Rome. Rounding a corner, there was the Pantheon, lit up in the night, its enormity and beauty breathtaking. Stunned, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see it if only in a dream. What was I doing there? Why was I alone? It would be ten years before I knew. In December 1999, I traveled with artwork lent to an exhibition at the Chiostro del Bramante, my first trip to Europe alone. After a two-day...

Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid © 2018 ruedevarenne.com

Tucked in a pedestrian passage off of the Puerta del Sol and attached to Iglesia San Ginés, the Chocolatería San Ginés has served chocolate con churros since 1894. This interpretation may not be what many are used to, but the combination is divine. The hot chocolate is similar to a rich, dark pudding; rather than a beverage, it’s used as a dipping sauce for the long pieces of golden fried dough. The churros, an unembellished close relative of Mexican churros, are crisp on the outside and doughy on the...

Through the window of Rodin’s garden

Musée Rodin Paris through window onto garden

It’s been raining here for several days, an unusual occurrence in the desert. Last night, my husband and I spoke of that November in Paris, how lovely it was in the rain, how we missed it. I woke up thinking of this view from the top floor window of the Musée Rodin, one I often return to in my mind’s eye, appreciating the beauty of each season I’ve been lucky to see, from the lushness of spring to the sparseness of winter. Although I love the art in the...

L’heure bleue in Paris

rue de Sévigné Paris dusk church

L’heure bleue, or the blue hour, is a French concept. It’s that magical time between the sun setting and nightfall, when the angle of the sun below the horizon line bathes everything in a suffused, bluish light, creating a dreamlike quality. It’s more specific than “evening” because it refers to the quality of light, not just the time of day. This magical time can last until well after 10:00 p.m. in the summer. It’s a surreal interval, suspended between night and day, when we notice more, our senses heightened....

Welcome to RUE DE VARENNE

wooden doors surrounded by stone arch

One Saturday in September, after a delicious brunch at JUDY cantine qualitarienne in the sixth arrondissement of Paris, my husband and I set off on our customary pilgrimage to the Musée Rodin in the seventh. The sky a deep blue punctuated by large white clouds with traces of gray, we hoped the weather would hold long enough for us to explore the museum’s garden, a favorite spot of ours. It was the first time we’d walked the entire length of rue de Varenne. Along the way we stopped often, pointing...

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