29 April 2008

Paris: A Visit to Galerie Vivienne

Five years ago I sat in a hospital cafeteria while my husband, a relatively young man, had bypass and carotid artery surgery on the same day.

I was terrified, and had taken some medication to dull the terror. To keep my mind off the ordeal, I read - or tried to read - the then-current issue of "Paris Notes."

We so often recall so vividly the details of life-defining moments, and this was one for me: I was reading about Paris' indoor shopping galleries and wondering if I would ever visit one. It seemed unlikely at the time.

With each visit to Paris, I have learned more and seen more and experienced more. Finally, last year I visited Galerie Vivienne just north of the Palais Royal. We stumbled upon it, actually, in our search for Le Grand Colbert.

This L-shaped shopping area was built in the 1820s, but their popularity waned once the big department stores emerged.

For me, there is something elegant and indulgent about shopping at such a place. I imagine buying frothy lingerie, heady perfume, a slim volume of 19th century poetry.


I have yet to shop extensively in Paris, except for food and trinkets to bring home to family and friends. But when I am missing Paris and feeling empty because of it, I have a local shop that gentles and soothes me. It is a large boutique located on the lower floor of a big old-fashioned department store that has been restored and made into apartments.

Here I find silk scarves and beaded purses and textured jackets and glitzy necklaces cheek-by-jowl with Tiffany-style lamps and furniture from Asia and India and rich leather jewelry cabinets and the most delicate china. I try to visit once a month or so and I am always amazed at how the inventory turns over.

Recently I bought a silk scarf from Paris there, and knowing where it came from soothed me on a bad day.

A bit like a visit to lovely Galerie Vivienne.

Now that I've found this enchanting place, my next goal is a enjoy a meal at one of the galerie tenants, A Priori Thé, a restaurant savvy enough to serve desserts in half portions. Why can't more restaurants do this?

14 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What a lovely little peek at Paris... it's finding places like this that make us feel that a city is "ours".

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Isn't it amazing how the city belongs in a way to all of us, Lydia?

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Bypass surgery? Hokey toot, Mimi! That 5 years must seem like a lifetime ago, and yet, at the same time, seem like it just happened yesterday. And look at all the two of you have done together since then! Woo hoo!

kitoko said...

mimi,

Guess where I am going tomorrow? Yes, it has become an illness. I will be in Paris three more times this month and am happy as a clam. Or a huitre!

Email me your address, parce que je pense que je vais t'acheter un cadeau.

Jill

P.S. shopped at Leader Price and Fran Prix, but haven't found ED's yet.

Jann said...

I can tell you are ready to return! It won't be all that long~loved the photos!

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Yes, Cyn, it was a while ago. I've learned to live life to the fullest.

Wow, Jill, I want to trade jobs with you.

There is an Ed L'Epicier in the 16th, I know that, and one in the 13th (well, there was...).

Yup, Jann, I am ready for a vacation now!

Fiona said...

It's hard to believe 5 years have passed since your husbands major surgery. You have both shared some memorable journeys since then :)

I thoroughly enjoy reading about your passion for Paris. This years trip will be here before you know it... its already May !!!

Zoomie said...

I know the fear you felt - as My Beloved had heart surgery about five years ago, too. Glad you both made it through and are enjoying life to the fullest!

katiez said...

That shop sounds wonderful!
In our area, farm country, right down to the wellies, it's rare to find anything fun... So far, the most interesting place I've found to shop is the garden store...
That says it all, doesn't it?
I need a Paris fix!

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Yes, Fiona, it is hard to believe sometimes. Thanks for being there for me, you and Eileen.

Zoomie, I live in both fear and happiness now. I'll bet you know what I mean.

KatieZ, with no shops around, it must be good for your pocketbook. LOL. Sometimes I go for months without shopping, and sometimes I need it.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Love the Galerie Vivienne!
Didn't have a Woolworths when I grew up but we had Mattinglies 5 & dime - what a dream of a place!
A place with 1/2 dessert portions is my dreams come true! One reason I really enjoyed the cream cheese cake lolly - just a perfect size.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Tanna, I loved five-and-dimes: We had Woolworth's McCroy's and Ben Franklin - what fun.

I guess dollar stores replaced them. At one time, my town had seven of them.

Betty C. said...

Can you believe I just discovered the whole world of "galeries" and "passages" in Paris on this last trip? I don't know how I possibly missed out on that before. There are some great ones near the Musée Grévin.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Betty, I hope to get back to this part of Paris next trip - it's not far from E. Dehillerin. Must check out the ones you mention. too.