An Apartment in Saint-Germain

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For a slim $2.5 million, this 870 sq. ft. apartment in Saint-Germain could be yours. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, and gets tons of sunlight from its 13 windows with three different exposures. I love the pale wood floors and the tiny bedroom with ceiling beams. The gray, cream, and lavender color palate is pretty fantastic. One day.

Art Heist

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This is by far one of the less flashier art heists I’ve covered; there was no brazen, caught-on-camera theft, no suave criminals dressed as security guards smashing display cases. But it was by far the biggest haul I’ve read about: over 400 (FOUR HUNDRED) drawings, sketches, and watercolors were stolen from the home of Picasso’s step-daughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay, over a two year period between 2005 and 2007. She is the only child of Picasso’s second wife, and inherited her mother and step-father’s house in Vauvenargues, France upon their deaths, along with an unbelievable collection of Picasso’s works. She only became aware of the theft in 2011, when a gallery in Paris contacted for authentication before a sale of one of the pieces. “I went to the filing cabinet to check that the artworks were still there and they were no longer there,” Ms Hutin-Blay told the French newspaper Le Parisien. “That is what triggered everything.”

‘Everything’ now includes a full investigation of the theft, with focus on Freddy Munchenbach, a handyman she hired during the time the pieces are thought to have gone missing. A neighbor, Sylvie Baltazart-Eon (the daughter of Picasso’s late art dealer, apparently everyone who knew Picasso lives in the same town), noticed some pieces of her own collection were missing, too. The women were able to deduce the thing they had in common: the handyman.

Now, I’m sorry, maybe I’m not as worldly or related-to-Picasso, but isn’t a stash of irreplaceable art something you’d check on more frequently than every few years? I know I’m anxious in general, but I sometimes have panic attacks at work about where I stashed a specific scarf at home. I’m not victim-blaming here, but if a gallery in a different city has to alert you to a theft that occurred in your own home more than four years previous, maybe you’re not being careful enough?

All 400 pieces are only valued at 1 to 2 million euro total, a weirdly low sum (that’s only €5,000 per piece as compared to the millions his works usually bring in at auction). To date, 22 of the 400 pieces have been recovered.

Thanks to Lauren for the tip.

Crowded

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1 / 2 / 3

I vacillate pretty regularly between wanting a stark, sleek all-white modern home, and something that looks like this. My dad’s apartment was stuffed with books and paintings (though it resembled the middle picture more than the other two) and while I know they’re a magnet for dust and a fire hazard and a total pain to move in heavy boxes, nothing is more attractive to me than thousands of books stacked against one wall (or three, or four). I don’t think I could live without having the overwhelming urge to dust everything, but right about now I want to curl into the top photo and stay there for a while.

Paintings

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Still Life with Flowers by Severin Roesen

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Equestrienne (L’Amazone) by Amedeo Modigliani

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Chrysanthemums by Pablo Picasso

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Young Woman Reclining in Spanish Costume by Edouard Manet

What do these four paintings have in common? They were all painted between 1850 and 1900, were all made by Europeans, and are all oil on canvas. But that’s not what they have in common for me. All of these paintings appear in one way or another in my book. I’ve been frustratingly mum with details, so let me give you this: 14 paintings are stolen from Sotheby’s Paris, and the search to recover them leads our heroine into some interesting situations. I told you I had a thing for art heists. That she works in a gallery, for the wife of an artist who has connections to the thief, means she gets caught up in the mystery (and a potential romance, of course) fairly quickly. The magic for me has been writing the story of how each painting came to Sotheby’s in the first place, who brought them, how they came to acquire them, what each painting looked like. Early versions of these were among the missing paintings, save for the Modigliani; the first time Mirette meets Sylvie she likens her to the woman in the painting: alabaster skin and dark hair, her high, haughty cheekbones, and shrewd stare.

E.L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Did I know this was going to be the major plot line of the novel when I started? Absolutely not. Am I beyond thrilled this was waiting for me around the bend? Absolutely, yes.

Bastille Day in Paris

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Thanks to the lovely Mills at Heron + Hibou, I came across these aerial photos of Paris taken on Bastille Day. If you don’t think I wept hysterically, well, then, you don’t know me at all. The shot of the Île Saint-Louis makes my heart leap; it’s the tiniest island in the middle of the Seine when you’re standing on it, and yet it looks so jam packed and incredible from the sky. Oh Paris, mon cœur.

I’m excited to announce the winner of the Shabby Apple Giveaway is….

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Maurin! Congrats, girl! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Two of a Kind

It has been entirely too long since I did one of these (6 months, in fact. yikes!) and my friend Aisling asked specifically, so I couldn’t very well let her down.

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1. Rug / 2. Mug / 3. Skirt / 4. Umbrella

Have you guys heard of Kate Spade’s new brand Saturday? That’s where both the mug and skirt came from for this set. They have some of the cutest, funkiest stuff over there. Scarves, notebooks, customizable weekend bags. Patterns galore, which aren’t necessarily my cup of tea (or multi-colored striped mug, in this case), but still totally works for the purposes of this Two of a Kind. See more here.

PS. Have you entered the Shabby Apple giveaway yet?? You only have until midnight tonight to leave a comment on THIS POST to be eligible to win a $50 gift certificate!

I Never Win Anything

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For our anniversary, as I mentioned on the day, Jamal bought me an anthology of essays about Paris, titled “Paris Was Ours.” My most recent foray into a book of collected essays before this one was “Writer’s on Writing,” which despite oodles of promise (it was culled from the New York Times) has proved to be pretty un-readable. The voices change too abruptly from author to author, there’s a lot of self-aggrandizing with little usable advice, and on and on. Thankfully, this is not the case at all in “Paris Was Ours.” It is a beautifully curated selection of 32 authors, with moving stories about struggling as poor expats in a city that held so much charm for them. It’s all excellently written, funny and tender and enlightening. There are continuous themes strung throughout each of the narratives, like having to press a button on each landing to turn the lights on as you ascend to your 7th floor apartment. I’m 200 pages in and have been already experiencing some tremors of dread about finishing it; I don’t want it to be over. Have you had that happen recently with a book you’ve read?

As an avid reader of Haven in Paris (surprising absolutely no one), I accidentally entered and won a giveaway of a book by new author April Lily Heise, “Je T’Aime, Me Neither.”  I say “accidentally” because, as is often the case when I see photos of Paris, I got overwhelmed and swoon-y and didn’t exactly grasp it was a giveaway; I just commented on my favorite romantic spot in Paris (the gardens of the Musée Rodin, naturellement) et voila, I got an email saying I’d won a book. It arrived last week from the author herself, with a darling inscription on the front page.

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I never win anything. Seriously, the last thing I won was an oversized Barq’s Root Beer t-shirt at a Bassett’s Turkey cafe when I was 12, and only because I spent the entire meal filling out slips and dropping them in the fishbowl. Oh, well, and there was that iPod I won at my company Christmas party. So sometimes I win things, but this is my first time winning something Paris related. “Je T’Aime, Me Neither,” so named for the Serge Gainsbourg song, is a fun, light summer read, about a young woman’s search for love and lust in Paris. The only thing that’s driving me slightly batty is that there are 24 exclamation marks in the first 10 pages alone (and we all know how I feel about exclamation marks) and too many ellipses. But as someone writing their own book set in Paris, it’s encouraging to see others succeed at the same task.

What are you reading these days?