Upon our arrival, Paris was abuzz as Presidents Obama, Putin, Hollande and Queen Elizabeth gathered to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The Champs-Elysees and Place de la Concorde were secured as dignitaries and guests scurried past checkpoints to attend one of two dinners that were held in order to keep Obama and Putin apart. We found ourselves in the middle of hundreds of police personnel and limos as we made our way to a nearby restaurant. On our first night in Paris, it seemed that we were at the epicenter of world politics and intrigue.
We spent each warm and muggy day in a different Arrondissement, looking for something new or revisiting a store or cafe like an old friend. Marie Merci hat salon is always a must-see. The chic Parisian milliner does not disappoint with her irreverent chapeaux. The tiny space was full of Parisian women trying on hats for an elegant occasion. When it came time for me to have a veiled, fuchsia hat placed on my head, I was dripping with perspiration from the heat and pressure of the moment. This was not going to be a memorable fashion experience! With multiple merci beaucoups, I escaped sans hat, to regain my cool. C'est la vie!
Our friend, retired Benicia Police officer Patti Baron, accompanied us with enough luggage to be dinged $200 for being over 50 pounds, but celebrated being in the fashion capital with frequent outfit changes. We revisited Renaissance, a vintage couture store on the Left Bank, only to find the owner was out. The art dealer next door kindly let us in so that we could admire Dior, Chanel, and Valentino designs from another era.
On our way there, a group of gypsies had gathered on the Pont des Arts Bridge, known for the love locks that lovers affix to the side grillwork; then throw the key into the Seine as a sign of everlasting love. A group of young girls were looking for anything but love—they approached us with a ploy to relieve us of our valuables. After getting nowhere, they gathered around a tourist, sending Patti into police mode, motioning the girls away. They went after her instead, but a nearby motorcycle officer sent them away. The close shave reminded us that we weren't in Benicia anymore.
Speaking of Benicia, Economic Development Manager Mario Giuliani and his wife Lacey were in Paris at the same time, on their delayed honeymoon. We met them for dinner on the Avenue Montaigne, and spent the evening telling hometown stories and sharing what we love about Paris. After dinner we walked the Avenue, home of the famous couture houses, and the windows that illuminate fashion at its grandest. The most striking was Chanel, and the collection Paris-Dallas Metiers D'Art. It was a scene from the Wild West, with mannequins dressed in cowgirl designs amid a backdrop of a Wild West saloon. Patti was keeping the peace as a fashion statement with a broach that combined a sheriff star and Chanel logo. Viva Paris, and on to Merry ol' England for more close shaves with friends and Royals.