Visiting Paris in June? Don’t Miss these Four Great Exhibitions!

Dries Van Noten – Inspirations, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

This exhibition is very appropriately called ‘Inspirations’, and inspirational it certainly is, for anyone even remotely interested in art and fashion .  Cleverly arranged in a series of separate, but interconnecting, rooms, each one representing a different theme which inspired a particular collection of Dries Van Noten over the course of his 30 years in fashion design.  The rooms are known as ‘gardens’, each one revealing, not only his designs, but also  a rich collection of the  paintings, sculptures, photographs and work of other designers which inspired him.  It is a fascinating, sensory journey through Van Noten’s creative process. Until 31st August 2014.

Van Gogh/Artaud. The Man Suicided by Society at the Musée d’Orsay.

This exhibition is based on the writings of French playwright and theatre director Antonin Artaud, who wrote about Van Gogh before the painter’s Paris show in 1947 and comprises around forty paintings, as well as a selection of Van Gogh’s drawings and letters. What makes the exhibition particularly interesting is that Artaud did not believe that Van Gogh was mad and was instead driven to deep depression because society had rejected his work.  Artaud’s criticism is levelled most at Van Gogh’s psychiatrist at the time, Dr. Paul Gachet, who instead of helping him, was responsible for pushing him over the edge. The works shown in the exhibition demonstrate by the torment Van Gogh was under, for example the quivering trunks and leaves in his painting ‘Trees in the Garden of the St Paul Hospital’. Until 6th July 2014.

Impressionist Works from Private Collections at the Musée Marmottan Monet

It is worth making your way to the 16th arrondissement for the unique opportunity to discover a collection of Impressionist paintings, which for the most part have never been seen before by the public.  The 100 masterpieces have been lent by 50 lenders for the exhibition from from France, the United States, Mexico, Switzerland, Great Britain and Italy. The paintings are displayed inchronological order, beginning with the early works, including Boudin’s La Plage de Bénerville, and Manet’s Le Bar aux Folies Bergères. Claude Monet’s rarely shown Sur les Planches de Trouville and Hotel des Roches Noire, Trouville is also displayed, as well as paintings by Pissarro, Sisley, Renoir, Cézanne and Degas. Renoir is also well-represented, and the exhibition includes his Madame Renoir et son Chien, which has never been on show until now. Until 6th July 2014.

Josephine at the Luxembourg Museum, Luxembourg Gardens

On the occasion of the bicentenary of the Empress Josephine’s death at Malmaison on 29 May 1814, this exhibition brings together personal mementos and major works from her prestigious art collections.  Born in Martinique in 1763, Josephine was married at sixteen to the Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais, and narrowly escaped the guillotine during the French Revolution.  In 1792, she married Napoleon Bonaparte, and after the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799), she became the first Empress of the French, crowned by Napoleon in Notre Dame in Paris on 2 December 1804. By 1809, she was divorced by Napoleon as was unable to give him an heir. At this point, she withdrew to Malmaison where she lived until her death in 1814. Visitors to the exhibition are given a glimpse of Josephine’s private world and her passion for travel, music and gardens. Until 29th June 2014.

Positano relaxation, spectacular views, great food, fabulous villas and limoncello

Magical Positano, arguably the most popular holiday destination on the Amalfi coast has its origins in Greek mythology, with the three Le Galli islands just off the coast supposedly the abode of the bewitching Sirens who tried to lure Odysseus to his death off the rocks.  Its turbulent history of raids throughout the Middle Ages led to the construction of the distinctive guard towers for defence, in strategic areas, three of which still stand on the coast here.

During the 16th and 17th century, Positano prospered as a port, and many of the sumptuous Baroque villas, in evidence today, were built, one of which we have available to rent.

It wasn’t until after the First World War that this idyllic fishing village started to attract various artists and writers who came here for the peace and quiet, and wonderful scenery, and then after the Second World War, that it became the popular, fashionable resort it is today. Throughout the years, Positano has been an inspirational retreat for film directors , film stars, artists, and writers, including  John Steinbeck, who famously published his essay summing up the eternal magic of Positano in Harper’s Bazaar in May, 1953: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

Recommended  Beaches and Restaurants

Spiaggia Grande is the main beach here, and accessed via stairs and cobbled alleyways, down through the picturesque from town centre. Lined with cafes and restaurants, it is one of the largest beaches on the Amalfi Coast.  A more peaceful option is Fornillo beach, which can be reached via a coastal path from the Spiaggia Grande. From the main pier, a sea taxi service of small boats can take visitors to tranquil little bays, such as Remmese, Clavel and Cavone, which can only be accessed from the sea.  An absolute must, however, is a visit to the small beach at Laurito, which has its own shuttle boat from the main pier (a 10 minute trip).  The beach can also be reached via a pathway by the San Pietro Hotel.  Here you will find the delightful Da Adolfo, an unpretentious, casual  little restaurant serving  specialities,  such as fresh seafood and pasta, and jugs of ice cold local wine. The owner and staff here are friendly and the atmosphere so relaxing, it is hard to prise yourself off one of the deck chairs on the beach afterwards to catch the last boat back to Positano.

Il Pirata - Another Not to be Missed Restaurant Experience

While viewing a villa in the village of Praiano last month on an uncharacteristically wet windy day, we made our way down the steep steps from the village to the coastal path, leading around to the restaurant Il Pirata.  It is a stunning location, set amongst the rocks right on the edge of the sea, and with a lovely terrace.  As well as a warm and friendly ambience, the food is delicious (we had freshly caught fish of the day and local wine … and the complimentary glass of limoncello). We can’t wait to return!

Villas to Rent in Positano

Villa Giacaranda

The view alone makes this one of the most magical properties to stay in Positano. Accessed via many steps, it is quite a walk, although a porter will meet you at the bottom to carry your luggage.  The villa is surrounded by terraces to take full advantage of the magnificent views, with a stunning swimming pool on a lower level.  There is also an open-air jacuzzi to relax after a long day walking up and down steps.  During high season, Villa Giacaranda is available for exclusive weekly rental for 10 – 12 guests. From September to June, individual rooms can be rented, for a minimum of 2 nights. Breakfast is included and a cook is available to prepare other meals on request.

Villas to Rent in Praiano

Villa Praiano 

This stunning villa is situated on the coast, 5 minutes walk from the picturesque little fishing town of Praiano, about 10 kms from Positano on the way to Amalfi.  Set right on the cliff edge overlooking the sea, the interiors are very luxurious with a touch of eccentricity i.e. a large sunken mosaic tiled, heated ‘emotional’ pool on the lower ground floor, lit with romantic subdued purple lighting.


A Pampering Massage

If the views aren’t enough and you need more soothing of the senses in the form of a spa treatment, we recommend a visit to the Spa at the luxurious Le Sirenuse Hotel.  There is a suite for couples to enjoy simultaneous treatments and the Ayurvedic body massage is unbelievably therapeutic and relaxing.

Sensational Ceramics

There are numerous ceramic shops to choose from, but a good choice would be Ceramiche Casola, a  family business, which has been in operation for three generations. Using traditional methods, every piece of ceramic they sell has been made and painted by hand.  They also arrange shipping.


Where to Buy the Limoncello

As you enter the shop Sapori & Profumi di Positano, the scent is overwhelmingly of lemons with an enticing collection of beautiful bottles of limoncello, lemon scented candles, room spray, and soaps.  A great place to buy gifts and they do arrange shipping as well.