Sunday Drive – A Lazy Day in Paris


There are days when you travel that, for one reason or another, turn into lazy days. The day Sally and I visited the Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies exhibit was one of those days. We slept in, had a late breakfast and wandered down toward the Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.

I think we unconsciously wanted to soak up the vibe of the city.

paris bicycle planter; photographer John Kelsey

I can’t begin to tell you how many pictures of doors I took… Their artistry and craftsmanship offer a hint/glimpse of what possibilities await behind those doors. Look at the majesty of their presentation! The freedom of expression in the detailing was something we saw everywhere and is clearly an integral part of French style and design expression.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Often you would see the main entry door assembly preserved, wile the adjacent storefront was quite modern. Here the designers let the door assembly remain the focal point. Well done!!!

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Contrasted with this hotel entry. Although perhaps this used to be part of an open arcade and and been filled in at some point in time.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Fabulous “coining” frames these doors.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

We took  a leisurely stroll thru Place de Vendome. Both the obelisk and The Ritz were undergoing extensive restoration/renovation.

Place de Vendome; photographer John Kelsey

Scaffolding covering the Ritz was printed to mirror the elevation of the building. We saw this where ever there was construction in a public square/place, minimizing the visual disruption of the area. Wish this were done it the USA!

The Ritz; photographer John Kelsey

We wandered up Rue de Richelieu and found a lovely bistro full of locals for lunch. (Photo taken later that evening…)

Bistrot Richelieu; photographer John Kelsey

There was a fair amount of people watching done in the Tuileries Garden. This was as close as we got to the Arc de Triomphe. There were only so many places we could visit in the time we had and our ultimate goal of the trip was to get up close and personal with traditional French interiors – to learn and  observe as much as we could about that are the basic building blocks of classic French interiors and how do they relate to each other. I had some theories and ideas, I wanted to see how they compared to the “real thing”.

Arc de Triomphe; photographer john Kelsey

We teased ourselves by walking thru one of the colonnades at the Louvre.

The Louvre colonnade; photographer John Kelsey

We then headed to our day’s destination, The Orangerie Museum and Monet’s Water Lilies exhibit.

Orangerie Museum; photographer John Kelsey

The Orangerie was originally designed to shelter the orange trees planted in the Tuileries garden. In 1921 the Orangerie became an annex to the Musee du Luxembourg. In 1922 Monet signed a contract donating the waterlilies panels to the French government  with the intent they ben housed in the Orangerie. The exhibit finally opened to the public in mid 1927.

Orangerie Museum; photographer John Kelsey

An two oval shaped rooms were designed specifically for Monet’s paintings. The paintings are breathtakingly beautiful.

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

As we came out of the museum I couldn’t resist capturing the juxtaposition of the Grand Palais in the distance with the workers erecting a temporary pavilion in the foreground.

View toward the Grand Palais; photographer John Kelsey

 Seeing this Ferrari and Lamborghini parked in the Place de la Concorde was a classic reminder of the ever present dynamic tension between old and new.

Ferrari in Place de la Concorde; photographer John Kelsey

By this time Sally and I had worked up quite an appetite, so we set off to find Willi’s Wine Bar, where we had a fabulous meal! The wine was pretty darn good, too…

Willi's Wine Bar Interior; photographer John Kelsey

This was where the serious food photography began…

Willi's Wine Bar dinner; photographer John Kelsey

As some of you know, I’m a bit of a wine guy and I took full advantage of the opportunity to try new and different wines. I wish I could find this Voignier from Domaine Roland Grangier in the US.

Willi's Wine Bar, Domaine Roland Grangier; photographer John Kelsey

And for dessert I wanted something different… This lovely wine Vin de Paille from Domaine Pignier in Jura was out of this world! The grapes are picked and sun dried and are not pressed until January/February. The wine is not bottled for several years. It is also known as straw wine.  What was it like? Similar to a Sauterne, but with it’s own distinct character and style. Another wine I wish I could find here.

Domaine Pignier, Vin de Paille; photographer John Kelsey

There’s something about night time and the city lights of Paris – an immediacy encouraging you to look closely at your surroundings. As we stepped outside the wooden entry gates to the National Library of France beckoned to us. The  building complex is currently undergoing a major renovation.

National Library Gate; photographer John Kelsey

We wandered back down Rue de Richelieu taking in the sights before we found a cab back to our hotel.

Hausmann style restaurant  ceiling; photographer John Kelsey

A boutique hotel lobby.

Paris boutique hotel lobby; photographer John Kelsey

We checked out the competition…

interior design shop and studio in Paris; photographer John Kelsey

And wished we had the energy to stay up later into the evening…

Back streets of Paris; photographer John Kelsey

Tomorrow, the Louvre!



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This past weekend, four generations of the Wilson/Kelsey clan gathered at the Inn at Castle Hill in Ipswich for a weekend of fun and relaxation.

inn at castle hill, source unknown

 The weather was so delightful, much of it was spent on the Inn’s large wrap around porch that overlooks the backside of Crane Beach and island.

four generations; photographer, John Kelsey

While many of you may have visited Castle Hill to see the beautiful summer home and grand allée designed by David Adler for the Crane family, on this visit my objectives were different – jettison the car and walk.

But before we walk together, let’s spend a few moments at the Inn. The Crane family purchased the property in 1910, ultimately accumulating 2,100 acres of land including Choate Island, located in the salt marshes behind Castle Island. The family lived in the inn (known as the Brown House) while the estate was being built on the top of the hill. Two structures were actually built, the first being done in the Italianate style. David Adler was retained to design both the exterior and interior of the second English style structure we see today. The family continued to occupy the inn thru the 1950’s. Ultimately, much of the property was deeded to the Trustees of Reservations. In 1998, the Ipswich based architectural firm, Carpenter MacNeill, was retained to help guide the renovation and conversion of the Brown House into a small luxury inn. It’s accommodations are wonderfully warm and elegant. Listen carefully, you can hear echoes of the house’s rich history.

The cozy lounge. We would all linger here in front of the warm fire after returning from dinner.

Inn at Castle Hill Lounge; photographer, John Kelsey

It’s welcoming foyer.

Inn at Castle Hill Foyer; photographer, John Kelsey

The view toward the sunny breakfast room.

Inn at Castle Hill view to breakfast room; photographer, John Kelsey

The breakfast room.

Inn at Castle Hill breakfast room; photographer, John Kelsey

But as I said, my objective was to walk slowly to see what the grounds revealed. Honestly, I only scratched it’s surface…

I began by following the resident flock of turkeys as they crossed the yard in front of the Inn.

Turkeys at Castle Hill; photographer, John Kelsey

When you follow a flock of turkeys, you definitely slow down…

I found myself admiring the root structure of  several old, old beech trees, thinking, “There’s a custom rug here.”

beech tree roots; photographer John Kelsey

The tree’s folds of bark reminded me of the skin of a wise old elephant and I thought,”If this tree could talk, the stories it could tell.”

beech tree bark; photographer John Kelsey

I found myself on my hands and knees, admiring tiny fall asters in all their glory.

fall aster: photographer John Kelsey

The counterpoints to the detail and intimacy were the vistas that would slowly unfold before my eyes, the change in scale making them all the more beautiful and breath-taking.

Inn at Castle Hill vista: photographer, John Kelsey

Fox Creek behind the Hill. (I’ve had some amazing striped bass fishing in this little creek in the spring.)

Fox Creek behind Castle Hill; photographer John Kelsey

Overlooking the old garden plot and farm buildings.

Castle Hill Garden plot and farm buildings; photographer, John Kelsey

The garden called to me and I heeded it’s call. Aspects of the garden reminded me of Ashintully Gardens and Naumkeag, other Trustees of Reservations properties Sally and I had visited earlier in the summer. Note the trellis on the right and small tower structure in the far right corner of the garden.

castle hill garden plot; photographer John Kelsey

Loved the rustic stone cobble columns!

castle hill garden trellis, photographer John Kelsey

The trellis was made of cedar trees, carefully trimmed to fit. Note the copper cap on the column. Such attention to detail!!!

trellis detail; photographer John Kelsey

The small niche in the top of the back wall receive/hold the cedar logs in their proper place.

trellis detail; photographer John Kelsey

Of course, there is a fountain!!!

Castle Hill fountain under trellis; photographer John Kelsey

The old Lion’s head… Such wonderful patina!!!

Lion's head at Castle Hill; photographer John Kelsey

At each end of the Garden were towers built into the garden’s retaining wall. I’m sure back in the day, they afforded spectacular views of the surrounding country side.

Castle Hill Garden Tower; photographer John Kelsey

Tower stair… Elegant in it’s functionality and simplicity.

Garden Tower Stair; photographer John Kelsey

Mmmm, rustic gate and hinges…

Rustic gate and strap hinges; photographer John Kelsey

The trail continued to beckon and tease…

Peak of Castle Hill; photographer John Kelsey

The Italian Gardens are currently under restoration.

Castle Hill Italian Gardens: Photographer John Kelsey

Castle Hill Italian Gardens: Photographer John Kelsey

I was drawn to the play of light and shadow on the trellis.

Castle Hill Italian Gardens: Photographer John Kelsey

Across the road, the Rose Garden awaits it’s return to former glory.

Castle Hill  Rose Garden: Photographer John Kelsey

Take the time to look closely. Close your eyes… Smell the roses…

Castle Hill  Rose Garden: Photographer John Kelsey

Just around the corner, you cross the property’s Grand Allée that leads to the ocean. Look to the right, tucked into the hillside is the restored Casino. Earlier in the summer Sally and I attended the kick off concert for Castle Hill’s resurrected Summer Concert Series in the Casino. Wonderful, intimate, romantic. We will do more next year. Originally, where you see grass in the middle, there was a swimming pool and grass was where the stone walk way is today. The cost of that portion of the restoration was prohibitive… It must have been magnificent!

Castle Hill restored Casino; photographer John Kelsey

I leave you with the beautiful picture Sally took, looking back over her shoulder after walking the same circuit I had done. The sun shining gloriously, fall foliage coming into it’s prime. Food for the Soul…

Castle Hill restored Casino; photographer Sally Wilson



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A wave of nostalgia has swept over me these past few weeks. I find my mind wandering back to a year ago when Sally and I spent several weeks in Paris and Bruges. While I did make daily Facebook posts while traveling, we have been so busy since then that I haven’t had/made time to write any blog posts about our trip. I thought it was time to change that. During our stay in Paris, we stayed at Hotel Josephine on Rue Blanche in the 9th Arrondissement. Modern/funky appointments, small comfortable rooms and a terrific breakfasts.

hotel josephine, 67 Rue Blanche, Paris

Main Lobby.


Breakfast room in the basement. Loved the exposed stone and the sweep of the wrought iron stair rail/balustrade. Such a tease…


Our room. Closet space consisted of a coat rod behind the small screen on the right side of the picture. (Pack light…)

Hotel Josephine room

Fortunately, it was a corner room on the 4th floor with a terrific street view.

hotel josephine, view of Rue Blanche

On our first morning we took a walking tour of the Marais District. Hi-lights included a visit to Eglise Saint Gervais and Place des Vosges as well as seeing some of the oldest structures in Paris, dating back to the early 1300’s. I love how the building exterior corbels out over the street and then angles back.

early 1300's Paris architecture

14th Century Paris architectural detail; photogrpaher John Kelsey

Eglise Saint Gervais was the first of several churches we visited during our stay. Completed in 1657, it’s exterior is considered to be the first example of Baroque style in Paris, while it’s interior is more Gothic in character. For you trivia freaks, in 1918 a German shell fell on the church killing 88 people, including the niece and favorite model of the painter John Singer Sargent.

Eglise Saint Gervais, source unknown

Eglise Saint Gervais, photographer John Kelsey

Our morning walking tour concluded in Place des Vosges. Built by Henry IV in the early 1600’s, it is considered to be the prototype of residential city squares found throughout Europe today. We went back and hung out there later in the week.

place des vosges; source unknown

Having been told by a friend of the small luxury hotel Pavillion de la Reine we decided to do little exploring. Tucked in a small courtyard, just off the square, it was amazing!!!

Pavillion de la Reine; photo by John Kelsey

Pavillion de la Reine lobby and Lounges; source unknown

We enjoyed the sculpture in the courtyard as much as the hotel’s interior.

Pavillion de la Reine coutyard; photographer john Kelsey

At the conclusion of the tour, our guide suggested we visit the Carnavalet Museum nearby saying, “You can see it all in an hour or two.” (Unless you’re an interior designer interested in studying classical French style as it turned out. We scheduled another extended visit later in the week.) The front door hinted as to the treasures that would follow. I’ll show only a few pictures, as the Museum deserves a post unto itself. It is a treasure trove of the architectural history of Paris.

Carnavalet front door; photogrpaher John Kelsey

The interior court yard.

carnavalet courtyard; photographer John kelsey

One of several interior stairs. Virtually all the components of the French Style foyer are in this photo. Curved wrought iron stair with a curb detail, big lantern, large window, wall sconce, etc. What you don’t see is the black and white check marble floor.

carnavalet interior stair; photographer John Kelsey

 This door and jamb was where I began to confirm my notions about the differences between French and English architectural styles of the same Periods. I was SO excited!!! French interior architecture is so sensuous! I also noticed much more color in the floor tile patterns. I was never able to figure out when the quintessential black and white marble floor we know today became the norm.

Carnavalet interior door jamb detail; photographer John Kelsey

Each day (mostly…) included a nap before dinner. This evening, we had made dinner reservations on a small river boat Calife. What could be better? A romantic dinner on the Seine with jazz playing in the background as we watched dusk and nightfall  steal in over the City of Lights.

Seine River at dusk; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat; photo by John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

Calife river boat cruise; photographer John Kelsey

The boat cruise was the perfect way to end our first day in Paris. We saw the skyline, got a sense of the lay of the land while having a wonderful dinner. In fact, if this is all you do, your trip will have been worthwhile!



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