We’re delighted to have an opportunity to catch up with our good friend Aurelia. If you missed her introduction, we’ve encourage you to get to know her via the following posts. (We’d suggest starting with Meet Aurelia Floss.)
For today, we’ll once again live vicariously through her travels and exploration.
“Breathe Paris in, it nourishes the soul.”– Victor Hugo
I’ve long had a fascination with the city of Paris. The fashion, the food, and the intoxicating history of the ‘city of lights‘ is irresistible. Of course, Italy has its own rich history, complete with style icons, delectable cuisine, and beautiful museums, but for a sophisticated spool like myself, the French capital has always held a special kind of magic.
When a Parisian friend I met during my trip to Megève called with a last minute invite, I couldn’t resist. The timing was perfect– it was mid-December and I had a few days before returning to my dear Aurifil family for Christmas. I quickly packed my stuff and a couple of days later, hopped on a night train from Milano. It would only be 7 hours to reach Paris!
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to travel, particularly in such an eco-friendly way! Protecting the environment is a huge thing for me. It’s why I’m made of natural wood. Actually, in my Aurifil family, we’re all about sustainable development. Since 2018, we’ve been using recycled plastic in our spools and thanks to our partnership with the Plastic Bank, we’ve been plastic neutral since 2020. For us, I know this is just the beginning and I’m so proud of the work that’s being done!
Luckily, I managed to sleep quite well on the train. I woke as the train slowed, pulling into Gare de Lyon in Paris. It was still early morning and I felt refreshed and ready for a full day of adventure and exploration. As I exited the station, the first thing that caught my attention was the Seine River, just a block away from the train station. Walking toward it, I grabbed my headphones to match this magical moment with the perfect song: La Seine, by Vanessa Paradis & M. The playful rhythm partnered with Vanessa Paradis’ soothing voice made my heart burst with gratitude.
It was exactly how I’d imagined it: the flyboats, the old bridges, the morning sunlight hitting the water… I walked along the river for a while, enchanted by the buildings, the people, and the brisk, but sunny weather. Using the city map I’d grabbed in the train station, I was happy to see that my friend’s house was not far. He lives in a small 17th century building on l’Île Saint-Louis, one of two small islands on the Seine. The other, l’île de la Cité, was where the very first houses in Paris were built!
Buzzing with excitement I quickly found his place and greeted him with warm hugs. I knew he had to work that day, so I dropped my luggage in the guest room and prepared for a solo adventure. Whilst walking to the subway station, he gave me some advice on things to do and places to visit during my first day. We went our separate ways and I was left standing, in awe, under a bright blue sky, on a crisp Parisian morning, with several days of amazing discoveries ahead of me.
My first destination was, of course, the Eiffel tower. My friend told me that to catch the best view, I needed to go to the Trocadero, a large outdoor plaza facing the tower and the surrounding gardens. I navigated my way through the subways, quickly arriving at the “Troca” balcony. The sky had darkened a bit by the time I arrived, but the beauty couldn’t be dimmed… such an iconic view! The Eiffel tower was standing right in front of me, imposing, grand, and magnificent.
From somewhere in the distance I heard “Sous le ciel de Paris” (translation: under the parisian sky) playing, which perfectly matched the panoramic view unfolding before my eyes. I took a quick polaroid to use as inspiration for my next embroidery project.
I couldn’t leave without experiencing the view from the top. Let me tell you, the view from this iconic landmark is nothing short of extraordinary. I could see the Seine meandering through the city, the large boulevards that actually looked like tiny streets from where I stood, the stunning bridges, the white Basilique du Sacré-Coeur standing on top of the Montmartre Hill… Seeing Paris from above is truly spectacular.
All of the emotions and excitement of course made me really hungry. One of my favourite parts about travelling is the food! I’d only been able to grab a croissant at the train station just after arriving and now it was already lunch time! I found a lovely brasserie in the neighbourhood and grabbed a table near the window, relax, and enjoy a meal. I ordered a soupe d’oignon, a very typical french dish, and a starter salad. While the meal was delicious, my favourite part was having that moment to watch the world go by. I finished the meal with an espresso, which offered the perfect kick to send me off for the afternoon.
I was eager to explore the capital, but the overnight travel had caught up to me and I didn’t want to walk quite so much. I found the perfect activity– a fly boat cruise that would take me along the Seine. I bundled up and snagged a seat on the deck for the best view. I could see the Haussmann buildings (immeubles haussmanniens, like the French say) along the streets and the Eiffel Tower overlooking the Seine. The mediaeval bridges holding the riverbanks together gave way to beautiful trees greening up the avenues. I took a million photos so as to remember every detail including my favourite moments– catching glimpses of the Louvre Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Paris.
That night, my friend and I cooked dinner at home. He showed me how to make a Quiche Lorraine, which is an open pie with eggs, cream, and lardons. It was such an easy recipe that I wrote it down so that I could make it again when I returned to Milan. Nothing better than French cuisine to impress my friends and family! For dessert, we had a couple of Macarons I bought earlier in a local bakery. Macaron is a typical French dessert made of a sweet meringue-based confection. I had a hard time choosing the flavours when I bought them, but each colourful selection ended up being incredibly tasty.
The next day, I woke up around 8, feeling well rested and excited to begin another day of adventure. The scent of the warm pains au chocolat that my friend brought from the bakery wafted down the hall and I could smell the sweet citrus of freshly squeezed orange juice. My friend had taken the day off, so we had plans to tour the city together. First Montmartre, in the morning, and then Le Louvre, after lunch. With him by my side, I didn’t feel like a tourist – more like a true Parisienne spool. Oui oui!
Perched on the top of a small hill, Montmartre offers spectacular views. We climbed the stairs leading to La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, a charming white Basilica located at the very top. From there, we could see all of Paris, its stunning buildings stretching as far as our eyes could see. For a moment, it was as if time stood still. We stayed there a few minutes, soaking it all in, as if we were floating above the city.
From there, we headed towards La Place du Tertre, a square located a few streets away from the Basilica. All day long, painters and artists take turns to draw, paint, and exhibit their artwork on the square. I could watch them work for hours– such talent and dedication. I love to channel my own creativity into different works of art like colourful quilts, fancy summer dresses, and perfect little mini masterpieces, stitched with my favourite floss.
I was so absorbed in the beauty of it all that I didn’t notice someone was looking at me quite intensely. After a while, I realised that one of the painters had taken me on as muse. I blushed and as he apologised, he showed me his work. I was stunned. It was a soft watercolor, a whimsical depiction of my spool. I couldn’t help but smile. Seeing how happy I was, he told me I could have it as an early Christmas gift, to remember my trip to Paris.
Before heading to Le Louvre, we went to a local bakery to grab a Jambon-beurre sandwich (simple, but délicieux!). Because Jambon-Beurre is the most popular sandwich in France, you can pretty much find it everywhere. It’s nothing complicated, really– simply a baguette sliced open, spread with butter, and filled with slices of ham. Here’s a fun fact: everyday, over 3 million jambon-beurre are sold in France!
Arriving at Le Louvre, I couldn’t have been more in my element. A vault filled with more than 3000 works of art representing so many beautiful moments in time, it’s truly an extraordinary art repository. I fell in love with The Winged Victory of Samothrace, an amazing Ancient Greek sculpture. I was spellbound by the grace and beauty of this marble masterpiece. Liberty Leading the People, a painting by Eugene Delacroix, was another favourite. One of the most famous French works, it is said to represent freedom and revolution.
Once we left the Museum, we headed to the shop-heavy district near the Opera Garnier. During winter, some streets go through an impressive makeover that fills them with lights, decorations, and animated scenes. We walked past the Galeries Lafayettes and the Printemps, two world-famous Parisian department stores, with our eyes wide open, taking in the charming and colourful displays. Dream-like forests, brilliant characters, and snowy landscapes filled the stores’ huge street-side windows.
That night, my friend took me to his favourite restaurant, Le Relais de Venise L’entrecôte. Famous for its unique menu, the restaurant has been popular with locals since its opening in 1959. Our waitress took us to a corner table upstairs, and handed us two menus. I had a salad with a mustard and walnut dressing– a delicious combo– followed by the most tender cut of steak bathed in the restaurant’s secret sauce. We ordered a bouteille of Bordeaux rouge de Saint-Emilion, which was truly a match made in heaven with the steak. After dinner, we took a taxi back home. Paris is stunning at night and I was grateful for this quiet close to an amazing day.
It was my last full day in the city and I didn’t want to waste a minute. I made my way to the legendary “Aux merveilleux de Fred” bakery, which is not really a traditional French bakery. You won’t find any pâtisseries, because they only make one thing– meringue. It’s one of my Paris must-haves, touted by tourists and locals alike! I snagged a travel box so we could enjoy a few extras later… how could I resist?
After breakfast, I hopped on a train heading towards Versailles. I was excited to see where the kings and queens of France spent their days, between royal balls, lavish dinners, and extravagant parties. When I arrived, the air was crisp and there was still a light fog, making it look ethereal.
Upon entering the palace, I was taken with the sheer opulence– the marble, the stones, the gold-covered statues. Everything was exquisite! We walked through the Hall of Mirrors on our way to visit the King’s Chamber at the very centre of the Chateau. Apparently, the king was never alone. Every day, his courtiers were there to attend his waking and retiring ceremonies. Personally, I’m not sure I’d appreciate a life with so little privacy!
The Palace of Versailles isn’t just famous for its beautiful rooms and ornamentation, but also for its stunning gardens. I donned some warm gloves, a scarf, and a hat on my wooden spool to face the cold. I walked around the Castle park the magnificent “Grand Trianon”, a marvelous palace made out of pink marble. I learned that it was specially built for the mistress of the world famous ‘Sun King’, Louis XIV. At that moment, I was reminded of “Le Roi Soleil”, a musical inspired by the Sun King and couldn’t help but recall the dreamy rhythm of “Tant qu’on rêve encore”, about dreams and hope for a better future.
In the course of my meanderings in the parkland, I walked past a quaint farm called Le Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet). This used to be Marie-Antoinette’s hideaway, where she took refuge when she needed to escape the court’s gossip.
Before I knew it, the sun dipped below the horizon, and it was time to head back to Paris. My little detour to Versailles had been the perfect way to spend the day. Its cobbled streets and old buildings made me feel as if I was travelling back in time. I would have loved to live at that time, wearing lavish dresses adorned with golden embroideries, ribbons, flowers, and beads. In my head, I was already imagining patterns of the next dresses I’d sew, feeling inspired by the elegance of French period fashion.
For my last night in Paris, my friend took me out with some of his co-workers. They took me to a charming little crêperie nestled in the Quartier Latin. I ordered a delectable smoked salmon crepe and a coupe of champagne. For dessert, I followed my friend’s suggestion and ordered the crepe flambée Grand Marnier, prepared with caramelised butter, orange peel, and lemon juice. For the final touch, a bit of Grand Marnier is added to the crepe, which is then “flámbé” (burnt!), resulting in an impressive burst of flames.
After dinner, we all went dancing in Pigalle, one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Paris, famously known for hosting the Moulin Rouge. I had a great night of fun drinking champagne and moving my spool to the rhythm of France’s latest hits.
The next morning, I slept later than usual, resting my tired spool after a late but exhilarating night. My train was scheduled for early evening, so thankfully, I had some time to relax before my travels. I went for a relaxing walk in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Measuring 25 hectares, it’s one of the biggest natural spaces of Paris. Strolling along the paths, I got lost in the stillness and almost forgot I was within the largest city in France. It felt like the countryside, with large meadows, birds, and even a giant lake. Having that time to unwind was just what I needed!
The final stop on my Parisian tour was les Champs-Elysées. The streets were filled with holiday shoppers, the mood vibrant and festive. I took the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping. I found some stunning fabrics at a little haberdashery and couldn’t resist a beautiful béret that perfectly matched the shiny colour of my spool. It would be my favourite souvenir!
I hailed a cab to go to the train station. It had been an adventure-filled few days and while my heart was full of joy and gratitude, my body was exhausted! I was looking forward to relaxing on the train. I will never forget the fun I had in the City of Love. A la prochaine, Paris!
We simply adore reading about Aurelia’s adventures! We wonder where she’ll head next? If you’re eager to travel alongside Aurelia, she is color 4020/2530m, depending on the time of year and her mood. You can find her in Colorful Vintage by Beverly McCullough. Or browse our full range of floss collections via the button below. As always… happy stitching!
Oui oui! Such a beautiful trip to Paris! Thanks for bringing back lovely memories of our time there.
Such a lovely experience for you Aurelia — thank you for sharing it with us. I hope to visit Paris one day too!