Gucci Masters in Paris, 2012

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Written by Alison Potter

Bon Voyage a Paris!

On Monday, November 26, a very excited group of travelers from KMT boarded the plane on their way to Paris, France. The reason… an extravagant week of sightseeing, shopping, enjoying time with friends AND the opportunity to attend the Gucci Masters – Paris.

~ Tuesday ~
After 10 1/2 long hours, our tired little group arrived safely. We found our way to the hired shuttle and were whisked away to the very heart of Paris and our Parisian apartments that we would call “home” for the week. The rentals, provided by Paris By Heart, were perfectly situated across the Seine and only blocks from one another. One group called Ile de la Cite home, just a stone’s throw from Notre Dame, while the others’ were on the left bank in the lively Latin Quarter. After settling into the apartments the group met up at a local cafe for a quick bite and a review of the week. We all turned in early so we would feel refreshed for our first full day in Paris. Bonne nuit!

~ Wednesday ~
Bonjour Paris! After a leisurely breakfast on our own, the group met for a glorious morning at the Musee d’Orsay to explore the superb collection of Impressionist art. Amazing! Our fabulous visit was topped off with a late lunch in the cafe behind the beautiful clock. What a way to start off our trip! Our evening was equally wonderful as we set sail on this very chilly night for a cruise down the River Seine. The views of the city’s famous monuments floodlit at night was especially beautiful. And to our delight, it was also a full moon. What a great night for capturing some memorable pictures! After our moonlight cruise we strolled over to the neighborhood by Les Halles to find a restaurant on rue Quincampoix. Wow! When one opened the door, the smells emanating from there were off-the-charts mouthwatering. It was quaint, intimate and perfectly Parisian. A fabulous way to end our first full day in Paris. La belle vie!

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~ Thursday ~
This bright, sun-filled morning found us walking along rue de Rivoli and taking in the impressive size of the Louvre and the grandeur of the Tuileries. Our destination… Angelina’s. One cannot pass up the “chocolate chaud” and the beautiful Belle Époque decor. The pastries, chocolates and pommes frites are pretty exquisite too! After a delightful “dejeuner,” it was off to the metro and an adventure through the Bastille and the Marais; still a very fashionable, well-to-do area with trendy shops, restaurants, art galleries and cafes. We, ourselves, enjoyed an afternoon coffee at a cafe overlooking Place de Vosges. Just lovely! From here, it was back to the apartments for a much needed rest before the big event of the evening…
The VIP Gala Event at the Gucci Masters was our kick-off event to an extraordinary time at the Gucci Masters – Paris. We were graciously given tickets to this invite-only event, and were we excited! Those hours spent finding just the right ensemble paid off as we walked down the red carpet and into the world of high-class show jumping! The gala evening was host to exhibitors, trainers, friends and family. It was a sumptuous affair; endless flutes of champagne, hors d’oevers fit for a king, entertainers to charm and delight, music to inspire, and vendors selling their wares. It was a feast for the eyes when Graal Joaillier, master jewelers and one of the major sponsors of the event, wowed everyone with a glittering fashion show of priceless jewels. It was truly a magical evening, one we shall never forget!

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~ Friday ~
After some much needed rest from the excitement of the previous evening, we all had a late-morning start. Some of our group ventured off to experience Versailles, while the others decided to explore “the Butte,” otherwise known as Montmartre. After a dizzying metro ride, we arrived. We started with some local fare at a corner cafe, then did a bit of shopping before riding the funicular up to the foot of the basilica of Sacre-Coeur. We all enjoyed the spectacular views of the city from this monumental area. Our evening was equally glorious as we celebrated Lisa’s birthday at yet another charming, local restaurant, Les Coins des Amis, located in Montmartre. The food was fantastic, and the host, Pascal, was a lively man who wowed us with silly magic tricks and quick come-ons to the ladies. His smile was warm and gracious, and his energy filled the little restaurant with such enthusiasm for all the good things in life, a gentle reminder of how lucky we all were for being on this grand trip. Happy birthday Lisa!

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    ~ Saturday ~
    Another glorious, crisp, sun-filled day greeted us. Many of us splintered off to enjoy what landmarks were last to see on our lists. Myself… I ventured off with Chris and Amanda to see the Eiffel Tower. It was spectacular on this sunny morning. From there we strolled down side streets like rue Cler and saw the weekend markets being flooded by locals. We passed by Invalides, St. Clotilde and St. Germain des Pres. We were impressed by the stores as they discreetly and tastefully showed signs that the holidays were approaching. I now know firsthand why the French call window shopping “leche vitrine”, which literally translates as “window licking”, because the way they dress their windows would make anyone drool! The other group of travelers visited the Rodin Museum and then watched the world go by at the famous cafe, Les Deux Magots.
    It wasn’t long before we were all on our way back to the Parc des Expositions for the evenings event at the Gucci Masters. This event was the Style & Competition for Amade, the philanthropy of Princess Caroline. The second competition of the evening was the Battle of the Sexes, an exciting, fast-paced round that raises money for EADS. The competitors AND horses were both decorated in silly costumes as they competed throughout the evening. So fun!

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    ~ Sunday ~
    “The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine

    I think I can safely say that all of us have read the equivalent of a novel having traveled on this amazing trip. On this, our last day, we decided to make the most of the Gucci Masters experience and head in early to see some of the Salon du Cheval before attending the Gucci Masters Grand Prix. The Salon du Cheval is our equivalent of the Western Horse Expo. It is filled with vendors of every kind, groups doing demonstration rides, and an amateur horse show going on, all at the same time. It was thrilling to see. Thankfully we all had full suitcases, or we would have been bringing home lots of goodies!
    Finally, it was time for the much anticipated Grand Prix. There was a field of 44 competitors, many of whom had competed in the Olympics this past summer in London. Very exciting! The fences were enormous and the course had a couple of difficult combinations and very large, very wide oxers, as was the last fence on course coming home. So tough! Several riders made it into the jump off. It took your breath away watching these riders race around, leaving out strides, and flying over the massive obstacles. Impressive! It was thrilling to see how supportive the Europeans are of their equestrian sport, it was serious business. You could have heard a pin drop as all watched a rider go round, and a clear round was followed by thunderous applause. The caliber of horses and grit and determination of the riders was amazing. Just beautiful! In the end, a Frenchman won the Grand Prix and took the high place on the podium. As he stood, holding up the massive trophy cup, the French anthem played over the loud speakers. What a surreal moment that must have been. Incroyable!
    The evening shifted to an atmosphere of fun and frivolity when the “paddock ponies” came out to race around the indoor arena. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place after the bouts of laughter watching these amazingly tough kids race around on their ponies with the determination of the fiercest competitor. What a kick-in-the-pants, and what a perfect way to end an evening!

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    ~ Monday ~
    Our last day in Paris, a grey, rainy day, bids us farewell, as we head back to sunny California. Our adventures forever tucked away into our memories like little treasures. Special pages of that novel to cherish and share with friends and family, and hopes that someday we might return to La Belle France once again. A special thank you to all who went on this trip and made it such an amazing experience, it is one I shall never forget. And, thank you to everyone at home who made it possible!