(radishes overflowing at the local market)

(this shopper is my role model)

(in a Paris market stall window, a sketch of a woman)

(D near the Canal St. Martin)

(no explanation needed)

(lace detail of a Flemish painter's work at the Louvre)

(the world's most perfect artichoke)

Our week-long stay in Paris was enough time to fall in love with the place. Not a difficult task. The fashions, art and food -- some of my favorite focuses -- were like a competitive sport over there. Seemingly effortless in their elegance, simplicity and composition.

I honestly couldn't believe the splendor and opulence around each corner -- there's a big golden angel here, a designer patisserie over there, and oh look-- there's the Christian Dior Flagship store and -- here's the original Renoir and Monet, Manet -- whomever French painter you've grown up adoring-- right here in front of your eyes. Magic.

In fact, there was so much to do, see and experience in Paris, I almost got a teensy stressed over it -- but we managed to meet up with a few blog contacts Danielle and Anne, both wonderful ladies with inspiring visions . . . and then throw the map to the wind, and explore the small streets, pastries, boutiques, vintage shops (madness!), galleries, markets, museums, the list goes on.

We ate. We walked. We even skipped, it was such an amazing city.

Thank you to all who sent me great recommendations, I kept my trusty journal handy and we ended up visiting most of the list. My pals are infinitely better than a guidebook. Merci!

Now we're in London, wondering if we'll get to Germany due to the volcanic ash cloud . . . Strange times. The expression comes to mind -- Man plans, God laughs. HA!

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