American Friends of Versailles in Paris, Part 2

An all-white fireworks display concluded the grand fete, a breathtaking celebration for a worthy achievement.

By Sharon Hoge and Jeanne Lawrence

In our last post, we recounted several exclusive events from the four-day trip to Paris with the American Friends of Versailles (AFV), including visits with the first lady of France, HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, and the American Ambassador to France.

But the trip’s high point was private time at Versailles Palace away from the crowds, touring the premises, admiring the three projects AFV sponsored there in honor of Franco-American fellowship, and attending an extraordinary black-tie evening with champagne and dinner served in the elegant palace chambers.

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American Friends of Versailles in Paris, Part 1

The American Friends of Versailles group in the courtyard at the Palace of Versailles. Celebrating their restoration of historic paintings in Marie Antoinette’s Queen’s Guard Room, members of the American Friends of Versailles (AFV) spent four days in Paris visiting dignitaries and monuments, dining and dancing.

By Sharon Hoge and Jeanne Lawrence

On a four-day visit to Paris, members of the American Friends of Versailles enjoyed several exclusive events, including roaming around the Élysée Palace with France’s vivacious first lady, Brigitte Macron; dining with HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, Duke of Castro, head of the royal house of France; sipping cocktails with US Ambassador Jamie McCourt at the American Residence; and private visits to the Palace of Versailles, topped with a black-tie formal reception in the Hall of Mirrors and an elegant dinner.

Having raised the funds to rescue historic ceiling paintings in Marie Antoinette’s suite of apartments, the group gathered to view and celebrate the restorations. The formal events that took place at the palace will be covered in another post, but here is an account of some of the other privileged activities.

The AFV assembled on the garden steps of the Elysee Palace, with First Lady Brigitte Macron in front in the white blazer.

AFV Founder Catharine Hamilton and First Lady of France Brigitte Macron.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 6

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, such as the Xuankongsi Hanging Temple, which clings precariously to the side of Wutai Mountain.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Sixth of a Seven-part Series)

Wutai Mountains

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 7: HISTORIC SITES ON WUTAI MOUNTAIN

Leaving the ancient walled city of Pingyao, we continued further north to explore an amazing and unique set of historical sites on Wutai Mountain.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 5

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some incredible off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including several sacred temples such as this Shuanglin complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(
Fifth of a Seven-Part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 6: HISTORICAL TEMPLES IN THE ANCIENT WALLED CITY OF PINGYAO

After spending a third day in historic Pingyao, we wrapped up our exploration of this ancient walled city with tours of several historically significant Taoist and Buddhist temples in and near the Old City.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Celebrating Henry Segerstrom in Orange County, CA

The late Henry Segerstrom, public arts champion and founder of Orange County luxury shopping center South Coast Plaza, was honored during the Plaza’s 50th anniversary celebration that culminated in a Mariinsky Orchestra performance in Segerstrom Concert Hall.

On the 50th anniversary of the prestigious South Coast Plaza luxury shopping center in Costa Mesa, California, Elizabeth Segerstrom and her family honored the memory of her late husband, developer and plaza creator Henry Segerstrom.

Three days of activities and celebrations in Orange County culminated on October 30 in a concert at Segerstrom Hall by the Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev, general and artistic director of the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Valery Gergiev (left, with Russian pianist Denis Matsuev) is general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Art Happenings in Palm Springs, Coachella Valley (Part I)

Palm Springs, long a glamorous retreat for Hollywood stars, is now a flourishing arts community that has recently drawn a new surge of tourists.

ART HAPPENINGS IN PALM SPRINGS, COACHELLA VALLEY (PART I)

I’m making vacation plans now to leave Manhattan once winter arrives. One of the places that beckons is Southern California’s Coachella Valley, the desert resort area that lures international snow birds drawn by its natural beauty, year-round sun, golf courses, tennis facilities, spas, hiking, gambling, and vibrant nightlife.

The Coachella Valley (locals simply call it “The Valley”) is a string of nine desert towns — the best-known Palm Springs, as well as Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella.

A mere two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs is surrounded by the dramatic peaks of the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains.

The Uptown Design District of Palm Springs offers tempting shopping, dining, and cultural events.

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Charleston Social Diary

The 1853 Isaac Jenkins Mikell House is an example of the historical antebellum-era Greek Revival architecture common in Charleston, South Carolina.

THE CHARMS OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Charleston, South Carolina: The five days I recently spent here—my first visit to the “Palmetto City”—weren’t enough. There was so much more I wanted to see and do that I’m determined to return soon. Meanwhile, I’m sharing some highlights.

Jeanne Lawrence in front of some of Charleston’s architectural marvels, which run the gamut from Federalist to modern.

Visitors enjoy traversing Charleston’s orderly grid of streets on foot, by pedicab, bicycle, in a horse-drawn carriage, and even by Uber.

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San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art “Art Bash” Party

The dramatically expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, presently the biggest modern and contemporary art museum in the U.S., opens to the public this month.

The dramatically expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, presently the biggest modern and contemporary art museum in the U.S., opens to the public this month.

GUESTS AT SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART GALA ENJOYED A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE OPENING SHOW

After a three-year transformation, when the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA) reopens on May 14, it will be the country’s largest modern and contemporary art museum. Of a series of pre-opening celebrations, the biggest by far was the Art Bash on April 29, 2016, which attracted more than 2,600 art lovers.

Attendees got a first look at the 1,900 objects from the museum’s massive collection. On display in nineteen distinctive shows, they include 270 works from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection and 600 of the 3,000 works donated by patrons to the permanent collection during the Campaign for Art.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Shanghai’s Vintage & Modern Architecture

In the vibrant metropolis of Shanghai, modern skyscrapers fill the skyline, but in the Xintiandi district, you can still discover architectural gems of the city’s storied past transformed into a popular entertainment hub.

LITERARY LUNCH: SHANGHAI’S VINTAGE & MODERN ARCHITECTURE

One afternoon in Shanghai, I wandered over to the famed restaurant M on the Bund for a “Literary Lunch,” where American architect Ben Wood and Shanghainese author Andrea Mingfai Chu spoke about Shanghai’s architectural heritage.

In Shanghai, author Andrea Mingfai Chu and architect Ben Wood presented a talk at M on the Bund, where Australian owner Michelle Garnaut launched Literary Lunches.

M on the Bund is one of the architectural gems in the city, housed in the historic Nissin Shipping Building built in 1921 (center).

One of the first restaurants to open on the historic Bund in 1999, M provides a stunning view of Shanghai’s most famous sights along the riverside promenade.

One of the first restaurants to open on the historic Bund in 1999, M provides a stunning view of Shanghai’s most famous sights along the riverside promenade.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Hiking in the Chinese Countryside

Living in a city the size of Shanghai, with over 20 million inhabitants, requires an occasional escape. One weekend, my hiking group took a trip to Tai Hu Lake for some peace, quiet, and fresh air in the countryside.

HIKING IN THE CHINESE COUNTRYSIDE

Early one autumn Saturday, venture capitalist Jennifer Yan, publisher Andrea Mingfai Chu, and I went on a day trip to the countryside with our hiking group. Our destination was Tai Hu Lake, west of Shanghai, to visit an authentic farming and fishing village.

Tai Hu Lake is third largest freshwater lake in China, has 90 islands, and empties into the Yangtze River.

China is the world’s leading source of wild-caught fish and aquaculture, and Tai Hu Lake is a source for several fish species, including the seasonal delicacy, hairy crab.

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