Medieval villages, cliff-side beaches, freshly caught fish, and rich flavors—T+L gets lost in Catalonia’s rugged countryside along Spain's northeastern coast.
“Don’t look!” said my husband, Chip. It had been my idea to revisit Cadaqués, the tiny, remote Catalan fishing town that Salvador Dalí once called the most beautiful place in the world. But in the twenty-odd years since my last trip to Catalonia I had forgotten the wild hairpin drive up the rocky crags of Spain’s northern Mediterranean coast and the dizzying drop to the postage-stamp village below.
I first discovered Cadaqués with Parisian friends, in my twenties. We had stopped at the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, with its surrealist, egg-topped cornice, before heading east to the wild coast to linger over glasses of local Muscat in the Bar Marítim on the beach and to soak up the town’s bohemian charms. We had heard stories of Marcel Duchamp playing chess with John Cage and Jean Cocteau at the Bar Melitón in the 1960’s, when the best way to arrive was by boat. The many artists who had come here since the 1930’s—including Picasso, Max Ernst, André Breton, Man Ray, and Joan Miró—played chess there or paid a visit to Dalí at his house up the road in Portlligat.
In Kati Marton’s candid memoir, Paris: A Love Story (Simon & Schuster), the journalist and widow of American diplomat Richard Holbrooke looks to the city for inspiration.
Q: Why did you base the book in Paris? A: I discovered a box of letters I had written to my father when I was a young woman living there. I wanted to find that girl again, so avid for beauty and life. Richard and I spent a lot of time in Paris; it was neutral, away from Washington, D.C., and New York.
Q: You return for Christmas every year to visit your sister. Where do you stay? A: I still have a little apartment that I love on the Rue des Écoles in the Fifth. The area hasn’t changed; it has the same bookstores and bistros.
Q: What are a few of your favorite haunts? A: I love the Hammam de la Mosquée(39 Rue Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, Fifth Arr.), a real Turkish spa and bath. There are a few cafés I visit regularly, like Café Rostand(6 Place Edmond Rostand, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-54-61-58) and La Palette(43 Rue de Seine, Sixth Arr.). And, with the way the French arrange shop windows and food displays, Rue Bonaparte is still a feast for the eyes.
Wonder what Kate Middleton’s going to wear down the Westminster Abbey aisle this Friday? Or what Michelle Obama’s going to wear on just about any given day of the week? Recently, I chatted with T+L contributing editor and style guru Kate Betts—hot off the heels of publishing her new book,Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style (Clarkson Potter, $35)—about the fashion sensibilities of first ladies around the globe.
Q: People the world over have been enraptured by Michelle Obama’s sense of style. Considering her presence on the international stage, what sort of statement is she making about herself—and America—through what she wears?
A: She is making a statement about the power of confidence. The idea of wearing young, unknown American designers perfectly mirrors many of the ideas her husband campaigned on: new faces, new ideas, change. And at the recent state dinner for the President of China, she made a very bold statement by not wearing a dress designed by an American. A lot of people were upset about that—particularly the American fashion industry. But to my mind her self-possession and confidence define American style better than any label in her dress ever would.