Holiday Spirit on Ice at City Center DC

I’m pretty sure the folks over at City Center DC didn’t anticipate that it would be 70 degrees outside when they planned a¬†live ice sculpting event for December 12th. Despite the unseasonably warm temperature, the event was a ton of fun! While two sculptors worked on an ice dress and a Christmas tree at the Park at CityCenterDC, additional sculptures were slowly melting away in Palmer Alley! My favourite was the Birkin bag, of course ūüėČ

Check out some of my pictures below. 

Ice sculpture at city center DC

Live ice sculpting at City Center DC

Ice sculptures at City Center DC

 Ice Menorah at City Center DC

Carolers at City Center DC

Ice sculpture at City Center DC

Ice sculpture at city center DC
And while I’m pretty sure none of the sculpture survived the evening, you can catch more icy action at the National Habor where ICE! at Gaylord National¬†features 2 million pounds of¬†hand-carved ice sculptures and five ice slides, among other attractions, inside 15,000-square-foot tent kept at a cool¬†9 degrees. Ok, that’s actually cold not cool! Brrr.¬†

Five (French) Reasons to Visit City Center DC

I’ve lived in downtown-DC long enough to have seen multiple incarnations of the area now known as City Center DC. First, it was the former convention center, which I saw being demolished back in 2004. Then it was a municipal parking lot, where Megabuses and Bolt Buses would load and unload passengers. It was the site of Cirque du Soleil, Kastles tennis matches and a Trapeze school. And then it was a construction site for a while…¬†

Today, it’s a luxurious mixed use space, with more than 185,000 square feet of retail space situated on the ground floor¬†of six buildings that include both¬†rental apartment units and condominiums, as well as office space. Seattle-based Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, who previously worked on the atrium at the National Portrait Gallery,¬†designed the outdoor spaces,¬†with contemporary fountains and marble benches. Every Tuesday in the summer there’s a¬†Freshfarms farmers’ market.¬†¬†And of course, there’s the super-cool¬†kinetic installation conceived by New York media designer David Niles¬†that screens various videos throughout the day and night on the three sides of a 25-foot-high archway between DBGB and Mango Tree. Eventually, a Conrad Hotel will be built on some of the remaining space… but let’s get back to the retailers and restaurants that filled that ground floor. A slate of high-end retailers have signed leases and opened already, with more on the way, turning¬†City Center DC into a downtown shopping destination that hopes to rival Chevy Chase and Georgetown. And of course, a handful¬†of those retailers are French…

LONGCHAMP

IMG_7339_2I own a ridiculous number of pliage bags, in various sizes and colours so obviously I was very excited when Longchamp announced it would open its first standalone store in the region at City Center. In addition to the famous pliage bags, which line a colourful wall at the back of the store,  the petite boutique also sells shoes, luggage, and other leather leather goods for men and women. 

DBGB KITCHEN + BAR

IMG_6386Chef Daniel Boulud returned to Washington, D.C. last year by opening DBGB, a casual French-American restaurant that serves a Lyonnais-inspired menu including coq-au-vin, seven varieties of home-made sausages (try the boudin blanc or the tunisienne!) and a baked Alaska for two flambéed with chartreuse right at your table. The bar is also very inviting.

ZADIG & VOLTAIRE

IMG_7333_2I’m pretty much not cool enough to shop at Zadig & Voltaire, a French-based fashion label known for its use of cashmere in its chic, and edgy¬†clothing & accessories for men & women. This is the first boutique in the Washington metropolitan area for the clothing retailer, which is expending its US presence and also opened new shops in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles around the same time.¬†

HERMES

IMG_7332_2

If I’m not trendy enough to shop at¬†Zadig & Voltaire, I’m not rich enough to shop at Hermes ūüėČ Known today for its iconic colorful carr√©s and Kelly handbag,¬†Herm√®s initially¬†focused on leather goods like saddles, which it still sells. The City Center location just opened and sells a little bit of everything from dinnerware (head in to check out the exquisite table¬†setting!) to tie, scarves and baby accessories.¬†

CAUDALIE

I’ve beenIMG_5562 using Caudalie’s¬†Vinotherapie skincare line of products for years, so I was stoked to hear that the Thomas-es were opening a boutique and spa at City Center. I’ve already sipped wine from the founders’ vineyard (Caudalie’s first¬†Vinoth√©rapie spa is¬†on the grounds of Ch√Ęteau Smith Haut Lafitte near Bordeaux) at their opening event and dropped in for a facial, so yeah, I’m a fan!¬†

Bonus: these five Frenchies at City Center will soon be joined by Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, upping the ante on the already luxurious shopping district . Oh la la!