April 19, 2019

Notre Dame's facade

Seven years ago a lovely friend and Catholic scholar gave me a tour around the outside of the cathedral of Notre Dame. Many little details popped into my mind when I incredulously watched the roof burn down on Monday evening on my i-phone screen while travelling in Spain.

My mind boggles when I stop to think that the fire was spotted at 18:30 and fifteen minutes later the entire world was watching the sad event unfold in real time.

Today I decided to share my post I wrote in 2012:

Taxi drivers tell me that their most requested destination is Notre Dame de Paris. The cathedral will be celebrating its 850th anniversary this December. What better reasons to take a closer look myself?


It was the first place both my mother AND my mother-in-law wanted to visit when they came to stay. My mum still remembers watching the Queen on telly visiting the cathedral decades ago.


The façade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is an icon known throughout the world. Our guide told us first off that we needed to be looking in 3D. Up, down and beyond - certainly not at her - while she shared the secrets hidden in plain sight in the facade's architecture, their sculptures and stained glass windows.


She enlightend us about gothic style, the rose windows and the pointed arches leading our eyes up by optical illusion. We learnt about heavenly elements contrasting with material shapes in form of circles and squares. We went from portal to cathedra (the bishop's throne).



For a whole 90 minutes our wonderfully passionate New Yorker (married to a francais) guide enchanted us with explanations about The Holy Trinity, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the promise of the past leading to the fullfillment of the future. She told us about the Angels, the Apostels, Isaac & Abraham, Adam & Eve, David & Goliath, the Saints of Paris and even Queen Sheeba. She revealed repesentations of the Liberal Arts, the zodiac, devils, dragons and hidden snakes. At this point we hadn't even entered into cathedral yet.





Now, should your children ever say visiting a cathedral is boring - think again kids! There is a whole load of action to be found in the facade of Notre Dame de Paris, you just need the right person to unveil it.

April 13, 2019

First think, second believe, third dream. And finally, dare!

Like so many of the younger generation Expat Girl wants to make a difference. She believes in actively protecting the environment and helping those less fortunate. It started by wishing Father Christmas would bring her a differentiated garbage can. Next she ask us to donate money to a charity instead of buying her a birthday present. She wasn't even a teenager at that stage.

As a young adolescent she is ever more conscious about what goes on around her and is adamant to be part of change. She has endless energy and can be very convincing in her arguments!

Last year's school project involved a 4 month research into a field of her choice. The outcome was to be finished product.

Living in the world's leading tourist capital she focussed on the waste caused by 250 million plastic water bottles sold annually to the city's 85 million visitors. Her vision of sustainable tourism was that each tourist would be given a reusable water bottle at his/her arrival at the airport with a QR code printed onto it allowing to locate the city's 1200 public water fountains for refill.

She managed to get a renowned Swiss manufacture of recyclable bottles to back her project and submitted an eco-friendly water bottle prototype to the city of Paris in a competition of participatory budgeting. "Le budget participatif de Paris" allows its citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how 5% of the city's budget is spent.

Expat Girl managed to get past the first round with top votes thanks to a great deal of rallying and neighbourhood support.

Yesterday the verdict came through that her project was rejected by the city of Paris with the following statement: The "Eau de Paris" project generates too much operating expenses. Indeed, the distribution of bottles to tourists generates significant operating costs in terms of human resources. However, the participatory budget of Paris is dedicated specifically to the financing of investment projects having a lasting impact on the heritage of the community.

Although disappointed about the decision of the Ville de Paris, Expat Girl will continue to support and work on the causes she strongly believes in. Never the one to give up, her actions will continue protecting the environment and her contribution towards improving sustainability in all parts of the globe will persevere.

She is now preparing to help build a boarding house for a school in Namibia this summer. You go girl! As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

April 12, 2019

Believe!

Not feeling very inspired by Paris lately, this might be a short post but I don’t think you need many words, to tell this story...

April 7, 2019

Tastes and colours this week

My week in pictures...


Lunch with a view: trendy Restaurant Girafe


Latest Coste restaurant: Théâtre Marigny


When your coffee machine finally breakes down...


Lady Liberty basking in the sun


Newest addition to the Champs Elysées: Les Galleries Lafayette


Taxi ride at sunset


My hood


Parisian restaurant decor


Still my favourite spot: Le Tournesol 


When the Pavlova looks better than it tastes!

April 5, 2019

Galleries Lafayette turns sexy...

There is a new kid in town or should I say a new shop on the block...Galleries Lafayette have opened a satellite store on the Champs Elysées... and they have nailed it! We are talking flying carpets for shoes and a moving conveyor belt (like a sushi bar) for handbags.

While checking out an enormous wall of designer sunglasses displayed in such a way that you don't dare touch them, a French lady turns around to me and says with a grin: "Cela change des Galleries Lafayette, n'est-ce pas?" And, she is right, this is Instagram heaven, a sanctuary for lovers of beautiful architecture and design but a far cry from your regular Parisian department store. It's more of a lifestyle concept store. 

This splendid Art Deco building (ex-Virgin Megastore) will make fashion-victims and food-addicts very happy with a space covering over 6.500m2. So what, if the bronze Eiffel Tower by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is a bit of a cliché, he is the brain behind Google’s current and under-construction Silicon Valley campuses after all.

As for service, Galleries Lafayette has recruited and trained 300 tech-savvy personal stylists to advise shoppers on the range of fashion, accessory, beauty and lifestyle brands on offer. They are everywhere!!!

Oh, and the icing on the cake? The fitting rooms! The architect has placed them in prime locations with natural light and a view onto the Champs-Elysées, plus they are fitted out in pink velour!

Whether it's all enough to boost business remains to be seen... but it's certainly worth a peek!


A majestic entrance


Bjarke Ingels' Eiffel Tower


Beautiful layout 


Pink fitting rooms!!!


Design everywhere you look


My secret fetiche...hats!


MORE pink fitting rooms inundated with natural light 


Mixing and matching just for fun


Am I allowed to try a pair?


Chanel has taken over this month in honour of Karl Lagerfeld


"Citron", the café on the first floor... roof top restaurant to open this summer!

April 2, 2019

When you just need to get away from it all...

"Un weekend en amoureux" was just the ticket to escape the "gilets jaunes". But then again, any excuse is valid to hop across the border and enjoy some sunshine and turquoise waters! Life is better in Ibiza... wouldn't you say?


Definitely landed in paradise!


Who dares to take a dip end of March?


Isla de tus sueños 
 

The local "chiringuito" is still closed for the season.
 

Epic sunset!

March 26, 2019

The power of food

The desire for food from home can go deeper than just craving certain tastes. Food is an important piece how we define culture, and therefore a piece of how we see ourselves as people. There is a profound link between food and identity.

When you're at home in your own culture, that culture may not feel like an incredibly important piece of your identity, because it's shared with everyone around you. Away from home, however, the things that still make you unique, like nationality or religion, can take on an importance in your self-definition that they never had before.

As culture takes a greater role in how you see yourself, the foods and food rituals that define it come along for the ride. You may cling to food as an anchor for who you are and where you’re from.

So, when I feel homesick, I seek comfort through familiar foods that recall happy memories from childhood. That’s why they’re called "comfort foods" – they’re quite literally associated in our brain with happy and comforting emotions...

One last tip, before your kids go off to college, teach them how to cook their favorite homemade dish. They'll be cooking more often than they think!


Sunntigs-Zopf mit Honig


Potato soup with Garlic bread


Nothing beats a true Swiss salad with homemade bread


Cheese Fondue... as Swiss as it gets!


Silserli mit Nüsslisalat


Chässchnitte


Carac filled with chocolate


Fasnachtschüechli


Heissi Schoggi


Vermicelles


Rivella und Ovi Stengel


Ramseier Öpfelsaft


Spot the Aromat!
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