November 19, 2017

The International School of Paris: way to go!

It is no secret my kids attend the International School of Paris. When moving to France we had two priorities. The IB curriculum for the children and location for Expat husband and I. We had three days to scout the city and I was a woman on a mission.

In the meantime Expat boy has graduated from what turned out to be the best educational choice ever. He has enrolled in his university of choice and is spreading his wings.

Expat girl still has some years to go and she just hit the jackpot. The International School of Paris is inaugurating a new three-building campus in the center of town.

My first site visit to must have been nearly a year ago. At the time one could imagine that the recently acquired campus buildings were pretty much "plug and play". Of course, the planning team knew it needed some restructuring to comply with French building requirements for schools but having visited the campus this morning again the structural changes are impressive.

It was a pleasure to be guided around the three buildings and seeing the light beaming in, even at the lower floors. The Villa, a magnificent Neo-Gothic building, will no doubt impress newcomers to Paris but also have les habitués smile with pride.

Personally, I was impressed with the tremendous improvements to the 1950's building. What was an ugly duckling could turn into a beauty, especially with the "avantgarde techno-twist" (for lack of a better definition) that the architect has planned. It was reassuring to finally meet the architect who seems very competent and (judging by his past achievements) efficient. He was happy to answer all our question in a professional and respectful manner.

It was amazing to see the attention to detail such as preserving some of the original wood work and staircase during the restoration or the treatment of the slanted-ceiling classroom on the top floor of the Villa from where we spotted "une petite vue de la tour Eiffel".

The spaces are still very much open and basic but nevertheless mind-blowing and with a bit of imagination I can see this campus turning into a jewel. As one parent said, none of the students will want to move on to the next campus for Grade 10!

The icing on the cake, however, must be the quick detour onto the rooftop where I could not resist in taking a few shots.

It is exciting to follow the process and progress of this grande project. Come September 2018 this campus will be an outstanding home for an exceptional educational IB programme making great strides toward incorporating research, inquiry and innovation into its learning – a pillar of the current Strategic Plan.

One day the kids will realize how lucky they are...


"La Villa ISP"


The original glass cupola at the main entrance


A "petite vue" of the Eiffel Tower and a magnificent old fur tree next to the 1950 building


A majestic bow window 


Let your imagination flow...


A work of art or in need of work?


Streamlining the spaces

November 16, 2017

Just another regular week in Paris

The last seven days have been a roller coaster of emotions but I have finally come to realize that I probably need to adjust the subtitle of my blog from A transitionary home for my soul stuck somewhere between the Swiss Alps and Parisian chic to A perpetual home for my soul firmly placed between the Swiss Alps and Parisian chic.

Why you wonder? Well, for the first time in a very long period I have come to feel energized rather than frustrated by all the challenges faced when living in this city. Not that all matters relate directly to Paris but living in this metropolis takes a lot more out of you than one cares to admit.

For starters, if you are out and about you can easily clock up 8 to 10km a day. There's your exercise done for the week! Constant noise and pollution not to mention the damp cold that has hit us this month can make your life miserable.

My past week kicked off with a fundraiser for the Mexican earthquake victims. My lovely barre exercise teacher volunteered to hold a class in a trendy new hotel out in the Northern suburbs to raise awareness and help my Mexican friend's network.

The next day I ended up spending the night in hospital accompanying my 18-year old (who's birthday we just celebrated the night before) through a tonsil operation because that's what mammas of Italian boys are expected to do in my hubby's book. So, off I went to sleep on a camp bed making sure my baby was well taken care of.

Unfortunately we had some less good news within our extended family which put a damper on the general mood.

A challenge to embrace change at the kids' school had me reeling back to take action immediately and dive into the task at hand.

When a friend declares he wants to celebrate his birthday with you and travels all the way from Madrid to do so, it does lift your spirit sky-high.

When your satellite gets messed with and you are stuck without a TV when Italy is qualifying for the World cup against Sweden and subsequently looses, I am not sure that is a bad thing to have missed?!?

Then the heater conks out and I am learning all the ins and outs of a hot air heating system built in the late 1800's from a French engineer-savy technician.

Oh, did I mention we had a couple of interesting episodes with tenants of the chambre de bonne? But I'll keep those stories for another post...


Walking around the neighbourhood of St.Ouen


The essence of MOB Hotel is translated into visual, sound, olfactory, taste and tactile identities.
Happy to promote the opening of a new cooperative-orientated business thanks to the Dailey Method and Techo Inmediato.


Expat Boy's lunch after having his tonsils out


Grand opening of our new neighbourhood food hall


Heading back to school as a woman with a mission


A celebration dinner with friends


Just had to check out the Christian Dior show again


This is what is left of our original heating system


Some action going on on the roof

November 11, 2017

La Grande Epicerie of Paris opens in Passy

Franck & Fils - a small Parisian department store emblematic of a privileged neighbourhood life -  founded in 1937 knew how to seduce a clientele in search of products quality and originality.

The story of a young Alsatian visionary woman called Emma Franck begins in 1897 in the middle of what was then the village of Passy with a small haberdashery named "The Galleries Parisiennes". Here she proposed original fabrics, ribbons and hats in a few square meters of shop and orders were carried out in the back courtyard within 24 hours.

The shop expanded and developed with success thanks to its unique concept: a store entirely devoted to women.

After the Great War, Georges, Emma's son joins her in the business and the brand opens at Rue de Passy. Sadly Franck & Fils was forced to close its doors in 2015 becoming victim of the plethoric supply of fashion boutiques around it.

After 15 months of noisy and dusty works, the Grande Epicerie de Paris now marks this place with its 3,000 m2 of commercial space. Its planted façade with scents of thyme, mint and rosemary offers a touch of modernity and originality to this shopping street in perpetual evolution.

Food lovers are delighted to hear that the inhabitants of the 16th arrondissement of Paris already accounted for 15% of the turnover of the Grande Epicerie de Paris located on the left bank. What more reason do you need to open a duplicate the other side of town? It seems they are aiming to serve the local clientele, and not be dependent on an international flow of tourism.

Well, I've been to have a peak the past two days and the trend looks promising. Locals Expats and French alike were scouting to check out the shelves, counters, fridges, bars, cupboards and market spaces.

It is eye candy galore as well as foodie heaven!


It's the new meeting point in the hood!


Thank Goodness they kept the stunning coupole as an hommage to Emma Franck


How many times can you market plain water?


One little square of an enormous wine cellar


My favourite corner


Pick your own bio egg


 No butter shortage in sight 


For the American Expats living in the 16th


For the Italian Expats living in the 16th


For the Spanish Expats living in the 16th


I hate to think what these might be?!?
At 39,95 the kilo, seriously?


The Bulgari of fruit stalls


How many time can you decline a butter biscuit?


Designer marrons are in season 


Eye candy for my sweet tooth


Parisian sugar cubes... just for fun


A French advent calendar


French version of Zimtsternli


For German and Swiss Expat living in the 16th


The classic Tre Marie Christmas Panettone imported straight from Milano


Wishing our new neighbour much success in his business endeavour!

November 9, 2017

Ticino's tastes and flavours

We moved from Lugano to Paris many moons ago and nothing cures homesickness like indulging in local foods when travelling back to the Ticino for the holidays. Not only do we Export food shop before we leave Switzerland, we treat ourselves to all kinds of culinary delights that have become part and parcel of our family's how-to-cure-homesickness menu. Here are just a few...


Ticino is an Italian-speaking region in southern Switzerland with palm-lined lakes and sharp Alpine peaks. Its architecture, cuisine and culture is closely related to that of neighbouring Italy.


A Ticino autumn classic: roasted chestnuts


Cheese from the local alps, most notably Gottardo


Local Ticino tomatoes


October is game season in Ticino. Personally I prefer the side dishes of spätzle, chestnuts, red beets, sprouts and wine-soaked pears


Coop yoghurts still look like they did in the 70s and taste the same too...


Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!


Lindt marketing at it's best... just morph the traditional chocolate easter bunnies into Christmas bears


The classic of all classics: Swiss Milk Chocolate


The most iconic Swiss chocolate, now declined into creative panoply of flavours.


Kids' Export shopping

November 3, 2017

Lugano in B&W

Back in the Italian part of Switzerland for the autumn break and we are falling in love with this corner of the world all over again. 

Ticino is a land of artists where culture is still a way of life. It is a place where art, architecture and history are intertwined with breathtaking nature and impressive landscapes.

With its lakes and mountains Ticino is typically Swiss but with added sunshine and Mediterranean flair. The mix inspires lifestyle as well as food and drink.


Parco Ciani is the green heart of the city of Lugano, a beautiful public park of 63'000 sqm.


Villa Ciani, a beautiful mid-1800’s mansion with sober neoclassical shapes 
featuring 30 frescoed rooms.  


In 1912 the villa and the park were purchased by the city of Lugano.


The funicular Angioli is (was) the fourth funicular of Lugano and certainly the most unknown.
In 1910 this funicular was built and started to link the lake promenade to the big hotels in 1913. In 1973, the owner gave the funicular to the City of Lugano whom decided to suspend the exploitation in 1987.


The church of S. Tommaso at Agra. The church initially belonged to the parish of S. Pietro in Pambio and then became an under-parish in 1591.


Waterfront lounging in Morcote. 


The picturesque village on the shores of lake Lugano prevailed over 12 contestants to win the title of “Most beautiful village of Switzerland 2016”.


With its characteristic small alleys, the arcades of old patrician homes, valuable architectural monuments and its natural beauty, Morcote is considered “the Pearl of Ceresio”.

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