January 29, 2013

The Parisian dresscode is catching up with me..

My mother still gets upset with me every time we move. She believes I morph into a local every time. I change my style and don't keep my own personality, she claims.

I cannot let that sit on me because I KNOW I have my personal style, BUT I can't help thinking of her as I stride down the avenues of Paris catching glimpes of my reflection in the shop windows. I love bright colours, especially pink, but I have resigned to wearing black like everybody else does in this city. I don't particularly wish to dress like everybody else, nor am I a fashion victim but I have to admit that no colour is more elegant than black, plus it is slimming (at least optically).

I am dressed all in black like all Parisians with just the slightest touch of pink. I have taken to wearing high heels even in the snow and have a fluffy (black) fur collar bouncing up and down around my face. I don't walk out the door without my fuchsia or deep plum lipstick (depending on my mood) and my nails are painted a deep dark purple. Does that sound Parisian to you? It sure isn't the way I ran around in Lugano.

But as Mum ALSO says: in the end, the most important factor is that my family and I are happy! And we are! In the meantime, just let me perfect my Parisian accent....

January 28, 2013

Dali's muse for an instant...

Les flaneuses parisiennes ventured out to the Centre Pompidou today to catch a glimpse of the Salvador Dalì exhibition. And a glimpse it truely was... due to the enooooormous quantity of spectators who were trying to do the same. Too bad, I was kind of getting used to the city practically void of tourists but I guess they were all hiding in the museums waiting for better weather.

Many, many years ago - driving through Catalunya - I missed the opportunity of visiting Dalí's Museum in Figueras. I still remember what it looks like from the outside and it has intrigued me until this day.

After visiting this exhibition I am convinced Dalí was a wacky, obsessed, super-creative, clever and egocentric genius. It seemed to me, he had an obsession with insects (ants, flys, etc) and his pictures involve either food, drink or women. He certainly had his priorities straight. Studying a portait of a nude man you can tell that Dalí masters the techniques of drawing and not only the abstract surrealism that he is famous for.

Like a breath of fresh air amongst the Haussmannian architecture this exhibition fit perfectly inside the modern structure of the Centre Pompidou.

And if I ever dreamt of being a muse for one of Dali's masterpieces, well - much to my delight - my dream came true....

January 24, 2013

Meet me at the café

Today was one of those special days. A day I don't share with my family but with myself. A blogger's day. Now, I have met many people online through my blogs but every once in a while a mail lands in my inbox that hits me and I just know. I can't tell you what it is, nor explain why, but it just feels right.... I actually physically meet that person.

Is it a bloggers' thing or an Expat habit? I can't tell, but the fact of meeting a complete stranger and telling her all about your life seems as normal as it sounds absurd. That's exactly what I did today. Admittedly I had a slight advantage. She didn't know that I knew who she was or at least what her business was. Turns out I had taken a photography tour with one of her colleagues last year and recognized her name when she contacted me. Why would she contact me, you are wondering? So was I at first! I'd like to flatter myself and think she enjoys my blog posts. It felt a bit like going on a blind date but we did have something in common: our curiosity that got us here in the first place!

Having settled around a tiny coffee table in a laid back, trendy retro-bar in the Marais we exchanged our personal info. I confessed that I had actually not only been on one of her company's photo tours but that I was also signed up for next Tuesday's tour. I watched as she put two and two together, i.e connecting the client with the blogger she had been following, culminating in her hearty laughter. She got a real kick out of this realization and made me giggle since I had had the same reaction a week earlier upon receiving her mail.

Now, of all the bloggers in Paris, what are the chances she would contact the one blogger that had - out of all the city's photography tours - ferreted out her lovely buisness?

It's a small world or could it be destiny?

Picture taken of that same bar in May 2012
during our photography tour

January 22, 2013

I love Paris when it snows...

Most people are complaining about the snow. I am revelling in it, literally. Ok, a big city full of snow is not ideal but it sure is fun and brings a welcome new variable into Parisian routine. No, no I am NOT complaining about my Parisian routine... heaven forbid!

I love Paris when it snows because:

- the beautiful but grey buildings brighten up under the white flakes
- the Art Nouveau metro signs and lamp posts look so romantic with their fluffy white coat
- there is no traffic
- parking places are to be found easily throughout the ccity
- I have winter tyres on my car, yessss!
- driving through the snow makes me feel like I'm back home in Switzerland
- a snowball fight with my kids makes me feel much younger than I am
- the chic Parisiennes walking their dogs in fur coats and neon gym shoes make me smile
- I looove running through the Bois de Boulogne in the snow

January 20, 2013

Keep calm and go running

Yet another rainy day in Paris ... oh, what a surprise? This week's outlook looked nippy but on Sunday night I made up my mind to continue running throughout the week defiying the elements.

Monday was warmer than expected, maybe the fact that I had the brainwave of wearing my teenaged son's Under Armour Cold Wear made a difference after all? Why didn't I think of this earlier?

Tuesday was grey and drizzly but hey, who is going to stop me?

Wednesday I got up and checked my weather app which stated a mere -4ªC. Should I or should I not? It is not snowing or raining... so, off I went. I did not regret it. It was one of the most spectacular morning jogs ever.

Thursday I took the day off running and went for a stroll through the Louvre ... although a jog through the park looked extremly tempting.

Friday I was offically hooked on running. Only an absolute addict would venture out in these conditions of sleet, ice and snow. Who needs the metro anyway???

Because from now on my motto is:

American vs Italian fashion

Given the freezing temperatures outside, I have cocooned in our warm, cozy home and am watching a Napoli soccer match with my football-crazed boy and can't help noticing the coaches' outfit. Need I say more?

January 19, 2013

January 18, 2013

A quick tour through the Louvre

A visit to the Louvre?
Where to start?

Oriel jumps to the rescue. Oriel is the founder of Paris Walks. Since 1994 she brings past and contemporary Paris to life with her expertise on art, architecture, religion and history - always accompanied by a pinch of British sense of humour. Clear, explicit, descriptive and concise explainations are her forte.

She took an International group of 15 mums with 11 nationalities between them - yes, that would be us - on a tour to discover the French and Flemish art at the Louvre. We learnt about the territories of Burgundy and Flanders and how in the 14th century the "International gothic style" describes a style of painting, sculpture and decorative art that extended across western Europe. I loved that rendition!

Oriel pointed out the differences of French realism vs the idealised Italian art. THAT made me giggle!

She explained the progress from tempera to the beginning of oil painting techniques. We awed at all the symbolic meanings in every detail of the pieces of art. A river stands for life, a magpie for death, a peacock for immortality, churches for religious life and salvation, a dog for good judgement and a globe for the power over the universe.

We admired a painting from the 1450s depicting the Louvre in the background and studied the fashion of the day in shoes, patterns, materials and colours depicted.

Did you know that black was the elegant dressing colour for royalty and aristocracy in the 16th century?

We moved on to the 17th century still life paintings which again were full of symbolism. Apparently pieces of art were subject for reflection, meditation and discussion, for example the brevity of life. A mirror stands for sight, vanity and fragility of life, caranations stand for smell and symbolize incarnation, cards imply touch, food equals taste, sound is represented by musical instrument and is an euphorism for love making and evoke a woman's virtues. Simple subjects and monumental figures were the tendency with strong contast of dark and light.

In just over two hours we took a closer look at some twenty paintings all of them were poetic, striking and beautiful thanks to Oriel's captivating explanations and her stimulating interpretation.


January 17, 2013

Les flaneuses parisiennes are back

So the sales are on in Paris and the shops are full of people. Perfect time to check out the museums. With the Parisians shopping and the tourists at home waiting for warmer weather, what better time to nip into the exhibitions I have missed in December due to too much Christmas action/distraction.

My explorer friends "Les flaneuses parisiennes" and I hit the Musée des Arts Decoratives and skipped the short line since we had ordered our tickets online. I love modern technology.

Forever the fashionista that is not a fashion victim, I chose to see Fashioning Fashion: Two Centuries of European Fashion 1700–1915, a collection of ancient costumes and fabrics reflecting the principal trends in fashion in Europe from the 18th century to the early 20th century. The display presented, chronologically and thematically, almost a hundred complete male and female outfits, mainly from France, England and Italy and all with their accessories, retracing the evolution of vestimentary taste, forms and techniques.

Two hours later, with a rumbling tummy, we sat down for lunch at the empty restaurant "Le Saut du Loup" and toasted to our flaneuse friend in Michigan that had - alas - only spent one year with us sauntering across Paris. It was a pleasure to have the place to ourselves. Admittedly the weather was dismal but the Louvre's empty grounds were an unusal sight we thoroughly enjoyed.

Full of beans after a delicious Café Gourmand we set off for yet another exhibition and trailed after an English-speaking guide to learn about the creations of the legendary jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels.

We admired over 400 pieces that have made the fame of Van Cleef & Arpels since 1906. Their image is still epitomised by the famous ‘Zip’ necklace, the first of which was inspired by the Duchess of Windsor and made in 1951. Maria Callas, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Farah Diba Pahlawi, Evita Peron were all once the prouf owners of one (or more) of these 400 pieces exhibited. My personal favourite was Marlene Dietrich's diamond-and-ruby jarretière bracelet.

Maybe one day... I will float down a red carpet amongst dazzling flashbulbs and I will be able to add my name to the list of impressive, strong-headed, avant-guard and unconventional women wearing a piece of exquisit jewelry and making history ... in my dreams.

January 16, 2013

How to obtain a French driver's licence

Wow, I am back in my absolute favourite place in Paris....NOT! Remember? Way out by Porte de Clingnancourt next to the refugees' bureau? La Prefecture de Police. Six weeks after depositing all my documentation (on the third attempt) I have finally received my infamous convocation and am sitting in a grotty waiting room in the outskirts of Paris wondering how many hours it will take this time. And more to the point: will I walk out of here with a Freeeeench driver's licence?

90 minutes later it was with great regret that I had to hand over my Swiss driver's licence and was sent back to wait ANOTHER hour.

I am the last person left at the prefecture and I can hear the authorities discussing: She wants to convert a Swiss licence that was obtained from a Spanish one based on an Italian one, etc. etc. etc...

It is NOT looking good.... Why don't they just hand over that bloody licence? I've been driving for 29 years now, for goodness sakes!!!!!

EUREKA! My number has been called and a mouse-grey functionary practically flings the piece of paper at me. He's in a hurry to get home, no doubt ... it's 17:30. Much to my dismay the French still don't have the credit-card-type driver's licence format that the Italians or the Swiss use ... BUT ... there is a bonus point: the French driver's licence comes in the colour of ... PinK!!!!!

Admidst all this bureauracy, I am surprised they never asked me for a medical (French demand medical certificates for everything) nor did they ask for an eye-sight test. For all they know, they could be sending a raving lunatic who is blind as a bat out onto their streets. But hey, the protocol didn't mention that!?!?

January 15, 2013

Paris all to myself

“For when a woman is left too much alone, sooner or later she begins to think, and no man knows what then she may discover”
Edwin A. Robinson

It might be cold out there but oh I DO love Paris in the wintertime. The tourists are scarce and the city is taken back by the Parisians if only for a few weeks ... and it feels good.

January 14, 2013

One year later...

A year ago my best friend kicked me into shape by telling me rain was no excuse NOT to go running. I will be forever thankful and I DO think of her every time I get my gear on to face the music, i.e. the Parisian drizzle.

Gear is the keyword. I will say no more because as they say 1 picture is worth 1000 words.

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