September 30, 2013

A wonderful discovery at the end of the treasure hunt

Did you know that Napoleon stole the treasure of the Germans during the battle of Leipzig? This was the opening line to a birthday invitation by Expat girl's classmate. A treasure hunt the children would never forget.

I was not as lucky as to go on the treasure hunt but I heard they had to tow a car with a rope and build a  litter to carry the birthday child. These were just two of the many challenges the children had to master.
We, the parents, would have loved to join, however, we did discover a lovely new park on the outskirts of Paris thanks to this invitiation.

The Domaine National de Saint-Cloud is the ideal spot for nature lovers with 460 hectares of gardens with fountains, sculptures, and majestic perspectives laid out by André Le Nôtre. It was a nature reserve until 1923 and it is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe. In 2005 the park was awarded Notable Garden status. See for yourself:

September 29, 2013

September 28, 2013

A foodie discovery

After having run the Parisienne three times, I can officialy say we are into our third year in Paris. For the past 24 months I have explored the city of which I am a resident. I did all the touristy stuff: guided tours, excursions, monument visits, cooking courses, photography classes and much more.
I sincerely believed that I had it pretty much under control. On Wednesday I realized I had only scratched the surface. I wonder: "How do the tourists manage it all in one weekend?"

Having discovered the classic tourist spots I am now heading onto the less trodden path or so I'd like to think because never forget: Paris is the world's No.1 tourist destination. There are tourists all over the place.

The covered passages caught my fancy this week. Passage Vivienne was my very first discovery upon our arrival two years ago. I wanted to check out the other passages around the Jardin du Palais Royal. The passage des Panoramas had my mind boggling. Food, food and more food stalls. A foodie heaven. How come I had never heard of this gallerie before? Here are my impressions:

September 27, 2013

You know you are Parisian when...

This list has been making the rounds on facebook. I have seen similar posts about the Swiss and the Spaniards but this one really made me smile. The account of typical Parisian feats is delightful. Read for yourself.

Tu sais que tu es Parisien quand :

- Tu captes au minimum 50 réseaux wifi dans ton appartement
- Quand le feu est rouge tu klaxonnes quand même, on sait jamais
- T'arrives à esquiver les merdes de chiens sans même les regarder
- Tu connais par coeur les 300 stations de métro (enfin c'est surtout ce que tu fais croire...)
- T'as jamais pris un bateau-mouche, et la dernière fois que t'es monté sur la Tour Eiffel t'avais 6 ans
- Tu sais que tu pourras jamais oublier le "tilititite" des bornes navigos même atteint d'azheimer
- Tu te répètes souvent que de la chance de vivre dans la plus belle ville du monde... surtout quand tu déprimes
- Tu n'as aucune gêne à pousser les gens pour rentrer dans un wagon de métro même si tu sais qu'il est blindé
- Tu payes 12 euros pour deux cocas en terrasse
- Tu te fais un malin plaisir à regarder les étrangers galérer dans TA ville
- Tu sais s'il faut te mettre en queue ou en tête de train selon la station ou tu va descendre pour gagner du temps
- Tes potes te parlent d'une ville et que tu demandes si c'est au nord ou au sud de Paris ?
- Tu apprécies la première bouffée d'air (pollué) que tu inspires sur le quai de la gare en rentrant de vacances

A map of France as seen by Parisians

September 25, 2013

A hot Yoga experience

So, you might think I have been lounging around during the summer when, in reality, I have been out on discovery tour in Spain.

One of my friends challenged me to a class of Bikram yoga... and I cannot resist a challenge. One month later I was hooked and googled Bikram yoga in Paris. Gotta reserve my warm spot in the city for the cold, long winter ahead.

So, off I went not knowing what to expect. I found a very clean, BIG, sophisticated yoga studio full of light. A modern vestiaire (locker room) and spotless showers. Wow! Nope, these things are not always a given in this city!

While I was curiously sneaking around I was kindly apprized to leave the main studio since class had not begun yet and invited to wait in a warm, dark, relaxing antechamber. Oops, did I just get told off?!?

Finally, the teacher opened the door and we streamed into the sunlite studio. I can honestly say I was blinded by the sunshine and THAT has never happend to me in Paris before.

The teacher was precise and strict. No smiles and I think we managed to get three little "C'est bien" out of her during the 90 minutes of contorting ourselves.

The class was in French and the French like their authority. I felt like a schoolgirl when I gently got put in my place for telling her my name during class thinking she was looking straight at me when in reality she asking for the girl's name behind me. Another Opps.

In conclusion, the class was very professional but not half as much fun as the Spanish Bikram class. Also the studio in a scorching Madrid summer was probably at about 45°C with 55% humidity therefore the temperature in the Paris studio seemed like a piece of cake.

Having said that, as I write this post, my body feels like it is floating and I feel grrrrrreat. I know where my warm spot will be throughout the coming winter. Maybe the teacher will warm up as well?!?

September 22, 2013

My third Parisienne

The weather fairy obviously heard my plea. Looking out the window this morning at 8am - ready to skip La Parisienne should the meteo be as gruesome as yesterday - I was pleasantly surprised: not a cloud in the sky.

Hopping onto the metro, I discovered it was full of ladies and one rather anxious looking man. The atmosphere was instantly palpable; friendly, relaxed and solidary.

I remember my first Parisienne race two years ago. I had just arrived in Paris, didn't know a soul and felt quite out of place amongst all these babbling women around me waiting for two hours before we could take off.

Today, I was totally at ease. I had chosen to run by myself eventhough I knew quite a few people who would be participating in this race. I knew where to position myself before the start and only waited one hour befor setting off. I was on home turf!

I was in the crowd with the singing, dancing, cheering, hand clapping, yes, generally happy Parisiennes (roughly 85% of the participants are from the city) mixed with a few "provincales" and even fewer foreigners.

This year's race was in honour of Japan. According to the organizers only about 130 Japanese citizens participated. The Japanese groups of ladies I spotted all looked very composed, compared to many other teams appearing rather flustered but ready for a good time. The Chanel team was looking worse for wear compared to last year!

Given the good weather there was an incredible turnout of supporters cheering on the 30'000 ladies. Watching them run, I realized that this number equals the inhabitants of the city of Lugano!!! The mind boggles!

I ran my 6.7 km in under 40 minutes, the last kilometer being a bit of a challenge, admittedly, BUT it is all for a good cause. And the best part of the day? When you realize that by starting to bump into people by coincidence, you know, this is proof that you've settled in... Paris is starting to feel like home!

September 20, 2013

Call me Parisian

When do you know you are turning into a Parisienne? When does Paris start feeling like it "fits" you?

Personally, I did not think I would see the day when I would say: " Yes, I like living in Paris" BUT - much to my surprise - this day has come. I DO like living in Paris, it is starting to feel familiar and I have adapted to this city. Maybe a little too much, my mother would say.

Two years ago I reluctantly signed up for an excercise class since I could not find an airy, light, big gym in the city center that fit my needs. I still remember that first class in a studio that was just around the corner from our house - I googled it. Location is everything, you don't wanna be trekking across Paris for one little excercise class, right?!?

Before I even reached the studio I could tell which door to knock on. Infront of yet another Haussmannian building that conjure the traditional images of Paris - oh, we are so spoilt  - stood three ladies energetically gossiping about their weekend. Not only did they look super-fit in their tight fashionable purple and black excercise outfits, they also had their hair done to perfection and flawless manicures. They were tanned and just looked swanky and glamorous. At this point I thought to myself: "I have obviously come to the right place! Thank you Google maps". Then it hit me: " Oh dear, I feel like a country pumkin compared to these hip Parisiennes."

Well, today, I was the tanned swanky-looking fashonista wearing stylish bright pink and purple excercise gear chatting away in French. It struck me as a déjà-vue and I realized that I had come full circle in our latest destination. I was starting to fit in and maybe Paris could feel like home one day.

The fact that my nailpolish was the perfect match to my excercise outfit proved that I was becoming truely Parisian. However, I could never betray my own personality. The colour was not deep Parisian red but, of course, a vibrant, happy Fuchsia!

September 19, 2013

Architectural inspiration

So, I might have missed the Designer Week but I did manage to take myself down to L’Enclos des Bernardins in the 5th arrondissement where the renowned magazine AD had invited 15 deco stars to work around the theme: Metamorphosis. In this charming seventeenth century "hotel particulier" (townhouse) also known under the name of Hotel Miramion, the designers revealed their exclusive achievements and transformed it into a contemporary living space.

I wondered from an sumptuous courtyard straight into an enchanted office signed by Maria Pergay (83 years of age) for Fendi. I marched through a dining room with animal accents designed by François-Joseph Graf and let my imagination roll under an interior marquis-style tent titled "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe" designed by Alberto Pinto (who decorated the private quarters in the Elysee Palace for the President Jacques Chirac). I discovered an interpretation of the Little Prince by Vincent Darre, a bird chair by Hubert de Malherbe, a kitchen-living room with amazing volumes by Charles Zana, and an entire room screened with paravents by the duo Gilles & Boissier.

The most impressive piece of art was the sculpture created by Arik Levy composed of 27 pieces and weighing over a ton set in an oasis of a white contemporary garden landscape.

After my stimulating stroll through these stylish chambers, I am now full of new ideas for my dream house. We are after all in Paris, a city where everything is possible... in your dreams!

September 14, 2013

Where has the sun gone?

Expat hubby looks out the window and utters: "Please, tell me this is not true. This weather cannot continue until next summer!"

We are hanging around in our sitting room on a rainy Saturday afternoon in mid-September when realization hits us: we are back in Paris!

Can it be? Only two weeks ago we were lounging on the beach at 35°C? Now, it seems summer never happened. Admittedly, it came fast and went just as fast. What happend to that Indian summer? Where are the autumn sunsets? 

It is pouring outside and after having lived through a disastrous year - meteorologically speaking - we are not ready to undergo another nine months of grey drizzle.

At this point I actually googled this year's weather forecast and it is NOT looking promising: "forts cumulus en précipitations" and "ensoleillement pour ainsi dire moribond (-30%)".

Well, I can recommend a bistrot in the 16th arrondissement that serves Mousse au chocolat by the bowl - and I mean saladier (saladbowl) size - that is where you'll find me posted all through the winter if the weather fairy does not come up with something quickly....

September 7, 2013

Newcomers - Soyez les Bienvenus

We are back in town.

After nine weeks of endless blue skies and and countless hours of sunshine not to mention all the suntanning sessions, we are back to face the music.

Much to our surprise Paris welcomed us with a whopping 32°C and a beaming sun set in a perfect blue sky. WOW, did I miss something while I was away?

The night before school started the kids both told me they were excited to go back to school. Something else I have missed here??? Hurriedly they added: "Not because of the lessons but we are curious to meet the new kids."

Two years ago, we were the new kids on the block. The turnover of expats in Paris is flabbergasting. Most of my children's friends - who started their adventure together with us in the city of lights - have left back home or moved on to their next adventure.

I have a feeling WE might be in Paris for the long run... this is good and bad, it all depends from which angle you look at it. However, I won't go into that right now.

Having said "Au Revoir" to most of my Parisian "copines" as well, I feel like my kids at this point, ready to check out who could be my new buddy.

Of course, we will always miss our "old" friends because we have created so many unique memories during our quirky, fun, surprising, frustrating, relevating experiences over the past 24 months but life moves on and so must we.

So here goes, welcome to all the newcomers. Soyez le Bienvenus à Paris!

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