September 30, 2015

The ultimate Flaneuses exhibition

Creative, bouncy, frivolous and and intriguing would be the way to describe Hermes' exhibition "Dans l'oeil du Flaneur". The Flaneur being a distinct Parisian figure, I wonder how the company will export it to the next 10 cities abroad where the roadshow is heading?

Anyways, the upbeat, distinctively French tunes accompanied me on my trip through a gorgeous looking white Art Deco cupboard door and into Hermes' Wonderland of refined luxury.

The exhibit was a parcours of various themes from walking sticks (essential for a Flaneur) to tableware, Equestrian equipment and of course handbags. All these items were neatly knitted into a discovery path below a dimly illuminated tent which had been set up along the Seine for the occasion.

There was no distinct message rather just an invitation to stroll through the imaginary world of Hermes' creativity and enjoy some true "flaneusing".

Today, I truly wished my Flaneuses girlfriends could have joined me. I came across objects that would have caught their attention and I could here their voices in my head knowing what their comment would have been.

This was our exhibition, girls! Make sure you don't miss it when it comes to a city near you...

September 29, 2015

A traffic free Sunday in Paris

Dozens of animations, two times less noise on the central axis and a drop of 20 to 40 % of nitrogen dioxide levels compared to a similar Sunday... the first car free day met with a resounding success. It was an initiative by the city's mayor Anne Hidalgo who wanted to make a point that Paris can operate without cars and what a great initiative it was! It seemed as if everyone was outside enjoying the beautiful fall day.

I dragged my family out with the excuse to visit the Vide Grenier in the 7th arrondissement. Turned out it was more of a junk sale but being never the ones to falter we just decided to join the crowds and make our way across town by foot with the bikes, rollerblades and skateboards whizzing past us.

Let's see what the outcome will be for the United Nations Climate Conference which the city is hosting end of November. In the meantime, we enjoyed a glorious sunny day surrounded by smiling Parisians...

Pedestrian traffic on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the Champs Elysées

Sacre Coeur in the background

Big and small biking along the quais

Musée d'Orsay taken by assault by tourists

Skateboarders having a ball

Ooops, I lost the kids...

What would Napoleon think of all this?
The Dôme des Invalides, which contains Napoleon I's tomb, is the emblem of the Hôtel National des Invalides and an unmissable monument in the Parisian landscape.

September 26, 2015

Galerie Vivienne, an all-time favourite

At the end of the 18th century, town planners in Paris created a labyrinth of hidden passages across Paris and if you know where to look you can still push back a doorway and walk into a fabulous belle époque arcade, a glittering art nouveau galerie or an ancient courtyard. 

My favourite covered gallery must be Galerie Vivienne. It is place I take my visiting friends without fail. Somehow the covered galleries have kept under the radar of the general tourist rounds - probably because there is so much else to visit in Paris - but with the number of tourist evermore on the rise even these lovely quiet spots are being invaded.

Follow me into my favourite not-so-secret passageway and not only for some retail therapy...

The back entrance

Sumptuous architecture, delicate mosaics and grand statues have been wonderfully preserved, and the shops and restaurants are seriously chic and expensive. Jean-Paul Gaultier opened his first boutique here and it remains his flagship.

Some good old classic reading can be found in the Ancienne Librairie

These three piggies reminded me of a dice game I used to play when I was young...


Even the ceiling is delightful

Very tempted to take a peek up those stairs

Endless entertainment for the kids, no need for i-phones!

Decorative nametags to give your dinner table a French touch of glamour

September 21, 2015

Where are my kids from?

When people ask me where I am from it is hard enough to answer but when they ask me where my children are from it becomes really complicated. My classic response would be to ask my kids directly. However, as they grow older, their answer becomes shorter because they start realizing that they are what the French call "hors normes" or out-of-the-box. In their head they are thinking, should I give the long version or the short one?

This makes me wonder: what country DO my kids feel the most affinity with? Because none of us consider ourselves of ONE nationality. Home country and nationality have become two very different concepts for our Expat family.

Yesterday, I came up with a brilliant way to answer my question thanks to a guided tour through the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that we enjoyed during the European Heritage Days.

Now, my tip is to stick your kids in an empty OECD conference room with the huge, oval, brown, wooden table covered with the name plates of 34 member countries which span the globe, from North and South America to Europe and Asia-Pacific and then wait and watch.

Behind which country plate will they sit? Bingo, there's the answer!

Delegations use their name plates to request the floor. This is done by turning the nameplate to the vertical position in its holder. Expat daughter went straight for Switzerland's seat. That's my girl!

However, my theory came to a grinding halt when my son told me with a smile he would like to sit behind a name plate marked Napoli! I am thinking at this point, possibly next to Diego Maradona from Argentina?

Château de la Muette is located on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne.
Baron Henri James de Rothschild built this new château in 1921 at some distance from where the original château stood.

In 1949, it became the headquarters of the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) set up under the Marshall Plan to help administer funds provided by the United States to promote post-war recovery and to encourage European economic cooperation.

The OEEC developed into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1961, with the new Château de la Muette as its headquarters.

Expat girl's seat

Which one is your flag?

September 20, 2015

Genevan impresssions

"L'horloge fleurie" was created in 1955 as a symbol of the city's watchmakers 
and dedication to nature.

Strolling up through the old town

Caran d'Ache coloured pencils - a Swiss tradition

Many a drink has been shared with friends here in the past

St. Pierre Cathedral was begun around 1160. 
It was originally built in Romanesque style and was completed a hundred years later in Gothic style. A Neo-Classical main facade was added in the 18th century.

Communication is everything

Birds having a feast

Yes, Geneva has its own Café Flore

A photographic Rendez-Vous

Souvenirs, souvenirs

Les Eaux-Vives, my old "hood"

Geneva standing its own in terms of architecture

Italy and Spain were the main providers of labour in Switzerland up until the end of the 1970s. Many of them stayed on...

Migros or Coop?

September 19, 2015

Impressions of an ex-Geneva resident

The first change I noticed upon my return to Genva was the facelift the main station had received. The ticket counters had been replaced by machines, the Caran d'Ache animated window display - an institution in this city - had given way to a self service pastry and sandwich counter and what used to be the Buffet de la Gare was now a fast food chain.

Welcome back!

It is positive that things change as the world moves ahead I thought and braced myself to face all the novelties I would encounter after having left this town 17 years ago.

Arriving from hectic Paris, walking through Geneva felt rather like a giant International University campus. Back in my time you could come across all colours and races but today I am hearing just as much English spoken in the streets as French or Arabic.

What stikes me is that people are talking to each other, asking strangers for directions or joking while taking photos of the same monument. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can see that people feel completely safe and integrated in their environment despite the immense mixture of cultures and nationalities.

The cliché of bank tellers greeting their clients (old and young) with a smile and a warm welcome is true. I see it time and time again.

Where else have you bumped into two ladies from the Fidjis who happend to start a conversation for no apparent reason?

You can feel the sense of peace and security in people's pace. It has a very distinct rhythm compared to Paris where everyone seems stressed and frustrated rushing to catch the next metro.

Oh, how could I forget the best part? Cars still stop to let you cross the road. It all feels very civilized and organized as usual! Well, let's say until rush hour kicks in...

So what if the main department store Manor was called La Placette, Globus was Au Grand Passage and the EPA still existed when I lived here?

Things change, places grow and people evolve, and Geneva truly seems to be going in the right direction.

The "new" locals

The real Genevan rides this "navette" to work

Geneva's old town

 Switzerland living up to its idilic image

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