January 29, 2016

... and she keeps on running...

Woohooo! We are into our fifth year in Paris and I am still running. Admittedly a little less than in previous years since my kids now go to school by themselves and I was forced to alter my beautiful park route unless I doubled my distance. On a sunny day I am happy to run around the Bois de Boulogne but it is a bit of a hike from home.

Instead my new route passes in front of  the Eiffel tower which is not bad either. The morning sunrises are spectacular in these frisk winter days.

As the iconic Virginia Slims commercial used to state: "Baby, you've come a long way!" but it’s obvious that I have so much further to go!

My new running partner

Just trying to keep up the motivation!

January 26, 2016

Fitting it all into one week

Given that January started off at a very slow pace, I am not surprised to find that by mid-month I am trying to keep up with myself once again. There are just NOT enough hours in the day to cover all the attractions Paris has to offer. This was my week...

"Volez, voguez, voyagez" with Louis Vuitton at the Grand Palais

Enjoying a coffee with a friend in need

Always room for a sweet tooth @ UMA 

A seriously cool view onto THE tower from the Musée de l'Architecture

Feeding the homeless on a cold night

Flaneusing across Paris on a rainy day

Girls' lunch at the Musée de l'Homme, as in TGIF

Picasso Mania: a romantic date to start the weekend

Reuniting with old friends visiting from abroad

Wondering through Paris Deco for inspiration

Café de la Paix for an exquisite dîner

Classical concert at the Eglise de Saint Louis en Ile for meditation on a Sunday afternoon

... and this has not covered the board meeting, the hairdresser's appointment, the manicure, the university info evening, the International night at school, the yoga, the pilates, or the physiotherapist!

Ahh, Paris will always be Paris!

January 23, 2016

An evening with Picasso

Pablo Picasso and Le Grand Palais a mix one cannot forgo! Two legends of the past, both icons of their century.

The Grand Palais is the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world. It was built for the World’s Fair, held in Paris in 1900, as was the Eiffel Tower. The couture fashion house Chanel hosts many of its fashion shows here, setting up elaborate and expensive surroundings for its models and hosts.

Pablo Picasso needs no introduction, he is simply the most dominant and influential artist of the first half of the twentieth century.

Turns out the Picasso Mania exhibition takes a simultaneously chronological and thematic approach to the critical and artistic highlights of Picasso’s career and the myth that gradually built up around his name.

The great stylistic phases (Cubism, last work), and emblematic works by Pablo Picasso like "Les Demoiselles d’Avignon" and "Guernica" are put alongside contemporary creations, grouped by artist such as Hockney, Johns, Lichtenstein and Kippenberger, or by theme, in a great variety of media and techniques through video, painting, sculpture, graphic arts, film, photography and even installation.

Luckily I had decided on a guided tour to fill in all my artistic and historical gaps and give a framework to this grande exhibition making the visit even more enriching.

A Friday evening to top with some culture sounds terribly Parisian. Practical fact is, it is the only time during the week I can get my husband to accompany me.... and it allows for a very romantic start into the weekend!

Feeling like a princess ascending towards her palace 

Photo collage of Place Fürstenberg in Paris by David Hockney
Photos taken on three different days

Two versions of "Les filles d'Avignon", neither an original Picasso

Integrating African art with 1950 household rubbish to form "traditional" masks

How cool would it be to have this gallery wall in your home?

Andy Warhol's interpretation: I've found my favourite piece! 

Gudmundur Erro's hommage to Guernica entitled "Après Picasso"

A boost of energy and creativity

Who's he?

January 22, 2016

Feeling inspired!

Trocadero is the place with the absolute best view onto the Eiffel Tower. I rarely walk past this esplanade without taking a picture of the Iron Lady. However, in 5 years I have never visited the Museum of Architecture that it houses. That omission was to be remedied today.

Our charming guide from the Cité de l'Architecture turned out to be of German origin and therefore terribly precise in his explanations and determined that we'd follow his thread and appreciate the beauty of each object, model, mock-up and drawing he was zealously laying out for us.

Our bunch of International ladies more or less followed suit trying to sneak in the odd photograph at times. The view, oh the view from the first floor onto the Eiffel Tower was breathtaking! Too bad they never clean the windows! Let's just pretend the grey film on the photos is a layer of smog rather than dust.

Apart from the exquisite view, the museum offered a journey through the rich architectural heritage of France, from the Middle Ages to the present day, stretching over 8,000 m² . Some examples include life-size productions of the doorway of Chartres cathedral, the painted cupola of the cathedral of Cahors and an apartment from Corbusier's 'Cité radieuse', reproduced in full size.

It all started in 1795 with the collection of actual pieces of French Medieval and Renaissance art, which were removed from churches and castles during the French Revolution. At the Bourbon Restauration many works were returned to their rightful owners, but not before plasters were made, which we see now. The museum shows a vast collection of sculptures from all periods with a strong emphasis on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. It has highly influenced French taste and has inspired many artists.

So, please, even if you don't have a castle to restore or a 1950 social housing project on your hands, go ahead and get inspired...

Putting it into perspective

A view behind the scene

Light and reflections

Learning about the Cluniac Order

Interesting mix of architecture

Ever seen a smiling angel before? Remember you're in France! 

Let the sunshine in

Why does this fellow remind me of Dorothy's friend, the Cowardly Lion? 

A scene out of Umberto Eco's "The name of the Rose"

Beautiful model of the Arc de Triomphe

Breathtaking view onto the Eiffel Tower

As if we were in need of more inspiration... delicous lunch at the Café du Musée de l'Homme

January 17, 2016

Mummy, we did good today!

Every once in a while your kid teaches you a lesson rather than the other way around. Last night was one of those moments.

A school project required some community service. Expat girl always worries about how the many homeless survive in this city. The weather forecast had announced a particularly cold weekend, so we stepped into action by asking our local bakeries (there are over 32'000 in the whole of France) if they were willing to give us their left-over sandwiches (the real French ones made with a baguette) free of charge at the end of the day. The five 12-year old girls planned to accomplish their community service action by handing food to the many men and women who look for shelter under the shopping arcades in our neighbourhood at night.

Some boulangers agreed half-heartedly others with a smile but in the end we had collected over 50 sandwiches in 1/2 hour and set off at 4°C looking for the clochards. Needless to say many of them had decided to move house given the drastic drop in temperature. The few that braved the cold night were either thankful to receive some dinner or were already asleep and hiding under their sleeping bags on the bare stone floors.

We spent two hours walking through the cold night roaming the streets and with still some sandwiches left, I tried to image where a beggar without a roof over his head would turn to... the church, of course.

We found a convent and handed the left-over sandwiches to the nuns for them to distribute the next day. Despite feeling cold and tired, the girls were foremost happy that their objective in distributing all the sandwiches they had managed to retrieve was attained. And although the ultimate goal was to accomplish a good deed, the girls enjoyed themselves in doing so. It was a "non threatening" experiences that hopefully equips them for future projects of this nature.

January 16, 2016

The fish is in the plate not in the canal

Well, it looks like I've been around long enough to welcome the Expats who are coming back to town after having left a few years ago. That does make me feel slightly part of the furniture and certainly does not seem to make me any younger.

However, never the one to get depressed about facts you cannot change, I hoped on the bandwagon and trudged my way across town to join some friends for a Fish&Chip lunch to welcome one of the original flaneuses back from a 3 year stint in Istanbul.

After devouring the yummy fried hake accompanied by true thick cut English chips and mushy peas, it was time for a walk to the close-by Canal St.Martin.

The waterway is in the process of being drained for the first time in fourteen years. Workers have begun to remove the waste, which has been building up throughout the years. Currently, all one can see is thick mud, along with rubbish and some rather obscure objects that are awaiting retrieval. City workers were given just three days to net, wash and rehome 4.5 tonnes of fish from the iconic canal. Last time more than 40 tons of rubbish was discovered. Looks like it could turn out to be even more this time. Just take a look:

I recognise a bike

How did that chair get there

Why would you through your suitcase in the river?!?

More emerging bikes and chairs

Shopping trolleys seem to be a popular object to through in the canal

Office chair: had a fight with your boss?

Someone went home with one shoe on and one shoe off!

A lonely chair reflection

Seagulls looking for their shopping???

City workers have their job cut out for them

A change of mind: some fresh fish and real English chips in our plates

January 13, 2016

A hidden gem in Napoli

A Saturday morning stroll through the old town of Napoli turned into one the most fascinating art visits I have ever experienced. Heading for a coffee with an old family friend, we walked passed what looked like an abandoned, decrepit building with a courtyard that had turned into an open air social center. Without further notice my friend stepped through the portico to discover a martial arts class being taught under the century-old arches of a former convent.

As we trod up the stone staircase we discovered a whole new world and realised we had wandered into a contemporary art exhibit.

Turns out Rome-born contemporary artist Gian Maria Tosatti works on a large canvas and for the past two years, that canvas has been the city of Naples. Tosatti has taken over a series of abandoned buildings in the city for his ongoing site-specific project "Seven Seasons of the Spirit". We happened to discover the fifth "Season of the Spirit", I Fondamenti della Luce (The Foundations of Light) housed in Santa Maria della Fede, in the ancient, chaotic heart of Naples.

The artist takes its cue from a letter written in 1917 by a poor 20-year-old Neapolitan girl, Paolina T., who was locked up in a lunatic asylum due to what the doctors termed her “constitutional immorality”. The choice of venue is deliberate: by the 19th century, this 17th-century convent had become a hospital and hospice for ‘fallen women’, then fell into a period of neglect before being occupied by a civic action group in December 2014.

What's around this corner?

Martial arts lesson in an abandoned Neapolitan convent?
The mind boggles.

A local community center

Wandering upstairs for more 

Which room do we start with?

Trying to get our minds around the message

The world is still quite confusing

A look out the window might help

Wow! A real through back in time.

Games of light

My favourite room: it has a Swiss touch!

Weird place to park a Vespa 

Eerie place

Is that what I think it is?
A sewing machine 

Expat with Kids on a mission to discover more

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