June 30, 2016

It's a surprise!

It's my birthday and I am being whizzed off by my family to some unknown destination! All I have been told is to be ready today at 4pm with my bags packed for a hot point of disembarkation. I am so excited....

June 29, 2016

The charme of Ile de St.Louis

Evidence of how out of sync I have been this week (due to our move down the road) would be my belief that I was joining a tour about the bridges of Paris when in actual fact we were discovering the delights of the island of St.Louis. It did not help that the meeting point was in the middle of the Pont de la Tourelle and that the guide started explaining the to and fro between the Marais and the little natural islands in the Seine river.

It was half-way though the tour I realised that the lovely and extremly knowledgeable albeit a tad bossy tour guide was taking us through the history and architecture of the Ile de St.Louis named after Louis IX (Saint Louis), King of France.

The responsibility for the development of the Ile Saint-Louis in the 17th century was given to Christophe Marie, general builder for public works. In exchange for his pro bono work, he was granted a license to build elegant residences. Today the Ile Saint-Louis is one of the most authentic and unaffected 17th- and 18th-century neighborhoods in Paris.

This small island is like an oasis from the rush of the city. It's almost as if someone dropped a small French village into the centre of Paris, as it features everything you would want from your neighbourhood: seductive boutiques, bakeries, fromageries and cafés... and of course, the best ice cream in town: Berthillon!

View from the Pont de la Tourelle

Looking onto Ile St. Louis from Pont Marie

Wave, it's me!

Beautiful facades...

... and century old balustrades.

The perfect spot for contemplation...

... with an extraordinary view onto the Pantheon.

The local boulangerie

What's on the "Menu du jour"


The oldest bookshop in town has sadly closed shop!

Step in and savour the smell!

One of the few original Gallery signs left

Old-fashioned barber shop

Time for a yummy treat

The island's main street, rue de Saint-Louis-en-l’Île

June 26, 2016

Parisian rooftop yoga divas

According to the calendar Paris was enjoying the spring, why... we were one day short of summer solstice, a date I had marked last year as one of the best days so far in Paris.

I had discovered a yoga studio that for 5 mornings only would give a yoga class on the roof terrace of La Maison Blanche, the most extravagant restaurant in Paris, also known for its spectacular view onto the Eiffel Tower.

So there I was; I had been calling the studio since March to make sure I got a space for this extraordinary yoga session and now I was standing on a rather unprotected wooden deck over looking not only La Grande Dame de Fer but also the enormous golden dome of the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Les Invalides and half the Seine. It is a view and a feeling that has yet to be surpassed despite my many exploits in this city.

The only hiccup this year was that instead of the sunshine and 25°C I was hoping for we were threatened by big heavy grey clouds and a rather chilly wind. But nothing was going to keep the ten ladies that had turned up for this exclusive encounter, we therefore went into our downward dog, kept calm and carried on! 

When the first drops began to fall the Australian teacher suggested - with a rather worried smile - to take the class inside which we all vehemetly declined and stoically sailed though our yoga class under the rain. 

I hit me then and there overlooking the rooftops of the city of love that it is Paris and the passions this place evokes that keeps Parisians going.... most certainly not its weather!!!

“It’s Paris. You don’t come here for the weather.”

A flowery welcome and ...

... the panoramic view...

... before we get down to business!

Peeking into the neighbours' ateliers

A stunning and memorable rooftop yoga session!

June 23, 2016

Ever heard of the Refugee Food Festival?

Thank Godness for foodie friends! I have a terrible sweet tooth but I won't necessarily trek the other side of town for a Michelin star chef. I enjoy good food but can go without lunch if I'm on the run... that happens a lot in Paris!

Therefore la gourmandise... 4 mains was completely off my radar. Luckily the Flaneuses' communication officer has moved up in this world to become an International Wine Challenge Associate Judge, her friend is an International award-winning cheese expert so all I need to bring along is the baguette! Just kidding.

I am grateful for my friend insisting on inviting me to the gourmet events happening in the city. There are too many to attend! Yesterday she extended an invitation that tickled my fancy.

A renowned Parisian chef was to create a 7-course meal together with a Syrian trained chef and .... refugee.

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day on June 20, the first Refugee Food Festival came to life: ten Parisian restaurant owners opened their kitchens to refugee chefs. An initiative to help change the view on refugees thanks to the universal language of culinary delights.

The buzz hit the town... and the oldest Basque establishment in town was fully booked in an instant.

Stéphane Jégo had met Mohamad Elkhaldy just a fortnight earlier in Paris and decided to give it a try. He welcomed the Syrian Chef in his restaurant l'Ami Jean where the two got to work using Google translate and swapping photos on their smartphones to communicate.  Together they developed a menu merging the French and Syrian cuisines to create an truly unique experience in sense, taste, colour and ambiance.

Shokran Mohamad et Merci Stéphane pour un déjeuner délicieux et extraordinaire!

Here is the menu for the foodies amongst you:
Travaillé de lentilles corail, kebbeh aux épinards / Kebbé nayé "concassé d'agneau" et anguille fumée / Chanklich fromage fermenté / Marinade de maquereau, piment doux sauce Tahini / Farci de courgette "boeuf de Galice, fraicheur de yaourt / Freekeh de tradition, pigeon "Mesger" rôti / Crème glacée syrienne à la pistache / Riz au lait

June 19, 2016

Hit by a wave...

We are Expats, we have moved many a times, we have left homes and started anew with much enthusiasm and motivation in new locations again and again. However, there is a limbo in between these two stages that makes my heart sink every time I think about it. Once the movers arrive to pack my life up into boxes I know the moment is near when I'll need to step out of my front door never to return again.

It is like watching a huge wave heading your way. You can see it coming and you know once it reaches you it will hit you hard - really hard - but you also know you cannot avoid it, you NEED to get through it. The wave is a whirlwind of emotions all happening at the same time: vulnerability, happiness, sadness, relief, anxiety, enthusiasm, weariness, curiosity and eventually exhaustion. When you emerge the other side of this wave you are not the same person, something has shifted. You have closed a chapter of your life to start a new one. Your attitude with which you begin writing this pristine page will often set the tone of a more or less smooth settling down for you and your family.

Moving within the same city has been a new experience for me. Usually I get to close the door behind me one last time, rush to the airport and am in floods of tears before the plane even takes off! It is part of the mourning process, a way to bid farewell to a place my family calls home.

This time I climbed into an Uber taxi carrying a hoover and two pairs of curtains to ride 1 km down the road and walk into our new home, only problem is: it isn't home... not just YET!

Leaving our imprint on the flat through these markings of Expat kids' growth over the years!

June 16, 2016

Many, many emotions...

So many emotions... sadness about leaving a home of five years, excitement about moving into our own place down the road, thankful for not having to leave friends and Paris behind, grateful for the EuroCup and the fans' palpabale euphoria, comfort in the Swiss German dialect picked up here and there thanks to the Swiss football supporters in town, surprised and appreciative of all the messages received from friends wishing me luck with the move, tired of standing on my feet all day, emotional about closing the door on yet another chapter of our lives...

June 13, 2016

It will be alright... or how to move a pink flamingo

After five years sitting tight enjoying a splendid view onto the Arc de Triomphe we are moving ... again! It is a weird move, at least for our family! We are used to crossing borders even continents, this time instead of travelling thousands of km we are moving 1000 meters down the road.

This still implies packing up the entire house and fitting your life into x amount of boxes. (I don't dare mention the number of boxes.) What I will say, however, is that it is scary to see your home - yes, that would be the one you spent days, months even years building and improving - being dismantled within hours ... by total strangers!

I usually avoid this part of the move. I will plan all the logistics, including insurance, parking spaces, freight elevator, labelling, wrapping personal items but just before the movers arrive I leave with tears streaming down my face. It is my hubby who takes over for a day in order for me to avoid seeing our home empty and desolate. I then pick up the other end rebuilding our family home for the umpteenth time!

This time around it is me instructing the movers to be careful, label correctly and answering their questions. I must admit it is easier knowing we won't be leaving our friends behind, we can still enjoy a scrumptious fois gras on a swanky Parisian terrace and stroll through Paris' lovely parks and museums knowing we are on home turf. We are NOT tourists! This is our home!

There I've said it out loud and written it down: Paris is our home. We have been living here for the past five years and will most probably remain for at least as many. That is VERY good going for perpetual expats such as ourselves.

But for now, I am listened to my kids playing hide-and-seek in between the many, many, many boxes and making make-shift goals to play soccer in a corridor stripped of family photos and emotional keepsakes.

Last week, a little token caught my fancy and on a whim I bought the transparent snow globe enclosing a miniaturized Tour Eiffel and a Pink Flamingo! I just could not resist and told myself it would help me to keep smiling should things get rough during the coming week.

I have looked at my little snow globe a few times this weekend while preparing our household for the movers to take over and my smile returned. An army of movers turned up at 8am this morning with their moving boxes and you'll never guess what was pictured on their cartons? A PINK FLAMINGO!

At that very moment I knew it would all be just fine!!!


June 10, 2016

Let the show begin...

So, the football fever has finally caught up with us. We can't help but notice the thousands of fans that walk by our appartement every day and the metros which are packed with men wearing their country's t-shirts and the ladies displaying their national flags across their cheeks.

Needless to mention French transport workers are striking against railroads and airlines. Fuel depots and refineries have been blocked for weeks, garbage workers are refusing to pick up trash, and there has been a surprise blockade of supply trucks at the main food terminal for the Paris region... and the world was worried about South Africa not being able to live up to everybody's expectations during the World Cup in 2010!!!

Anyway, David Guetta has been welcomed with pomp last night by 80'000 people in the Champs de Mars where I decided to take stroll a few hours before the show began...

Paris will always be Paris...

Sky Sports Mobile satellite van

Sky Sports have taken up their prime broadcasting position 

A distant memory of last week's floods

The police are our in force

Why orange... I wonder?

The giant screen is the size of a basket ball court

Parisian reality...worlds apart!

Instilling a sense of protection and security?!?

Souvenirs, souvenirs!

Just look at the crowds and the competition has not even begun yet!

Happy Hour!

June 6, 2016

It's a passion...

Many a times have I been asked: "So, what DO you do with all the pictures you take?". Well, first and foremost I post the photos on my blog.

I do, however, love to share, therefore I have of late taken to making photo greeting cards that I have been selling quite successfully... much to my surprise.

It started out as charity. I gave a friend of mine some cards for her Christmas Bazaar stall and told her to sell them and keep the proceeds for her foundation. Little did I know that the echo would be quite so overwhelming. I have had constant requests and have timidly sold a few hundred of my photo greeting cards over the past few months. 30% of the earnings continue to go to charity.

I feel quite chuffed with this exploit. I never imagined giving people such joy over a labour of love of mine and I am flabbergasted to see that others enjoy my photography as much as I do.

It seems my cards are popular as souvenirs to keep and as farewell cards for the Expats leaving Paris. I am just happy to be able to share my passion of photographing the city of love...

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