May 21, 2017

A rather disappointing Apple Photo tour

Call me cynic but Apple like all multinational consumer brands nowadays like to make you believe. Make believe you are a valued customer when what they really want is your loyalty and hence your money.

However, when I stumbled across Apple's latest marketing gig - a Photo Walk organized across the globe on the same day - I decide to sign up and put them to the test.

"A 90 minute class exploring the world around you and level up your iPhone photography skills on an inspiring photo walk" was the tag line.

Well, it took 30 minutes for the 20 participants to sign the legal disclaimers on paper and consent to all kind of privacy laws on the i-pad that the ever-so-helpful assistants were handing around but eventually we did hit the road.

Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I know the city like the back of my pocket but as our little group wandered around the corner and down the road it seemed Apple was more concerned about getting good footage for their internal communication than entertaining their customers.

More than one group of locals wondered what movie we were shooting?

The promise of taking us to new places, showing us how to create stunning shots, and experiment with the latest accessories did not quite materialize. The Apple team was, however, very eager to share the app VSCO with us and gave us some instructions on how to use it.

The young and talented photographer Nathalie Hill was very sweet but clearly not used to sharing her tips which left me wanting for more specifics as how to improve geometric compositions.

After a walk around the block we headed back to the Apple store to finally receive some editing tips using the above mentioned app.

Conclusion: the Apple staff are as hip and bouncy as ever but their charm just does not seem quite the genuine personalized customer service they'd like us to think it is. Nevertheless, it was a very nice way to spend two hours on a sunny afternoon even though behind all the hype there was not much substance.

Waiting for the course to start. Expectations are high! It's Apple after all...

Nathalie Hill a very talented and charming photographer

Let's get to work!

If they'd just take those mics out of our pics! 

Trying to capture a new dimension but definitely need some tips

Smile, you're on camera!

Oops, here comes the film camera... where should I point my camera?!?

My first attempt with the VSCO app.

The original shot in black and white

And then... the camera man fell flat on his face with all his gear!

So, let's go back to photographing colours and flowers

Peek a boo. Look who's smiling at you?!?

Ok, boys, that's enough internal footage now. 
Seriously, I've had better tours!

Trying to catch geometrical compositions on my own!?!

Still have a lot to learn when it comes to lines and shadows.

Somebody please teach me!!!

I'm much better at capturing the moment.

I adore reflections.

Looking up for inspiration 

Now, that's what I call inspiration!

Still trying to concentrate on geometrical lines... all by myself!

Sharing our shots with the group back at the Apple Store.
Who knew the girl next to me was Lily Rose the famous travel and lifestyle instagramer?!? 

May 20, 2017

My new friend the Chef Pâtissier

This week my vibe seems to be a little off with the Parisians. First, my internet breaks down for 36 hours then, today, I get turned away from an exhibition although I have a perfectly valid ticket.

But let's start at the beginning. A Taste of Paris is in town. An event where the greatest chefs of Paris all gather at the marvellous Grand Palais to serve you the most trendy food of the capital. Whose dishes your dream of tasting is long, very long.  Guy Savoy, Thierry Marx, Nicolas Beaumann, Sylvestre Wahid, Stéphanie Le Quellec, Frédéric Anton just to name a few.

Armed with my ticket purchased online in order to avoid queuing I marched up to the entrance - which looked suspiciously sparsely populated - only to be told that "les portes sont fermés". In good Parisian fashion I ignored this first incident and walked up to the second entrance where the security guard told me the same story. The exhibition is closed until tonight. "What do you mean it is closed until tonight, Monsieur? My ticket says lunch session until 16:00. It is now 14:55."

My plan had been to pop round the grounds after lunch just to feel the vibes of this exciting happening and, of course, take some photos. My love for food does not extend to waiting in line for hours which would have been undoubtedly the case over lunchtime. I figured my friend and I could turn up around three after the crowds had gone back to work and indulge in dessert accompanied by coffee.

Boy, was the awakening rude. After a good back and forth in French, it became clear that the doors were going to remain closed even for us.

Brewing over the indignation, I returned home to write the event organizers an e-mail and give them a piece of my mind. Naturally, I would tweet it and comment on their Facebook page slapping them a poor rating. Maybe that would tease a reaction out of them.

Lo and behold, a Chef Pâtissier reacted to my comment. Turns out he had received the same treatment. A former collaborator at Tour d'Argent, Fauchon, Ladurée and Dalloyau I am hoping they actually might acknowledge his complaint. Still, I am chuffed to be shouldered by a true French Chef Pâtissier!

May 19, 2017

How much is 36 hours without internet worth?

Flying on a high over the past few days mainly thanks to high temperatures and sunny weather lulling me into thinking spring has finally hit the city, I was brought back to earth not only by a 15 ° C drop in temperature but also by a sudden breakdown of the internet system.

Finally having reached the local provider Orange I was informed that there was "une panne générale". What does a "panne générale" entail I politely asked fearing for the worst. Turns out part of our neighbourhood would be without a connection until 7pm the following day.

You have got to be kidding me... 36 hours without internet, landline or TV, all of which are connected to this little black box that is not receiving the signal from outer space?

If I didn't know better I wouldn't believe I am sitting in the posh area of Paris and the year on the calendar is 2017. This kind of breakdown might happen in other continents... not at my door step. On second thought, might it be the Russians and the Renault incident?!? I am starting to wonder...

The following day once the signal was back on track, the Orange operator DID phone to offer a 15 Euro discount on my next bill. Again, I needed to lay out that 36 hours is a long time in business units whereupon he offered me a further 5 Euros. In my head I am thinking how many hours would I need to spend haggling with Monsieur and how much would I managed to negotiate out of him... such very unprofessional behaviour for a highly renowned French multinational telecommunications corporation.

On the other hand I am now so used to living in this country I just felt grateful I actually received a phone call from Orange to check if the internet was working again. Let's just leave it at that shall we?

May 14, 2017

An architectural discovery of Paris

With hubby travelling, Expat boy studying for exams, Expat girl off on a theatre retreat I was at risk of spending most of my weekend glued to the computer.

As usual Les Mots et les Arts, my favourite French tour company, had just the ticket: BALADE ARTISTIQUE AUTOUR DE MONTSOURIS.

Opened in 1869, Parc Montsouris is one of Paris' four large urban public parks and located in the 14th arrondissement. This 15 hectare park, designed as an English landscape garden with lovely century old trees, had been brought to life thanks to engineer Jean-Charles Alphand under Napoleon III.

My big discovery was the rather funky architecture surrounding the park. I was to learn that in the mid-1920s Montmartre became slightly too expensive for up and coming artists who decided to move south making the Montsouris area their home.

Thanks to this movement there are an extraordinary amount of ateliers still to be found in this neighbourhood. Nowadays, most are private residences and therefore cannot be visted from the inside but the facades of buildings are fascinating. No wonder, considering they were designed by such talents as Auguste Perret, Michel Roux-Spitz, André Lurçat, Amédée Ozenfant or Le Corbusier, all legendary French modernist architect of their time.

Have peek inside Villa Guggenbühl:

Walking into Parc Montsouris expecting a rather boring tour...

... turns out it was to be one of the most inspiring walks in a long time!

Even the hobos are writing in their diary 
as la Parisienne reads her book on the bench next door

Art Deco RER train station with the Cité Universitaire behind it

Villa Guggenbühl, named after its owner from Zürich designed by André Lurcat

Rue George Braque - a little secret cobbled cul de sac - named after the great artist

 His atelier hidden behind the bamboo

I wonder who his neighbours were?

Looking up the Square de Montsouris ... another enchanting discovery

Discretion is key

Love this energetic entrance

Spot the local resident

Wondering if Prince Charming will get passed this rose hedge...

... or if Romeo will reach his balcony?

Cinderella is feeding her little friends 

Convinced Disney's inspiration for Belle's hometown came from here 

Shift in style and colours

Wondering how much the m2 would costs...

... and who lives behind these doors?

Love this entrance design

Unmistakably Le Corbusier 

Walking into another charming cul de sac: Villa Seurat

André Lucat's home is currently on sale: click here

For a more detailed description see this French site: click here

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