March 20, 2019

Dark clouds in paradise

Could it possibly be the end of a love story? Is it the seven year curse? Is it just a phase or have I definatly fallen out of love? I am craving for a new challenge, dying to move on and my feet have been tapping the ground for a while now.

It has been sliding into my mind slowly but steadily, the feeling of frustration. It seems I have lost the excitement of living in Paris… and I'm starting to wonder, "What on earth am I doing here?"

This gloomy mood at the early stages of living abroad has a name: It is called the expat blues! But what do you call the yearning to move on to your next destination? When you cannot wait to learn a new language, discover a new culture, battle yet another foreign bureaucracy, make a bunch of new friends, start a new cycle and yes... feel you are starting all over again?

Of course, Paris is beautiful. The Eiffel Tower puts a smile on my face every time I walk passed it... still, everyday, after over seven years! The opportunities in this city are vast but so are the daily hurdles. None of it is exciting anymore! I am feeling much too grounded.

Might I be seeking cross-cultural stress or just a foreign infrastructure to tackle. I find myself remembering what inspires me in life, what thrives me and what fulfills me. It is travelling out of my comfort zone and creating a new safe space for my family.

No matter how mindful I might be, life without inspiration is like a black and white photograph of a rainbow. So, I am hoping the dark clouds will pass at least until Expat Girl has finished her high school. In the meantime I will have come up with a plan...

March 17, 2019

Definitely back in Paris

The good things about Paris... les chocolatiers!

Catching the few rays of sunshine

The most efficient part of Paris by far 

Everything pretty... 

Debussy springs to mind!

Just your regular scene on a Saturday afternoon in Paris

She's a beauty any time of day or night!

March 14, 2019

Gilets Jaunes: the party is over!

It has been 18 weeks... 18! Seriously "gilets jaunes"... get over it and get on with it! I am in no way a political person but a simple Parisian resident and it seems to me that we are now overkilling it!

Since France’s "Yellow Vest" protests started in October of last year, each Saturday we need to check on the local TV station BFMTV or Twitter before heading out to run the usual weekend errands. It is depressing and unsettling. Hopefully any "action" taking place around town is far from our path and we won't find metro or bus stations closed or need to evacuate from the department store in a hurry!

By now, nobody really cares about your protests. Of course, the claims to a dignified life in one of the world's most powerful nations is a just cause, HOWEVER...

a) the media all over the globe is taking advantage of you
b) there have been more people posting, publishing or airing about the protesters than there are protesters.
c) local and foreign platforms are playing a critical role in diffusing propaganda and misleading information
c) the hooligans are having a field day
d) the government cannot negotiate with you because they don't know who to contact
e) family businesses are going bankrupt due to loss of turnover
f) tourism is suffering and down 10%
g) people are loosing their jobs due to forced unemployment
h) million of Euros worth of damages have been reported
... and last but not least people are getting injured!!!

We are tired of this charade! Cinderella left the ball at the height of her admiration for a reason. If you stay until the very end of the party no one will even care when you leave!

So please, please can we bring this to an end? We are at week 18 and this needs to be the Ultimatum and then maybe we can start focussing on Brexit!!!

Gilets Jaunes near the Champs Elysées

The media is all over it

The day after: city cleaners wearing their standard uniform of yellow vests!

March 9, 2019

Grazie Amore, Merci Mia!

It's time to say goodbye or better "Au Revoir". Heavy-heartedly I am sitting in the chalet on my last day looking out into the rain which is sweeping away the snow in the lower valley. Expat girl went off skiing with our friends to make the most of her last day skiing this season. She just sent me a selfie... it is snowing on the top of the mountain and looks awfully cold on that ski lift.

It has been a holiday to remember, not only because I have been looking forward to spending time in the mountains (away from Paris' gilets jaunes atmosphere) for months but also it was an exceptionally long one; nearly three weeks!

Due to family planning with hubby travelling, Expat Girl skiing with her friends the other end of Switzerland for a week and Expat Boy starting Uni a week before the school hols began I just added one onto the other... as one does, right.. et voilà! This gave me time with my bestie, time with my son, time with my daughter and time by myself. Only sore point: I miss my hubby!

Skiing is not his passion and therefore business travel is the perfect excuse although I know he would have loved a little break in the mountains with a stroll through Gstaad.

So, thank you Amore, for making this holiday possible. You know how I cherish my ski break and even more when it coincides with my childhood friend. So many memories have been made up in this little village, and she is part of all of mine as I am part of hers.

I grew up in Zürich and life has moved on. Our family base is in a different country now, but this chalet is the closest thing to home from my childhood. I consider myself very lucky to be coming back year and year again since 1970! Merci to Mia and all her wonderful, colourful, entertaining family! C'était une vacance de rêve.

March 7, 2019

Decoupage: a little known Swiss tradition

Decoupage (paper cutting) has been part of the local traditions for centuries in this part of Switzerland. It is an art that is instantly recognisable and can be adapted to many canvases.

Over the decades, we have travelled the world which included moving containers full of "menage". One part of our household is my Swiss guest room filled with decoupage from curtains to sheets to lampshades to candles. It is an eccentricity my family has let me indulge in just like my pink furniture ... but that is another story.

One of the few rainy days during these ski holidays Expat Girl and I took ourselves off to Chateaux d'Oex to discover the local museum. Founded in 1922, the Musée du Vieux Pays d'Enhaut has become one of the principal folk-art museums in Switzerland showcasing collections which have been gathered together over the years by people who were passionate about the history of this region and its traditions.

Early on, two local artists chose paper and scissors to express their talent and their emotional impressions. Whether through examples of finely cut book marks, larger symmetrical monochrome compositions or later, collages of many colours, they left a beautifully balanced treasure of traditional art called "decoupage".

The atmosphere of homes from bygone days 
of a kitchen in which you can imagine people still living.

This museum provides the "memory", the record of a mountain region which for many years was quite cut-off. 

Its people created a craft industry of an exceptional quality and their beautiful chalets housed treasures of a living art.

Amongst these treasures you can admire a huge forge

A room devoted to the early days of tourism

My personal favourite this painted cupboard

Everyday objects abound: kitchen-ware, work-tools, cow-bells, toys, pottery, lace-work and objects made from straw.

Paper cutting has become a tradition of the Pays-d’Enhaut. More than 60 paper cuts from past centuries are presented at the Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut.

Louis Saugy (1871 – 1953), a man of a jovial and playful character, let his imagination run riot in the creation of scenes of village life, country and mountain views remembered from long rambles around Rougement.

A family crest carved into a window frame

Stained glass, spinning wheels and traditional costumes

A bedroom with the bed still made

An old fashioned loom, a device used to weave cloth and tapestry

A well deserved hot chocolate while writing a "decoupage" postcard

March 6, 2019

Lucky Swiss girl

Lucky, lucky me... I am STILL skiing and the sun is STILL shining! My friends are starting to wonder if I will ever return to Paris. Let's just say I feel blessed and spoilt for having had such a wonderful and long ski holiday with family and friends. I feel at home and it feels good!

The only one missing was my hubby but I have a strong suspicion he planned his business trip in order to avoid the slopes?!?

Hashtag: I love skiing in the sunshine

Early risers get the best slopes

When the gondola is too steep to look down....

Nature in all its force

Feeling on top of the world

No words, no filters, no noise... simply perfect!

... until you get stuck on the chair lift...

March 3, 2019

All I need is... chocolate!

Chocolate is my passion. It is my addiction, always has been, always will be. During my visits to Switzerland I do not miss an occasion to indulge in my passion, especially during the ski hols. Chocolate tastes the best on a slope. Overindulging in chocolate... NEVER! Chocolate is happiness! Yes, I admit, I am a chocoholic!

A hot chocolate before hitting the slopes

Ovomaltine Müesli for breakfast

When - after lunch - the waitress brings you chocolate with your coffee ... without even asking

A quick snack on the ski lift

A Swiss speciality called Carac... filled with chocolate ganache

Hot chocolate and a Carac while writing postcards

Heissi Ovi with a plum crumble on the top of the mountain

Teatime at the chalet: another Carac

Hot chocolate and a blackberry tart

Tea with an Ovomaltine biscuit

My favourite chocolate bar "Chokito" with another heissi Schoggi

Mövenpick has come out with a new Chocolate flavoured ice cream... how can I resist?!?

February 27, 2019

A glorious week to be skiing

It has been a glorious week for skiing. Lots of snow, cold overnight temperatures, blue skies during the day and not many tourists. This is karma, over the years you win a few you loose a few when it comes to good ski conditions. You know you are REALLY lucky when your half-term break falls onto the perfect week.

It's not too cold, not to hot, the fir trees are deep green, the birds tweeting, the mountain restaurants not overflowing with people, the slopes are perfectly prepared, the snow crunching below your skis, the magnificent summit panorama, each peak glistening in the sun and the view, oh those views are simply breathtaking! I am in seventh heaven...

Gstaad's slogan: Come up slow down!

Looking over onto the Valais mountain range

View from the Videmanette

Rinderberg has a new little restaurant

Great for a hot chocolate break

Hitting the slopes again

Off piste?!?

Even the chairlift ride is pretty

Another panoramic beauty

I just can't get enough of this view!
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