November 11, 2018

The most enduring abstract artist of the 20th century

Back in town in full force again - refusing to stay in just because of some rain - I whizzed Expat hubby off to the Grand Palais. The Grand Palais is my absolute favourite place in town and one of the most iconic Parisian monuments.

Built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, it is recognizable by its large glass dome flanked by the French flag. This architectural masterpiece of stone, steel and glass has been listed as a historical monument since 2000. It comprises 3 major sites: the Nave, the National Galleries and the Palais de la Découverte. The majestic nave, 240 m long, welcomes a wide variety of major National and International events: (horse riding, contemporary art, fairground, etc.). The national galleries organize large-scale exhibitions on artists that have marked the history of art (Picasso, Hopper and Renoir to name a few.) It is also Karl Lagerfeld's favourite place to hold his Chanel fashion shows.

Today was Mirò's turn. Bringing together nearly 150 works, this retrospective traced the technical and stylistic evolution of the artist.

“For me, a painting should be like sparks. It should dazzle you like the beauty of a woman or a poem,” said Joan Miró – and his working continue to dazzle 35 years after his death. The painter, who conjured a world full of poetic transformations, still continues to pique curiosity and fascinate contemporary artists to this day.

His homeland, Catalonia, offered him inspiration, Paris his first springboard, and Palma de Mallorca the great studio he had always dreamed of.

Between these places, Joan Miró created an oeuvre that is devoid of anecdotes, mannerisms, or any complacency towards modes of expression.

Catalan fauve period

Cubism is on the rise

Abstract just begins to define this painting

Forerunner of Instagram

Friends, poets and fellow compatriotes

Surrealism in detail

Love the warm shades of colour in this work

The rise of fascism

The perfect design for fabrics

One of my favourite... maybe because it's pink?

Sculptures which need quite a bit of imagination for their interpretation 

BlueI, BlueII, BlueIII... where will the dots lead to?

Another little detail

Woman, Bird and Star (Homage to Pablo Picasso)

Impressive trio

Spot the signature 

November 9, 2018

When it rains, it pours...

This year, Lugano and the rest of the continent experienced an exceptional autumn enjoying sunshine and temperatures as high as 29 °C in the month of October. All this came to a crashing halt when over night deepest fall hit us. 

Looking forward to our half-term or "pont de Toussaint" as it is called in France, we headed towards the "Sonnenstube" (sunshine capital) of Switzerland only to find ourselves submerged with wet weather. The past two weeks have brought NOTHING but rain, rain and more rain accompanied by some exceptional thunderstorms and winds up to 180km/hour.

But nothing stops the Swiss from getting out and about... no matter what the weather.

Not looking promising...

Leftovers from the storm the night before

Lugano's iconic gate onto the lake

No boats in sight this week

Wondering how long it will take before the floods arrive

Escaping from the rain at the LAC (Lugano's Art Center)

Some special customers 

Another Lugano landmark: Farmacia Internazionale!

Hidden corners of Lugano

Abandoned benches with a heart

Churches hiding between the autumn foliage

When will the sun return?

November 4, 2018

Swiss treats

Anybody who has met me knows I have a sweet tooth and an even bigger faible for chocolate. Probably my most British feature (there aren't many) is that I religiously sit down for teatime. It might be 15:30 or 18:00, I do NOT skip tea and biscuits.

Having spent most of the week inside eating due to really bad weather conditions this half term, I did not hold back on what you call "merenda" in Lugano!

Who knew I'd find pink flamingo cakes in this corner of the world?!?

Petit choux filled with white chocolate mousse and 
served in a flamingo shape was this week's highlight!

Vermicelles: a southern Swiss speciality made from chestnuts, butter, sugar and Kirsch usually served with whipped cream and meringues

A twist on the classic apple tart... served with whipped cream AND ice cream! Yum.

My absolute favourite Swiss tart: Carac, dessert pastry traditionally made of chocolate, cream, fondant, and shortbread pie crust. 

A little petit four after dinner in tone with the Autumn colours.

Zimtsternli, my favourite Swiss Christmas biscuits.
Stocking up before heading back to Paris!

Lindor, Lindt's most famous Export chocolate!

A new Lindt product that I have fallen in love with... 
Nutella's got some serious competition!

November 3, 2018

When Switzerland's airline disappoints...

After a rather bumpy trip from Paris to Lugano which took us 24 hours... yes, twenty four hours... SWISS airlines got a piece of my mind for extremely poor standard of handling flight cancellations and delays!

As loyal and very happy SWISS traveller over the past five decades I grew up with SwissAir and followed on to SWISS. Stepping onto a SWISS flight always feels like coming home before you even arrived in Switzerland.

Booking a family weekend return flight from Paris to Lugano (via Zürich) we were informed a week beforehand that the return LUG -ZHR flight was cancelled without further explanation. This meant Expat Boy needed to cut his weekend short in order to take the train from Lugano to Zürich to catch his connection back to Paris.

However, things took a turn for the worse on departure day. First the plane Paris to Zürich was delayed and then cancelled making us lose the connecting flight and leaving us stranded in Paris.

We waited in line at the boarding gate for information, another line at the check-in counter only to be told that the officers were only booking hotel rooms and that tickets need to be rebooked with the group ticket desk. Another queue! Finally we waited for our luggage until four hours later we caught the shuttle to the hotel.... compliments of SWISS. I was NOT trekking back into town at midnight to hit the road at the crack of dawn on Saturday with all of Paris departing for the holiday week.

A good company should make sure the service level is assured in every airport. In Paris, the cancelled flight, the absence of a responsible in charge to direct the stranded passengers, the lack of information on how to get the luggage back... all was a huge disappointment to the usual SWISS standards. It was 20:30 and no SWISS representative was around leading.

Most unfortunately we were then further blocked in Zürich the next day due to bad weather conditions and experienced a two hour delay before we finally headed towards the Ticino. It took us exactly 24 hours to get from Paris to Lugano!

SWISS should be Swiss! Unfortunately it seems SWISS is becoming just another company and it hurts to see this happening!

Waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting....

... the morning after... is that our plane from Paris to Zürich?

Made it to Zürich... and the bets are on for the Zürich-Lugano flight!

Yesss... we are nearly there. Circling over Lugano.

24 hours to get from Paris to Lugano... a new record!
It could have been worse: Milano Malpensa was on strike!!!

October 28, 2018

Expat with Kids in Lugano

It all started with an English online guide to the lovely city of Lugano. My blog baptised "Expat with Kids" was the first of its kind back in 2010. I am by far not the only kid on the block any longer but still blog with great pleasure about the part of Switzerland which I used to call home for nearly five years. 

Today is "Expat with Kids" eight year anniversary and I am proud to have kept a piece of home alive and even branched out to Expat with Kids in Paris!

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October 24, 2018

The elegance of Christian Dior

When in Paris do as the locals... how could I resist "Les Journées Particulières" organised by LVMH?

The event centers on the five senses showcasing the savoir-faire and creativity of artisans, along with the architectural and cultural heritage of the luxury group.

The principle behind "Les Journées Particulières" is to offer a broad and diverse public an opportunity to discover the elements that give LVMH houses – some of them founded centuries ago – their unique identity.

I was lucky enough to discover the inner workings of Christian Dior. A House that embodies the core values behind the group’s success: excellence, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.

As Christian Dior once said: “A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting. ”

Delicate and precious Haute Couture

Every dress has a miniature version

Gotta love this classic Dior outfit

Craftsmanship at its finest

Baby Dior: le rêve!

Looking behind the scenes

How to make a French beret, Christian Dior style

The seamstresses hard at work while explaining their techniques

Tout simplement sublime!

Was it 700 hours she said?!?
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