Jardin des plantes.
Better late than never. Continue reading “A retry”
Jardin des plantes.
Better late than never. Continue reading “A retry”
For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow.
”… and Paris is always right where you left it.” (E. Jong, Fear of Flying)
This is something I should remember, but keep forgetting. And when I do it, one late March late afternoon, motivating myself with a lack of English books on my shelf (I mean those I haven’t read yet), making a familiar circle around Saint Michel, Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts that never fails to take me back to home-like feelings I first experienced when this wasn’t even my home yet – gosh it seems weird it’s now been more than ten years ago – so, when I do it, I’m most gently reminded by these magnificent views in the most beautiful light (which is for my amateur phone camera very hard to translate into photos). And I honestly don’t care a single bit they are a Paris cliché and I end up looking like a tourist again, stopping and admiring them.
Thank you, Snow, for another challenge that allows me to share photos I would otherwise keep for myself … oh and my Instagram I guess 😀
Le Penseur, Musée Rodin, Paris.
For Friendly Friday Challenge. (First!)
The Snow Melts Somewhere evoked in her prompt post lack of inspiration bloggers experience and the least I can say is – I relate. I had been on a blogging hiatus for two months at the end of last year which was weird because I had loads to talk about. But when a general lack of inspiration about life strikes, well what is one to do then?
My best friend said to me once last month I was lucky to be able to read even when I felt as low as I did at that moment. I answered (out loud or not, I can’t remember) I didn’t really have a choice. It’s either that or I’m dead. No, not a suicidal thought. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve learned there is only one thing that can get me out of my numbness. Letting myself re-discover there are (it’s mostly were, but fine) truthful people out there who wrote down or sang what they felt constituted the essence of life, sincerely let out what they were feeling, so that today I can share a sense of humanity with them, drawing inspiration from them, and even a kind of subtle friendship, fellowship maybe. A possibility that I might have something to say to someone, too. Because believe it or not, through all my sentimentality, it’s this truthfulness I aim for.
I’ve been sitting in the company of this funny guy most of my breaks, and only recently learnt it is supposed to be Dante and was initially called The Poet. It’s not just a thinker, which most of my university colleagues would rename philosopher, but an artist! And that’s what I feel mostly, musing there with him, over my instant coffee, an apple and cereal biscuits (a girl’s gotta save money somewhere here!): words that aren’t only thoughts, but feelings, words impregnated with a sense of life and all those moments that make it up and make us up and sometimes make art.
How lucky so many people before me decided to try to express them somehow… Some even in a way that feels so close to mine.
This October’s weather has been a bitter-sweet candy that I most gladly take advantage of. I know that these spring-like sunny days, with temperatures above 25°C during the day aren’t supposed to be here anymore, that they coincide too suspiciously with the report just published about our climate, that sometimes I feel even my body being a bit confused because of the still so strong sun that my skin burns under the jeans… But but but – I savour each one of them like it was the last one, hell it soon really will be.
I look forward to work just because I’ll get to sit in a most charming garden during my lunch break or go to the near-by park to have a mid-day picnic, consisting of a fresh baguette sandwich, eclair and an espresso from a neighbouring boulangerie. Yes, for those of you who are familiar with my rant posts: I have a new job whose surroundings are so much more alluring to all of my senses at least one of my anxieties will calm down for a month. For the second time, a job made me discover an area I hadn’t paid too much attention to before, always walked through a bit too hastily, posted a single adjective on it and moved on (here, it was posh), bored somehow. I might not agree with the prices and will insist in the future to bring my own snacks, yet the morning sun rays enveloping empty esplanade‘s trees get me every time (Invalides). I even fall for the cliché tower again, seeing it so rarely recently, so early in the day probably just once before, appreciating it better from a far in the foreground of green.
All of this almost takes me back to my favourite October ever, that autumn spent in the South of France. And that says a lot.
Always refreshing to find those witty or not little wisdoms while taking a walk through Parisian streets. It makes me wonder who and why decided to tag them along the walls. Determined to stop our steps for a moment and make us give it a few seconds attention, a few seconds reflection we would otherwise maybe give to those insta/pin-quotes. Stroll over scroll.
Maybe, what I miss most about summer is not just street walks whose existence is barely touched in the cold, but sitting down on a bench or a sidewalk and observe or read, for as long as you like, warm air embracing you and sun rays caressing you through the branches. Melting into your own world in the middle of the city’s sea of people. Reading outside is somehow not the same as in that enclosing space of your own room, although I’m not sure why I prefer parks to my sofa. Maybe, appreciating the inner and the outer world is inter-connected.
No matter the season though, I realized I have a growing affinity for anonymous city readers, which are nowadays mostly my fellow metro passengers. That summer day, it was this girl meters away from me, but somehow close in her attentive leaning posture. I was wondering what she was reading, while I was sadly finishing Anaïs Nin’s early diary… Oh that fever of living.
It’s probably quite an easy job to be a tour guide in my town, even if you get lost, your followers won’t notice, still admiring the Parisian streets, thinking that’s what you were supposed to show them anyway … Yet, the trick is to expand beyond the monuments, grand, time-consuming and in the end not so living, to show the little jewels that make the Parisian charm.
I won’t go far, just a street away from my home in the 11th arrondissement, where I’m used to avoiding children who are running, catching one another, playing football on a quiet road or screaming in the tiny park, greeting a dog or two with a smile, gladly listening to birds singing in all the seasons. And admiring these trees’ silhouettes sometimes in sunshine, mostly against the greyness of the sky, sometimes in the glowing lights. The ordinary beauty on my usual route I can be grateful for a second or two, before hopping into the metro and race towards work. This week’s unexpected weather (even if it was forecasted, I didn’t believe it – ”it’ll be just a few snowflakes, as usual, and it never lasts anyway…” – ha.) added a few charming tones to it. A couple of embarrassing falls, too, to be completely honest.
And below is a small park, Square Louis XVI to be precise, down Boulevard Hausmann, a street away from where I work and spend many breaks during the more warm months, catch some rays, drink a smoothie and read a few pages (yes, it’s on my best reading spots in Paris list). Now, it’s just pretty to observe from the other side of the fences.
At the top of Printemps, Boulevard Haussmann.
I’m usually not the one encouraging people to go to department stores and big shopping malls. Not just because I prefer little local boutiques, (yes yes I’m the hipster kind girl), but simply because I’d prefer to avoid consumption and greed and all completely… Yet, Paris always ends up being some kind of exception.
I can laugh at the Chinese coming to Lafayette with actual suitcases, I mean talking about getting your whole wardrobe in Paris… and I can never afford to actually stand in line at Chanel… Still, I recommend a walk through the galeries.
Don’t just look at all those bags and watches and perfumes and dresses, look up from the very first floor. (P.S.: And go out on the last one for the view of Opéra.) Or go to the top in Printemps to see the church-like ceiling…
Building itself and its interiors as much on display as all the products it offers.
The place I should be obsessed about, even if only for two cute movies and those iconic scenes capturing the Paris vibes, yet I don’t count it among my absolute favourites. The place where you should go for a walk on sunny winter days or hang out with friends on warm summer nights, yet I always end up there on grey windy mornings. The place right around the corner from me, yet I need visitors to get there and show them/me around. Still, it’s here I admire the coloured shopping windows, brighting up the grim streets. Still, it’s here I had the best brunch with live piano music in the background, watching people whooshing by on their bicycles. Still, it’s not far from here I bought the best goat cheese with a baguette and a bottle of wine for late afternoon lunch.
Maybe, it’s because I feel closer to its continuation. Because it’s up at Jaurès, my familiar cinema spot with the usual late Italian dinner afterwards, and a bit further, my dose of all those memories of the first autumn days (and the first flirts) in the capital…
And yes, I’ll always say yes to a good old walk from Ourcq to République, no matter how long it seems.
One of the secrets to exploring Paris is to not only take the streets, but to also dive into its passages. In the first and the second arrondissement, at the Grands Boulevards or in the Latin Quarter, I can bet you’ll find them and their boutiques, cafés, bistros, antique shops, bookshops and more or less narrow and crowded corridors in that special dimmed light.
It seems like a trip down memory lane every time.
A part of my summer wanderings in Paris, pretending to be a tourist when I stopped being one 3 years ago (if one ever does, as every ex-pat here doubts…), was this lovely Montmartre museum. More than with the exhibition itself, although I very much enjoyed it, it got me with its little garden, little in the French sense, too – that word they so often add to express loveliness and affection. All one needs: the flowery greenness and bend trees, a cute café, and then a surprising, but not really, sneaky peek of the Montmartre cliché.
The day peaked somewhat numerously with one wonder after another that day…
Parc de Belleville.
This atelier-apartment at Musée Montmartre, Paris seems to be frozen in time, everything in it still waiting for the artists to restart creating. A little inspirational jewel you can find in the most charming museum in Paris.
Give me a Sunday walk by the lively river, a bus drive* through two of my favourite Parisian quarters, a trip to the lovely bookshop, a reading spot on the sun, a book in my lap that opens up my chest, a feeling of renewing surprise by the ordinary view.
And I’ll be pleased.
*Line 96: Porte de Lilas – Gare Montparnasse
Living in Paris always leaves one with the impression this glorious city is all or at least the best the region has to offer. It might not be entirely wrong, yet sometimes the one-day trips that don’t include a two-hour train ride (and are free as part of the Navigo zone) are well worth it. It was still a winter, but luckily sunny day after a week of heavy rain and strong wind when my best friend and I decided to trade Normandy for a long morning. The possibilities of RER A still granted us with a lovely day, walking in a weirdly calm town center which didn’t even seem like one, the real freshly made waffles with dark chocolate dressing and strawberry ice-cream which mixed with coffee made a perfect setting for a good old chat. Then the view of La Defense and the top of the far-away Eiffel tower somewhere way down the valley. A castle and more than everything an enormous park, that actually looked like a forest for a while. I forgot how nice it feels to just take a walk amidst the green, free of asphalt and hard stone. How unbelievable long stretched branches of bare trees are with their veins-like beauty, emptied of the unnecessary glitter.
Now I know where I’ll take my picnics and daily reading trips in summer.
I don’t know if it was because I had already considered the riverside as the loveliest place in my hometown that I fell so much in love with it in Paris. Or was it the contrary, did I first discover the city’s charm here and then opened my eyes for the one in Ljubljana? Either way, both are among my favourite places on Earth. It is here I always feel most at home, exactly where I’m supposed to be.
And what I admire is how the touristy and the local intermingle on the banks. Overflown with foreign visitors, but still just as much appreciated by the Parisians themselves in the moments of their joie de vivre of bistros’ lunches, drinks at the cafés, regular stops at the bookshops or the bouquinistes, enjoying bottles of wine on the benches, listening to guitar players in the distance. Of course, you can find the scene and the feeling in other quarters, too, yet nothing can compare to les quais de la Seine.
The forgotten quarter of French capital? By tourists, maybe. By locals, no.
The forgotten quarter of French capital? By tourists, maybe. By locals, no. At least if you’re not one of those living in the South of Paris and being scared of the North (yes, I’ve met those). This is not my first post about the 20th arrondissement (check out Rue Dénoyez and some street art: one, the other) and will probably not be the last, if only I can make myself take photographs of my everyday environment.
The thing is … I now live right next to it, more precisely right below Menilmontant. Consequently, the park I go to when completely without energy, not particularly sinisterly humoured and so not deciding for Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, but in a desperate need of air is the one of the climbing steps of Parc de Belleville. Where the shadows don’t spare their gentleness and where flies attack you in between the bushes. Small, not the most beautiful one in Paris, but sort of pretty and filled with families on sunny days. The one where street art blossoms and which tourists hardly find. If you do, climbing to the very top is obligatory or at least highly recommended. Or do take the street art tour that initially opened my eyes when I was still just another visitor to the city.
And then … there is that energy and a different smell to the air I sometimes inexplicably feel, although it is not really a particular smell. Is it just the pollution? It’s so different to the neighbouring 11th arrondissement which is officially my home that you can’t even compare their biggest avenues. Can it really be only the prevailing immigrants or better their descendants? The typical French cafés, but a bunch of shops that seem to belong somewhere else, the South or the East… But no, there are right where they are meant to be. (My sister recently asked me if I intend to cruise around them a bit anytime soon, since she cannot come this year and really wants another pair of that comfy Chinese pants, and to my (mis)fortune tight budget isn’t a solid excuse there…)
Just don’t expect something when you go here, especially not Paris from the pictures. This is not the fancy river bank and it is not the artsy Montmartre neither. Let’s only hope the process of gentrification is never completed here.
There is one eternal criteria that a city has to fulfill for me to really love it. I have to find nice little spots to read, not necessarily in calm, but certainly in ease. Paris nails it. Here, I never had a problem. Of course, there are cafés, but since I’m always on a tight budget, saving money for the next trip or concert, I rather enjoy the free priceless corners. These are probably not just the best reading, but also meditation and observation spots. For me, it comes down to the same thing in the end.
River banks : Absolute favourite. The banks, below the busy streets of St Michel, between Pont Neuf and Notre Dame. In the sun or in a shade, never alone, but somehow peaceful. Or a little further, the banks of Ile St Louis, where people drink their bottle of wine and where you can almost always hear a distant music. I always seem to gain back a certain piece of my mind and soul here.
Parks : The more or the less touristy ones. Once, I was in love with Jardin de Luxembourg and Tuileries when the season was less crowded. The green metal chairs, overlooking the fountain, children playing, birds hunting for crumbs, people on their lunch breaks, students with their books and debates, selfies and real photo shoots. A whole little world in there. Then I discovered Jardin des Plantes with its botanical diversity and a certain kind of cold laid-back-ness. And later, I stopped being a tourist and devoted myself to the green voluptuousness and real-life feel of Buttes Chaumont and to the small square, down Boulevard Hausmann, a street away from my work where I spent many breaks during spring and summer. Now, I sometimes escape to Parc Monceau, just to change the scene.
Random benches : Sometimes, it’s a bench outside of a museum or even on a bridge (some spectacular views there), a staircase leading to Pantheon or the many ones on the way to Sacre Coeur. Or a bench on the very end of the St Louis Island which used to be my favourite. It depends on a moment, on the mood, on your current itinerary. But when you really need it, you’ll probably find it and then you’ll just sit down and everything will rest and tranquillize itself for a minute, before you rush on again.
One of the best things you can do in Paris when summer hits the streets, it’s to escape it. I didn’t wait long, I grabbed the first real sunny and hot day after the official start of the season and boarded the train at Saint Lazare. Direction: Monet’s garden.
I was far from disappointed by the beauty this lucky guy surrounded himself with. As always, after a long absence of fresh air and nature, I was amazed how much good being around all the colours of the green spectrum can do. And let’s not forget the richness of different shades and shapes of flowers. It’s like a little haven, small village amongst the fields of grass and trees, with nice simple houses and a modest church. Not even one busy road can ruin that, maybe not even the elevated number of tourists. That is why I ignored the impressionism museum, only quickly visited the painter’s house and dedicated most of my time to his garden, blooming in the sun rays and cooling in the shadows, and the rest of it to a cup of ice-cream that accompanied my walk through the cute village where your view is still crowned in green.
Feeling refreshed, I was ready to return to the delightfully nasty corners of my home.
At the first glance, one of the easiest questions one can ask me is: ”Why Paris?” It seems so obvious and intuitively self-evident, that I can’t help but hear a rhetoric tone in it. It’s when I try to answer it that I find myself in trouble. I start uttering nonsense after nonsense, feeling pretty naive, thinking I must have fallen for a tourist attraction or some cliché or the artistic history… But after a minute or two, I realize the question gets the answer it deserves and satisfy myself with a stereotypical rebellion: ”Because it’s simply stunningly beautiful and I feel good here!” However, isn’t there more, much more? To be perfectly honest, isn’t there everything here?
I so often find myself walking through some random streets I usually don’t know the names of and couldn’t specifically point to on a map, mutely saying with a sigh or almost singing: ”This is why I love Paris.” Of course knowing quite well what I mean by it, but would find myself in the same muttering predicament if someone approached at that precise moment and suspiciously demanded: ”What is this this you’re talking about?” I would probably feel the same old sentiment that words don’t quite do it justice and just pathetically point to everything that would pass us by, to the buildings and the cars, to the people and the birds, the clouds above and asphalt ground below us, even to the dirty air surrounding us. And that is all I could really do. Continue reading “Why Paris?”