… this happy white woman who is constantly shoved under our noses, this woman we are all supposed to work hard to resemble – never mind that she seems to be running herself ragged for not much reward – I for one have never met her, not anywhere. My hunch is that she doesn’t exist.

Virginie Despentes, King Kong Theory

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part X

Yes, I’m not lying, I discovered these while still living in Paris, I’m just showing them a little late… (insert angel emoji)

Yseult: One comment on youtube says she is French Lizzo. I love them both and would gladly attribute such awesomeness to this French lady, but I must say I find her too different to actually say that myself, her voice, the way she sings, the open dark note to most of the songs… Anyway, decide for yourselves. I will always appreciate an urban take on la chanson française, to whichever side of the spectrum she takes it. I discovered her with the song below, right now though I’m all into Corps and 5H (hint to the song of the week widget on my blog).

la réalité me rattrape au réveil je suis dans tous mes états il n’y a pas de place pour les regrets

Hollydays: This one song was on repeat after I left Paris, actually, altough it is not new. It’s just so soothing. Like, you can dance, but you can also just lay down on the couch and do nothing but listen.

tu peux peux tu peux éteindre la lumière

Bagarre: These guys are something. I remember reading an article about them with all those superlatives on how different they are, in their sound, but also in their approach to pretty much everything, it almost made me not listen to them, because, you know, when reactions are exaggerated, they often lose me. I still did, I’ve come to trust the label they’re at for unique acts and their name means fight in French, so … ok  …  Anyway, they still intrigue me and they wrote a couple of songs I could sometimes (more often than I would admit) decorate with the #currentmood hashtag. I never saw them live, so here’s to one more reason to go back to Paris. For more, just listen. And, bye bye!

au revoir à toi la fin du monde au revoir à toi la fin du mois

I’ve just finished watching the French pop show on Netflix which I never should have watched…. bad idea, Ivona, bad idea. It’s happening in Paris of course and too many scenes take place near my old home. So, for reasons totally obscure I now love this song, joining the second one above for to dance or not to dance dilemma.

The title is lying now and don’t care. (insert devil emoji)

The whole rainbow of grey

Saint Malo.

If it was my last trip in France this year, it sure was the best possible. (I do still hope for another week or two of what would be the first actual holidays after a while in this country – there are at least some perks to not living there.) Not just that the walks were simply magnificient, it reminded even more than Strasbourg a few weeks before what a difference a couple of days of escape can make, just 48 little hours, the sun and the flowers… all that. Continue reading “The whole rainbow of grey”

This isn’t goodbye.

So, it’s done. I left Paris. After four and a half years of hell and wonderfulness combined (hint to the postcard below) and two weeks of intense stress. A few days ago I moved back home, sort of, at least for this year. I say sort of because I still don’t feel that way in my own head, although everyone around me seem to be certain of it. And I moved for the funniest of reasons if you know me, me who never in her life made a decent career decision. For a job. (Yeah I know not funny, probably another purely internal thing.) Maybe, that is why it’s one of the hardest heartbreaks, too, the hardest decision I ever took because it’s the first with actual consequences I have to bear. Some sort of sacrifice I had to rationally convince myself into. It hurt so fucking much I really doubt I made the right choice and miss my old what-is-a-career-anyway me. I need to remind myself of why I took this job and why all the old ones were (partly) wrong, often transforming me into a brain-dead zombie. I don’t really care about all that now, though. I can only miss. Till now, I didn’t know grieving over a place is just as hard as over people. You’d say, like everyone around me, ”But Paris is still there, a two-hour flight away, you can go whenever you want!”. But I think that what I’m grieving is far more complex and not repairable with just a vacation. It’s the life I built, the relationship to a home I finally found and then tore myself from. I know it wasn’t perfect and that I’ve been preparing for this for a while, yet it still doesn’t make it easy. I’ll live, I’ll give this a try, because maybe I have to give myself a real try, and then maybe France will have me back soon. Now, just give me some time to digest everything.

Leaving Paris is never easy. Sadness shows you it meant something, that every bit of it was worth it.

Saint Malo.

Is it a consolation to feel there are so many places in this world where you could easily live, even though you know quite well you never will? The consolation in seeing the richness of this world, I guess, feeling like home is a moving concept, even for those of us who aren’t constantly moving. Why so many of those seem to be in France for me?

First, I fell in love with Paris, of course, then came its Mediterranean coast, but in the last three years I’ve discovered a whole new territory on the Atlantic. Normandy is my regular getaway, La Rochelle was a sweet haven, and now there is Bretagne. Maybe, it’s the magic of the tide that has something to do with it : so weird for an Adriatic girl like me to see an island in the morning and walk to it in the afternoon, the subtle danger it implies. Or the wind, stronger here, so much every thought flies right out of your head, and even reading seems impressively challenging. If the delicious galettes de blé noir and cider weren’t enough, perhaps I could be fed by those views, the long promenades and hidden beaches, the nature whose character is somewhat rebellious and wild here, in a heavier sense than in the South (it suits the drama queen part of me).

So, the old town itself was the last thing I did here, although I appreciated its streets immensely, because the surroundings were calling loudly. I’m not sure I broke my record of kilometres walked per day, but I think I came quite close the first day. Aren’t those the best – lovely little towns, beautiful in themselves, where there is an awesome walk waiting for you, no matter the direction you choose, or almost? That’s where I would want to live.

To another life, perhaps.

Blue is the colour.

Saint Malo.

Looking through photos of my recent trip (first and definitely not last!) to Bretagne, I realized those of blue doors were among my favourites. First, I wondered why, then I remembered blue is the colour of the sea and of the sky. And that is exactly the sight I was looking for on my short escapade to another French region I can now be in love with, for love at first sight it was.

Ce toit tranquille, où marchent des colombes,
Entre les pins palpite, entre les tombes ;
Midi le juste y compose de feux
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée !
O récompense après une pensée
Qu’un long regard sur le calme des dieux !

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame —
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!

Paul Valery, Le cimetière marin (The Graveyard By The Sea)*

 

*Not this one, but a writer was born and has a grave by the sea here (a spot all for himself on a little island with the best possible view) that made me think of this poem. (Hint hint to the last door.)

An evening walk in Paris is always a good idea.

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 😀

 

Strasbourg.

Flâner. Maybe one of the most important words I’ve ever learned in French. It must have made a lightbulb effect in the moment, the discovery of that territory beyond just marcher or se promener. This floating feeling to it that makes it sound so free – and that’s exactly what it is. The space it leaves in your spirit for it to really roam.

It was in Strasbourg I realized how little I actually do it lately, though, always walking around with a purpose, the modern-day woman that I’m supposed to be. Even when I’m strolling I always do it at least with a bookshop as a destination in mind. But that smoothly clear early Spring day when I left Paris for a day, I wasn’t. And it felt so good. Just walking, even if it’s in circles after a while, until your feet get sore, letting things pop up in your mind and let them go with the next step. Finally feeling the anxiety and the sadness for some really particular reason and let it melt in the joy of wandering. I only once looked at a map and almost immediately closed it because it just messed up my intuitive orientation. The one relying on the high cathedral’s towers and — well those circles I kept on making and which soon started resembling spirals and those eternal 8s, turning into a beautiful flower pattern.

I don’t have the slightest idea what one has to see in this charming but not overwhelmingly beautiful town, but I believe the really important stuff is hard to miss. The cathedral, that is. The absolutely stunningly magnificent one that, as my colleague warned me and I now must sadly agree, is a very serious (winning) competition to Notre-Dame.

The rest was up to the sunlit banks, beer and spätzle. Oh and the friendly dog owners and flirtatious waiters.

 

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part IX

I need to share some music, before a whole year goes by without it on my blog! So, I’m taking advantage of the recent Victoires de la musique where a few of my favourite discoveries performed and – what would be the newest expression for it – smashed it.

Eddy de Pretto : Probably my last year’s favourite discovery of them all. His music and his lyrics and his videos and his personality and his style couldn’t get more direct and unapologetically him and “poetically violent” as one of the comments says. He has this weird way of making you identify with his lyrics even when your story has so little to do with his. Universality in particularity, isn’t that art?

P.S.: He’s the one writing the song for homophobes, and a song about (toxic) virility.

Angèle : The Belgian girl who wrote the perfect song about Murphy law, then about money and then jealousy and then — happiness, of course. I can’t be bothered by its too evident pop qualities, when at least there is some intelligence in it and the melodies that let you dance to the ironies, or whatever you call it, of life. And then, her brother brings in a new groove and I swing and try to forget – well – everything… except that for me, for now, spleen is still fashionable, damn it.

Camélia Jordana : I’ve known her for a long time, but never shared her music here. With this song, it seems perfect, a beautiful reminder that as much as we like to think of ourselves as enlightened, it’s all just a ridiculous puppet show if we don’t clean up our act and make no exception for our supposed values. There is honestly still a lot I don’t know about French history, or European or in general really, but the first thing we all have to do is educate ourselves. And what I love about music is this ability that shows in the performance below – to remind us just as harshly as any other form of criticism, yet addressing that human part of us we all share.

Revisiting the views

Corsica.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Something to Ponder About.

There was a truck driving by the exit door at work today with a huge CORSICA tag on it and yet again I fell back to reminiscing. Must be some kind of a torture device, this vehicle passing our Parisian winter frowns, reminding us of these magnificent open horizons on such a gray day as today. Nah, it’s actually quite pleasant to think some day soon maybe I might go back to this little paradise-like island and revisit its fresh air and pure sea and starry sky. Hell, it’s soothing to revisit all that just in mind, too. To look at some pictures and think about all the good stuff, existing in this world. Do you know I can’t help myself – thinking about food every time I think about this place… It’s an automatic reaction, an associative thought I can’t escape: ”And my oh my we ate so well there!” And that always brings a smile to my face, the grimaces I was making, digging into the refreshing desserts and pizzas with all of my favorite ingredients and grilled aubergine and … ah enough.

”une femme moderne, quoi”

ramblings on whatever really

During a job interview some time last year, discussing my hobbies and interests, the lady across the table defined me as a ”modern woman” or in her own words une femme moderne, quoi … In the moment, I wasn’t sure if one part of me should be flattered by the implications or rather offended to be so easily put into a cliché, ticking off the box I belong to. Later, I couldn’t stop laughing about the notion, though. I mean, what does it really mean, to be a ”modern woman”? In my opinion, it’s not my cultural, literary, travel, or whichever interests that define it, I mean where would that make any sense? Continue reading “”une femme moderne, quoi””

Inspiration

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.

Life is in the streets.

Bonifacio, Corsica.

What I love about summer and miss dearly in winter is the liveliness of the streets, how half of our lives seem to move outside with first warm sun rays. Even in the biggest cities we search for every possible opportunity to drink our coffees outdoors, spend our post-work hours in parks, maybe even walk a part of the way home (yes, our lazy asses sometimes actually think of that semi-replacement for fitness). But as my co-worker joyfully reminded me today, with the new year we can solace ourselves we might have only two harsh months of winter left to survive, if we’re lucky! Fingers crossed for nice early-springish weather in March. Till then, I’ll try to keep up with my autumn resolution of going off the metro two stations before my stop and walk the rest of the way – the lovely playful atmosphere at République, there thanks to the regular skaters and children’s corner or just someone always doing something, reminds me of those summery moments that always (can’t help it and won’t) take me back South somewhere. (I get so dreamy I become a serious threat to the taxi drivers’ nerves, like a child I’m re-learning to check twice before crossing the road.) So, I’m leaving you with two photos of one of my favourite places I discovered last year and let you dream with me a little.

Oh and happy new year – let’s make it a beautiful one! 😉

 

 

The most ravishing autumn moments

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.

7th arrondissement.

Dieppe.

Normandy.

Nothing like Normandy, to escape Paris for a day. This little town doesn’t disappoint with its charm, perfect for a crêpe or a gelato if sea food is not your thing. I will always choose Etretat for the cliffs, though, these here don’t have enough of a display to appreciate them fully. Still, sea air always does. Plus, I captured a few lovely doors.

The Wisdom of Montmartre

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.

Bonifacio.

Corsica, the beloved.

Besides the occasional (delicious!) dinner and ice-cream at Porto Vecchio, this was the only Corsican town I can honestly say I visited. I mean, storm-drenched Zonza only half-counts, it seemed to rush us out with all the hard rain and made for the first picnic in the car (the view wasn’t bad at all, though). But, Bonifacio, oh Bonifacio, graced us with the loveliest of days. We decided to take the road because the weather was supposed to be not-beach-appropriate that day, yet the winds of the sea cleared the skies enough even before we got there. As they so often do, here, capriciously and good-heartedly. I preciously guarded the parking spot at the top when we finally found it, since we hadn’t follow everyone stopping at the marina and climbing up from there. We had soon understood why we should have, waiting too long and not being able to turn back, yet only regretted it for the first couple of minutes, our own parking being so close to town. Instead of smart, we got lucky.

And off we went (after a couple of laughs with the fellow French strangers that made me wonder again why we foreigners find them so cold and distant sometimes, while in fact they are the most charming people), starting our trip at the fortress and slowly, one view at the time, making our way inwards. What is so amazing about visiting a place like this, is that the streets themselves are nice and worth the walk, and sitting in cafés and taking the narrow alleys, and getting to the end of them to see the perfectly extending sea, still what’s the best of it all is just outside of its walls. Or under them. Taking the notorious hundred steps to be under the cliffs was literally breathtaking and legs-aching on the way back up, but young and in shape as we are we soon took another long path along the coast, breathing in the friendly sea and the fierce wind, exchanging silent ohs and ahs. Because every time we turned around, the view was just getting more and more fabulous. So, we continued, pretty much until it was time to head back to our temporary home, chatting joyfully, now.

Three days in our vacation and it was already our favourite day.

Music for re-falling in love with Paris and France

… and French as a language that still feels like it makes the simplest thing sound enchanting, literally.

And this scene that is in a way even richer than I imagined. And culture that loves words, loves life, loves poetry, loves literature, loves music, loves art, loves culture, period. And the sadness and the joy that dance together here. If I could feel at home in a feeling, it could just as well be the one I sense while listening French music, even though I can’t really explain why. These songs are just a minor drop in a massive wave, of course.

(Hint: The favourite, the one the most inspiring the mentioned feeling, is the last one, which you could easily guess if you knew me – it’s not just pure, but actual poetry put into music.)

Grand Blanc – Belleville: Finally, my almost-home has a pop song with the bestest video for my teenage self.

Nevché – Decibel: To listen late at night, lights out, while thinking about moving to Marseille, his town. (And to not forget, and wonder about over and over, the obsession of French people with their dearest – sadly departed and much missed – Johnny … Hallyday, of course.)

Clara Luciani – Les fleurs: For the Parisian blues.

Babx – Gaston Miron: Just ❤

La Corse.

Maybe, the reason why I needed so much time to sit down and write a post about Corsica, besides basic procrastination, is a certain kind of feeling I admit I don’t get often. If I did, I surely wouldn’t start a blog. A feeling of wanting to keep a place to myself. Sounds ridiculous for a place, crowded with tourists in summer months, but I wanted to keep it as my little secret, my little haven. The weary unreasonable ways of our brain. Truth is I visited it at the best possible moment, probably, not yet high season, without unbearable heat and sea of people, certain stretches of beaches with only you gracing them with your presence, but already warm and sunny weather, appropriate for a swim, everything green as can be, enough shops and restaurants open to keep you yumming.

All French must feel that way, though. It’s the place everyone dreams about, and it certainly doesn’t need extra advertising. With its position of being disconnected from the continent, yet still not far, it understands well its benefits of an island, soaks in its pride. Ask the Corsican people and they will talk about it as a country of its own, about French as if it wasn’t their own nation, laugh hardest and most heartedly at stories of those French coming here, buying their land, being all righteous about it, but eventually being hunted right out. Not literally, though you sometimes wonder. Yet, what touched me is that this pride shows real appreciation, and more than that, genuine care for their own little paradise. They know what they have on their hands and don’t squash it inattentively. Try trash it and you’ll get their anger on your back. I wish Croatian coast would be as clean as theirs, remembering whole stashes of cans, bottles and cheap plastic bags on one of the Southern islands of our Mediterranean neighbour.

So, what you do here first is breathe in the air, salty, clean, oxygen full and smog free, air, then you watch green flashing in different colour palettes with the wind and the sun, immerse in it completely, watch the blueness of the sky that can only compare with that of the sea, although they are not really comparable, the sea with its turquoise and the sky with its azure. And then the night comes, and your friend calls you while you’re brushing your teeth ”Come out for a minute!” and you do after and he only points to the sky with its finger and your jaw drops. When was the last time you saw these many stars, finally seeing they’re not as lonely as they seem in Paris? It was surely in the middle of the desert. Little by little, your whole body starts opening up, making you suspect the city you call your home is a jail cell, suffocating it, and it seriously needed this injection of nature.

No, I won’t do a list of top things to do here. I mean, if you need it, you already missed the point. Just take a ride or two on the stomach-not-friendly roads, admiring the view, find your own favourite beach, and be sure to go inland, too, to see the more mountainous landscape and capricious weather. You’ll learn to trust them soon, the always changing, usually for the better, clouds, and the winding, never-ending roads.

The over-flowing magic

Palombaggia, Corsica.

It was quite ridiculous how little I read during the week on Corsica, not even 150 pages (flights, however short, included)! I mean, I usually even read more during my work weeks. And I managed to finish two books during my stay on Tenerife. How could I reach my bottom record ever? I know why. Mostly, I didn’t feel like doing anything else than just watch, listen, taste the sea, the perfect turquoise sea, or just stand in it for long periods of time, cooling me while the sun was painting my skin to a perfect tan and the wind was opening up my stuffed Parisian nostrils (no, it’ll take more than just a couple of posts for me to get over the air pollution, the contrast I experienced on my return)… The sea is something that hits you most when you arrive on the beach for the first time or take the first curvy ride on its roads overseeing the coast, its clarity, its truly amazing colours that can’t be translated into a photo.

So, I realized again and again, like so many probably during this week’s challenge, the healing power of water, that special magic of the sea and its waves, the waves that had already enchanted me two weeks before on the sandy beaches of Tenerife.

For WPC: Liquid.

Tenerife (Sur).

In the search of it

Bonifacio, Corsica.

For WPC: Place in the World.

Several years ago, the choice for this post would have been so easy, some Seine riverside photo or other, Pont Neuf, or a random Parisian street. Today, though, my place in the world seems to be transforming constantly. Home is a feeling, not a place, anyway. Not that I don’t feel like belonging to my favorite city anymore, I still very much do, I still adore its streets and its banks as much as always, I still get the sweet aching sting in my chest every time I leave it. Yet, the older(?) I get, the more I feel like the stuffy city air, the absence of true green colour, the noise, are getting to me … and the more I feel at home at the Southern part of France. The more I appreciate that special easy charm, worn out and lively, the clearing wind rushing through. And the closeness of salty air, hitting your stuffed nostrils, those narrow paths among the bushes and the flowers, with such stunning views on the majesty of the world you have to actually catch your breath again.

In the words of my friend, on our last day on this magnificent island, a country of its own, really : ”What are we waiting for?” – to change our homes into a place where we can breathe and walk freely, where there is everything you need to build your own little paradise.

Would I last here, though, wouldn’t I miss the other side? Maybe, there is never just one place where we belong, there always have to be more, complementing each other in their contrasts.

The poetics of the streets

Montpellier.

I rarely search for art in the streets. But, I guess that’s because I never have to. The best moments, those pleasant surprises, happen when you don’t look or expect much, anyway. I sincerely didn’t in Montpellier. Still, I found the best kind, I found poetry beneath my footsteps… Oh so poetic in itself, combining random wandering with my other favourite art. Reminded me of how the first time I fell for street art, that altered, rebelled life of a simple wall, was in France, although London followed soon after and the city that later won the game for now was on the other side of the globe. (I truly miss you, Valparaiso. I never quite got the pieces of my heart I had lost there back. No worries, I’m already thinking of coming back to lose some more.)

Doesn’t just mentioning South, either of France or of America, automatically bring a smile on our faces, regardless of pretty images and lovely words on its charming narrow streets? Maybe, it’s only this long winter and timid spring… Yet, truth be told, we’re going to escape there in the summer, too, let’s just admit it and hope it’s coming soon…

For WPC: Smile.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VIII

Once in a while, I can make an exception. Because none of these artists is really new to me. They are too big of a star not to know them once you are in France for a while, a part of the obliged cultural background you adopt willingly or not. Yet, what they all have in common is they have only recently grown on me… I guess I’m not that resistant to media after all.

Orelsan : This guy brings up memories of my second job in Paris, in one of those English food chains where my boss kept putting on his music during our early morning kitchen hours. I must have listened to some of his songs a thousand times in one week. Still, soon after I forgot the melodic refrain about why the Earth is round and round or whatever … Then, last year he released a new album and a new single called Basique with quite a bad-ass video, followed by another, Tout va bien (I guess I could be grateful for a minute that at least my friends and my – new – boss always keep the TV on, since I don’t have one, grateful even for that impossibly annoying music chain that makes you believe France and the World generally posses only 5-10 worthy artists). I was hooked. Why? Who can ignore the guy who openly says in his song: ”Ok, I’m putting out a new album, but first we need to go through the basics, I’m gonna make a simple video to say simple things because you’re too stupid…” And then, he does. Yet, doesn’t stop there. Every single new song I hear gets the whole of my attention, which, I’m sorry to admit, doesn’t happen often with rap, and makes me appreciate the fact I understand the lyrics, now. Below is his performance at Victoires de la Musique.

Je craquerai pas.

Julien Doré : I’m sure you all know the refrain baby I love you less and less because of what you’ve done to me, right? Well I had before dreaming of Paris became a reality, ignoring the name of the singer completely. Coming here his stardom surprised me a bit, so I half-intentionally committed to continue to ignore his music. But you know, that TV which is always on at work succeeded in making his voice an essential part of the background and one YouTube suggestion could then make me appreciate it further… Still, the verdict is staying in-between. I’m not succumbing quite yet. Except to his hair which remind me of an old friend. And this song. This song!

Benjamin Biolay : Then, there is this man, a singing actor or acting singer. Ever since I first heard of him, he had that allure of an important figure of the scene, infinitely loved by some, yet thoroughly misunderstood, or rather just not understood at all, by others. I’m still not sure I really get him. His esthetic seems personal, mostly laid-back and somehow slightly non-conformist without being too pretentious, or maybe just a bit. As much as his name is all over the media place, his songs aren’t, so much so, in contrast to the two above, I had to decide on my own to go listen to his music and see what it is about. One song quickly found her place in the jungle-like atmosphere of the moment in my life, gently affirming ”so, yeah, I’m taking my time, all the time, super-relaxed” as if to say so what, I’m cool… in various layers of it. Now, I’m cool with him.

Till next time, where I’m back again with some actual new names.

I fell for doors, too.

Montpellier, France.

I guess all of those Thursday posts got to me. I had begun to notice doors around me more and more, seeing how some are just pretty, how others seem to carry a story, or more precisely guard it, maybe. Then, the trip to this Southern town happened and I just couldn’t ignore how many amazing entrances (or closures, depends on how you want to look at them) it had. Some were those typical French half-broken ones that were offering a peek to a cold dark hallway and its mailboxes, so real life looking and belonging to the neighbourhood I couldn’t get myself to take a photo of them, being sure someone was about to come out every second now. Others were more solid and sturdy, more colourful, too. I didn’t even document a third of all of those I admired. I think my best friend had quite a good laugh about my new obsession, yet eventually she was the one saying : ”Look at these!” Making sure, of course, I don’t neglect any. Why not throw in some windows, too! And my favourite, although I’m not sure why, that little door, just the height of my friend, shoved in a corner, surely leading to a cellar…

Montpellier.

I guess we have a winner.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel that excited about going to Montpellier. I had seen a couple of unattractive photos ages ago, and somehow it had always seemed to be someone else’s town. I had that attitude of just letting other people have it, still mixed with a feeling I would someday go there myself. And lately, the more I thought about moving South, the more it kept popping up in my head as the most appropriate option, because of its size right in the middle, its location not far from the sea, its youthful spirit and cultural happenings – all so rational…

So, I went, finally, took that 3 hours and a half train from Gare de Lyon, with a little encouragement from my best friend who wasn’t particularly interested in staying in the centre of France and in its bad weather during the whole of her visit. We oblige to guest’s commands, of course, and sometimes it’s for the better.

Instantly, and I mean literally instantly, we both felt a connection to this city. We both felt a pleasant surprise. We both fell for its streets and its atmosphere, swept off our feet by the narrowness, the mood, the colours, the labyrinths, the corners, the painted sidewalks — I mean, putting poetry on my walking path is a good way to get to me, and putting palm trees in my friend’s first view from the train station is a good way to get to her, and putting nice little (hidden) cafés on our route after a couple of turnings is a pretty sure way to get to us both.

We both kept saying: ”Why do I like this town so much? What’s up with that? I like it sort of too much… I don’t understand.” I even ended up sending a text to a friend who used to be a Montpellier resident who much I adored it. (I’m sure he smirked a little.) And believe it or not, we only had 6 hours in total, so all we did was walk around the old town, giving up the idea of going to the coast after the first 20 minutes. We knew it was a good call when we arrived at the arch and the wind almost blew us away – literally this time.

My mentioned friend could only comment: ”But you didn’t see anything!” And we could only reply ”So, there is more?” Well, yes, there is, they say there are nice little villages not far away, not even mentioning the nature, the sea, the marshlands … And of course, we only really saw one district, so… A decent excuse for a next time if that delicious lemon and rasberry cakes weren’t enough and the fact that half the stuff seemed closed till April. We sort of have to see it in summer, right?

I will stop now.

Just one more thing. Maybe, it was the appreciation of the company of my best friend who always makes me feel so much more myself and balanced and, should I say it, empowered, because she allows me to be exactly who I am or want to be, but I felt butterflies in my stomach, knowing this place now has a place in my soul or heart or whatever. When we were leaving on the train, sentimental as it is, I had the same feeling as I did 4 years ago, taking the first walk in my beloved 11th arrondissement and knowing I would someday live there. Things sometimes just aren’t rational.

So, now there is no more questions. South it is, sooner or later. (My friend, I think, is enthusiastically rooting for sooner. — Yes, I got your hint, stopping in front of every possible real estate agency, no worries. — Truth be told, even I do, if only I get my life together soon.)

 

 

 

More of this please

Abbey Bookshop, librairie canadienne.

This week, I was a lucky girl. All of those woulda, coulda, shoulda wishes I usually have, bustling through the work week, became a part of its reality.

(That first photo was actually taken by my mom during their last visit, but I think she won’t blame me. At least, it represents I’d rather be spending time with my family part, too.)

I’d rather be exploring some bookstore’s shelves… Well, on Tuesday, after my best friend had already given up on me for the day, having taken care of the second coffee, even stronger than the first, yet still seeing my eyes numbly looking around, we crossed a bookstore. Somehow, my tired eyes saw a book title, stopped my legs and directed my body towards the pile of 2€ offers. I ended up buying four of them, those badass French classics I now am able to read in their own language (hopefully haha), and soon I was hopping like a happy bunny on some weird psychedelic drugs. She just laughed ”Guees you didn’t need coffee, but books. Should have known!”

I’d rather be roaming the streets of Paris… Every time I get too caught up with the everyday life, I tend to forget they are right there for me. It always makes me be grateful for visitors, they remind us to re-explore what we are already supposed to know. Like the Latin Quarter. I mean you could used to be sure to find me there at any given day, now it seems it’s been months… Oh well I guess my own neighbourhood ain’t that bad neither.

I’d rather be taking a train to the South… Winter made me say that a lot. On Monday, I actually did. And the weather goddesses were with me this time! More on it later. Still, don’t you just love the Montpellier’s train station!

For WPC: I’d rather be…

Avignon.

Should I hide that my trip to Avignon was somehow not just a casual weekend away? It was the first in my series of discovering French South anew to see if I could move there sometime soon, and I’m not even kidding. (No verdict yet about that, though.) Or maybe, that was just a really good excuse after a long Parisian numbness. Unfortunately for me, I was greeted with strong winds and what I hope is an unusual cold weather for the region. So much for the South’s warm sun, right?

Therefore, my plans for the day, which mostly included walking through all the old charming streets possible in two halves of a day, just getting a feel of the place, got messed up with a whole lot of coffee shop / tea room / bistro visits. Fortunately, one of the highlights happened during one of those…

The first being the view from my hostel room (the one below). I think it could be my second favorite ever.

Then there were those prolonged minutes of warm sun on a bench at the top of Rocher des Doms, finding a place with no wind. I felt like a plant, absorbing its rays till the very last drop, starved for months. Maybe, I got to be sunshine flower for a moment.

And finally, there was this lovely little place, called Theias, where I might have eaten the best (vegan) cheesecake of my life, with coconut and lime. I savoured every tiny piece of it like I was tasting heaven.

Who cares about Palais des Papes, then? And Pont d’Avignon and the greenery across were quite nice to look at from afar, but I didn’t want to get blown away like a balloon so… Next time. If I ever move there, I’ll have all the time in the world, anyway.

Still, I admit my feel of the place is sort of blurred, because of the emptiness of the town, it only comes close to Lyon when it cames to that dead atmosphere. How to not let it get you all judgemental and not let that be the main piece of an impression you keep? How to say it’s just a phase, that in summer it’s got to be another place all together?

Oh well the series to be continued next week, if all goes well, fingers crossed the weather goddesses are with me this time.

P.S.: Happy women’s day to all my fellow female travelers, adventurers and bloggers! Keep rocking 🙂

In and out, close and far

Paris Plage.

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.

For WPC: A Face in the Crowd.

The other charms

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.

For WPC.

How I see Paris after 3 years

When three years pass in the same place, same room, with harshly the same people, we can easily imagine things stay the same, that nothing has essentially changed. Yet, when I was sitting across a girl on the train heading to the center from the airport, with a huge suitcase, a filled backpack, a beret, and a book about the dream city in her hands, while I was returning from celebrating Christmas with my family back to my new home for the third time, I could see that something has indeed changed, slowly maybe, imperceptibly, yet persistently.

There is a certain profundity that links you to the city, while dreams are transforming into a reality, while you’re less and less a stranger and a visitor, a simple spectator, and more and more connected into this web of its core lives. Continue reading “How I see Paris after 3 years”

Forever opening into a story

La Rochelle.

I can understand people’s obsession with doors we see in all those blog posts collecting the wonder of how people enclose themselves in cities and towns and even small villages. I always fall for the weathered, a proper-doorknob-and-doorbell-missing ones, old and hardly magnificent. Their stories touch me through those small cracks where the Atlantic wind whistles its way in, the shades and the lines written on them by the winter rain and harsh sun. Then, someone even dares to draw their own!

And there was that one on a tower in the middle of a village in Atacama, low and narrow in between the wall’s scars, like a niche entrance into a secret you might never get if you try too much, yet I hope I did. I sensed a treasure, but … ah nevermind.

For WPC.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VII

Maybe, I should entitle it ”music discovered in France”, since they are not all from the capital, but hey Paris sounds better 🙂

Gaël Faye : I immediately fell in love. First of all, with his lyrics, then with the interpretation and the accompanying music (credits to the composer Guillaume Poncelet as well). He just has it, no need to say more. I wasn’t sure if he was a singer or a poet, but soon realized I heard his name for the first time as an acknowledged author (of Petit pays, also a title of one of his songs about Burundi), although novel-writing in his life chronologically came second. Still, it sort of explains the power and the place of words in his music and the skill and the flow. Coincidences happened and I forgot and rediscovered him as a musician. Yet, they are not separated, just as he says about being metis – he is not 50/50, half of something and half of the other. He just is, who he is, wholly. A beautiful human being with a story and a voice, that is for sure. His portrait of Paris (not the one you imagine) is … I’d say magical, but really it is just so sincere.

Lady Sir : Sometimes, two in one feels good and makes wonders. Woman and man, two voices, two languages, two sides, two stories. They got me with this duality which forms a magical unity, a simple music carrying a subtle theatrical dimension, the one escaping monologues and hence, monotony. Stories, stories, always stories, I’m obsessed and possessed by those…

Buridane : I’m one of those people for whom saying we’re angry or resentful doesn’t come easy, so maybe hearing her saying so lightly ”je t’en veux, je t’en veux” felt kind of liberating. So, I kept on clicking on… And — I know, I repeat myself — again the stories she tells got me, the characters painted with her words, the situations we know in life and love for which it feels good to share them in sounds, for a few minutes lift the burden of heavy sentiments and just sing with it. Anyways, she has a lovely voice and a nice spoken-word touch, plus the melodies which make you swing. So, go treat yourself.

 

Canal Saint Martin.

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.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VI

I can’t believe this is already the sixth part! 🙂

So, my summer ended with the weekend at Rock en Seine (I might be a bit late writing about it, but the hectic autumn started too soon…), or almost. It became a tradition to make the painful transition out of the vacation into real life with new music discoveries and seeing some of my favorite bands live. Could be worse. The XX, HER and Mac DeMarco, a big heart out to you. But below are the ones I didn’t really know before hearing them live at St Cloud.

Rendez-vous : The absolute favourite Sunday festival discovery, my first concert of the day, arriving after the show had already started and falling in immediately. Raw is how I’d call it, the essence of what I love about rock music, with that modern electronic twist. The energy of these Parisians kept making waves through the crowd, breaking the circle of loyal fans and making new ones. Me included. Put your dancing shoes on and put your hands up like you don’t care. Oh gotta love the youth.

Le Villejuif Underground : First of all, I really like their name, wearing their origins proudly, though to me they sound so New York I’m not surprised they are not all French and there’s an Australian in there among those ”disturbed” fellows. Gotta adore his voice. And this sound! The Velvet Underground? The Strokes? The beats? Yes, I hear the beats in there… Smooth and groovy. I repeat: gotta love the youth.

Barbagallo : There is something about this guy. First hearing (about) him, I only saw that calm of his which can’t be all quiet inside, and you know it. Something so old-school and even eccentric in such a non-abusive way I even hear Tame Impala in the 70s in there somewhere. Music that can always suit well in the background, still to really appreciate it you have to be in the right mood … I think. Or maybe, it hits you when you least expect it, after sneaking, sinking in slowly.

Inuït : I wasn’t quite sure about this band, hearing a song on a playlist before the show. I thought it was just one more modern pop song, trying to be different. Yet, the concert half-intrigued me into giving them a chance. The feeling was right, their performance convincing and there is something quite theirs in music they create together. Maybe, the synergy works its magic live. Anyway, now I’m singing along with these non-Parisians once in a while when the pop needs occur and especially dig the OHs and AHs and EHs when they burst out.

 

Annecy.

Sometimes, it’s good to not have expectations and just go to a place you hear is nice. Not knowing what to do and just taking a walk around to get the impressions first. You might just fall into it like that, slide in like into a perfectly cut jeans. Because the streets suit you, the view from your hotel surprises you, the lake and the mountains get you wondering about the Earth’s stories and the sunny coast vibe tranquilizes your random twisted thoughts. Soak it all up. Lie down on the grass and try to remember to keep your T-shirt on, it’s public property. Get yelled at when you try to sneak in a closed beach and then find a better one a few minutes walk ahead. Take a fancy lemonade at a hotel verandah and go get bored at its casino after a dinner next to the old-town cute canal, when the sun sets and people finally leave their bathing suits behind. Just because that’s what the French do.

Summer’s gonna be gone tomorrow, still these days are ours.

Open up

Reflections after my journey through Québec, june 2017, part II

That thing about travel, changing countries and distancing yourself from your own hometown, the change of perspective it entails. More clearly seeing a certain structure, or in this case, a subtle shifting of a mood back home, a shift you had noticed before, but now seems so much more apparent and comprehensible. Continue reading “Open up”

The colours of the beach

It was the perfect day. Doing a spontaneous train trip with my best friend to Normandy, exploring the cheese markets and flirting with the vendors, then just hanging out on the ridiculously wide sunny beach, after refreshing our toes in the Atlantic. Ice cream was there, and this colourful summer essentials that made me wonder what kind of collage view they form from the above. No doubt how we ended it – with cocktails!

For WPC.

The less known stars of French chanson

At least internationally, of course. Maybe I’m just talking from Slovenian youth’s perspective where francofolie is still a thing only within a limited crowd. Yet, I feel there are famous singers that are very much present in the French cultural spirit and had a huge influence in the music’s evolution, but are very less talked about outside of the francophone world. I started exploring it sort of retrospectively, obsessively clicking on YouTube search buttons while listening to interviews with new bright hopes of the Parisian and outer capital scene, talking about their inspirations. Something so self-evident to a French saying little or actually being completely unknown to me. Then, the ball continued to roll. Some of their songs really grew on me, so I decided to share them. Music has that eternal appeal, no matter the period it’s made in, right?

Alain Bashung : It was Fishbach cover of the song below on Monte le son (the thing to follow for live interpretations of current artists) that introduced me to him. And I admit the original touched me more. Something so pure about it. I soon realized his other (older) songs are much different, more demanding and surprisingly maybe even more modern in sound.

Daniel Balavoine : I think it was Fishbach’s fault as well. This guy… is touching beyond most of the others I know. He spilt his guts out on pretty much every song. And I find his voice is special, too. It seems like a strong spirit and a broken soul that was nonetheless meant to tell his story and shine through its own darkness. Yeah, you’re getting some poetical inclinations listening to his confessions. He’s the one cutting Mitterand’s monologue right in the middle of a debate with his own (angry) insights, still so meaningful today.

Jacques Dutronc : And then, this guy is all in for the happy songs. Or not really. As feel-good as they sound, they often have something critical, even cynical to say, still today. He knew how to get his message across for sure. I needed a hundred indications for his existence, from a humoristic TV show (Fais pas ci fais pas ça) to TLSP cover of Les Cactus, but I finally got it and now I’m loving it.

Francis Cabrel : Looking for the love songs, you eventually (or probably quite soon) definitely stumble upon quite a few of his songs. I admit, even I succumbed to the desire of someone singing those lyrics to me, so beautifully they express emotions through melodies. They’re a classic, so you might find them on singing competition’s TV stages (like The Voice, of course) once in a while. You know, the ultimate test for musicians that defined the aspiring singers, searching for songs where they can successfully show their voice’s sincerity… and all that.

The lovely French short trips

Auch. Not far from Toulouse.

France, like many European countries, is a treasure chest of (long) weekend trips, whether you want to explore charming old towns or relax at the seaside. No matter where you’re located, the TGV train system makes almost everything feel close enough to just go and return in the same day or two. Cheap it is not, true, but with a bit of advance organisation or cutting the unnecessary budget expenses elsewhere somehow still usually doable. For me, it is a matter of priorities. I’ll make my own sandwich and give up coffee that day (no, this I never do…), not use any other public transport, only my own pair of legs, and skip the hotels, so I’ll manage. And it never quite gets old, exploring this beauty of a country.

First, of course, there’s the Île de France region, with all the castles and palaces, parks and villages, from Fontainebleau to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. I, however, am aiming further out. (I’m deliberately not including Provence here which, truth be told, itself alone deserves a whole two weeks minimum anyway.) Some of the places below would with all they have to offer easily demand more than just a weekend, yet they are even if you don’t have the time still worth giving it the few hours you do have. Hope the below gives a few ideas to start your discoveries.

Rue du Gros Horloge, Rouen.

After a few of my own, I decided to share my personal favourites …

Normandy: The North equivalent of Provence, I’d say. And so close to Paris, too. It’s probably best to rent a car if you have the possibility and just roam from town to town along the coast. Honfleur, Deauville, Trouville, Cabourg are a few of the Riviera essentials among so many. Just be prepared for the wind… and the crêpes. Then, you have the city of Rouen with its own cathedral and Le Havre for the impressionism fans. Another classic, of course, it’s Giverny, a nice village with the perhaps most known personal garden in the world – Monet’s. This, I find a bigger must than Versailles and a far more pleasing day trip from Paris, especially in summer and spring.

Étretat : The absolute favourite among the Normandy jewels. Despite the lovely village, it’s nature that reigns here with the magnificent cliffs and meadows.

Bordeaux : This city is the nicest of surprises. You hear talking about it only because of the wine, just to realize its charm has nothing to do with it. Get a good fix of strolls, markets, bistros, history and art. What more do you need?

Marseille, Quartier du Panier.

La Rochelle : When in need of a seaside break in-between the beach and a little town life, think of this one. Take coffee at the Vieux Port, then hit the sand and the rocks and the welcoming sunshine. Again, be prepared for the wind, it’s still the Atlantic.

You can also choose among the other big cities/towns. Strasbourg, Lille, Bourges, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille… I’d recommend the last two the most, but then they are the furthest from Paris. There, you can easily immerse into their old quarters for a few hours, explore the history and enjoy the laid back atmosphere, in my experience much more than in the others.

Then, of course, there are the smaller ones as well, often even more appealing with their innocent charm, for the last few ideas!

Chartres.

Mont Saint Michel : The magical historical place that competes with Paris for the number of visitors per year.

Chartres : For one of the most beautiful cathedrals and a simple walk through its streets.

Troyes : Another medieval destination, not far from Paris.

Colmar : The least French-like among them all, but so cute.

Now, ready, steady, go! I’ll sure be on my way to a new one soon, I haven’t quite completed the list myself…

Music I discovered in Paris, part V

Her ; Juliette Armanet ; Melanie Pain

Her : As internationally as they look, sound and actually are, these guys’ collaboration comes from France (not Paris though). I’ve always appreciated (electro-pop) artists giving a bit of soul into their music when it’s so easy not to do it and still produce a hit. Well, they understood my inclination and are already booming all over the world. No need for the five minutes, one of their songs is talking about, to convince and seduce you to swing along.

Juliette Armanet : So often, it’s all about how the voice and the articulation of such a beautiful language are gaining a reign all over a song. At least, that’s what she makes me wonder about. Maybe, it’s with a bit of melancholy and nostalgia, with that inspiration that must come straight out of the best of not only French ballads of the past century. Most certainly, it’s with impeccability.
+ Check out her French version of I feel it coming (The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk), it’s absolutely beautiful.

Melanie Pain : I’m sure you all know her voice, but maybe you are like me in ignoring her as a solo songwriter. Correct that mistake. After loving every single curve of her melodic interpretations as a part of Nouvelle Vague (Master and Servant and God Save The Queen!), I almost by accident discovered the song below a couple of days ago. A familiar name told me to give it a try. Oh the good random procrastination choices.

Where’s the real fight?

I was recently asked to write an article about the atmosphere in France during the elections and it struck me how the crux of it all seemed to be in a weird dilemma between absenteeism and voting against. To vote or not to vote, to act and therefore go against oneself or simply resign and exclude oneself as an active part of the society. Where can a personal answer stand in such an ultimatum?

Nothing new under my sun, it struck me so strongly precisely because it’s been a personal dilemma since my early 20s (or even adolescence…). I became an idealist too soon, as I once reflected by myself, the values I chose to stand for integrated into my very core so fast, I soon enough realized there is only one place where they don’t stand on shaky grounds. Somewhere, deep and high, out of sight, yet always scrapping on the limits of the mind. Continue reading “Where’s the real fight?”

La Rochelle.

The three days in this small Atlantic seaside town, three hours from Paris, was exactly what I needed. The mixture of lovely streets, charming port, lively marina, nice cafés, two opposite beaches and beautiful parks allowed me to do almost everything from my self-care list. Perfect scenery for bench reading or chilling, sunbathing lying on the rocks, after of course I did all the walking possible along the coastal promenades and the old town exploring. Those little joys of listening to waves and birds singing, taking coffee, ice-cream or a simple siesta in the sun despite the strong cold wind, getting your skin prepared for summer, observing people opening up to carelessness and men carefully washing their boats every morning, opening your window in the middle of the night and seeing a clear starry sky, almost impossible to capture in the metropolis.

Now, I know. Someday, I’ll move to the South.

Pleased

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

The dense thick air in-between

Lyon, France.

In the density of city streets the air thickens between the walls of too-close-by houses, walls that cannot breathe in and out the toxic particles like green leaves do. Then, there is the constant palpitations, beats spreading out of so many hearts, beats quickening in the rush hours, so many beats of hearts in love, joyous, worried, passionate, stressed. Bodies swaying from and to each other. Life lived in so many forms, with so many stories, souls echoing and dreams whispering. Conversations started, arguments highlighted, singing offered in the middle of restaurants, humming kept for private bedrooms, broken glasses and drilling messes. Every moment a scene is watched and a comment listened to.

In winter, it is dense in the foggy, low and heavy vapour that fills and numbs my nostrils, in summer instead density seems to evaporate from my own skin in the heavy heat, drying out my mouth.

Thank goddess, there are moments in-between when the air lifts and life is heaped.

For WPC.

Music I discovered in Paris, part IV

No need for introductions anymore.
Fishbach ; Cyril Mokaiesh ; Faire…

No need for introductions anymore.

Fishbach : First, I thought her songs are alright. But on the second listen already, I became addicted. I’ve always had a thing for a sombre kind of pop music, you know, the kind when you feel the darkness looming in the background and awakening in your soul, together with that irresistible urge to move and shake and, well dance, and tell the whole world to go … there. There’s something in her sound and lyrics that corresponds to my mood – and even nature I’d say – immensely, so profoundly I think the last I felt it must have been with the White Lies, after Joy Division or The Cure or much of the blues music. Because essentially, there’s more to it than sadness, sadness isn’t even what we’re aiming for here. That’s why when it comes to her, the fact that she makes me think of Barbara and Eurythmics at the same time is quite appreciated. Tell me your life and at the same time make me dance on the 80’s beats.

Je veux du noir et je veux de l’espoir.

Cyril Mokaiesh : Just look at this video and try to understand a bit of the lyrics. The confession mood got me, after the guy already got my attention with songs actually entitled Communiste and La loi du marché. His music is demanding in a different manner than the above, yet you have to admit it has balls. What I appreciate is that his voice occasionally escapes the expectations and takes its own curvy path.

Faire & salut c’est cool & Casse Gueule : For those who like La Femme and Grand Blanc and the like of la nouvelle scène française, but think they didn’t go far enough. These do, oh yes, they do. For all the hipsters that got excluded from the crowds. Who knows, it might be your comeback, this punky electro eclectic style and sound, winning without trying to.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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.

stgermenlaye

Saint-Germain-en-Laye

 

The (One-way) Streets Taken

Bordeaux, France.

During a walk through the many charming Bordeaux streets, after a much-needed coffee in a warm local café, right next to the beautiful Porte Cailhau, itself reminiscent of town’s history, it was still this one-way street that took me by surprise somehow and captivated me the most, by taking me way back sometime undefined. Ergo, black and white was obliged.

For WPC.

Bordeaux.

Le petit Paris. That’s how they call it, I was said.

Le petit Paris. That’s how they call it, I was said. The little Paris. When I got there, listening to the taxi driver, passing the famous bridge which has something to do with Napoleon (I forgot the next second what exactly), I instantly understood it. If I had to change venues over night, I’d choose Bordeaux as a comforting replacement for Paris in a heart beat. Luckily, for now, I only had a few days there, enjoying a well deserved rest with my mother.

Don’t believe people who don’t know your curious spirit drawn to the less polished districts, saying ”focus on the part after the bridge”. It is nice, the old clean and busy streets of Saint-Pierre. First day, you walk past the cathedral, Grand Théâtre, Place de la Bourse and observe the shopping mood at Saint-Catherine, go to the main art museum. But then what about Saint-Paul and Saint-Michel whose name recalls your young Parisian love. The food market des Capucins and antiques market at the basilique. Those short houses, those squares, all over town.

And on the last day, you’ll go North-West by foot, passing the Jardin Public and Palais Gallien, a relic of the past amongst the residential streets, to check the contemporary art at Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez. Wait for it to open, sun bathing in the cold garden, for the first time having an impression the gallery closed for a private tour, for your eyes only, no one’s there.

You’ll immerse in the clichés of the warm French bistros and a few quirky hipsters cafés, grab a glass or two of the house wine. You’re in the capital of your favourite guilty pleasure. No guilt there, really.

I’ll make sure I make a reservation in my mind – mid September in a nearby future I’m back to this precise same spot.

I intend to … gracefully.

Live tall, in all due respect to others and yourself.
At Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux.

Learning to be graceful is a complex and ambiguous task, nevertheless probably not an impossible one. It doesn’t have rules, yet I believe the to-do list I found at the entrance to Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez in Bordeaux, is a part of its vague guidelines. Living tall, in all due respect to others and yourself. Not as learnt by heart and repeated daily, but as encouraging the gracefulness that is already somewhere there inside, whispering we’re quite alright where and how we are.

For WPC.

The nature’s patient anticipation

From the seed to the flower, from the fruit to the fallen leaves, the roots and the empty branches…

I’d waited long for this one. Giverny, France.

From the seed to the flower, from the fruit to the fallen leaves, the roots and the empty branches, there is always this anticipating the next form of life in nature, ever so patient in its expectancy. Because they are necessities? Maybe that is why it’s calming, soothing, seeing the cycle and recognizing it for it.

For WPC.

When you don’t remember to relax, take it easy.

The cut between the summer holidays and working autumn that has now transformed into a chilling winter seems more brutal than the one during school years when the classes and the tests began. Or is it just a lack of relying memory? Now, the time when I relax is the time when I rest, catch a moment to breathe, lie down and watch a movie. It’s getting harder to read with this rebellious short concentration, to write is a miracle rarely fully realized.

In summer, though, I actually took a whole day to get away and walk the anxiety out, meditate at a distant grassy spot, I could take my shoes off and splash the sea water around me, I was reading a complicated essay collection that got my brain cells going.

I’m glad I took a photo of those moments. They just reminded me to make a plan and escape the unbearable hardness of the morning commute I somehow became a part of. Work itself is not the problem, its omnipresence and overwhelming-ness is. Its insistance on consuming all of your energy and efforts, so that your personality and joyful passions are slowly vanishing into nothing. Wake yourself.

Etretat, Normandy, France.

 

For WPC.