A Travellerspoint blog

Paris in the Rain

rain 21 °C

Gil: This is unbelievable! Look at this! There's no city like this in the world. There never was.
Inez: You act like you've never been here before.
Gil: I don't get here often enough, that's the problem. Can you picture how drop dead gorgeous this city is in the rain? Imagine this town in the '20s. Paris in the '20s, in the rain. The artists and writers!
Inez: Why does every city have to be in the rain? What's wonderful about getting wet?

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Its been raining non-stop for a week. I hid away for the first day, but then eventually had to give in and walk around Paris in the rain. Like Inez, I never understood why it was fun to get wet walking around a city. I've begun to realise though that the city is just that little bit less crowded when its raining, there is a shroud of mist around bridges and churches, which can make for atmospheric, if difficult to photograph images. And it smells less (face it, Paris is an old city). I'm coming around to this whole rain thing.

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I've visited lots of markets - St Germain, Madeline & the Rue Mouffetard food market. It occurs to me that as space is at a premium here, there is a great value attached to public and open spaces. People congregate in squares and parks for a smoke or a glass of wine. University students grab lunch in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Most parks in Paris also have wi-fi , which means its not uncommon to see office workers using their laptops on a park bench during their breaks. While there are the big chain supermarkets, the local market is still where most Parisians buy their food. Organic & locally produced food doesn't seem to be a trendy thing ( like Middle Park, for example) , it's just the norm. And it's a lot more interesting & communal than the suburban lifestyle of driving to Coles, buying everything in the one place and then driving back home. Also a lot yummier, I've averaged one chocolate eclair a day so far.

I'd like to hope that the future of public space in Melbourne will derive from what's happening here rather than the commercially invented spaces we see all around us. No hard concrete or seat blocks in the scorching sun with no protection. A row of chairs by a river, where everyone can sit down and read a paper or surf the net. That sounds much more fun to me!

I'm off to Berlin this weekend, and more rain. Woo!

Posted by carol.maseyk 07:07 Archived in France Comments (0)

Venice Report

sunny 26 °C

Cities are a funny thing. I thought I'd love Rome - but it didn't make quite the impression I thought. Venice, on the other hand, I adore. It's beautiful, romantic , decrepit ; and with the Biennale in town also, modern and relevant.

I stayed at the lovely Ai Do Mori hotel, which was located metres from San Marco's square (literally, I estimated it must have been about 10 metres). I lay in bed Saturday mornings hearing the bells of St Marks ring. After the compulsory tourist things were over (my two favourite photos are below) , I headed over to the Biennale to be beguiled and bemused.

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The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art festival held every 2 years. Countries from around the world have pavilions where they showcase art by their local artists. In addition, temporary pavilions are created for any new countries participating. In Venice, being a historical city , the temporary pavilions are usually in palazzos or the Scoula Grandes (great schools) .

One of the great joys in my life is to find art in unexpected places. This weekend in Venice, art was everywhere. I'd walk into an old church and find an art installation from New Zealand suspended from the ceiling.

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Or walk into an old warehouse type space to find a tree swinging on the ceiling ( I kid you not, check out the video below)

By Sunday evening, when I should have been tired and grumpy , I found myself invigorated. It truly was an event everyone should experience once in their lifetime (though I plan to experience it a few more times at least)

Links to some of my favourite installations are below

http://www.northbynortheast.lv/

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/art/emirati-artist-mohammed-kazem-at-venice-biennale

Posted by carol.maseyk 10:00 Archived in Italy Tagged venice venice_biennale Comments (0)

Best laid plans tested

I planned to find a Paris market today. Preferably a flea or antiques market, not a food market (my body can't take any more croissant or pastry). Instead my French teacher announced that we would have a test tomorrow. With the noble aim of getting home early enough tonight to study, I decided an afternoon of retail therapy was in order.

The quintessential Paris shopping experience is visiting the Gallery Lafayette on Blvd Haussman. Generally, I have found that there are two types of travellers - those who love to shop and those who look down on the shoppers, preferring to sight-see, have authentic experiences and immerse themselves in local culture. I think, the Gallery Lafayette can satisfy both these groups. Mostly because if you can ignore the seven floors of, possibly the best shopping in town (I didn't , I succumbed to Zara) , you can make it to the roof-top of the building which has one of the best views of Paris.

In 2011, I went the George restaurant in the Pompidou centre that has a breathtaking view of the city - from the Eiffel Tower to the Sacre Coeur. The view from the Gallery LaFayette is perhaps, only second to that. And it's free. On a clear day you can see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triompe, The Opera Garnier is right in front of you & the Sacre Coeur. I settled in on the roof with a frozen yoghurt , then had lunch on the 6th floor cafeteria with the best view in town.

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Oh, and maybe turn up with a good camera, rather than an iPhone like I did.

Next post will be from Venice , where I'm excited to finally visit the Venice Biennale.

Posted by carol.maseyk 08:46 Archived in France Comments (1)

Small Luxuries

Ongoing Saga

Found this in my favourite Parisian bookshop , Shakespeare & Co. this afternoon. It amused me so much that I immediately found myself a hair dresser in St Germain. Clearly, I'm made for this glamping thing :)

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Posted by carol.maseyk 11:02 Comments (0)

Berthillon / Day 3 in Paris

Practicing being a lady of leisure

My routine in Paris seems to be settling in. 3 hours of French lessons every morning ( including a bizarre phonetics class in a recording studio setup ; more on that later). After class today I decided to get my hair done and then headed down to Berthillon on Ile St Louis for some ice-cream.

Amongst Parisians, Berthillon is supposed to have the finest ice cream in France. Being a connoisseur myself, I decided to put this to the test. Finding it was easy. Just cross the bridge onto the Ile St Louis after Notre Dame, walk down the main street and look for a big crowd of people. The line outside the shop ( considering that it was 5 pm on a Wednesday afternoon ) is impressive .

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There are about 70 flavours of ice cream to choose from. Most interesting are Rhubarb, Licorice & Creme Caramel. I stuck with the classics Chocolate and Strawberry. Is it the best ice cream I've ever had? Yes, undoubtedly. The Strawberry was incredibly tart and also sweet. Sort of like strawberry jam in ice cream form. I only wish there were actual little bits of strawberry to be found. The chocolate was brilliant. It didn't taste sugary or sweet, just of chocolate with a bitter & dark after taste.

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I highly recommend a visit. Though you might want to forget about the calorie counting on this one!

Posted by carol.maseyk 10:44 Archived in France Tagged food sights berthillon Comments (0)

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