Paris

Off the beaten Parisian path…

Friends heading to Europe for Xmas recently asked, ‘Jane, how long should we spend in Paris and what’s to do?’ ‘Why at least two weeks, ideally six months, a year, forever; so much to see in this fine city!’ Pondering my frankly unhelpful Francophillian response, I actually gave the query serious thought:

Three days?

Big red bus city highlights recon to get the bearings. The Eiffel Tower’s pretty sparkles viewed from the Trocadero. The Arc de Triumph. The Champs Élysées for fabulous Xmas fairy lights, Laudree Macarons, Louis Vuitton Flagship store, Ferrari, Mont Blanc, Sephora. Oh! And the beautifully buffed semi naked eye candy guarding Abercrombie & Finch on the other side of those magnificent gold tipped black gates.

The Grand and the Petite Palais for palace awesomeness. Palace Opera’s ornate mirrored glitz and bodaciously luxe tassles. The Louvre – Mona’s wing. Notre Dame point zero and those pretty stained glass windows. Sacre Coeur up there on the hill. Galleries la Fayette for that stunning dome ceiling. Fueled with plenty of fortification while seated on those cute little red wicker chairs on the Bistro footpaths of course.

Five days?

Add a day trip to Chateau de Versailles for an even bigger palace fix. Napoleon’s Tomb, Place de Voges, the Musee de Orsay, L’Orangerie and Pompidou for extra hits of visual culture. A wander in the Jardins des Tuileries and Jardins des Luxembourg to park your green chair wherever takes your fancy amidst the lush gardens, ponds, statues and Sunday boules players. The Latin Quarter. Bon Marche for the pure pleasure of feeling your credit card’s sphincter muscle contract. Fueled by still more French fare and people watching over a wine or five.

 Already ticked these boxes? Time to dig a little deeper into the less touristy fare. My top 10 suggestions:

1) Rue de l’Abreuvoir –  it would be remiss to neglect this picturesque road as you wander around Montmartre, followed by Avenue Junot, very chic and along here you will find ‘Pass-muraille’ – the man who could walk through walls.

2) The Je t’aime wall – while still in the region, wander Place des Abbesses, find the small public garden (Square Johan Rictus) and admire ‘Le mur des Je t’aime’  where you’ll find ‘I love you’ written in 311 languages…tres romantic in the city of…well um…romance? For more detail: Jacques and Jane discover the Je T’aime wall

3) Le Moulin de la Gallete – while still in the Montmartre region you’ll find this elegant sister to the Moulin Rouge. One of only two other windmills left in Paris, this one houses a rather elegant restaurant.

4) Space invaders – always, always look up as you traverse the more densely populated Arrondissement for high on the walls you will find pixel art mosaic space invaders. Over 1,182 in Paris alone, brainchild of an anonymous French artist known only as Invader. A tiny buzz each time you find one and a lot less embarrassing than chasing Pokemon. A previous post: Who loves Space Invaders?

5) Porte Saint-Denis and Porte Saint-Martin. Aside from the well known arches on the ‘Triumphal Way’  (Arc de Triomphe Carrousel, Arc de Triomphe, La Defense), these lesser known arches are slap dab in the middle of densely populated streets and worth checking out just for their sheer audaciousness.


6) The Louis Vuitton Foundation – oh yes, architect Frank Gehry stretching our minds yet again with one of his most magnificent pieces to date. Right up there with the late great Zaha Hadid.

7) Rue des Rosiers for the Falafels – in Le Marais, my fave Arrondissement where the effortlessly minimalist chic Parisian hangs, particularly cool on a Sunday when the closed streets fill with said chic as they wander the many wine bars and boutiques.

8) Rue Montorgueil on a Friday eve – closed to cars, the street filled with French food open market specialties, from rare fromage to giant meringues, rare chocolate to escargot. Speaking of; check out L’Escargot Bistro for the delicious molluscs for which the restaurant is named.

9) The Passages – some quaint, many architecturally magnificent, a few in states of disrepair and all really quite special. Check out Passages du Grand Cerf, Galerie Vivienne, Passage Jouffroy and Passages des Panoramas for starters. See more here:   Coffee, cats and more Passages and Loving Parisian Passages


And for a very special kind of bliss:

10) A concert in Sainte-Chapelle – within the Palais de la Cite, on the Ill de la Cite and in the heart of Paris. Lazy afternoon light filtering through the most magnificent stained glass windows suffuses an atmosphere that, combined with the pure acoustics of the Chapel itself, may just bring a tear to your eyes. Pure joy.


Enjoy my friends, enjoy. And come back safe.xx

P.S. If you’d like to take in the most magnificent view that actually includes the Eiffel Tower, head to the Montparnasse Tower Panoramic Observation Deck, spectacular!

Four weeks four countries two friends…

Indulge Divulge was founded on one fabulous six week European trip where my travel buddies Fifi and Dicki kindly allowed Pixi (that’s me!) along for the ride, way back in 2013. During that journey I gained a fabulous reputation as back seat driver with the perfect falsetto for ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ (I bet you’re already singing it!) and blogger. Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland – so many of you joined us via the blog as we shared the fun, the idiotic, the food, the alcohol, the unusual, the breathtaking and the…did I mention alcohol?

More of you came on board two years later as Fifi and I checked out Bruges, checked into Barcelona, fell more in love with Paris then Florence in all her glorious hues. You became my loneliness relievers while I stayed on, spending six further months with the locals in fishing villages along the Italian and French coasts, under the pretext of writing my novel (it does exist and it will be finished), and concluding in Paris (well natch!).

In between, the blog’s theme morphed twice as IndulgeDivulge continued to be a vehicle for exercising my writing skills. My Dad was a journalist, my brother Evan is too, seems I’ve inherited the desire for gratuitous over sharing, made so much easier thanks to the wonderful folk who invented WordPress.

Well we’re off again! Heading out this evening. Join us as we stumble around the Greek Islands, cruise along Croatia (literally), sup Aperols in Venice then celebrate my big 60oh! in…you guessed it…Paris! Seriously, how could we not?  Where there’s Wifi there’ll be a post.

Oh! And given the uncertainty of this crazy world, should we not make it back, know that we love you all! To the moon and back (well Paris at least) xx

Dear Paris…a heartfelt love letter

Beloved Paris how my heart bleeds for you.

You’ve opened your arms to me so many times, smiling with relief on learning I was an Aussie, benignly as I bastardised your language in my clumsy attempt to fit in, with a smirk as I grumbled about the cost of Internet top up. You brought tears of sadness when the Police Nationale confiscated the homeless man’s puppy; of pleasure on hearing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in Sainte-Chapelle, of joy as I viewed your sparkling Eiffel Tower…and heartbreak at what you are experiencing now.

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You philosophized on why I shouldn’t cross my ankles, argued why I should make the most of the generous aperitifs each eve, shouldn’t ignore offal, should try tartare with egg yolk, shouldn’t order butter with a croissant, should order the cafe gourmand. Your wait staff from all nationalities almost always warm, obliging, protective. You hid me safely the night I worried I was being stalked. And you hid your patrons safely in your kitchens when you learnt that several restaurants had been targeted.

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On Fixes and f….kability

Hello, my name is Jane, I am a Parisaddict and it’s been 390 days since my last fix.

Sixty days spent exploring her history, her majesty, her grandeur will do that. Inhaling the spicy aromas of her fresh food markets; kicking autumn leaves in the Jardin du Luxembourg; weighing the opulent tassels in Palace Opera; the ebullience of a Jewish choir; the thrill of Nuit Blanche 6pm to 6am artistic treasure hunt; falling briefly yet enduringly in love with an exceptionally tall, gorgeous black man (a whole other story – you’ll need to read the book)….all the while adorned in nothing more than a slash of red lipstick, jeans and T, leather jacket and ballet flats…my attempt at being a ‘Parisian’.

Hence the thrill of unwrapping ‘How to be a Parisian Wherever You Are’,*a fun take on what it really means to be a Parisian in the 21st century. A perfect Xmas fix, a barrel full of giggles and it appears that I might have had ‘the look’ down pat, yet barely scratched the surface. Here’s an extract:

Aphorisms:
‘To be read out loud every night before going to bed. Even when inebriated’:

  • Don’t be afraid of aging. As the saying goes, don’t be afraid of anything but fear itself.
  • Find ‘your’ perfume before you turn thirty. Wear it for the next thirty years.
  • If you own only one sweater, make sure it’s cashmere.
  • Wear a black bra under a white shirt, like two notes on a sheet of music.
  • One must live with the opposite sex, not against them. Except when making love.
  • Be unfaithful: cheat on your perfume, but only on cold days.
  • Go to the theatre, to museums and concerts as often as possible: it gives you a healthy glow.
  • Not too much makeup, too many colors, too many accessories.
  • Be your own knight in shining armour.
  • Always be fuckable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying Champagne in the middle of the night or even picking up the kids from school. You never know.
  • Fashion rules the world and Parisians rule fashion. Fine it may not be true. But the world still needs fairy tales.

Now I have the complete formula – just need the ticket!

Elliott Erwitt, Honfluer, France, 1967

IMG_8601*‘How to be a Parisian Wherever You Are‘; Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Anne Beresy; 2014; Ebury Press – Random House AU

**Fo darling – you know me so well – thank you

Slider image by Elliott Erwitt, Honfluer, France, 1967

 

Dear Paris, I love you but…

Dear Paris, I love you but…our relationship cannot last for I have met another.

It was a sad breakup, but what can I say? I know She’ll understand and forgive for She knows I always come crawling back. Before we parted however, we had just one final fling, a fitting finale to a fine romance and this is how it started…

Hopped aboard the Metro from Republique to Chatelet and…

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20131116-054928.jpgStrolled past the Hotel de Ville and an ever so pretty carousel and on…

20131116-052227.jpgAcross Pont au Change to view the Seine and…

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20131116-052423.jpgOn past the Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette awaited the guillotine then stepped onto…

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Point Zero, the spot in front of Notre Dame marking the centre of Paris and the 1st Arrondissment then…

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20131116-052939.jpgPaused to view the cathedral’s majesty and while there…

20131116-055112.jpgListened to a Scot piping VIPs from the Remembrance day service and thought of a special friend’s love of Bagpipes; before entering to light a final candle to all the people I’ve loved and lost. While there I…

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20131116-055515.jpgSnapped a few photos of her magnificent stained glass rose windows and beautiful lighting and cussed ‘cos my camera isn’t capable of capturing their majesty. Then I rewarded my self by…20131116-055847.jpgIndulging in the best ever yet Crepe Citron Sucre before…

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20131116-060028.jpgHopping metro from Hotel de Ville to the Trocadero to view the most beautiful tower in the world. She sparkled just for me, a sight that would make even the most jaded sigh in awe. The city of lights indeed. Finished off the day by…

20131116-060658.jpgDining with my gracious host Randal at Au Passage Wine Bar where we sampled some rather nice French fare. The Chef? A Queenslander!

A heavy heart farewelling Paris but one full of joy as I boarded a flight bound for another beautiful city…my home – Brisbane.

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So what exactly did Jane take away from that six month sojourn while we were all slaving our butts off (besides 7,800 photos, enough grasp on the Italian and French languages to avoid serious mischief, an appreciation of 38 new wines and  a whole lot of bragging via the Blog) I hear you ask? Well stay tuned for there’s a little self indulgent blabbering coming up.

Jardins des Tuileries…

Sunny Sunday afternoons must be spent in a lovely garden and where better than the beautiful Jardins des Tuileries?

Wandering the length of the gardens, from the Louvre to Place del la Concorde, I marveled at the autumnal tones of the Plane Trees; folk casually settled on the iconic metal chairs the shade of lush green grass, reading, kissing, chattering, dozing, observing. Water fowl snatching crusts as they jostle one another against the light breeze rippling across the circular lakes. Happy snapping tourists, family clusters. Immaculately dressed twins in gorgeous tonal puffer jackets sailing miniature sail boats, lovingly coached by their Mum, the epitome of French chic dressed in skinny white jeans, tailored tan leather jacket and matching boots and sporting the most adorable plum colored YSL cross body bag that I make a mental note to seek out…wait! I digress! A beautiful day mingling with the locals. Just a few of my favourite snaps….

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