Postcards from Paris: {Metro Rides}

It's true I can afford some better portraits of the metro.
But my concept on the subject just surfaced, and I must share along it with the stored images in my database.
I much prefer getting by on my feet, but I do rather enjoy riding the metro in the mornings. There is a certain scent in the tunnel during the beginning hours of the day. I had never really paid attention to the scent due to either that common distraction of people watching, or paying too much attention trying to figure out which line and which stop to get to my destination. I must admit, there are quite often occasions when some stops smell particularly terrible. I think the key is to start early, when the perfume is fresh.
Now that I've familiarized myself with the different routes and the overall system, I can take the time to smell the metro.

Some other observations regarding the subject:
-I like waiting at Place de Clichy off of line 13 because there is always classical music playing. One of my favorite nocturnes by Chopin was our soundtrack one evening, and I thought to myself, how sophisticated it all seems waiting for the metro.
-I like line 2, when the crowd seems pleasant, and not too sketchy. It can be hit or miss with the passengers on this particular line, but I really enjoy looking out the window from Jaures through Barbes-Rochechoart. The time passes so much quicker when there is an actual view compared to the typical view of the dark tunnels in between the florescent-lit stops.
-I also enjoy line 6, once it surfaces from the ground at Passy and crosses over the Seine to reveal a perfect picture of the Eiffel Tower. The tourists always seem to gasp aloud with joy, and the Parisians just continue reading their newspapers. I like the excitement, because I still feel it every time.

Though there are a number of negatives with the metro, I try to get past those because after all, the metro is an essential element to life in Paris.


Postcards from Paris: {Darling, Sweety, Dear, Honey}

All endearing names to call the one you love.
And it really is quite a delight. Growing up, on my family's southern California property was a large, quite over sized honeysuckle bush. I couldn't say how many bundles of honeysuckle blossoms my brothers and innocently indulged in, yet I believe we did a bee's work on a regular basis.

Aside from nostalgia, and the fact that the honeysuckle nectar was not actual honey, I hold on to the childhood memory and the appreciation for delicious honey.

From the French perspective, like a good wine or cheese; good honey takes time. The process and the many small elements can differentiate between one type of honey an another, all depending on things such as specific blossoms and region. Savannah, Georgia, where The Paris Market resides, has a wonderful source of delicious honey, The Savannah Bee Company. Considering my distance from Savannah, Georgia it was a pleasure coming across this little honey store in Paris. With all types of honey lined up on the shelves, my sweet-tooth surfaced.

My decision was finalized: clover honey with assorted nuts. As a result to this discovery, I look forward to my day beginning with a healthy bit of fromage blanc and a darling, sweet serving of my dear honey.


Postcards from Paris: {Dubbed Actors}

Okay, okay. So initially one may think: "Dog Day Afternoon??! What has that have anything to do with Paris?!"
And to answer that, not much of anything.
Set in Brooklyn, the entire movie is spoken in English. That is, unless the movie is bought in France. In that case, the entire movie can easily be switched to French just by a right click of my mouse and a scroll down. It really is a strange thing; Al Pacino's tough, anxious, somewhat nasally voice quickly transforms into a deeper tone, and his native English-speaking mouth is slightly off with the French coming out. All of the actors have this in common. Not only in this movie, but in all the American movies I've been watching dubbed in French.

It's been a common phrase of advice:
-Avoid making friends with Americans or any English-speaking people
-Listen to French music
-Watch French films

It makes sense just to dive in deep with a new language, but at the time being I happen to have a handful of Americans who are good company.
I do have downloaded on my iPod a collection of music from Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Yves Montand, and Brigitte Bardot.
And with a mixture of wonderful French films and movies with dubbed actors, funny as their mouths may seem...
I feel as though I am making some progress.



Postcards from Paris: {Bals Croises de la Baronne}

There is sand along the quai of the Seine river, sun umbrellas are pitched up, lawn chairs are sprawled about, and those Parisiens left in the city, along with the smiling tourists, are sprucing up their golden tans. I am too far behind with my pale complexion to consider catching up in public. Rather I’ve taken advantage of Bals Croises de la Baronne. From July 20th until the 20th of August those who are happy on their feet have the opportunity to dance a variety of steps with partners who may or may not know what they themselves are doing. I was fortunate to fall into the arms of leaders who had been dancing all of their lives, and were gracious with their flatteries: “You dance so well.” Pfft! I would then laugh and make sure to loosen my legs to a mailable state and allow then to follow the leader. It’s always a good result, a sense of accomplishment to work up a healthy sweat just by laughing and spinning about. One older man in particular, who my friend and I gathered, was prone to pick the younger girls took his role as dance instructor quite professionally and with our awkward steps he would reassure us that it is only but a manner of, “une deux, une deux, une deux”

Something to consider if one’s night seems undecided:
Lundi: World Guinguette
Mardi: Tango
Mercredi: Rock-Swing-RN’B
Jeudi: Musette
Vendredi: Caribéen
Samedi: Danses XIX et Grand Bal
Dimanche: Country



Postcards from Paris: {Cirque d'hiver}

It seems as though I am on some sort of roll with these entertainment posts; From Jules Cheret's performance posters, the carnival in the Tuileries, and now the Cirque d'hiver. Perhaps I crave to be excitedly entertained.

I have relocated myself once again, hence the lack of posts, and as I was exploring my temporary new neighborhood I walked through the Friday morning market off rue Oberkampf to eventually come across this oval polygon building: the Cirque d'hiver, Winter Circus.

Not completely a foreign stature, as I have come across it before, yet with the architectural elements and the colored background motifs, I not only wanted to photograph this building, I wanted to know it's history. What draws me most is that yellow background. Along with the red that embellishes the top of the building, I find it to be an entirely appropriate combination of two simple, primary colors in the midst of the Parisian monochromatic palette; and it causes the wondering thought of, "now, what's this building?" A Parisian take on the red and white striped tent, what else would it host, but a circus show!



Postcards from Paris: {Children at the Fairground}

Peeking from above the perfectly trimmed treetops in Le Jardin des Tuileries, a summer contribution to the scenery, a Ferris wheel along with booths of cotton candy, crepes, ice cream. There are stands adorned with lights, set up with backgrounds of toys and stuffed animals. A clown waiting for children to come to him and tell him what animals to create from his array of colorful, long balloons. A carousel sits rather calmly, with it's top-crowned horse.

The fairground in the afternoon was a little lonely, but I can imagine once the sun sets, and the strung lights are beaming, with the scent of fresh spun cotton candy in the air, and the carnival music at it's climatic level; the lines will be booming, some would wish that it wasn't so crowded and others would feel like they are part of the excitement, and feel invigorated.

While living in Georgia, when the country fair came into town I was determined to seize the moment: eat too much cotton candy and stand in the longest of lines to ride the Ferris wheel.

I hope the Parisians do just that this evening in Les Jardin des Tuileries, bellies full of pink-spun sugar and arms full of tacky, yet memorable oversized stuffed animals.



Postcards from Paris: {Jules Cheret}

Something about his posters makes me wish I was wearing red or had on a hat or my hair in a full Victorian-era bun sitting on the top of my head.
I got stalled one day recently in this bookshop off the Canal Saint Martin. There was this beautiful red-silk covered book sitting on the shelf. It was heavy weighted and filled with page after page of intriguing rough sketches and fully colored illustrations. There were drawings of circus performers and lovely dressed women. Jules Cheret is the creator of these marvelous poster creation. "Jules, Jules, Jules...Cheret" I kept chanting silently in my head so that I would remember his name. Jules, a name that reminds me of a whimsical, quirky man much like the Jules in Jules et Jim
I returned to my flat to rely on wikipedia, and there was his photograph; side profiled and a full, curled-ended mustache. Happy with my research, I went out to stroll some more. Walking along rue Rivoli, there those posters were again! And much to my surprise, I discovered an entire exhibition on "Jules, Jules, Jules Cheret"
Such a delight!

I wish I was around when such posters were a common source of advertisement.


Postcards from Paris: {Une fête de la pluie}

It's been raining all afternoon. Buckets. It honestly looks as though my apartment has been relocated right underneath a waterfall. My roof gutter is spilling over, and the streets are flooded. Umbrellas would hardly suffice.
But, today is a special day for France. It is La Fete Nationale, Bastille Day.
Fireworks are set to burst and leave glitter in the sky this evening, oh but the rain. I assumed the celebrations would be rained out so I took to napping away my afternoon.
I woke up to a bright ray of sunlight beaming into my window and children laughing in the streets. I look out my window, the sky is blue, the clouds are white, and combined with the red from the terra cotta chimneys, ever so settle, I am feeling some French patricism beginning to surface.

Another occasion to wear red, white, and blue; mais c'est bleu, blanc, et rouge!
Happy Bastille Day, La fête nationale du 14 juillet!


Postcards from Paris: {Soldes, Under the Glass Ceiling}

It isn't as though I have either money nor space to buy things. My bookshelves and kitchen cabinets are now storage for some of my clothing. I have an array of different colors and styles of shoes which are lined up underneath my couch/bed. I have three lovely scented perfumes to choose from, depending on my mood what I will wear when the day, or evening begins. My purses are plentiful, also displayed on the bookshelves; and my amount of books and DVDs are adequate considering I am living in Paris for an unsure amount of time.
Material possessions are not the source of happiness, they are just nice to have. Plus, there is a shallow sense of comfort knowing that if one sailor-striped shirt just isn't working, I have a couple of others to choose from.
With all of that as an introduction, it's SOLDES time here in Paris. Meaning, major sales everywhere.
Being in the situation I am currently in, I strolled a few blocks to the Galeries LaFayette, not to accommodate more "things," but to stand underneath this marvel of a ceilling...

And to score some sample perfumes.


Postcards from Paris: {Dent May, "Oh, Paris"}

I have to admit, yesterday I was feeling a little melancholy. Most of all of my friends have left Paris to go on holiday. Because of lacking funds and job interviews I decided to stay in Paris.
With that, I took a solemn stroll about town, allowing myself to just absorb things. I was dismayed initially when I reached in my bag to grab my camera, and I realized I had left it charging. As a result to no camera and no friends, I really did end up having a pleasant stroll. No pressure, whatever I wanted to do or pay attention to. I started from Place de Clichy, through Monceau Park, down the Champs-Elysees, and onward until I was in Le Marais. I then walked up along the Canal Saint-Martin. That entire time I mainly just people watched. There was some point amongst all that strolling where I stopped into Colette, the "cool store" about town and found myself mesmerized with slight dance steps, holding the earphones, listening to Dent May's Oh, Paris.
Charming little bit, he sings.

"Oh, Paris!" - by DENT MAY from John Rory Fraser on Vimeo.

Oh Paris, You've really done something to me.
You and I seem to agree here tonight.
Oh Paris, I like to see you in the rain,
Pretty girls in black berets, reading books in sad cafes.
I finally know that I belong here in this world...
Blissfully, I walk for hours in your streets.
Stop to grab something to eat in the night.
You were more than just a friend.
It is you I will depend,
I will love you til the end.
I finally know that I belong here in this world...



Postcards from Paris: {Yves and Lulu}

Last week I fell in love with Paris-
Like most people's lives, it's quite easy to fall into the routine of things. I think routine can be nice, and can offer one a sense of static existence. Yet, routine can sometimes make one feel like there is no time for special events, for instance a day at the museum.
It was so nice to spend the afternoon at Le Petit Palais, where there was a wonderful YSL exhibition. The weather was lovely, and once again I was hit with the realization that I was in Paris.

How silly of me to forget how inspiring museums are. With this particular exhibition tied directly with my field of interest, I felt so motivated to design and draw. Not only was it a wonder to see the actual garments displayed on mannequins, but Yves Saint Laurent's illustrations and croquis offered a look at the beginning stages of his classic designs.
Most of all, I was charmed by Lulu.
Lulu is a character developed by Yves, who is quite a contrast to the long, thin-limbed figures he typically illustrates. She seems to be a devilish little character, but offers a sense of lightness and humor to his personality. I like the thought that professionals find time to get distracted every now and again, and that those distractions can really depict an entirely undiscovered side to the people we most admire.

Now I am off to enjoy a refreshing Perrier a la menthe in this city that I love so much.
Here's to Yves and Lulu.


Gastronomic Nirvana

There is a constant battle for epicurean supremacy between New York and San Francisco. I still haven’t decided for myself, but I certainly tried my darndest to sample as many of the local contenders as possible. San Francisco does have the edge when it comes to location, surrounded by wine country on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other, the coastline views just enhance the gourmet orgy.

We started our journey in Napa Valley. Home to Auberge du Soleil, and legendary The French Laundry, these restaurants literally wrote the book on French inspired, locally sourced cuisine. With wine lists the size of a small town phonebook, these restaurants will leave your stomach incredibly full and your wallet remarkably empty - being beaten down to pauper status, however, is completely satiating. Between St. Helena and Yountville, the night sky is literally ablaze with all the Michelin starred restaurants (Bouchon, Redd, Terra, Martini House, Bistro Jeantry, and Meadowood to name a few).

Ah, and San Francisco, my salivary glands will never be the same. Michael Mina, Aqua, Coi, Gary Darko, Acquerello, Chez Panisse, Boulevard all such a treat. Want something hip and new? Try Flour + Water, Frances or RN74. For a great brunch try Foreign Cinema or Maverick.

Food, wine, sun and sea, San Francisco was the town for me!

Postcards from Paris: {Spectacular, Spectacle}

I've been recalling an epiphany I had in the beginning of February. I was sitting at Le Cafe de Fleur one evening, off the Boulevard Saint-Germain des Pres. I was with two friends, it was cold, and we each had our rich order of chocolat chaud. We were discussing different activities to pursue while living in Paris.
It hit me, and made so much sense: ballet
As I remember it, I went home and began my research.
I looked and looked for a beginning ballet class for adults.
I emailed several people.
I hate admitting this, but I gave up.
There was an abundance of beginning classes for young girls, and I settled with:
"If I can't join one, I would at least like to see one."
Time passed.
As it so happens, I received the invite I was waiting for. A Sunday afternoon Spectacle, from the little girl I Au Pair for, Ines.

It was charming, lovely, funny, and spectacular.
Little French girls dancing to classical music and Yves Montand.
Il était tout!