Posts Tagged ‘Les Recollets’

Two Years

Friday, February 1st, 2013

I am currently waiting the arrival of my certificate and prize money for having officially survived two years in Paris. That’s right! I, Jessica Davies, have overcome all odds and have managed to live in in one of the rudest, dirtiest, smelliest and most self-absorbed cities in the world. Luckily it is also one of the most beautiful, remarkable and instantly smile-inducing places to live and it has brought me some of the best experiences of my life.

Now that we have officially moved over into February, I have a month left in Paris before I get kicked out. This isn’t very long. Every day I think of new things that I MUST DO before I leave and that list is becoming longer than the number of days I have left. Luckily Europe is a tiny place and no matter where I end up next Paris won’t be far away and I have plenty of spare beds and fold-out sofas available to me thanks to my wonderful friends. I am contemplating making them all compete for my love by pitting them against each other in a Hospitality Battle. Whose sleeping arrangements are most comfortable? Whose bathroom is cleanest? Who serves the best breakfast? Who folds down my sheets and places a small chocolate on my pillow?

Me being me, I have an intense desire to write a self reflective piece about what I have achieved, what I have learnt about myself, what was good, what was bad etc etc. But I suspect no one really wants to hear it so I won’t. Instead I will simply say that the last two years have been two of the greatest years of my life and despite some extremely difficult moments and some disappointments, I am proud of what I have achieved while being here. That mostly being having eaten the most cake of any person in the entire world without getting fat. Speaking of – as it is Friday morning and I am doing a long run tomorrow, I didn’t go for my morning jog and instead baked myself a celebratory cake. It is technically for a dinner party that I am going to tonight, but no one will notice if a piece is missing.

Happy 2 years, me!

 

Celebratory banana bread

Celebratory banana bread

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Soap

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Today I have had one of those mornings that you would like to fast forward and get over and done with. It all started with me waking up this morning somewhat light-headed and wondering why my apartment smelt so nice. Sure, the floors were cleaned yesterday, but it was an unusually strong, flowery smell generally associated with clothes after my Mum has washed them.

I got up, plonked down stairs to discover a thick, white, sticky puddle oozing out from under the staircase. Uh oh. That would be my laundry soap that was accidentally knocked over yesterday and that has now spread throughout my kitchen and under the stair case.

Soap is hard to clean up because all it wants to do is make more suds and the more soap there is (and the more concentrated) the more suds there are, the stickier the mess and generally the more annoying the clean up. I tried soaking up the excess soap with some paper towels but then had to dash off to meet Becky for our morning run. The soap had gone straight up my nostrils and gave me head spins (fairly certain I saw daisies floating through the air.) Anyway, I then came home and had a soapy floor and some things I had stored under the stairs to deal with. Fun.

It didn’t stop there, of course, because today I also planned on doing my washing and luckily there was still some soap left in the bottle. But as I went to insert my 3 Euros into the money machine to make the communal washing machines work, it just chewed up my first Euro as the machine was full of coins. I went to ask one of the people in charge of the residency if they would mind coming to fix it but apparently that isn’t their job and I have to wait until someone else comes. So I haven’t done my washing, I have a very flowery apartment and I didn’t get to eat breakfast until 9.45am. GRRRR…

Time is Flying

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

I can’t believe it is August already. Where is this year going? Summer has finally arrived in Paris as all of the Parisians head south to the beach. The city is gloriously quiet, except for the throngs of tourists who have descended. And Becky and my vegetable garden is doing amazing things – every day I pick a handful of tomatoes and now every time I look out of my window and down at the garden, this flower smiles back up at me.

Flower

Big. Red. Beautiful.

My Little Garden in Paris

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

It’s amazing what can happen in three weeks. I have returned to discover that Becky and my little vegie patch in the middle of Paris has come alive and is producing like crazy. Clearly the Parisian half sunny/half rainy weather has made our garden very happy because everything has tripled in size and look what delicious goods I found:

Chillies

Chillies!

Eggplant

Eggplant!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes

The first pick from the crop.

I am going to eat the tomatoes for my lunch. I am expecting amazing things.

Tulips

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The skies of Paris may be grey, but the tulips are holding strong.

Tulips

Pretty, pretty tulips.

That’s Dutch blood for you.

Career Change

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

I am officially changing careers – I am becoming a sock sculptor. Sure, there’s no money in it (yet), but that might change. And sure, no one would take me seriously, but that might change. Plus I don’t know how to go about it but I can learn. Essentially, I thoroughly enjoyed myself while making my sock laboratory and the final exhibition was a great success. It was very well attended and the range of works on exhibit was very interesting and varied. I was very proud to have my work on show and I got a bit of a kick watching people looking at my work and smiling. I gain similar enjoyment watching people’s reactions to my writing.

It was the process of making my sock laboratory that I enjoyed the most. I loved seeing my ideas come into reality as I managed to work out how to turn limp socks into microscopes, scissors, scalpels and coffee cups. The hands-on element particularly enticed me as it is something that lacks in my writing work. While writing stimulates my brain, it doesn’t fulfil my desire to make things with my hands. It was so nice to have the challenge of creating a piece of work that would have a definite outcome. I would love to do it again.

Studio

My dining table seconds as a studio

In another positive note, while three ‘prop’ items (a test tube, a syringe and a piece of paper) were stolen from my laboratory on the opening night, nothing was taken on the following day. Excellent.

The Sock Lab

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Yesterday I set up my piece in the Art Ou Science exhibition at Café A. It was then taken down without my knowledge in the evening (a tad annoying) and I have to put it up again in 25 minutes. Ca m’enerve. ANYWAY I thought I would put up some photographs of my work so that you can see it. I am pleased with the final result, and am ignoring the person who called it ‘mosh’ (ugly). I stole her desk (hence why my work was taken down) and she wasn’t happy about it clearly. I was told I could use it by the people running the exhibition. Not my fault. ANYWAY…

Sock lab

The lab

Sock lab

My microscope pre-installation

Sock lab

Mouse brains

Sock test tube holder

A test tube holder complete with colourful threads to examine, and a scalpel to cut off little mouse heads

Sock Lab

Bits and bobs in the sock lab

Sock lab

A certificate of education and alpha, eta and lambda hang from the ceiling above

Art vs Science

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

I realise I have forgotten to mention that I am soon to be a world-famous sock artist who has exhibited in one of Paris’s hippest joints. Yes, that’s right. I’m going to be putting my socks on show at Café A – the hippest, grooviest, BoBo-est Café/gallery space in Paris that happens to be connected to the Récollets. When I first found out that I was going to be moving to an artists’ residency, I thought that maybe I would get to go to some cool exhibition opening. It never crossed my mind that I would have the opportunity to put something IN the exhibition for arty French people to come and look at.

A few weeks ago, all of the scientists and artists living at the Récollets were invited to submit ideas for an exhibition with the subject of “Art vs Science.” I jumped at the opportunity to exhibit work in Paris and submitted the idea of making a science laboratory out of socks. My idea has been accepted and for the past two weeks I have been making microscopes, scalpels and coffee cups (scientists need caffeine) out of socks. This Friday the exhibition opens with a vernissage (aka free wine) at 7pm and apparently lots of ‘cool’ people have been invited. This makes me nervous. I thought this thing would be little and no one would come to it but it seems it maybe actually get some sort of turn out. Terrifying.

Anyway, I still have some work to do on it before I post photos but I will let you know how it goes. In the mean time, anyone would happens to be in Paris this Friday night should come!

Art or Science Poster

Cool.

Christmas is Coming!

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

There’s something about Europe and it turning me into an anti-scrooge – I actually like Christmas here. Weird. As a result, I went and bought a mini Christmas tree and decorations from my favourite store, the Hema. I managed to get a tree, red baubles and lights for a mere 9 Euros! BARGAIN!

Christmas decorations

What a great buy.

Today Tom and I ceremoniously started decorating our apartment, getting into the festive spirit for our first Christmas living together (Nawww! How romantic!)

Christmas decorations

Technically these are stars, not baubles.

This afternoon I am going back to the Hema to buy more baubles because there just isn’t enough bling on our tree. So stay tuned for “Finished tree” photos but for now here is the gang getting ready for Christmas in Paris.

Christmas trees

Everyone is excited about Christmas – particularly Martin

We have hung the fairy lights above the couch because there were too many for the tree. They look so sparkly and provide additional light in a normally dark corner of our apartment!

Christmas lights

Ooh sparkly!

Wine Time

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I’m sure I have mentioned this previously, but connected to the residence that I live in is one of the coolest, hippest, and most sort-out cafés for the BoBos of Paris. In case you don’t know, a BoBo is a person between the ages of 21 and 38 who wears a lot of ‘vintage’ clothing and who hangs around in public spaces with other BoBos hoping to be seen. They usually wear oversized glasses and lots of layers. Anyway, the cafe, Café A, is cool. So cool that in summer there is a line of BoBos pleading to come in while my fellow residents and I walk past in our BoBo-offensive clothes and sit at our residents-only tables. You can probably tell I get a kick out of it.

There are often concerts, exhibitions and random events at Café A and this past weekend there was a two-day wine tasting event held within the café and the beautiful chapel that is connected to it. This chapel is part of the original convent building of the Récollets and is rented out by the Architects society (they now somehow own it) for excessive amounts of money. Therefore it is very rarely open and when ever it is, I try my hardest to get in there.

On Sunday evening, Tom and I walked in the back door of the café with our friends and fellow residents, Becky and Vivien. Why go in the front door when you can sneak in the back? We then talked our way into getting free tasting glasses and not paying the 10 Euro entry fee because ‘we live here.’ Seemed fair to me.

Salon du vin – Café A

A blurry photo but lots of people and lots of wine inside the chapel

The chapel was set out with 50-plus tables allocated to different organic and biodynamic wine producers, offering tastings of their wines and information about how they produce the wine and the region it comes from. These wine tastings are particularly helpful to us as there is so much difference between choosing a wine in France than in Australia. Back home, I usually choose a grape variety I like and then go by price and whatever label interests me the most. This doesn’t work so well in France and I have managed to choose numerous very bad wines as a result.

Vivien, the only true-Frenchman of our group, was put in charge of wine selection and we started off with his favourite region – Bordeaux. There were three different Bordeaux producers and we sampled three different wines from each. The flavours between each wine varied significantly and it was amazing to see how different the wines could taste despite containing similar grape blends. It all came down to handling, time, barrels and general competence.

After Bordeaux, Vivien took us on a grape tour of his life in France, moving between regions where he has lived, studied and worked. Every region produced significantly different flavours of wine and each vintage varied just as much. It was a taste-bud sensation and a big learning experience for me. Of course, after sampling a few different wines from various producers, they all start tasting good and there were a fair few people who had clearly been ‘sampling’ for most of the afternoon and evening. It was a great way to get a better understanding of French wine although I have come away with even more confusion about how to choose a wine when at a wine store. No matter what bottle I choose it will taste completely different to the last wine I had from that region. So I guess I have to return to my “try it and see” methods.