Posts Tagged ‘Sunday’

Spring Time in Paris

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

As I write this I am sitting next to my window, facing out into the park behind my apartment. I am sitting on my dining/work/extra-space table as it is the only thing in my apartment that puts me at a high enough level to look through the window properly. Today is too beautiful to not appreciate in its full extent.

It is Sunday afternoon and the first official day of Summer Time. Paris is alive. The park is full of families having picnics, children playing on the swings, old people sitting on benches watching others go by. There are also the occasional drug dealer and homeless person but everyone blends together.

Last night Europe moved its clocks forward an hour and there appears to have been an instant effect – people are wearing shorts and tshirts, the new leaves on the trees have burst out of their buds, and everyone is smiling. It is definitely contagious – the only thing keeping me inside is the banana bread that I just took out of the oven. After a slice of cake and a cup of tea, the Parisian sunshine and I are going to get acquainted.

Magnolia

The magnolia (I think that is what we decided it was last year) is back in bloom

Eating Oysters From a Car Bonnet

Monday, October 31st, 2011

On my list of things I like eating, oysters come close to the bottom with absolutely no desire whatsoever to eat the sloppy, gloopy, ocean-filled things. But when our new neighbour, Julie, invited Tom and me for lunch at Le Baron Rouge in the 12th arrondissement, her description of what we would be eating appealed even to me – let’s stand around eating oysters and drinking wine off car bonnets. Yes please.

Le Baron Rouge is a wine bar where masses of Parisians (and a whole lot of Poms) flock every Saturday and Sunday to drink wine and eat oysters and charcuterie plates. The wine bar itself is tiny – a typical French bar with lots of wood, blackboard menus and effervescent staff. By the time we arrived it was getting close to 2pm, so the place was packed with people carrying wine glasses, laughing, spotting friends on the other side of the room, and generally feeling very pleased to be alive. The lack of space meant that patrons had spilled out onto the footpath and road outside and had created mock tables using the lids of bins and the roofs and bonnets of cars. Luckily the bar is located in a quiet streets so traffic wasn’t a problem.

Baron Rouge

The place to be.

We pushed our way in, with Julie and her friend heading to the bar to buy wine and charcuterie, while Tom and I joined the queue for oysters. We were worried we would miss out, but basket after basket of fresh oysters continued to arrive as people ordered mounds of the disgusting things. The speed and agility demonstrated by the oyster shuckers was amazing – they had a very simple oyster shucking ‘machine’ – basically a blade on a handle connected to a wooden block. The oyster was placed on the block, the blade inserted, lifted et voila! A freshly shucked oyster.

Baron Rouge oyster shuckers

Quick hands required to shuck oysters for so many people

We bought two dozen oysters and headed to where Julie and two friends had secured our own car bonnet (a little white Opel). It was here that we consumed two bottles of wine, two dozen oysters and two plates of charcuterie and pâté. Amazing. Want to know how much it cost? This is the best part – for all of that, between five people, it was less than 15 Euros a head. HA HA HA!!! Take that, Australians! You may have sunshine and beaches, but we have fine wine and oysters.

Wine, charcuterie, oysters from the Baron Rouge

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

This wonderful experience is going to be repeated. It was one of those moments that you wonder how on earth you got there and when you are going to wake up. Thank you, Paris.

Boating on the Canal

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Something that I love about Parisians is despite their snooty attitudes, strict style guides and general up-turned-nose at anything seemingly ‘different’, they still manage to celebrate strange, somewhat banal things with vigour and passion. Yesterday delivered a prime example of when I had to stop, shake my head and laugh at the ridiculous contradictions that were appearing before my eyes.

Tom and I went for a walk along the canal, heading to a show for regional produce from Provence. Along the way, we passed Point Ephémère – a hip and happening bar/club/restaurant full of bobo-Parisians hanging out and being seen. This all seemed normal except for the wooden boat floating in the canal, the folk music and the number of people dressed up in traditional costume. It was the Festival of Estonia (apparently) and for some reason they had set up a small exhibition with wood turning, music and general information about Estonia and viking boats for those who were interested.

Estonia festival

An impressive banner.

Tom and I joined the Bobos for a drink and as we sat by the canal, a group of well dress Parisians (most of them with children) jumped into the viking boat and took it for a spin along the canal while a ye-olde-Estonian played a horn-like instrument in the back.

The juxtaposition of snooty French people not daring to do anything out of the ordinary, and the fact that there was now a viking boat replica being paddled around with a group of ultra serious Parisians was really too much. I just sat and stared and wondered how on earth this could be happening and why it is ok for these Parisians to do something that dorky and yet me wearing a slightly old jumper is just SO INAPPROPRIATE.

It was fantastically entertaining. I also particularly liked the fact that kids were being allowed to use the wood turning machine with no eye protection and were getting bits of saw dust flung straight into their faces. What is health and safety?

Estonia Festival

Wood working at its best.

What’s in the Canal Today?

Monday, October 17th, 2011

It was a bright and sunny weekend, so lots of ‘outdoor walking time’ was had. Yesterday we headed north along the canal and spotted a few interesting objects floating in the water along the way. I thought I would share these with you. I saw:

Couch in the canal

A couch.

Cans and bottles in the canal

Various consumed beverages.

Estonian viking boat

An Estonian Viking Boat.

During my run this morning I saw a double mattress in the canal. I contemplated using it as a raft to paddle myself home but wasn’t confident on how it would fare in the locks.

Anyone For Table Tennis?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Autumn has arrived in Paris with the trees shedding their leaves at rapid speed. However, the past week has also seen beautiful warm weather – perfect conditions for spending the day outside. A recent visit to GoSport (an awful store selling all your sporting needs) saw Tom and I investing in a table tennis set. We didn’t just choose the cheapest option either – we went for the ultimate in table tennis brands, Dunlop.

There are lots of table tennis tables spread throughout the city in local parks and along the canal, and they are in high demand on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But if you’re lucky enough to score one then much fun can be had. Ben, Tom and I took our new set out for a spin the other Sunday at a table situated next to a lock on the canal and underneath some beautiful chestnut trees. We encountered a few potential dangers – the table wasn’t in the greatest condition and appears to also be used as a beer table, drug exchange hangout and a homeless-person’s bed; the canal/lock was right next to us and any mishit balls would end up in the water (this happened twice); and the chestnut seeds are currently in the habit of bursting open and dropping large cannonball chestnuts onto our heads. They hurt! Trust me.

Table tennis

Table tennis by the canal

We struggled on despite these dangers and discovered a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. This last Saturday, Tom and I headed back out to have a hit and had to walk up and down the canal for over half an hour in order to find a table. There are clearly dedicated table-tennis-ers who concentrate on their game play, as well as families out enjoying themselves, and groups of friends drinking beer and having a friendly game. I think as the weather cools down there will be less competition for the tables but we will also freeze to death playing next to open water. That’s the life of a pro table tennis player.

Sunday, Lovely Sunday

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Every now and then I fall in love with Paris all over again. I am always ‘in like’ with this city but every now and then I see something or do something or discover something that makes me completely infatuated. Yesterday was a delightfully sunny Sunday in gay Paris and as it was the first Sunday of the month, all of the museums and art galleries were open for free. BRILLIANT. Tom and I met a visiting Perth-ian, Amanda, at L’Orangerie – an ex-orangery, or Napoleon III’s greenhouse, that now houses Monet’s water lilies.

The glass building contains two curved-walled rooms which allow you to be surrounded by eight of Monet’s works. It is one of my favourite places in Paris – when there aren’t many people in the rooms it is a particularly relaxing experience. The free-entry did mean that there were far too people in the gallery yesterday but I highly recommend the L’Orangerie to anyone visiting Paris. I plan on visiting the real garden in Giverny sometime soon. I think I might wait until after the French holidays when tourist numbers die down. There are so many people around at the moment – it’s a bit overwhelming.

Monet

So pretty.

After the gallery we headed into Saint Germain for food before we headed to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop. WOW. I love bookshops but I never knew I could feel this amazed by books on shelves. Shakespeare and Co is an English bookshop near Notre Dame that I had read about but never been to. On one of the tours that I have been on lately, the guide pointed out the bookshop so off I went to see why it was so amazing. Every single book you could possibly imagine is in this place. The room is a mess of shelves, covered in books of various sizes, ages, quality. There are chairs where you can sit and read (if you are lucky enough to score one as the shop was full of people) and upstairs is a library full of old books that you can read at your leisure on one of their couches. It is a bookshop of intellect and cultural development – there were so many books on philosophy, history, art and cultural theory. I couldn’t buy anything I was too overwhelmed by what I was seeing. I need to go back when it isn’t a Sunday afternoon and the place isn’t full of English-speakers. I almost asked if they had any jobs available and probably will next time I am there. It was one of those dream-like places that you see in movies. I can’t wait to go back.

Shakespeare and Co

Look at it! So lovely...

Sunday Morning

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Sunday morning in Paris. 8.30am. A group of boys meet to play an early game of football on the small court at the side of the park. Their love for the game helps them look past the nose-dripping cold temperatures. At least the sun is out and the sky is a clear, almost white, blue. An hour or so later, the park’s playground is full of laughter, cries and “Maman! Regarde moi!” as children climb and play. The parents sit around the edge of the playground watching and smoking and chatting. Their toys are toxic cigarettes that they puff on one after the other.

At 11am the sound of bells resounds across the city as hundreds of churches finish their services and everyone heads home for a family lunch. Queues form outside boulangeries as people go to buy fresh baguettes and maybe something nice for dessert. Soon, all of the shops will be closed and Sunday will become the day of relaxation and family time. If the weather stays nice, this afternoon the canal will be busy with families strolling along enjoying the sunshine.