Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Au revoir, Paris

On Monday morning, we left the Cite des Arts after being there for a little over 3 weeks. We had a terrific time and C's photo show was well received. Here's a view of the Cite International des Arts from across the Seine on Ile St. Louis.
My suitcase had more books (more tucked under the ones you can see) in it than clothing, and I worried about it's weight, but we were still under the max. The book with the windmill is my new French/Spanish dictionary. I'm hoping that'll help me retain my French language skills as I continue to learn Spanish. The box with the ribbon is a treat that C got for himself. A cheese knife and fork set by Laguiole (which I learned is pronounced like this: lie-yohl) The big flat black box behind our luggage is all of C's photos. They made it back to the U.S. just fine. Whew! Our flight from Paris to Washington, D.C. was over 7 hours. Why I thought it was less, I don't know, other than wishful thinking, but aside from some bumpy up and down activity, the flight was uneventful. We're home, feeling like being gone was a dream, glad we went, glad to be home. Mail awaited us and aside from junk mail and bills, I had some lovely mail from Andrea in England, Johanna in Finland and my sister in Los Angeles, CA. Life is good!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Desserts!

What came in these lovely packages? A tarte au fruites (check out all those berries!) Maccaroons, big ones! They were wrapped like gifts. The cheese cake and the brownie came in plain wrapping but oh mi oh mi were they ever delicious. The cheese cake was so heavy and yet fluffy. How do they do that? NOTE: I've been spelling "pain au raisin" like this "pain aux raisins" then thought that was wrong, but I saw it both ways, depending on the boulangerie where I bought them. Who cares how it's spelled as long as I get to eat it! Yay for desserts.

Juedi (thursday) evening

Last night, we went to the restaurant at the Mosquee de Paris with a couple we'd met at the Cite last fall. None of us had been to this place, though I'd heard about how good the food was from others. We walked over there, chatting the whole way, so that it seemed like a short distance. We had cous cous, which was excellent, and some sweet mint tea, and got to choose our dessert from this big tray of pastries. Hard to decide. We each chose a different one and shared. They were all good. We walked back by going all the way around the Jardin des Plantes. As we were passing the final length of fence, C said, "It smells like horses!" Ah, we were passing the menagerie area of the park. We pressed our faces to the bars of the fence and saw a pen with some dark shapes, that we couldn't identify. Animals? Holes in the ground? We looked very closely. Then our friend said, "It moved!" Oh my, it was a long neck attached to the shape, not a pipe sticking out of the ground. A long neck with a head attached. Then we could see that it was two ostriches (or in that family) lying on the ground with their heads up. One was turned a bit to look at us, maybe. It was such a surprise and a treat. We then crossed the street and continued our walk through the Plein Aire Sculpture garden along the Seine. There were lots of sculptures, some nice trees, and lots of young people enjoying themselves in groups, with food, bevereages, and a guitar. The tourist dinner boat passed by, stopping to show the passengers a beautifully lit up weeping willow tree. The Pont de Tournelle looked beautiful with nice lighting above and below. When we crossed over the Pont Marie towards the Cite, C pointed out the hundreds of people on roller blades going past on the Quai des Celestins. The sound was very interesting, a low level roar. What a night for all our senses: sights, tastes, smell and sound.

Jeudi (Thursday) afternoon

Yesterday in the afternoon, we set off in search of an exhibition space that a friend had told us about. The route took us through les Halles where we saw a nice rock garden with lots of spring flowers and a good view of St. Eustache in the background. There is also a formal garden below level of the walkway, which was a nice surprise. We hadn't seen these gardens before. We watch a cat, who seemed very wary. We rarely see cats out on their own in Paris, so I had to take it's picture. We watched some crows who were figuring out how to get at some foot at the bottom of a waste bag. They really worked at it, taking turns making the hole bigger until they could pull out bits of whatever it was they wanted to eat. Meanwhile, there were signs posted about NOT feeding the birds as it's bad for their health, environment, etc. I guess the crows were ignoring the signs. On the way back, we crossed through the Passage Vero-Deodat. These are always a nice short cut through long blocks of buildings.




Thursday, March 26, 2009

A very nice day.

Yesterday was a very nice day, with something special happening. In the morning, I went to BHV to purchase some colored pencils for a friend. I had a conversation (in French!) with a young man who was choosing pencils for a class he was taking, making decisions about what colors to buy. After lunch, we set off to buy some souvenir tee-shirts, which a friend had asked for, and on the way, I spotted a poster for an exhibit and was very taken by it's design. It was so "alive" and joyful. We went into the exhibit, which was in a small gallery inside of a courtyard we'd never been in before, on the Ile St. Louis. We loved the drawings, small illustrations, larger pieces, very colorful and happy. We met the artist, Wilhelm Scholte, and told him how much we liked his work. He then gave me one of his books! I was so surprised and so happy. I felt like crying. We talked about artists, like Blechman, Cy Twombly, Tomi Ungerer, people he'd met and we knew of. I felt like he'd touched my heart, and I guess he had! We left the gallery in a very wonderful state of mind, heading to the souvenir shop by Notre Dame that has the best prices on tees.
After that we headed over to the left bank, walked along the Seine until we came to Quai Voltaire and Sennelier. Sennelier has pigments and makes paints for artists and is the most amazing tiny shop where you can get anything an artist needs or wants. We bought some very dark, soft graphite pencils, and two beautiful and very expensive colored pencils. Just two colors! They cost 3,89 € but the color is so amazingly dense. (Andrea, you know what we mean about this shop!)

Later we went by the Gallery on Isle St. Louis and gave the artist a packet of Chuck's cards and one of my small collages. He gave us his address and phone number. Again, we were very touched by this experience, to say the least.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Birds needing identity

We've been watching these birds right outside of our window for a couple of days. I've been "stalking" them our cameras and have taken lots of photos. I think these three might help with identifying them. They are bigger than a Rock Dove (aka Pigeon) but may be a variety. The beak is a yellowy-orange. The breast is a pinky gray and the head a greenish-gray. It has a white collar that doesn't meet in front or back. There is a white strip and a black on the wings. The end of the tail is squared off and black. Any idea? Would love to know. They are so neat to watch. Right now, a pair of them are puffed up, and asleep next to each other on a very thin branch right in front of the window. THANKS! The commenter was right on! This is a common Wood Pigeon, columba palumbus, which is found in these places. Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, Middle East, Afghanistan, Turkey, north-west Africa, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal! No wonder I didn't recognize it since we don't have them in the United States.

More Good Food

A first plate at a nice little restaurant in Grenoble was some salad with a little quiche. The main course was some fish, which didn't photograph as good as it tasted, but the dessert, yum! A pineapple clafouti. I like the way the plates were decorated.

Last night, we were invited to dinner at the home of a Parisian woman we'd met before. She served Mache in the salad. It's a green that is a fairly recent addition in the states and a bit expensive so I've never bought it. Well, I might now, as it's very tasty. We also had a tarte salee, a savory tarte made with lots of caramelized onions. The photo only gives a vague idea of this delicious food. Think of something really savory and delicious, there you have it. YUM!


Sculptures with light

Our friend in Grenoble makes amazing sculptures using items from the brocante, hardware, musical instruments, sheet music, and adds light to them. I think you might get some idea of what they look like and their size from my photos, but to see them in person is the best. He'll be showing some in a gallery in Paris this summer. Go here to see more.

Brocante, flea and antique market

















On Sunday, our friend took us to a brocante near Lyon. We had to get up at 4:45 in the morning! But it was worth it to have the experience of driving through the dark French countryside at 128 Km per hour, to see all of the French flea market stuff, and eat some very, very nice French pastries. As I was taking a photo of myself with our friend in a mirror, the dealer came over to be included. How fun. The woman in the suit was very cooperative about having her photo taken, also.



Grenoble

Last Friday, we went by train (TGV to Lyon, connection to a TER) to Grenoble with a friend to stay at his place for the weekend. The train from Lyon to Grenoble was a slower train with some stops and it looked like those trains in old movies, with compartments. The landscape looked similar to areas in Virginia USA but the farms didn't, nor did the mountains when we came closer to Grenoble. I wasn't able to get any good photos of them, sadly, but they were high, with sheer cliffs, and some had snow on the tops. Our friend lives in the center of the city by the covered market (Les Halles) with a view of the morning street market. The city is located on the Isere river and, if one goes to the old fortress on the hill, one can see Mount Blanc (on a clear day.) It was nice to see a new place in France.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Diner Italien

This evening, we went by Metro to the 17th arrondisement to meet Sandy (the friend who lives in Grenoble) where he's been staying while in Paris. We went to a lovely little Italian restaurant called Fuxia L'Epicerie on Place du Docteur Felix Lobligeois. The food was SO good. I recommend this place if you ever get to Paris. Really worth the trip to Metro stop Rome. We shared a big salad to start and then I had a vegetable lasagna. The sauce was soooo yummy. Sandy brought this little wire suit jacket which he'd purchased at a broquante. I had to take a photo of it, of course. Tomorrow morning, we leave by train for Grenoble, with Sandy. We'll be there for the weekend. It's in the French Alps in view of Mont Blanc. When we return, I'll be posting but for now, just think about yummy food!

Old courtyard

The Cite des Arts has a side entrance from rue Geofroy Asnier. I like that entrance and use it whenever it’s convenient rather than walking around to the rue de l’Hotel de Ville entrance. It reminds me that we are in a very old neighborhood. You enter though a large, heavy door in an even larger door. To the left is a little courtyard and straight ahead you go through a passage to an open area, which then connects to the parking space behind the main building of the Cite (where our studio is located.) There is a water spigot that was use by everyone in the little courtyard as their only water supply, at one time. Because the wall needs to be worked on to stabilize it, there is this temporary structure to shore it up. This little balcony is intriguing. I’d like to go up to where it is but have no idea how one gets to it. Many people living at the Cite don’t know the code to this entry. For some reason it seems to pass from one resident to the other rather than from the reception to the new residents as they arrive.