May 28, 2015

Vamos Rafa!

It is first and foremost a social event, I dare say, more than "just" a sports tournament. By mid-May Paris starts buzzing with the Roland Garros fever. Traffic becomes more intense and the topic of the day is the gossip around the celebrity players.

Lucky me, my Flamenco friend invited me to watch "Il toro español" try to reclaim his glory of the past decade. Upon our arrival at the grounds, we headed straight to the players lounge, to have lunch at the bar side-by-side with old-time players such as Cedric Pioline and Guy Forget. Oh, did I forget to tell you, I was officially an invitée of M. Nadal himself! We cruised around and next to Nadal's ever present family, I also spotted my compatriot Stanislav Wawrinka which made me smile. He must be as Swiss as I am with a name like that, right?

We had the honour of watching the match from the players' tribune right behind Nadal's trainer and uncle. Rafa played against a charming 18-year old French who's game was refreshing to follow. Quentin Halys really gave Nadal a run for his money!

The atmosphere on the court was tense but the audience was here to have a good time. Cheering and clapping for both parties who were a pleasure to watch.

And although Rafa is much loved by the Parisians, the young challenger gained more support every time he popped up with a new creative answer to Rafa's bomb services of 190 km/hour.

Sitting in the Spanish player's box, I had to keep my enthusiasm in check but not the rest of the audience who by the third set were making a lot of noise for Quentin. However, as we went into the end of the set and the audience were just getting warmed up, it was clear that experience trumps over youth... and when Rafa's mum got up before the end of the match, we all knew where he was heading towards... victory! Vamos Rafa!!!

My magic braclet

Waiting for the star to arrive

Focus is everything

A 190 km/h serve

Uncle Tony looking on

Roland Garros: it's always a pleasure

May 27, 2015

Who said Paris was grey? Me?

On days like today, it is pleasure to go out for a run. Every sunny day in Paris is a treat and should be appreciated as such... Parisian will know what I'm talking about!

Therefore I hitched a ride from Italian Super-Mom for the second time in a week to start my morning run in the Bois de Boulogne. I couldn't help myself I ran around the lake twice... in all honesty, I did think of all the Dulce de leche macaroons I had devoured at the Roland Garros party the night before... I know, it's a tough life.

Come run with me....

Spectacular morning atmosphere 

Reflections in the lake and in my mind 

No time for a break

Run girl run!

A new discovery: a little waterfall

It's me and nature calling

Where are my friends the "pompiers"?
They usually hang out round about here!

Mmmhhh, so delicious I had to take a picture!

May 25, 2015

Tourists, tourists and more tourists....

It seems to get worse every year. How many visitors can a city take? Now, at the risk of sounding toffee-nosed, I do sometimes understand the Parisian and their attitude towards tourists. Just when you think you've seen it all, there is more.

The Eiffel Tower closed down this Monday because its staff went on strike complaining about all the pick-pocketer interrupting their business, however when I drive pass the Place Trocadero and see the double-decker tourist buses not only double-parked but quintuple parked around the piazza, I too get fed up with all this tohu-bohu (confusion).

We usually avoid going to any public places on the weekends but this Sunday the sun was out and we felt like having a little stroll down to the Eiffel Tower. This is what we encountered:


May 23, 2015

A funky fashion icon

With Les Flaneuses back in town, I needed to come up with a plan. My absolute favourite exhibition ground is Le Grand Palais and sure enough I was not disappointed when looking up their programme.

Who doesn't remember Madonna's bustier from 1990? Yes, that would be 25 years ago but it stuck in our minds. Did you know this iconic cone brassiere, worn during her Blond Ambition tour, sold for $52,000 at the Christie's Pop Culture auction in 2012?

As it happens, the first major exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier was in town. We were to explore his avant-garde fashion creations and cutting-edge designs, that has shaped the look of fashion over the last 40 years.

The theatrically-staged exhibition brought together more than 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear garments including iconic costumes for film and performance from the early 1970s to the present day.

We went from one room to the next umm-ing and ahh-ing AND giggling at the exotic and frivolous creations. The multimedia touch of the exhibition had us in awe. Were the mannequins models actually staring at us or were the animated faces just eerily realistic?

The avant-garde Montreal theatre company UBU
directed by Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin
used innovative technology to animate the mannequins.

Recognise the lady?

From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

For the "À fleur de peau", "Metropolis" and "Urban Jungle" sections, French artists Lucie & Simon created a video installation especially for the Paris exhibition.

For the first time in an exhibition,
Odile Gilbert (Atelier 68) designed hairstyles for each mannequin

The Punk Cancan gallery features the voice of actor Catherine Deneuve.

A mechanical catwalk à la Parisienne

May 21, 2015

With a little help from my friends...

It was planned to perfection, months in advance. It was to be a Flaneuses reunion of friendship, fashion and food. Apart from celebrating being together again after nearly a year, we were also in Paris to bid farewell to yet another friend.

In January, my Italian Super-Mum friend had declared they were moving to the US this summer; in the same breath she also complained that no one was left to see her off, apart from myself. Since I am now down to one, I decided to change my status from Flaneuse to Welcome Committee, especially since it looks like I won't be leaving Paris anytime soon.

Therefore, jumping into action, I called upon Les Flaneuses in Kuala Lumpur, Michigan, Stockholm, Istanbul, Milano and Rome, proposed a date to surprise Italian Super-Mum with a farewell reunion and after a few e-mails back and forth we were all set.

Of course, I had to come up with a programme that would make this reunion enticing as well as unforgettable. A combination of fashion exhibits at the Grand Palais and the Musée Galliera, lunches with prime views onto the Eiffel Tower, and a dinner served at Paris' trendiest terrace sounded perfect along with some time at home to chill and catch up with each others lives.

The Italian delegation had some trouble with their flights but managed to improvise and even the Japanese-American contingency who did not commit until the very end pulled through and arrived just in time. We didn't quite manage to get all the girls here physically but certainly in spirit each and every one of Les Flaneuses were with us in Paris this week.

When we turned up at school, Italian Super-Mum didn't believe her eyes. She is never at a loss for words but today her giant smile said more than 1000 words. Bon voyage mon amie! I will miss you! But as the saying goes: "Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget!"

May 20, 2015

You've gotta friend...

The Expat life has many a perk and these we are renowned and famous for. What many don't realize is that every couple of years you get kicked into a new reality and you are obliged to begin all over again, just when you were getting comfortable.

It is like a game of snakes and ladders only if you land on the snake - i.e. your husband comes home jubilant with a new contract in hand - it feels like you've been sent back all the way to the starting box. BUT over time you will have climbed so many ladders that you'll know how to skip a few steps. THAT's when your Expat experience and network is worth gold.

Expats tend to be more outgoing or simply bolder. We have learnt what we need to get our families settled as fast as possible so we can get back to a normal life. Efficient communication is vital, literally!

Last month I bumped into a lady I meet once in a blue moon at the gym, she was telling me how she had moved to Luxembourg but stills plans her little day trips to Paris (which seem to include pilates classes). Knowing that one of my friends was about to move to Luxembourg, I asked her if she'd mind my friend contacting her for some insider tips, thinking in terms of a telephone call. As an expat it is not unusual to receive calls from a friend of a friend (whom you have never met) who has lived in the country you're about to be deployed to, in order to get some vital, realistic survival info. More often than not that person is in the middle of moving herself and you will never meet, nevertheless you spend a good 30 to 60 minutes on the phone happily sharing all your experiences to ease the imminent arrival.

There are some moments I am just plain proud to be part of the Expat community. I am also a firm believer of what goes around, comes around! Opening my inbox this morning, this mail just made my day:

"Your contact in Luxembourg is a wonderful doll and I am so grateful that you introduced us. I reached out to her before spring break saying I was coming up for a couple days and we arranged to get together. (Later I found out she was leaving  the next day for the US for a couple weeks and it would have been easy to say no but she didn't.) She not only picked me up from the train station, she also gave me a tour of the city and pointing not only neighborhoods but also specific streets we should try to find homes on. We went for tea/coffee and just had a wonderful afternoon. She truly is a beautiful person, inside and out. She said she was just paying back what others have done for her when she has moved. It was more than I could have ever imagined and I have you to thank for making the connection."

May 17, 2015

My absolute favourite monument

I will never, ever tire of the Tour Eiffel. I pass by it every day and every time I stare at it in awe, not wanting to become like so many other locals who take such an incredible work of art for granted.

Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7'097'302 people ascended it in 2014.

I like to believe that "La dame de fer" has become my confidente and friend that I greet every morning when I jog past her...

May 10, 2015

Sweet, sweet memories...

Every once in a while the past catches up with you. 20 years ago my boyfriend at the time and I drove down the Route Napoleon from Geneva to the south of France in my red Alfa spider for a romantic weekend at the Mediterranean. We had found ourselves a lovely little hotel along the coast with peach colored walls, bright turquoise shutters and orange-brown roof tiles. We enjoyed breakfast in the morning sun debating whether we should just jump off the balcony into the sea or take the more conventional way down the staircase?

We lounged on the yellow deckchairs on the teak deck built onto the rocky shore and sipped our cocktails while building plans for the future.

Fast forward 20 years and I am sitting on the same deck overlooking the same bay with the blue sea reflecting in the sunshine. The boyfriend is now my husband and our two adolescent children are teasing us about our age. We are taking full advantage of one of the many long weekends that France celebrates during the month of May and are spending a family weekend in search of the sun!

We drove up and down the Côte d'Azur showing our kids the places we discovered so many years ago. Most of them are still around only they are now overrun with tourists and cheap souvenir shops, double decker buses with foreign number plates and local markets offering products made in China!

The decision is therefore easy, after two days of following the masses we are now enjoying a quiet, peaceful Sunday sunbathing on the shore, lounging around the pool and not only have I indulged in a scrumptious breakfast overlooking the bay but also devoured a delicious salad Niçoise for lunch accompanied by a glass of local rosé and am feeling like Brigitte Bardot herself.

April 28, 2015

A run in the city

I have been searching for a new running route for almost a year now. I really do miss my Bois de Boulogne run around the lakes, but family logistics just got in the way!

Today I decided to be bold and venture across the river and - guess what - crossing from the Rive Droite to the Rive Gauche is NOT a big deal. Why I haven't thought of it before, I don't know.

Running at my pace in the sunshine at the perfect temperature was such a treat I actually fell in love with the city all over again. Moments such as these do not come along very often, trust me.

I figure, if you have to run through the city, it might as well be Paris! ;)

The Iron Lady overpowering the entire city

A pinch of reality

Promenade des Berges de Seine
between Pont Royal et Pont d'Alma

Pont Alexandre III with the Grand Palais in the background

Les quais all to myself

Spring is in the air

Passerelle Debilly

Les amoureux de Paris

J'adore Paris

Romantic Paris

Parisian natives

The Eiffel Tower is still in the corner of my eye

Running through le 16ème

Out of my way...

Wondering what my neighbours are up to!?!
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