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Day 181: Cruising

If you are one of the few rich Parisians, I guess you could drive an open-top luxury car, smoke a cigar or two, and cruise around in your own good sweet time. Otherwise, you’d be like me, sitting on the bus looking out and spot how the others live ;)

My mode of transportation may not be fancy but I’m feeling great nonetheless. I’m on my way, heading out to the Beauvais airport for a quick weekend trip back to Dublin. With a schedule that can be described as bien chargé so I can see as many of my friends and family as possible, I foresee running around like a headless chicken while I’m at it. Not that I mind.

Day 180: Désillusion totale

I think I have that traveller’s dumb luck kind of thing going on. I don’t always know what’s happening in the city (there are waaaaay too much activities to keep track) and there are days, after work, I admit to being half-hearted in my exploration attempts (although I worked at pushing those aside and tried to stay motivated). Still, I somehow often come across something just after it has been inaugurated or before its closure.

Désillusion totale is a new sculpture currently installed just outside the church of St Germain des Prés. A contemporary work by Daniel Hourdé that translates to “Total Disillusionment”, this purported sculptured bird is seen by me more as a fallen angel, its wings tattered and its steps weak, disenchanted by worldly illnesses, with naught but a beak mask to protect him from the plague. What’s your interpretation?

Day 179: Pasteur

That’s quite a dashing bust, don’t you think? Standing at rue du Docteur Roux, the building behind the bust is the first building of the Institut Pasteur and today, the site of Musée Pasteur. There’s no prize for guessing that the bust belongs to the famed microbiologist Louis Pasteur.

I’ve been told that Pasteur’s body is interred in a vault of the Institut Pasteur. Not only that, his apartment of his later years is also preserved. Since I’m around the area for conference in these few days, if I could sneak a little time, I should consider paying a homage to the man who had given so much of his discoveries to the advancement of immunology and disease prevention.

Day 178: Fête des Tuileries

I don’t know what’s up with me today. Monday blues? All I managed was a couple of rushed shots and nothing really striking or interesting to show you. So I am a bit annoyed with myself right now, frustrated that I didn’t do a better job and get something more inspiring…

This week is going to be a bit all over the place for me. No time to be playing at Fête des Tuileries for sure. The funfair has just started last week and would run for a couple of months, into late August. Good to keep the school kids entertained as they go on their summer holiday at the end of this week. For now, more work awaits, along with paperworks and conference to attend this week. And a big day coming up soon too!

Day 177: Iron! Iron!

It was very strange to have the usual hums around Place des Vosges be broken by a whole lot of loud chants by what looked like a bunch of hard rockers.

Iron! Iron! Iron! Iron!

Alex and I were initially unsure if we should check the source out, you know, in case it was a more cynical gathering or something. But then it appeared the roars were synchronised to a bunch of photographers clicking away for some group shots. So I got busy too, lol. I found out later that Iron Maiden was in tonw for two nights of gigs, and their fans were certainly very vocal about their delights. I must say, their excitement was contagious and I found myself grinning at their obvious enjoyment.

Day 176: A country house in Barbizon

Another weekend, another opportunity to play tourist. Today, my friends and I were off to Fontainebleau Castle and Barbizon Village on a day tour. Between the two places, we even tucked in a huge lunch that came with kir for aperitif, 3-course meal, and both white and red wine for everyone. Not that I drank more than a glass of wine – I swapped my aperitif for a glass of fruit juice – still, you must admit that’s quite a feast considering how little we paid for the trip (€25!).

Picking a single shot from the hundred or so today was not easy. Of course I should be loading more onto a photo album or something, but given how slow I am at updating the blog in recent times (sorry folks!), it could be a while yet before I get around to it. I guess I pick this shot because I like the calm and tranquility it represents. A quaint country house in Barbizon village, away from most peering eyes (except mine, hehehe), I almost wish I could stay here and not return to the hustle and bustle of Paris so soon. Don’t get me wrong – I adore Paris, but every now and then, I’m also reminded that I’m a country girl at heart and I love having my own quiet me-time.

Day 175: Ah la la…

“Ah la la” is definitely phrase of the day.

The temperature is set to soar this weekend from low 20°C to some 32-35°C. It will then stay so for 2-3 days before another massive plummet back to around mid-20s °C. Insane? Just the thought of it… and I’ve been told by friends that Paris would easily feel like a city-wide sauna during the heatwave.

I’ve also been warned that travelling by public transport that’s packed would be equivalent to cramming oneself into a pre-heated oven. It would be better if I would consider alternative displacement methods, such as by foot or by bike (the Velib’). This is when I am glad that I have taken up an annual Velib’ subscription. Now, I just need to be brave enough to cycle with all the traffic around!

Day 174: Sales in the city

The shopping madness begins. Les soldes started yesterday and already I’m hearing of bargains being picked up by my friends and my colleagues. I’ve been completely swamped with work right now though, so no time to do my part in, errrm, contributing to the economy ;) This is, of course, good for the health of my bank accounts.

Now, this shop in Marais is amusing. Have you figure out why yet? Look again at the photo. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to play detective. Spot the magic yet?

On a normal day, a sign for boulangerie patisserie means I should be standing in front of the windows and start to drool over freshly baked breads and pastries and all things delicious. But I’ve been deceived. All there are in the shop now are men’s clothes. Never mind. I’m sure I could spot another few boulangerie nearby.

Day 173: Opéra Garnier

A little something from another famous landmark of Paris today for you – the figural group by Aimé Millet of Apollo, poetry and music at the Opéra Garnier. Standing tall and proud, Apollo holds the lyre high, which I take to interpret the triumph of music that one finds in this opera house. I have yet to attend any events here but for the 2011/2012 season, I’m going to try to watch an opera or two under what would be a magnificent setting.

Palais Garnier is steeped in grandeur. Various statues adorned the building, alongside busts of great composers along the front façade. In the interior, sweeping stairs and opulent chandeliers, deep crimson carpets and curtains, glittering gold borders and carvings – it’s no wonder this opera house inspired the creation of The Phantom of the Opera.

Day 172: Fête de la Musique

Summer solstice and the city is alive with music. Except perhaps Butte aux Cailles, which businesses were on strike this evening over a recently introduced regulations on business operations. Still, had it not been for this stark absence of music in the neighbourhood, Lih King and I would not have gone to the Chinatown area and being serendipitiously entertained by the Hot Club of Beijing.

I love jazz. I just love jazz. Love love love jazz! And the trio played amazing gypsy jazz with an infusion of Asian influence. Normally based in Beijing, the band is made up of a mix of French and Chinese musicians. What captured my attention most was the vocalist singing songs reminiscent of 1920s Shanghai. He may be French but his singing in Mandarin was flawless. Needless to say, I’m rating this evening fantastic :D

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