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Day 161: Infiniment vanille

Pierre Hermé has changed its window front again. And I think I may be going round chez Pierre a tad too often, even if I’m just getting a tart or two to share with friends, or stock up on some waffles and chocolate, or to get a small sachet of macarons to snack on. Ah if only they do customer loyalty card – you know, like coffee shops would, where you get a stamp for every purchase – I’m quite sure I’ll be in line to get free goodies very quickly, hehehe.

For anyone who ever consider vanilla as a boring flavour need to be re-educated and it’s just as simple as getting the infiniment vanille tart. The unmistakeable fragrant, perfectly baked tart shell, spongy cake centre and luscious and smooth vanilla cream layer over the top – it is not secret that this is perhaps my favourite pastry, even more than those which are chocolate-based or fruit-based. Ah, even thinking about it now is making me drool… but no, I won’t go back there again this week. In fact, I must not. Someone save me please!

Day 160: Burlesque doll

One thing about living in Paris is the availability of artworks everywhere. There are galleries – indoor within premises or outdoor open air stalls – catering to all kinds of arts, from the antiquities to the contemporary, from the cutesy to the vulgar (trust me, there are etchings commonly sold along the river bank that had Eiffel Tower does funny thing to itself), from paintings to sculptures to installations. Anyone can be a collector. The only points of the question are, how much do you value one and how much are you willing to spend to acquire one?

Artclub Gallery on rue de Rivoli is one of the many galleries that I often take a peek into. They often have rather particular pieces, and today, behind the windows to the side of Louvre, there’s a series of burlesque dolls peering out with their coquettish pouts. I think they are rather adorable. And fun enough to compete with a couple of paintings on the window to the side of Place Andre Malraux, which featured surrealistic Simpsons in a Parisian metro surrounded by Charlie Chaplin, Hulk, Vishnu, Tintin et al and another, also similar in style, of Simpsons visiting Parisian museums (it was a “portmanteau” of Louvre and Musée d’Orsay) with Mona Lisa guarded by a couple of Terminators and surrounded by Bruce Lee, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Asterix, Smurf et al.

Day 159: Make love or war?

After a series of non-street art photos, you’re getting mural works two days in a row. Not only that, they can be found on adjacent streets. Am I slacking, by going back to the same place for my photos? Maybe. However, with things hopping busy on my end, time is a bit on the premium. Plus, I like this mural. I was debating with myself yesterday, at the junction between the streets, on which mural I should photograph.

I like that the setting is edgy. A Keith-Haring-like background, laced with additional graffiti, they serve to emphasis the rather aggressive passion between the couple. It’s, errrm, animalistic? In my head, I was humming to Savage Garden’s The Animal Song. Of course, on the other side, a reminiscent of a classic pose by Robert De Niro. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” (If you haven’t guess it – it’s a scene from Taxi Driver.)

Together, it’s as if a reflection on human psyche living in a big city. Your relationship may burn fast and hard but also short-lived, while a sense of impatience and frustration bubbles underneath, ready to take one’s emotion over to spill. There’s always turmoil aplenty, running circular like an infinite loop. Does taking ourself out from urban living help us to find the balance within? That is the million dollar question.

Day 158: Have a cold one

Tucked in one of the smaller streets behind Port Royal is this creative piece of street arts, which incorporates mural painting to exposed brick façade, along with fake wine leaves snaking around the edges. As a result, my brain is running away with the image of a hot day in the Caribbean where one grabs a cold drink and sit out to watch the world goes by.

In the mean time, the weather in Paris continues to be dull for most part and rather chilly too in the evening. I may have to pull out my little fleece throw from storage so I can be snuggly wrapped up when I sit in my apartment to read. I am just starting to read Harry Potter in French and it’s taking me quite some effort since I don’t always have the vocabulary to understand everything, and the name changes are confusing. For example, Hogwarts has been rechristened Poulards, muggles are somehow Moldus, and even Snape is now Rogue apparently. One word – confusing!

Day 157: Clock tower

Today’s street exploration got me photographing a landmark of the 12th arrondissement for the first time for this blog. Peeking between buildings when viewed from Pont d’Austerlitz, the clock tower of Gare de Lyon is quite swanky, with its feature reminiscent of the Big Ben in London but with prettier clock face.

Come to think of it, I have not only not used the train station before, I have not even walk around the area surrounding it. My faithful pocket map of Paris told me that Viaduct des Arts nearby runs parallel to the railway station, and it also serves as the site of Promenade Plantée which I’ve heard a lot about. I must put it down for a weekend stroll sometimes.

Day 156: Rainy day exploration

It was warm enough for us to eat outside in the garden yesterday evening but this morning, we woke up to the unmistakeable sound of rain pitter-pattering down rather ernestly. For a moment or two, I felt like I could almost be in Ireland. Almost. Still, we were now all confined to the indoors until whatever time after lunch when we’ll leave for Paris.

I took this time to properly explore the house that we’re staying in. It is akin to Aladdin’s cave, with wondrous stuff here and there, from a mask made to resemble the face of an owl to really old publications such as this – La Semaine de Suzette (click linky for more info about the weekly paper). There were also vintage hats and Nancy Drew book series and old maps of Nantes and x-ray images – quite a veritable mix, isn’t it?

Day 155: Chirp chirp

We had a visitor this morning and it seems like it has taken to Anne. The tit first approached us when we were having breakfast in the garden, fluttering its way between Chloé, Anne and I. It flicked nervously from one spot to another, and momentarily even landed on my knees and stayed there for a few second. Oh how I wish I had my camera at that point!

Throughout the day, it has been returning every so often to trick Anne into feeding it some breadcrumbs. It is just so adorable, but the lack of bribery offerings on my part means it didn’t come very close to me, boooo. On the other hand though, it gave me opportunities to photograph it, so I guess we’re even.

Day 154: Belfry of Église Sainte-Croix

This is not my first trip to Nantes. I was here once about 3 years back, on Anne’s invitation for her birthday bash. She also kindly played tour guide, showing me around the city and we even went to Les Machines de l’Ile for a (slooooow) ride on the mechanical elephant, which was really cool.

Today, I was treated to a refresher’s tour of Nantes while Anne showed off the city to the rest of the “Brainiacs”. Along the way, we passed the Église Sainte-Croix – aka Church of the Holy Cross – which once even functioned as a prison, ironic given a church’s role that usually provides sanctuary. I wish I could be up at the belfry, looking down the city as these music-playing sculptures are. The view must surely be striking.

Day 153: Monument aux 50 Otages

Wheeeee… long weekend!

My friends and I left reasonably early this morning for Nantes, in an attempt to avoid heavy traffic leaving Paris given the ritualistic exodus of Parigots for destinations all over the country (and beyond?) for the 4-days weekend. For us, we’re off for a much needed quiet R&R weekend in a small village just outside of Nantes and all I anticipate doing are eating, sleeping, chit-chatting and reading. Maybe a bit of sight-seeing.

This monument at Pont Morand in Nantes is a war time commemorative memorial sculpture. In 1941, fifty hostages were captured and executed by German occupation authorities for their pro-communist and anti-fascism efforts. The monument serves as reminder of their resistance against the occupation and it is represented by an central arrow flanked by two women, allegorical for la Résistance (to the right, with a sword concealed in the folds of the cape) and la France Renaissante (to the left, holding an ear of corn).

Ps: pretty blue sky is always a good start to the weekend ;)

Day 152: On the rooftop

It is not unusual to see balconies filled with blooms of all colour in Paris, no matter the size of the balconies. If anything, they make me wishing for my own, where I can tend to a pot or two of flowers, maybe some fresh herbs like basil and rosemary and lavender… OK, OK, hang on – I actually don’t have any green fingers so the plants would die quickly enough. It’s probably a very good thing that I do not have space to grow anything.

But, this rooftop garden takes the cake. I pass rue de la Glacière on a nearly daily basis but I’ve not noticed this before. My defense is, I’m usually inside the bus and since we don’t have transparent top to the bus, you know. However, I walked home this evening and suddenly, ta-da, there it was. I do wonder, how does the owner grow such huge trees up there. Surely the root system requires a lot of anchoring to make sure they don’t ever get blown away by strong wind, which happens from time to time?

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