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Project 365 – Week 17

Now that spring has truly arrived, a massive spring cleaning is required chez nous. Not that we’re normally incredibly messy people, just that we had workmen in for a good few days fixing and repainting the windows. The layers of dust that settled on just about every surface had me cringing silently, so a top-to-bottom cleaning is definitely required. Still, I’m taking a little break to bring you the latest round-up of Project 365.

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Keith Haring

22 Apr: A Keith Haring retrospective is currently running in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. For a week, the métro station of Alma Marceau was transformed into a cultural station, showcasing some posters of this pop-art master, featuring the iconic jelly bean-like figures in striking bold colours or in black and white. This exhibition – themed Political Lines – is on my to-visit list, and if you are in Paris, you shouldn’t miss it either.

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Hidden Paris: Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

It is quite a mouthful to say – Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris – and CIUP would be yet another confusing acronym among the gazillions that every French(wo)man seems to know but elusive to most expats. It is easier and simpler to call it Cité U (“see-tay yu”).

Maison Internationale

Main entrance/exit of CIUP

The place I called home for my first nine months in Paris is a 34-hektar park with 40 residential houses and over 5,700 housing units which hosts not only students but also researchers and visiting academics. I have mentioned it a number of times in the past, but never really show it off properly. This is my chance to rectify that. Last weekend, after our wonderful picnic at Parc Montsouris, I went over for a photowalk as well as showing F around since he was not familiar with the campus.

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The anatomy of a French picnic

We have been blessed with a second sunny weekend in a row. While the temperature was a good 8-10°C lower this time round, when the sun hit upon us directly, we remained quite warm and happily stayed outdoors without a coat.

Picnic

Last weekend, for Anne’s birthday, a picnic was held at the Parc Montsouris at our regular spot. We numbered just over a dozen people, and everyone brought a little something to share. Everything was fairly casual, people came and went at convenient times, and I thought – hey, why don’t I share photos of what make a typical yet informal picnic between my friends and I?

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Project 365 – Week 16

This has been a week full of sunshine and bright sky, and the occasional downpour hasn’t dampened the mood at all. I find myself taking a lot more pictures than I normally would; as Sarah pointed out a few days ago, everything looks better with the sun. Without further ado, the photos from week no 16 of the year.

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La Tour Montparnasse

15 May: Not a lot of people have love for the Tour Montparnasse. It is deemed ugly, and Parisians normally joke that the best view in Paris is the one from the top of the tower, as this is the only place one doesn’t see the tower itself. Yes, it is out of place given the architectural style of the buildings in the surrounding, but I don’t think it should be so villified. Besides, for me, this is great for giving people direction on where my neighbourhood is. “See that tall tower over there? I live just around the corner from it.”

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Springtime in Paris

Paris, at its heart, is a walking city. It is not very big, approximately 105km² in size (for comparison, London is about 1500km²), and there are many lovely small streets and hidden gardens to explore by foot.

Promenade plantée

Now that the weather has been rather pleasant again after a very long winter, the amounts of time I’ve been spending walking across parks have also increased significantly. I’m also very lucky that Jardin du Luxembourg sits between home and work, so it’s not as if I’m taking massive detours!

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What an oblication…

Vacation. Ideally, budget permitting, we’d like at least a couple of them per year. Luckily for us who live in France (and many parts of Europe), time is usually not an issue given the generous annual leave allowance that we get. Then came staycation following economic downturn where many opt to enjoy their break a little closer to home and hopefully need not spend as much by staying local. A few other portmanteaus cropped up quickly – foodcation, nudecation, etc – you get the idea. And now there’s oblication too.

Tulips in Luxembourg Gardens

Initially, I thought it refers to compulsory vacation time imposed on overworked folks given the risk of burnt out. Errr, no. Collins dictionary online has received suggestion to accept this new word as “[a] vacation that’s scheduled and/or planned to allow you to fulfil some obligations, like visiting friends or family”.

Oh my… it makes these visits sound like a real chore so I’m not sure where the “-cation” part comes in to play. Isn’t there a fun part normally, and perhaps some down time, to actually make it a vacation to look forward to? Maybe oblication should be swapped for oblivisit, or something a little less “yay holiday!”?

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Project 365 – Week 15

It was as if winter morphed overnight into summer, and today we’ve been enjoying unprecedented (for this spring anyway) a temperature hitting upward of 25°C! Despite having more work to finish up, I decided to give myself a break in the afternoon and went out for a cycle and a walk at the parks instead. The photos will come in a day or two, when I have time to go through them. In the mean time, here are the photos taken through this week.

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Cafe terrace

8 Apr: I have a confession to make. In all the years that I’ve visited Paris and that I have been living in Paris, I could count with one hand just how often I took up a seat at a cafe terrace. A little shocking? Perhaps. Afterall, Paris is the perfect city to score the front seats of the sidewalks and watch the world goes by. Perhaps I should make it my goal this summer to at least have tea or a meal al fresco, at the open terrace.

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Spring blooms

Spring has finally decided to make its appearance, and as I type this post, it is sunny outside, with streaks of blue sky among some diffused clouds (go away clouds!). However, I’m going to be holed up indoor for most of today, trying to get some work done before a presentation on Monday. The aim is to cram as much work as possible so I’ll have at least tomorrow free to be out and about. Allegedly, the temperature is going to hit mid-20s tomorrow!

Spring blooms

In the mean time, to keep myself happy, I compiled this series of photos from springs in the past 2-3 years. Some little thing to remind me of the reward I’ll get when I go out for a walk or a cycle tomorrow. More the incentive to get focused (after I finish this post :p) and knuckled down to hard task at hand.

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Is it expensive to live in Paris?

This post happens quite by chance. In preparation of some changes to come in my life (and no, we’re not talking about starting a family or buying an apartment – not yet anyway), I started tracking my expenses not so long ago. Normally I have a pretty good idea what I spend my money on, but to actually see the amount I spent on certain things, I scared myself along the way!

Pastry from Pierre Hermé

Then a couple more things came my way: (1) an article that I saw on Twitter last week about budgeting based on the 50/20/30 rule – more on this below – and (2) curious friends who have been asking me about the cost of living in Paris. The former had me pondering if I’ve set my financial priorities right, while the latter had me seriously thinking about feasibility of living in Paris.

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Project 365 – Week 14

What a weekend. As you know, yesterday morning has been all about the brunch with Jean Imbert and it was a good, high start to the day (I’m sure it’s not just the coffee/ caffeine talking). Frédéric and I were also at the cinema twice in two days, cycled around town, and in whatever extra time I managed to steal, I blogged for April last year too. Yup, time to play catch-up, so keep an eye in the next couple of weeks for more posts, including those related to Iceland!

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Peacock at Parc Floral

1 Apr: It was yet another day I played tourist with Nancy and we headed out east to the Bois de Vincennes. After consulting the map and a quick check of our watches, we knew we didn’t have time to do much so we kept to visiting the Parc Floral while we were in the area. That was when we passed by this peacock which was seemingly oblivious to the attention it was getting. This was officially my first live peacock sighting in greater Parisian area. I wonder if there are any in Paris itself…

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Brunch with Jean Imbert

There was some serious cooking going on in my petite cuisine Parisienne this morning.

About a month ago, I came across an online quiz + lucky draw to win a home-cooked brunch by renowned chefs, courtesy of Nespresso, in conjunction with the launch of their new capsule line – Linizio Lungo. I decided to give it a go, but was out of luck on both week 1 and week 2. I was expecting another tough-luck-you-didn’t-win email on week 3 when I received one with the header “Felicitations!”.

Pinch, pinch! Third time’s a charm apparently :D

Brunch with Jean Imbert

That is how Jean Imbert of L’Acajou, winner of Top Chef France 2012, came to prepare a fantabulous brunch at our place and feeding a small crowd of six, as Frédéric and I were joined by Anne, Hélène, Claire and Victor. Marie, who was coordinating the event, and Juan, an assistant to Jean, were also here. I must say it felt a little strange to have someone cooking for us when usually, if we invite a group of people over, I’d be the one slaving over the proverbial hot stove.

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Project 365 – Week 13

This round up is being posted later than usual. Despite last weekend being a long one, I was busy playing host (to a visiting friend) and tourist at the same time. My friend left this morning so I guess it’s time to get back to normalcy. Work to tease out, reading to catch up on, photos to sort, and blog entries to post. And oh, making up for lost sleeping time now that we’ve lost an hour to daylight saving. ;)

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Flowers

25 Mar: This bouquet of flowers reminds me of Wexford – the sunny southeast of Ireland – of which the official county colours are yellow/gold and purple. Ironically, there is very little sunshine in Paris at the moment that Wexford may well be seeing more of the fireball in the sky than here. Still, this vibrant combination does cheer the day up a little. To the big guy up there: hello, we’d like spring whenever you are ready to send it our way?

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