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Berges de Seine

It was a sunny midweek afternoon, my friends and I had had a good lunch at Ellsworth and we were in no hurry to get anywhere. As we strolled and chatted, we found ourselves heading for the Berges de Seine, which serves as riverbank walk, public space, exhibition hall, outdoor gym, patio-ed restaurants and games room, all rolled into one.

Berges de Seine

Berges de Seine

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Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

What is the common denominator between an immigrant, an expatriate, a foreigner, an alien and a non-citizen? Me. And countless others like me. We who fit the aforementioned, albeit with situations that vary in thousand shades of paperwork grade. Time and time again, the debate, in particular the pitting of an immigrant against an expatriate, can be painfully divisive. Just search for “immigrant vs expat” and you’ll see all kind of perception attached to these words, of social standing, origin, wealth, skin colour, intention. The fight is ugly.

Museum of Immigration History

Museum of Immigration History

The topic of immigration is a sensitive one and the question of integration has been contentiously thrashed out, in public and in private alike. At times of economic hardship, the subject is paraded – not only in France, mind – like an evil which must be stopped (UKIP’s Nigel Farage would like everyone to go back to where they came from, thank you very much) and the rhetorics filled with “selected truths”. My visit over the weekend to the Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (i.e. Museum of Immigration History) was therefore an interesting one, one where I get to explore briefly the stories of the people who make France the nation it is today.

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Trolling Fox (Faux) News

Life in Paris – and France – is gradually returning to the norm in the aftermath of the shootings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher. In this past week, enormous queues had been spotted all over Paris at newsstands, everyone eager to get their hands on a copy of the survival issue of Charlie Hebdo, currently printed at a phenomenon number (5 million copies!) and being doled out to the newsstands like ration during tough times. The first mornings, they sold out rapidly and disappointed folks were told to return the next day after they were restocked.

Charlie Hebdo

I found myself standing in a queue on the third morning, fulfilling a request that came from abroad just the previous evening, and snagged the third last copy at my local newsstand. Not that I read it though; we had never read Charlie Hebdo before and were not particularly pushed in starting anyway. The copy got duly posted away and I hope it won’t disappear in transit. Anyway, this is less interesting than the skirmish between Le Petit Journal and Fox Faux News.

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Feasting on galettes des rois

January can only mean one thing in our household – it’s open season for galette des rois! It seems the limited time availability only fueled my hunger for more, so this addiction is unlikely to go away anytime soon. However, after two seasons of buying small/single portion galette des rois on a nearly daily basis, this year, a change of strategy. We would buy only at the weekends, and fancy galettes des rois are on the table. * happy dance *

Galette des rois

A whopping eight galettes des rois had came through our door so far. Well, we started early this year, over the New Year’s long weekend, before Epiphany officially kicked off. It made sense since C&M were staying with us and C loves them as much as I do! We’ve largely stuck to one galette des rois per weekend-day rule, except yesterday when we had a small tasting party with friends; three galettes des rois were served and today we’re having none. It was a “sacrifice” I’d gladly make because it’s a lot more fun to share them :)

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Fondation Louis Vuitton

When you are wealthy and could dictate the kind of legacy that will bear your (brand) name, why not hire Frank Gehry to build a museum with unique vessel-like architecture in the splendid setting of the Bois de Boulogne?

Fondation Louis Vuitton, opened with great fanfare and ticket giveaways last weekend, will house art works from Bernard Arnault’s personal collection as well as those owned by the LVMH group. In return for the permission to erect this monumental building, its ownership will be transferred to the city of Paris in 55 years.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton

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Parisian autumn

A crispy autumn day is perfect for exploring Paris. The natural light is softer, the colours of the leaves brighter. It is neither too warm nor too chilly to remain outside. There is a certain spring to the step, so to speak. Last weekend, we retraced the route from our apartment to Montsouris.

Paris

Paris

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Hidden Paris: A walk in the 16ème

Still trying to keep the homebody syndrome at bay, F and I cycled across Pont de Grenelle into the 16th arrondissement over the weekend, nodded hello to the Lady Liberty in passing, and intent on exploring the petite ceinture sort of adjacent to the Jardin du Ranelagh/Bois de Boulogne. This stretch opened a good few years ago, in 2007, thus predates the one in the 15ème which we visited recently.

A walk in the 16ème

A walk in the 16ème

Passing by many elegant buildings in this affluent neighbourhood, we finally spotted an entry into the former railway belt near La Muette and slipped through the low gates that are characteristics of many entrances to Parisian parks and gardens. Had it not been for the sign we saw just a minute ago, we would not have guessed that this was where the trains used to pass. Unlike the petite ceinture in the 15ème, nary a sign of abandoned rail track could be found here. They had been dismantled.

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La Petite Ceinture of 15ème

It could be the weather, it could be work, it could be a combination of multiple things. Whatever the underlying causes, I’m more a homebody lately than the overly perky urban explorer that I could be. Luckily, F wouldn’t let me languish about at home for more than what’s healthy, and we’d end up taking some short walks somewhere around town. A couple of weekends ago, we explored a small portion of the old railway belt of Paris, called La Petite Ceinture, in the neighbourhood.

La Petite Ceinture

La Petite Ceinture

Parts of the disused railway line, which once encircled Paris in its entirety, are now officially open to public for walks and jogs, although a large part of it remains out of bound – not that it deters the most ardent urban adventurers from accessing and actually enjoying beautifully wild paths in Paris that tempts me to follow their footsteps at some point!

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Hiking Camaret-sur-Mer

We woke up on a Saturday morning to reasonable cloud cover but looked set to hold steadily. After a quick trip to the supermarket nearby to get our picnic supplies, we headed south-west of Brest to Camaret-sur-Mer. A 4.5-hours hike around this part of Crozon peninsula was our activity of the day. That, and getting back to Brest in time for a lovely dinner at a super sushi restaurant in town. This is how every excursion should be planned; something active, followed by something delicious as a reward for the hard work put in. ;)

Camaret

Camaret

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Postcards: Sun, sea, sand in Bretagne Nord (FR)

We were back in Brittany, greeted by sunshine and what promised to be quite an active weekend. Because it was (sort of) summer, we were obviously obliged to go to the beach. We checked out a couple of them: one where the boys attempted to surf – C picked up this new hobby while in Brazil, and F was trying it out for the first time – in the rather chilly water of less than 20°C (brrrrr!), and one where I put on my baby step to swimming in the ocean, ahead of our vacation in Montenegro.

Bretagne Nord

Bretagne Nord

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