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Day 80: Fontaine de l’Observatoire

I happily took a detour today from my usual route after work, just so I can grab a photo of this fountain that can be found adjacent to the RER station of Port Royal. It has a couple other names, including Fontaine des Quatre-Parties-du-Monde (Fountain of the Four Parts/Corners of the World) and Fontaine Carpeaux (named after the sculptor). The four corners of the world, represented by female figures, are Asia, Europe, America and Africa. You should also be able to see the symbols of the 12 zodiac around the “equator” of the globe upheld by the figures.

The sculpture itself is facing towards the observatory referred to in its name. From the Luxembourg Garden, one should be able to look southward from the central pond, and have uninterrupted view of the fountain and the observatory. Paris Meridian can be found at the observatory, which today, is still one of the largest astronomical centre in the world.

Day 79: Jour du Macaron

There’s so much to tell today and I don’t know where to start. Or how to keep it short-ish. Just know that it has been a gloriously warm Sunday and I wish everyday is as wonderful as this.

Only one museum visited this morning – Chloé and I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers where we caught live demonstrations of Pascaline calculator and Faucault’s Pendulum – before our stomach rumbled and we got very lucky to get a table at Breizh Café without reservation. A galette Breton and a sweet crepe each, yum. Sitting outside at the terrace for a bit of a tan while eating delicious brunch – bonus of the day.

That was not all. Today is Jour du Macaron as well, so we made it to Pierre Hermé’s shop near Pasteur (the queue at the shop near St Sulpice was crazy long and we didn’t even try to go there) for some treats. The flavours I picked: fig, sweetbriar and foie gras; white truffle and hazelnut; and “dépaysé” which combined matcha green tea, azuki bean, lime and ginger. Two words to describe them all – flavoursome, delectable.

As the Salon du Livre was also running this weekend, I went over to check it out. Free entry with my Paris public library card – nice! I bought a couple of books, including Dessine-moi un parisien by Olivier Magny (who keeps an entertaining blog of Stuff Parisians Like), which he also kindly autographed. I would have like to stay and chat with him for a bit, but my French was failing me…

The day was capped off with dinner at Chloé’s where the girls and I were served raclette with potato, salad and saucissons. Even though we were stuffed in the end, we incorporated a little twist to dessert, by serving roti bakar, Malaysian style.

I am having the time of my life :D

Day 78: This is strike country

Weekend numero deux in Paris and it is a cooooold Saturday despite the sunny blue sky. This morning, I conquered the communal laundry machine and dryer (yay) with the help of my neighbour and I am also all set for a weekend at the museums, thanks to Chloé’s mum who furnished us with a Télérama pass which entitles free entry (for up to 4 person) to selected museums both today and tomorrow.

But first thing first – la manif. Purportedly one of French’s favourite pastimes (apart from la grève), the educators are on the demonstration path this time round, starting from Luxembourg. When I went past, they were just getting themselves organised, with brightly coloured balloons, gigantic banners, oversized puppets, and photographers are swarming the place, amateurs (like me) and professionals alike.

I didn’t stay around. Instead I was away to the Musée du Quai Branly and Musée d’Art Moderne, near the neighbourhood of the Eiffel Tower. I know, I know, I haven’t yet taken a single photograph of that iconic Parisian structure since I got here. It’ll come, at some stage. Just not today. Stories of the museums to come separately when I have a bit more time to write. Plenty of accompanying photos as well. ;)

Day 77: Maison Internationale

I mentioned the Maison Internationale a few days ago and thought, why not show it off? So voila, the grand building that welcomes all visitors to Cité U, looming majestically just as one walks past the main gate to the campus. It is supposed to be a replica of the Château de Fontainebleau. Since I’ve not been out in Fontainebleau, I can’t verify it. I shall check it during one of the upcoming weekends. ;)

Maison Internationale was built thanks to the contribution of JD Rockefeller Jnr and today, it houses a number of “stuff”, including a bank, the main campus restaurant, the library, the language lab (which I seriously need to pay a visit and make full use of) and even sports facilities to include swimming pool. Pretty impressive, right?

Day 76: Paddy’s Day, French style

Ah, Paddy’s Day away from Ireland. It really is not quite the same, where in Dublin, it’s all celebratory with the day off (it’s business as usual around here) to be out watching the parade on Dame Street, then over to Harcourt for street ceili, and of course then a wee pub crawl with friends for a convivial and light-hearted celebratory food and drinks.

Over in Paris, the celebration is a tad unorthodox, with me meeting up with Chloé and Hélène for a Vietnamese dinner (how Irish is that? ;)) followed by an attempt to go to an Irish bar nearby but it’s absolutely packed that the people were spilling out to the streets with their pints. All around Quartier Latin, revellers in tall squishy hat (apparently Guinness is running promos and gives those out for free) are about town, thoroughly enjoying themselves.

If only they wear a bit more green (I am! In green tank top!) and start to sing a bit, then it’ll feel a bit more like Dublin. Happy Paddy’s Day!

Day 75: American lookout

I’ve always been amused passing this cafe on rue St Jacques, and today decided I will photograph it. Native American looking out for and protecting Lady Liberty – who would have thought of it? Or could this be a poor attempt at reconstructing a new version of the Village People? ;)

Mid-way through my first week at work, I’m slowly finding my rhythm again. My colleagues are friendly and helpful, and more than willing to speak in English for my benefits (and much to my gratitude – I find myself struggling to converse in French so I have plenty of catch up to do). I’m meticulously tracking the lists of documents I need in order to sort out various paperworks, and making copies of just about everything. So far, so good. Paris has been kind to me.

Day 74: Filming crew

I have no idea what was going on here, but at least I was not the only person who was busy snapping away while the crew worked at the entrance to one of the residence halls of Cité U. Puppets controlled by some guys sitting behind them, sign for World Poker Tour – what’s the link? And since we were supposed to be silent, I didn’t try to ask someone about the going-ons either.

Interestingly, reading the website of CIUP recently (I was researching options for dance and language classes) it seems like the campus is used regularly for filming purposes. However, since I don’t have a tv, bar some really famous French stars that have gone Hollywood or something, I doubt I’m going to recognise anyone. Is there a website for French equivalent of E! or something like that to improve my “celeb recognition skill”?

Day 73: Typically Parisian

Parisian housing architecture is one of the most distinct in the world. When Napoleon III commissioned Haussmann to whip up some magic to reform the city, this civil planner not only redesign the layout of the city but replaced the buildings which today are still seen all over the city. (Yes, they are *that* uniform).

Haussmann also incorporated various (small) gardens to his city plan, along with widened boulevards, specific building requirements, and quite importantly, winning everyone over with his genius in turning the old and rather unimpressive Paris into characters that many would still talk for years to come.

I’d imagine though, for anyone with an apartment to the narrow side of the building, how did one start to furnish the apartment? Standard furniture won’t fit into the nooks and corners properly, so unless you’re rich like Creosus and them custom made. Must be annoying.

Day 72: Silent, Wikileak

Sunday in general is not a great day for shopping in Paris. Most shops are closed (as it should – Sunday is family day) unless you head out to the Marais or Champs Elysées. Alternatively, there are some lovely markets around and I certainly took the opportunity to stock up on some fresh groceries and produce.

As I left the campus for the market this morning, I spotted this poster of the cover of Time magazine, showing the gagging of Julien Assange by American government. I can only suppose this is a poster of protestation of some sort? Or could this be a form of street art instead? Sure, the message is political and touches on one’s right to free speech, but arts and politics today are not mutually exclusive either.

So, what say you? Is this spreading the words or sharing the arts? Or both?

Day 71: Église de la Sainte-Trinité

Mission: apartment furnishing
Location: household stores
Partner in crime: “Seurann”

I’m devoting my first weekend to a spot of shopping. More precisely, household stuff. Little things to make me feel more at home. First stop of the day was Lafayette Maison, where everything was out of my budget but so pretty to look at. Perhaps another shop then.

As we approached rue St Lazare, across the road, there it was, Église de la Sainte-Trinité. Nestled in the 9th arrondissement, the bright golden clocks on all side of its bell tower are eye-catching and certainly not a sight commonly seen as part of church exterior. I’ll have to add this to the list of churches I’d like to visit. It’s certainly growing fairly rapidly in this city!

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