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Day 355: Fairylights and stars

It seems I’ve been heading towards the food hall of La Grande Épicerie a little too often in the last week or so (these lights are those outside of Le Bon Marché, the mothership of above-mentioned food hall) and I couldn’t help it. There are so much goodies to be had that if it’s not for the price tag, I could see myself shopping here regularly. Good thing I can’t afford them that much on a day-to-day basis.

However, for the festive season, it’s a good place to hit to find all sorts of delicious treats that makes fantastic edible gifts. I’ve pretty much shop for most of my presents for my family and friends here, apart from some caramels and chocolates from either Pierre Hermé or Jacques Genin. Last week, my housemate had to pull me away from the shelves, so today, I went alone, mouahahaha.

Ps: in fairness, there shouldn’t be any complain re my shopping tonight since it was mainly for items for our Christmas dinner ;)

Day 354: Champagne-like

I’ve been trying to capture the lightings on Boulevard St Germain this evening without really achieving the crispness I’ve been hoping for. Luckily in small image size, you can’t quite see all the blurry edges, hehehe. I really should consider either upgrading my gears (but with majority of my dosh going to travel and food, gears tend to be relegated to the bottom of the list) or get a tripod (but isn’t it plain ridiculous to carry one for a camera that’s pocket-sized?).

What I love about the lightings here is their representation of celebratory flutes of champagne – the streams of fairylights already resemble the flutes themselves, and if you’re there in person, you’ll see synchronised lighting that travels from the bottom to the top, one at a tip, like the bubbles popping up towards the surface of the flute. So adorable! And festively magical!

Day 353: Speaker Mouths

There are some very eye-catching gigantic lips in Saint-Germain-des-Prés at the moment. An art installation, it seems like it’s here to stay for a month. The way this installation works is through public interaction – you’re supposed to talk into the microphone in front of the lips and it’ll be reinterpreted by these lippy “flowers”.

Created in 2010 by LLND who were duo artists originally from Saint-Germain-des-Prés themselves (but have been living in China for the past 3 years), this piece is intended to be a form of art and cultural exchange between their home neighbourhood and Huai Hai Lu in Shanghai (their adopted neighbourhood?), promoting the spirit of communications. Unfortunately, when I was there, the sculpture didn’t seem to be in working order. Hmmm…

Day 352: Palais de Justice

I could get used to this. The days may be crappy during the week but come weekend, it’s glorious and sunny (still cold though – afterall it is winter). I really have nothing to complain about since this means I could explore the city without looking like a drowned chicken. It’s really only at weekend that I usually try to venture a bit further from my normal haunts.

This weekend however, I’m not exactly skipping along the cobblestones of streets unknown in the 17th or 20th arrondissement. Having the last of Christmas shoppings to complete plus a few meet ups with friends, I’m still wandering about the usual neighbourhood. The Palais de Justice was formally a palace but today a complex that includes the law courts. Sitting tight and looming large over about half of Île de la Cité, it also houses the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle (which in order to visit, one would have to go through security checks that’s similar to that going to the various judiciary offices).

As you may have also noticed, just beyond the Palais de Justice is one of the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Seriously, Paris of old makes a very compact city when you consider just how close all the important and main sites are centralised. That’s another story for another day. Later.

Day 351: Paris on canvas

Any visitors could hardly miss the rows of little metal stalls running along the River Seine in the centre of Paris. Les bouquinistes, that’s what we call them. Originally they were stalls meant to sell books (bouquins = books, les bouquinistes = booksellers) but over the years they have somewhat evolved that a large number of them now sell kitschy souvenirs, postcards, random objects and paintings.

Of them all, I find paintings and etchings most interesting. Sure, they’re mostly reproductions but some are very good reproductions. Scenes from various places of interests, or just something that inevitably evoke the memory of “Ah France…” or “Ah Paris…” make these pieces highly endearing to non-locals. One day I’ll get one to frame up too but first, let me find the ultimate picture that I’d like to keep. ;)

Day 350: Cultural station – (Headless) Ryaba la Poule

It’s time for a new instalment of cultural station, don’t you think? I happened to be on my way to Madeleine today so instead of taking a bus like I normally would, I took the metro instead so I can photograph this panel of stained glass of Ryaba la poule (Ryaba the hen) by Ivan Loubennikov. Unfortunately, in my hurry (I needed to make it for my tango lesson across town), I didn’t notice that poor Ryaba is now headless, oops.

This is the story of Ryaba as inscribed next to the mural:

Il était une fois un vieil homme et sa femme
Ils avaient une petite poule du nom de Ryaba
Un jour elle pondit un œuf extraordinaire : tout en or !
Le vieil homme tenta de le casser : toc toc ! : rien à faire !
Sa femme tenta de le casser : toc toc ! : rien à faire !
Une petite souris qui passait par là fit tomber l’œuf et le brisa
Le vieil homme se mit à pleurer. Sa femme aussi
Alors la petite poule leur dit : ne pleure pas grand père
Ne pleure pas grand-mère
J’en pondrai un à nouveau, mais pas en or…

My attempt at translating this:

Once upon a time there was an old man and his wife
Who had a little hen called Ryaba
One day it lays an extraordinary egg: it’s all in gold!
The old man tried to break it: toc toc!: nothing happened!
His wife tried to break it: toc toc!: nothing happened!
A little mouse in passing knocked the egg down and broke it
The old man began to cry. His wife too
And so the little hen said to them: do not cry grandfather
Do not cry grandmother
I will lay another, but not in gold…

Ps: spot the egg which is reportedly 80kg in weight!

Day 349: Livres anciens

The weather is not particularly kind today. There is a predicted strong gust of wind coming our way, and depending on the forecast, it could be anything between 30 km/h to 100 km/h. At least we’re nowhere near the north/west coastal area, which would bear the brunt of things from the look of it.

There is a bookshop near work that specialises in selling rare and antiquarian books. I’ve always find it fascinating to peer into the windows and see what’s “new” and admire the books with period covers and hand-bound volumes. I mean, how many more books nowadays that you see and still bear gold embossed letters with motifs framing their edges? Super cool, I tell ya!

Day 348: A different (Christmas) tree

I like the library network in Paris. With just one membership card, all the public library is accessible and so I can get books out from any of the branches run by the city council. And it’s free! (Membership with access to multimedia costs something like €35 per year – still a bargain if you ask me.) Since I noticed something interesting may be available at the branch of Baudoyer, away I went.

Just outside the entrance to the building complex of Mairie du 4ème where the library is housed, there are several interesting and eye-catching Christmas trees at Place Baudoyer. Oh they are festive, green with hints of reds, and fitting as festive decoration. On a closer look though, these trees are made using recycled material. More specifically, plastic bottles of carbonated drinks. How cool is that for an idea and to raise awareness!

Ps: as I took this photo, a woman stopped next to me and started chatting (in French no less) of the importance of caring for the environment, why these trees are magic and potentially a lead for my next photo of the day. I’m just thrilled she thought I fit in enough to strike a conversation with me :D

Day 347: Oh dream kitchen

One of the things that I miss most after my move to Paris is the kitchen in my old place, which not only is very well equipped, functional and pretty, it is also bigger than my entire studio apartment at Cité U. Yes, I know, I was spoilt. I have also since vowed never to take my kitchen for granted anymore.

My new apartment do have a proper kitchen now (yay!), albeit a rather cosy one. It has since kicked start my kitchen daydreams again, of owning something sleek, with full spice rack, a KitchenAid on the counter, an Aga keeping the room warm, and let’s throw in a few Le Creuset too. And oh, a good shelf of awesome cookbooks and Larousse Gastronomique would be highly appreciated too. ;)

Day 346: Green, red and gold

It’s not often that I venture around town in the middle of a work day but since I was on my way to meet the agent of our new apartment, why not grab a sunny day shot instead of worrying what I can photograph later in the day when it’s rather late and all dark outside, right?

Seems like the city council of the 5th arrondissement is also trying its best to decorate the neighbourhood up a little. In front of the Panthéon tens of Christmas tree prettied up using red and yellow ribbons, while just across the street, the city hall itself has silver tinsels streaming along the height of the building. Rather impressive, I must say.

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