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Posts tagged ‘photography’

No. 352: The Paris Plages

paris_plages-beaches.jpgThere is one more cool thing to love about Paris—the Paris Plages. Sunday was the last day of this annual beach party, and remarkably, the moody sun decided to shine for the two hours we were there.

Okay, so it is not quite the Côte d’Azur, but I think it is one fantastic idea to transform a 4-kilometer stretch of the Right Bank of the Seine into a free fanciful faux beach for one month of the year. We have spent a couple of great afternoons on this urban beach enjoying the sand, sun, and gorgeous setting. It seems a bit strange to be lying out on a comfy beach loungers staring up at the Pont Neuf and the Conciergerie contemplating the fate of Marie-Antoinette, but then, this is Paris.

Some pretty great designers must have been involved in developing this concept and the enthusiastic support of the city government doesn’t hurt. Personally, I love all the different types of seating options available. You can choose from blue loungers on a white sand beach to huge colorful bean bags nearly spilling into the river, to large sail-like sun beds made for two, and café chairs on a freshly laid lawn. There are no shortage of things to keep you occupied: ballroom dancing lessons, swimming pools and misters, trampolines and dirt biking, art studios and playgrounds for kids, free massages for adults, foosball and pétanque, and of course, beachside cafés. The street entertainers run the gamut from classical Chinese zither players to opera singers to in-your-face hip-hop troops. If you can’t figure out what to do, you can ask one of the extremely friendly “plagistes”. Or you can simply admire the professional sandcastle builders as they sculpt their masterpieces while you enjoy your speculoos glace.

Ice cream, sand, friends and sunshine equals a perfect day in Paris.

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look what I found! (Check out my previous post: Eiffel’s Red Café Chair Tower.)

 

 

No. 351: Summer Drinks

Even though I only have two weeks left before I have to leave my beloved France, I am still trying to squeeze out every last bit of everything from everything I do. To paraphrase DuBose Heyward and George Gershwin,  “It is summertime and the drinking is easy,” or something like that. Besides being refreshing, these dandies are keeping the panic attacks at bay as we host our last visitors and I try to get through my ever-growing to-do list. Santé!

kir royale with some of my very favorite people...Kir royale. Pour 3 teaspoons (15ml) creme de cassis into each champagne flute. Top with champagne and serve immediately. Creme de cassis is a blood-red sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants.

…kir royale with some of my very favorite people…

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Pour 3 teaspoons (15ml) creme de cassis into each champagne flute; top with champagne and serve immediately; creme de cassis is a blood-red sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants…

rosé is always a good idea…

beer plus lemonade…quite refreshing...

…panaché…beer plus lemonade…the perfect thirst quencher…

champagne or crémant, you can’t go wrong…

prosecco…bien sûr!

…prosecco…naturalmente…

…et citron and pamplemousse pressés are the best cure for a hot summer’s day!

Qu’aimez-vous de boire quand il fait chaud?

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Vocabulaire:

Qu’aimez-vous de boire quand il fait chaud? What do you like to drink when it is hot?

No. 350: Paris Kitsch

I am a sucker for Paris Kitsch for no other reason than it brings color to this capital clothed in black. Sometimes you just need a little sparkle and boldness, and, maybe even some excessive garishness in this subdued city.  paris_kitch.jpg


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No. 346: The Orient Express

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Only by interrogating the other passengers could I hope to see the light, but when I began to question them, the light, as Macbeth would have said, thickened.

– Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express

If you are in Paris and you haven’t yet seen the intriguing Once Upon a Time the Orient Express expo at the Institut du Monde Arabe, make your plans now. Its final departure is 31 August 2014, 19h. France’s national railway (SNCF) and the Institut du Monde Arabe worked together to bring this real-life and cinematic legend to the public. Film enthusiasts and vicarious travelers get ready for a nostalgic journey on the extravagant train line.

One of the finest exhibits I have seen, the detailed curators make it easy to imagine those first voguish passengers who boarded the luxurious liner in Paris in 1883 for their 80-hour journey to exotic Constantinople. The train oozes with the old glamor of courtesans and kings, duchesses and diplomats, spies and starlets, smugglers, tycoons, treasure hunters and rogues. It took nearly a year for SNCF to restore the 20th century locomotive used in the film “Murder on the Orient Express”, and they did not spare any expense. Visitors can marvel at the sheer opulence of the era that must have rivaled, if not surpassed, Europe’s finest hotels of the time.

The tour starts inside the Institute with vitrines filled with advertisements, travel documents, luggage and personal items and then continues with fully restored compartments and period clothing. After that you wander back outside to the Seine and board the lavish locomotive beautifully reflected in the institute’s glass-paneled walls.

It is great fun to marvel at the sumptuous wooden paneled corridors and leather-covered ceilings, rich leather armchairs, art deco bars and other early 20th century excesses. The curators have meticulously included all the details: Harry Potteresque newspapers with photographs that come alive with scenes of the time, original china, cutlery, silk sheets, velvet curtains and personal items famous travelers brought aboard.

Look for the steam and listen for the whistle, two weeks left to clamber up the stairs and catch your ride on the Orient Express!

Il était une fois l’Orient Express runs until August 31, 2014 at the Institut du Monde Arabe, 1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France.

 

 

No. 342: Arrivederci Tuscana

So long charming beauty,

cobbled streets, steep, stone stairways and solitary cypress.

À bientôt windswept hill towns,

vast valleys, medieval ramparts,

and burnt Siena edges.

Ciao for now silvered olive trees,

Romanesque chapels, streaming sunlight and painted sunsets.

Arrivederci aromatic Brunello and salacious Chianti,

already missing the rustic Italian good life and countryside pace…

No. 341: Tuscan Wines

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On my short visit to Tuscany I have discovered many things to love, not the least of which are the wine, and the lovely and genuine winemakers and sellers we have had the pleasure of getting to know. I have entirely enjoyed the Chiantis and the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. I think what makes Tuscan wine so divine for me is the whole experience: the luminous young grapes, the tidy, leafy vineyards and the rolling vistas that scatter their blues and greens like waves breaking on the sand. It is nice to take the time to really taste and chat and feel the harvest’s link with the land—to be in the moment and greet the terroir.

Vocabulaire

terroir: the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate. “Literal-minded fundamentalists love to call terroir the soil and climate of a specific vineyard, but in truth it’s about husbandry, about sensitivity to place and its careful management so that the best of things can be delivered of it.”

No. 333: Tuscan Sunsets

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