26/06/2019

Around Montmartre


Hells bells time has flown! Didn't mean to stay away for this long, but there's just not been enough time recently to tend to this visual diary of mine. I doubt I'll be able to catch up here until the autumn, unless I can discipline myself and not watch episodes of Call My Agent! (set in Paris no less - and very enjoyable it is too) in the evenings. Aaaaanywaaay, Montmartre is rather high up innit, so lots and lots of stairs to climb.



Like I said - lots and lots of stairs. And pretty light.



When you travel, do you play the game where you pick a house that you would like to move into? We did. This was my pick. Wonder what it was like on the inside...





My friend Z was curious to see Sacre Coeur again (last time she saw it was on a school trip when she was 14), and from having walked around quiet and empty streets we literally turned a corner and hit touristville head on. We spent about 10 mins there and hurried away quickly.



Can't remember who this bust (see what I did there?) is of, but it seems her boobs are quite popular.



We kept exploring the neighbourhood and came across this gorgeous flower bed; spring is surely the prettiest season, non?



There were lots of magnifique houses in this mews. I broke the rules of the house game and bagsied one here too 😁



Didn't seek this mill out but happened to come across it by chance anyway. Tres cool.



These three, enjoying a moment in the sun. The lady on the right be stylin'!!





Nice bit of street art. I'm guessing the last bird in the bottom picture is saying "Batman"?



I really enjoyed our walk in Montmartre. Now let's hope it doesn't take me another five weeks to put another post up!

20/05/2019

Rich details











After we saw the Hammershoi exhibition we checked out the rest of what MusĂ©e Jacquemart-AndrĂ© had to offer, and it didn't disappoint. It reminded me a lot of the Wallace Collection here in London; a fancy house with someone's (who was insanely wealthy and liked collecting art and artefacts) private collection now open to the public. It's so hard to imagine that people once lived there, as it does just feel like a museum when you're there. It's so awesome that the likes of me and you can now go and look at parts of cultural history whenever we want, and be transported to another world and life, and get a little breather from the here and now.

18/05/2019

Good things come to those who wait








You know when you mean to go to an exhibition and you don't go straight away and think that you'll get round to it, and then you forget all about it, and as a result miss it? Well, Wilhelm Hammershoi's London exhibition about 11 years ago was one of those for me. I've waited and waited for a new one to come, with no luck, and then finally, a few months ago, I read that there one was coming to Paris this spring. Z and I had started dreaming of a Paris trip back in September when I was visiting her in Amsterdam, and reading about the Hammershoi exhibition gave us the time of year we should go. And, of course it didn't disappoint (although it was very busy). I came across my first Hammershoi picture here in London a couple of years ago at the National Gallery, and I think I wrote about it here that I actually started crying when I saw it (picture 5 here), which was a surreal experience, but I felt that picture so strongly. The stillness in it spoke to me, and seeing the subject (Hammershoi's wife Ida) from behind like that, made me think of how I never post the faces of my nearest and dearest, and as a result tend to shoot them from behind. I'm also a huge fan of paintings of domestic scenes, capturing everyday life, something that Hammershoi mostly painted. These paintings are quite small in real life, which adds to the non-grandness of them. They were mostly painted in the late 1800's, and Hammershoi painted mainly scenes from his own apartment, editing out most of the furniture and only painting what he thought necessary. A minimalist in other words... If you find yourself in Paris before the 22nd of July I urge you to go, and book the tickets in advance, as the queue was pretty long. I'm so grateful that I finally got to see a selection of his paintings, even if the wait was 11 years in the making.

15/05/2019

Bear necessities







These bears were in loads of the shop/restaurant/bar windows in the 13th arrondissement where our hotel in Paris was. I think we saw at least 20 different ones, and there must have been plenty more of them, but I didn't think to take pictures of them all until it was too late. We could easily have asked the receptionist in the hotel what it was all about, but we thought it more fun to not find out, and just enjoy them at face value, completely out of context. A little mystery in this day and age can only be a good thing.

13/05/2019

Bonjour Paris!


Blimey... this space seems to be turning into a travel blog! It's not my intention at all, but just a combination of me not bringing my camera with me every day, and a month where I went on three trips. I even squeezed in a very short trip to Stockholm between Venice and Paris, but I only took about 10 pictures, none worth posting here. Anyways, just before Easter I hopped on the train to Paris, whilst one of my favourite people, Z, hopped on a Paris bound train in Amsterdam, arriving 15 minutes apart in Gare du Nord. We were there for three days, just the two of us (walking over 83 000 steps!), seeing five exhibitions, eating lots of delicious food, taking hundreds of pictures and developing serious crushes on the French capital. It's been well over 15 years since I've been there properly, and so much has changed. It might be a case of me projecting here, what with Brexit looming and all, but Paris felt optimistic, buzzing, and full of life. There's also been a generational shift, so now pretty much everyone speaks English (and happily so), although I insisted with persisting with my now quite rusty French.

We stayed at Hotel Henriette, which was just as sympa as we had hoped it would be, so we checked in, dumped our bags and got our cameras ready.





On the way from the hotel to the metro we walked past a window into the past; hundreds of dusty lenses sitting in there, looking completely deserted. The shop itself was empty, but as I tried to look in I got a jump; there was a lady in there, sitting on a stool looking out, with nothing else around her. She stared right through me, and it felt really weird and so spooky, we quickly moved on.



In Le Marais we walked past this cafĂ© - full of cats and customers. Maybe we'll stop by next time...



Salut! Ça va?





Apparently one of the must go to places in Paris is Merci, a three storey lifestyle shop in Le Marais, and had we been filthy rich or that way inclined, we could have shopped 'til we dropped. As it was, it was fun just walking around looking at things (and out of windows, because that's what we do), and I left empty handed. In fact, during the whole trip I just bought some postcards and a poster... For the past few years I've bought something ceramic as a souvenir from wherever I've been, but I couldn't bring myself to buy a very nice ceramic cup from Merci for 13 euros. Peak stuff is real yo!



Some things never change... I love how social the French are. I noticed that in cafĂ©s and restaurants people were not on their phones - they weren't even on the table. No one took pictures of their food and I only saw two people take a selfie the whole time we were there, and they were tourists. My kinda place!





On our way to our dinner we walked past this closed shop, that looked so cosy and personal. As we stood there looking in, one of the owners, Olivier, came back on his bike and told us off for taking pictures. Turns out he was only joking, and he let us in, and then told us all about how he'd gone to Japan for four months to learn how to make fresh buckwheat noodles. He served us some buckwheat tea, and showed us how he made them and how the buckwheat was milled in the shop with a turning stone mill. He was telling me all of this enthusiastically in French, and I couldn't take any more pictures as he was talking, but Z posted a little series of pictures on her instagram It was so nice to see someone so into their craft and passion, being able to share it, and taking the time to tell us about it - without trying to sell us any. 



After our little noodle chat we continued to Clamato for an insanely delicious seafood dinner, and the ambience was great, with super friendly staff and a handsome green wall that we couldn't stop looking at :)



And then, finally, we walked south across the Seine back to the hotel, glimpsing Notre Dame in the distance. The devastating fire happened two days after we left, and we didn't particularly look at it when we were there, taking it for granted - like one so easily does.