Monday, 11 July 2016

my parisian favourites

I've left Paris behind me. It's been 10 days since I said goodbye to the city I love so much. I will be back again of course - regularly over the next couple of years and moving back there again at some point in my life - and it's not like Paris is going anywhere, still, it wasn't easy driving away and knowing you'll only get to follow along from afar.

I promised one last thing before closing the door to these years spent in Paris. I promised I would make a little list over my personal favourites in Paris, the places I never tire of going back to, streets, squares, parks and neighbourhoods I feel each contain a piece of Paris whether they be touristy or almost unknown and some personal obsessions of mine: dawn along the Seine river and doors & facades.

I realise the Eiffel tower didn't make it to the list. I'm sorry. I love the Eiffel tower, I really do, Paris wouldn't be the same without her iron lady and she always has a drawing effect on me when I pass by, but I don't think she was part of my personal experience of Paris, my everyday routines, places that are linked to my life, and heart. I feel I need to warn you that these favourites are completely subjective, personal and arbitrary, and I mean completely. Any question you might have going something like this: "hey but what about Musee Rodin, Galerie Vivienne, Place des Vosges, Luxembourg garden etc..." will be answered brutally with: not. among. my. favourites. Also, all places are listed in no particular order.

1  ~  p a s s a g e  l h o m m e

I've already talked so much about this passage on Instagram as well as on this blog. If you've managed to avoid all of this, here's the link for the initial blog post: praising passage lhomme Oh and I might just have mentioned it again here and accidentally posted a whole lot more pictures about it. And now I just posted about it for the third time, so it's safe to say that this one is a favourite favourite of mine.

2  ~  t u i l e r i e s

Looking back at my previous blog posts, it seems almost incredible that I never wrote one about the Tuileries Garden of Paris as it's not only clearly my favourite park but also the one closest to where I lived and hence the one I have most pictures from. So many early mornings spent there running (okay stopping a lot to take pictures in between), so many different lights and atmospheres, those beautiful Judas trees and all the other gorgeous plants and flowers, an impressive amount of sculptures from artists such as Rodin and Maillol, them strange goats living there, the perspective towards Louvre, the Pyramid, the big ferris wheel and the fun fair during summer where my kids loved to go, the characteristic green chairs I want to steal, the pond. I've had so many picnics there with my family, lazy Sundays spent on the chairs reading newspapers in the sun with my husband, autumn days collecting leaves and chestnuts with my daughter. If you go to Paris and only have time to visit one park, Tuileries should be the one, no matter the season. It's just so very, very Parisian.

Not kidding about those goats...

3  ~  v i l l a   l e a n d r e

Yep, so at this point I think we all know that my top 20 list will never fit into one single blog post but so be it, several posts it is, I couldn't possibly take some away. Villa Leandre definitely has to be here, this little paved street aligned with one lovely brick house after another, covered by foliage and hidden in Montmartre always makes my heart go boom.

4  ~  m u s e e  d e   m o n t m a r t r e

And since we're already strolling in Montmartre, let's not forget the very unique museum of Montmartre. I love it, not just for its charms but for the many stories it tells especially about Suzanne Valadron about whom I could write an entire post. And actually I already did that. It's right here

And here are 2 pictures of her studio and the very particular "ambiance" you will feel when stepping into this museum.

5  ~  p l a c e   d a u p h i n e

Not surprisingly I already wrote a blog post about this place as well. Located on Ile de la cite, near Pont Neuf, this public square was built in 1607 by King Henri IV who named it after his son Louis XIII, heir to the throne (known as "Dauphin" in French). The shape of the square is triangular & the space was originally enclosed by 32 identical houses. Although bankers & rich merchants lived here at the time - and maybe still do - the houses didn't & still don't qualify as "hotel particulier" as there aren't any adjacent garden. Still, it was chic enough for Yves Montand & Simone Signoret to take up residence here (number 15) & I wouldn't mind living here myself... You can read and see more pictures here and you can't not go there when visiting Paris.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

that famous staircase

m u s e e   g u s t a v e   m o r e a u

Usually when people come to Paris and I ask them what's on their list and what they want to see, I almost always get the same replies: the Eiffel tower, Champs Elysees and other famous landmarks. Not this time. Met up with 3 girls from London who were in town for the weekend, asked them over brunch what their plans were and got this answer: "that staircase" (and eating a lot of patisseries).

That's not a strange answer if you're on Instagram. It's also perfectly normal that I immediately knew which one they were talking about. More than just an app for sharing pictures, Instagram lets you share your obsessions. About tiles, doors, floors, flowers and the list is long. Don't even get me started on avocado toasts and coffee because we're here to talk about that staircase.

It's located in the Gustave Moreau museum in the 9th arrondissement of Paris where the painter lived and worked. Transforming the house into a museum was his last project before dying and even though he called it a "small, sentimental museum" he did leave about 25.000 pieces of art whereof 15.000 by him, so the collection is not exactly what I would call small.

You can visit both his private apartment as well as his studios located on the two upper floors. Salmon coloured walls, old wallpaper, faded tones, tired wooden floors, the recent renovation work has done a great job in keeping the original feel of the place. And a smell of old apples. Actually that's not quite true as I found out later when I got home and still couldn't get rid of the smell and finally remembered I had fresh yeast in my handbag, but it added an extra charm to the place.

And then there's the staircase of course, a very unique spiral staircase that Gustave Moreau's father - who was an architect - built.

Musee Gustave Moreau - 14 rue de la Rochefoucauld - 75009 Paris

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Thursday, 7 April 2016

from venice with love

It's starting to dawn on me that my blog is called the unpretentious blog to paris and I'm moving to Washington DC in a few months... which gives you an insight into the kind of problems I'm dealing with as a blogger. Still, I need to find a new name. I've already been cheating quite a few times by posting travelling pics that have very little to do with Paris. And so I've asked myself if this is really the right time to write a blog post about Venice instead of Paris. Like I said, tough decisions as a blogger. (Also I like to repeat the word blogger as it's been more than a month since my last post.)

But Venice it is, because it's such a beautiful place and it doesn't matter if everybody says so and you've heard it thousands of times before. It's still true. You just need to work your way around the city to avoid the tourist crowds. Makes it easier to pretend you're not a tourist but a traveller. It also helps if you're not walking around with a selfie stick.

g i u d e c c a

Speaking of being away from the crowds, the island Giudecca is the best place for an evening stroll while you're watching the sun set over Venice.

s a n  m a r c o  i n  t h e  f o g

Well clearly I can't guarantee the legendary Venetian fog during your stay. Trust me I would if I could because nothing quite beats that magical misty ambiance running through the streets and canals of Venice. But no matter the weather, if I could give only one advice regarding Venice it would be to get up insanely early one morning to experience Piazza San Marco all empty, see the sun rise and feel the city slowly come to live.  

b u r a n o

I have a thing for muted colours and faded pastels which is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Venice, but you should definitely take a boat and visit the island Burano where all the houses are painted in bright and vivid colours. Our Vaporetto driver told us that once there was only one big fisherman family living on the island and they all had the same name. In order to tell them apart the women started painting the houses in different colours: one family became the ones from the purple house, another the green family etc. I'm afraid this isn't true at all so I've resisted looking it up on Wikipedia and suggest you do the same.

Other than that, just get lost. In the good sense of course by strolling around and seeing where you end up, have a few Spritz, get the view from San Giorgio Maggore if you can, walk into a few churches and for the rest just admire all the beautiful facades.

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