Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pictures from Paris!

I now realize that I really didn't take enough pictures while I was in Paris, but here are a few of my favourites!

Couldn't resist this bit of graffitti:

The entrance to the apartment building where I was staying. My little studio apartment was on the top floor, above what you see here:

On every landing, there was a chair to either rest on, or rest your groceries on:

This is a photo of the staircase, taken from the very top of the building, on "my" floor. Every day, at least three to four times a day, I would walk up five flights of stairs. Each flight was 19-22 stairs. Quite the the number of stairs, but actually not too bad. The building dated from the 18th century, a time when people were about my height, so the stairs were rather low and made of beautiful wood, which is very forgiving and easy on one's back:

This is a view of the inner courtyard of my building, taken from the fourth floor. I was on the fifth floor, in a studio apartment that only had skylights for windows, much like the two skylights you see here:

I couldn't resist this photo either. The store's name is  a combination of my two sons' names. Weird.

Most of Paris was rebuilt by urban planner, Baron Haussmann, in the mid-19th century.  Very little of medieval Paris remains, but I did find these two houses, which, according to the plaque on the wall, were built in the 14th century! I found them about 10 minutes walk from my street:

Not surprisingly, there are many plaques on buildings in Paris, noting famous people who lived or died there, famous events that took place or, in this case, a terrible and fairly recent event that should never be forgotten. It reads as follows: "In memory of the little children at this pre-school who were deported from 1942 to 1944 because they were born Jewish, innocent victims of Nazi barbarity with the active complicity of the Vichy government. They were exterminated in the death camps. May they never be forgotten."

Just a little street not far from where I was staying:

The inner courtyard at the Musée Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris:

Pinned to the wall of a restaurant: "Friendship is making love without touching one another."

Scene from one of the bridges that crosses the Seine:

It's pretty clear why I want to go back!!

Monday, July 29, 2013


I continue to suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms from my trip to Paris. I have trouble thinking about anything else but how to get back there as soon as possible and for as long a time as possible.

The "as soon as possible" part is probably not going to go all that well. It's a long way from home, it's a lot of money, we have to work, tra la la. However, the "as long as possible" part might possibly see the light of day.

In August of 2014, my husband will be on a one-year sabbatical from work, with 80% of his salary. He has to produce some research during that year, but he can go/stay wherever he wants. In September 2014, our younger son will be starting university (this year, he's doing a gap year that includes two months in Europe followed by more or less full-time work) and we'd like to be around during his crucial first year of university. However, by May 2015, he'll have completed his first year (successfully, we hope) while, by that time, older brother will have completed his third year. On May 3, 2015, we will be celebrating our 23rd year of wedded bliss (OK, there have been ups and downs, but the overall balance sheet is very positive) and we're thinking that a great way to celebrate would be to spend the entire month of May in Paris, the city where we honeymooned in May 1992.

Hubby will be able to work on his sabbatical project and I will be able to do the odd translation via the Internet and just hang out in my favourite place in the world, reading French books, going to French movies and generally taking a bain de français à tous les jours ("a bath of French every day"). If I'm lucky, maybe I'll even be able to sit in on some conferences with colleagues and get a feel for the freelance market in Paris, though there wouldn't be a hope in hell of my being able to actually work in Paris without jumping through hoops of fire, filling out interminable paperwork and then making a sacrifice or two to the interpretation gods.

So, now the countdown begins: only 21 months and two days...

P.S. I'll post some pictures as soon as I figure out how to download them en masse from my phone to my computer. Shouldn't be long.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Paris and "To Blog or Not to Blog"

I haven't written a blog post in ages. Well, that's not entirely true. I have written the same blog post over and over in my head. It's the one about how ridiculous this whole weight thing is. It's the one about the fact that some of us are heavier than others, but that quite possibly living in the modern world, any number of food additives (in particular hormones) that weren't in the food chain until fairly recently and most importantly dieting, have made many of us with a naturally chunky build into much larger versions of ourselves than our heredity had ever meant us to be.

That's the short and sweet version of my recurring blog post.

In the meantime, my life has gone on and surprised me more than I ever could have imagined.

I'm writing this post at the very end of an eight-day trip to Paris where I took a week-long course offered by my professional association on French language and culture. The course was, to say the least, fantastic. From classes on current language in the press and on the street, to an amazing cooking class followed by eating the delicious supper we'd made, to a guided walk around an area I never would have visited otherwise (La Défense), to attending an amazingly energetic performance of Beaumarchais's "The Marriage of Figaro" (yes, the opera is based on an 18th century French play) to an explanation of how the French trade union system works (believe me, it's complicated and very different from what we have in North America), plus many, many other topics and discussions, I had one of the best weeks of my life.

Contrary to previous visits, I found Parisians to be quite pleasant and certainly not the supercilious snobs I had met in the past. Is this due to the economic crisis? Do Parisians feel they now have to--how can I say this politely?--suck up to the tourists so they can earn their living? I'm not quite sure. All I can say is that it was an "agréable surprise". Incredibly agréable.

The food in Paris is expensive but fantastic. What surprised me most, though, was the portions. They were gigantic. I really can't remember dishes being so big the last time I was here, over twenty years ago. Most of the time, I was often full long before the plate was finished and left a lot of food uneaten. It was really interesting and very bizarre. Have I lost any weight? Knowing my body as I do, I doubt it. Despite my dodgy hip and knee, I walked a great deal, but that seems to make little difference to my weight. Anyway, we'll see when I get home.

I'm really going to miss Paris. I've often said, with a nudge and a wink, that I was French in a past life. Definitely, I am drawn to France and to Paris in particular. If I only had one more trip left to do in my life, I would come back to Paris. When I emerged from the métro station last week after taking the train into Paris from the airport, I practically cried at how beautiful this city is. I will probably not cry as I leave today, but there will be a certain heaviness in my heart. I'm desperately hoping to come back next year.