Reaching for the stars in Montmartre

We started this micro-adventure around Paris at the Tour Eiffel, lunched near Notre-Dame, and had hot chocolate and macarons near the Opera Garnier on Saturday. Our train was leaving at about 3pm on Sunday, so we had the morning to conquer Montmartre, round the corner from BB’s apartment.

#paris #france #travel #montmartre #sacrecoeur

If you can climb the bazillion steps to Sacre Coeur, you have conquered Paris!

We caught our breath in time to tour inside Sacre Coeur. It is awe-inspiring and what grabbed me most was the almost equal representation of males & females in the statues, stained glass and other imagery. I was not really expecting this at a Catholic church. It’s probably a good thing we weren’t allowed to take photos inside; I could have lost a day there.

#paris #france #sacrecoeur #montmartre #church#sacrecoeur #paris #france #montmartre #church

After gorging on the metropolis of Paris laid out before us from the viewing points, we went in search of lunch (and thankfully, headed downhill!).

#paris #france #montmartre #stone

This surprising little gem looked like it had been transplanted directly from St-Malo to the centre of Paris.

We had Breton galettes (not up to BB’s stringent standards), and walked past another church on the Rue de Abbesses. Called Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, the church stopped me in my Art Nouvea-lovin’ tracks. See why?

#paris #france #montmartre

The first example of reinforced cement in church construction – the exterior is covered in brick & tile to create this stunning finish. The church is over 100 years old.

What a way to end our fantastic whistle-stop tour of Paris. DD is enamoured and spent the Eurostar journey home presenting me with all the reasons why we should move to Paris. Honestly, I am sorely tempted! But for now, I am just glad she fell in love the way I did, and had a good weekend with her friends.

Where should we head for our next micro-adventure? Copenhagen? Ghent? Amsterdam?

Let us begin with a flâner…

I was SO excited to head to Paris last Friday, as you could probably tell from my posts. I didn’t count on the fact that I would tear up spectacularly when I saw BB again. She was teary, too. It was amazing to see her again, and the children.

She has a beautiful apartment in a tree-lined neighbourhood – all cobblestone streets, patisseries and Parisian charm. Paris abounds in charm. I love Paris. If I could only ever spend the rest of my life between two places, Paris and London would do. Wait, hang on, I love Reykjavik and New Orleans, too. Hmmm, let’s come back to this debate after I tell you more about my efforts to flâner.

#eiffeltower #paris

#nofilter

BB had a rough plan for the day, allowing for inclement weather. We headed from her apartment to the Eiffel Tower, which never ceases to amaze me no matter how many times I see it. It is equally beautiful in sunshine and rain.

I am deeply grateful for my new smartphone and its camera, which enabled me to get some creative shots with minimal effort on my part.

We took a fun river bus east on the Seine towards Notre-Dame – it’s called the Batobus and it’s a hop-on-hop-off service. Genius! I love the service in London for the same reason – plus it’s a very civilised way to get to work 😉

#batobus #seine #paris #riverboat

DD on the boat – grumpy because I insisted she sit inside instead of hang off the railing outside. Bad mother!

#bridges #paris #seine

Next stop: Notre-Dame & Île Saint-Louis

Plage du Sillon, St-Malo

Following the sea wall along the golden Plage du Sillon takes you from the Paramé quarter to Intra-Muros (the old city fortress). The beach is bounded by the Digue (dyke), which was built between 1883 and 1913, and along the Digue stand the most beautiful villas, mostly built at the end of the 19th century. All these photographs were taken on my morning walk, when I was hoping to run across the sea rescue teams in training. All those buff, bronzed bodies….swoon….

Portals

Anyone who dares quibble that portals are really doors won’t get the recipe for koign aman, or butter cake!

The Plage du Sillon is 3km long, very family-friendly, safe for swimming and also popular with kite surfers, sand yachters and wind surfers. Both the Digue & the Plage make wonderful running tracks. Who wouldn’t want to huff & puff at this view? Just remember, if you come over all faint in the heat, those lovely sea rescue people are at hand all summer long 😉

IMG_20150417_121530

Plage du Sillon, overcast… still gorgeous!

The Jungalow by Justina Blakeney

What I’ve carefully left off my About page, as well as blog posts, is the fact that I am a design junkie. I’ve hinted at my Pinterest pins, but anyone who follows me on Pinterest can confirm I am addicted, feverishly pinning into the wee hours of the morning (or until my husband threatens to kill the WiFi). Beautiful design and clever re-purposing make my soul happy ❤

I started following Justina Blakeney a few months ago, and I am hooked on her style. She is vibrant, colourful, bold and dare I say it, joyous! Her website is called The Jungalow and she has an inspiring mix of crafts, decor, recipes and personal styling showcased. I dare you to have a look and not be caught up in her fresh photos, and itching to try a project or five.

justina-blakeney-interiors

Architecture (A-Z challenge)

So we had a family trip to the Ideal Home Show this weekend, and my epic discovery was Robert Kahn of Pitch26, an architect who has turned his ink skills to incredible pieces of art. He does stunning black line drawings with coloured skies/backgrounds. I made the mistake of ummming and ahhhing and never decided on what I wanted, and now I can’t find the London drawings on his website. Vexations & conniptions!

The reason we went to the show was because for as long as we’ve been together, husband-person and I have talked about building our own home. I studied architecture on my first go-round at uni, and good design gets me excited. We are both very creative, despite our boring (paid) jobs. We lust over Pinterest offerings, moon over housebuilding magazines, have design apps on our computers, and have infected our child with the bug.

However, building our home is still 5-8 years away. If I had to buy a home in the interim, I would want it to look like this: Treehouse Apartments

Another new favourite is Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect, whose work is luxurious, sustainable and community-driven. Bjarke is my kind of architect. Watch him in action here. If you want to read more about his methods & ideas, here’s the TED blog: Q&A with Bjarke EngelsAnd if you’re wondering how to say his name, the J is a Y…so it sounds like Byar-Kay.

He’s also written a  book about his manifesto, in comic book format – as ThatAnxiousMom would say, +1000! 

Architecture & Monochrome

Completely off topic, did you know there are a billion quick tutorials on YouTube to help edit your WP dashboard to make it more personal & user-friendly? Amazing!

And now for another shot of Harpa Concert Hall, possibly my second-favourite building after anything Gaudi-designed.

Harpa, Reykjavik, Iceland

I didn’t notice the reflection of the windows behind me on the glass in front of me. Eagle-eyed daughter to the rescue! I tweaked the contrast to hide the cables holding the birds.

I’m stretching the topic and calling the next shot Natural Architecture….mmmmmph!

Trees

My dancing trees, now in B&W

All this B&W photography is making me feel very arty-farty indeed! Heaven help us if I ever get a real camera.

Searching for the mystery light

Song for today: Ace of Base – The Sign 

There was no plan to complete a photo assignment this weekend – I have four hours on Saturdays to hang out in indie cafes, to drink proper flat whites, to catch up with husband, and then read, research and plan for the week ahead. There was no time to chase the sun. However, when this photo opportunity came up while running errands, I couldn’t resist.

Westfield

Giant Easter egg or alien spaceship? Used my front-facing camera on the smartphone for this one.

Westfield 2

Stardust? Lightstorm? Used my rear camera for this one, without changing position.

The lights are inside a large shopping mall – the first photo is of the OTT chandelier in the luxury brand section. The second shot is the floor reflecting the same lights.

Mystery & Light

Sarah McLachlan’s song, Building a Mystery, has been playing in my head all day. I forgot how much I ❤ her, so I am glad that this assignment triggered that memory. It’s nice to have a positive trigger, for a change. I’ve been working through some incredibly negative triggers recently, so it’s good to have a happy memory brought to the surface.

Mystery

Ribbons of pasta? Ruffled fondant icing? Tear in space?

Mystery2

Oh, sun, how I love you, but why you so cruel?

Light 3

Floating wall?

Warmth & Light

Beetroot juice

The dregs of my beetroot juice, backlit in this morning’s sunshine

Þjóðminjasafnið, Reykjavík, Iceland

Window at Þjóðminjasafnið, Reykjavík, Iceland – it was a very grey day, so I was surprised to see how warm the colours glowed! It’s true what they say about the light in Iceland.

Strawberry laces

Quick snooze on the Embankment, in the first of the spring sunshine. Yes, that’s a strawberry lace hanging out her mouth.

Blogger Love!

I got a very lovely notification from Sarah at Just Another Snowflake to let me know I was nominated for a Liebster Award. If you click the link to her blog, it explains that the award is for new bloggers and the idea is to generate more exposure for them, which is brilliant. However, me being me, I’m going to mix things up a little. I’m going to answer the questions and point you in the direction of the great blogs I’ve discovered recently. If you happen to be one of the bloggers I’ve mentioned, please feel free to carry on with the Liebster award, and post it to your blog, or not.

my questions from Sarah:

What is your ultimate blogging goal? I honestly don’t know. It’s the first time in my life I haven’t had a plan, and things seem to be growing very organically. I’m just letting things flow. 

Where is your most favourite place in the world? This is like Sophie’s choice, but I’d probably have to say Reykjavik.

Who is your hero? My husband. No, my daughter. No, my husband. I can’t decide. Me.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time? Somewhere warmer? Nah, I’m quite content to be back in London for the time being, and 5 years is just too far down the road.

What is your oldest memory? Climbing scaffolding far higher than I should have climbed, and being at the hospital a few hours before my brother was born.

If you had to choose, would you choose TV or internet? Internet. Internet. Internet.

What makes you happy above all else? My daughter. She is everything good, bottled in human form.

Town or country? Town, 95% of the time. Unless we’re in Scotland or Iceland, then I make exceptions.

Has blogging made you more inspired and confident in yourself or your writing? Absolutely. I used to read comments where people went on about the ‘lovely feedback and great support’, and I’d think, “Are you for realsies?” I have now discovered, to my delight, that it’s all true! I’ve found my voice again, which is very affirming.

What is the one fact that you know which no one else does that always sounds really cool? Uhhhhhhhh……………………………ummmmmmm………..

My recent blog-coveries

Amazing images: Angela Seager Images, A Ma Vie De Coeur Entier, BCL Photo

Refreshing writing: Analysis Paralysis, The Belle Jar, Rachel’s Whims

Laugh & cry about the expat life: thesmult, The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, Waking the Wombat

The gritty honest rebirth chronicles: Shirley’s Heaven, Imperfection is Sexy, The Pickled Pastor

General Deliciousness: Butter Baking, Le Zoe Musings, Architectural Wanderlust