#PrayForTheWorld

#prayforparis #paris #prayforhumanity Last night’s events in Paris impacted me on two fronts: concern for the Bretonne Bestie and her immediate and extended family, and the heightened security in London today, a stark reminder of the days after 7/7. Like most people, I am shocked, saddened, and beyond speechless. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the #PrayForParis hashtag; why are we assuming a compartmentalisation of empathy based on what folks are showing support for at the moment? The assumption that people are only supporting Paris for racial reasons is a slippery slope. I am sad for Baghdad and Beirut and a large swathe of East Africa and mothers watching their children die in this refugee crisis. I am sad for the homeless people I see in London every day, whether they’ve had a hand in their situation or not. I am sad. Full stop. My heart weeps. Because despite my education, voice, social mobility, ability to vote or anything else that might hold any sway, I still seem to have NO impact on the world. As a mother, I have no way to comfort the mother of the 9-year-old Afghani girl who was beheaded. I just cuddle my 9-year-old daughter and weep silent tears for the world I am leaving her. Surely it’s time for the ripple effects of compassion and love to kick in? I leave you with some borrowed words to ponder…

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Songwriter
JOHN LENNON

Published by
Lyrics © DOWNTOWN DMP SONGS

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?

Flâner in search of sugar…

It’s incredible to think that we started our flâner at the Eiffel Tower, lunched near Notre-Dame and swung by the Louvre, all in five hours. We continued our flâner towards the decadence that is Angelina’s Salon de The. Unfortunately, at least fifty other people had this idea at the same time, and they were all queued on the beautiful mosaic pavement. BB and I wisely decided to walk further on in search of hot chocolate & patisserie. This meant we had to wander through the very tempting Place Vendôme, the shopping zone for those with limitless credit cards. 

#cartier #paris #france #placevendome #jewellery

Not even I, jewellery Luddite, am completely immune to Cartier, especially when it’s this pretty!

#boulangerie #patisserie #paris #france #macaron #hotchocolate #erickayser

We ended up at Boulangerie Eric Kayser for some gooey salted caramel macarons and sinfully rich hot chocolate.

The children were now properly sugared up (yay, said no mother ever) and raring to go, so go we did. Up the road to the Opera Garnier, where DD seemed to realise she was on hallowed ground. Being there put her hours of dancing and mangled feet into perspective: “You think I could dance here some day, Ma?”  I don’t know, but summer school is definitely an option. I dream a dream…

And then, we were at Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. There are actually three buildings, but we headed straight for the one with the rotunda. See why?

#paris #france #haussmann #galerieslafayette #shopping

You can actually take a lift to the top of the Galeries and have a wonderful view over Paris. We didn’t. The sugar rush was fading fast.

On the bus home, clutching the iconic Galeries Lafayette bag.

Next on the WHISTLE-STOP tour: MONTMARTRE

FLÂNER…part deux

So in my previous post, we were on the Batobus heading to Notre-Dame & Île Saint-Louis. We disembarked the Batobus on the Rive Gauche (check my French!) and took in the breathtaking view. DD was marginally disappointed not to see Esmerelda, Quasimodo or indeed, ANY talking gargoyles, but the abundance of historical information everywhere went some way to mollifying her. Damn you, Disney!

Clicking on each photo will take you to a larger one in a new tab…

#notredame #paris #france

900 years old and she’s still got it!

#notredame #wedding #paris #france #travel

Random couples at every tourist spot in town, being photographed. No other wedding party members ever present. Entertaining!

We walked over the Pont Saint-Louis, arbitrated lunch choices, and ended up in a tiny Italian restaurant which seemed to meet with the all-important thumbs up from the children. We had to sprint back to the Batobus to head to the Louvre. Sensibly, we didn’t actually go INSIDE – I’ve seen the Mona Lisa and it’s tiny. I didn’t want to risk DD’s wrath after a 30-minute-queue-to-shuffle-past. We just walked around the grounds and took photos of the children in crazy poses. We are SO cultured.

#louvre #paris #france

I loved the symmetry of these lampposts.

#louvre #paris #france #tuileries

Statue in the Jardin Tuileries – BB & I assumed this same position later that night.

#france #paris #tuileries #sculpture #garden #museum

Rather captivating unnamed sculpture on our way out of the Jardin des Tuileries.

Next stop: do we make it to Angelina’s for patisserie? Do we acquire an iconic Galeries Lafayette shopping bag? 

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

flâner dans les rues: setting the scene

#paris #france #metro

One of the fanciest Metro entrances I had ever seen! (2002)

In four days (FOUR!), I am going to enjoy a flâner dans les rues de Paris with the Breton Bestie, her daughter (DD’s bestie) and DD. Flâner dans les rues roughly translates to strolling the avenues, wandering the streets. I have been asked to bring tea cakes, fruit rolls and sharp British cheeses. There may be some other goodies transported across La Manche (hey, I have to keep some secrets, BB reads my blog!). BB has stocked up on wine (BB has EXCELLENT taste in wine; I think I’m getting the better end of the deal this weekend)

Spoiler alert: There are going to be many photos. Follow along on Instagram 🙂

I cannot wait to see DD’s face when she sees the Palais Garnier, and possibly dreams of dancing there. Then the Galeries Lafayette for the absolutely decadent interior. We’ll stop at Angelina’s for some restorative hot chocolate and cakes: my favourite is their signature Mont Blanc. You have to love chestnuts to enjoy this dessert; good thing I do!

But most of all, I’m so excited I get to see BB again. We’ll drink good coffee, eat too much, corral the kids, giggle, and catch up on everything that we’ve missed via Viber & Skype. 

Does your bestie live close by? How long have you known him/her? How do you sustain your friendship?

Weekdays are exhausting, and weekends are exhausting!

Weekends are slightly less exhausting this autumn because DD has scaled back her activities on the weekend in order to take on additional ballet training during the week. This just means weekdays are a little more exhausting, so I could have done without the two school meetings this week (painful at the best of times, but worse because they were the first ones minus the Breton Bestie). Worse yet, the focus was the nuclear arms race that is Getting Your Child Into The Best State School in Two Years’ Time. I’m deadly serious. It’s cray-cray. But I’ll save that insanity for another post, and return to my weekend.

Our new routine on a Saturday is a lie-in, homework for all of us (well, doing accounts & expenses for the grown ups), then lunch, then DD to class and me to a coffee-shop to abuse the free WiFi and to catch up on the blogosphere.

This Saturday, I got itchy feet and chose to look for some new magazines to read. Clearly, my colleagues have set the bar very high, because I found nothing of interest. As in, zip, zilch, nada. I did discover Uppercase magazine online later last night, which I found quite exciting, but I really felt a little saddened by the fact that there’s so much crap out there to make us feel lesser, inadequate, un-shiny and imperfect. The experience left me feeling grumpy and jaded, but blessed to have the job I have, and to be able to help get some good content and material to market. Small wins.

friendship

Today was a little more emotionally charged. We were invited to a pre-farewell party for a good friend – yes, you heard that right. Pre-farewell. It was wonderful to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while and we even got party bags, but the sickening reality is, after 6 years, this friend has finished her term with her employer, and has to return to Australia. AUSTRALIA. That’s a whole different continent and a whole different hemisphere and a crazy-long flight to get there! This also means that Thanksgivings are going to be small, quiet affairs going forward (who da thunk that a mutual love of American holidays would bring an Icelander and an Australian together?). She’s the ‘aunt’ that DD has had most contact with over the last 6 years, so DD is sad, too. As much as I love where I live, I’m getting too old and cranky to make new friends now. The old ones fit me just right. Sigh.

So for now, I’m looking forward to seeing the Breton Bestie in three weeks (cue a rendition of ‘I Love Paris’) – we’re going to walk, and talk, and I’m going to enjoy the wonder of my daughter discovering Paris. I can’t wait to see her face when we she sees Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Galleries Lafayette for the first time. When we return to London, we’ll have my ‘second’ parents visiting from the States for a few days. I haven’t seen them for five years so this is a treat! And then we’re having  a final Thanksgiving/family dinner with DD’s honorary aunt. Did y’all not know London Thanksgiving falls between Canadian and American Thanksgiving? Heathens! 😀

What do your weekends look like? Who bears the brunt of chauffeuring the family to clubs and activities? Any good magazine recommendation (digital or print)?