the kindle, the key and Paris in a different light

I recently completed The Travel List Challenge and out of the 100 places to go before you die, I discovered I’ve already been to 27 of them. Ok, I thought – over a quarter of the way there in my 31 years of life.

A while ago now, Mr ELG and I did the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and after the memorable turns and twists of the road, we ended up at Port Fairy for the night in this gorgeous stay called Oscar’s. Bushes of lavender greeted us along the path to reception and I vividly remember the dark paneled flooring leading out to the verandah where we took breakfast the next morning which overlooked the inlet with all of its boats bobbing up and down. Over eggs and OJ, I recall having a conversation with a fellow traveler about how I could definitely come back here again to which he replied “Oh no, there are too many places to see in the world to visit them twice.”

Years later and with my new gadget in hand ~ the kindle; I am completely immersed in the book Sarah’s Key. Set mainly in Paris covering two time periods, I read about the streets of the Marais and the secrets of all the buildings. I read about Sarah and her horrific struggles during 1942 and grow fond of the character, Julia who is living a completely different life in 2004. Reading about Paris, I think of the many times I have been to the city and will continue to go back. Not using the traveler’s ethos, I have been to Paris 4 or 5 times and it was only last month that we were back there again taking BIT there for the first time. We rented out an apartment in the heart of the Marais on Rue Rambuteau giving the stroller a good run for its money as its wheels ran over and over the uneven cobblestone ground on a daily basis. Mr ELG and I love to explore the city’s arrondissements and get lost and found again and again.
Yet it was reading my new book, back home in Sydney that from afar I was seeing the city of lights in a completely different shade. Gone was the excitement and fondness I feel when I think of Paris and instead I felt sick to my stomach whilst reading a fiction piece that referenced a real-life event that took place in Paris in July, 1942. In all of my education, I had never heard or learnt of the events known as the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup and when I asked Mr ELG if he knew about it, he said it rang a bell but he could offer no further detail. Admittedly, I have never been a WWII history buff but in the way this book was describing the numbers of people taken by the French on both 16 and 17 of July, 1942 I was in disbelief and felt ashamed of my ignorance that I had no knowledge of this topic and had to learn about it from Wikipedia instead. I finished the book in a weekend and now 10 days later, it is still on my mind. And I know that when I next go to Paris and walk through the streets of the Marais, I will stop to think about the 13, 152 people taken those mornings and feel grateful to have no such worries in life as those people did during those crazy years in our history.

 

 

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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When in Paris, people watch from here

Observations of local Parisiens generally amount to descriptions such as stylish, elegant, effortless, artistic, dog-lovers…the list does go on and there are many places to people watch throughout Paris to reach these common conclusions. Watch the romantics in Les Jardin des Tuilleries, watch the thoughtful and pensive as they mull around Rodin’s The Thinker, watch the sun lovers bask on the banks of the Seine, watch the modern day gypsy-like artisans at Montmartre. I discovered one more place to people watch on my last trip to the city of lights and the people I watched here were the locals scurrying or strolling past self-absorbed and oblivious to their own beauty. At the end of the Pont Louis Phillippe bridge – Marais side is a chic French bistro called Chez Julien. It was on recommendation that I came to this place. What I didn’t know at the time was how much I would fall in love with one destination on such a short stay.

Chez Julien is located directly opposite the bridge and its tables spill outside where diners can be watched and in turn watch their surrounds. The waiters who come to serve me sparkling water look like they have just stepped of a Paris catwalk and blend right into this picturesque scene. The tan shoulder bags that they wear across their bodies are not just fashion accessories but a means to hold euros that they collect off satisfied patrons. The food is mouth-watering. The chicken dish I order is filled with terrific yet simple flavours and it epitomises French cooking in one go by showcasing that it does not take a raft of ingredients to make a spectacular meal. I sit here for the rest of the afternoon and digest every detail. The next day, I come back with two hours to spare before flying out, feeling like a local who frequents this bistro daily yet laughing at myself because I am a tourist who should be experiencing something new while I am only here for three days.

When in Paris, people watch from here and eat nothing but copious amounts of divine French goodness.

1 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004 Paris, France‎ – 01 42 78 31 64‎

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 6:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Christian Louboutin; my bittersweet moment

I love Christian Louboutin.

Now this could be taken as a misconstrued statement of sorts especially as  I will be saying “I do” in 20 days.

Maybe I should re-phrase in saying I love Christian Louboutin shoes and I am not in love with the actual wonder-man from Paris who designs these shoes. I love the detail of his shoes whether it be the fanciful bows or the explosion of feathers or the sexy leopard prints which make me pick one up and drool. I love the line and shape of the heel. And most of all, I love the glimpse of the red sole and how boldly it defines the shoe amongst others and love love love the history behind it as Christian painted the sole with his assistant’s red nail polish just because at that moment, something was missing! And is it just me or when you look at the branding of Louboutin on his website; does the twinkle remind you of Bewitched as  quite literally that is the effect that these shoes have on me!

I went to Paris (another love) last August and dragged my man to 68 Rue du Faubourg Street, Honore 75008 in search of his boutique. When we discovered the store, we or probably I took a deep breath and then walked inside and in that first second I honestly felt like a child in a candy store and I believe this feeling of shoe-awe was shared by my man. This boutique is very boudoir-like with large, plush round ottomans, thick padded carpet, high dramatic ceilings, floor to ceiling mirrors, a central spiral staircase leading up to more shoe heaven and of course walls of the shoes. Christian Louboutin has described his shoes to be “like sculpture, objects, jewels” and it was with this in mind that I picked up each shoe with the utmost tender loving care. After exploring every centimetre of the boutique I finally settled on two pairs that I wanted to try on; an electric blue suede pair of round-toe heels and a pair of black satin peep-toe sling-backs with a demure bow. The reflection of me in the mirror wearing the electric blue pair made my calves curve in the right place and they were the type of shoe that I felt could stop traffic if I walked out onto the highway in them. And unfortunately the black satin bow ones were not to be as I heard the dreading “We do not have them in your size”; however this was not to be the bittersweet moment as that was to take place a couple of weeks later walking around Knightsbridge, London.

For whatever reason in Paris, I did not purchase the electric blue shoes and I felt safe in this choice because I knew that I would have a second chance to find and secure my first pair of Christian Louboutins in London. I sought out the address of 23 Motcomb Street, London SWIX8LB and found it fitted in tremendously well with the day’s plans as it was around the corner from Harrods and was an area I thought I knew well. Motcomb Street turned out to be a very tricky street to find as it did a loop on itself and I think it may have had something to do with the bewitching air that had me walking in circles! However, I glimpsed what I thought was the store up ahead as I could just make out the shape of the heels in the window and as I got closer and closer I started to make out bars across the windows. Not yet close enough, my initial thoughts was that this was a ground-breaking visual merchandising showcase but as I got to two metres away and realised that the boutique was just a little too dark for 1pm and the bars were actually a security measure, it dawned on me that I would not be taking home a pair of Christian Louboutins this trip and that despite finding the address on his website, I had failed to notice the extra detail below of the boutique’s opening times in that it was not open on Sundays. Bittersweet.

The range in Australia is not great and at the very least is quite basic. We have not yet been blessed with one of his boudoir-boutiques so instead of settling for a pair which would find me walking home with the shoes in a black and white houndstooth bag I wait in anticipation for my next adventure to Paris, Hong Kong or Geneva where I can take another deep breath and find the perfect pair.

It was a bittersweet moment on Motcomb Street when it dawned on me that Sunday 13 September was not going to be the day when I bought a pair of Christian Louboutins however I wait patiently in awe and admire from afar the most exquisite jewels that will be mine to own one day.

Published in: on March 20, 2010 at 11:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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