They say sometimes you meet people too late in life. I never really understood the meaning of this statement until today.
Sitting at her breakfast table this Sunday morning - over a spontanous cup of coffee - giggling about our in-laws, it hit me. She has no idea how much I will miss her.
A tall blond Roman girl (she has not hit her 40's yet, lucky her!) had arrived to Paris the same time as I. Her daughter was in Expat girl's grade albeit not in the same class so it took us some time to get to know one another.
For a year we greeted each other with a smile at school drop-off and it wasn't until I insisted she'd join our little flaneuse group to visit the Tutankhamun exhibit at the Porte de Versaille that she actually dared to join us and we ended up having lunch together.
Un encanto... there is no better way of describing my new flaneuse companion, I thought at the time. The flaneuses met roughly once a week to explore Paris. Slowly our new-formed group of seven (one had already gone back to the States) began to know each other better.
It was not until this spring, however, that I have really discovered my Roman friend. I'd like to believe it is her personality, that the more I uncovered it, the more it grew on me. (I am convinced she has a Swiss ancestor somewhere down the line.) A smile here, a wink there and a feeling that we are on the same wave length.
So when - over yet another cup of coffee - she announced that she would be leaving Paris by the end of the month all I could do - between tears and sniffs - is wish her the best of luck and give her lots of (hopefully) useful tips for her Nomad Expat life that lies ahead of her and her family.
I can't help but feel we had too little time to get to know each other. We could have gone on soo many more Parisian adventures together and exchanged pieces of advice about our loving "familia politica".
Now, it feels like Cinderella is leaving the ball at midnight when the party is just getting started.
Until we meet at the next party my friend. I will miss you!!!
The cruise began at the new marina of Paris Arsenal. I thought we would be cruising along the calm waters of the St.Martin canal. Turns out, the boat slowly flowed between the two lines of yachts and river barges, passed the Bastille lock and made its entrance onto the Seine in front of the river brigade created for the 1900 Universal Exhibition.
Hmm, we are heading the opposite way!? Whatever! Little did the direction of the ride matter, it was more about enjoying the last tour of the school year and exchanging farewells with all the fellow mums I had met over the past two years in Paris. Yes, many are leaving after only 24 months in the city of lights. I am quite surprised to experience the enormous turnover of Expats first-hand.
While we were chatting away and snapping our souvenir photos we rode down the river Seine to join the heart of Paris, the Ile de Saint Louis and its splendid private mansions. We then admired the majestic monuments: the Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, the France Institute, the Orsay Museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Chaillot Palace. We made it all the way to the "Mini" Statue of Liberty and then sailed back to the Arsenal Marina.
None of us really saw anything new along the banks of the Seine and we are still curious to cruise up the canal St.Martin but feeling the sun tickle our skin after months and months of atrocious weather was all that really mattered today.
Pont des Arts - the Love Lock bridge
Pont Alexandre III
Cathedral de Notre Dame
"Miniature" replica of the Statue of Liberty
Ile de St.Louis
Statue of Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris at Pont de la Tournelle
Romantic encounter under the bridge of Sully
Les Docks - Cité de la mode et du design
Le Batofar - Paris' trendy nightclub on a lighthouse boat
We are reaching that time of year again... the end of the school year!
When the kids were enrolled at the local school in Switzerland, the end of June was an exhilarating moment. A time when all WE locals happily hugged and kissed, wished eachother a nice summer holiday and knew we would all be back in the same places and return to familiar faces. We never even considered a different option. It was a good feeling. A feeling of freedom because you just started eight weeks of vacation. A comforting feeling knowing that you'd find the same smiles and routine at the end of the summer.
All this has changed. During our first year in Paris it never crossed my mind that what I had taken for granted so many summers was about to change drastically.
It hurts to say goodbye to friends but it broke my heart to see my kids having to bid their farewells to their buddies in floods of tears. My kids, myself and half the rest of the school were crying. So many little lives which are thrown into so many divers situations and they take it in strides because they have no other choice - because of Daddy's/Mummy's job!!!
Of all the pros and cons of an Expat life the last day of school must be THE worst of all. It messes with your emotions and messes with your head. You tell yourself that you are lucky to have found such close friends and that you'll be friends forever. You promise you'll visit but deep down you KNOW it will never be the same. Not for those who are leaving and not for those who are staying. It is a chapter of your life that you consciously need to close, even if you'd give anything to make it go on... just a little while longer, please!
As an Expat you know that a happy and successful assignment abroad boils down to the people whom you have met (locals and foreigners) and the experiences you shared with them in that country.
So, yes, we are gearing up for another emotional rollercoaster next week when we start seeing off friend after friend, promising to keep in touch, knowing that a piece of us will travel with them and that Paris will never be the same without them!
Cinema Paradiso... an Italian classic! Combine this with Le Grand Palais, a Parisian Classic, and what do you get? A weird mix of American paraphernalia from the 1980s it seems.
The idea of a drive-in cinema under the dome of the Grand Palais - currently the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world - sounded tempting. The notion of sitting in a vintage Fiat 500 while watching "Greace" or "La Boum" made it irresistable. I bought tickets online the minute they were on sale.
Walking into the large lobby of the Grand Palais I was hit with Reece's peanut butter cups, marshmallow fluff and other wonderful American gourmet food. I am thinking: "Where does this fit in with Cinema Paradiso?"
Next, I come across an Amercian diner set up under the glass dome with a vintage Coca Cola pin-up girl smiling at me. NOW, I am confused.... but not disappointed. It is just not what I had expected.
Venturing past the smell of hamburgers and pop corn I discover a rollerblade rink, if that is what you can call a portion of bare concret floor sectioned off by a huge wall with a DJ installation blaring out 80's disco music.
Uhhh, I think I am getting my brain around this Cinema Paradiso concept (not a very clear one but never mind) and I'm starting to like this place. Donna Summer here I come! ;)
Tucked away to one corner I locate rows of video game machines from the 80's. Boy, does Pac-Man bring back memories from when we were young.
However, the piece-de-resistance MUST be the Barbie football table. Now, WHY didn't they have that when I was growing up? In my days getting your hands on a 24cm wide pink plastic Barbie swimming pool was a luxury, not the mention the pink camper. Oops, I'm giving away my age...that was the 70's!!!
I have still to return to Cinema Paradiso this week to watch "La Boum", a French Classic from 1980 starring Sophie Marceau. Will my Fiat 500 be pink???
When I first arrived to Paris two years ago, I was introduced to an enthousistic lady with a big smile at the school's Welcome Workshop. Meet Ms. Paris Tours! I was told that even though her kids had graduated from school, she still liked to hang out with the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association). Boy, "hanging out" was the understatement of the year ...
Little did I know that this organized Dutch lady with a character - who offered tours for parents while the kids where at school - would mark my life in Paris significantly. The eternal explorer in me signed up immediately for my first tour which lead us through the area of Montmartre. When I discovered "La Maison Rose" at the end of the tour I knew that this was what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my stay in Paris. Discover the secret corners of city of lights!
I have been on various chocolate tours, a Seine cruise, a luxury fashion expedition and a guided visit through the Louvre. A journey around the Bastille area, an excursion through the Marais, an Angel safari, a discovery of La Sainte Chapelle and rendering homage to Napoleon's tomb are just a few events I enjoyed. I lost my heart to the treasures of the Cognacq-Jay museum and the Musée d'Orsay. All are unique moments in my memory.
The lovely Ms Paris Tours comes injured, sick, at -7C, twice a month, every month. She keeps track of all the RSVPs and checks attendance on her spreadsheet. She sends out reminders to those who've forgotten to pay or to sign their check... it's a lot of work! She loves sharing Paris with others.
Thank you for inspiring me to start exploring Paris on my own account and discovering a passion for uncovering the new and unrevealed. Thank you for always taking care of us, for going the extra mile to make us comfortable. Thank you for making sure we are happy which in return makes you happy!
A century of light and motion in art, from 1913 to 2013, was the title of the Dynamo exhibition at the Grand Palais, a show that brought together major works that deal with light and motion. The two main parts ‘Vision’ and ‘Space’ were divided into 16 subsections dealing with various aspects of phenomenal experience: immateriality, monochrome, interference, immersion, flickering, haziness, instability, distortion, the void, the invisible and permutation, from artists including Ann Veronica Janssens, Anish Kapoor, John Armleder, Carsten Höller, and Xavier Veilhan.
Here is a selection of my favourite photos:
Entering the Grand Palais wondering what is wrong with the fountain?