joyce in paris: part two…
Posted in paris, pia's photos August 12th, 2010 by pia

Day Two was quite the adventure – we started at the lift that goes up to the Sacré Coeur I thought it would be a good idea to go on the funiculaire so that once up the biggest part of the hill, we could slowly wander the rest of the way and get a bit of an idea of the hilltop area of Montmartre. However in hindsight,  we should have just got a cab right up to the top because the lift was packed and people were pushing each other out of the way, it was not a pleasant experience.  Then the walk with the wheelchair up the rest of the hill was a bit hairy due to the cobblestones. I never realised how “cobbly” Montmartre is, somehow more so than the rest of the city. Anyway, once up there we instinctively headed as far away from the crowds as possible. I picked a nook that looked out to Montmartre, surrounded by the lovely ‘new’ apartments and here we rested for some time, taking in the scenery and enjoying the sunshine…

Then, in perfect synchronicity the bells of the Sacré Coeur began to chime. It was really beautiful and the moment seemed to go on forever. Joyce couldn’t believe her ears and eyes…

a page from the book I made for Aunty Joyce.

The view.

The Sacré Coeur was hidden behind the other buildings but the bells were so loud, nothing else was audible, not even your thoughts.

Left: A page from the book I made Aunty Joyce. Right: Joyce was very taken with the design detail of the ironwork in one particular apartment building we were standing near  – she has a fabulous eye for detail and design!

Lots of fellow wanderers in Montmartre.

After wandering to the base of the Sacré Coeur and taking in more of the beautiful scenery and Paris rooftops, we decided to stop for some crêpes at La Boheme. It took forever to be served however there was a street performer nearby, singing her heart out in the style of Edith Piaf, which made the waiting worthwhile. The crêpes were delicious (I also had a cidre – my second favourite French beverage, the first being cremant). We watched the street performer pack up her gear on the back of her scooter and go on her merry way…

Then we did something wild and crazy – we went on the Montmartre train! For those who don’t know, the Montmartre train is this railroad-like mini vehicle that goes up and down the Montmartre hill, loaded with tourists. We figured it was the best way to get a feel of the area since we were not able to walk it. When we hopped on Romain turned to Joyce with a beaming smile on his face and said, “Secretly, I have always wanted to try this” and I had to agree, as touristy as it is, I too had wanted to see what it was like.  My report is that it is a bit noisy and bumpy, but that is to be expected. Here is a photo of Romain and Joyce having a lovely chat in the train during its pit stop in front of the Moulin Rouge

After that we decided to get a cab back down to Bastille to stop for an apéro somewhere. We got a great taxi driver who was very happy and chatty . Romain and he had a great old time chatting in the front while us girls chatted (in English) in the back, not forgetting to gaze out to the Paris street scenes every so often. I overheard Romain telling the cab driver about Joyce’s story and the driver couldn’t believe it, he was so happy for her that she could make the trip and see Paris for the first time.  When he dropped us off we walked along Boulevard Henri IV for a while until we found a lovely looking café called Chez Margot. We sat outside, it was a perfect evening, and we enjoyed out apéro at dusk. The food on the menu looked really good, as did the meals coming out and going to other diners so we decided to stay for dinner. We were not disappointed, it was all delicious. Romain and I usually like to dine in a place at least 3 times before it goes on our ‘favourites list’, and also before we recommend a place to friends, but this restaurant really ticked all the boxes – the service was great, the food was delicious, I definitely recommend going there if you are in the area.

So that was our second day out in Paris together. As part of the book for Joyce, Romain and I made this fabulous kitschy postcard on the instant photo machine (I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow) with photos from our outings together, then I stuck the postcard on a page in the book. Voilà

Next up: day 3 and 4…

joyce in paris: part one…
Posted in paris, pia's photos August 10th, 2010 by pia

Well, what a fabulous time we’ve had. I can’t thank you enough for all your amazing comments on my last post, I told Joyce all about you and how much you are all thinking of her, she was moved to tears. It has been an amazing experience to be in Paris with her – I feel very lucky to have been able to be there, showing her the sights that she has longed to see for so many decades. It has brought up many beautiful memories for her – listening to Edith Piaf records, learning old French war songs from her father, and remembering a special voice message left on her answering machine by her boy Chris when he visited Paris some years ago – he called her from one of the bridges one night and described in detail everything he could see and hear, including the boats passing underneath, and the twinkling stars above. She couldn’t quite believe she was standing within the exact same scene he had described, she was awestruck by the beauty all around, and amazed that it was really happening – she was really in Paris. It took a couple of days for the reality of the dream to sink in, and it wasn’t really until the third night that she was quite sure she was in Paris  – I’ll describe that night in further detail in another post…

So, I thought I’d share some of the things we got up to in a series of posts this week. And then after that I’ll show + tell some new places Romain and I explored, and new restaurants added to our favourites list. That means this week will be all about Paris, are you up for that? I hope so…

On Saturday I got the idea to try to make a little book (a glimpse as seen in the first photo of this post)  filled with mementos and a few photographs for aunty joyce to be able to take back home to Sydney to show her friends and family. I had bought a little set of Paris stamps and created the book as we went, presenting it to her on Saturday night – I’ll describe how I made it in an upcoming post but I’ll show you snippets from it in each post so you can follow along with our adventures…

So, day one! We decided to do a bit of a walking tour – with french boy as our fabulous (and very handsome, as aunty joyce kept telling me) guide. We started at the Jardin des Plantes and wandered through the gardens, admiring the incredible flowers in bloom at the moment. We were all quite taken by the purple and blue blossom gardens, they were stunning, I particularly loved the artichoke bush. Then we strolled onto pont sully and further along the Seine, taking in the view of the Notre Dame along the way. For lunch we headed straight to one of Romain and my favourite lunch spots – Café Louis-Philippe. The food, as always was delicious and cooked to perfection. We sat out in the courtyard, drank wine and talked about old times. Then we walked up rue du pont louis-philippe and visited some of the shops. I took Joyce into Mélodies Graphiques and told her about the story of the lovers secret messages in the calligraphy notebook which I wrote about in my book, then we wrote a little secret message of our own in there…

photos from Paris: Made by Hand

Joyce found a fab silk scarf in the neighbouring boutique, it suited her perfectly. The shop owner was rather wonderful, she encouraged Joyce to try on all sorts of feather boas and fancy hats. After that we wandered to the Notre Dame to see it up close and personal, and then Saint Chapelle. Even though the stained glass windows were quite spectacular I found myself mostly fascinated by the ceiling…

and the floor…

And that was that, our first day in Paris together!  It was treacherous at moments with the wheelchair  – a couple of times we got stuck on a cobblestone or two and nearly hoisted Joyce right out onto the street! Laughter got us through those moments though. It’s certainly not a city made for wheelchairs but even so, there is still lots to be able to see and do. Luckily Joyce is still fairly mobile and was able to use the chair as a walking frame every now and then. Saint Chapelle had a lift accessed within the Palais de Justice so that was pretty cool to see the Palais from inside.

Next up, day two…

paris: a dream come true…
Posted in paris, personal, pia's photos August 6th, 2010 by pia

Once upon a time there was a little girl who heard about a beautiful, enchanting city in a land far far away where people wore berets, ate something called ‘baguette’, and spoke what she immediately decided must be one of the prettiest languages in the world. She learnt about all the ancient stone buildings that stood tall and magnificent along the long, winding river that ran through the middle of the city, and she listened to songs sung in this pretty language. The little girl fell in love with the idea of this magical city, and consequently spent many hours, days, months, and years dreaming about what it might be like to wander its cobblestones streets. Time went by and life went on but still, the idea of this city and the country it was a part of remained in her heart and in her dreams.

That was over 80 years ago, some time around 1930. As we all know too well, life goes on and dreams get put on shelves. For this little girl, wars came and went, lovers stole her heart, children were born, then grandchildren, and then great grandchildren, her body became more fragile but still, she never forgot about her dream and she never lost hope that one day she might see this beautiful city in person – she always dusted the shelf where her dream lay waiting for her.

Today, that little girl is 90 years old. Her name is Joyce and she is my beloved great aunt who, when I was a little girl, taught me how important it was to dream and how important it was to keep dreams alive. When I visited her back home in Sydney this past January, she told me that this year she was determined to get to Paris, the city of her dreams. I told her, “If you go, no matter where I am in the world or what I’m doing, I will be there with you – I will not miss it for the world.”

Yesterday was the day her dream came true.

Together with her daughter Kathy, myself and Romain, the four of us strolled through the jardin des plantes, took in the view of the notre dame along pont sully, had lunch at café Louis-Philipe, wandered along the surrounding streets all the while taking in the sights and scenery. She can’t quite believe it is happening, and I am beyond ecstatic to be here with her and show her some of the Paris that I have come to know and love.  This afternoon we plan to go to Montmatre to see the Sacre Coeur and have an aperitif in a little bar somewhere along the way. It’s not an easy feat with a wheelchair in tow, but so far we have managed. Countless times Aunty Joyce said to me yesterday, “Why has it taken me so long to get here?” and I said, “It doesn’t matter, you are here now, and it just goes to show you, dreams can come true” and she added “yes, and age is just a word”.

I’ll be back to show you some photos of our adventure in Paris some time next week, for now, let’s linger on the realisation that it is never too late to dust off your dreams and fly with them.  Bonne journee mes amis.

xx

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je suis à Paris…
Posted in paris, pia's photos August 4th, 2010 by pia

…for a very special reason which I plan to reveal demain.  Today, I spent a large amount of time on the metro, it was fabulous people watching. x

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in paris, this weekend: café éphémère…
Posted in artists, food, paris July 17th, 2010 by pia

Just wanted to pop my head into the (blog)house for a moment to let you know that designer Anne Xiradakis has organised another fab café éphémère in the 19th arrondisment of Paris this weekend, along with furniture designer Pierre Hourquet, and chef Delphine Zampetti. The free petite dégustation includes sablé au beurre salé, boisson aux fruits rouges,  and langue de chat au caramel all served on Anne’s new collection called “variables“.

Café éphémère 16 will be open today and tomorrow from 4-6pm at 104, cour anglaise: 104 rue d’Aubervillers, and on monday from 4-6pm at the jardin CPCU : 2, rue de la marne. To make a reservation call Anne on 06 63 06 83 11.

If you’d like to know more about the concept of café éphémère, click here.

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Have a wonderful weekend mes amis.

xx