melons galore and summer fruit

What a perfect day today…far too beautiful to stay indoors!  We’ve been enjoying cool, sunny weather for awhile, but as from today things will be heating up, temperature-wise. Today went up to 30°, tomorrow is forecast for 33° and Thursday 36°.

Grabbing my panier, I set out this morning to my local produce market.  I wanted to buy some papaya, mango, ginger-root and melon, amongst other things.  Melons are in abundance this summer.   Monoprix was selling them for 1 euro last week.

IMG_4840IMG_4846IMG_4841IMG_4842Mountains of Cavaillon melons from the Vaucluse region side by side with peaches, cherries and heaps of fragrant basil.  I’m on vacation for 10 days in August and plan to make a big batch of pesto as well as tomato sauce from scratch.IMG_4837IMG_4855IMG_4853IMG_4839We’re spoiled for choice in this land of abundance. Here’s a trio of fresh-caught rouget, bass and shrimp (prawns). IMG_4860IMG_4852IMG_4859I bought this frock for 13 euros.IMG_4864And then I came across this stall where the most beautiful hand-woven baskets were being sold. “What is the material of these baskets?” I asked the saleswoman. “Plastic.” she replied.  Which means not only durable, but waterproof (great for the beach). I also loved her rings and bracelets.IMG_4871These ones you could slip your laptop into. Or papers and magazines.IMG_4879I asked her for her card and said that, with her permission, I’d like to post these photos onto my blog. She works with a Mexican associate, she told me, hence the bright colours.IMG_4875IMG_4869I love them.  Unfortunately I had no cash left.  Even though I have a surplus of carry-all bags, I’m going to return next Sunday to buy one.IMG_4875Here’s the smoothie I made when I got home – melon, papaya, apple, coconut milk, orange juice, ginger-root, chia and hemp seeds.  And, as usual, I forgot the mint.  Why do I always forget to buy fresh mint?  Je vous souhaite un excellent dimanche !IMG_4886

The Secret Garden

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Sssshhhhh…..this is my most favourite spot in Paris.  Frequented largely by Parisians, I don’t want it over-run with tourists.  So if you promise to keep this address to yourself, I’ll tell you about it.

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It’s called the garden of the Royal Palace – le jardin du Palais Royal – and it’s a sublime sheltered retreat tucked behind a courtyard near the Louvre.  The long, rectangular garden is hemmed in by elegant arcades that border its perimeter. Exclusive boutiques are to be found in 18th-century shopping galleries.  As well as two or three restaurants.  And other treats.

Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 047Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 048Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 058I love the faded grandeur of the buildings.  The author, Colette, lived in one of these upper apartments overlooking the garden.Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 066Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 063

You could easily spend half a day here. There’s a beautiful fountain in the middle. Tree-lined allées that provide shade.

Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 053Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 040There are little squares of rose garden in which to sit to read a book, contemplate life, people-watch, write your memoir.Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 072Where young princes once strolled, local boys today play soccer.Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 069And at the far end, near the entrance, is an inner courtyard containing the controversial columns designed by artist, Daniel Buren.Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 035Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 033I like the irreverent interplay between modern and classical.Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 036Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 041

I love the jardin du Palais Royal.  It’s French, it’s fabulous, it’s forever.  Pour toujours.

Naomi Klein, the Paris climate conference, and the Alberta tar sands

I was listening to Naomi Klein on RFI radio this afternoon (Radio France Internationale).  In view of the upcoming Paris Climate Conference, the Canadian author, social activist and critic of corporate globalization was discussing her latest book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”.

“In the wake of the disastrous Copenhagen climate conference,” she said, “it became clear that we cannot count on our politicians to act.  We need to exert pressure on our governments, engage in acts of citizen mobilization and even civil disobedience.”

She cited a glaring example concerning French President Hollande’s November 2014 state visit to Canada.

While addressing the nation’s parliament in Ottawa, Hollande broached the urgency of dealing with climate change.  “The world must act to bring down gas emissions caused by fossil fuels,”  he exhorted.  “Climate change is almost entirely man-made and a lack of action will lead to disaster.”

While visiting Alberta however, home to Canada’s vast oil reserves, his discourse changed radically.  Needless to say, the presence of 40 French business leaders in Hollande’s party was testament to the commercial focus of his visit.

“I would like France to showcase the immense riches of Canada’s Northwest Territories, whether it is exploration, transformation or hydrocarbon transport techniques, or infrastructure building,” Hollande said. “French firms are especially well placed in these areas.” 

Showcase?  That’s a veiled word, I suppose, for securing lucrative contracts.

French oil and gas company, TOTAL, one of the six “Supermajor” oil companies in the world is already present in Alberta, but the region’s infrastructure and service needs are attractive to other French businesses.  (TOTAL is focused on oil and gas exploration and production in the Athabasca Oil Sands region of Alberta.)

The Alberta Tar Sands

Did you know that Canada is the single-largest exporter of oil to the United States?  And that after Saudi Arabia, Canada holds the second largest oil reserves in the world?  It’s even dubbed “the Saudi Arabia of the North.” 

Canada exports more than $37 billion to the US which accounts for some 707,316,000 barrels of oil per year (1,938,000 barrels per day) — a whopping 99 percent of its annual oil exports, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Statistics.

What luck for the Americans.  Instead of importing oil from the turbulent Middle East, they have vast reserves right next door!

Sadly, my country is also the world’s biggest environmental polluter and has shown no willingness to rein in its energy industry.  In December 2012, Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, withdrew the country from the Kyoto Protocol. 

So, as Naomi Klein says, we cannot rely on our politicians to seriously tackle climate change and global warming. 

Politicians lie to us.  Here’s cowboy Harper, I mean Harper wearing a cowboy hat. 


Oh, look…now he’s an Indian chief.

indian chief

Please do two things – consider buying an electric car, and watch this edifying documentary entitled To the Last Drop: Canada’s Dirty Oil Sands.  I learned a lot from it.

The Ile Saint Louis, Batobus and the river

Here are photos of the main street of the Ile Saint Louis, its architecture and the surrounding river. The Ile Saint Louis is a small, natural island located in the middle of the river Seine.  The closest metro stop is Cité.   Cheaper and more flexible than the Bateaux Mouches excursion boats, I recommend the Batobus.  You can hop on and hop off at one of the 8 different riverside stops.  Photos and ticket prices are in one of the photos. These photographs were taken during a heatwave in August 2013.  As for their display, click on each one to enlarge it.

Berthillon ice cream

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Yesterday was hot. Very hot. And I took the day off work, not because it was hot but because everyone takes time off during July-August.  After my Pilates class, I headed to the river and to Berthillon glacier (ice creams and sorbets) located on the small island of Ile Saint-Louis in the middle of the river Seine.

Paris, Friday August 2, 2013 085Paris, Friday August 2, 2013 081What’s funny is that the original Berthillon ice cream parlour is closed during July and August!  Isn’t that a hoot?  Luckily, the Ile Saint Louis is served with a half-dozen outlets.Paris, Friday August 2, 2013 059

You either line up and purchase your ice cream take-out or sit inside and have it served to you.  It was so hot I had to sit down and order an apple juice while perusing the list of a dozen or so flavours ranging from fig to litchee to mandarin orange. Sorbet, or sherbet in English, has 30% less calories.  I ordered mango and cherry sorbet.

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Isn’t this the most gorgeous-looking sorbet?  Eating Berthillon is an event because the flavour is so intense and the taste sensation so startling, you swear you’re eating a real mango and real cherries. Once the fruit sorbet eaten, I ordered a single scoop of réglisse. Never having tasted licorice ice cream before, I was curious. (I thought it would be black – photo below).  Again, the flavour bursts in your mouth.  One scoop is 3 euros 50, two scoops 6 euros 50.  For take-out, one scoop is 2 euros 50, two scoops 4 euros.  

I like that the word “flavour” in French is parfum.  I like that metal and not plastic spoons are used.  I like the edible wafer cup (coupelle en gaufre) that the sorbet is served in and I like the pitcher of water that’s offered.

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Afterwards I strolled the streets of the Ile Saint Louis and then made my way down to the river.  A hot wind was blowing.  …….to be continued.

too hot to stay indoors…

What do you do on a hot July Saturday when you want to be near a park and some water?   Why, go to Bercy, of course!


I discovered Bercy Park (Parc de Bercy) when it opened in 1994 and love it for its elongated lawns, diverse gardens and close proximity to the river Seine.  Midway through the park, there’s a cool and peaceful arbor overlooking a small pool. This is where I like to go, taking my pages with me, to sit quietly and work on my book project.  I have some rather exciting news concerning my book project.  Earlier this week I learned that an editor – and not just any editor, but a New York editor who is also an American novelist of some renown (a New York Times bestselling author, if you please)  – has agreed to work with me.  This will involve coaching me about structure and the organization of material, showing me how “less is more” and basically helping me whip my book into shape.  Once I get her permission, I’ll tell you her name.  Let’s just say that I’m excited.  And more motivated than ever. 

Here’s where I like to sit and write or read a book.


On the other side of the river from Bercy Park, there’s a fabulous open-air swimming pool called the Josephine Baker.  It’s on a barge.  Connecting the right and left riverbanks and leading to the pool is a wide footbridge (photos up top) called the passerelle Simone de Beauvoir.  On this particularly hot day, the breeze blowing in off the river as you crossed the bridge was very welcoming. 


Back to my flat at the end of the afternoon for a glass of chilled rosé and melon from Provence which, as I write this, brings to mind John Keats’ poem, Ode to a Nightingale.  My father, after a few glasses, used to recite this to us around the dinner table –

…Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim…


mmmmm….tastes like summer. Bye for now.

here’s another post I wrote exactly two years ago entitled Bercy Park and Village –

July 14 – Bastille Day


Spewing blue, red and white smoke in their wake, Air Force jets pass directly over my building every year on July 14th, France’s national holiday (video below).  The noise is deafening.  Tonight there will be fireworks and public dances throughout the whole of France.

Bonne fête, everybody….Vive la France !!