London calling

LONDON August 2014 084

I’m off to London, one of my most favourite cities, and my To Do list is already long.  Favourite bookshops and tea shops to visit; a Baroque concert (free) at St Martin-in-the-Fields church; a trip to the Tate Modern to see the Sonia Delaunay retrospective;  a further exploration of East London, but this time with a map because last summer I got hopelessly lost; a visit to the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury because I’ve never visited it before; a ramble through Regent’s Park then over to Primrose Hill to climb to the top and gaze at the splendid view of London’s skyline;  meeting up with friends;  touring my favourite charity shops to grab a bargain on designer clothes…oh, so many things to see and do!  The Tomoko Yoneda photography exhibition at the Grimaldi Gavin gallery; my favourite riverside walk in Fulham’s Bishops Park;  stopping to watch the rowers from the Putney Rowing Club on the river Thames;  popping into Planet Organic for a healthy meal….and lots of other things.

And it looks like I’m leaving at just the right time!  Temperatures soared to 31 degrees Celsius today in Paris.  Next week is forecast to go up to 37.  Hot winds are blowing in from Spain and North Africa.

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If you haven’t seen my London posts from last summer, you can view them here to discover lots of addresses and out-of-the-way places to visit.

My London – Borough Market

My London – South Kensington and Fulham

My London – Marylebone

My London – around Covent Garden

My London – Bloomsbury

East London’s Whitechapel Gallery

The Secours Populaire Français wants YOU!

secours populaire

The Secours Populaire Français (SPF), or the French Popular Relief, is dedicated to fighting poverty and discrimination.  And in honor of this year’s 70th anniversary, it’s organizing a giant party for children on August 19th.

Founded in 1945, this French non-profit organization operates on donations and aims to bring together people of all opinions, origins, and walks of life who wish to live in solidarity. It is particularly focused on providing victims of discrimination with emergency shelter, food, clothing, and referrals to health care facilities. The Secours Populaire Français also works globally, providing emergency aid and ongoing development projects, working closely with non-French associations capable of identifying local needs.

For example, here is the link to the SPF’s vital actions last summer in Gaza as it went to the aid of Palestinian children, traumatized by Israel’s sustained military assault that left hundreds of children dead, hundreds injured, hundreds disabled and/or orphaned.

secours enfants

If you are free on Wednesday August 19th, the SPF wants YOU to help in the organization of a gigantic rally to take place on the Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. This festive gathering will bring together thousands of children from all over France and from other countries – children who, because of poverty, are deprived of summer vacation.  In the morning a treasure hunt will take place followed by a giant picnic.  Numerous activities and a concert are scheduled for the afternoon.

Below is a link that will take you to a questionnaire. If you are free to volunteer your services (greet children at train stations, lead groups for the treasure hunt, accompany groups on Paris buses and in the metro, etc.) please fill it out and the SPF thanks you.

Comme le savez, le Secours populaire français fête ses 70 ans de solidarité cette année. Dans le cadre de la Journée des Oubliés des Vacances, nous avons voulu organiser un grand rassemblement au Champ de Mars le mercredi 19 août 2015.

Avec un objectif de 70 000 enfants et familles venus de tous les départements et 1000 enfants venus de 50 pays, le Secours populaire prépare  le « Pari(s) des Solidarités »

Ensemble, ils vivront une journée inoubliable : Chasse aux trésors avec découverte insolite de Paris le matin, puis pique-nique géant suivi de nombreuses animations et un grand concert.

Pour réussir ce grand rassemblement festif qui regroupera des milliers d’enfants privés de vacances, venus de toute la France et de pays du monde



Don’t you love TED Talks?  I listen to them while in the kitchen, where I am right now.  Saturday mornings are sacrosanct for me and, I assume, everyone else who works all week.  Sleeping in an extra hour, bacon sandwiches for breakfast, numerous espressos, lounging around in p.j.’s and listening to TED Talks on YouTube.

TED (technology, entertainment and design) is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading ideas.

Here are three of my favourites.  Below is the main link to many many TED Talks that you can choose and listen to.

a new publicity campaign with (supposed) shock value

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I don’t know about you, but I find this new PETA advertisement quite boring. It’s supposed to be what the French call “pub choc”, which means publicity with shock effect, but the only effect it has on me is to make me yawn.  I don’t wish to offend the airbrushed Zahia Dehar, escort girl turned fashion designer, but it’s like, been there, done that.  And I suppose it’s the cause, too, that doesn’t excite.  Have a heart, become a vegetarian??  Errrr….OK, I guess.  I’ll give it some thought.  Actually, I did stop eating meat for a year and then realized I missed it, so now I’m eating meat again.

And my last beef (pardon the pun) is this – aren’t there more pressing causes in the world today other than to ask people, in a sort-of provocative way, to become vegetarian?

PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals   I can think of a dozen urgent causes right now concerning the ethical treatment of humans.  And in saying that I’m in no way discrediting or diminishing the importance of compassionate treatment of animals.

Now here are some past advertising campaigns with shock value – the first one, simulated gang rape, but at least they’re all stylishly dressed….what were D&G thinking??

 dolce gabbanagun adbaby junkiebaby-soft-1970sreporters-without-borders-ink-france-2009duncanquinnad

And just for fun, here are some ads from the past that, in their time, weren’t intended to shock at all.  But today they’re seriously shocking!


guns in my face


I am so sick of seeing gigantic posters of gun-wielding actors as I make my way around my city.  As much as I love so many American films, I resent the glorification of weapons, not to mention the exportation of America’s gun culture to other countries.

In some posters, guns are flaunted like fashion accessories.  Guns are not glamorous.

Isn’t there enough violence in the world?

the Fondation Louis Vuitton arts center

lv big one

I’m taking the day off work tomorrow to spend the morning at this newly-opened art museum designed by Frank Gehry, the famous architect from Los Angeles. Situated in the Bois de Boulogne in western Paris, this iconic structure resembles a ship with billowing sails, what Gehry calls “from nautical to natural”.

lv big two

Here’s what Mayer Rus wrote in Architectural Digest –

Commissioned by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault to design a signature arts center for the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, architect Frank Gehry conceives a radiant tour de force wrapped in swirling glass sails

A dazzling center for contemporary art and culture, the project is the brainchild of Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of the French luxury-goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton, and was brought to life by that most lyrical of architectural conjurers, Frank Gehry.  With its shiplike exterior of billowing glass sails, the 126,000-square-foot, 2.5-story building suggests an avant-garde update of the Jolly Roger, gracefully piloted by Peter Pan through the Bois’s verdant sea of centuries-old trees with a trail of pixie dust in its wake. Bewitching and majestic, the structure alights in the park with the delicacy of the Winged Victory perched at the head of the Daru staircase in the Louvre. Suffice it to say, it’s the kind of place that invites ecstatic odes and mixed metaphors.

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” When kids come to the Foundation Louis Vuitton
I want them to elevate their imagination,
so they grow up thinking of architecture differently “
Frank Gehry

the Molitor, a Paris institution

Piscine d'Eté

Isn’t this a gorgeous photograph?  In the upper left background you can see the glittering Eiffel Tower.

And what is the Molitor, you might well ask.  Why, it’s the city’s most fashionable swimming pool, darling, and it has quite a history.  Constructed in 1929 in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, it was intended to resemble an ocean liner, with different levels, white railings and circular windows.  It’s a marvellous example of the Art Déco style of its time.

Future Tarzan actor, Johnny Weissmuller, was a lifeguard there.  He spent a season giving swimming lessons and rescuing damsel bathers in distress.

The Molitor is also remembered by Parisians for its transformation into a skating rink in winter.

“I remember a confined, very crowded place”,  reminisces Corinne, a Parisian schoolgirl in 1958.  “We used to turn endlessly, bothering each other.”

“It was a place where rich kids from the 16th arrondissement and Boulogne-Billancourt picked each other up.  All the girls wore crew neck cardigans buttoned on the back and Hermes scarves crossed in the front and tied up on their backs.”  Chic !

molitor skating rink

By 1989, though, the 60-year-old pool fell into ruin. The city of Paris didn’t have the funds to renovate, so it closed.  It became a venue for raves and a canvas for graffiti artists.

molitor graffitti

Oddly enough, 4 years later another famous swimming pool in Paris – the Deligny – which was a floating pool on the river Seine, would sink.  I used to go to the Deligny when I first arrived in Paris in the early 1990s.

But all’s well that ends well, my darlings.  Today the Molitor is swank – restored back to its former glory, but with a modern twist.  It’s part of a hotel.  A luxury hotel.  For many Parisians, though, it’s an unaffordable luxury. People can use the pool if they stay at the hotel (from 215 euros per night), join the Molitor club (3,000 euros per year) or pay for a one day membership (150-180 euros).

Here’s a beautifully-done video of the pool’s history and its sparkling new life today.  Click on the link below and scroll down a little bit.  Watch how the Molitor re-invents itself over the decades.  Chic !