Bercy Park and Village

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The only reason I don’t visit this park more often is because it’s located at the opposite end of the city from where I live.  I live on the west side, Bercy Park is on the east side in the 12th arrondissement.  It’s true that I have the magnificent Bois de Boulogne at my doorstep, so I’m not exactly sans park.  But Bercy has a nice feel to it.  It’s smaller, more relaxed, and easier to navigate than the Bois de Boulogne which is a sprawling, amorphous-shaped domain containing ponds, a horse stable, a zoo and botanical garden, small amusement park for kids, meandering paths through woodland, a hippodrome and, at night, the largest gathering of prostitutes and clients in the city.  Oh yes, the Bois de Boulogne has something for everyone, offering urbanites a one-stop shop for all their recreational needs.

The other day I crossed the city to visit Bercy Park. Here are a few photos –

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If you look at the ground you’ll see the original tracks laid down in the early 1800s. These were used to transport merchandise.  Bercy, which runs alongside the Seine River, originally served as a warehouse to receive, store and redistribute wines and spirits. Barrels from the country’s wine regions arrived by boat to the capital and were unloaded and stored in wine cellars called chais.

What I like is the segmenting of this long, rectangular park.

Bercy 028Lots of places to picnic, read a book….or write that memoir!Bercy 008There are also modern apartment buildings on the north side. Sometimes you get tired of looking at all that 19th-century hausmanian stuff.Bercy 035If you arrive, like I do, at the Bercy metro stop, you stroll the entire length of the park and then climb these stairs….Bercy 037cross over a road by way of a bridge and then arrive in more parkland.Bercy 049

When you finally reach the other end, you’re rewarded by a tastefully designed area called the Coeur Saint Emilion, better known as Bercy Village, in which to shop, eat and drink.  (At Christmas it’s all lit up with fairy lights and decorations.)  Bercy Village also includes the original wine cellars that have been renovated.  At this end is another metro station called Cour Saint-Émilion.  I highly recommend this feel-good place for a half-day outing.

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http://www.bercyvillage.com

An American in Paris

I haven’t a clue who the blogger is, but his commentary is funny, fresh and informative.  I stumbled upon this blog while looking for info on Mont Saint Michel.  Great photos.  He covers the Champagne region, Mont Saint Michel, Claude Monet’s house at Giverny, and bits of Paris.

I found it interesting.  And thought that you might too.

http://paintrock.net/farnborough/Pages/champagne.htm

rosé wine and gazpacho

As I sit in my small Parisian flat on this Sunday during a heatwave (33°C), my two fans blowing at cross-currents with me strategically positioned in the middle, I have just enjoyed what many people in France consume during the summer: cold gazpacho accompanied by a glass (or two) of chilled rosé wine.  Délicieux.

There’s a popular brand in the supermarkets here that’s quite good. But when I learned that Alvalle is owned by PepsiCo, I decided to make my own.  gazpacho 003Nothing could be easier.  And for anyone on a diet, remember you’re eating raw liquidized vegetables.  Most fruits and vegetables are free on the Weight Watchers program, so you can eat all you want (recipe below).gazpacho 010Rosé wines have enjoyed phenomenal success in the past decade or so. The region of Provence is the spiritual home of rosé, but I enjoy a Corsican varietal.gazpacho 017

Gazpacho

6 ripe tomatoes, 1 purple onion, 1 cucumber, 1 sweet red bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, fresh parsley, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 or 2 small teaspoons sugar, salt and pepper, 1 tsp Worcestershire and/or Tabasco, 4 cups good quality tomato juice.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all these ingredients, I didn’t have the celery, parsley or Tabasco yesterday. Combine in a blender or with a hand-held mixer. Be careful not to overblend because you want it slightly chunky. None of the recipes I saw called for fresh basil. I added fresh basil.

Bon appétit !

random summer shots (and summer sandals)

The weather’s gorgeous here. 29°C, azure sky, hot breeze blowing in from somewhere. It rarely gets humid, not like in Toronto and other lakeside cities.  A heatwave is predicted for the beginning of next week.  Here are some random shots that I took as I made my way around the city this week.  I’ve been visiting the same places lately, so you’ll see the Secret Garden again. These first three are the Parc Monceau, a favourite park in the 8th arrondissement –Paris July 2013 002Paris July 2013 017Paris July 2013 011Back to the jardin du Palais Royal –Paris July 2013 027Paris July 2013 030Paris July 2013 031Paris July 2013 032

Earlier, I said I’d like to do a post of summer sandals. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to move around the city taking photos of people’s feet without looking like a foot fetishist…..actually, I do revere beautiful footwear.  I guess I’ll start with my own summer sandals.  Bought in the sales last year.  Italian.  Naturellement.feet 001

I completely forgot that I did snap a few photos of sandals in boutique windows a month and a half ago.Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 177Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 181Paris Secret Passages June 17, 2013 178

Spectacular!

Eiffel Tower

I was completely blown away by the lavish fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower last night….and I was watching it on television!  I deeply regretted not being there in person.  It was a hot summer’s night, the sky was clear, and the 400,000 people in attendance looked like they were having the party of a lifetime.  Next year, if I’m in town, I’ll be there for sure.

The theme was liberté, égalité, fraternité and while music sounded from the speakers and gigantic bursts of colour illuminated the night sky, La Grande Dame, otherwise known as the Eiffel Tower, glittered and pulsated in her cloak of a hundred thousand little lights and graced us all with her stately presence.  It was quite moving.

A voice – I don’t know whose – recited a line from Voltaire: Plus les hommes seront éclairés, et plus ils seront libres. The more enlightened men are, the more they will be free.  I’m telling you, I got quite choked up.

And that’s not all!  Preceding the sound and light show, a classical music concert lasting an hour and a half also took place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and showcased Sonya Yoncheva, Karine Deshayes, Joseph Calleja, Vittorio Grigolo, Philippe Jaroussky, Ludovic Tézier and Renaud Capuçon.  At one point the Chinese pianist, Lang Lang, came out and performed a gorgeous, jazzy Ravel’s Concerto en sol.  At the end, all the soloists, along with the Radio France choir, gathered on the stage and sang La Marseillaise.  The entire evening was a massive success, not to mention a totally class act.  The French do these things so well.  My suggestion to Paris-lovers: be there next year.  I found some video-clips of the event to share with you. Enjoy!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x11wcup_14-juillet-la-tour-eiffel-aux-couleurs-du-mariage-gay_news#.UeREpdLwm25

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veoPU7mu8I0    at 19:25 watch the Eiffel Tower burst into glitter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvPXBUYUhPg  Here are the final fireworks, called “le bouquet final”.

Bastille Day – 14th of July 2014

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This is what flew over my head this morning, and I missed the shot (this isn’t my photo). You’ll have to bear with me, folks. My brand new camera has so many bells and whistles on it that I got confused and must have pressed the wrong button at the crucial moment. Luckily, the sound of the jets drowned out my expletives to those around me.

The weather couldn’t be more perfect here.  22°C and a deep, azure sky. Today is Bastille Day and the usual parade and marching bands strutted pompously down the Champs-Elysées this morning. Tonight a fireworks display will take place at the Eiffel Tower.

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DID YOU KNOW that France is the world’s most popular tourist destination? I know this because they keep telling us over the radio and on French television. Last year the country welcomed 83 million tourists. The most-visited destinations in Paris are 1) Euro Disney, 2) Notre Dame, 3) Sacre Coeur, 4) the Louvre museum, 5) the Eiffel Tower, and 6) the Palace of Versailles. Outside of Paris they are, in no particular order, 1) the Normandy D-Day beaches and surrounding cemetaries, 2) the chateaux in the Loire Valley, 3) Mont Saint Michel, 4) the French Riviera, 5) the pilgrimage destination of Lourdes, 5) the vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux, 6) Monet’s house and garden at Giverney, 7) Futuroscope theme park near Poitiers, 8) Chartres cathedral, 9) the Pope’s Palace in Avignon, and 10) the French Alps.

Lille’s Gare Saint Sauveur

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Under a leaden sky in the north of France, the kids and I went to our favorite place in Lille last weekend…the Gare Saint Sauveur.

Built in 1861, the Gare was supposed to be the main train station of Lille, but due to its location, far from the historical center, it became a freight station. In 2009 it was renovated into a cultural and leisure space. All year long there are concerts, movies, art exhibitions; sports, science and musical events, many of them free.

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There’s a terrific restaurant inside this building. We had lunch there.

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This was my starter, fresh and delicious – melon au Porto et jambon de Parme.

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It has been said (and written) that kids in France eat differently and better than kids outside of France. Wrong!  Chicken nuggets, fries and Coke. With lots of ketchup.

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I had fries, deep-fried shrimpy things with tartar sauce and coleslaw. And a glass of wine. Geez…and I wonder why I’m struggling with my weight.

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This was not my dessert….it was M’s.

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In another building was a LEGO display. Children (and adults) received a bag full of Lego bricks from which to build their own construction. While the kids were building houses, I went into another building to view a contemporary art exhibition.

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Earlier, we had gone to the fish market for beautiful fish caught fresh that morning.

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