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Paris in Winter

If winter is about grey skies, showers and chilling temperatures, then there's all that in Paris in January. So why go at such an inhospitable time? Because Paris in winter is moody (great for photo ops), less frantic, the bi-annual store sales are irresistible, and you don't have to fight with the swarm of selfie indulgent tourists.

There is no absence of color beneath the threatening cloud cover.

These pastel painted houses were my neighbors during my stay in Paris. I counted five visitors here, myself included. 

I was at once elated, captivated and saddened to see Notre-Dame de Paris again. Elated that I could behold her in festive finery, captivated by her timeless beauty but saddened by the reality of the threat of terrorism.  For a moment I felt fear when I saw policemen dressed in combat gear with high powered rifles patrolling the cathedral. We shouldn't have to accept this as the new norm. But life must go on.

The sixth of January is the feast of the Three Kings. The …

A Disappearing Act

This is the Pyramid in Paris by I. M. Pei which I took on my last visit in 2014. JR, an artist best known for his works, Portraits of a Generation and Women are Heroes, has made the Pyramid disappear as only a magician can.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Fondation Louis Vuitton at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris is a new gallery for modern and contemporary art.  Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive of LVMH, envisioned architecture that would be symbolic of the 21st century and to this end, entrusted the project to renowned architect, Frank Gehry. The glass and steel building represents Gehry's idea of an evolving structure as it interacts with time and light, creating an impression of perpetual change.

The gallery was inaugurated in October of this year and the line to purchase tickets was understandably long in late November. I opted to enter the Jardin d'Acclimatation to get a close look at this colossal structure and observe the play of light on the curving glass panels as the afternoon progressed. 

Gehry's creation was inspired by glass and steel buildings of the 19th century. However, the Fondation is definitely 21st century. It appears like a ship with a recognizable bow under which th…

Rue Crémieux

Rue Crémieux
It’s as if I’m going out again with my old lover. I’m discovering new things about him that I wasn’t aware of before. That’s how I feel about my love affair with Paris. Case in point: Rue Crémieux.
Rue Crémieux is a sleeping beauty with its cobblestone street, pastel painted façades, thoughtful murals, potted plants and an air of unhurried pace amidst the bustling Gare de Lyon area.  
The concerted efforts of the residents of Rue Crémieux to beautify their neighborhood is cause for applause. This is what happens when neighbors commit themselves to a worthy and far reaching goal.

I love the illusion of a tree straddling the house as if it always belonged there.

Notice the murals on this house. These well thought out personal touches define this neighborhood.
To get to Rue Crémieux, take the metro to Gare de Lyon. Walk down a few blocks along Rue de Lyon which is across from the station and Rue Crémieux will be on your left side. Please be mindful that this is a residential neigh…

Fashion Show/Défilé

The program for the Fall/Winter 2014 Collection
One of the unique experiences I had in Paris recently was attending the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann fashion show. Paris is, of course, at the forefront of haute couture so I was thrilled to have the chance to be at the défilé. The show beautifully presented the trends of the season. I was mesmerized by the variety of fun, chic and elegant outfits. The clothes and accessories worn by the models on the catwalk were available at various GL department stores. 
By the way, no photos are allowed at the fashion show but I inquired from the usher who seated me about the no photo policy and he informed me that I could take pictures without a flash. It's always good to ask first.

The ensemble shown above is categorized as PopTimisme. PopTimisme is defined by rhythm, color, and energy. It evokes New York City's street style.

Young fashionistas will be both comfortable and hip in this plaid shirt with cool black and white plaid scarf and black …

Rue Thermopyles

Rue Thermopyles
Rue Thermopyles takes its name from Thermopylae, that narrow pass in Greece where a great battle was fought in 480 BC between a handful of Greek warriors under the command of Leonidas and the 150,000 strong Persian army under Xerxes. But that's the end of the similarity - a narrow street. Rue Thermopyles is a tranquil neighborhood with trees climbing up the walls of its houses and covering some of them in rich foliage. The cobblestone street is lined with potted plants.


If you continue walking to the end of the street and make a right, you will find these two charming homes one of which is nearly hidden from view by trees and shrubs. In front of these homes is the Alberto Giacometti Park, a small square which is a nice extension to Rue Thermopyles.

Paris is a big city with staggering urban growth that comes accompanied by the cacophony of modern day living. It's refreshing to find a haven such as Rue Thermopyles, a little piece of "country" in this …

La Coulée Verte

Viaduc des Arts
La Coulée Verte or the Promenade Plantée is a 4.5 kilometer trail on what was once an elevated railway track that was decommissioned in 1969. The trail begins at Bastille and continues on to Bois de Vincennes. The Promenade has been planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. Every section has a landscaping theme such as the bamboo grove or the fountains. There are vine covered trellises and enough benches for those who wish to read their newspapers or chat with friends or just hang out.  
Of the flowers on the trail, I saw white roses and dark pink double impatiens. There were many shrubs with tiny flowers - one which I noticed looks similar to jasmine but minus the scent. And I was delighted to see holly, so perfect for this season. It's amazing to find many blooming plants this late in the fall. 
 Bamboo grove
I met several joggers along the trail which promises to be a good, long run all the way to Vincennes and back. But walking has its rewards. The path is flank…

Love, Love Locks and Paris

L'amour is alive and well but it's beginning to take a toll on the Pont des Arts in Paris. The growing tradition of hanging love locks on bridges around the world has destroyed sections of this footbridge. The city of Paris has previously removed and replaced certain sections of the railing as the locks weighed them down and caused the grates to separate from the railing. The Pont des Arts is checked regularly as damaged railings pose safety issues as well.


Some of the locks are fancy and well thought out, some are engraved with the couple's names but most locks are plain and heavy and the names hastily scribbled with a marker. Many locks are now rusty and the names have faded into oblivion.


If you arrive in Paris and want to hang your love lock at the Pont des Arts but you didn't bring a lock, worry not. There are lock sellers around the bridge who will gladly sell you one along with postcards and other souvenir items. These resourceful street peddlers will even sell…

Unexpected Pleasures

Tour Eiffel
While eating lunch at Le Lafayette Café on the 6th Floor in the Galeries Lafayette, I happened to look up from my plate of lousy fish du jour with overcooked green beans and saw the Eiffel Tower from my perch. That was my lunch treat.


As I was walking away from St. Etienne du Mont toward Boulevard Saint Michel, I passed by this plaque which says that Erasmus, the Dutch philosopher, was a boarder here for a year at the College of Montaigu in the University of Paris.


From Rue Galande it's a short walk to the quays of the Seine where the bouquinistes have plied their used books within plain view of the towers of Notre Dame since the 16th century.


A novel way to sightsee in Paris is by tricycle. I saw a couple of Yellow PediCabs around Notre Dame. No need to rush in a double decker bus. Slow and easy does it.


One of my favorite parks in Paris is the Jardin du Palais Royal. It's surrounded by arcaded buildings constructed around 1874. This garden was originally designed…

Midnight in Paris Movie Locations

It's not often I watch a movie but on a long flight home late last year, I had the chance to watch Midnight in Paris and was totally captivated by its plot. Can you imagine time traveling to the era of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Picasso and Dali, Gauguin and Toulouse Lautrec? It was therefore such a treat to be in Paris and be able to see a couple of the locations from the movie. Had so much fun figuring out where the Peugeot came from to pick up Gil (Owen Wilson) and take him back to the Jazz Age.

Rue Galande
Rue Galande is a narrow street lined with boutiques with engaging window displays. Notice the giant flea sculpture above one of the shops. This location was shown at the beginning of the film. Interestingly enough, Rue Galande is a stone's throw from the bouquinistes along the Seine and across from the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris.
The Steps of St. Etienne du Mont
This is where Gil was sitting, a little disoriented, when the Peugeot drove up and one of its passengers in…

"I love You" Wall

I didn't see the elevator at the Abbesses metro stop so I unwittingly went up the stairs which winds up 118 feet (or 200 steps according to Wikipedia). Abbesses is one of the deep stations in the Paris metropolitan system. I had to stop twice on the way up to catch my breath and rest my leg muscles. It was quite a climb! I heard the people behind me panting and moaning. We were definitely in Montmartre, high above the rest of Paris. And I came for a specific reason - to see the "I love you" wall or Le Mur de Je t'aime at Place des Abbesses. I had read an article about it on Valentine's day and I was intrigued. How serendipitous that I had this chance to be in Paris! The wall is just behind the entrance to the metro station.

Le mur is made of blue tile and scrawled across it are over 300 greetings of love in 250 languages. I recognized a few like Iniibig Kita and Te quiero. I did a search to find out about Ljubim te and learned that this is a Slovenian/Serbian gre…

Only in Paris

Only in Paris can one descend to the metro in style, under a jeweled canopy. One feels royally crowned.


Only in Paris can one pick up coffee or boissons-to-go in a fuel efficient mini truck.


Only in Paris can one step into a concept car that smells oh la la elegant.


Even Louis XIV would find the gold doors befitting his Sun King image.


Only in Paris can one find a beautiful reclining nude in a public park and it is by Aristide Maillol, no less.

Share with me your "Only in Paris" discovery. Click the comments box below.

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Photos by Charie

Bibimbap in Paris?

bibimbap
The Rue des Petits Champs is off the Avenue de l'Opera in Paris. This street is lined with Japanese restaurants and an Oriental grocery store. The side streets reveal more Asian restaurants and on a rainy afternoon I discovered this Korean restaurant that serves bibimbap. What I like about this dish is that it is a healthy mix of rice and vegetables, similar to the one I was served. It may also be prepared with beef or chicken.

For starters the waitress brought little bowls with kimchi, daikon, julienned carrots, and seasoned lotus roots.
My bibimbap was served in a hot iron cast pot. The ingredients were layered with steamed rice at the bottom of the pot. The rice was slightly roasted from the hot pot which I am partial to because it is crunchy. Vegetables like zucchini, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, bok choy were added on top of the rice and an egg cooked sunny side up capped the dish. Strips of seaweed were sprinkled over the egg. I didn't add the gochuch…

Photographing the Arc de Triomphe

This first photo was taken from the bottom of the Champs Elysées. I stood on the center divide while waiting for the light to turn green to cross to the other side. The Arc is just a dot in the distance.

Halfway up the Champs Elysées, I got a closer and better view of the Arc than the first take.

At this juncture, the features of the Arc are visible to the eye. And the headlights from passing cars add an ethereal beauty to the scene.

This last image was taken right in front of the Arc de Triomphe. It's a hairy experience with cars whizzing past in both directions. There's a narrow 3 feet margin of safety for the photographer to take a souvenir shot without stepping into no man's land.
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Photos by Charie