Monday, June 20, 2011

Buttes Chaumont.....

There are moments in life when doing something as simple as a picnic with friends turns into something quite magical.  I’m not really one for drama….or am I....but my first experience with Buttes Chaumont was nothing short of extraordinary.  There for a picnic to say au revoir to a friend as she returned to London, I fell in love.  NOT with a boy as would have been preferred but with a park. 
BUTTES CHAUMONT – correct me if I’m wrong but pretty sure it’s the 3rd largest park in Paris and I have to say a well-kept secret! 

You come out of the Metro (7bis Buttes Chaumont is my preferred-and if you know what’s good for you, take the elevator) and walk into the park and be instantly relaxed. 
The highest point of the park is the Belvedere of Sybil a stone monument soaring high into the sky.  Modelled off the roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy it has nearly 360’ degree views of the park and in my opinion, it is the best spot to view Sacre Coeur.
There are 2 options to get to the 30 metre rocky peak, a fantastic suspension bridge which crosses the lake or the ‘oh so creepy ‘suicide bridge’ on the southern side.  Seriously that is what it’s called.

The park was commissioned by Napoleon III and was part of the development plans under Baron Haussmann.  Merci Haussmann! Originally a quarry for gypsum and limestone, the park is now home to many indigenous and exotic plant life, case in point I stumbled across a Bottle Brush walking over suicide bridge.  (For those not in the know, it’s a native Australian plant)
Cliffs, waterfall, puppet shows, theatres, three restaurants, a plethora of green grass to picnic on, AND rumour has it TWO waffle stalls!!  What’s NOT to love people?


*returning to the magical moment, mes amis et moi watched one of the best sunsets I have ever seen, the photos don’t do it justice but hopefully you will see why I love it!

(this is my roman goddess pose...)
oh the park closes on dusk each evening, give or take 30 minutes, and a polite young man rides around on a scooter blowing his whistle at everyone to let them know......
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

to creep and climb

Many apartments/homes/buildings/statues in France have creepers growing over them; usually it’s some variety of Ivy or other plant life that I know not the name of.  I find the prolific rate that they grow fascinating and how in no time at all, the building is awash in leafy greens.
I was wandering through the 5th the other day when I stumbled across this beauty.  What amazed me was, if you look closely, it’s actually wisteria!  Can you imagine what it would have looked like at the start of spring when it was in flower!!?

How romantic it is with its tendrils curling around the iron balustrading, waving in the breeze, winding and snaking its way up and across the windows. 
I love how the terrace wraps around the corner into an L-shape!  Imagine living there, lounging in the winter sun with hot mint tea and mums shortbread and relaxing with friends over a long luxurious lunch (woohoo for alliteration!) of seared prawns and tomato salad…..followed by fresh raspberries and crème fraiche…..

Also (as if it couldn’t get better), it overlooks Le Jardin des Plantes! Quelle Chance!
Alas I have missed its flowering glory but will remember it for next year, to see it in all its lavender splendour!

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blossom trees

With the start of summer come long LONG nights, the heat and the storms, summer dresses and ice-cream, mangoes, and strawbs.  But before we move into this new season let us remember les fleurs de printemps. 
Blossoms are a special favourite and a delightful representation of spring.  A short stroll up the Rue from me is the Eglise de Saint Vincent de Paul.  One of the preferred spots for juvenile delinquency and much frequented by the gendarme, yet their various activities are made all that much softer by the cherry blossoms that frame them.
(One charming factor about l’eglise, are the bells.  Chiming on the hour and reminding you of its existence every 15 minutes you can just see the tips of the two bell towers from my balcony.  Frankly I find the constant ding-danging comforting.)
The magic of blossoms is the short window of opportunity to see them in all their splendour; the ever-increasing excitement as you see the buds swell and threaten to burst.  Then in a blink of an eye, large patches across the city are dominated by pink and white. 
Full bunches of petals tightly wound together clinging onto their branches lest a late breeze comes trembling through and sweeps them off to another fate.



and before you know it, the petals are gone and you are left with shades of green......

Friday, June 10, 2011

for the love of eclairs...

A short stroll across Pont Alexandre III, a quick detour down a side street, elderly men enjoying their afternoon petanque match, the majesty of Les Invalides rising upwards and we arrive at our final destination…….glass cabinets and marble benches, smokey blue walls and contemporary black fixtures, timber stools and dapper waiters…..but for me, un café et un éclair au chocolate s’il vous plait.


such sweethearts!



Lingering moments listening to jazz watching young ones bat eyelids and smile sweetly and I’m off to get the metro home…..with a quick stop for canary yellow chrysanthemums au fleuriste……


(Merci Beaucoup to Jordan at for her post on Le Jocteur which heavily influenced my afternoon stroll!)
Le Jocteur-14 Avenue Villars-7th