Tag Archives: Eiffel Tower

Acting French in Paris – Creating the French look – Chateau de Mery and Auvers-sur-Oise

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On this Wednesday’s blogger round-up, we have Wendy Hollands from Le Franco Phoney giving us tips on how to make the most out of a visit to the Eiffel Tower, Jill from Gigi’s French Window giving her interpretation of French decorating styles and Abby from Paris Weekender describing a visit to Méry and Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh lived his last days before taking his own life. Enjoy!

Acting French in Paris

by Wendy Hollands from Le Franco Phoney, an Australian who writes about all things French in La Clusaz, Annecy and Haute Savoie as seen by an outsider by Wendy Hollands from Le Franco Phoney, an Australian who writes about all things French in La Clusaz, Annecy and Haute Savoie as seen by an outsider

eiffel_towerOne of the great things about living in the French Alps is that it’s so totally different to life in big French cities. When I go to Paris, I’m a tourist: loud noises grap my attention, the Metro is confusing, and I need a map to know where I’m going.

If this alternative angle photo of one of the world’s most recognised landmarks doesn’t already give it away, I spent the weekend in Paris with the French in-laws who live there. Read more

Creating the French look

by Jill from Gigi’s French Window, French ponderings from an Australian who must have been French in another life

french lookAt the moment I’m working my way through  a book  titled  Creating the French look by Annie Sloan, which covers eight different french decorating styles, inspirational ideas and 25 step-by-step projects. A great read.

I purchased it because I was curious to see which  would stand out to be MY  favourite style, but as  it so happens , I appear to have  a ‘mélange’ of french  tastes.  I should have known it wouldn’t be as clear cut as that! I mean to say, there are EIGHT different styles……and none are exactly what I would choose??? Let’s have a look together, and you tell me which style resonates  with you :). Read more

Château de Méry and Auvers-sur-Oise

by Abby from Paris Weekender, an American living in Paris who offers suggestions for Paris weekends, either staying put or getting out of town

Mery-AuversThis weekend, I was invited to the beautiful wedding of two close friends at the Château de Méry in Méry-sur-Oise, located about 30 kilometers or 45 minutes north of Paris on the SNCF (local train) in the Parc Vexin. With its traditional château and chapel and ultra-modern hotel on the château grounds, this made for the perfect wedding venue.  Congratulations, my friends!

As the wedding was in the evening, a friend and I decided to take advantage of the first sunny day in the Paris area in three weeks, so we headed to the Val d’Oise (Valley of the Oise River) in the morning.  After leaving our bags at the château, we walked about 15 minutes through the town of Méry and across the Oise River to Auvers-sur-Oise, famous as the residence and final resting place of Vincent Van Gogh and his younger brother Theo. Read more

From Pont des Arts to Ladurée on the Champs Elysées

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It’s Sunday afternoon. We’ve recovered from our early Christmas celebrations on Saturday night and I want to take some photos of Paris in its end-of-year finery. Our first stop is the Pont des Arts, shiny with lovelocks. It’s nearly 6 pm so we wait, with a number of other people, for the Eiffel Tower to shimmer and shine. I regret not having taken the camera, just the iPhone because the result isn’t quite what I hoped.

Eiffel Tower shimmering and shaking from the Pont des Arts
Eiffel Tower shimmering and shaking from the Pont des Arts

We then decide to walk to the Champs Elysées along the Left Bank of the river. We walk down to the water’s edge and past the Calife and look back at the bridge with Pont Neuf in the distance. We go up the next lot of steps and past the closing bouquinistes who are all selling lovelocks of every shape and kind. It’s become a real business!

Padlocks for sale at the bouquinistes near the Pont des Arts
Padlocks for sale at the bouquinistes near the Pont des Arts

As we go past rue de Seine, Relationnel remarks that it’s very rare to see Christmas decorations in the streets of Paris, unlike the provinces. We can now see the Louvre on the right and Big Wheel on its left, having moving from its summer spot near the Louvre. As we get closer, we see a lit-up pencil shape and wonder what it is. We cross over via the Solferino pedestrian bridge and realise that it is a Christmas tree, apparently the largest in Europe.

Big wheel from the Tuileries Garden with the biggest Christmas tree in Europe
Big wheel from the Tuileries Garden with the biggest Christmas tree in Europe

We walk down the Tuileries towards the Big Wheel avoiding the enormous puddles and are amazed by how commercial and popular the wheel has become in recent years. I think one of the reasons is that the cabins are closed in now. I’m annoyed about my fear of heights because the view from up there must be amazing.

Christmas decorations at Rond Point des Champs-Elysées
Christmas decorations at Rond Point des Champs-Elysées

As we cross Place de la Concorde towards the Champs Elysées, we’re suddenly in a huge throng of people all attracted by the so-called Christmas market. We’ve been there before though and haven’t found anything interesting – no handicrafts, just a lot of cheap food and factory-made items so we walk along behind the stalls until we reach Rond Point des Champs Elysées. The decorations are stunning and there are fewer people.

Arc of Triumph
Arc of Triumph

We keep going until we reach Virgin and decide to go and buy a card for the camera.  Despite the number of people, we also buy a couple of DVDs and a CD and don’t even have to wait in line to pay. CDs don’t seem as popular any more! By then, we’ve been walking for an hour and a half and my feet are killing me. We look around for a suitable café but all we can see is Starbucks and other similar places.


We cross the road and I take the typical tourist photo of the Arc of Triumph halfway across and I see Ladurée in front of me. Now, strange as this may seem, I have still never been into Ladurée’s, famous for its macarons. We’re informed that the tearoom is closed (well, it’s nearly 7.30!). We have to choose between the restaurant and the bar.

Art deco wall in the bar at Ladurée Champs Elysées
Art deco wall in the bar at Ladurée Champs Elysées

Well, I’m perfectly happy with the bar. Despite appearances, Ladurée Champs Elysées only opened in 1997 although the original bakery near the Madeleine dates back to 1862. The bar is decorated in what looks like authentic Art Deco and you sit on high stools that keep swinging around. We order a class of Saint Véran and a plate of tapas each.

Bouchées/tapas at Ladurée
Bouchées/tapas at Ladurée

They aren’t really tapas, more like bouchées, but they’re delicious. I use my Evernote Food app for the first time and record what we’re eating: crab & mayonnaise puff, foie gras, candied aubergine, Provençales tomatoes and salmon prestige. When we come out, there aren’t nearly so many people, so we take the metro home to spare my feet. It’s good to be back in Paris!

Bastille Day or 14th July

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Outside of France, everyone celebrates “Bastille Day” while the French call it “le quatorze juillet” (14th July). The very first year I was in France (in 1976, the summer that has gone down in French history as the hotest in a century – this one could well be remembered as the coldest), I celebrated 14th July watching the fireworks on a beach in Biarritz. Unforgettable. And the fireworks have remained  the highlight of France’s national holiday for me every since.


Planes flying over the Palais Royal on 14th July 2012

When Leonardo was little, I can remember taking him into Paris to see the fireworks at the Champ de Mars but found the crowds horrendous. After that, we always went to our local fireworks in Fontenay sous Bois, near Vincennes in the east of Paris. To start off with, we could walk there and secondly we could sit down and chat to all our friends. There was a different theme each year and the standard was usually pretty good.

But now that we live in Paris, we have a secret venue. We watch the fireworks from a vantage point on the top of a six-story building. We don’t get to see them close-up of course, but having Paris spread out unhindered before us is pretty exciting. We take our bincoculars of course and in addition to the fireworks next to the Eiffel Tower, we can see others in the distance. But the weather report is not looking good for tomorrow night so we may be staying home …

American blogger Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris has given an excellent run-down today of all the celebrations in Paris. Here’s her post:

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to boogie down! The official schedule for July 14, 2012. National Day in France.

I took this photo this morning. Do you notice anything different about the Eiffel Tower?

Take a closer look. Those of you who have an acute sense of observation and were alive in the 1970s and early 80s will probably recognize that big sphere as a disco ball. That’s right! Paris is getting ready to boogie down to the tunes of “It’s Raining Men”, “YMCA” and “I Will Survive” when it celebrates National Day on July 14. Put on your platform shoes, bell bottoms and tank tops and join the fun at the Champs de Mars.

Here’s the official schedule, compliments of the Tourist Information Center. Read more


Power Walking down to Concorde

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Just power walked down to Concorde and back through the Tuileries Gardens but grossly underestimated the temperature. The thermometer says 9.5° but I forgot about the wind factor. Next time, I’ll wear my cap with ear flaps (hoping I don’t meet anyone I know, Black Cat in particular) and my inferior Australian suede gloves (because I still haven’t got my new rabbit-fur ones from Italy). Or I could just use my exercise bike and watch a movie at the same time (if I can get the technology to work).

But if I did that, I’d miss the pianist on Place du Palais Royal and the guy with the giant bubble ring that all the kids love. I wouldn’t see the glass pyramids of the Louvre or the pink marble Carrousel Arch with its gold figures and green horses. I would miss the sun setting over the Eiffel Tower and the giant Ferris wheel looking so out-of-place with the Obelisk peaking out behind, mocking my fear of heights. I wouldn’t see the kids sailing their boats on the pond and looking like an Impressionist painting (except for their jeans and anoraks) nor hoping for a ride on the Olde Worlde carousel.

Neither would I be reminded on seeing the Orangerie that I haven’t been back since renovation to visit the wonderful oval rooms with Monet’s waterlilies (shame on me). I wouldn’t see the seagulls calling and screeching over the fountain. I wouldn’t have that stunning view of the Louvre spread out before me as I power walk my way back. I’d miss the man who hires out the sail boats pushing his boat-laden trolley home at the end of the day.

 I wouldn’t see the lovers kissing on benches (they don’t have cold ears) or the foreign tourists having their cheese and wine picnics (and ignoring the cold). I wouldn’t see Henry (and not the more strait-laced Thomas) Moore’s Reclining Figure at the foot of the Orangerie or the 18 Maillol statues down the other end. I would miss the open-mouthed fish at the bottom of the lamp posts next to the Decorative Arts Museum. Not to mention the giant monkey leaning out the window!

I wouldn’t be treated to the welcoming smell of roast chestnuts as I come out onto Rue de Rivoli. Neither would I go past the Comédie Française where Molière died in his chair or see the Night Revellers’ Kiosk. I wouldn’t see all the kids playing among the Buren columns and proudly wearing their crowns (they had the galette des rois today). I wouldn’t see all the people crowded into Miss Bibi’s tiny jewellery shop nor would I have the pleasure of feeling my ears get warmer as I walk up the stairs to my apartment.

But, more than anything else, I might forget just how lucky I am to actually live in the Palais Royal, right in the centre of the City of Light!

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