Paris in the Spring

It’s a cliche that had my eyes rolling to the heavens years before I even had an inkling that I’d one day live in Paris. Some friends thought that Paris in the spring equated a romantic experience for as long as you were there. Cue more eye rolling (whether actually done or not, I don’t know, but the urge was certainly strong!). I would argue that romance could be found in many different places and touching down for a long weekend in a city could not possibly mean that romance would flourish – and by extension, dissipate upon departure.

I still think that.

But..and it’s a big but, Paris IS delightful in the spring. Even more so when you’ve suffered the grey, black, beige and perhaps, just perhaps navy, Parisian uniforms of winter, coupled with the grinding grey skies. Paris in winter is not recommended (Christmas shopping break excepted).

Green buds start appearing on naked trees, birds begin to arrive and mornings are accompanied by birdsong. More than that, the sun makes this museum city come alive and vibrancy pokes holes through its unwavering facade of stuffiness.

I may not want to stay here indefinitely, but I have to say that I do love living in Paris in the spring.

Tales from the gym

This man is a true sportsman: preparing for an Ironman* race

Big Mama does not like the gym, “People are always watching you there.” I disagree, in the hope that she’ll go and get fit.

“They’re not watching you,” I counter, “They are looking in the mirror at themselves.”

That is sort of true. People are looking at themselves, but there are plenty of people checking others out. I’m one of them. I find people watching absolutely fascinating. I love seeing how different people move, what sort of workout they are doing, how they interact, what they wear. Egyptian gyms had women in full makeup, hair perfectly coiffed, pumped up men on steriods, as well as the ‘normal’ worker-outers.

France is a whole other ball game. First, I have only been in one gym, so I have no idea how it compares, but there seem to be an incredible amount of people who are insanely attractive. Ok. Mainly men. They’re kind of model good looking… Then there are the middle aged women with bodies of a 22 year old, only more flexible. They often sport some kind of lycra ensemble, sometimes even from around the time they were 20 years old, and they still look great in it.

Then there are the legs; perfectly smooth. So many of them. And they don’t belong to just the women. It seems that it is fashionable for middle aged men, and some a little younger, usually at a ‘normal’ level of fitness, to shave their legs. You know, it’s what pro swimmers and cyclists do to make them faster. For cyclists, it’s also to make injuries from falls easier to heal – to stop hairs getting caught in healing wounds.

I wasn’t aware that those cumbersome stationary bikes could be so dangerous!

*An Ironman is swimming 3.8 km, then cycling 180 km and then running a marathon 42.2 km run

Hello, hello, hello!

Well, I can now officially say: I’m back! Yes, my absence was not planned, nor was it because I was so traumatised by the move to Paris that I stopped blogging – although, it was pretty traumatising and perhaps it’s a good thing I was muted, rather than spew months of moaning over these electronic pages.

Nope, Trailing Grouse was attacked by some nasty malware that not only infected nearly every post, but subsequently locked me out of the server. If you’re not a techie, think of it as someone scribbling all over the pages of a book, then locking the book shut.

If you’re searching for something in the archives, you will notice that some of the very early posts are not there (weep) and the formatting has been a little messed up, but, and it’s a big but, we are off Google’s list of “dangerous” sites – so the blasted malware is gone!

Cultural surprises – not for weak stomached!

A few things that I found particularly “interesting” after arriving in Paris.

The French have such a different attitude towards food than us Anglo Saxons. This was in our local market. Yes, they’re trotters.

Not only pigs’ ears and trotters though, which is odd enough…

..but yes, two pigs’ heads. I hadn’t seen so much pork for about 10 years.

Now for the truly stomach churning: McDonalds. This is some kind of felafel burger *shiver* with some strange squiggles above it that I’m guessing is supposed to be Arabic. It probably is, if you don’t speak Arabic…

And finally this. I just don’t know how the French haven’t been protesting about this. In McDonalds they have the McCafe which has the Macaron (get it? McAron..groan).

Note that they have a double cream layer. I’m not sure if this is supposed to make them look like mini burgers (big yuck) or is an American offering to French cuisine, the former being infamously fond of rather more cream/calories than the latter.*

I have not tried any of the produce or products on this page. Here’s hoping it stays that way!

*Looking at the ones in the box, it seems that not all flavours get the double cream treatment. A mystery…

Lucky old France

notre dame sunset

I left Mr S at home as I made a quick trip across the Channel from 5-7th January. He was issued with what seemed, well, to me at least, as clear instructions to take down the Christmas decorations and get rid of the tree on the 6th.

It’s quite obvious, really, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

We spoke on the 6th and with the hints of irritation he told me how it had taken 45 minutes to chop the tree, as it was too large to take downstairs.

Words twitched the tip of my tongue, which I quickly bit, concerning how the tree got up there in the first place. “Oh gosh,” I said, “Really? Oh no! At least it’s done now though.” I semi-consoled.

So, imagine my surprise, on the 7th, when arriving home from a long journey, the first thing that greeted me were Christmas decorations.

I said nothing..for all of five seconds.

Mr S was adamant that removing decorations on or by the 6 January was not obvious. I was stunned.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame – 15 Jan 2011

Until, that is, we passed Notre Dame on Saturday (15 Jan).

notre dame creche
Angel in Notre Dame Creche – 15 Jan 2011

Not only is there a stonking great Christmas tree outside..

notre dame creche
Wisemen and shepherds in Notre Dame Creche – 15 Jan 2011

..but inside, the creche is still in pride of place.

notre dame creche
The Family in Notre Dame Creche – 15 Jan 2011

I have to say, it is all rather tasteful and I absolutely love the ethereal animals.

notre dame
Notre Dame’s Christmas tree – 15 Jan 2011

So, I have no idea when decorations come down in France, but it’s safe to say that on 6 January, while we make sure Christmas disappears, the French are too busy eating their Gallette de Roi (a heavy almond-paste filled pastry with a hidden tuppence-like object inside, the finder of which gets a crown) to be bothering about superstitious removal of festive reminders.

A wee note: not excellent photos, but not bad for an iphone..

It’s unavoidable…

from Printemps website

Today is the start of les soldes – biannual, state-controlled sales, the only proper sales in France. After precisely 2.5 seconds deliberation, I made the decision that if this is a ‘local custom’, it was time to go native.
Off I went on le metro, to my favourite of les grand magasins (department stores), Le Printemps, because this is the only shop in Paris, other than a few supermarkets, that I know my way around.


Having seen the opening of Les Soldes on television before, I spent the morning polishing my elbows. As you can see, my enthusiasm wasn’t exactly overflowing, as I decided that at 5am I was better off in my cosy bed, asleep, rather than shivering outside a closed shop waiting to be the first in.

So, there you go. I went to les soldes. What did I come back with? Two dresses, a blouse



A cake (not part of les soldes!).


Unavoidable in the city-of-cakes really…