People watching in Paris

pink socks top

I love to watch people. How they walk, how they move, what they’re wearing and where they’re from have always fascinated me. Usually I just drink it all in and enjoy, rather like watching a film. Occasionally though, somebody surprises me (like intergalactic Grandma) and I’m shaken out of my reverie. This takes quite some doing as I have been consciously people watching for at least fifteen years, everywhere I’ve been.

I’m not sure if this man was a scout leader, something that only ocurred to me when I got the photo onto a bigger screen and saw the inverted triangle on his t-shirt and payed more attention to his hat.

Think about it though, what do you expect him to be wearing below the knees?

Think hard. Harder.

Here you go:

pink socks

Now I BET you weren’t thinking of pink knee-high socks and orange shoes!

Poilane for Bastille Day

bread eiffel

Righty ho, it’s a bit late, but isn’t this just superb?! “Yes, yes it’s the Eiffel Tower, so what?” I hear you say. Well, it’s made from BREAD! This was the window display at Poilane for Bastille Day. The tower was a good metre high.

Next to it was this:

bread carrousel

Yes, that’s right, a bread carrousel!  And can you make out what the animals are?

bread carrousel elephant

An elephant and a horse! Wowee!

Poilane often have interesting windows, but this just blew me away!

Intergalactic fashion in Paris

spaceage granny - top

Paris is not a fashion-forward city. Stylish, chic, classic, yes, but there are not enough risk-takers in the attire department to make it a trend-driver. This does not seem to differ whether people are in the older or younger generations: everybody dresses like their peers.

So look at the photo above. It’s taken in mid-July at around noon. Our Parisian lady moved deceptively quickly past my lunch companion and I. In a pillarbox red coat* and black berret, she already stood out – red is not a typical colour to see on a Parisian, especially a coat and more especially on a lady who is probably a grandmother, as they usually (read: always) opt for black or beige.

Sometimes all this sameness can get a bit boring.

A French Grandma with intergalactic boots

 

So imagine our squeals of delight when we spotted her utterly fabulous intergalactic boots!

 

*I haven’t altered these pictures, they were taken with the iPhone in a hurry so a bit blurred, but the coat really was that bright!

A big, fat chicken

Ssssh! You don’t know I’m here.

I’m in hiding.

Somebody put a notice up in our apartment building recently announcing a “building party and bbq”. Excellent idea.

Are those things that are just announced? Perhaps there’s a core of people who all know each other and they decided and the rest of us are expected to attend.

Expected, because how on earth do you hide in your apartment pretending you’re not there? It’s not as if letting the phone ring will cut it – the party-goers can see the lights on!

I can’t enter or leave the building because the entrance hall and garden courtyard is the party location!

And why is it that I’m so terribly anti-social? First there’s the food: I can’t eat it (have you tried to have meat well-cooked in France? Pregnant women are also not allowed salad in France. Not much else to eat at a bbq!). Second there’s the wine: I can’t drink it. Third there’s the language: I can’t speak it well enough to socialise with people I don’t know but kind of have to see everyday. If I were to never meet them again, I wouldn’t mind, but that’s not exactly the case with neighbours. Which brings me to my fourth point: I don’t actually want to socialise with the horrifically noisy neighbours from the apartment below. It’s hard to avoid it because I have no real idea what they look like. If the father decided to shout in the aggressive, military manner he does every single evening to his four year old twin sons (who I’ve also never met), I would know who he was. If the mother decided to scream, as she does every second afternoon, I’d know immediately she’s someone to avoid. The chances of them showing their ‘home’ faces are rather slim – which is fine, I hear them often enough!

Finally, point number five: Mr S is away tonight for work.

I’m a big, fat chicken and don’t want to face everybody in my faltering French (did I mention that one of our neighbours regularly corrects the grammar on announcements and notices put in the elevator?) alone.

Gelato Paris – Vasavasa

Vasavasa Paris

Vasavasa

 

I recently discovered that there is a new gelateria in Paris called Vasavasa – Gelateria Siciliana. It is right on one of my main routes. My waist is screaming at me to find a new route. My tastebuds are in heaven!

Vasavasa sorbet

Strawberry and lemon sorbets with gelato making machine in background.

All the gelato is handmade in the shop (from what I understand) and it tastes amazingly fresh. The shop is open until 11pm – from what I remember – so it is perfect for a post dinner walk and treat! It is also a great location for anyone visiting the Eiffel Tower (and who comes to Paris without doing that – ok, me before I moved here, but had I known that I could have great ice cream, that may have been different!) and/or for a cool dessert after picnicking by the Seine or in Champs de Mars.

Just before writing, I did a quick Google, to see if there is a website. It seems that there is..and it’s in Italian. And you know what I discovered? They have four branches in Italy (Milan and Turin)! Yes, folks, that means it’s eaten-in-Italy real gelato. To be honest, that’s not hugely important to me, because what I have had has all tasted fantastic, but it is nice to know.

Vasavasa Paris

What they serve...yum!

It’s also a pretty gelateria. That matters to some of us. Stainless steel, clean lines of marble and a (non-tacky) chandelier. More Parisian looking than a lot of Parisian places. That’s also a delight for some of us (probably the non-Parisians!).

Vasavasa Paris
34 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris
Tel. 33147058430

On the map here (it shows it as being in the right place, but wrong side of road!).

 

Unfortunately, I have not been asked to write about Vasavasa. I am, however, completely open to tokens of gratitude from Vasavasa in any gelato form. Just sayin’.

 

 

Fashion or soft porn?

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Operation SBAM is underway. As the weather seems to be staying sunny, I’ve become secure in the knowledge that summer clothes will actually be useful. So I thought it a good idea to do some research (no point being an unfashionable non-minger).

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

I picked up a copy of the ultimate style bible: Vogue Paris. It seemed even more appropriate as it had a section on Greece, and being Vogue, what to wear in Greece – and I’m heading off there soon.

I wasn’t sure about the red dress as I can’t actually make much out from this photo. Not sure I’m really into pleasuring myself on an old discarded mattress (doesn’t Vogue Paris know about fleas and bedbugs?), so I flicked through for more fashion information.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Well, I guess there is a red theme. Ok, I can go on that. Perhaps I could stretch to a stop watch. But the Borat-come-Baywatch swimsuit: an absolute no go.

(The perfect skin and physical shape: let’s just not go there!).

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

For day wear, it seems I don’t need to bother about t-shirts, nor a bra..nor underwear? High waisted shorts that don’t do up? Well, I’m sure I won’t have a problem finding some of those! Phew – something I can be ‘on trend’ in.

But really, Greece is all about swimming. What am I going to wear in the water? Does Vogue Paris have any other suggestions? It seems they do.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Ummm..perhaps if I looked like that naked, I would think this the best trend ever – it’s probably the cheapest ever promoted by Vogue, anywhere in the world. But I don’t. Ok, so I give up on buying new swimming attire. I’m going to get my old one piece out and perhaps the ‘retro’, aka granny pants, bikini.

Next to swimming is: boats. What do I wear when I’m sailing on my Greek holiday?

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

WFT?! Are people in Greece just naked all the time? Is this what happens when your country has an economic crisis: people can’t afford clothes and then beautiful nudists flock there to pole dance on the water ?

(I hope they wash that sail frequently).

But no, hang on a second. It seems Vogue Paris is reaching out an olive branch to those of use who want a bit more coverage than a boat’s mast provides.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Yay! I think I could even make these myself from some random supermarket elastic and the old sheet I have waiting to be torn up for dusting rags.

Think I’ll go without the wedgie though.

 

All photos from Vogue Paris June/July 2011.

 

 

A Christmas conversion

In the days BMS*, I had a lovely boyfriend. Not as wonderful as Mr S, of course, but he was indeed lovely. He was fun, funny, romantic, extremely caring, intelligent, a good dresser and drove at thrilling (yet dangerous – not the pace you would want the father of your future children to drive at!) speeds. I find myself thinking of him whenever I look up at the sky and see clouds blown along by the wind.

Coming from Scotland, noticing clouds moving in the sky was not something I’d ever paid attention to, just like water coming from a tap. I never played games of looking for faces in clouds, or animals, because quite frankly, I hated the grey sun obscuring, rain producing things.

Adam, let’s call him that, saw clouds in a different light. He thought they were beautiful and was determined to show me. I, in the throws of new love, removed my sceptisism long enough to be enlightened one Christmas Day. We were at a deserted beach on the edge of the desert, driftwood was strewn across the sand after the previous night’s storm and spots of rain were pricking my exposed face and hands. While time stood still, we lay against a large log wrapped up in each other, in our warm clothes and under a blanket, just looking up, up, up.

I have no idea what it was about that day converted me. Absolutely none. Fluffy clouds, fat water producing clouds, rolling clouds, they all passed by and somehow their beauty pierced a small corner of my soul. Adam was so enthralled by them, so excited by them and entirely caught up in making sure I shared the understanding of their beauty to the same extent as him, that I did. I really did.

And when I look up at them today, years later, on another continent, I smile and know that I still do.

Adam’s downfall, in case you’re wondering, was that he was a smoker. I’m not sure there’s any cigarette marketer in the world who can convince me that kissing an ashtray tastes good, no matter how wonderful its owner (or how many times he brushes his teeth)!

*BMS = before Mr S

Fake it

It’s a strange thing wearing skirts again after 9 years of almost never wearing them. I find myself constantly patting my thigh just to make sure there is still fabric covering my modesty. My favourite dress has concealed pockets at hip level, so I can (I think!) surreptitiously make sure it stays in place in case the wind blows. So far, there haven’t been any accidents, I’m just overly concerned.

Getting out of trousers also brings with it the legs issue: they are on display. Parisiennes seem single-handedly to keep the bronzing market in business. Not deep tacky tans (oh la la! Heaven forbid!), but gentle kissed-by-the-sun-like-I-have-spent-the-summer-in-the-sun-swimming-and-drinking-cool-rosé tans – in April. You know, the sort of tan that makes you look good.

I caught my friends’ very polite eight year old daughter staring at my legs with furrowed brows.

“Is everything ok?” I asked

“Um, yes. I was just wondering..are you wearing tights?”

“No, not today, it’s too hot.” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t think so, but I was just wondering..why are your legs soooo white?”

Aah, bless…

Right, time to make an appointment at the fake tan centre!

The best thing about Paris

Ok, one of the best things..is this:

 

Good logo, but upside down!

 

There are many of them. Hundreds, possibly thousands, but not all taste as good as this one.

So, why am I excited (apart from being on the sort of chocolate high that the likes of Cadbury’s can never approach)? Because I just ate Chloé. This is one of Pierre Hermé‘s delights. I shall let the chocolate speak:

“Chocolats au macaron Chloé (ganache au chocolat et framboise, biscuit macaron framboise, pâte d’amande fondante au macaron framboise, enrobés de chocolat noir)”

If you’d like that in English: Chloé macaron chocolates: (chocolate and raspberry ganache, raspberry macaron biscuit, soft raspberry macaron marzipan, enrobed [delightful word!] in dark chocolate).

All of that in one small chocolate!

There is only one in the bag because I was supposed to buy buying a gift for someone else…

So, as if all this wasn’t good enough, one chocolate like this costs €1.90 (US$2.70). Why is that good? Because it makes it VERY easy to just buy one when you’re trying to watch the waistline!