Friday, 26 August 2011

The most iconic sight in Paris...

My Lina (like 9 year olds do) had a fascination for the Eiffel Tower. Everywhere we went in Paris she kept on getting out her camera and just taking one more view of it; from the Louvre

The Arc de Triomphe

From the Musee Rodin

To just about any high point we could reach. (Centre Pompidou was a good'un)

My favourite view of it was this one.... almost centrally underneath

And this one from the lift going up

And the stairs going down.

I love the idea that when it was built for the 1889 exhibition it was as a temporary exhibit, and supposed to be dismantled after 20 years. I love that Gustav Eiffel bought the rights to visit his tower back and that he put a radio mast at the top so that it couldn't be taken down.
And I love that the Tower is on everything and in everything; t shirts, snow globes, keyrings, bags, bottle openers and all manner of tourist tat that 9 year old girls (and their Mummies) can't resist. I feel like a posh lady when I whip out my Paris mirrors to apply my gloss.
I could quote you chapter and verse on height, weight of iron, number of steps and all the other facts. I'll send you off to this site instead and finish with purely gratuitous eye candy instead. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Before we could read....

We could read churches.

I have always loved the ideas that churches and cathedrals in particular are the Bible written for illiterate people. That stained glass and sculptures tell the story of God from early days to Kingdom come. I spent 4 years studying how to teach reading to little children and one of the first things we learned (thanks to Marie Clay having a prominence in pedagogy then that she seems to have lost now) was that every child can read, but just not words.

 The example oft quoted back then (and more true today) was that a 3 year old would recognise the Golden Arches as the symbol for McDonalds and that reading is really just advanced symbol deciphering.

I wonder how complete illiteracy would affect me. Would I seek to make sense of the things and pictures around me? Would I stand and look at the windows and wonder who all the people were? Would familiar stories jump out at me and say, 'here is Noah, here is Abraham, look, see Jesus being baptised'.

Would I be irritated if someone were more visually acute than me, who knew what all the stories were.

Or would I be too busy picking a slim living from a few strips of land to care what was before me? Is literacy a treasure only available to the well fed? And has so much changed in 1000 years?

The carvings are from Notre Dame, the stained glass from Chartres cathedral.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Versailles; what a holiday home that would be!

I know, I know, Versailles was the permanent base for the French court rather than a summer palace like the Austrians and Prussians had, but it must have been chosen for its position atop a hill as a gentle breeze blows even on the hottest Parisian days. We visited twice, once to see the gardens and once to join the shuffling queue through the palace.

I know that the space and vista can never be replicated in a small garden, but I love the fact that even on such a grand scale, Versailles and a small garden can have things in common.

Water features


A reasonable view of the house

and children playing with a pile of iron.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The most beautiful thing in the world...


When you're only 9 years old, this is a good candidate. Little Princess really appreciated the magic of Paris.
So did I.

Friday, 19 August 2011

My Heart belongs to.....

I (like a lot of women) have to admit to occasional longings to be a french woman, or rather, more specifically, a parisienne. I never will be; I look rather more like an English carthorse than a slender french poodle, but dreams aren't rational. I wear a scarf occasionally and have french crushes when I read and watch as much as I can. And I dream of my alternate life where I live in Paris and absorb by osmosis the style and bugger you attitude they have. And occasionally I get to indulge in a visit to the city of Love (and stinky sewers, strange food that smells bad and mopeds swooming past as you try to cross the road. It's not personal, it's just Paris.)
This year we decided that a foreign jaunt was, at last, on the cards for our whole family. Where does one take a 13, 11 and 9 year old on their first foreign holiday? The seaside in Spain? Disneyland Paris? Florida? No. We went mad and found a house for rent in Chatou, about 12 km outside Paris. We went and lived a parisien life just for two weeks.
I wish I could recommend the house which in so many ways was ideally placed for living the dream, but there are problems with the place that I couldn't impose on you (ahem; English owner, no oven, electronic code lock and strange things going on. Nuff said) but we enjoyed our time around and about. I'm still in Paris, still holding on to the last vestiges of holiday time. Loading my photos today has given me a chance to go back in my memory and to remember....
The Eiffel Tower.... by day

and night.

Les Invalides. Love him, or hate him, but Napoleon had style.

Iconic views

Windows to shop in

And everywhere, everywhere style and science with just a hint (ok a wide stripe) of self satisfaction.

Can I create an everyday Paris in Liverpool? Can I be a parisienne in Woolton?
Or must I dream of my next visit and wait my time?

Thank God for Amelie.