Bonne Année, bonne santé

Gergö and I tried out the Fondue/Raclette Restaurant around the corner on New Year’s day. We figured it would be empty because of the date, but we got one of the last tables. Entering the restaurant we were hit by a wave of cheese. It was a smell even stronger than our fridge on its worst days (or best, depending on your point of view). The place is also really warm, because all the tables have built in grills to keep the cheese warm. (Keeping the cheese warm needs to become an expression for something.)

After we got home I noticed that my scarf and coat smelled of cheese. I told this to our friends at brunch today, and they immediately assumed Gergö spent that night cuddling with my coat, using it like a doudou. They know him well. He didn’t, obviously, because my hair smelled of cheese as well.

On the weekend I wanted to go visit the marché aux puces, the flea market of St. Ouen. We’d been there before and I wrote about it twice (with my dad and with our very first visitor in France). We only live about a 15 minute walk away from the market now. Actually it’s markets – there are several and they all have different names.

At work all of our meeting rooms are called after St Ouen flea markets. The one we used most frequently used to be Biron. Now that we are on the third floor we have new ones. We had to choose new names for them and settled for Malassis, which sounds like “sitting badly” to me and l’Usine (the factory).

I didn’t find what I was looking for – I’m still/again crocheting carpets from cut up t-shirts (like this one). But I don’t want to spend too much money on tshirts I’m only going to cut up.

Once a week I walk past a very dodgy market at the underpass of the Boulevard peripherique. It’s mostly just piles of clothes on large sheets on the floor. I think it probably has exactly what I’m looking for, but I’m too timid to go in there and negotiate. Plus it’s in the morning and I don’t want to show up at work with my dodgy, potentially smelly flea market bounty and explain yet another weird thing I do to my colleagues.

Anyway: if you are thinking of throwing away old t-shirts or other clothes in stretchy cotton jersey material, keep them for me instead! I don’t mind if there are stains or holes, I cut them up anyway.

On my birthday, a Sunday, we tried out Brunch at the Recyclerie, an alternative café. I really liked the food, but the room is very big and high and gets very loud. I like all the alternative/eco things the place does. You can become member of an association that collects kitchen waste. If you join, you can take a bucket from their little hut and return it filled with things like coffee grains and vegetable peel and they use it to make humus (topsoil, not the chick pea paste) for the Jardin Ruisseau, a shared urban garden project.

Sunday was also the day I finally started to use my new mobile. For a while I didn’t dare use it for fear of scratching its beautiful screen or dropping it. But I actually sat down and moved most of my accounts to the new phone. And in the process turned Gergö into a Pokemon Go player!

We started a new account on the old phone and now he also plays. We live on top of a Pokestop now and a lot of things changed inside the game. He already has level 19 after a week and I keep telling him how we veteran players (Level 37 soon!) had to walk barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways to fight for a place in the arena. He also does the things he complained to me about when I first started playing: stopping randomly in the middle of the street to catch something, going really slowly because there are too many Pokemon to catch, etc.

My birthday present arrived Sunday evening: an invitation for an exclusive raid. The weird part: My colleague F suggested we go raiding in the city center. According to internet rumours, the sponsored gyms around Les Halles give a better chance of receiving an invitation for an exclusive raid. And he really wants one. I went along with him and another colleague and invited another friend. And my friend and I got an invitation and my colleagues didn’t.

The bad part: it’s on Tuesday at 12:30. My lunch break doesn’t start until 1pm and the gym is a few minutes walk from place de la concorde. And you’d have to be there on time, or they start without you. So I asked Gergö to do the raid in my place. I’m sorry to miss it, but I don’t want to miss an hour and a half of work for a virtual monster I might not even catch. I have no idea how I got to level 36 with that kind of attitude.


Alea iacta est

After our little trip to Austria we had Gergö’s brother visit for a few days.

He was really motivated to do some sightseeing, so we went on a walk of the petite ceinture. It’s a lot like the promenade plantée – a raised disused railway line that used to connect various Parisian train stations. And it’s called ceinture, because it goes around Paris like a little belt.

Even though the little belt went around most of Paris at one time, only parts of it are now open to the public. We went to a section in the 15th district which led directly to Parc Georges Brassens. Apparently there’s a book market there – we could see the empty stalls.

We also went to Centre Pompidou again. I hadn’t been in a year, and A. wanted to see the David Hockney exhibition. I usually visit the 5th floor, with the permanent exhibition of modern art and then I am too tired to look at much else. This time we looked at Hockney of whom I had only a vague idea and then Walker Evans who I’d have sworn is an actor who plays super heros.

This time I also took some time to look  at the contemporary art as well and I liked a lot of things. Last time Gergö and I loved the big pile of shredded money and a room that was extremely quiet. It was insulated with wool all around. Very strange feeling.

This time there was a former record shop that the owner, Ben, had turned into a museum of everything. I was impressed enough to try to google the art work with only this information. I found it on the Centre Pompidou website. There’s a picture of the whole thing, go look at it!

I also saw the meat dress for the first time. The one Lady Gaga got into trouble with PETA for wearing. I didn’t recognise it at all at first, because it’s all dried and odd looking.

But we didn’t only look at art, we also used almost every meal to have fancy food and drinks in nice locations. And most of it wasn’t too crowded because Paris really is empty in August, except for a few tourist hot spots.

In between all the food and apéro I managed to play quite a bit of Pokemon Go – There are raids now, where several people have to fight an arena boss together in order to defeat them and to get a chance to catch them. During the last couple of weeks legendary pokemon were released this way. These are birds that don’t occur in the wild, so your only chance of getting one is a raid. You need  about 8 people or more to defeat them. So if you are not in a group of players, you show up to centrally located raids and hope other people will show up too.

That’s what I did for a raid in my neighbourhood and because it’s the summer there were enough people in the middle of the day to defeat the boss. Then a few people decided to go on another raid, across the river and I tagged along. It happened to be in the rue René Goscinny. I’d been there once before, where I took the photo of “Ils sont fous, ces Romains!”. Turns out there are more of those signs along the street and a tile on the ground with one of the more famous quotes attributed to Julius Caesar.

The last free day I spent playing Pokemon with a friend who was passing through the city. We wandered around town looking for rare Pokemon and raids.

In other news, the elevator still isn’t repaired. I though the notice inside said August 1st-31st in order to be on the safe side. But it really takes this long, apparently. Every time I leave and every time I come back, I hopefully push the elevator button. Since Friday it glows green when pushed, but nothing further happens. By the end of August I might get used to the 7 flights of stairs (I won’t).

 


Que reste-t-il de nos amours?

I’m still very much in love with Paris in summer.

Street art in Paris is so fucking classy.

I took a photo of the discarded matress as we were on our way to the cinema. Lost in Frenchlation shows a French film with English subtitles every week. That way I get to enjoy a bit of French culture, get to feel like I understand French (because of the subtitles) and broaden my horizon, because it’s not films I’s usually choose, I think.

I also posted this image on facebook and only because my sister commented: “beautiful song” it occurred to me to google it and so I found out it’s a song title, not just someone cleverly making a statement about consumerism and the transience of feelings in our modern time.

The cinema is in Montmartre and they always say that the cinema scene from Amélie was shot in this cinema. It’s a just 5 minutes from the tourist masses of Pigalle. In a quieter side street were people hung out outside with their wine and pastis all classy and Parisian.

Because we walked along the other Seine bank with my mum, we found out about all the bars that opened up over there. On a particularly warm and sunny evening we decided to try out one of those places. Most were already full as we showed up around 7. We ended up on a boat – the petit bain. It’s so hip, it has its own tattoo artist and massage therapist that does quantum therapy (We couldn’t figure out what that means, which adds to the hiness factor, doesn’t it?). There was also a DJ and not enough tables, so we ended up on a few chairs looking out over the Seine bank drinking beer and eating wraps prepared by two refugee chefs.

The place is very photogenis, but I think we are unfortunately too old / unhip for the loud music and lack of tables. And too sceptical for quantum healing.

After dinner in the evening sun we walked past a sorbet stall that advertised that it would freshly prepare your sorbet. Of course I had to get one.

Et voilà rasperry strawberry sorbet with oreo cookie, to be enjoyed ice cold on the Seine bank.

It’s not all food porn and ice cream, though. Once we met up in the 11th district (okay, it was for dinner, but I didn’t take a photo of the food, so it was probably not as pretty) and on my way to the meeting place I took photos of all the street art.

 


Les Toits Parisiens

Shortly after my last post I went for a walk to Gare Austerlitz with Gergö. We finally bought a train card that gives us 25% reduction on the weekends. Now we only need to make the time to actually get out of Paris. I would love to see more of France, but Paris isn’t bad this time of the year either.

There’s an exhibition at the train station. Along one wall there are giant paintings of super heroes as in the style of Flemish paintings. In this article you can see Superman, Batman and Robin and the Joker.

I love how serious they all look and how it totally works – the expression in Flemish paintings and images of superheroes is not very different. It really is just the ruffle collar.

Another discovery of this summer: Ground Control. Gergö went there for lunch with his colleagues and then we went back one evening because he thought I’d like it. And he was right. It’s a roof terrace on former grounds of the Gare de Lyon. Instead of loading bays there are bars and on one side of the terrace are former buses that are fancy street food kitchens now.

They put raised flower beds in one corner, because that’s what you do these days, when you open a hip new spot on a Paris roof top. Needless to say, I totally love it. Also, the first time I was there the name gave me the best ear worm. I have been listening to Amanda Palmer’s covers of David Bowie and in Space Oddity Neil Gaiman does the countdown. It always makes me smile to hear his voice in this song.

When we explored the space a little I saw that all the flower beds had little signs in them with French puns. Some of the puns I understood! I was so proud I took photos of all of them.

If anyone wants to explain the one for chive and the one for mint to me, go ahead!

We went again last Friday night for a drink with Gergö’s colleague and we just about found a place to sit. The moment we decided to get up and leave someone was on our side to claim the table. We went to the supermarket to get some pick-nick things and when we passed by the entrance 15 minutes later there was a queue to even get in.

We were headed to the park anyway, to have a very French pick-nick. The only thing missing were berets, really. We had baguette and cheese and ham and hung out in the park. There were people juggling and dogs running around and young people smoking weed.  Nobody was playing petanque, which is odd for a warm French summer evening, but apparently it is not played on grass and the park is rather grassy, so it was okay and nobody tried to take away our freshly won Frenchness points.

 


Des balades Parisiennes

I was in such a hurry to post something, anything, I forgot to include my favourite stories from my visit to Austria:

When we all met up in our holiday apartment with Pizza on our first night my sister told us about their drive from Vienna. The triplets don’t enjoy car rides much, so there was a lot of complaining and they took a long break at Mondsee. There were swans at the lake and my nieces I and H ran up to them all shouty and ready to play. A on the other hand, approached them slowly and greeted them shily: “Hallo Mingo!”

She thought they are flamingos like the ones she knows from the zoo. Hallo Mingo is now my family’s new favourite thing. The other two can’t say H yet, and also often drop the first syllable of words. When I joined them for breakfast on the second morning H happily shouted “‘Allo Arena!”

Now, back in Paris, I’m back to taking cell phone pictures of everything. Most recently: street art again. I had stopped off at the city center on my way home from work when a friend called. The phone reception on the subway isn’t great, so I decided to walk for a little bit. The call lasted much longer than expected, and I ended up taking the bus from Saint Michel to Place d’Italie and then walking home all the way from Place d’Italie.

It’s basically straight ahead, along one big boulevard, le Boulevard Vincent Auriol. I had seen street art from the métro windows before but never taken photos – they go by too fast. Apparently the giant murals are a project that was realised in 2016. The mairie (city hall) of the 13th district seems to be quite proud of their new “open air museum” and there’s a website dedicated to the street art of the 13th. You can look up the route and download a map that lists all the murals and artists.

Another day I just walked around the city center, not doing anything in particular. I just really enjoyed the sun and the city. And I still discover new mosaics every time I take a walk. I take photos of most of them, but I’m far too disorganised to actually collect them all in one place. As I typed this, I thought “surely people have done that already”. As it turns out there’s even a smartphone game, that lets you collect the mosaics. Maybe that’s a project for me for when Pokemon Go becomes boring. And you can buy his art as well.

These past two days I’ve been comlaining about the unseasonal heat (over 30 degrees in May!) but looking at the photos and choosing the ones for the next blog post I have to say I look forward to the summer. But that’s just my optimism speaking – I caught a climatised subway today – not my usual line, so unfortunately just a fluke.


À l’autre côté de la Manche

We had a comparatively uneventful Saturday in London. Gergö needed a new pair of shoes and since I occasionally like to shop, he suggested we do that. I fall for it every single time: I think “oh shopping, we’ll find some stores and check out shoes”. When I want to go to a market I look at everything, touch a whole lot of things, maybe even try on something.

When Gergö needs a new pair of shoes he walks into the first shoe store, locates the chucks, asks for his size, tries them on, decides it’s too much hassle to ask for a different color, because it’s full and loud. Blue will do. Pays and leaves. “Shopping” lasted only about 15 minutes because it took the salesperson 10 minutes to find the right size.

We also wanted to try out an ice bar, where you can have a drink at minus 5 degrees. We found the ice bar pretty quickly, but we would have had to wait for an hour to get a seat. So we decided to go to the Porterhouse instead. It’s an Irish Brewery that has a few pubs in Dublin and one in London. Gergö actually really said “Who drinks beer in the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday?” The answer to that turned out to be: pretty much everyone in London who isn’t shopping on Oxford street at that moment. Northern Ireland was playing Belgium (I think) and we were very lucky to find a table. The only reason it was ailable was, because it didn’t have a view of the screen.

Gergö likes the Porterhouse beer but mostly I think he likes that he can get a set of three small beers to try.

Porterhouse beer

From there we wandered on to the Brewdog Pub. It’s a lot hipper than Porterhouse, with a much higher bushy beard quota. The best part of all that hipness are the names, of course. My favourite has to be Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja. The beer is so-so, but the name is great. I didn’t try weird beard, but I guess I have enough of this at home.

brew dog beer signs

You can get several very small beers there as well, Gergö was very happy.

brewdog beer

Don’t get me wrong, I like beer, but unlike him I didn’t feel the need to send a picture of every single beer we drank while in London to my BFF.

Towards the evening we wandered back to Brick Lane, so I could check out the chocolate store of choclatey goodness. The smell alone!

At this point my camera lense was pretty smeared and the photos came out worse than usual. It might have had something to do with the availability of greasy street food. Despite the “priced out of London”-penguin, we had dinner in the courtyard of a former brewery with food trucks named things like “meat porn” under a giant bow and arrow.

caboose with bow and arrow

While leaving we noticed that there was another market advertised for Sunday. I’m always a bit nervous about missing trains and planes on travel days, so I never want to do much. Another market close to the hotel seemed great.

There was so much food. We had about £ 5 left, so we had to make a very careful choice. We ended up trying a Lithuanian meatball fillled with cheese, with potatoes and some filled pasta. It was delicious. We also bought coffee from a guy who had converted his black cab, so that the roof could be raised. I was too intimidated by the big beard to take a photo (only hald kidding).

It was great, I could have stayed much longer, but our return train left at 2 pm. The check in process was even longer and worse organised on the return trip. And unlike France the UK didn’t even have the friendly passport guy who said “Auf Wiedersehen!” to me. And just as I smugly wanted to tell Gergö about it, assuming he wouldn’t get a similar treatment, he said he was greeted with “Jó napot kívánok!”.

I tried the automated passport controls this time and they are so much slower than the human ones. Sadly the person who oversaw the process couldn’t answer any of my questions. He only knew that the machines had been there for only two weeks, but not how often they failed, how long it takes on average, and all these interesting facts.

The return train was much nicer and had two different outlets per two seat

european and british outlet

 


Deuxièmes visiteurs

I realised I have to blog about my other visitors before my third set of guests arrive in half an hour. And before I forget everything about the visit.

J & C arrived a couple of days after my mum left. They weren’t quite as lucky as my mum as far as the weather was concerned.  We visited the Parc de la Villette, a park right behind the science museum. From the park you can see the big glass sphere called Géode that houses the imax cinema, I think, and the submarine as well.

At the moment it’s fun fair time, so there were a couple of carousels and rides in the park. Even when there’s no fun fair it’s a pretty interesting place. We had a little picknick, or pique-nique, as you say here, next to a giant bicycle from which only bits and pieces stick up from the ground.

We went for dinner along the canal the Saint Martin, a very nice area. In summer everyone plays petanque and pique-niques along the canal. It’s starting to get warm enough to do that during the day, but the evenings are still too cool.

We also went back to the Butte aux Cailles. You know, the place with all the street art:

But we didn’t eat at Chez Gladines, the famous Basque restaurant that is suprisingly affordable. We went to le temps de cerises, a restaurant that’s a co-op with uplifting socialist art, a worker’s mosaics in the entrance and an anti-cell phone policy. It’s all in memory of the Paris commune of 1871, “a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871”.

20160423_213931

The weather on Sunday was very cold and wet, so our visit to the big flea market st. ouen was cut pretty short.

20160424_132703 20160424_132714

I refrained from buying anything, but I enjoyed the experience without Gergö being next to me reiterating that we don’t need more stuff. I also appear to not have taken a lot of photos. I suspect it’s because you are not supposed to take photos of the beautiful vintage dresses we admired and because my camera sometimes doesn’t save a picture, if I close the camera again too quickly.

We also visited a tiny vegetarian restaurant called Krishna Bhavan in Little India. It’s an area close to gare du nord with a lot of restaurants and take aways and supermarkets. Rue cail was decorated with orange lanterns which made me assume it’s some festival. I did some googling and it turns out it’s no festival, it’s just Christmas decorations that a local shop had handed out in 2014 and that people had decorated their windows with. The restaurant was really good, I think. Certainly not expensive. It’s just that my memory of it is completely overshadowed by the giant poster of a chubby blue-skinned baby that stared down on us from a wall calendar while we were eating. Click at your own risk.

The weather, which hadn’t been great to begin with, completely let out on Tuesday: There was a hail storm.

The white bits isn't the hail, but the flower petals from the trees.

The white bits isn’t the hail, but the flower petals from the trees. It was still pretty crazy, though.

I had stayed at home that last day of my friends’ visit, because I had to catch up with work and they wanted to visit the catacombs which I had already seen – no chance. The queue was really long even in the bad weather. It appears the one time I went in February, when there was no queue at all, I was much luckier than I appreciated at the time. Early February might not be great for a visit temperaturewise, but the queues are certainly better.

 


Un tour du 4ème arrondissement

Last week I went to Paris for a tour of second hand shops. I don’t really want to buy vintage clothes or nice second hand clothes. I’m actually still looking for those slightly stretchy cotton tshirts to cut up for the rug I’m crocheting. Besides I enjoy exploring Paris with an objective instead of aimlessly wandering about. I notice different things and explore different areas that way.

I did a bit of googling and found a shop in the fourth district that appealed to me: they sell clothes by a kilo price. So I went to check it out. The shop is awesome, but didn’t really have any cheap tshirts. It really was more of a high end second hand store. They did, however, have everything you need to pose as French cliché:

a rainbow of berets

a rainbow of berets. Also: awesome top hat lamp decor!

20160309_164150

all the black and white stripey shirts your heart could want

The area had a few other interesting places in the area as well. I had a hot chocolate that was even better than the one from Angelina (a café with enormous queues of tourists out the front every single time we walked past). Very thick, creamy and not too sweet. I took a photo, so I’d remember it, and also because I still love the word onctueux:

chocolat chaud super onctueux

It means creamy. But when referring to a person it can also mean slimey. Sorry, I hope I didn’t put you off hot chocolate forever.

I tried to pay with a 10 € note, but the vendor wouldn’t take it. She waved at something. I didn’t understand what she meant until I realised she pointed at something on my side of the counter:

magic money eating machine

They don’t take your cash, you feed it to the machine and then take the change. The technology fan and germophobe inside me loves this: It can only be good if someone who handles food doesn’t touch coins and bills all day long.

From that little encounter with the magic money eating machines I wandered right into the past.

bain douche municipale

There are still public municipal baths (link to French Wikipedia) in Paris. According to the Wikipedia page, there are 17 public baths in Paris, distributed across ten districts. They are free to use, but you have to bring your own shower necessities. Interestingly the only other language that Wikipedia page exists in is German. Sadly, it doesn’t lead directly to Tröpferlbad (link in German), tough.

I saw two such bath houses, the old one above and a more modern looking model which was closed because of a strike.

20160309_173624

It was right next to a youth center / social center and looked pretty much like I would imagine a public pool built in 1976 to look. The existence of 17 of these baths in Paris maybe explains how regular people can afford rent in Paris: by living in apartments with shared or no baths. I will now officially stop complaining that our bathroom door doesn’t close properly. (The loo door does, no worries).

I enjoy exploring Paris like this. The fourth district has interesting street art.

tree of books

though I have to admit this tree of books in front of Centre Pompidou looks a bit worse for the wear

Konny

And it has nice little shops everywhere, like this goth shop in a side street

goth shop


Fluctuat nec mergitur

After a couple of days rest Gergö and I went for a long stroll around Paris. This time we went to the 10th and 11th district of Paris, which is a bit east to the center. It was a nice stroll around town.

20160206_152649

Colourful buildingin a small side street

 

20160206_152709

We thought it’ might be a school. There’s a quote on the wall saying “Happiness is the smile of your mother.”

 

20160206_153227

Mondrian inspired café façade

 

20160206_154536

Taken through the shop window of another Ouïghour / Uyghur restaurant. I’m really looking forward to trying Uyghur food sometime.

 

20160206_154905

Whale straight, with graffiti and a cute little store with jumpers with pixelated looking cross stitch patterns. Twee heaven.

 

20160206_155306

Since my last move, I try very hard not to buy useless stuff anymore. I take pictures of them instead!

 

20160206_193435

My guest last week said she noticed meme like ads everywhere, but I missed them every single time we went past one on the train. Now I finally saw one. Boringly, it’s for a bank. It says “When I discover that some are managing their savings without being millionaires”. Apparently there’s one with a cat as well.

 

20160206_154633

Black cat café. I like it!

 

20160206_163249

A cute little vintage furniture store.

20160206_175539

street art around the corner from super hero comic book store, if I recall correctly

When we decided to walk towards city center, we happened upon the Bataclan. I had never been anywhere near the area. I even expressedly avoided it after the attacks, because I didn’t want to be that kind of tourist. Now, almost three months later, I wanted to check it out. Gergö was completely disinterested. He is not one for public displays of emotion in general, and especially not for people he doesn’t actually know.

The Bataclan is still closed. Gunshot holes in the windows have been taped over. There are people standing in front of the building, but all the flowers have been removed. The mayor of Paris put up a sign, saying that the flowers and notes were moved a bit further up the road away from the Bataclan. They are all photographed and archived by the city archive (article in French). There’s also a page dedicated to those hommages.

I thought that was an interesting approach to record the reaction of the city. I’d never heard of anything like it before. Then again, why would I?

20160206_171830

After the Bataclan we walked to the Place de la Republique, which I also have been avoiding. It has been a place for memorials, candles and flowers since the Charlie Hebdo shootings. When we walked across the square there were at least two, maybe three different rallies going on and lots of police presence. They were small rallies, though, that didn’t interfere with what seemed to be the regular traffic of people around the statue that serves as a center for all the mementoes.

20160206_173207

“still not afraid”

Seeing the Bataclan theatre and the Place the la Republique affected me. I think it’s the sheer number of names, some accompanied by photos of really young people. It only occurred to me, that had it been Vienna, I’m sure I’d have known some of the victims.

Behind the statue is a large graffiti of Paris’ motto “Fluctuat nec mergitur”. Apparently it was made by a group of artists, right after the November attacks.

I saw something like it in Palaiseau as well. I took a photo last November on my way to the supermarket.

fluctuat nec mergitur

She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.