Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Back to Limoges

Jocelyne & Felicity

Michelle, Felicity, Danielle, Naddy & Jocelyne
(together again after 10 years!)

The MOTH's business dream come true!

Jocelyne & Pascal
in George Sand's garden

Between September 1998 & May 1999, I had the wonderful opportunity of working at a college in Limoges. During our time in France, I had another wonderful opportunity to return. The MOTH & I travelled by train to stay with our friends, Jocelyne and Pascal, and their two children (not pictured for safety reasons). Pascal cooked for us the most delicious meals & Jocelyne organised some wonderful excursions in and around the town (walking in the old village, excursions to find cross stitch shops, trips to the local porcelaine factories & to the Aubusson tapisserie museum & George Sand's magnificent house included). She also organised high tea with fellow teachers who I met while I was there the first time. It was wonderful to catch up! Thank you, dear friends.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Les Petits Points - Limoges

Come on in and be inspired by the beautiful work of Patricia Linder!

My purchase: Le Carnaval

Friday, 25 December 2009

"Let me tell you what I ate, Mum!"

Crown Princess, aged 7 years, announced as
she climbed into the car after her first Brownie Camp
(Gladstone, Qld. 1988)

Le Jour de Noël 2009 has come and gone. Thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes for the season, either here or on Facebook. Your comments were much appreciated. It was only my second Christmas in France (I was in Limoges in 1998) and only one of a handful I've not spent with my family since I became a mother just over 28 years ago. I needed a bit of a boost, to tell the truth.

I have to say that it didn't seem like Christmas this year. Joyeuses fêtes and Bonne Année don't do much for me if celebrating the God bit at Christmas is totally ignored by the general public because it's politically incorrect to say anything. Why bother to celebrate Christmas without a reason for the season? It smacks of hypocracy.

Because of the unexpectedly sunny day, The MOTH & I took the Metro only as far as L'avenue des Champs-Élysées and walked the uncrowded few blocks further to our rendez-vous for lunch at Brasserie Lorraine at place de Ternes. We spent a delightful and delicious three hours in the company of our Australian friends from Newcastle, NSW, Natalie and Paul (& their three young children) and Sandra, from Huston, Texas, USA. The food was wonderful and the friendly table service without fault. What a Christmas treat (my only ever meal in a restaurant for Christmas day)!

After a wonderful three course meal, The MOTH, Sandra and I walked home via the Arc de Triomph, the Eiffel Tower (where we left Sandra at her apartment) and Montparnasse almost back to Gare de l'Austerlitz. Where else but Paris, huh? It was magical! There were no kilojoules to rest on my hips after that 7+km walk, let me tell you. LOL. I had Bûche de Noël for afternoon tea, today.

Food experiences have been a highlight of our 'trekking expeditions' around Paris, this week. Eschewing the Metro, we've walked for miles just so that we don't miss viewing a thing! Each day, we've lunched somewhere different (spaghetti in the Latin Quarter on Monday, a Corsican restaurant just off rue de Rivoli on Tuesday, a pub at the Mouffetard markets on Thursday). Delicious! Thanks to Harry and Lucy, I am quite fit enough to do it!

On Christmas eve morn, we planned our route to Cluny museum before leaving home, not realising how wonderful the markets were in rue de Mouffetard. I'll leave you with mouth watering to enjoy what we found - pictures say a thousand words.

Happiness & laughter to one and all,


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

-2°C SNOW!

Le Bonheur des Dames - front window display

Hi there, this is France calling!

The most important thing about today, the 16th, is that it is my son, the Crown Prince's, birthday. The travelling trio, the prince's household, are spending their Australian summer break freezing their dangling bits off in Japan & Korea where it's rather cold at the moment! I'm sure you get the picture, dear readers. Happy birthday, David!

Not that the weather here is all that different. Yesterday's maximum was apparently a whopping zero, but as I wasn't outside for that heatwave, my personal maximum was only -2°C. Tomorrow, Thursday, it's supposed to snow. As someone not used to really cold winters (Brisbane maximums in Winter are often 23°C), I'm excited about the prospect. I'm pretty sure those of you who are used to cold winters think that I'm nuts. LOL.

My language and culture classes go from 9AM to 6.30PM, Monday to Friday. As you can imagine, I'm mentally stuffed by the end of the day. To counteract this mental fatigue, I explore the neighbourhood close to the school during my lunch hours. Most days, you will find me (sandwich au jambon in hand) trotting along the boulevards looking in the second hand book windows, staring open mouthed into the model doll house shops, or something similar. Yesterday, I found a cross stitch shop!

Le Bonheur des Dames is located just off the Grands Boulevards. It is one of two outlets for the creations of Cécile Vessière. This particular shop is run by her son, Monsieur Vessière, and he was kind enough to let me take lots of photographs for the blog. Fellow stitchers, let me tell you how beautiful the samplers of this talented designer are! She stitches nearly everything on either natural linen or on a cream fabric.Her stitching themes include the seasons, the months home, country and the sea. I particularly liked her table cloths, but they aren't the size of my table for eight, sadly (I'd need two life times to stitch them).

The shop didn't have a large range of other designers (a token number of DMC) but there was one designer that I've never heard of - FUYICO. Very pretty. For me, the highlight was the sampler of Thea Gouverneur's Paris in the front window (see above). Shoe shopping be damned! LOL. I could have spent Ali Baba's fortune in this shop alone!

Meanwhile news from Australia is two-fold. The threat of a transfer to far flung places has disappeared and so Lucy & Harry will now be able to live the term of their natural lives with me. Also, The MOTH is packing to leave on Saturday morning. By Sunday lunchtime, Paris time, we will be reunited!

Happiness & laughter to one and all,


P.S Thursday, 17th December: Snow is lovely the first time you see it on a brand new day. This evening, I almost broke my neck on my way home, so I can see the less romantic side of it. I'm not quite as nuts as you thought, dear readers.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Morning Walk in Paris

Greetings from Paris!

I'm settling in for a quiet evening indoors, listening to the music of Boris Vian (music that my father would have loved) while I write a few letters and reflect upon the year and decades which were.

It's getting quite cold for this Australian so far from home. While Brisbane has sweltered all this week with temperatures above 34C, it is getting colder each day here in Paris. It barely reached 8C today. It's marvelous weather for long walks rugged up in my thick old coat (though I should also have wron my gloves).

Being Saturday and having no classes to attend, I organised myself early (tidying my room and taking my clothes to the drycleaner) and then set out for a long morning of exploration - my first opportunity to do so since Paul's and my walk along the Champs Elysées that first week.

The first port of call was the local market. In Brisbane, we have the open markets like the ones at the Power House, but nothing like what I have seen in Europe and in Canada. For the locals here, they are a daily event. For me, they are a specialty which always remind me that Christmas is just around the corner, no matter the time of year it is. I think that it's because the food on display is the kind of food that we eat for special occasions ( oysters, specialty salamis and hams, cheeses, cuts of meat, game, poultry and rabbit). Er... no. Yes, they have rabbit, but I cannot knowingly eat rabbit because I'm a girl of the mixamatosis rabbit erradication era in Australia (stories about which I could tell that would make your hair fall out and your eyes roll to the back of your head). There was also a man selling pine Christmas trees - oh what childhood memories that brought back!

After that feast of the senses (the sights, the smells and the raised voices of vendors happily selling their wares), I set off to walk from Gare de l'Est to the Seine along the boulevard de Strasbourg which at a half way point changes to the Boulevard de Sébastepol. I walk a third of this route each day on my way to classes, but today was the first time that I poked my nose into any of the coiffeur type shops selling the most beautiful hair pieces and wigs that I have ever seen. Oh how I wish that the princesse cadette was with me, this morning!

Just to put you in the picture, I visited Gabriella in Townsville (about 2000km north of Chez Felicity) about a month ago and while I was there, she got me to put a bright red rinse in her hair. She has been experimenting with hair colour for a while now. Each time she comes to Brisbane, she has a different colour mixed in with the natural-born black: blue, red, pink, purple...

Anyway, back to my walk. Gabriella would have loved Bld de Strasbourg with all its trucs et astuces for hair. Par contre, my hair is so fine, I got the urge to shave it off and buy a gorgeous wig, but figured I'd end up looking like a character quasi escaped from the set of Prisilla Queen of the Desert.

Crossing Bld St-Dénis, I managed to resist the call of the bookshop next to Monoprix where I've already spent way too much money on books (oh how British Air will love me when my bags are weighed in at the end of my séjour in Paris!), I continued along the same boulevard, now named Bd de Sébastepol past the furniture shops until I got to rue Rambuteau where I turned left, first to see l'église de St Eustace and then to retrace my steps a bit to go to Les Halles. The Living Doll (let's be honest here, Felicity: any female with your DNA flowing through their veins - 5 sisters and 3 daughters) would have loved the shoe shops along the rue Rambuteau (who am I kidding? Anywhere I've been in Paris where I've drooled over shoes the way Harry the labrador drools at the mere mention of breakfast my sisters and daughters could easily have disposed of Ali Baba's fortune). Oh the boots, girls! Long, short, high or low healed, leather, suede, plastic and in any colour you could imagine. Where's my hanky?

I've always loved to faire du lèche-vitrines at Les Halles. I went there today, though, with a mission - to check out FNAC's book and CD floor. Good news is that it's still there. I'll take the MOTH when he arrives.

My last detour on my way to the river was to set eyes on the Pompidou Centre. En grève. Oh well, a treat for another day, next weekend, perhaps! This Paris icon is one of the late 20th Century presidents' bold grands projets or grands travaux. Unveilled in 1977, it prompted a furore (as did François Mitterand's Louvre pyramid in 1989) but, like the pyramid, it's now much admired. The building houses Paris' premier culture centre and is so unusual that you could spend hours looking at it (as I have done) without ever going inside. It reminds me of a building made from my brother's Meccano set - with plumbing pipes and air vents, painted blue and red, forming part of the external facade.

I managed to control myself and turn back once I got to the river even though I was oh so tempted to go and visit Notre Dame de Paris, my favourite building in Paris. I retraced my steps back to the gare where I enjoyed a late lunch before exploring the shops in my own quartier. I saw the nicest handbag that I have ever seen and nearly had a heart attack at the 999€ price tag. After that, it was home to settle the nerves and read the weekend newspapers (oh how I wish I could speak French as well as I can write it!).

Now it's time to get the washing dry.

Au revoir, dear readers. I wish you much happiness & laughter until next time.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Romance in Paris

Yesterday was The MOTH's last night in Paris before he returned for two weeks' work in Australia. As regular readers of this blog know, my DH works in a position where he travels a lot for his work (mostly around Australia, but somtimes to overseas places, too). From time-to-time I go with him on his trips when the school calendar allows. This Paris trip is a little different. I here for MY work, not just his. You see, as well as English literature, I teach French language and culture. Hence, I got to stay for three extra weeks to spend time in country to improve my spoken French & to catch up on the latest 'gossip', so to speak.

After classes last night, The MOTH sent me a text message asking to meet him at the Porte Maillot Metro station. The plan was to have dinner in town and then, on our way back to La Defense, to get off at Georges V Metro and have a quick look at the Ave des Champs Elysées. We met and mounted the train, but at the last moment I grabbed Paul's hand and we descended the train earlier than expected at Arc de Triumph and we strolled the length of the street, hand-in-hand. I've seen all the Christmas lights before and they are just as enchanting in 2009 as they were in 1997 - breathtaking! But oh the doing of such a thing with the love of your life!

We didn't walk quickly, reader, we took our time to 'faire du lèche-vitrines'. I've got to tell you that if I could have put my nose on the windows of the car dealerships, I would have. I have never understood the 'pull' of a car or motorbike, but I can understand why people buy the beautiful Peurgeots and BMWs that I saw last night!

We had a lovely time walking in and out of arcades with their windows dressed for Christmas, but in the end, The MOTh's hunger got the better of him and we headed for the Christmas markets closer to La Concorde to find something for him to munch while we walked a bit further. It was all oh so romantic!

The MOTH is now winging his way back to Australia. and I am alone to cross stitch in the evenings once more. I'll last about 8 days before I miss him more than I want, if you know what I mean. He's often away but we are never more than those 8 days apart, but it's good not to speak any English for a wee while.

Anyway, I finally understand the romance of Paris. Even though The MOTH was only here for 3 days, we made it a romantic time, probably the most romantic time since we met all those years ago!

Happiness & laughter to one and all,