Gardens and photography

 We spent a day at Jardin des Tuileries last week. It was a busy day of the  Fête des Tuileries, the annual summer carnival, a bit of wandering around the gardens, a photo exhibition and a music show.
The  Fête is small, with carnival rides and food stalls selling the usual carnival fare – expect nothing healthy – but a great deal of fun for kids.
Wander around the gardens, and take in Ahae‘s free photo exhibition, which runs until mid August.

Books: A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Published: 2007
Genre: Fiction

I read this a couple of years back and was reminded of it again when another blogger mentioned they had just read The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s first book, and could not put down. I felt the same way about the Kite Runner, and immediately after reading it I went on to read A Thousand Splendid Suns. This for me was more of harrowing read. I enjoyed it even more than The Kite Runner.

Tombs and treasures

Today was the first day of the summer holidays for my kids. This means for the next ten weeks, yes that’s right, ten weeks I have a six and twelve year old to keep busy. Unfortunately I can’t just send them out to play, which was how I remember my school holidays growing up.

Visiting with the dead at Père-Lachaise

Ordinarily I would not go to a cemetery unless it was absolutely unavoidable, but living in Paris makes you do strange things. I spent a good part of a morning reading headstones and photographing graves. Yep! I did.

Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is actually a tourist attraction listed as one of the places to visit by most tourist publications. I was on my way back from some place else when I realised that the metro line I was on stopped at Père-Lachaise. I thought, why not? And hopped off.

Books: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Published: 1989
Genre: Fiction

Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, The Remains of the Day is told from the point of view of Stevens, an English butler who throughout his professional career served at Darlington Hall, a grand manor in a time of butlers and maids. It is set in 1950s, but fleets back and forth between these years and the those preceding the Second World War. The reader learns of Stevens’s past and of the people he worked for and with, though flashbacks.

Books: SORBONNE CONFIDENTIAL by Laurel Zuckerman

Title: Sorbonne Confidential
Author: Laurel Zuckerman
Published: 2007
Genre: Memoir

When I picked up Sorbonne Confidential I was expecting just an insight into life as a student at the Sorbonne, I got a lot less of this, but it was still an interesting read. The book is more about the course that Laurel Zuckerman enrolled for in her bid to become an English teacher.  The author does a great job explaining the intricate and complicated French education system, and this was particularly interesting as it is a very topical discussion in France.

Books: PIGEON ENGLISH by Stephen Kelman

Title: Pigeon English
Author: Stephen Kelman
Published: 2011
Genre: Fiction

This was a humorous and easy read. Stephen Kelman’s debut novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker for 2011 – a feat that even he was surprised by . It tells the story of eleven year old Ghanaian immigrant Harry Opoku who lives in inner-city London, in an area riddled by gang war and violence. Following the fatal stabbing of a fellow schoolmate by gang members in his neighbourhood, Harry, together with his best friend go about trying to solve the murder. Although told from Harry’s eleven year old perspective, the sense of danger is nuanced but effectively done.

Pretty things at Baccarat

I am such a girl. I went for the pretty crystal. I could say I was curious about the process entailed in making the crystal, the history of the brand, and all that stuff that does not sound as shallow or frivolous, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth. Yes, of course, I was curious about it all, but mostly I went to feast my eyes. I ended up doing more than just that though.

What began as an easy jaunt to the Musée Baccarat ended with lunch at the Cristal Room. When one thinks of Baccarat, crystal-tinted images of the luxurious brand come to mind. I have always associated it with just crystal, and only just learnt that the design house has, since 1993, been designing jewelry pieces alongside its highly coveted crystal ware.
After my tour of the museum, having had my fill of the gorgeous age-old pieces, I walked past the restaurant entrance, glanced at the menu, and made one of those impulsive decisions to stay for lunch.

Places in Paris: Basilique du Sacré Couer

When visiting Paris, there are always the usual places to see which must be ticked off and are popular with all kinds of tourists, the new and awestruck, and the old and jaded. The Basilique du Sacré Couer is one such place, together with some of the seedier parts of its neighbouring Montmartre. I overheard on a recent visit, “I love this place, this is probably my tenth time – even last year I came”. Assuming at the most this is someone that visits Paris every year, that would make it ten years running, or at the very least five years in all if they are bi-annual visitors.

Sacré Couer is like that; I don’t know whether it’s the juxtaposition of this sacred place alongside the delightfully rebellious Montmartre or just the sheer beauty of the church and it magnificent views that draws the crowds so much. I go often, there are sights in Paris that never get tired for me, and this is one of them.