Writers, artists, designers, foodies and your average francophile are drawn to Paris by one thing- Inspiration. There is something about the city that is deemed a mecca of inspiration for the creatives, and it has always been the case. In some cases , destination Paris was a result of political and social circumstances forcing people to seek out refuge in a democratic, liberal country that not only allowed but encouraged their creativity. Chinese artists made their way to Paris in the early 1900s, with the formation of the Franco-Chinese Education Society in 1915 and establishment of the Franco-Chinese Institute in Lyon in 1921, encouraging further influx.
Discovering my neighbourhood has never been such a pleasure.
Le Bistro de Neuilly is on rue du Commandant Pilot in Neuilly-sur-Seine. A very quiet street. The restaurant is small, but has really friendly hosts, and it was apparent that the diners were mainly regulars and of course us, the newbies. Jazz music playing in the background, every so often there was laughter and dancing from the back to a popular song – it is that kind of place. Young families, older couples, young couples.
The food was great! I have yet to write up on a bad experience – actually, I will not, if the food’s not good, I won’t recommend a place.
While I was busy walking around yesterday doing my best impression of ‘tourist with camera’ I had completely forgotten it was fête de la gastronomie. Launched in May this year, it is the inaugural event that looks to promote French cooking – not forgetting that we are talking of cuisine that this year won its status on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Yes, that is how seriously the French take their cuisine.
I almost missed this, but it is still on for two more days. Santu Mofokeng, renowned South African photographer has an exhibit on until Sunday 25th Sept. at Jeu de Paume titled, ‘Chasing Shadows’.
In my month here I have become used to all things French, then this afternoon I was transported back to SA through a series of Black & White photos in works spanning 30 years. He started his career capturing images pre- and post-apartheid in South Africa, but moved away to document religion and its practice by black urban people; practices that were a mélange of christian and pagan ceremonies, in cities, mountains and at times in caves, reserved solely for worship.
I went on a tour of the Opera house; Palais Garnier on Monday. This is home to one of France’s most splendid historical artchitecture. Home of the Opera and Ballet and a name synonymous with French culture, it was founded by Louis XIV in 1669, who was not only an actor but also a talented ballet dancer. The Opéra Garnier is the thirteenth theatre to house the Opera, and was designed by Charles Garnier, who due to a bureaucratic error resulting in a missing invitation, on the eve of the opening of the building was the only person that had to pay for his ticket.
In Paris most neighbourhoods are defined by firstly, whether they are on the left or right bank, which determines whether there are leanings of conservative or liberal, bourgeois or bohemian, artsy, tourist hot-spots or not; and then by the usual determinants, of race – yes, dare I say it in the country that defines itself around its liberté, égalité, fraternité even race will always be there – and religious affiliation, although to a lesser extent.
Today my kids went back to school- after almost two and a half months off! Am I the only person who thinks that the summer school holidays are far too long?
They have been fortunate enough to enjoy their holidays in three different countries- Ghana, South Africa and France; and I have been quite the organizer of ‘Things to do with kids between 6 and 11’…in fact that’s what my next post should be about-there’s been enough organization in these quarters. Despite all the activities across the three countries, by last week they just wanted to get back to school, or in their case, start their new school.
Yesterday, armed with a good review from Oubruncher; literally ‘where to brunch’ a website dedidated solely to great places to have brunch in Paris, we made our way to the 8th. Le Quai was not our first choice but after numerous attempts to make reservations at our initial choices – and being told that there was nothing available before 2pm (for brunch!) we decided to take the 2pm.
We are here! Arrived in Paris this morning – feeling excited, not to mention anxious about the new life. Staying in temporary accommodation until next week, then settling in to make this city our home. In the meantime gorging on croissants beurre, baguettes slathered in butter and creamy cheeses. Note to self: Must make plan to walk at least 30 minutes daily. Champagne is reasonable compared to what we are used to paying (both in SA and Ghana) and a bagful of groceries this morning did set us back some euros; but I can gladly live on bread and cheese for the moment.