Tuesday 15 November 2011

Bonjour - we are back from Paris!

Last year, I was given Eurostar vouchers for Christmas by our children, but life has been so full in 2011 that we didn't have the opportunity to use them until last week, when we hopped on the train in London and got off in Paris!

Our culture fix for the week was to see three exhibitions: Diane Arbus (American photographer) at the Jeu de Paume; Cezanne in Paris at the Musee de Luxembourg and Des jouets et des hommes (Toys and men) at the Grand Palais - great fun for both little and grown-up children!

We also caught up on the photography front with a visit to Évry cathedral - an amazing building out in the Paris suburbs, constructed in beautifully crafted brickwork, with trees growing on top - and two return visits to La Defense and the area around the Grande Arche, to photograph the skyscrapers, public art and views along the esplanade to Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe.  

My quest to photograph more public art lead us on a meandering route through central Paris, around Les Halles; the Louvre courtyard with its wonderful glazed pyramids above and people watching opportunities below ground; past Notre Dame and along the Seine to the Institute du Monde Arabe, where we enjoyed the views from the roof terrace, before walking on to Bastille.

On our last morning, we said hello to the French version of the Statue of Liberty then walked on to Parc Andre Citroen, which now occupies the site of the former Citoen car factory.  Sadly all the water features had been turned off for winter.  However, the helium balloon was still going up to give visitors a bird's eye view of western Paris and two firefighters surprised onlookers by practicing their balancing skills at the top of the extended ladder high up above the Seine.

In the course of these excursions, we caught a glimpse of President Sarkozy pressing the flesh after the Armistice Day Service on 11 November, enjoyed window shopping everywhere along our routes, from swanky shops, to small patisseries in back streets and the booksellers along the river.  We walked what felt like many miles, as well as hopping on and off the metro and traveling on the two storey RER train out of town. Exhausting but exhilarating

After a quick turnaround at home on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I was off again on Sunday afternoon, this time on a flight to Guernsey for a business meeting, returning last night.  

Having been away from base for three out of the last four weeks, we are both looking forward to a relatively settled period to catch up. That's the last of the trips abroad planned for 2011, although there is plenty to do at home to keep us occupied in the run up to the Christmas festivities.  

In the next month, as Steve's assessment looms closer and closer, I must try not to get too stressed about what the X-ray will show.  As usual, Steve appears to be more relaxed.....although I think that the recent deaths of Ronny and Anita, two meso warriors whose stories we have followed, has shaken both of us, perhaps more than we like to admit.  Life is precious. Enjoy it while you can. 

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