Saturday, April 30, 2016

A-Z Challenge: Z is for Zola

Why are all the tough letters at the end of the alphabet ... when we are exhausted from a month's worth of blog posts?!

Actually, Zola wasn't a difficult choice. He is a revered Parisian novelist. I know because when I visited the Montmartre Cemetery, his grave was located in a prominent place.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A-Z Challenge: Y is for Yacht

Ok... this might be a stretch. Please bear with me.

I really struggled with a Y entry. There are no Parisian monuments that begin with Y (or none that I know of, anyway). The typical "Y" entries, such as yellow or yak just did not fit. I am not into haute couture, so Yves St. Laurent is not a viable choice.

I really wanted to share the houseboats along the Seine, however, and I thought.... YACHTS.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A-Z Challenge: X is for XX Arrondissements
X is one tough letter! However, as a roman numeral, it works great.

Paris is divided into twenty sections, otherwise known as arrondissements

The division begins in the center of the city - on the Ile de la Cite - and continues clockwise in a large circle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A-Z Challenge: W is for Windowsills

Let me begin this post with a confession.

I am not the romantic in our marriage. My husband, the Italian, is the amorous one.

He's tried numerous times to give me flowers - special occasion or not. But while I appreciate the sentiment, I fail miserably to show appreciation. I forget to put them in a vase... I forget to water them... I forget they need to be by a window for sunlight.

After a decade of marriage we decided the way to my heart is with a practical gift - like filling my tank with gas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A-Z Challenge: V is for Vedettes

While there is no bad way to view Paris, one of the more unique experiences is to take a Seine River boat ride.

The most popular vendor is Bateaux Mouches. I think its convenient location, walking distance from the Eiffel Tower, contributes to its popularity.

I had planned to take the Bateaux Mouches later in the week, but while walking along the Seine after a long day of touring the Louvre, I happened upon another boating company: Vedettes du Pont-Neuf. I was ready to give my feet a break, and so I decided to try it.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A-Z Challenge: U is for Underground

The Metro is the common name for the Parisian subway.

For those who grew up in a major city and are accustomed to this type of transportation, you may find nothing particularly special about the Metro.

But as a junior in high school, this was my first subway experience, and I am always amazed how easy it is to navigate and  find my way around town.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Salon: April 17, 2016

We enjoyed a picture perfect day here yesterday. Sunny and high near 80.

After an all-morning meeting, we took advantage of the weather and worked in the backyard for about four hours. Unfortunately, this meant I missed the 24 hour read-athon, but I can now look out my kitchen window and smile.

How many of you read for hours on-end yesterday? Did you have fun? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A-Z Challenge: T is for The Trocadero

The Trocadero (or Place de Trocadero) is the large platform directly across from the Eiffel Tower that allows perfect photos of the iconic structure.

It has quite a history, dating back to the mid 19th century when the original Palais du Trocadero was built for the 1878 World's Fair.

Then in 1937 that palace was demolished to make room for the current Palais de Chaillot. Neither Palais was occupied by royalty, but instead served as a concert hall and now is home to a number of small museums.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A-Z Challenge: S is for Sacre Coeur

Sacre-Coeur: Sacred Heart
It's official title is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. Most simply refer to it as Sacre-Coeur.

I am not catholic, so I'm unfamiliar with the differences between the various religious buildings (a church, a cathedral, a basilica). And history has never been my favorite subject, so I'm not well-versed in the religious and political circumstances surrounding this 19th century project.

I do know it took nearly two decades to complete: from 1875 to 1914, and the architectural style is completely different from the Medieval Notre Dame cathedral, and the ornate Palais Garnier.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A-Z Challenge: R is for Revolution

When I taught British Literature, I could hardly wait until Spring semester when we would study A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens as our example of 19th century.

Are you familiar with this work? I could wax on and on about the author's genius use of foreshadowing and the emotional impact of the sacrificial love theme, but that would be the subject of another post.

When I visited Paris in 2011, one of my goals was to revisit the important settings in this novel, most notably the Bastille, Faubourg St. Antoine, and Place de la Concorde, the original location for all the beheadings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A-Z Challenge: Q is for Quai

Quai (or quay), according the merriam-webster dictionary, means: a landing place, especially one of solid masonry, constructed along the edge of a body or water.

The Seine River is the heart of Paris. It flows through the center of the city and is as much an iconic symbol as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.

The sections of the city on the Left side of the Seine (Rive Gauche) are typically considered a bit more bohemian than those on the Right side (Rive Droite). Often directions are given in terms of which bank the address is located.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A-Z Challenge: P is for Patisserie

We have bakeries in America, where we go to buy our staple bread as well as sweet indulgences.

In France the two are separate. You would visit the boulangerie for bread (typically every day or every other day) and the patisserie for pastries (probably less frequently... although if I didn't care about my waistline, I could easily visit on a daily basis).

This is one of the few shops in Paris where a lack of the native language does not put you at a disadvantage. Your eyes tell you all you need to know before making a purchase - and I'm not sure you could make a poor decision.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A-Z Challenge: O is for l'Orangerie

Paris may be known as the City of Lights, but it is also a city of museums. Of course everyone has heard of the Louvre, home to such renown masterpieces as the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory.

Many are familiar with the Musee d'Orsay, the transformed train station that now houses many of the world's most famous Impressionist paintings.

And I am certain those who enjoy modern art have heard of the Centre Pompidou, a crisp, clean museum that houses an incredible collection as well as a comprehensive gift shop.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Salon: April 17, 2016

We have enjoyed a gorgeous weekend: sunny skies, light breeze, high in the 70s. Some much needed rain is heading our way, though, and it should be a pretty dreary start to the week. Oh well, April showers are going to bring beautiful May flowers, right?


This was the week of slow and steady in all areas.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A-Z Challenge: N is for Notre Dame

When I visited Paris for the first time in high school, Notre Dame was the first famous landmark I witnessed. I remember arriving in town after a very long trans-Atlantic flight, dropping off our luggage at the hotel (really... a step above a hostel) and then taking a walk around the neighborhood.

Of course, we students had no idea where we were, and I remember rounding the bend, crossing the bridge, and there she was - greeting us to her city.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A-Z Challenge: M is for Moulin

Moulin means Windmill, and at one time over thirty windmills dotted the hill of Montmartre with their graceful arms circling overhead.

Today, two windmills remain, the Moulin Radet and the Moulin Blute-Fin, both on the same hill near Rue Lepic.

When I visited Paris in 2011, I could not stop taking pictures of these statuesque antiques. I consider these monuments as iconic as the Eiffel Tower.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A-Z Challenge: L is for Lights

Paris is known for its fashion - its amour - and its lights.

Originally Paris earned her nickname, City of Lights, because the Latin Quarter was a beacon of enlightenment in the 17th Century - the European capitol of education and philosophy.

During Haussmann's renovation of the city, he commissioned miles of underground gas lines to accommodate the nearly 30,000 lamps across the city streets. The avenues and boulevards, along with the bridges across the Seine, literally glowed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A-Z Challenge: K is for Kiss

Springtime in Paris - the City of Love
This is a case of the romantic notion not exceeding reality. Love is definitely in the air - everywhere you turn.

Walking through the streets of Montmartre

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A-Z Challenge: J is for Jardins

When I started this Paris Impressions series, I didn't intend to offer French Lessons. But when trying to match letters with topics, I found a knowledge of two languages quite helpful.

However, Jardins is closely related to its English translation. Simply replace the J with a G... and you can guess what it means: Gardens.

As I mentioned in the H post, Baron Haussmann was responsible for creating numerous green spaces throughout Paris, a nice respite for the inhabitants of a major urban city. While there are many smaller parks throughout the city, the two most popular are the Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank, and Tuilleries Gardens on the Right Bank.

This post will focus on the Tuilleries Gardens.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A-Z Challenge: I is for Ile aux Cygnes

The literal translation of Ile aux Cygnes is Island of the Swans.

I'm not sure I saw any swans on this adventure, but I did discover what I came to find: a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

I've had this excursion on my bucket since the late 70s, when I visited the city with fifteen other high school students. I remember it was close to dusk and the tour bus was flying down the highway. Those lucky enough to sit on the right side of the bus caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty with the Eiffel Tower behind her. I was sitting on the left side.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Salon: April 10, 2016

I'm debating about joining the Dewey's Read-athon, scheduled for April 23rd. It's been a long time since I've participated, but I sure love the camaraderie of prolonged reading with thousands of online friends. Are any of you registered?


I recently became reacquainted with an old friend.

Back in 2009 when I started this book review blog, ebooks were just starting to gain in popularity. NetGalley was a start-up company that put electronic advanced review copies into the hands of reviewers. My Cozy Book Nook registered with the company, and I even sat in their booth during BEA to answer questions of those who stopped by.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A-Z Challenge: H is for Haussmann

Haussmann photo via Wikipedia
Some challenge posts are more difficult than others. H was a letter that caused me problems.

I debated about Hugo, as in Victor Hugo, and discussing the author, his residence (Place de Vosges), and his popular work, Les Miserables. But in the end, I decided to focus on Baron Haussmann, since he is the one responsible for developing Paris into one of the world's greatest cosmopolitan cities.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A-Z Challenge: G is for Garnier Opera House

Photograph: Wikipedia labeled for reuse
I considered doing some historical research for this post, but instead decided to let the photographs showcase the grandeur of this landmark building.

Originally called Palais Garnier (palais meaning palace and Garnier being the architect) this is home to the Paris Opera and until 1989, the Paris Ballet.

The building is a work of art on the outside as well as on the inside.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A-Z Challenge: F is for Fromagerie

I really didn't intend this series to teach French culinary terms, but obviously food is a large part of my Parisian experience.

Let's review:

  • B is for Boulangerie which means Bread
  • E is for Escargot which is haute cuisine for Snails
  • F is for Fromagerie which means cheese

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A-Z Challenge: E is for Escargot

Escargot (Es-car-go) is such a sophisticated word, don't you think? I mean... you hear "escargot" and you think haute cuisine, not the slimy garden-variety snail.

Have you tried escargot?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A-Z Challenge: D is for Degas

As I mentioned yesterday, my love of Impressionism is founded in a fleeting image I had for my current novel.

The painting my protagonist viewed in the d'Orsay museum is Degas' Rehearsal on Stage.

I think I'm drawn to this painting because it resembles a photograph, with its sepia tones, candid perspective, and authenticity of the hard life of a ballerina. It isn't all glitz and glamour.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A-Z Challenge: C is for Cassatt

Cassatt - self portrait 
I have always loved Paris (ever since second grade when I first started taking French), but I have not always enjoyed the Impressionists. In fact, I had little appreciation for fine art until six years ago. 

I say that to say this... I do not feign to be an expert in the field.

So why the focus on Impressionism and the artists of Montmartre? Perhaps a little backstory is in order.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Salon: April 3, 2016

It's a new month... a new quarter... and for me, a new lease on life.

I am about 90% healed and cleared to do everything I would normally do. Now that the weather is warmer and the skies sunnier, I hope to return to a walking routine. I'm sure it will take a while to get back to my 5k-a-day, but I plan to start small and work my way up.


April will be a big writing month (Blogging A-Z Challenge - Camp NaNoWriMo - 4 week journaling workshop) so reading will have to take a backseat for the next few weeks. However, I hope to continue reading a bit before bedtime, and listening to an audiobook in the car.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A-Z Challenge: B is for Boulangerie

For those who may not know French just remember...  Boulangerie means Bread. And bread in Paris is not like the pre-packaged, tasteless white loaf we purchase here in the U.S. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

A-Z Challenge: A is for Artistes

Place du Tertre
I fell in love with Montmartre the first time I visited. This village on the hill still maintains its old-world charm in the middle of one of the most cosmopolitan cities.

The Place du Tertre - or artists' square - is my favorite. I enjoy sitting outdoors at one of the many cafes, viewing the sights and sounds of the bustling crowds. And I particularly enjoy wandering around the area, watching the artists paint portraits or caricatures of passing visitors.

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