Tag Archives: nightlife

Books About Paris

3 Jun

Books in Paris

It is fair to say that books about Paris are in no short supply. As someone who is writing a book about Paris, I am painfully aware of the fierce competition. Books about Paris fill my shelves, and I can’t resist ducking into Dymocks to see if there are any new ones on the shelves. But, there are some that keep me coming back.

*Paris Tango by Carla Coulson

Carla manages in one frame to capture the nuances of French life, in a way that armed with a thousand words I could only dream of. I love everything about her book. The weight of it, the texture of the cover, the old-school red placemarker. Of course, her words are magnificent too, once you manage to tear your eyes from her lovingly captured photographs. Her blog, which I stumbled across only recently, is also a delight.

*A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast

Indeed, Mr Hemingway requires no introduction. I only picked up a copy of A Moveable Feast this year. I think I put it off for so long because I was intimidated, and perhaps also because it is home to one of the most over quoted lines ever used to describe Paris. The reality, however, is that A Moveable Feast reads as if you have plopped down next to Hemingway in a Latin Quarter bar and he’s telling you about his perfectly ordinary day. It is a slender and light as Carla’s book is solid, and is intensely captivating in its brevity.

*Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

Almost French Cat

Almost French is everything I hope my novel will be. I would love nothing more than to have my as yet unnamed (suggestions welcome!) book sit side by side with Ms Turnbull’s. That possibility equally excites and terrifies me.

What are your favourite books about Paris?

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Paris books img courtesy of Roman Lashkin on Flickr.
A Moveable Feast img courtesy of life serial on Flickr.
Almost French with cat img courtesy of [o] suze q … [packing for firenze] on Flickr.

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Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

The Podium Perspective

20 May

Podium Dancer

On Friday night, I danced on a podium in a nightclub.

Now, my dear loyal readers (I mean you, Mum), allow me to assure you that no, I haven’t started turning tricks on the side because the life of a writer isn’t lucrative enough.

Before Friday night, I had never been the girl who dances on the table. In fact, I wasn’t even the kind of girl who goes to nightclubs. My ideal Friday night of late consists of getting a jump start on my clothes washing and watching episodes of Gossip Girl with my husband (sorry Max). The last time I had been in a nightclub was probably three years ago. And even then, it was an Afterwork in Paris, and I’m not sure that even counts.

But, we had been invited to a friend’s surprise birthday party, and in the spirit of doing things outside my comfort zone, I agreed. The arranged meeting time was 9pm, which I’m told is early in the nightclub realm. In my realm, 9pm is firmly slippers-and-peppermint-tea-time.

Slippers and tea

And so, it was with a little apprehension that I approached the evening. I agonised over what to wear (you know, more than usual). I am a hopeless comfort-dresser at the best of times, and the thought of anything vaguely short or sleeveless in May in Melbourne was enough to send me running for cover. Eventually, I decided upon a brightly coloured, long-sleeved silk print dress, over opaque black stockings. I added a black blazer and my coat, for warmth, but the shoe situation made me hesitate. My three-year-old black boots are on their last legs, fine for my somewhat casual office job, but not, I feared, chic nightclub worthy. I figured heels were the only safe bet, and so I coaxed my reluctant slipper-coddled toes into the patent black stilettos I’d purchased in the Christmas sales. More proof positive that I am not accustomed to this nightclub thingy.

Spice Market

We arrived early enough for the maze of red barrier ropes outside Spice Market to seem superfluous and a little hopeful. The over-exercised security guard branded me quickly with the word ‘SPICE’ in smudgy black stamp ink and that was it, we were admitted.

The other invitees arrived, the champagne flowed and the DJ somehow managed to play only songs I liked and knew the words to. Before I knew it, the birthday girl and friends were clamouring up onto one of the podiums to dance. They put out a hand for me to join them.

My immediate reaction was to say no, to shake my head and smile and tell them to go on without me. And then I realised, that was bullsh*t. And so up I climbed, somewhat awkwardly, my back heel sinking into the cushioned seat as I stepped onto the platform. And whilst there’s nothing I like less than being the centre of attention, something strange happened while I was up there. I realised that the attention was nothing to do with me. I noticed a girl in the crowd nearby, shuffling from foot to foot, watching us nervously. I knew exactly what she was thinking, because that girl, she’s me. I caught her eye and offered a wide smile, trying to convey with one facial expression that I understood, that I got it, and that the only difference between the girl on the platform and the girl in the crowd, is perspective.

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Podium dancer img courtesy of Aran Chandran on Flickr.
Slippers and tea img courtesy of
emdot on Flickr.
Spice Market img courtesy of
avlxyz on Flickr.

Dancing in the Dark

29 Apr


Self conscious

I am quite self conscious. I am easily embarrassed, and I hate feeling out of place. I like to know all the details before I head into a new situation, and fear of embarrassment can see me opt out of activities I’d actually probably enjoy.

Sometimes on the train home from work, I’ll miss my stop because I am wedged into the corner seat with three other people sprawled across the aisle, and in order to get out at my stop I’d have to make a bit of a fuss and ask them to move. So I stay quiet, and hope their stop comes soon.

Yoga

But recently, I’ve tried to push myself out of my cosy, insulated, predictable comfort zone. I signed up for a yoga course at work, even though it meant a change in my well-established routine and involved some awkwardness with a bunch of people I didn’t know.

And last Wednesday night I went with two friends to No Lights No Lycra in Brunswick. I had read about this activity in an issue of Women’s Fitness and thought it sounded like fun for someone like me. The principle is simple, the event takes place in a hall, they turn off all the lights and play daggy music, and everyone dances however they want, because noone else can see you.

We turned up, a few minutes late to find the event already in full swing. Weaving our way through the shadowy figures, we found a spot towards the back of the hall. I spent the first five minutes feeling supremely uncomfortable. It was a cold, drizzly night and all I could think about was how much I would rather be at home, warm in my pyjamas in front of the TV. It really wasn’t that dark and I wasn’t digging the first few songs. Nevertheless, we’d come all this way, so I was determine to at least give it a red hot go.

Dancing in the Dark

We spread out a little, giving each other space to do our own thing, and I found I could let go a bit more if I closed my eyes. Soon, some old school r’n’b was playing and I had forgotten all about my embarrassment as I got on down to Mary Mary. I opened my eyes to check where my friends were, just in time to see my usually reserved pal stride dramatically into the middle of the crowded dance floor, throwing back over her shoulder ‘Ladies, I’m going in!’ Emboldened by her bravery, and perhaps the blueberry amaretto sours we’d quickly downed pre-class for courage, I turned it up a notch and lost myself in the music. By the time a Britney Spears song came on, I was in the zone. Limbs flailing this way and that, hair in my face, jumping in the air – I was having a ball.

The night before at yoga, I had struggled against the meditation at the end of the class. I didn’t want to listen to the instructor’s voice as she told me to imagine my left kneecap relaxing. And when she handed each of us a flat stone to gaze at, I almost snorted with derision. But, in the middle of my third consecutive twirl, hands drawing wide circles above my head while I kicked my right leg into the air, I realised I had finally managed to live just in the moment, lost in the song.

Peace

Who would have thought that in the midst of all that noise and movement, I’d find peace.

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Quote image courtesy of Rob Meredith on Flickr.
Yoga image courtesy of GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS on Flickr.
Shadow dance image courtesy of sean.casaidhe on Flickr.
Peace image courtesy of MojoBaer on Flickr.

French-Australian Wedding Part One

16 Apr


Wedding Photo1

As many of you know, I recently married my French fiancé Max. Putting together a wedding with two sets of cultural norms to consider was a little bit of a challenge at times, but mostly it was a whole lot of fun.

As we are having a second wedding in France in July, the February event had more of an Australian flavour, but with some nice French touches. We were married at Leaves & Fishes in the Hunter Valley, in their function space ‘Feast’, which we picked for its distinctly European feel.

Wedding Photo2

I walked in to the song ‘Intermission’ by French-Canadian singer Coeur de Pirate, and we signed our registry to the hauntingly beautiful strains of Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who Max and once I saw perform live in Paris. My mum did a reading in English, and Max’s godmother, in French. The entire ceremony was conducted in both languages, and afterwards, we toasted with a French-style Australian-made sparkling wine.

Our wedding cake was a delicious fusion of the two cultures, square chocolate and vanilla cupcakes decorated with an assortment of iconic images from the two countries. The lovely ladies at Kiss Me Cakes in Sydney did an incredible job, and in the days that followed we were glad that we had over catered! We also had lolly jars filled with sweets from our childhoods, Caramello Koalas and Carambars (yum!).

Wedding Photo3

The following day we held a brunch at my aunt and uncle’s property, with sausages on the barbeque and a game of backyard cricket on one side; and delicious croissants and an intense match of pétanque on the other…

Wedding Photo6

Wedding Photo5

The perfect weekend!

Les Intouchables

8 Apr

Les Intouchables

Usually when someone tells me I MUST do something, it really puts me off. I’m not sure if that means I have inherently wilful nature, or what, but there is no surer way to make sure I don’t do something. I am even less motivated if the thing in question has taken the world by storm (i.e. Twilight, 50 Shades, cake pops…)

But, as I’ve admitted before, sometimes when I give in, the results are truly amazing (like when I finally decided to give Il Solito Posto a go). And so, a month ago I finally gave in and watched Les Intouchables. Everyone from my old friends in Paris, to members of Max’s extended family, to English speakers who had seen it at the film festival had raved about it, practically non-stop for a year. But for some strange reason I just didn’t want to. I guess I didn’t imagine that any film could be THAT good, and that I’d inevitably be disappointed. I know, I know, it’s not like every movie I watch is of impeccable standard or anything (I have seen both the Sex and the City movies more than once), but on this topic I would not budge.

I made excuses not to watch it. We were actually in France when it was released at the cinema, but I wanted to wait and watch it with French subtitles. Then, when Max brought the DVD back with him after his latest Paris trip, I let it languish in the cupboards. And when Max dragged it out to watch one lazy Sunday afternoon, I settled in for a snooze on the couch.

Puppy snooze

Now, it isn’t often that I’ll admit to being astoundingly mistaken, but this was one such occasion. I am about to become one of those people I hate, who tells everyone they MUST watch this film. For this, I apologise, but really, you must.

It is the spectacular opposite of politically correct, simultaneously bound by and gloriously free from stereotypes. It is a no holds barred, deliciously vibrant examination of how rich life can be, irrespective of circumstance.

I know that you aren’t convinced, because I wasn’t either. But go on, even if it’s just so you can come back on here and say ‘You were wrong, I hated it!’ – just watch it.

Go on.

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Puppy snooze image courtesy of Josh Koonce on Flickr.

Paris Weather Envy

18 Mar

Montmartre Snow

It has been snowing a lot in France this year. Even Paris has received a generous dusting – just last week we were all in awe of the ‘skiing in Montmartre’ video. The only problem was, I was watching it from my Melbourne apartment, where I had the air conditioning on full blast and had employed the usual of a small fan in an attempt to cool us down.

Because I have the Météo Paris app on my smartphone, I can’t help but sneak a look at the forecast from time to time. And, when staring down the barrel of the eighth day in a row of 30 degree plus temperatures – minus 2 seemed almost… refreshing.

It’s absolutely a case of wanting what you don’t have, perhaps sprinkled with a touch of rose-coloured glass wearing. See, I appear to recall only the good about snow in Paris. I remember the first time I saw snow fall in Paris. It was 2am, and something had woken me. I moved silently to my small window and watched as it fell softly, yet determinedly into the still courtyard below.

Hot chocolate

I remember the warmth and conviviality of the cafes we’d duck into, where we’d eat warming bowls of onion soup and drink jugs of chocolat chaud to revive us.

P1030930

I remember the fireplace at Max’s parents house in Lille, and the big fluffy slippers Max gave me for Christmas.

What I choose to forget is the pain of a metro strike on a snow day, where the buses don’t run and the crowds are suffocating. I forget the inconvenience of having to shower at night, instead of in the morning to ensure my hair was bone dry before leaving the house to avoid an instant cold migraine. I have pushed aside the unattractive image of me, bundled up in a billion layers under my bulky winter coat, tramping inelegantly through the slippery cobblestone streets in my gumboots…

P1030928

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Snow in Montmartre image courtesy of Nicolas DS on Flickr.
Hot chocolate image courtesy of johnbailey63 on Flickr.

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