Monday, August 22, 2011

Gayer Paree - Bienvenue à Paris!

That was the title of my good friend Dan Homewood’s email before we met up in Paris, I liked it a lot.

I can hear opera music

As far as I am concerned we covered just about everything one should and could cover when in Paris for only five days. We ate great food (not overlooking the all time favorite baguette and croissant), visited many cultural and historical places, drank good wine and beer, ran ourselves off our feet walking all over Paris and yet never lost that emblematic notion of being happily immersed in a romantic and exquisite place.

Now this looks a little dangerous to do stark naked, right?

The best crepe in, actually really

Finishing one of these babies is no walk in the park!

Here are three myths about Paris that we busted:
  • Parisians are not all rude, only on the metro and even then only certain cultures.
  • The prices are not that ridiculously high, you can eat, drink and play at quite a reasonable price – the stunning Tour d’Eiffel was only €4.70!
  • Nothing spectacularly amazing happens after midnight (damn you Woody Allen), mostly you get exhausted from all the days colorful experiences and you end up in bed.
The fountain at Sainte Michele

This mosque was turned into a rather stunning cafe/restaurant with some really nice garden seating outside too

Paris' own Pantheon
Off with his head!!!
The Vinkoyle...

The watch tower of Sainte Jacques, so many little time

Now, here are three things you did not know about Paris:
  • They have an amazing living archive of art history and culture, and they have always been very proud of it so unlike some other nations they have really looked after it.
  • Contrary to popular belief most people can and will speak English at least to some reasonable degree, some even take English lessons (my sister Ana is a language teacher) and therefore are looking to practice – but you do have to try being respectful and polite, don’t assume everybody should be able to understand your English immediately; try bonjour, s’il vouz plait, merci and you will be amazed at how much more approachable the people become.
  • Parisians are not just people that wear funny hats, drink coffee and smoke cigarettes all day while plotting their next revolution, some actually hang out at parks and play bocce with a beer in their hand…they are actually quite normal life-loving people!

Colette captures this rather romantic instance in front of Notre Dame in Paris, the plaza in front is swarming with little finches that tourists feed from their hands

This Asian bride wanted wedding photos at night in front of the Paris Opera, how nice!

Miraculously walking on water in front of the Louvre
Ever had the fleeting feeling that you are just flying through a place?

Colette's most accomplished photograph to date, this flying chair ride over the Tullerie allowed us to see Paris in an entirely different way

My family passed through Paris in a flash back in 94’ when we flew out of Croatia for the first time to immigrate to New Zealand. I don’t remember very much from that time, I was only 11, but I remember thinking that I would always like to come back sometime again and get so see it a bit better. I feel very fortunate that I was indeed able to do that again, and as an adult I was really able to get into it for this short but packed-in period of time. Of course it helped quite considerably that my sister and her boyfriend both live and work in Paris, and were excellent hosts making themselves available for touring us in and around Paris.

In front of Sainte Chapelle
Inside the amazing Sainte Chapelle

Intricately carved plates of the Creation Myth at Sainte Chapelle...

...and here is Noah's Ark too!

One really stand out day was the one where all four of us jumped into a Hertz hire car and drove to Champagne to try the origin of sparkling wines! I thought I was a well seasoned wine taster from my days in the wine regions of a few continents, but trust me when I tell you that champagne is something quite different. Sparkling wine tends to make you drunker, quicker…so much so that you are looking at twice the rate usual wine touring would. Add to that really nice hot summer weather and the general fatigue that comes from running about the whole place, and you have yourself quite a challenge to back up. But what an awesome day we had! The absolute highlight for me would have to be the short tour of a small section of the 18km of catacomb tunnels that exist below Pommery, topped off with a tasting of some of their best champagnes…the Blanc de Noir at Pommery is to die for, and still reasonably affordable – I truly recommend you buy the bottle when you see it.

Happy Champagne birthday to these two little happy birds in front of the Notre Dame of Reims!

The man watching over the champagne valley

Tasting champagne at Chateau La Fond

This intricately carved barrel at Pommery was used when sending a gift of champagne wine to America way back in time and it can hold the equivalent volume of 100,000 bottles!

The hippo was shaped using the clay soil which forms the floor of the Pommery dungeon cellar

Champagne at Pommery goes through a very intricate turning and storing process which lasts 18 months, each day during their time here every one of the bottles are turned 1/4 clockwise and then 1/6 anti-clockwise the next day

All in all a massive thanks to Ana and Andrea for hosting us so well, we had a great time in Paris and would look forward to visiting again sometime in the future. Au revoir, bon journé!

Good friends, good food and good drink - it's what life's high points are all about!


  1. Wow, looks like lots of fun! I love the photo on the flying chair ride!

  2. Thanks Tracey, I was surprised (and delighted) that it turned out like that. We had a really great time with Ana & Andrea, Paris is indeed a cool & cultured city!