Being a teacher has its advantages, such as the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the company of 7 international astronauts. Invited by Unesco to celebrate 60 years of human space travel, I was one of 5 teachers who accompanied a group of students to an 'Afternoon with Astronauts'. Most of the afternoon was dedicated to questions from the students, the first question of course being 'How do you go to the toilet in space?'! The astronauts (all men) were incredibly nice, ridiculously positive and aspirational (especially the American, truly a different race from us reserved and cynical Brits) and great with the kids. Having signed up for a bit of a jolly, I found myself being very engaged by their tales (who knew that velcro was such a revolutionary invention or that your internal organ float in space!) and impressed by their interaction with the students, signing autographs and posing for photos, even though they were suppposed to be following a strict programme! I remain a bit too British and cynical to completely buy into their 'reach for the stars' and 'never give up on your dreams' message (I really don't think any amount of not giving up will land me a role in the Grease stage show) but it certainly felt like something a bit special.
Ou first visit to this new arts centre in Paris mostly involved sitting in a very yellow theatre listening to a strange soundscape in 3 different languages for 45 minutes. Our second visit involved a Peter Broderick gig at 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. Add to this hotdogs where the sausages are made from carrots, a library that looks like its from the future and a shop selling 90% Lego and Nintendo related paraphenalia and you have one pretty interesting and eclectic venue. Uber-modern apart from the café which has been preserved from the original theatre that this building once housed, the gaité promises exciting things, including Mr M Ward in May.
Officially my favourite museum in Paris, ESPECIALLY the toy gallery. This time (my 4th visit I think) was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of wooden toy manufacturer Vilac. I can't imagine that wooen toys are that poplar with kids these days, given that Apple are making apps for 2 year olds now. But there is something very charming and aesthetically pleasing about them.
We (Anna, Keith and I) also ogled art deco furniture, 60s chairs, retro Air France crockery, ceramic based art and advertising by Michael Batory. And we didn't even get time for the fashion gallery. I'll save that for visit number 5.
Well, what can I possibly say about the Louvre...it's massive, I'm taking it one step at a time. This time it was a pleasant Friday night with the lovely Anna and Keith seeing some painting and a little sculpture. Turns out having an ex-vicar for a father comes in handy for explaining the origins of 17th and 18th century painting (thanks Anna!). Mona Lisa dn Vnus De Milo - overrated, I don't get the attraction at all.
I liked this one where the people are running out of the frame.
Not our first trip to the Opera Garnier but the first time we have ever got there early enough to look around the rooms inside. I love the grandeur and opulence if it, though I know it's a bit wrong and a disgusting symbol of wealth and class divides. Probably. Still, as a spectacle it's ace. We were in a box which felt very special. The concert was brass and percussion, my two favourite sections of the orchestra, big drums and zarimbas galore.
Hands down the worst zoo I have ever been to. I went with my class, it rained, there was no café so we ate sandwiches on a soggy bench surrounded by aggressive sparrows. It was pretty desolate and I'm pretty sure most of the animals were clinically depressed. I am not at all an animal lover, and am usually pretty grateful for the pvc pane that separates us, but even I wanted to set them all free.
Still, I saw a sloth, which is always a joy, and a monkey with its arm in plaster. In the photo is Nenette, a veritable celebrity, not that you'd know it from the complete lack of information and unglamorous surroundings in which she lives. I found out by coincidence that she is the star of a documentary and the oldest inhabitant of the oldest zoo in Europe. She is lovely. I'm plotting a way to dig her out as we speak...