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...
I have the lovely Fran Lloyd to thank for introducing me to the world of Martin Parr. And the brilliant world of Twitter to thank for alerting me to his presence in Paris, in conversation at the Pompidou. Twas an honour to have a chance to listen to him talk about his work. I vraiment like his style. Wish I had the balls to photograph some of the interesting characters we peruse on Paris streets and metros.
Bits of churches inside a museum, pretty cool, wish I remember any of my Gombrich history of art book in order to spout intelligent observations and understand the symbolism but my brain doesn't work that way (it only remembers the names of celebrity children. The Jolie-Pitts: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne. And that's in age order). Also, good view of the TE. I never get tired of seeing the TE.
Essentially a big roundabout but I love it because it's big and grand and feels like Paris. One day when Tim finally wins the lottery I will stay in one of the fancy hotels that have doormen in top hats.
104 (or centquatre) is a huge arts space in a converted funeral parlour in the 19th. Our afternoon spent there included a mosey round the Emmaus brocante shop, a giant animal carousel, amazing pop up books, holograms dancing on records and a dance to 'New York, New York' with mispronounced lyrics. Brilliant, free, eclectic fun.
Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest gripes about living in Paris is that it's expensive which is all the more reason for celebrating the awesome Musée Carnavalet as it's completely free, hoorah! Thinking that I was going to one of the city's smaller museums I was amazed at the sheer amount of stuff that there is to be seen here. Documenting the history of Paris, in a round-about way, the museum takes you from rustic rooms of medieval artefacts through the opulent 18th century and its bloody revolution, to 20th century paintings of café life. I can't claim to know much about the history of...well anything really...but the museum does a good job of bringing to life the city during different eras, particularly through the huge range of paintings on display. Giving a good overview of the history of the city, it left me wanting to find out more...I'll add it to my list of things to do in 2011...
So here we are on January 2nd, full of the usual good intentions. I WILL do regular exercise, I DEFINITELY WILL save money and I CERTAINLY WON'T fritter away another year spending too much time on the internet and playing Angry Birds (I just need to complete this level...). Funner resolutions for 2011 include listening to more new bands, actually looking at my recipe books and making more exciting meals, making Japanese paper art from the lovely book that Tim got me for Christmas, actually going to the various 'meet up' groups that I've signed up to and, last but not least, starting a blog. Not at all compatible with spending less time on the internet but hey ho...
Reasons why I want to start a blog include: because it's cool yeah,everyone's doing it; because Tim's got one so I want one too; because I can do it from my HTC and the more time I get to spend with my phone the better; but mostly because the longer I spend in Paris, the more I think it's going to be a passing adventure and something to look back on when I'm old and boast about to anyone who'll listen "Of course during my time in Paris..." and therefore something to be documented. And what better way to share all the new bands I will discover, the meals I will make, the Japanese paper art I will create and the lovely things I WILL DEFINITELY NOT BUY because I'm saving money of course...