Thumbs Up in Paris

Cesar's statue in La Defense

Well friends, you know I go to Paris sometimes. I take pictures as much as I can, to share with you, and also, just to remember.

A Different Place: La Defense is Not Like Old Paris

I was in a different area than usual this past week. La Defense. It’s new (comparatively) and glitzy (comparatively). I like the old Paris areas better.

La Grande Arche de la Défense
Glitzy buildings and 90s high-end architecture

My hotel was smack dab in the middle of a mall.

The view from my hotel window; I used to see Montmartre or the Eiffel Tower, now it’s a mall

Stuff to Like, Even in the Modern Area

But. There’s stuff to like there. I don’t have to always be a snob. (Just most of the time.)

What’s to like? Well, Paris is Paris. Everything just looks so cool there, like these scooters.

And people walking amongst the impressive modern buildings.

Street Art!

And – my fave – street art, like this big thumb.

Here’s another angle.

Don’t you just love it? César, the artist, created multiple sculptures of his thumb, “Le Pouce,” and they can be found in various parks and museums around the world. He was “all thumbs!” (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

This particular thumb statue, at 40 ft. tall, is his largest, and probably the most unusual juxtaposition – the worker / artist hand amidst the high-tech knowledge worker setting.

The Official Write-Up, a Plaque on the Ground

Here’s the plaque about the statue. The cigarette butts made me sad, but I left them in to keep it authentic.

Thumb
Polished, waxed and varnished bronze,
1990

Like an obelisk, this monumental enlargement of a mold of César’s thumb stands 12 meters high. It is the tallest of the sculptor’s Pouces since the first one created in 1965 which measured only 40 centimeters. Referred to as a New Realism in 1960, César is known for his work on common consumerist objects which he gathered, compressed and enlarged in a spirit similar to American Pop Art.

The Bottom Line

Paris is a diverse and constantly surprising landscape of compelling and thought-provoking scenes. I can’t be a snob, or I’ll miss something cool and memorable.

Haiku Time

Note: because February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and I’m a habitual haiku-er (is that a word?), all posts will have a related haiku. For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

Haiku: Thumbs Up

 ❖ gotta love Paris ❖ 
 ❖ yes, that’s a giant thumb ❖ 
 ❖ reaching for the sky ❖ 

© 2019 Glover Gardens

January Dreaming: April in Paris in the Gardens

The seventh post in a series, January Dreaming. Click for the series, and see the end of the post for the backstory.

It’s January. It’s cold, dreary and wet. So I’m dreaming. Of Paris in April.

When I’m in Paris, I do my best to visit as many gardens as possible.  My oh my, do I love Paris! Especially in the spring.  It’s no wonder that the City of Lights has inspired so many songs, including the classic April in Paris.

There’s a link to one of my favorite recordings of that jazz classic at the end of the post, along with the lyrics.  But this post isn’t about jazz, it’s about the dazzling colors and green spaces you find all over Paris.  There just isn’t enough time, however long the trip, to enjoy them all. Ever. So … you just have to go back, again and again. Here are a few gardens pics, from just one trip in April of 2017, taken over just one weekend between two very busy work weeks. I’m not giving details about the locations in this post, because it’s really about the big picture: just GO. Paris will not disappoint you in April. And dreaming about it in January is… Just. So. Right.

April in Paris

https://youtu.be/XeKC0vxCc_w

Lyrics

Composer:  Vernon Duke
Lyrics: Yip Harburg*

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

‘Til April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

‘Til April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart

*Did you know? Yip Harburg wrote the lyrics to all the songs in The Wizard of Oz.

The Backstory of the January Dreaming Series

If you read this post, January Dreaming, you know that the inspiration for this series is my Mom’s longstanding loathing of the pitiful month of January. Like her, we’re dreaming of good times in warmer months, and celebrating those good times in this series.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

January Dreaming: Paris in July from the Taxi Window

This is the second post in a series, January Dreaming. Click for the series.

If you read yesterday’s post, January Dreaming, you know that the inspiration for this series is my Mom’s longstanding loathing of the pitiful month of January. Like her, we’re dreaming of good times in warmer months, and celebrating those good times in this series.

Paris is charming just about any time…in the springtime (like the song says), summer, fall and winter… but I was especially enchanted last July on the way back to my hotel from a business meeting. The parade for winning the World Cup had taken place earlier that day, and everyone was either happy or in a hurry. I had a point-n-shoot camera with me and spent a very enjoyable 40-minute rush-hour taxi ride snapping pics of the tourists and locals as they darted about this very walkable city.

In Paris, even a taxi ride during rush hour is enriching and interesting.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Place Victor Hugo in Paris: Take a Stroll with Me (and a haiku)

A few weeks ago in Paris, when the day’s work was over and my time was my own, I strolled through the busy streets with camera in hand. Dinner can wait, I thought, as I took in the champagne-tinted light on the buildings during rush hour. The image below inspired the post Something about the Light in Paris.

fullsizeoutput_2a6a-1

And now I’d like to share the rest of my little jaunt. A little boy and his grandfather out on their own evening walk stopped to say hello on a quiet residential street.

Out for a walkDSC_0062

As I approached it, Place Victor Hugo captured my fancy. Take a stroll with me around the circle that honors the famous French author and politician, and you’ll see why.

fullsizeoutput_2a3b.jpeg

The sky was dark and interesting, a perfect backdrop for the roundabout and its fountain.

Fountain

There were cars and buses and taxis whizzing by atop the charming and picturesque cobblestones.

There were motorcyclists doing dinner deliveries, and others zipping through the traffic.

Friends
Stopped for a chat

DSC_0023
Keeping out of the way of the bus

There were brave bicyclists, everywhere.

Delivery on Bicycle
A silhouette by the fountain

Brave Bicyclist
Fitting in between the cars

Another Bicycle
Taking advantage of a lull in the traffic

Pedestrians were pausing to stare at their cell phones, perhaps waiting to hear where to meet companions for a glass of rosé.

There was a big fruit and vegetable market, and a small one. The vendor at the small one was very friendly and posed for me.

The customers at the larger produce stand were on the phone, perhaps asking what to pick up for dinner.

There were people lingering by the Victor Hugo metro entrance, and others rushing to get to platform, passing under the gorgeous art deco archway sign. This metro stop has been open since 1900.

fullsizeoutput_2a50fullsizeoutput_2a56DSC_0036

Street crossings happened only on green; traffic lights were well-respected in this busy roundabout.

Waiting at the Light

Dogs were being walked.

After catching the sun’s last golden rays on the buildings (see the first photo above or Something about the Light in Paris), I finally stopped for a quick dinner of smoked salmon at one of the canopied little bistros.

fullsizeoutput_2b4a.jpeg

I have realized that I perceive my surroundings more clearly when I’m out snapping pics. What a wonderful unintended result.

i see more of life
looking through the camera’s lens
framing it for you

Life is good.

For more Glover Gardens posts about the City of Light, click here.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Another Paris Picture, a Perfect Tableau at Place du Trocadero

Yesterday, I shared some recommendations about Paris for a beloved niece who’s on her way to the City of Light.

In preparing the post. I saw some images I had forgotten as I was uploading pics to support my theses about where to go and what to do in Paris.

In the Place du Trocadero, anything can happen. Anyone can be there, taking any kinds of photos. For any reason, with anyone. It is packed with perfectly beautiful people taking pictures.

fullsizeoutput_2aa6

fullsizeoutput_2a96.jpeg

I was fascinated by the tableau below. She looks like a model, right? Great hair, great dress, great shoes.

fullsizeoutput_1c17

But, pulling back a little, it’s clear that the “photographer” is using an iPhone.

fullsizeoutput_1c1f

fullsizeoutput_1c1b

Boyfriend proud of his gal? Friend doing a favor taking model pics? And do they know how iconic they look next to the gold statue-woman posing?

This is just 30 seconds of the never-ending magic at the Place du Trocadero beneath and across from the Eiffel Tower. Go. Experience it. Let me know what you think. (I love Paris.)

© 2018 Glover Gardens

“Aunt Kim, do you have any Paris suggestions?” Indeed, I do!!!

One of my two fabulous nieces is headed to Europe for a week with her boyfriend (that’s them in the photos below), and they’ll spend just over two days in my beloved Paris.

Young, smart and eager to see the world, Melyssa and Steve can be frequent travelers because of their frugal planning and careful research. Plane tickets purchased about 4 months ago for their three-country spree were surprisingly cheap.  I’m thrilled that they wanted my input about one of my favorite cities and happy to share my experiences. I also can’t wait to hear about their discoveries and see their pictures.

General Advice from Aunt Kim

Melyssa and Steve, walk as much as you can, slowly, taking in not just the sights, but the sounds, the smells and the people. With only two days, I would do more walking than anything else and just get a sense for the city. You can go up in the Eiffel Tower or see the Louvre on another trip. I know you’ll be going back, because you will fall in love, just like I have.

paris-metro-mapThe Metro in Paris is great for getting around the city, and usually a lot faster than a taxi or Uber. The traffic jams are reminiscent of large American cities. Get Metro passes and ride when you’re not walking. Your Metro map should be well-worn by the time you leave Paris.

Some more practical tips:

  • Bring super-comfortable shoes.
  • Have your camera (or phone) ready at all times, because unexpected magic will happen.
  • Order food you don’t recognize, keep an open mind and don’t be surprised to fall in love for life.
  • Be ready for rain, but don’t let it cramp your style. Forego an umbrella for a €5 plastic poncho.
  • Be careful of pickpockets and aware of your surroundings, but not afraid, never afraid. Paris is very welcoming, and those age-old stories of Parisians being rude when Americans try to speak French just aren’t true.

Montmartre

Don’t miss Montmartre! Take the Metro to the Abbesses stop, get out and make your way to the Funiculaire de Montmartre, riding it up alongside the famous steps of Montmartre.

Or you could take the steps, but it is a loooong way up, and you’ll already be doing lots of walking. Walk all around Sacre Coeur, where you’ll see wonderful views of Paris.

Montmartre Oak Frames Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower, from just in front of Sacre Coeur (in winter)

Pop over into the tiny little village of Montmartre and check out the shops and artists, looking out for pickpockets. You may encounter roaming artists wanting to draw your picture, but be prepared to pay for it if they do. It’s ok just to say no and walk away. This part of Montmartre is touristy but still worth doing.

IMG_2813.JPG

If La Maison Rose is open, you should eat there. It is famous and fantastic. Your cousin Thomas (AKA the Musical Millennial here in the Glover Gardens blog) calls it “The Pink Restaurant,” and we had a very memorable meal there.  On a cold, gray day, we sat just outside the front door at a tiny table that only comes out when they’re open (which is sporadic) and had steaming hot plates of pasta that revved up our energy for more traipsing.

IMG_2774.JPG
La Maison Rose is unassuming, but wonderful

All the little cafes in Montmartre are great, and the pasta dishes are what I’d recommend.

Pasta Carbonara in Montmartre
Pasta carbonara at a sidewalk cafe in Montmartre

The Museum of Montmartre is wonderful, too. It’s in a series of old houses where famous painters like Renoir painted. It’s not expensive and there are great views. Here’s a post about it.

fullsizeoutput_23e0
The Museum of Montmartre is on a quiet little street close to La Maison Rose

fullsizeoutput_21e8
The view from the back garden of the Museum of Montmartre; the red on the building up high is a flowering vine!

Rue des Martyrs

I like to walk back from Montmartre down the Rue des Martyrs after crossing over Boulevard de Clichy. You can walk all the way to Notre Dame, which takes about an hour. Rue des Martyrs is a historic street that’s protected by city rules governing what kind of businesses can come in (no chains), so you’ll see “real Paris”. You and Steve will love it, Melyssa – it’s like a great big farmers’ market. See my post called April in Paris: Rue des Martyrs for more.

fullsizeoutput_535
One of the many fruit and vegetable shops on the Rue des Martyrs

fullsizeoutput_538
Flower shops are there, too

As you leave Montmartre and cross over Boulevard des Clichy, to get to Rue des Martyrs, you’ll be walking through the Moulin Rouge area where you’ll see a bunch of ads for sex shops and erotic dancing shows, but it’s not scary. I promise.

Notre Dame

When you get to Notre Dame, you can go in without waiting in line if you are going to a church service or to pray. (Say a prayer for me!) You can walk around inside afterward and should – it’s beautiful. I was there last summer just after Papa died, and the building gave me a sense of peace and connection to him. See my blog post about it here.

fullsizeoutput_108a

fullsizeoutput_1c5b.jpeg
Looking up at magnificent Notre Dame

Pont Neuf

After Notre Dame, you can walk over to the Pond Neuf bridge. You’ll probably want to take selfies there with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

img_0137
The Eiffel Tower way in the background, from the base of the Pont Neuf bridge

Pont Neuf is where a famous scene in The Bourne Identity took place; remember when the Conklin boss-man character was on the bridge waiting to meet fugitive Jason Bourne, who then called Conklin from his own office in the building above?  That was the Samaritain building, pictured below. Thomas was doing a Bourne moment there.

fullsizeoutput_7608

It would be fun for you to rewatch the movie after you get home from your trip and check out all the Paris locations you’ll be newly familiar with. I absolutely love watching movies set in Paris and reliving my walkabouts through the City of Light. Hey, maybe we can do a Paris movie night over the Christmas holiday!

While you’re in that area, be sure to walk along the River Seine and see the artists and little shop-booths that open during the daytime and close up like little flowers at night.

Cruise Along the Seine

If you have time, take a river cruise! This one, Vedettes du Pont Neuf, is only about 10 Euro and takes off from near the Point Neuf – I highly recommend it. Take it in the evening and you’ll see the Eiffel Tower all lit up.

fullsizeoutput_1c25.jpeg
On a river cruise, I snapped a sparkling Eiffel Tower, probably about the 15 millionth photo of it

fullsizeoutput_1c26.jpeg
Sunset is beautiful on the river cruise

Public Gardens at The Tuilleries and Jardin des Champs-Élyées

Another great walk is from the Tuilleries Garden through the Place de la Concorde through the Jardins des Champs-Élysées. I love these public gardens so much that I try to get there every time I go to Paris, no matter the weather, no matter the time of year – as you can see in these photos from various trips over a dozen+ years.

Champs-Élysées

After the gardens, you can walk all the way up the Ave de Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triumph. The Champs-Élysées has high-end shopping and quite a few pretty people in designer shoes, but stick to your guns and wear the comfy ones.

Place du Trocadero

The Place du Trocadero by the Eiffel Tower is also a great place for a view of that iconic landmark.

fullsizeoutput_2a96.jpeg

fullsizeoutput_2aa6.jpeg

Galeries Lafayette and Passage des Panoramas

There’s a great view of Paris from the top of the shopping center Galeries Lafayette roof terrace on Boulevard Haussmann, which is free. It closes at 7:30 p.m. In that area is one of my favorite little places, the Passage des Panoramas, this cool little set of passages between buildings that has great restaurants in it. I found it when Thomas and I did the Paris and London trip in 2011 for his 14th birthday.

fullsizeoutput_7609

fullsizeoutput_2a9a.jpeg

The Italian restaurant on the left (on the right in this pic), just a little way into the passage from Boulevard Haussmann is supposed to be one of the best Italian restaurants in Paris. I haven’t been able to get a table there yet.

fullsizeoutput_2a9d.jpegMy favorite restaurant in the Passage des Panoramas is Canard & Champagne, a “modern French restaurant” that mostly serves duck and champagne. It is divine! And not super-expensive.

fullsizeoutput_2a9c.jpegThe duck burger is fabulous. The paté is fabulous, The duck breast is fabulous. The duck leg is fabulous. The address is 57 Passage des Panoramas. Go there, taste, and be happy.

A Quick Coffee and a Family Memory

While you’re in that area, if you need a quick coffee, visit La Porte Montmartre just down the street. It has a special place in my heart because of the experience that Thomas and I had there, which you’ve read before in this post: The Thankful Foreigner: An Award-Winning Essay from a Millennial.

img_2288
The Musical Millennial (Melyssa’s cousin) in front of the cafe where we met the Thankful Foreigner

Delightful and Inexpensive Comfort Food, Country French Style

One of my other favorite restaurants in Paris is Bistro des Augustins at 39 Quai des Grands Augustins. I did a post about it called Comfort Food Alert: The “Best Gratin in Paris” (or maybe anywhere), which pretty well sums up my feelings about it.

It’s a great place to eat before going on the boat tour from the nearby Pont Neuf.

A Vietnamese Restaurant Extraordinaire in a Area with Superb Street Art

There’s a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant that only the locals know, Comptoir Vietnam at 15 Rue Esquirol, 75013. I found it through a blogger friend and raved about it in a blog post. It’s in the 13th arrondissement, which has lots of street art, so if you go there, be sure to give yourself time to walk around and view it.

fullsizeoutput_24da
Cool street art just down the way from Comptoir Vietnam

IMG_1029
There’s no way to describe how delicious this food it – just try it!

The Latin Quarter

Walking around in the Latin Quarter at night is also fun. It isn’t far from Bistro des Augustins and comes alive at night with live music. No pictures of that yet – maybe you and Steve will collect them and do a guest post!

Have Fun, Be Safe and Collect Those Memories

There’s so much more to do! You’ll have to go back. Maybe one day we can go together.

Love,

Aunt Kim

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

Haiku: Something about the Light in Paris

“only in Paris” ~
or at least, that’s how it feels
when you’re in its glow

There’s something about the light in Paris.

Even on a gray day, there’s a champagne tint as daylight turns to dusk.

Check it out with me in the photos below, a simple view down a typical street in the City of Light.  A weak evening sun shines pale gold like bubbly on the buildings. fullsizeoutput_2a63

fullsizeoutput_2a6a.jpegfullsizeoutput_2a6b.jpeg

I could’ve stood there for hours, watching the light slowly change, and the Parisians pass by.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Comptoir Vietnam: A Tiny Treasure in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris

Culinary experiences are high on my list when I travel. The only eateries I disdain are chains. Unusual foods, new restaurants, out-of-the-way places that only locals go, famous places that I’ve read about- and salivated over – for years, tiny little spots that offer perfect renditions of traditional ethnic dishes – bring ‘em all on!

So many taste experiences, so little time…

So when I get a recommendation from someone on my internal Trusted Buds List (buds as in ’taste buds’ as well as the traditional sense of ‘buddy’, a person who would never steer you wrong), I try hard to make it happen.

IMG_1021That’s how I had the delightful experience of dining at tiny and wonderful Comptoir Vietnam in Paris last month. A Glover Gardens blog friend who has traveled the world a time or two (or three) recommended it on one of my previous Paris posts, just as I was heading out to a workshop there with several colleagues. He had found Comptoir Vietnam by accident years earlier while taking a walk in the City of Lights. He loved it. He went back. He took loved ones there on later trips. Most importantly (to me), he paid it forward by telling me about it. And now I’m telling you.

You need to know about Comptoir Vietnam. It’s that good.

My colleagues are game for anything, and on the night before our return to Houston, they accompanied me on the very crowded, fairly hot, hour-long Metro ride during rush hour to get to this stellar little place. We weren’t sorry! It was everything we expected, and more.

I’ll set the stage for you. It was overcast and rainy, as Paris often is. (How is it that overcast and rainy in Paris doesn’t ruin the mood, it adds to it??)  The Metro experience was a little different than usual as we got close to our stop, with elevated, above-ground tracks that provided a great view of sudden and unexpected street art, a number of huge and intricate murals on the buildings.

fullsizeoutput_24daWe alighted from the Metro and found ourselves in the 13th arrondissement, an area of Paris that was previously unknown to me. A couple of turns down wet, gray streets that were mostly residential but dotted with neighborhood businesses and restaurants (primarily Asian) took us to the humble front door of Comptoir Vietnam.

fullsizeoutput_24d9.jpeg

The interior was very small, with only six or eight tables. The menu was delightfully not in English. This ain’t no tourist trap!

Dining at Comptoir Vietnam

Dining at Comptoir Vietnam

Noticing that we weren’t French or Asian, one of the patrons struck up a conversation with us immediately. She wanted to know how we found the place, because “usually only locals come here”. She helped us interpret the menu and decide what to order, and reinforced what we already suspected: this was going to be a great meal.

Oh my goodness!

We had dumplings that took a little while to arrive, because they were steamed to perfection after we ordered them – three different kinds (shrimp, pork and beef). There were piquant dipping sauces that someone back in the kitchen probably made that day.

IMG_1027.JPG

Two of us chose Bo Bun Nem, a dish I had never heard of. It was a big bowl of beef and incredibly rich broth and vermicelli or rice noodles and fresh things like cilantro and cucumber and chile peppers and cucumbers and bean sprouts and whole pieces of some kind of crispy spring roll and a deep, oniony sauce – oh my! “This is North Vietnamese food,” my friend had said. “Nothing like we usually eat in the US.” Umm-hmm. And in addition to being super-delicious, it was cheap!

IMG_1029.JPG

We didn’t talk much at Comptoir Vietnam after the meal arrived, except to revel in our good fortune. So I’m sharing it with you in case you get to the 13th arrondissement of Paris one day. You should.

As for me, I’ll be back in Paris this week, and I really want to go back to Comptoir Vietnam. And if I can’t make it on this trip, then I will on the next one. It’s that good. And there are soooooo many other dishes to try!

Thanks for the recommendation, my friend!

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Haiku Therapy: Paris Pre-flight Feelings

Haiku #1

excitement and dread ~
my two constant companions
on overseas flights

image
The view from my window

Sitting in my window seat in Premium Economy (no irony in that term!), I’m excited to be headed back to Paris but feeling a bit loathsome about the weather. Half of the passengers are on the plane and the rest are waiting at the gate here at Dulles International Airport, because lightning strikes have halted the boarding process. Sheesh!

Haiku #2

I love air travel ~
but it’s the being there part,
not the getting there

Once the getting there is done, I promise you lots of peppy Paris posts with pics! ‘Til then, please send good air travel juju, and check out these other Paris-based posts (if you just can’t wait): click here.

A Word about Haiku Therapy

I always write haiku when I’m waiting in line or stressed – you should try it! I call it Haiku Therapy. It passes the time and reduces the dread, and has gotten me into a lot of great conversations with “all y’all” haiku lovers out there.


Postlogue

A week later, after a successful (and super-busy!) trip, I’m just now seeing some of the comments and realizing that this post had a cliff-hanger ending with no resolution. Sorry about that! And thanks for the good juju…

The overnight flight was fine after a rocky start and we arrived in Paris in one of the most beautiful sunny days ever. And since the only way to conquer the jet lag and get onto local time quickly is to power through it and walk, walk, walk, that’s exactly what we did. To close out this tale, here’s a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the gardens in front of the Musée de l’Armée, where Napoleon is buried.

 

fullsizeoutput_24fa.jpeg

More to come.

 

© 2018 Glover Gardens