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: Kensington Palace High Tea and Gardens

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

In the dead of winter, it’s nice to dream of warmer good times. On this overcast January afternoon, I’m sipping some Earl Grey tea and reminiscing about the time The Grill-Meister and I enjoyed a traditional English tea at Kensington Palace in late summer.

Image from Kensington Palace Pavilion Restaurant in The Orangery

Let me tell you, Old Bean, this lifelong anglophile and foodie from Southeast Texas was in high cotton that day! Afternoon tea at the palace where Queen Victoria grew up – by Jove, it was a jolly good show!

Soaking up the history and sipping champagne

Check out those desserts!

After this scrumptious afternoon feast, a walk in the garden is not only pleasant, it’s required! It is so lovely there.

I’ve been to London quite a few times since this summer vacation with the Grill-Meister in 2010, but haven’t gone back to have tea at Kensington Palace. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to go without him. If he doesn’t come with me soon, though, I might just have to!

The January Dreaming Series Backstory

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

“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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cool street art just down the way from Comptoir Vietnam

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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: Bees on a Mission

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You have to look closely for the industrious bee on the middle flower, getting every last fragment of pollen

bees on a mission
devouring the last pollen
before winter comes

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These bees blend in, too, as they scour the flower of its potent pollen richness

There are lots of bees in Scotland, and they’re feasting.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, or Several Haiku (Now with Part 2 and One More Haiku)

If you follow this blog, you’ve seen the first part of this post, when it was shared on May 14.  The second part is now revealed, a few weeks later than promised.  (It’s been a busy spring here at Glover Gardens.)


Part 1

I saw this picture a few nights ago on a friend’s Instagram account, and then dreamed about it.  In my dream, I wrote various very simple haiku to accompany the photo.  It is so lovely, and almost begs its viewer to create a story around the female figure walking away from the camera.

What do you think when you look at the photo?

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Perhaps she is simply on a stroll, daydreaming.

she strolls peacefully
framed by the oak canopy
dreaming her future

Or is she walking away from something?

having decided,
she slowly left her old life
never looking back

Maybe she is walking toward something, or someone.

joyful beats her heart
this journey just beginning
there will be no end

What do you think? I will reveal the real story and the location in a day or two. (Update:  of course, now we know that my “day or two” was actually three weeks…did I say it has been a little busy around here?)


Intermission

The Glover Gardens Cookbook Facebook page link to this post collected a couple of comments I wanted to share.

I vote joyful and walking toward something.

I think she’s had it! She is walking away to live the life and be the person she once was, before she got sucked into her horrible present life of hell.

(I’m pretty sure the second one was irony.)


Part 2

The real story is … none of the above.  The photo was snapped during a mother-daughter outing as part of our recent visit to New Orleans (the figure in the photo is the mom).  A group of us from Southeast Texas met in the Crescent City last month to soak up the culture and music of Jazz Fest, and two of our crowd peeled off to visit Oak Alley Plantation one day.  My friend and her grownup daughter had a lovely time touring the property, and this photo captured under the 300-year old alley of oaks was simply serendipity.  When I asked for permission to use the picture along with the haiku musings it inspired, I also wanted to know how it came about; the daughter (a lovely woman in her early 20s who is also my friend) said:

I made her walk in front of me so I could snap a pic… perhaps it’s half posed / half natural. I think the dress she was wearing happened to catch the breeze just right, making it perfectly airy!

So here’s one more haiku, to close out this train of thought.

Oak Tree Serendipity Haiku Rose

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, or Several Haiku

I saw this picture a few nights ago on a friend’s Instagram account, and then dreamed about it.  In my dream, I wrote various very simple haiku to accompany the photo.  It is so lovely, and almost begs its viewer to create a story around the female figure walking away from the camera.

What do you think when you look at the photo?

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Photo credits to AnaLisa G.

Perhaps she is simply on a stroll, daydreaming.

she strolls peacefully
framed by the oak canopy 
dreaming her future

Or is she walking away from something?

having decided,
she slowly left her old life
never looking back

Maybe she is walking toward something, or someone.

joyful beats her heart
this journey just beginning
there will be no end

What do you think? I will reveal the real story and the location in a day or two.

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Travel Serendipity: I Touched a Picasso

Well, sometimes things just exceed your expectations.

Like today.

I’m on business travel in London, planning to attend a very happy event in which my company has been nominated for two very prestigious awards. I’m part of the contingent for the ceremony.  (Fingers and toes crossed that we win!)  Today was a travel day and I arrived here in London at midday,  tired as all get-out.  (If you’re not familiar with this phrase, it means “to the extreme” or “big-time” in America lingo; click here for Miriam-Webster’s definition.)

This is not my first travel rodeo and I know how it works going from the U.S. to Europe – you HAVE to stay awake until the local bedtime, or you’ll NEVER get over the jet lag.  So I was not going to let the thought of a teeny little nap seduce me and ignored the tired-as-all-get-out feeling.

My London cabbie set the mood for me with his jaunty fedora festooned with a bright ribbon and feather; he took me from the airport express at the train station to my hotel and had the reggae booming.  He said that a sunny day in London in February just cried out for reggae.

The cabbie and I, we be jammin’.

After checking in at my hotel, finding a bottled water source, and hanging up that darn formal gown I’m wearing on Thursday at the awards gala, I set out to do some brisk walking and waking up.  I had a dinner planned with a software vendor company located here in London and needed to be sharp.

Hyde Park was my destination for the waking-up walk, and it did not disappoint.

IMG_1914And after that brisk walk on this chilly-sunny February day, the communal time with the nature on offer at Hyde Park and a yummy mocha coffee at a Cafe Nero with a dose of UK tabloid-reading, I was ready for the dinner.  It was a a great discussion and lots of ideas were born that will bear fruit.

On my walk back to the hotel, I passed a Christie’s Auction House.  And wouldn’t you know, they were having a reception and sale of impressionist and modern art.  Score!  Serendipity!  What a great way to extend my waking hours to at least the earliest edge of the local bedtime by viewing gorgeous and stimulating art.  Click here for info about the show.

Some of the most captivating and surprising art (for me) was a large collection of Picasso ceramics.  His humor and creativity really shine in these works.  I especially loved a plate with eggs and a fork, and the story behind them.  A friend of Picasso’s told of being served fried eggs with a fork on a plate, only to discover that the plate was the embodiment of the meal after it was eaten – Fried Eggs and a Fork.

I talked a security guard into letting me touch it while he looked on from about six inches away.  It may sound trite, but that was a transcendent moment for me.

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I. Touched. a. Picasso!

When I touched that ceramic plate that Picasso made, I felt a connection across cultures, generations, geographies, personalities, histories and humanities.  It was a translation of a lifetime of hero worship for this most famous and compelling of artists into a tactile experience – I touched his work!

Today exceeded my expectations: it was a travel day gone right.  And if you think I’m gushing too much about the little things, just remember that inside, I’m just a little girl from a small town in Southeast Texas who is constantly surprised by her life.