A living history of culture, cuisine, haute couture and quaint cafes.…..Paris in two days.

So leaving Boursonne and catching the train to Paris from Villers Cottrets, there was a little excitement in the air. Looking forward to reconnecting with people from time spent here last year and also maybe, just maybe doing some touristy type things. This was a hope, as I had not yet seen the Eiffel Tower, The Arch de Triumphe nor had I set foot in The Louvrè or any other cultural spot in Paris.

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La Place du Louvre.

I can’t complain about any of this as I have spent time in Paris with Parisians…..and they are very specific about being so. If you were born out of the districts then you are not Parisian, there is no argument about this at all, it’s simply just is the truth of things. Anyways, the trip was smooth, relaxing and quick.

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The garden at the Palais Royal.

Arriving at Gare de Nord we quickly wandered through to the main exit and off down the street. I felt a sort of comfort about this as I had been in the area once before. After a quick appointment we shopped for a little while. Nothing major, just a couple of necessities. We then headed to Montreuil to Jean-Jaques and Viviane’s place for the evening. JJ was in good spirits and happy to see us after our few months away. Viv arrived home late and we chatted and drank until late.

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The entrance to the Palais Royal

Next morning we headed off to a couple of appointments and walked across town via the Palais Royal and the main plaza of The Louvre. Crossing the Seine and seeing the brooding arches of Notre Dame off to the right in the distance sets the scene for many a movie and my real life adventure. I have never seen it, but there was the Eiffel Tower standing tall on the horizon. I was overwhelmed, in awe and I was in PARIS!!!!!!

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You local bookshop on The Seine.

Walking through the districts, getting an idea of how it all works and where everything is, is a wonderful way to discover this iconic city. You are walking through the living history of culture, cafes, cuisine and haute couture. The amount of people slowly walking around and just taking in the city is fabulous, others sit and just breath it all in.

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A local bookshop on the street…..tiny.

Lunch with Gaelle and Manu at the Paname Brewing Company http://www.panamebrewingcompany.com/en was fabulous and the food was simple and delicious. This place is a “must do” on your “Things to do in Paris” list. The beer is not to bad at all if you’re into your Craft Beer Culture thingy.

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Canal barges act as venues during the spring, summer and autumn months.

We had to walk the districts again to get to Phillipe and Cecelia’s for dinner. Spending a couple of hours just hanging out in a bistro with a couple of “Ricard traditionalè” made the afternoon cruise by. We headed to a very well known local bottle shop to grab a bottle of Champagne for aperitif upon arrival. Dinner was “fais maison” (homemade) and very tasty. We laughed and chatted until late into the night.

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The Grand Palais Exhibition Centre.

Sleeping in only a little was just what we need after our late night. We had a date at 11:00am with Auguste Rodin at the Grand Palais. This was to be my first real exhibition in Paris. Super excited and totally clueless would sum up my state of mind. Not coming from an arts background, I had a vague idea of what I would be witnessing.

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The Kiss – Rodin
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The sister of Icarus – Rodin
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Christ and Mary Magdalene – Rodin
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The Sleep – Rodin

I can only say that it was truly beautiful and one of the most wonderful cultural experiences I have had in Europe. I was marvelling at the technical aspects of Auguste’s creations and the depth of spirit contained within each piece I viewed. Rodin was a genius and ahead of his time in technique and vision (in my humble opinion). According to history, he was also misunderstood…………..apparently 🙂

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The Thinker – Rodin

It was a quick trip to the city of lights and one of the worlds great cities, but I have to say it was truly sensational and I feel a lot more “at home” here now.

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What I needed was a good dose of “Comfort”!

This particular article is not really a travel blog as usual, but more of an insight into what’s happening on a daily basis whilst I become accustomed to living and breathing another language and living in a completely different country on a long-term basis. Its also about having epiphanies and small wins that keep me smiling and content.

A couple of days ago I ended up in a really horrible mood and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I had woken up quite happy and ready for another day. Keen to train, study, read and basically enjoy my day. After breakfast I began to feel frustrated and a little bored. I didn’t understand this at all, as it’s a rare thing for me. I was really out of sorts. My mood was affecting everything and everyone around me, or so I thought. I was so wrong. They didn’t even know what was going on as I was spiralling further into my bad frame of mind.

Later that afternoon I had arranged to speak to a very dear friend from home as she was in the UK visiting relatives and the time zones not so disparate. It was after this conversation that I realised my whole frame of mind had changed completely and I was out of my foulness and moving mentally freely once more. What had changed? What was the trigger for this sudden shift?

It took me about a half hour to realise it, but I had been living outside of my “comfort zone” for the last week. Different language, different country, culture, environment and relying on one person as my soul source of refuge to speak to. This I must say was a revelation. It was this realisation that helped me recover from my troubled state of mind.

What I needed was a good dose of “comfort”! And thats what I got when I was talking to my friend from home. I was speaking my mother tongue with all the slang and familiarity I was used to and it was like we were sitting in the lounge room chatting. I needed to listen to my music, watch a little bit of my TV (don’t like it much at best) online of course and simply be.

It was an epiphany I had and it was what I needed. I now know that sometimes we all need to walk away and really “get our normal on”. I hadn’t realised this was what I needed! I had been listening hard, thinking hard and trying hard for an extended period in my “learning zone”.

The learning zone is a great place to be, however it is important to step off regularly and allow your brain to relax, recover and process all it has been taking in. Staying out of your comfort zone too long will show you very quickly where the “Drop Zone” is. You may become extremely overwhelmed and anxious, or simply just become frustrated and grumpy for no known reason. Being aware is of the utmost importance.

Some years ago (17 years in fact) in my life as a corporate person for a large institution I was sent on my first training course. The course was to help understand how to deal with and process our stress and anxiety whilst still working effectively and efficiently. Today and everyday I am using the techniques learned in that course to manage my daily life.

A beautiful garden is the pathway to peaceful existence.

It’s been about five days now that, I have been in France. Adjusting to the drastic change in weather has been a little tough, but all in all I am really happy to be here. Boursonne is blooming right now as Spring has sprung and the flowers are exploding with colour in the forest and gardens alike. What can you say other than it is simply stunning here right now?

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Blooming backyard of Boursonne.

I am staring out of the porte fenêtre (windowed doors) that lead to a small terrace and down onto the beautiful lawn thats the backyard of my residence for the next many months I am here. The wood pile has expanded drastically since my last visit and the cherry trees are in full bloom. It is truly a sight indeed.

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A Room with A View……in Boursonne.

 

I could not be more at peace right now as I sit and wonder what the next twelve months will bring. It is exciting, it is a little scary and yet I am feeling very very relaxed. I think back a couple of years when I ventured out to explore the world and go on what would be some incredible adventures and I am resolute that my time exploring is far from over, however right now there is a “pause” occurring. It is a pleasant change from my regular “on the go” lifestyle.

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A refreshing cycle through the countryside helps pass the time healthily.

I have, with the assistance of Karine’s dad Jean-Claude, set up a little training area with a BAM hang board and a TRX suspension training system.I am happy to be able to continue to train and keep some sort of regularity in my fitness regime. I have always liked to workout, but this is much more demanding for me. I am looking forward to seeing the gain from the pain.

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The pain centres humble beginnings.

I am reading a little more than I have previously whilst here. Sitting in the garden is a pleasant place to relax and absorb a good book. Although I wouldn’t call it “a lite read”. Aristotle’s “The Nichomachean Ethics”  is my current venture and I am enjoying it greatly. Philosophising on happiness has been around a lot longer than we think and it’s a great read to broaden ones view. It makes me think a little and underline some of the commentary too.

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Canola fields glow in the sun with the town beyond.

I also endeavour to maintain my studies of French on a daily basis, spending between one and two hours of an afternoon working on different aspects of the spoken and written language. I am really excited about this as I have wanted to learn another language for years. It’s just a matter of spending the time doing it. You can only really fail if you do not try……….right?!?

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Perfect Light.

Whilst it is a quiet place to be I am busying myself with many pursuits and enjoying this bucolic life. Not much happens here, but there is a sense of calm that floods over you when you arrive and really allow yourself to just settle in. Right now I could not be a happier man.