Wednesday, 30 April 2014

At the Poissy toy museum

The teddy bears in France drink wine at their tea parties. Of course.

I take it back

I had said that in France, Easter chocolates don't seem to be discounted after Easter. But here we are, 40% off. Bargain.

Want to buy a chair?

This cool modernist chair is a snip at 474 euros, at the gift shop at Villa Savoye. Also, it's toy sized.

So I'm kind of glad now I didn't sit down in the real sized one in the house. I'm not sure I could afford it.

But why can't I make the bath a cube, Monsieur Savoye?

Because we are long and thin, Monsieur Le Corbusier! Alright, you can make it a rectangular prism.

Much of the Villa Savoye is white, or glass, so this blue tiled bathroom was quite refreshing.

An architectural day out

We visited the town of Poissy, outside of Paris, but not far enough out to be hard to get to. One attraction was Villa Savoye, a family home designed by architect Le Corbusier. I don't know a lot about architecture, but fortunately the guide book gave us a few tips about what we were seeing. It's a little run down, but very impressive. Every cubic meter of space had been thought out. And boy does this guy like cubes.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Delicious yoghurt in terra cotta pots

I get very excited about these yoghurts. Not only are the yummy, but the pots are nice to keep. We visited Le Grand Epicierie, a food department in a department store, Le Bon Marche. As well as a wall of yoghurts, we saw butter, chocolate, jams, and so many other things we like.

Look, I'm a portrait!

An interesting visit we made was to So Ouest, a shopping center on the edge of Paris. It's rather posh, and had plenty of decorations, including a wall of video aquarium. Here's the portrait wall. Look I'm one of them! You'll note that I wear scarves every day. Scarves are so hot right now. You'd feel odd not wearing one here.

Feast your eyes on the fabulous pastries...

... WAIT, NO, DON'T! That's McDonald's! We mustn't do it!

But if you're hungry and can't face ordering in French, I guess you could do worse.

Why we don't drive in Paris

Here's a view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. See the lane markings in the big roundabout around the arch? Nope, me neither. Hectic traffic.

This road is the Champs Élysées.

The steps of the Arc de Triomphe

Here are the spiral stairs we got to climb up. A little French girl near us was counting 'un, deaux, trois' up the steps, but she got tired of that by about eighteen.

Furniture removal, Paris style

We visited the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and the view was amazing. As well as the huge view of all of Paris (well, half of it, there were works on one side of the Arc), we could see little details of the streets. My camera, which I'm very fond of, can zoom in closer than I can see, and showed me this. An extending crane parked on the footpath sends up a little platform, which the removalist fills with furniture. The removalist at the bottom lowers and unloads it, and sends it back up.

Now this is just silly...

A tiny Twizy parks in a tiny spot. If I had a Twizy, I'd do this too!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Morning tea at Ble Sucre

All that walking around a small market gets one so hungry. We had a treat at Ble Sucre, an excellent patisserie on Square Trousseau. I had a Tart Tartin - it's a small one, made with a crumbly base, and tenderly cooked apple, encased in a glaze. Surely it wasn't made like the rustic upside down tart. It had an apple stalk artfully placed, and three apple seeds (quite possibly also artfully placed, to let you know what you are eating). Super nice.
Jeff had a caramel religiuese, a choux pastry filled with caramel pastry cream. Which looks pretty nice.
And there's a cannele, which I've made a few times. Thought we'd try a professional one. It was fabulous!
And that's black coffee in the cups. Partly because we are getting enough dairy products in everything else, and partly because even nice places serve UHT milk.

Flea market day in Paris

It was Sunday, and some things are shut, so we went to Marche Aligre, the flea market/food market. Starting to regret not buying this gendarme's hat. I did buy a pretty plate though, and some postcards.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A proper museum visit

We had a lovely visit to the Cluny museum, the museum of the Middle Ages. Nearly asked for my money back though, it was NOT as described. Some of the rooms were were not items from the promised Middle Ages, but much older Roman baths. What a cheek.

This museum is home to the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. I didn't try to take a photo OF them, because, you know, it's better to really look. Which I felt everyone there was doing, I'm not complaining about crass tourists here. The tapestries were quite amazing, I recommend you go and look one day.

The interesting thing about these eggs is...

... they are chocolate eggs, from Patrick Roger. I think. Well, they were 44 euros, and displayed amongst chocolate stuff, in a chocolate shop.

By the way, that great tradition of Easter eggs being half price straight after Easter doesn't happen here. There are still some around, exquisite and full price.

... and it comes in penguin too

Here we see an example of what you do to these papier mâché figures. Yes. Tempting, I know.

Decoupage is so hot right now

Yes, these papier mâché figures for decoupaging (with bright tissue paper and varnish) seem to be the thing. The funky robots are a bit cool.

And the rules are...

... see a place Jeff wants to see, then see one Pauline wants to see. Except we don't alternate, that would be too hard. Here we are at Rougier et Ple, an art supply shop. The ground floor is scrapbook type stuff, including these HUGE foam backed stamps. I rather like the long ones, but let's be realistic, the reason we use wood as the mount is so it doesn't bend!

Rubik would be appalled

Another stop yesterday was a Varientes, Jeff's favourite puzzle shop in Paris. Is it his favourite though? There are so many puzzle shops to choose from.

Did you think solving a 3x3 cube was too easy?

I just love his area

This holiday is not all food and treats you know. We're here to learn stuff. I mean, yesterday we went to the Sorbonne. That is, we walked through some of the grounds. There was a (possibly) neurobiology symposium going on. Here's a bust of Paul Broca.

Friday, 25 April 2014

And pain au chocolat too

Our teacher, Francis, tends to the pain au chocolate going into the oven. These were very good too! Thanks, John and Emma, for the gift of this lesson.

We ate much of what we made at the class, with a fortifying coffee, and still got quite a share to take away. I've had to pack the last few into a box and slip them into the freezer. Yay for apartment life, we do have a small freezer! I'm sure they won't be quite as good later, but there are only so many pastries you can enjoy in one day.

Croissant baking class!

We had our one booked event of the holiday today, a croissant baking class at La Cuisine. Same people that taught us to make macarons last time. A very good time was had by both of us, and we got a lovely result.

Did you know, in France, a STRAIGHT croissant is a butter one, and a CURVED one is an "ordinaire", made with margarine! The French government makes rules like that, to preserve key aspects of French culture. These ones are straight. I can tell you, there's a lot of butter.

At the end of our street...

...we see this set of steps. We haven't been up them yet. Tomorrow for sure.

Check out the Renault Twizy!

Have a look at this tiny electric car! It's a Twizy, and we saw one parked in Paris today. And I thought Smart cars were small.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Thank you baa-lambs!

Turns out that nice yoghurt I just polished off was sheep's milk. It was delicious, thank you.

Check the cheeses!

Our trip to the supermarket last night resulted in two nice cheeses. Obviously were looking at supermarket cheese here, so think Coon, or Mainland. Which of course, I eat all the time at home. I don't think we'll have any trouble finding nice dairy products.Here's some little goats cheeses:

And a lovely Pont-l'eveque.

Had my first tub of yoghurt

Thank goodness! Those pencils weren't going to stand themselves up.

I'm terribly fond of good yoghurt, and here, it sometimes comes in cool containers too. This was completely plain yoghurt, nice and sharp tasting. And also nice when you honk a big spoonful of wild blueberry jam into it, it turns out.

Another Paris holiday!

Jeff and I are in Paris celebrating our 20th anniversary. Today's the arrival day, so we just had time to settle in, grab a few groceries, and enjoy some fantastic Parisienne bread. And some fantastic strawberries, and Pont L'Eveque cheese (first tried it on a posh cheese platter in Australia - this one cost just a couple of euros at the supermarket!). And, of course, that wonderful butter with the salt crystals in it.

I dare say I'll post more later, but this is just to let everyone know we are safe.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Lego Dalek - exterminate!

It's school holidays, and Thomas had nothing special on for the day. I had already challenged him to build a big Lego set each day, and let me know if any pieces were missing. So he built Jabba's Sail Barge, set 6210, a cool big set if there ever was one. And the next day, he created this Dalek entirely from pieces in that set. We were pleased.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

How to make a $2 fez

Why are you making a fez? Is a question I have heard a few times today, but I just can't think of a good answer. Who wouldn't want a fez? Especially a $2 one.

Me in my $2 fez, all ready for the next science fiction event. Oh look, Supanova is coming!

Here's what we did to make some $2 fezzes.

I found some easter baskets at the local Kmart - they were $2 each, and made of thick felt. The kind that keeps its shape.

My team (Jonathan, left, and Thomas, right) are not excited about the prospect of being seen carrying these out of Kmart.

Now, to think of ways to get those pesky bunnies off. Ripping didn't work, the decorations were glued on.

So I tried the heat tool (that's a Milwaukee brand heat tool, used in stamping, also doubles as a hot air paint stripper). Yes, it melted the glue very quickly....

.... and owing to the high quality of the materials, also melted the felt! So take a lot of care. We didn't try the hair dryer - it may have been hot enough for the glue.

Thomas capably de-bunnies his basket.

The not at all creepy sight of disembodied and melted bunny faces on the table.

How to turn it the desired red? It's not clever or elegant, we just painted them. One fez took about this whole bottle (which we already had in the house, so I didn't count it towards the $2). If you have to buy new paint, get a decent big tube or bottle of student grade acrylic paint, and use a fat round brush.

The team painting their fezzes. There's the heat tool, by the way.

These took a longish time to dry - synthetic fabrics will do that to you.

Jonathan didn't wish to pose for a photo, but Thomas is always good value!

If you get to the end and decide that sewing a fez properly might be a good idea (and these are pretty rough, I have to tell you) you could look at Mark's youtube video. He exploits the glory that is fusible interfacing, which makes it all pretty easy.