Leaving Paris winter
As February seems to shift towards spring a little too fast, I thought of opening this Parisian journal with a few photos I took around and about the city in January. I have fun wandering around the city with my analogue Nikon FM2 and I get surprised at the sight of my developed photographs a few weeks later, as if I was looking at someone else's album.
The shy winter sunset up here features a view from the Tuileries gardens, with the Orsay Museum, the Invalides dome and the steeples of Sainte-Clotilde's church. It was probably around 5 PM (amazing how days are getting longer!) after a couple of snowy days, hence the puddle reflecting the dusk light. It was pretty chilly outside, and with my Sicilian-Venetian friend Federica we dove right into nearby Angelina for a heart-warming cup of hot chocolate right after that <3
Here she is, in this sneaky snapshot I took of her during lunchtime the day before. Federica used to be my roommate when we lived and studied in Venice in 2011-2014. I studies Japanese, she did Chinese and our third roommate Mariarita, Arabic... Pretty groovy atmosphere at home. Flash forward, as you can tell I don't live in Venice anymore, but she ended up finding love there and never went back to dear homeland Sicily. She now runs a lovely bed & breakfast in the heart of Venice, Suite 735, and being into everything interior, design and decoration, she often travels in search for inspiration and good deals. So when you can combine a visit to Maison & Objet and a visit to your friend Lucia, well you go for it. Seeing Federica is always a great pleasure. The days pass fast as we mosey in and out of shops and cafes, catching up on each other's life, laughing and making grand plans for the future. We usually take a good amount of time for culture, be it theater, a museum or an exhibit... But not this time.
Her visit was blessed with snow! Incredible how a simple natural phenomenon like frozen water falling from the sky can stir and cheer one's heart as if something really special, something magical was happening. That morning we sat in silence enjoying tea and croissants for breakfast in my kitchen, looking out the window in awe, hypnotized by the slow dance of those big, soft snowflakes. We ended up listening to this song, because when it snows I inevitably end up thinking of White Christmas and my winter in the US.
Around lunchtime we found ourselves in the Butte aux cailles neighborhood, one you're very likely to find me at, especially after 7 PM. This up here is the red brick building of the Butte aux cailles swimming pool, one of my absolute favorites in Paris, having an open air pool. Lovely, I'd say especially in winter, when few people are brave enough to defy the few meters from the changing rooms to the warmed pool.
We had lunch Chez Natalie, which I definitely recommend for their warm welcome, the bright and clean interior, the quality of the few chosen dishes they make.
At the beginning of the year I went for research purpose to the Jardin des plantes one afternoon, and ended up spending a couple of hours there taking in the calm, observing the slow, winter-y rhythm of the park's life and admiring the simple and humble forms of vegetation that thrive in the cold season. I especially love Iceland Poppies, so delicate and yet so strong and not scared of wearing brave colors. These purple irises were also playing a star role in an overall green-gray-brown landscape.
What is now Paris' main botanical garden and headquarter of the Natural History Museum stands on what used to be the Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants since the early 17th century. The king chose this stretch of land, where his official apothecary (pharmacist, expert in herbs properties) and those who precede him had already been working and experimenting for a hundred years.
One of the most famous directors of the Garden was the count of Buffon (1707-1788), who expanded its surface and made it one of the most important science research centers in Europe at the time. Dating back to the same period, the Gloriette de Buffon, the pavilion on the left here, is one of the oldest structures in the world entirely made of metal. Eight columns support a light and slender structure, on top of which sit an armillary sphere and a weathercock. Recently renewed, the Gloriette is now all nice and shiny - even if the complex mechanism that used to make it strike twelve strokes at noon was lost a long time ago. In the 18th century, in the epoch of the fêtes galantes, Parisian aristocrats and bourgeois used to meet here at night, well dressed and often wearing masks, to dine, drink, discuss, listen to music, dance and flirt in this perfectly bucolic setting... If you don't know what I'm talking about I suggest you go check out the Watteau section of the Louvre the next time you have a chance.
Tender sprouts are pushing to get out of the cold and dark soil, to get their share of sunshine. Spring is coming soon... Or maybe not quite yet? Just last week the sky was still pretty gloomy down by Shakespeare and Co.