Paris Day to Day

View from Window of Apartment
We've now been in Paris for more than three weeks.  Our lives have settled into regular habits mixed with tourist activities.  We've made friendships with residents and watched residents leave.

Each Day
Our day to day schedule goes something like this- we wake up and make coffee in a french press.  Cam eats the remains of yesterday's baguette with jam and yogurt.  I have cereal, yogurt, and fruit.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we go to language class.  These are taught by the ever entertaining and high energy, Bethsabee.  The classes are supposed to last about two hours but in order to hear from everyone, she lets the classes run 3 hours plus.  No other languages can be spoken besides French.  The first few days it was a headache but I am getting used to it and am happy when I can follow the conversation.  Going to these classes has been a great way to hear about other residents at the Cite.  On the days we don't have class, most often we work on our artwork, read, or write.

Studio View
We eat leftovers for lunch and then during the afternoons we go sightseeing or walking.  At some point we pick up food for dinner at a combination of markets, breadshops, butchers, and grocery stores.  When we return home from our afternoon adventures we return to our studio work.  We eat late, and then return to our studio work.  On days we are too tired from walking our heat, we watch a movie or grab a coffee at a cafe.


Since it is expensive to eat out here around $18 euro/person, except for say Kabobs, Felafel, and Chinese, and we want to pretend we are also enjoying the French cuisine, we buy fresh ingredients at the market and do a lot of cooking in our apartment.  This is sort of hilarious because we only have two burners so we have had to stretch our imaginations, but in some ways we eat better here since we have time to prepare food.  Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto.  Pork Chops and Garlic Green Beans.  Steak with Mushrooms.  Pork Loin and Arugala.  Tomato salads.   Plus whatever we make, becomes the next day's lunch so hopefully we will like our creations.  Since we can't cook anything in an oven, we get those foods at the bakery or market- i.e. roasted chicken and quiches.

Cam with delicious fresh morning melon.

Our Neighborhood
Fancy display at a concept boutique.
We have walked and/or biked across much of Paris.  The first few days we mostly walked around our neighborhood in the Marais.  We located a market we liked called, Marche des Enfants Rouges, where we have become friends with both a produce man, who thoughtfully picks our fruit, and the Italian family that sells Cam buttery green olives.  We are also located close to the islands where there are great ice cream shops!  St. Paul street is another favorite of mine because of the vintage and junk shop.  There are many galleries and boutiques in our neighborhood and over time we've stopped to see shows and look at clothes.  Too my disappointment the galleries have closed for August, and most of the clothes are out of my price range despite everything being on sale.  But a girl can dream of lovely blue leather shoes with red finish and a wooden heal.

Dear Fashionistas
Truthfully I walked around feeling sort of fashionably inept the first week or so.  I gawked at all the fashionistas and felt embarrassed about my own limited wardrobe I'd carried with me in my backpack.  Functional Shoes and limited shirt selections.
    I wanted to yell- "Dear people or Paris- I am not this boring of a dresser, if only you could see the creativity with which I dress in St. Louis!" (save of course my favorite Curtain Factory Clothes)
Secretly I am a clothes horse and this is probably how I would spend my money if I had extra.  It also did not help that the first week all it did was rain and I had a mainly Spanish summer wardrobe.  Since then, I've been to a few sales at the larger department stores with items in my price range, including my favorite Spanish store, "Zara".

If you turn your head you can see this is a Camera Tie.
Our neighborhood also has several museums, we've enjoyed going to the Carnavalet (a museum about the history of Paris), the Museum of Magic and Automatons, the Centre Pompidou (a great collection of Contemporary Art),  Arts and Metiers (museum of inventions-check out photo to right) and the Museum of the Shoah, a cathartic space about the Holocaust and Paris' negligence to its Jewish residents during that time period.  Very Sad.

Peter Doig painting at Centre Pompidou
*Walking several miles to watch the Fireworks on Bastille Day, only to realize as they began that our view was eclipsed by a tree.  Then walking home with giant blisters!

Foundation LeCorbusier
*A day architecture bike tour adventure with German friends Christiana and JoHan which included seeing a LeCorbusier building, his teacher's buildings, and early art nouveau apartments in the burning heat.

*Sunset at a park overlooking Paris drinking wine from a nearby shop.  Then two inspiring Sub-Saharian African music concerts, with our German friend Reinhardt in the Belleville neighborhood.  This was followed by beers and late night bike rides home.

Le Labyrinthe
by Michelangelo Pistoletto

The building you see is a Mirror.
An Interactive Art Piece Batiment
by Leandro Erlich.

*A Saturday visit to 104,
Me in the cardboard maze.
an art space in the Canal du Nord area, with Tamim, an artist from Bangladesh.  This was a space for dance, performance, and art.  Here we were surprised by the variety of ambitious and interactive artworks.

We left that space and walked to the Parque Villette where Tamim loved the giant red sculptures called Folies.  We ended the night with Coffee and a dessert platter.

 *Which leads to my next favorite:  Regular dessert and/or coffee tastings followed by conversations and contemplations at cafes and boulangerie's.

Cam in front of Beat Hotel.
*Self guided walking tour of Passages or Arcades, covered shopping walkways, that Walter Benjamin wrote about.  Odd to see how shopping industry has built up around the spaces, while the passages remain nostalgic filled with bookstores, restaurants, antique, and junk shops, or at times vacant.

*An evening self-guided walking tour of the Latin Quarter seeking out spots where famous writers and artists lived- like Picasso's studio, Kerouac's hotel, and Hemingway's apartment.

Kristiana, JoHan, and Cam, in front of Balzac's house.

*BIKES-nothing is quite as good as the Velib system here, where for the equivalent of about $32 you can have a year long membership that gives you 1/2 hour access to a bike anywhere in Paris.  We've joyfully ridden all over Paris on these bikes and have loved all the official bike lines.  We didn't even have to use the metro, save three times, during the first three weeks.

*Free Concerts at the Cite, Haitian folk songs, Piano performances, classical guitar duets...

*Olympics on the big screen for free and outdoor public puffy chairs!

*Free self cleaning public restrooms, when you can locate one.

*Subways buskers.  I heard a full Eastern "polka esque" Band yesterday.

not so favorite things
-Crowds at the Musee d'Orsay that made it near impossible to view paintings.
-Additionally people standing in front of paintings at Pinotheque Modigliani/Soutine show as they read text, also making viewing paintings, impossible.
-General crowds of tourists making streets impassable.
-People that bump into me with their giant shopping bags.
-Expensive- restaurants, clothes, flea markets.

The Double Edged Sword of a Residency in Paris
Cam working in Studio
This residency combines two of my favorite things: art and travel.  This is also the difficulty because to make art, I've got to stop going on adventures and allow myself to just be in the studio.  On the other hand I am only here once and so I want to see and enjoy as much as possible, I hope to really experience and be influenced by Paris in some way.  But there are more things here than I can see in a month or two months.  How do I make the most of this experience and opportunity?

To Rome (or Paris or New York or St. Louis) with Love
In the end, I hope to leave with a different understanding of myself or the world.  In the recent Woody Allen movie, "To Rome with Love" Cam described the underline theme of the movie as the following, (which I've added onto)...Each character comes to the city searching- thinking they want to be something else, to achieve a dream they have not yet, or they want to return to someone they were, in the end they all realize that what they had was quite enough and in some cases just right.  I'm curious if this is how I will return home.

Installation by Farhad Moshiri
Detail of words made from key chains


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