Back to the Blog & Christmas Lights

The moon in our window

A suncatcher/hanging I gave to PJ for his birthday yesterday. It is a fairy resting on a crescent moon. I found it when I went shopping a couple months ago at the Marché aux Fleurs.

I’ve taken a week off of blogging at my site here after officially completing the writing of 63,523 words for this blog during the month of November during the NaNoWriMo challenge. I was pretty pooped after all that writing. Still, I have missed coming here and posting with great frequency and voluminocity. According to spell-check, “voluminocity” is not a word. I am sure it is supposed to be something boring like “volume” or “voluminousness.” Yup, those ones check out. But “voluminocity” feels like a good word — a combo of “volume” and “velocity.” That’s the word I want to describe what I felt like for the month of November here.

Now, as to organizing my thoughts and so on here for a post today. *Throws up hands in futility* No way. It is just not going to happen. I am, per usual, going to be all over the place. I have bookmarks and open tabs on my browser just waiting for a mention here. Like so many Post-It Notes randomly stuck to my internal thought landscape, I cannot seem to make semblance of them. So I might as well just jump in and write about some of the things on my brain today and this past week.

Updated Blogroll

For weeks now, I have wanted to update my blogroll on my top page of this blog. I finally went through my Google Reader (GR) and put links in for the blogs I have been frequenting the most of late via subscriptions in GR.

I am totally sold on GR to organize my blog reading, by the way. If you have not tried it, you should. I just discovered it is really hard to copy a link for GR without logging out. You should go to There is an article endorsing it here, too: Top 100 Tools – Google Reader. If you already have a G Mail account, you can log in and start adding subscriptions. I have yet to figure out how to organize my subscriptions there, but just having them in a list in all one place is tremendous!

I hope you will check out the blogroll, though. There are some really great blogs there on not only Paris, but on gluten-free living and also blogs I like, just because I do. I will add more as there are a few I think I might have missed in GR, and also as I pick up on more interesting blogs to share. If you would like to share a favorite “must read” blog with me, too, please do.

Bonjour Paris

One of my listed blogs in my blogroll of sites I read about Paris is I have not subscribed to the site as the subscription fee is a bit steep for me right now, but I do get their free email updates each week. I really enjoy reading the articles posted there, and I think it is one of the better sites giving information about Paris. There were a couple of articles  of great interest to me that I have wanted to link and write about.

Remarkable French Women

First was this article written by Jesse Kornbluth, “Sixteen Remarkable Parisian Women“. Kornbluth reviews the book Paris and her Remarkable Women: A Guide by Lorraine Liscio. Out of the 16, Kornbluth highlights Camille Claudel and mentions Genevieve (the patron saint of Paris), Christine de Pizan (the first professional woman writer in France), Emilie de Breuteil (Madame du Chatelet, Voltaire’s lover), Elisabeth Le Brun (known for her portraits of Marie Antoinette) and Simone de Beauvoir, the last woman written about in the book by Liscio.

I just added it to my Amazon wish list. I doubt anyone ever looks at that list but for me :), but I like knowing it is there for future reference. For the day when I am rich and famous and can buy books at Amazon.

Colette, by Jacques Humbert (source: Wikipedia)

Colette and Chéri

Next was an article also by Jesse Kornbluth about the French author Colette.  In a post called “Chéri and The Last of Chéri” Kornbluth details the racy-for-its-day-and-age (and perhaps today, too!), novels Chéri, and it’s companion sequel The Last of Chéri (sold as one novel at Amazon).

Chéri is the story of Léa de Lonval and her young lover Fred — known by his nickname, Chéri — the son of her  former courtesan rival, Charlotte Peloux. The tale of what unravels once Chéri is set to be wed to a suitable girl closer to his age.

I really enjoyed reading Kornbluth’s review for one, but also, earlier this year, a film version starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend (Keira Knightley’s BF, if the gossip columnists are still up-to-date) directed by Stephen Frears was released.

I enjoyed the film. It was a well-done period piece, which means it looked very pretty. Kathy Bates played Madame Paloux, and I always enjoy her performances. Michelle Pfeiffer at 50 is luminous, and Rupert Friend plays Chéri with just the right touch of youth and wealthy spoiledness. It’s definitely a chick flick — lots of period frou-frou clothing and people talking in British accents. Some people would be bored to tears with it, I am certain (heh, like PJ who put in in the DVD player to fall asleep to).  I enjoyed Colette’s novel brought to life.

What’s more is that I discovered cinema walks for Paris. PJ actually found the link for me at the Maire de Paris website, The cinema walks guide page is here: Parcours cinéma (Paris Film Trails). The downloadable PDF file for the movie version of Chéri and The Last of Chéri by Stephen Frears is here: Chéri Paris Film Trail PDF.

Other Paris Film Trails include Le Petit Nicolas, La Môme (the French title of La Vie en Rose, with Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard as singer Edith Piaf), Cédric Klapisch’s Paris, and Rush Hour 3 (*giggle* starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker).

I’d like to try one of these walks myself soon. Of course if I do, you will know about it here. 🙂

New Friends & Christmastime in Paris

I have met a French friend! She is actually not my first French friend, but is a friend of that French friend. (LOL – cracking myself up here.)

PJ dated some when we were trying to work out how and when a relationship with one another might be possible. One of the women he went out with is named Karine. A couple of weekends ago, I went to her birthday party. While there I met another of her friends named Priscilla.

This past week Priscilla and I met for coffee and we decided to go and have a look at the decorated windows at the two department stores the Galaries Lafayette and Printemps, which are on the Right Bank in the 9th arrondissement on Boulevard Haussmann (yeah, the guy who re-did all of Paris at the behest of Napoleon III, thus making Paris what it looks like today).

Here is Priscilla at the Buttes Chaumont park. She had never been there before. She is from one of Paris’ suburbs and just never had been in the area much. I was happy to show it to her!


We took the Métro Line 7 from Stalingrad to M° Chausée d’Antin La Fayette. That stop exits directly on Blvd Hausmann.

Galaries Lafayette

From Google Maps: View Larger Map

Here are some of the photos I took that afternoon/evening. You can see the full set at Flickr at this link.


Gingerbread Men


Teddy Bears


Dolls with Gifts


The Galaries Lafayette Lights


Boulevard Haussmann


Lights and Ornaments


Lush Window Displays




The Printemps theme was a Russian Christmas.




Printemps, from the corner of Rue Tronchet and Boulevard Haussman.

Just before Priscilla and I headed south on Rue Tronchet, there was a man creating this work of art on the sidewalk with pastels. It was several feet high (maybe 12? So, about 4 meters or so).


We walked down to the Place de la Madeleine, where we saw the l’Eglise de la Madeleine:

And where we stepped into Fauchon, gourmet retailer of very chi-chi degree, to have a look-see:


Everything there is done up in pink. They are purveyors of everything from wines, coffee, and loose tea to chocolates; from foie gras to mustards and macarons. It’s pretty much a (weathly) Foodie Heaven. No, I did not buy and try anything. It was not only the cash, but the food intolerances keeping me at bay this time.

I have to say that the smell of the teas was phenomenal.


We stopped in to look at the Thé Mariage Frères at the Place de la Madeleine as well. The store there is really unique in its set up, a much more intimate setting for a tea shop than the one on Rue Fabourgh Saint-Honoré, which Tess and I visited. It did not smell as good as Fauchon, but I liked the atmosphere there because of the intimacy. It was a little more “touristy” than the one in the 8th arr., though.

Paris writer Meg Zimbeck has written a little about Fauchon for her Budget Travel postings here, Brigitte Bardot on an Eclair, and here, Food Gifts that are Light on Everything But Calories. I have her blog listed on the blogrolls I updated today, too. Check her out; she has a wealth of info on the city.

Priscilla and I are trading languages.  She wants help with her fluency in English, and I just plain need to learn French, so we are a good match. She is job-hunting now, and is doing a lot of interviews, but I think we are going to meet again tomorrow.

More Christmas Lights in Paris

Last week, PJ and I also saw these scenes as we went to see films at the UGC Georges V and Normandie on the Champs-Elysées.


Looking down to the Place de La Concorde.



Not lit up for Christmas, but the captured light on the sidewalks looking towards the l’Arc de Triomphe reflects nicely.


Pedestrians across from the UCG Normandie.


And the simpler, yet still beautiful lights on the streets near our neighborhood.

To Conclude

It is feeling right to stop here. I still have some thoughts, such as sharing about some of the films PJ and I have seen, like a Paris premiere showing of “Where the Wild Things Are” with director Spike Jonze and actor Max Records introducing the picture, and “The Road” with Viggo Mortensen. I have other stuff on the brain, too, like getting into order my Flickr photo sets and descriptions, something I am sorely not good at doing. I have some thoughts on professionalism and ambition concerning that, and my photography, and keep thinking about this from Oscar Wilde I heard in a movie or TV show (maybe CSI?) in the past couple of days: “Ambition is the last refuge of failure” (source here). Hahahaha! Love Oscar.

Yeah, anyways, I guess I am just feeling by looking at what other people do with their Flickr accounts and blogs, I really fall short of what I *could* be doing, but then I think about the wonderful Wilde quote up there and think, “Meh.” To be less than ambitious is not a bad thing.

I hope some of these photos have inspired you, though. I know a lot of people that just cannot abide the holiday season with all its hooplah any more. I get it; I can be Scrooge-y, too. But this year? I am feeling the sprouts of holiday liking growing in my heart, kind of like this bulb of garlic I planted in our pretty pathetic planters outside our window:

Garlic growing in our windowbox

It was a bulb that started to sprout that I stuck in there kind of as a joke, just to see what would happen.  I mean, these are what’s in our planters right now:


but more dead (there were two Impatiens plants in it at one time, a pink and purple).

I know, I know, I should throw some geraniums or something in there. What can I say? PJ and I are seriously, SERIOUSLY ghetto when it comes right down to it. Kinda white trashy is what we are in a lot of respects and here we are, living in the city that represents the very ANTITHESIS of white trash and ghetto, HA! Part of me feels this ghetto-esqueness with pride, like TAKE THAT, snooty Paris! We are ghetto and we belong here, too!!


I mean, that is the angle I should take this blog. Ghetto Paris Living: How to do it. Hee hee hee hee!

Anyways, we are pretty normal is all I am saying and the other Paris blogs out there seem to take this kind of fancy-shmancy attitude because people want to believe in some kind of DREAM about Paris that sort of exists, and a lot of blogs “out there” emphasize and promote this dreamlike quality (not naming names here, but you can probably guess which ones by a quick glance at that blogroll have posted). When it comes right down to it, I do not want that kind of a blog.

I just don’t.

So hmmmmm, before I get going on that bunny trail, I had better sign off. But at least you know where my head is at with this whole Paris blog thing these days. I’m kind of grumpy with it, in fact. Okay. Maybe later this week I can wax prosaic with all of that. In the meantime, you kids be good.

Over and out.

an alien parisienne

Updated — Wednesday 9 December


These are the Impatiens during this past summer. I posted this photo on my second blog here, and I was re-reading it this morning as I linked it in a comment to Ken down in the comments. I had to laugh! They looked so very pretty. So I thought I would post this photo here in this blog, again. They were a one year anniversary (from when I moved in with him) present from PJ. I know Impatiens are not supposed to last very long, but I keep hoping it is not a portend. I think we need to get some sturdier perennials in those planters, eh?? 🙂

Categories: Book Reviews, Language Learning, Movies in Paris, Paris Adventures, Paris Blogging, Paris Friends, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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24 thoughts on “Back to the Blog & Christmas Lights

  1. aimee maher

    The aesthetics are amazing there, aren’t they? And I love the narrow streets between the buildings, always have (common in photos of Italy and other places, too, I’ve noticed). They seem…secure, or maybe intimate, I dunno.

    • pariskarin

      It is such an interesting city. So much packed into each and every square inch, I swear. It is intimate-looking for sure. But it is a lot like other big cities (well-populated ones, I mean) where it is also strikingly isolated. You know, people not talking nor interacting with one another much, being wary and on guard. It’s an interesting contrast.

      • Ken

        Yanno, I don’t let people get away with that. I’ve lived in small towns like Merced where it is common for folks to greet one another on the street and then worked in San Francisco where you are crowded shoulder to shoulder and everyone acts as if they are deaf, dumb and blind, but I will pick some poor soul near me and toss off a casual comment, then go from one victem to another until I get a conversation. It would be a challenge, but I’m not sure I’d let the fact that few spoke the same language as me stop me.

      • pariskarin

        Ohhhh, as far as this goes, “but I’m not sure I’d let the fact that few spoke the same language as me stop me” you would be surprised what a *really* dismissive and disparaging Parisian look can do to wither one’s cojones with trying to make small talk. PJ tries, even after almost 20 years of being here, and after he has had a few. Some go for it, others not. It helps if they are folk standing outside of bars after having had a few themselves.

        There was that one guy, though, the Tunisian from this past summer’s walk, who did persist in talking with me even though I really could not. Tunisians pretty much seem to go for this kind of casual-comment-leading-to-conversation thing.

        Maybe if my French *ever* gets better I can give it a Girl Scout try.

  2. Great photos it as close as I will ever get to see many of these things I enjoyed this very much Thank you Karin peace to you

    • pariskarin

      Thank you, Eric! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Peace to you, too!

  3. ken

    One of the things I miss having a broken puter is having all those windows open of information I want to reference or of reference pages to look up more information about things I read in blogs.

    Can one still use GR is they don’t have gmail?

    I use the Amazon Wish list as a bookmark for buying things later (and bought quite a bit, but had some things become “unavailable” before I could purchase them. I do have a love of rare items, but not the wallet to get them as I find them.

    There are many cinema walks in SF, but the most interesting walks are more literal or literary. I want to do the Dashell Hammet walk some time and then there is a bus tour of infamous buildings (Patty Hearst was held hostage in a little appartment above a popular nightclub, The homes of Werner Erhard and Anton Lavey, etc)

    • pariskarin

      Yeah, it’s kinda why I want a laptop, too. I just want the info at all times at my fingertips, lol. Oy, info junkie am I, so I can understand your predicament.

      I think one has to have some kind of Google Account to be able to use Google Reader. My only advice is to give it a try and see what happens.

      Oh I bet the SF walks are cool!! I’m feeling like such a nerd for liking this kind of thing, but I do. 🙂

      Have a good one, Ken.

      • Ken

        This is the thing. When going to places like historic sites, museums and such, I will take a self guided walk AND the guided walk because the stories from docents always have tasty little tidbits, but they go through too fast to absorb small physical details that might be of personal interest(yeah, and sometimes I get to share my knowledge if it is someplace I do know about).

  4. Carole

    “Ghetto Paris Living: How to do it.” This I would be interested in reading!

    • pariskarin

      Hi Carole! Thanks for commenting, and hmmmmm! You knowwwww, I have been thinking about this more and more, and yeah, I think I might just have to write something about this! 🙂 I’m glad to know in advance that you’d read it. 🙂

      • Ken

        I’m still waiting for your interactive map of the bathrooms of Paris with ratings guide.

      • Carole

        “We are ghetto and we belong here, too!!” This could be the rallying cry! Lol.

        I look forward to reading whatever you write.

      • pariskarin


        Okay! I am inspired! :)~

        I’ll see what comes to mind on this in the next few days. I may be going to Versailles Saturday and on a neighborhood walk on Monday, but yeahhh, the rest of this week, I could do something with this. Thanks for the rally.

  5. PJ

    Beautiful, per usual; i loved the intro, very tight and nicely written.

    i was also glad to see my birthday present! What an awesome picture.

    i think the Ghetto Paris blog sounds like an excellent idea, too! Sounds like my kinda fun!

    • pariskarin

      Thank you, dearest. I keep thinking about the corned beef on fries and Jerry Springer on TV, lol. But yeah, ghetto. Thinking about it now. Wanna help?

  6. by the by – thanks for the heads up about NaNo – I think I might challange a few friends to do it with me next year!

    • pariskarin

      You betcha! It is a really neat event. I participated last year with a good start on some fiction; this year, I decided to go for the “fictionalized” memoir (lol) via the blog. Next year? Now that I know what it entails (vis a vis how much writing 50k is), I might try for straight fiction again. Orrr, maybe I will do this after the beginning of the year. It is a great concept to get one’s feet wet in fiction writing, or book-length writing.

      It is also great to get a group to do it with you, too, like you write! It’s really encouraging to have a circle of friends to spur one another on.

      • sounds like great discipline – re: lentils, sure you can leave out the tomatoes…you’ll probably need to go the butcher for a “jarret de porc fume” – that’s ham hock in French!

      • pariskarin

        Thank you Elizabeth, for letting me know about the tomatoes and what ham hock is in French!! I should do this soon. I’m way chicken about going to the butchers (still have not done that), and not sure about the pork either (I just reacted to some the other day), but I might make PJ go get some (lol) and cook some up for him with the ham and tomatoes and everything!

  7. Oh my goodness. I love the rain effects. And I really have to get myself a new camera. And… I really have to get me and my daughters to Paris at Christmastime. It looks amazing. Thanks.

    • pariskarin

      It was a sloppy, rainy night for sure, with the Champs-Elysées, but the wet streets really did a lot for the light reflection! A decent camera is one of my dearest wishes, too! Okayyyyy, mine is all right, honestly. It is a Nikon Coolpix S200 pocket digital, point-and-shoot. I am craving a DSLR, preferably an EOS Rebel, though, lol!! The girlies would love to see those windows, I think. We went from about 4-6 pm and it was a perfect time: not too crowded. Lots of kiddies were there to check out the windows. It really is a very pretty city at Christmas!

  8. Pingback: Ghetto Living in Paris, Part 1 « An Alien Parisienne

  9. Pingback: Season’s Greetings! « An Alien Parisienne

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