a transplanted life in China 

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Paris, Paris

Published on July 27, 2015, by in Food, France, Travel.

 

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I knew that Paris would be different – no place stays the same, and with the passage of over 30 years I was a different person than I was in my 20s. There are a lot more chains and franchises now, the ubiquitous Starbucks, KFC, and Subway; the seedy areas I remembered from long ago are now upscale and stylish. There was also a heatwave, with temperatures in the 30s (Celsius), and almost as much English and Chinese spoken as French. It was, after all, the height of the tourist season, and not the optimal time for experiencing “typically French” atmosphere – if, in fact, there ever is such a time in the most-visited city on earth.

 

I was gripped by melancholy a few weeks before my trip; memories and regrets of my youth , a Christmas spent in Paris with my brother and our mother in 1979, worries that I would confront fragments of my lost self at every turn. Instead, I simply enjoyed myself. Yes, Paris is in many ways just another big and indifferent city, but my focus this trip was to see things I had missed before, and to enjoy the first trip of my life not regulated by constant money concerns. Above all, I wanted to eat.

 

 

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I was actually in Paris twice, for 4 days each time, bookending my visit to Provence and a week in Marseille in between. It’s just the way it worked out. I stayed at the Pavillon Opera Bourse, just across the street from the Folies Bergere, and near two monuments of my youth in the Rue du Faubourg Montmartre: the restaurant Chartier and the theater Le Palace, formerly the famous disco where why brother and I spent New Years Eve 1980, and where we saw Divine in person.

 

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I can’t go into all the details of the trip at the moment; they’re still too fresh in my mind and it will take weeks to sort them out, at about the same pace that I’m editing the photos from my trip taken with my fabulous new Fujifilm X-T1. My days were usually divided in two: a morning walk from about 8 to 12 or 1:00, lunch, then a return to the hotel for a nap, followed by more walking and eating in the evening. It didn’t get dark until 11:00 p.m., which was disorienting, making the days seem endless, and I never really saw Paris by night.

 

 

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Le petit déjeuner

 

Some of my favorite things: snacking throughout the day, or what I called my eternal “menu dégustation;” exploring the covered shopping passages, especially the close-by Passages Verdeau, Jouffroy, and Panoramas; visiting epiceries to sample delicacies; and three meals in particular, at Restaurant Astier (I’ll post photos later), Chez Denise for the perfect steak-frites, and at Le Trumilou (see photos below).

 

I’ll continue to post in the days ahead, with details of my 3 days in Arles, including Les Rencontres de la Photographie, a week in Marseille, and a day in Aix-en-Provence, where I spent 6 months of my scholarship year of study in my 20s.

 

 

 

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 Le Trumilou, French home cooking

 

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Selections of patés as a starter

 

 

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Salmon with spinach and carrots

 

 

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Selection of 3 cheeses

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la belle France

Published on July 18, 2015, by in France, Travel.

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 Cafe Le Refuge, Paris

 

 

I’m taking a well-deserved break from both the stresses of a new teaching job and the completion of my M.A. dissertation, and spending 2 1/2 weeks in France. It’s a sentimental journey, my first time here since the 1980s, and the sensations and memories are sometimes overwhelming. Paris, Arles, Marseille, and Aix-en-Provence are my destinations – I spent 6 months in Aix as a student long ago – and the whirlwind tour is exhausting me.

I’m currently in Marseille for a week, and the heat, humidity, and burning Mediterranean sunlight are sometimes brutal. Just as exhausting is trying to consume all the food I can in this short time – seafood, couscous, bouillabaisse, and Provencal dishes – not to mention stocking up on olive oil and French delicacies.

As I slow down my pace a bit, and carve out a bit of time for writing and posting, I’ll shaer some of my experiences and the photos I’m taking with my fabulous new Fujifilm X-T1 camera. In the meantime, here are a couple of selected images.

 

 

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 Metro Sentier, Paris

 

 

 

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 Saint Trophime cloister, Arles

 

 

 

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Mediterranean view, Marseille

 

 

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木渎镇 Mudu ancient town, Suzhou

Mudu 8

canal view

 

Mudu is an ancient water town on the outskirts of Suzhou, accessible at the very western end of the Metro line. It’s a nice afternoon’s outing, but can’t really compete with the other water towns in the area as a tourist destination. It does, however, have a suberb little museum with metalwork, ceramics, porcelain, and everyday items dating as far back as the Han Dynasty. A very enthusiastic museum guide showed me the entire collection, even though I only understood about 10% of what he said in Chinese.

 

Mudu house

old house entrance

 

 

Mudu old door

old door with cactus growing above

 

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looking up

Published on April 30, 2015, by in Architecture, Shanghai.

Shanghai skyscraper

a view up into the dizzying heights of a Shanghai skyscraper

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flowering trees

Published on April 27, 2015, by in Suzhou.

flowering trees

 

The weather finally started getting permanently warmer, and soon the humid days of summer will be here. In the meantime, I enjoy walking to school each morning, and enjoying the beautiful landscaping and flowering trees along the way.