Sunday, October 26, 2008

Paris style

I didn't set out to create a photo essay on Paris style; we saw it everywhere we went but found it very difficult to define. I guess it is just that every Parisian knows they live in the most stylish city in the world and they just make sure they live up to that in every choice they make.

We were walking along the Rue du Faubourg St Honore (with its iconic stores: Colette, YSL, Balmain, Hermes Versace etc) and came upon this policewoman directing traffic around the vicinity of the Palais de l'Elysee, home of the French PM. She looked incredible - full catwalk makeup, beautifully cut pants, designer glasses, white white gloves. This is a terrible photo of her. We were too intimidated by her grandeur and hauteur to get any closer.
All those classical style buildings soaked in hundreds of years of civilization call for wardrobes with a neutral palette.

But that doesn't stop taking a creative approach to making a scooter stylish.

Paris is a walker's city. Its 20 arrondisements spiral out from the geographic centre of the old city (Notre Dame), making it possible to walk all over old Paris if you have the time (which we did). We suspect that is what keeps most Parisians looking so fit and trim, an important element of being stylish!

Being stylish is passed from mothers to daughters and fathers to sons. Rob caught this little scene in the beautiful jardin du Palais Royale.

We found Coco Chanel on the Avenue Montaigne and discovered that even the cars parked outside were colour coordinated. This lady had just made a Coco Chanel purchase, no doubt to add to her collection of designer goodies. The boutique showrooms along Avenue Montaigne all had concierges who kept the doors locked. This lady must have got past their vetting system.

Paris will do sushi in style too.

One of our favourite foodie streets in Paris is Rue Montorgueil: great espresso, cafe noisettes, cheeses, seafood, boulangeries, and incredibly stylish people!

Keeping Montmarte stylish (well clean and tidy anyway) takes a small army of maintenance workers.

We found this storybook building in Place Monge near the Jardin des Plantes, on a morning we devoted to checking out the beautiful fresh food markets on the Left Bank. This was not a tourist area so this beautiful painted decoration was just for the benefit of the locals.

We sat and enjoyed a well earned Pelforth bier (brune) at this cafe on the corner of Rue Rambuteau and Rue du Beaubourg (opposite the Pompidou Centre) and saw this well matched older couple waiting for the lights to change. They were Japanese and both dressed similarly in black with lots of soft leather. They looked interestingly stylish!

We loved exploring the passages of central Paris. One day we came across the Galerie Vero Dodat and I got the chance to ogle the Arabian Nights styling of the Christian Laboutin store. I am so ignorant that I didn't know that all Christian Laboutin shoes have red leather soles. This is one of the beautiful old passages that would have seen German and Resistance troops fighting in the last eventful days before Paris's liberation in August 1944.

And a chance to see a retrospective of the iconic design prototypes of Phillipe Stark at the Pompidou Centre - contemporary French style.

And a shot from the rooftop terrace cafe of the Pompidou Centre, looking towards Notre Dame and the Pantheon behind it. Fresh red roses set on the outdoor tables on a rainy day in Paris.

Every evening the roller blade boys of Paris perform for the crowds outside the Hotel de Ville. In 2005 their favourite performance space was outside Notre Dame - maybe they had to move on. They're still as stylish though, and brave.

I saw this opulent collection of stylish and lavish junk at the amazing Marche aux Puces (fleas) at the Porte de Clignancourt, on the northern outskirts of old Paris.

Any city that provides a beautiful park like this next to Le Bon Marche - Le Grand Epicerie Paris, the most amazing Food Hall anywhere in the world, the perfect gourmet picnic lunch setting, has to have style! The Paris Art School is near here so the park was also full of arty young things with their portfolios. Like all young things in Paris they smoked a lot.

Although dressed for the warm weather these two young women at the Musee Rodin had obviously chosen their outfits carefully.

I appreciated that the geraniums perfectly matched the awnings at the iconic Plaza Athenee Hotel on Avenue Montaigne.

One of the most stylish events we were a part of (almost) happened on our last night in Paris just over the road from our apartment on the Rue de Braque. We'd observed the preparations for the exhibition opening throughout our two week stay: the preparation of the gallery, the arrival of the paintings, the to-ing and fro-ing of all the beautiful people, even a few little hissy fits on the part of the Director (some of them loudly over the phone in English!!). It was fun quietly observing the opening night party from our vantage point - so much beer was drunk, so many went for hours and no food was served or consumed...that's how they stay so thin, but look so stylish!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


We were all really looking forward to meeting up with Davey and Cath in Istanbul, so much so that Maxie felt very certain they were going to be there on 2 October (a full day earlier than they had actually planned). It didn't help that a Mr David Bryce was booked into room 531 at the Yasmak Sultan the morning of the 2 October. It took us all that morning to sort it out! It made their actual arrival on 3 October that much sweeter.

That week Turkey was still celebrating the end of Ramazan with three days of public holidays which the Istanbulles seemed to enjoy in massive gatherings on the streets and parks and bridges and mosques all over the city - much to our amazement.

By the second day Cath was starting to recover from her terrible London cold so we attempted the long walk from Sultanahmat, over the Galata Bridge, along the buzzy Istaklil Caddesi (Turkish for street) to unremarkable Taksim Square. On the way we took the lift to the viewing platform of the ancient Galata Tower for 360o views of this huge, spread out city straddling Europe, Asia and the Middle East. By now we had all very quickly fallen in love with the warm and wonderful Cath, and felt privileged to share the time with her.

She gave us a guided tour of Topshop in Istaklil Caddesi, giving us a great insight into her work for the store and some of the pressures she is constantly dealing with.

As always on our walks the shops with musical instruments are a great drawcard.
The Grand Bazaar was a maze of small Turkish handcraft, textile and designer rip off shops under a huge old, arcaded building the size of a small city block. As always Rob and Davey were attracted by the musical instruments.

We enjoyed the Spice Markets, adjacent to the busy Yeni Mosque, and full of tourists and locals buying up spices, teas, nuts, dried fruits and the irresistible and delicious sweets that we all associate with Turkey. Cath loves her tea so that was a big drawcard.

We only deal with men in Istanbul; the majority of women we see are restricted to parenting roles and looking virtuous in their decorous garb. The men in the Spice market make a "big thing" of their Turkish Viagra: dried figs!!

This picture was taken in Safran, one of the three Anatolian restaurants we tried in our week (almost) in Istanbul. We loved their gozlemes, a combination pide/pancake filled with your choice of spinach, cheese, ground meat or potato. They are made on the spot over a gas fired brazier, always by women in an ersatz Anatolian village kind of costume. They tasted great. This restaurant took the cheesiness factor a stage further by having a band playing traditional music and by handing out assorted veils and fez caps, which we tried to ignore.

It was impossible to ignore this little girl, in the restaurant with her mother, who was overcome by the music and found the urge to dance irresistible. She was fantastic!

Davey and Cath were our favourite couple in Istanbul. We shared so many funny stories and colourful vignettes of their lives together in London. In between the laughter we managed to squeeze in visits to the amazing Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the incredible Archeological Museum.

We started our last night in Istanbul at our favourite place: the terrace of the Yasmak Sultan, drinking our $10 Efes beers, laughing over the latest story and watching beautiful Hagia Sophia transform itself in the gathering dusk.

It turned very windy that night but we had to have one last, up close experience of this most beautiful 1500 year old church/mosque, the centrepiece of my Istanbul experience.

and the grandiose Blue Mosque, just opposite.

We left for home on 6 October after our wonderful (almost) 6 weeks of travel and Davey and Cath returned to London. It was incredible to meet Cath in Istanbul and to see Davey so happy with his life. We will love seeing them in Australia when they are able to make it and wish them both every happiness with whatever they are doing until we see them both again.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Welcome back

The best part of coming home after our wonderful holiday in France and Istanbul was seeing family again. Even Pete from Sandy Beach timed his surprise visit on Friday so we could catch up with Lawrence family news.

Miss E had changed a lot..much more grown up looking, and more like her Daddy at the same age. Her hair has grown longer and is much lighter in colour.

Angie has adapted very well to his new diet, thanks to his Mummy's careful intervention and planning. He is feeling better...but it is early days yet, so no one is taking anything for granted.

Another change I noted today at our family get together was that Ella was interacting with the boys a lot more, as a playmate and a peer. She thinks they are awesome.

Rod's water features are always a very big attraction. They always seem to require reorganisation.

Miss E loves trying all the party food. She decided she adores Granny K's coconut cake just like all the girls in this family do. She managed to finish off both Jody's and Josh's helping.

But there were no hard feelings!

Welcome back to you all. Our holiday was wonderful and over the next few weeks I might cover a few aspects of our trip in this blog if I can make it not too boring. One of the highlights was catching up with Davey and Cath in Istanbul. It was a treat to spend the time with them and to meet the beautiful, warm and funny Cath T.
Against a background of tumult in the global financial system and minor hiccups in local elections and the national political agenda, our lives will continue in unremarkable but fulfilling ways. We are grateful for the love of our family, that they are all happy and care for each other and that we are all back safely after experiencing such joy and excitement on our travels.