I would not be unduly surprised, if I discovered, on some future trip to Paris, that the legendary Café de Flore had been frozen in aspic, to preserve it for eternity, and declared a national monument by the French government. It is after all one of the grandes dames of Parisian cafés which opened its doors to the coffee imbibing public way back in 1887. And, of course, it’s a place where the rooms echo with the ghostly voices of some of the literary and philosophical greats (including Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway …) who ate, drank, and wrote there in earlier epochs.
Category Archives: France
So. I put learning a little about the history of art, by reading some books on the subject, on my list of things I would like to do over the next decade. So. I have over nine thousand images that I’ve taken over the past few years stored on my MacBook, and I am beginning to worry that if I don’t delete some of them soon my Macbook’s memory may implode like a dangerous building being demolished with dynamite.
The weather was glorious in south-west France during my short sojourn there. It was lovely to feast my eyes on azure blue skies part-filled with flossy white clouds, to feel the warmth of the sun on my back and to experience a succession of rain-free days. I was staying in Lisle-sur-Tarn a pretty medieval bastide (fortified) town between Toulouse and Albi. If the name Lisle-sur-Tarn sounds familiar perhaps you read Tracy Chevalier’s The Virgin Blue which was set in the town.
Tomorrow, Bastille Day is the French national holiday; it commemorates the storming of the infamous Bastille prison on 14th July 1789 by disgruntled revolutionaries. The rebels took the Bastille and that event became a symbol of The French Revolution. Tomorrow all of France will be en fête; I decided to celebrate from afar by baking some madeleines.
Coco Chanel and the brand she created fascinate me: despite this fascination I knew very little about Chanel’s life until I read Justine Picardie’s biography of her. I love the way the well-researched book delves beneath the myth and mystery in which Chanel’s life is shrouded to arrive at a hugely human portrait of the legendary fashion icon.
On Monday the President and the First Lady of the United States of America Barack and Michelle Obama will arrive in Ireland on a brief visit. When the couple are at home in Washington they often eat out on a ‘date night’ at one of the capital’s restaurants. As they are in Ireland for a short visit, it is unlikely they will visit one of Dublin’s restaurants. Almost two years ago when they were on a trip to the French capital they ate with friends at a Parisian bistro. This was somewhat controversial at the time, as the US president, had turned down an invitation to dine at the Élysée Palace with President Nicolas Sarkozy while he was in Paris.
Timing is of course everything. As I was in the South of France in early May I missed the chance to spot Cannes-going celebrities as the Film Festival only started this week. Home from home to many of the stars during festival week is The Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
The Picasso Museum in Antibes is enchanting. I was totally taken by it. The museum is in the 12th Century Château Grimaldi, a national monument that fronts the narrow cobbled streets of the old town and backs on to the Mediterranean Sea. The Château has a long history and as its name suggests the Grimaldi family of Monaco once owned it.
The view from plane on its descent into Nice Airport was fairly intoxicating. Rippling sparkly sapphire sea blending into sandy beaches that snaked around coves and inlets, hills hotch-potched with villas and distant green hazy mountains. Suddenly the view changed to tarmac and with a bounce of the wheels and a jerk of the brakes the plane touched down. Et voilà I was on the Côte d’Azur.