September 2010

(Un)Fortunately our hotel was just down the road from a couple of camera shops. A Leica store and a generic camera shop. This was a great start to the day. I was able to look at real Leica cameras in Paris and hoping that maybe one day I would have one. (Spoiler – I got one 2 months later). The second store we went to had a load of bags to play with. I love camera bags. I tried a few with the intention of getting a new one but I wasn’t 100% sure so I took a photo of the one I liked. (2020 Pete – Years later I bought this bag but completely forgot I first saw it in Paris).

Our next stop was a boulangerie where my wife introduced me to the correct version of an eclair. Why the British one is so bland I don’t know. It is impossible to get a good eclair in the UK. Chocolate filled choux pastry. That’s it. This was the start of a food revolution for me. Albeit a tiny tiny one but an eye opener. Whenever my wife and I travel we bump into little treats that are simple, as I like simple things, and yet impossible to find back home. Brownies are great n all. I made some last night. But the UK is basically cupcakes, and salted caramel something. Where’s the chocolate filled bread ring I got on the beach in Bulgaria every day? Where’s a decent patisserie? Why is a ham sandwich a dumpster fire?

I really feared I wouldn’t be able to eat much when I travelled outside the UK but what I found was a fascinating variety of food and in a way I was being held back by British food. In Paris it was so easy to get a ham baguette for lunch every day. Fresh baguette. Ham. Great butter. That’s it. I couldn’t believe it. No goop, gunk or greens. Simple good flavours. To think I’d spent my life with food issues only to be proven right or at least to find that “right” is location based. The UK still looks at me funny when I order food but I know I’m right. Paris taught me this. Vive la France! Vive jamon de beurre!

Our wander took us to Notre Dame Cathedral where my girlfriend (now wife) explained the architectural details to me. What a magnificent building. It’s almost impossible to believe it opened 675 years ago. Is modern architecture too minimalist and boxy? The structure and cleverness of a building can often be hidden behind the pristine walls where as old cathedrals have to show the support structure. A wonderful building.

From there we walked up to Centre Pompidou that in some ways is a contemporary illustration of that point. All the infrastructure that would normally be hidden on the inside of the building is on the outside which helps create more usable space inside. It was designed by Renzo Piano (The Shard fame) and Richard Rogers (Lloyd’s Building, London fame). Just like Notre Dame Cathedral it is quite a striking building on the Paris skyline.

After this we headed back to Pigalle to see the Moulin Rouge building. We didn’t go in. It’s not a show I’ve had any interest in seeing. Honestly, I don’t really know what a night in there is like outside of the can-can and surely they can’t can’t can can all night? Can can they? Nice building anyway. There’s a big vent outside it that people stand on and it blows your hair up for fun photos. It’s silly and fun to play with. I didn’t have the hair for it unfortunately. How fun it would be to have a gang of Scotsmen in kilts there for a photo.

I also had fun using my Polaroid Sun 600 camera that my wife secretly packed for me. I thought it would be too big. The photos have almost faded now which is a shame but I like how ephemeral they were.

That was day 2 in Paris. A tour of architectural highlights.