Friday I’m in love…

Kim friday…so sang The Cure. ‘TFI Friday!’ said anyone who’s ever worked a week in their life. That sacred bookend day when the foot begins to slip off the gas just a little to allow our frazzled brains to contemplate the glorious expanse of the two days of freedom that hover tantalisingly close.

In terms of productivity, I’ll bet that out of Friday and its four weekday siblings, it’s the fifth and last of the bunch that takes the thinnest slice of the pie. It’s a day to relax a tad, and to congratulate yourself on a week’s work well done. It’s a time to let off social steam when the professional tank is running near empty. And you know what’s best about it? It’s the best day of the week to be reading a blog.

Well, what a stroke of luck! It just so happens that Wednesday and Thursday have been cruelly abandoned, and Friday is now officially pARIS: small capital blog day. I’ve decided it’s when the minds of you darling readers are at their ripest and most receptive, or at least in the most organisational mode for making a plan for that deliciously open weekend. Add us to your to-do list (just under ‘walk the dog’ and ‘call the folks’ if you must), and rather than enjoy reading in a crazily busy office, now is your chance to kick back and enjoy the posts in the tranquility of your own home, at whatever rhythm you prefer.

But wait! There’s another twist in the tale. Certain audience members have kindly given me some feedback (highly valued, I assure you), and it appears sensible to me to publish bi-monthly instead of weekly from now on, as too many posts just clog the intellectual pipe, and we can’t have that. Yesterday’s newspaper might be today’s chip paper (ask a Brit if your brow’s all furrowed in confusion), but I’d hope that my ancient blog posts are kept on file and visited from time to time and treated to a warm embrace, like a treasured, elderly relative.

Plus extensive renovations are underway at the Granny Flat and tackling home decor all on my lonesome takes a great deal of time, not even counting the layers upon layers of paint, dust and memories that my humble abode has given me to tackle. But some super exciting things are happening (roll-out bidet is now roll-out indoor bathroom garden – such is the level of DIY magic taking place) and I will give you a glimpse of Granny’s new decor when I’m past the ‘looks like I’m just making a mess phase’, where I currently reside.

As for now, make sure your weekend is smile rich and fun filled, and I’ll catch you at the end of the next glorious Parisian spring week at the start of June.

Bisous!

 

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Colour me happy

IMG_2624I’m a girl who likes to have a bit of colour in her life (and no, I don’t mean ‘blue’ movies…), though Paris isn’t playing ball at the moment, coating each May day in grey clouds and dull drizzle. Luckily a comprehensive redecorating programme of the Granny Flat is underway, with paint colour tester patches springing up everywhere, but leave her loving arms and venture outside in these times of questionable weather, and everything feels a little bit beige.

If you’re scouring the streets for happier hues, then the metro is usually the last place you’d think to find them, what with all that concrete casing, those grimy white tiles, and the icy cold stares of packed-in commuters. But for another month, that’s exactly where you need to go looking as RATP play host to another artist in their RATP invites… exhibition series, furnishing selected metro and RER stations with photographs from Belgian artist Harry Gruyaert.

BELGIQUE. Boom. 1988. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum photos

BELGIQUE. Boom. 1988. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum photos

Now if we’re talking colour, he’s a chap who has devoted his artistic life to the study of it; he was one of the first pioneers of colour photography way back in the 1970s. Whilst us amateur snappers may rely on the black and white setting to give us that professional edge, Harry sees colour photography as more physical and affecting, exploring all of the different shades, tones and intensity that he can find.

BELGIQUE. Anvers. 1992. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

BELGIQUE. Anvers. 1992. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

Starting his career in Paris taking photos of the fashion industry, Harry was soon drawn towards travel, and the exhibition adorning the walls of the metro platforms in his career’s first port of call show the results of his work in his native Belgium, Morocco and London. Not only do you get the chance to explore the aesthetic journey he has taken, but you literally follow him on his physical journey as his photographs are arranged into four distinct sections and seven metro stops, meaning that you get to travel too if you want to see the entire collection.

BELGIQUE. N1 Malines-Anvers. 1988. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

BELGIQUE. N1 Malines-Anvers. 1988. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

Part 1, Maroc, (Luxembourg, RER B) is the culmination of 40 years of travel through the rural landscape of Morocco, the artist enchanted by the inexhaustible palette of colours laid out before him. At station Jaurès (line 2) the inspiration comes from just across the channel in a series of photographs called TV Shots, which capture his London experiments disrupting TV sets and zapping through the various colour TV programmes of the era, influenced by the time’s Pop Art movement.

FRANCE. Fort Mahon. 1991. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

FRANCE. Fort Mahon. 1991. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

Part 3, Made in Belgium, can be found spread over three stations (Hotel de Ville, La Chapelle and Saint Denis Porte de Paris) and has its roots in the country of Harry’s youth. It displays his work there in the late 1970s, where he tried to put his painful past behind him and endeavoured to find the different nuances in a less-than-vibrant landscape. The final part, Rivages (shores), located at Saint-Michel and Bir Hakeim, captures the subtle shades of nature’s colour wheel between the sea and the sky at some of geography’s lesser exotic seashores.

50 Shades of Grey is so last year, colour’s where it’s at. The exhibition sticks around until 15th June. For more info, click here.

Battle cry

Me getting' my French on

Me getting’ my French on

Bonjour there old friends! Have you missed us? Well whatever the extent of your blog pinings may be, there has certainly been a Granny Flat-shaped hole in my life of late as I abandoned the old girl to spend a well-earned rest back in the UK. Without her comforting embrace, my writing powers were hugely diminished, and what with meeting my new niece (so gorgeous!) and reconnecting with the Motherland, the last two posts have stubbornly refused to materialise.

What with the UK elections hogging the headlines too, it’s been a terribly patriotic time chez moi. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, but nestled back in France, it’s time to readjust to the cultural shift and get myself back in a Gallic state of mind.

There are many ways I can tackle this, from stuffing my face with baguettes and cheese to blowing the budget at Chanel, but I’m all about health and my blog prides itself on its frugal tilt, so we’ll leave that to the others. Instead I have a sure-fire way to get my French hat on again, using a technique I’ve always made a priority in each culture I’ve lived in – learning the national anthem and singing it as loud as you can (preferably in the shower).

Kim French 3I’m the first to admit that the UK’s effort is hardly inspiring (‘dirge’ springs to mind, sorry Ma’am) and probably on its last legs given the political climate back on the island right now. In comparison the French version, La Marseillaise, is about as rousing as you can get, invoking ruddy-faced French folk of yore swigging wine in the fields and celebrating their homeland’s many virtues in voices as loud as they can go.

Well…. there’s some ‘red’ in their somewhere, but behind the spirited melody is a far more violent sentiment than you’d probably first think. We’re not celebrating the crustiness of the humble baguette here, but the bloodthirsty tendencies of revolutionary soldiers who yearn to spill the blood of their enemies. If anthems were series, then Game of Thrones it would be. Here is a translated version…

Let’s go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

Chorus

Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!

Kim French 2

French transition complete.

Blimey. It’s the Haka in lyrical form. Who knew that when I first learned the words (in French) what I was really singing about? There are more verses, naturally (as the same with God Save the… zzzzz), replaying the same feeling over again, encouraging the French fighting spirit against the tyrants, traitors and er, ‘mercenary phalanxes’ who threaten their liberty. Never mind blood spilling, it certainly gets my blood pumping in the shower on a Parisian morning….