Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paris: First Impressions

It been such a long time my dear bloggy friends, and I am sorry to have ignored you.

Preparing and making this journey has been more of a challenge than I was expecting. My energy is rather low, and as is my usual pattern, at such times I feel a preference to withdraw from social contact as it is especially tiring.

St Chapelle

Nevertheless, here I am in the beautiful city of Paris. The weather is divinely sunny (around 22 deg C during the day, with crisp cool nights down to the low teens). I am surrounded by (even staying in) buildings older than any in Australia.


The Marais (the area where we are staying) is renowned as the home of art galleries and studios for fashion designers and all manner of artists. Not to mention the best creperie in Paris! (Well, ok, I did mention it!)


The clothes in the shop windows are…beautiful. Gorgeous, natural fabrics like silk, linen, cotton woven more thinly than we ever see in Australia – how do the French get away with that crushed linen look so successfully? I can’t understand why the clothes in Australian shops turn to synthetic fibres. Hot in summer, cold in winter, what is their use? I know, its the no-iron thing, but I recommend we just get over that!

So far we have wandered (quite far) without any particular aim, except perhaps to locate a patisserie or fromagerie (that’s an entire shop devoted to cheese!). I know there is no such thing in Brisbane, although there is one in Maleny and one in Melbourne, both being much smaller affairs, and a part of other foodie businesses.


About a two or three minute walk away is the amazing artists book shop Librairie Florence Loewy. I visited this shop when I was in Paris in 2008, but I confess to being rather overwhelmed then. This time I settled in for a long stay and scoured the shelves until my legs were aching. No purchases – yet! (but the shop is close by!)

When we booked our apartment here in Rue de Saintonge, I knew how close we would be to Florence Loewy. But I did not know that there would be a bookbinder’s studio in my street (how quickly I’ve claimed ownership!).

On one of my first days here, I was stepping carefully along the narrow footpath when my eye fell on a wall of boxes, covered in beautiful fabrics. Along the entire length of the opposite wall, stretched a work bench and five or six men and women bent over papers and board. I looked through the window at the studio, a workshop obviously in progress. There was a book press close by the glass of the window, and another press further back. The entire space seemed to be less than 2 metres by 4 metres, such a hive of activity. I longed to go in!! But I could see that the middle of a workshop was not the best time for an approach with my faltering, limited French.

Back at the apartment I found the website for the studio – and yes, I was right. Celia Malouvier is a bookbinder with wonderful credentials, nearly 30 years experience, who runs workshops, speaks English, in my street – what to do?

So far, I haven’t plucked up the courage to go into speak to Mme Malouvier, mostly because I’m not sure what I want. But you can be sure, at the very least I will go in and say hello.



Before I say “au revoir” and hit the cobbled streets again I wanted to tell you about the ebook I mentioned before I left home. I had planned to post this pretty-much live from whatever I recorded on location, whether photo, audio or video. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the energy to devote to the project. I still think it is a great concept and I am gathering a lot of information towards a book (in fact, maybe a few). I just feel that to do the concept justice would mean devoting all my energy to it and I am enjoying visiting the art galleries, book and clothes shops, flea markets… well, you get the idea.

Instead, I’ll just be posting about the art, especially artists books that I am seeing, and I hope you will enjoy that!