Let the coloring commence!

7 Apr

All throughout my childhood, we colored hard-boiled eggs then my parents hid them for the Easter egg hunt the following day. This year, I decided to do the same for my daughter, instead of her hunting the usual chocolate eggs.

Finding the dye was a mission and a half but I stumbled upon the same selection I used to use as a child at a wonderful arts and crafts shop called Loisirs et Créations.

I brought these little packets down with me to the south and decided today was the day to transform the kitchen into a veritable dyeing factory. A huge marmite of eggs was bubbling away on the gas cooker and once they were ready, we placed 5 pans with red, blue, green, yellow and purple color on the floor, thereby allowing the little one to have an uninterrupted view of the wonder of the dying process. The idea is to let the boiled eggs soak up the desired shade, stirring occasionally to get an even finish.

Once they were ready, we let them dry for a few hours before sticking funny little stickers on them. They are now ready to be hidden in the garden for tomorrow’s hunt (fingers crossed the weather holds out!)

For those mums who haven’t had the time to organise an egg hunt in Paris, here are a few ideas that could be useful. First of all, find out from your Mairie if they’ve planned anything in your arrondissement. If not, why not join one of these organised hunts:

1)    The Secours Populaires is organising a giant chocolate egg hunt in the Buttes Chaumont on Sunday 8 April from 2 to 6 pm. The entrance fee is 3€ and that includes a magic show, face painting and candy floss! 38 avenue Simon Bolivar, 19th.

2)    The Mairie of the 17th arrondissement is organising an egg hunt in the Square Boulay Level on Sunday 8 April from 9:30-12:30 pm for kids aged 2 to 7. You can enter the square from one of these entrances: rue Boulay, rue Emile-Level or rue Ernest-Gouin.

3)    For those already booked on the Sunday, there’s an egg hunt organised on Wednesday 11 April in the garden of the  Mairie of the 7th arrondissement at 4 pm. Your children can take part in an egg-painting workshop (every half hour from 2-4 pm but make sure to sign them up by calling 0153587507) followed by the hunt.

All aboard!

6 Apr

It’s Easter weekend and I’ve decided to take my little one to the south of France for a few days.

We were taking the 9 o’clock train and quite unexpectedly arrived at the Gare de Lyon 45 minutes early… a first for the books!!

We decided to have a hot drink at the famous Train Bleu Restaurant.

Built for the World Fair in the 1900’s it was listed in the Inventory of Historical Monuments in 1972. Its ornate decoration with celebrated paintings on the walls and ceilings, polished wooden floors, floor to ceiling windows and old leather benches have received esteemed diners such as Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Cocteau, Dali and Jean Gabin.

The Big Ben Bar, where we settled ourselves, resembles a Gentleman’s club, with brown leather armchairs and heavy wooden furniture (and is, indeed, full of business men in the middle of very important sounding meetings).

I made our order and almost chocked on my delectably fruity Earl Grey when the bill came. It was, as the French would say, hors du prix!

It must be noted, however, that one is not only paying for the splendour of the surroundings but also the incredible quality of the food and drinks on offer. Le Train Bleu is a gourmet restaurant and so one should be prepared to pay gourmet prices.

The upshot is that I know this will not be a regular occurrence considering the Gare de Lyon isn’t my usual hang out, but it did start our journey on a very classy (if not pricey) note!

A perfect Sunday

2 Apr

On Sunday we went to discover the Jardin des Plantes. Although I’ve been living in Paris for years, this was the first time I set foot in the beautiful botanical gardens. The prune, almond and cherry trees were in full bloom and there were explosions of white and pink everywhere you turned!

We walked the length of the park then veered left to visit the ménagerie.

It is one of the oldest zoos in the world, which boasts over 2000 species. The smell of the zoo hits you before the entrance fee (10€/person, children under the age of 3 go for free). We were expecting to see elephants, giraffes, lions and bears (as stipulated in the brochure) but they were nowhere to be found! We followed the map provided at the entrance and happened upon munching yaks, playful orangutans and feline panthers.  The wind started picking up and our little one was getting cold so after visiting the main areas of the zoo we decided to cross the road to the café of the Mosquée de Paris for a hot glass of mint tea and delicious sweets!

Get Babarised!

1 Apr

I’ve been pining to redecorate parts of our flat but as our budget won’t allow for genuine parquet flooring just yet, we decided to head to the paint section on the fourth floor of BHV to buy turquoise coloured blackboard paint instead! We thought it would put a fun twist on our note taking at the entrance of the house, and our little one could have a bit of wall that she is actually allowed to draw on!

As we were already on the rue de Rivoli, we decided to head to the Musée des arts décoratifs for the Babar exhibition. It being a grey Saturday afternoon, I was afraid it was going to be chock-a-block but in fact we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Our little one was excited beyond belief, as Babar is one of her favourite characters in his legendary suit “of a becoming shade of green” and I was happy to notice that the exhibition was hung with the little ones in mind.

A video projection shows Laurent de Brunhoff telling the touching story of the creation of Babar by his father, Jean.  The very first drawings of the King of Celestivlle are exhibited alongside costumes, toys, books, and animated cartoons, which my little one loved.

The museum also offers workshops relating to the exhibition for children aged 4-10 as well as narrated tours.

Les Histoires de Babar is on until the second of September, so you’ve got plenty of time to catch it!

Heat wave

31 Mar

Paris has been experiencing a véritable heat wave the last couple of weeks and my little one and I have literally spent the majority of our time park hopping. We spent the best part of last week at our local park making friends with the neighbourhood kids but then we began to venture outwards to bigger & brighter places.

On Wednesday we met up with a lovely friend and her 4-year-old son at the Jardin de Luxembourg. We had a picnic on the designated grassy stretch of lawn then went for a wonder and ended up at the Poussin Vert playground. Although the entrance fee may be off-putting (2.50€/child and 1.50€/adult) one feels incredibly safe and secure as it’s completely enclosed. The huge play area is divided into two zones, one for 3-7 year olds (including a bac à sable, slides, see-saws, wooden trains, monkey bars and climbing structures) and one for 7-12 year olds with larger and more adventurous looking jeux.

Our little ones had a go on all the toys but decided to spend the majority of their time sifting sand…kids!

The following day we met up with the lovely ladies (and gents) from the English Speaking Mums of Paris at the glorious gardens of the Musée Rodin.

A calm, beautiful haven in the heart of the Invalides, this is an ideal coffee stop for any parent who happens to be in the area. The café offers delicious sandwiches, salads and snacks and a pretty good Café Crème too!

The kids ran around in the garden surrounded by Rodin’s masterpieces (including The Thinker). The only thing we had to make sure of was that they didn’t decide to dive into the large pond, but other than that we were comforted to know they were safe & sound within the garden walls.

After enjoying a coffee and catch up, we left the café to the parade of lunch-goers and headed towards the back of the garden where wooden loungers were scattered around inviting us to relax while the kids enjoyed the beautiful surroundings (and, believe it or not, sand boxes!!).

Burton Mania!

31 Mar

A few weeks ago I found myself going to the 13th, an area I don’t get the opportunity to visit much as it’s on the opposite side to where I live, but obligations had to be met & off I set on the RER to this new part of town. When my meetings were over, I crossed the bridge to Bercy Village for a quick dose of window-shopping then headed towards the Parc de Bercy where my husband and little one were to join me.

Although it was a glorious day and the park inviting, I went, instead, to the Cinémathèque Française for the much talked about Tim Burton retrospective.

We were a little dubious at first, worried that his genius yet dark universe would be too scary for our little one but as Mr. Burton said so himself, (according to a very friendly museum staff) children are encouraged to see his work and if they don’t like it, they should just turn away. So off we went. We were the only couple there with a kid but we didn’t feel out of place, as there was a very child friendly atmosphere. We took the lift to the 5th floor and there we were met with the unmistakeable world of masterpieces like Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks!, Beetlejuice, Sweeney Todd and The Nightmare before Christmas.

Although best known for his highly original and quirky films, this retrospective also shows Tim Burton’s other hidden talents. He is, first and foremost, an artist. Over 700 of his works including paintings, sculptures, illustrations, photographs and poems are exhibited for all to see.

A fantastic glow in the dark merry-go-round invited us in and led us to the main room in which his numerous illustrations were divided into four categories: Children, men, women and couples.

Then came the movies with sketches of the main characters, costumes, sculptures, script plans and projections. The exhibition closed on more illustrations done on napkins and there must have been hundreds of them!

Needless to say there were a few things on show that my daughter wasn’t too sure about but the majority of the exhibition was well received with loud cries of PRETTY when she spotted a red sequined dress from Sleepy Hollow, giant baby statues and a huge blow up character at the exit of the museum.

We then headed out into the park where there was a beautiful wooden carousel that our little one HAD to go on and where we enjoyed a lovely picnic under the fabulous warmth of the sun.

Blob world

20 Feb

Recently I joined two yummy mummies and their lovely offspring at the Pompidou Centre. It was snowing outside and what better way to entertain kiddies but with indoor activities and a splash of culture to boot? We paid our 13,00€ entrance fee and decided to start our visit with Matali Crasset’sBlobterre” installation in the Children’s Gallery.

A new world concept dedicated to encouraging exploration, creation and imagination, the Blobterre follows it’s own logic as to how a new world could be created using its own systems, vegetation, inhabitants, smells, and sounds.

A map of the Blobterre was provided at the entrance and we started our journey through this other world, learning about how it functioned as we did.

First off, we were directed to a space where we were to make our Blobterrian outfits from dangling cloth and gather food before we headed to more surreal quarters like “recycling nightmares to make compost”, “produce energy to create optimism” and “prepare magic potions” (transparent tubes and flashing lights abound!)

Fantastic for stimulating curiosity and imagination, the kids were encouraged to observe, touch, spin, pull, smell, listen, and jump on the different sections of the installation (not common practice in a museum!) I have to admit I loved every minute and the girls were having a whale of a time freely running around this original space.

We continued the running around theme with Le Silence des Bêtes exhibition on the lower ground floor. The pièce de résistance being Peter Kogler’s “Untitled, 2012” video installation of an invisible labyrinth for giant white rats, projected onto the floor. Although meant to be a study of communication controlled by media, we had more fun simply chasing the rats around their artificial maze!

We then continued upstairs to the permanent exhibitions, which probably wasn’t such a good idea on our part. Having experienced a morning of un-prohibited interactive art, the girls found themselves confined to the classic silence and no touch policy that reigns in all museums and galleries worldwide.

However, the silence was quickly broken when one of the little ones clearly critiqued  Zilvinas Kempinas’ “flux” as “a load of rubbish”. General hysteria all around was not highly appreciated, nor was the fact that another one of our girls mistook a piece of art for a chaise longue (which it was!) Needless to say we got told off but hey, at least our girls were demonstrating authentic interest in today’s masters of contemporary art!