Posts Tagged 'hotel de ville'

Inside Hotel de Ville: Paris Esprit d’Entreprise

Pretty in Pink: Salle des Fetes, Hotel de Ville, Paris

What do you do when the mayor of Paris invites you to a soiree at the Hotel de Ville?

Well, you go.

A few weeks ago I was surprised to find an elegant envelope in my mailbox. The return address simply said, “the mayor of Paris.”

Continue reading ‘Inside Hotel de Ville: Paris Esprit d’Entreprise’

Volleyball at the Hotel de Ville

Finally, a real summer day!

It’s a holiday here in France, too, so people are especially happy. Good timing!

Serendipitous City Stuff

Happy little car on Rue Vieille du Temple

Every spring near the end of the semester, my college would throw a huge party for several days running. (Moderately) big bands played, fun games were set up on the lawn, and (let’s get real), huge beer kegs were tapped.

I especially loved the “inflatable Olympics” apparatus that took over the fields. You have by now probably placed me in my early 30s (you are correct), but have surmised that I am really just a big kid. Why running through plastic obstacle courses or donning sumo wrestling costumes was my year’s highlight, I’m not sure, but let’s just say people who are easily amused usually have a better time in life.

Besides enjoying the all-out let-loose feeling of the festivities, I found my favorite word: Serendipity. Yes, this was the name of the annual party. It means unlooked for good fortune, or “making desirable discoveries by accident.”

Sure, lots of these events were planned, but put a whole bunch of 18-22 year olds in a beautiful campus setting surrounded by a big forest and give them free-flowing alcohol, some unforeseen things are going to happen. (Actually, I wonder now if the college wasn’t looking for trouble more than luck. Wow.)

P1020037 (I have almost the exact same photo of me somewhere around here…)

Some people can’t stand city life. This September I especially sympathize as this is the most stressful rentree I have ever experienced. The crowds, the frenzy, the traffic, two strikes in two weeks. It is sometimes enough to make one go batty.

But then there is serendipity. Lucky accidents can happen anywhere, of course, but the higher density of people in cities just puts the odds at these lucky accidents just a tad higher, in my opinion.

Without even trying, I run into delightful little treats. (Or, do I just take the time to appreciate them? Hmm, discuss).

Like this, for instance: you might not be surprised when I say that I heard some lovely classical music at Bastille the other day. The Bastille Opera is there, of course. Only, the concert wasn’t located in the opera house, at all. Nope, I stayed underground and listened to this mini-orchestra for awhile. (Notice the older woman dancing near the end – I will be this older woman someday, I’m sure).

Or last night, I went to Shakespeare & Co to hear Nick Flynn and Adam Haslett read, followed by some jazz piano afterward. This was an event as part of the big Festival America that will be taking place at Vincennes this weekend. As I was walking back, I ran into some sort of spectacle at the Hotel de Ville. (I love how much goes on at the Hotel de Ville. True public programming. This week’s events are in support of “Coeur des Vies.” Stations are set up at the Hotel de Ville so you can give blood until September 25).

When there was a pause in the acrobatics, I went home, but I appreciated the small random pause in the day. There is SO MUCH I want to be doing in Paris right now, but I have too much on my plate right now to take advantage of everything. So it’s quite convenient to just run into fun things without trying. This bit of serendipity really brings a smile to my face.

I have to give a shout-out to fellow blogger Adam of Invisible Paris and Paris Weekends who really knows this city and all her off-beat corners. He puts together a stellar list of (often quirky) things going on for the weekend. This week I want to do absolutely everything he writes about.

I probably won’t get to any of it, but maybe I can hope for a little serendipity on my side and run into something else completely unexpected.

What have been some of your favorite serendipitous moments?

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Sun Daze

I don’t always succeed, but usually I try to share a somewhat focused story with you here, more than simply a random list of what I’ve been up to.

However, with the long-anticipated return of sunny warm weather (I was beginning to think my winter coat might become year-round attire) I just had to go out EVERYWHERE during this past 3-day weekend; dive into the city that’s come alive. No structured theme for me.

Suddenly stripping down to small tank tops and short skirts felt a bit strange. Maybe everything just strikes me as strange these days, surreal elements popping up all over Paris:

Treehouses sprouting on modern art museums,

The Pompidou's been planted with treehouses!

whole animals roasted in front of the Town Hall,

Vegetarians beware! Big BBQ at the Hotel de Ville!

a (4 million euro!) garden covering the Champs Elysees.

Not actually that exciting

(I’m no expert, but I think someone should consult me about proper use of municipal funds).

The heat made some people batty, characters came out in full force.

Put those clothes back on!

Get a load of that!

(Confession: These were actually actors in a play I ran across in front of Saint Sulpice. If you couldn’t tell from the photos, overacting was in full display).

Lobby of the Odeon Theater

I spied a few higher brow things, too, including the inside of the Odeon Theater. I just happened to be strolling with a theater historian at this moment (funny how that happens) whose specialty was theater from the ’68 era. The Odeon had been taken over in ’68 and became something of the protest’s headquarters in Paris, she explained. (Who knew?)

I had never even noticed the building before. I have this kind of Paris blindness sometimes. Though I never grow weary of the beauty of Paris, there are just so many famous historical buildings that I can’t even keep track. What’s that? A visitor might ask. Um, another gorgeous landmark, I reply.

As I lunched in front of Beaubourg, a man on a bike rode up and wished me ‘bon appetit.’

Thanks, I said.

You’re very pretty, too.

Thanks. (I’m very polite you see).

Ah, les hommes sont penibles, non?. Men are tiresome right?

Un peu. A little.

But you should take it as a compliment.

I went to hear honky tonk, also a surreal scene in Paris

Thanks. I did.

Parisians, we’re flirters.

Yes, you are.

He asked me for coffee, but I kindly declined. (I thought about asking him to offer me ice cream instead, but thought better of it).

It was a nice enough encounter – he did not insist (je ne insiste pas? he had asked hopefully before riding off).

Even the draguers seem charming with such beautiful weather. Everything, really, becomes a real pick-me-up. The city shines anew.

Like a Kid on a Carousel

Carousel at the Hotel de Ville

Just a quick post for anyone keeping track: My carte de sejour renewal went off without a hitch!

Have the happiness police put me on their good list?

*Only* an hour’s wait. Then the public servant took our dossier. Asked us no questions. SAID EVERYTHING WAS ‘BON’.

Really? That’s all? (Next to us, the public servant was telling some misfortunate soul that his ‘document had no value.’ Aucune, monsieur!)

Exit with recipise (receipt) in hand, the sun shining! (It had been raining when we entered).

I may be in some Paris parallel universe right now.

This picture seemed to encapsulate it, as I strolled by the Hotel de Ville. I felt like a kid on a carousel (with a great big chateau to boot!)

First time I will place anything relating to bureaucracy in my ‘Paris Paradise’ category, but here it goes!

Shakespeare on Ice

Is it really so strange? That I don’t like strapping blades, wheels, or other moving apparatus to my feet?

The Hotel de Ville – not a hotel, but the most beautiful administrative building you’ll ever see – still has its holiday decorations up: illuminated Christmas trees, flashing blue lights on the façade. Most striking is the large ice skating rink where funny spectacles await – put people of all ages and ability on a large slippery surface, you’re sure to have good times.

I was coming back from a book signing (Wally Lamb – sweet and talented man) at Shakespeare and Co. (a tale for another time) when I happened upon the rink. I heard a voice being pumped in over a microphone, then realized there was a skating MC as I approached – slow down, speed it up, yes folks, let’s keep it fun for everyone.

While I happen to like my two feet planted firmly on the ground, it gives me great joy to watch other people give skating a try. I’m a people-watcher anyway, but the interest level can skyrocket when you put them on ice.

There are the small triumphs and tiny setbacks, small moments that aren’t so serious – something to hold onto in our time of very serious moments.

“Si tu puedes, mon amour!” “No, no puedo” the Spanish couple gripping the railing in front of me were saying. “Start like this,” the gallant French boyfriend explains, holding his pretty (terrified) girlfriend’s hands.

Couples and families, showoffs and friends. Little dramas as one person wants to go faster and the other can barely stay upright. Little kids with their daring, cheeky adolescents whizzing by at dangerous speeds. The slips, the falls, the getting back up, the trying it again.

I’m not sure why these people don’t mind us watching, but I’m glad that they let us. Their vulnerability and their tricks, the glee as someone learns to glide.

Thank you, random ice skating rink, for reminding me of such simple pleasures. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll join you sometime.

Skaters at Hotel de Ville

paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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