mardi 24 avril 2012

Paris je t'aime


First of all, thanks for your kind comments and messages. I haven't been around here much simply because I've been travelling quite a bit and the past few weeks have seemed like a whirlwind of activity, packing and unpacking my suitcase in between. I have so much to tell you but first, let's start with Paris...

 I'm usually awake before the alarm clock rings at a few minutes to six, surprised by the morning chill as I throw back the covers. After a couple of stretches the kettle has boiled and I settle down to that all important first cup of tea. Sometimes I switch on the radio to hear the shipping forecast live before the demolition work begins opposite but other days I open my Moleskine exercise book and begin revising the vocabulary from yesterday's Finnish lesson. The words are often long and unlike anything I've heard before, those long vowels, the tiny break between the 'h' and the following consonant, sentences which seem so simple yet are full of unending complexity. I try to get my mind around some of the fifteen cases that I know whose names are also beautiful and complex, the inessive, the partitive, the ablative;  and wonder if I will ever be able to fully grasp this wonderful language.



At the restaurant of the Musée d'Orsay I found that same fascinating mixture of apparent simplicity and complexity in each course of the Finnish menu. A savoury malt pudding with marinated vegetables and crème fraîche with dill, cucumber soup with buttermilk and topped with a crispy cheese lattice, the most tender piece of smoked salmon, wamed and served with just the right amount of mashed potato and cauliflower flavoured with truffles and finally, vanilla cream mixed with lingonberry  puree with just a slightest crunch of a few flakes of oat crumble. All had names from paintings by Akseli Gallen Kallela; the Defense of Sampo, the Songs of Kalevala and my favourite, Les roses blanches for the dessert. The people sharing our table looked fascinated by what we were eating. The older woman started telling us about her life; the eleven children she had had, how everyone had encouraged her to return to university to take a German degree afterwards, how she spends most of her time travelling round the world visitng her family because she believes Americans are often too insular.



















I rediscovered the métro and it distinctive smell I've always loved and which I can only try and describe as a little like warm sawdust, along with the posters of plays and events I will never go to. There was the joy of seeing the places that I love again; the book stands of the bouquinistes down by the Seine, Notre Dame, the little park behind the Institut de France with its cherry blossom, the hotel in the rue de Buci where Simone de Beauvoir used to live, that first evening strolling down the Champs de Mars. As much as I love Berlin, I somehow returned here wishing it could be more of a city for walkers and inexhaustably beautiful like Paris. I'm already thinking about how to get back there as soon as possible.


























19 commentaires:

  1. Finnish is a beautiful and interesting language.

    Great pictures of Paris in spring!



  2. Hei! Greetings from Finland! Have you been to Finland? Tervetuloa :) Kauniita kuvia!

  3. Learning Finnish is truly a handful... Born in Finland, but to non-Finnish speaking parents, I've spent a considerable bart of the last 25 years trying to perfect my Finnish ! It's incredibly complex, but oh so wonderful... How could you not love a language in which you can say "hypähtelisinköhän?" (roughly: how about I jump around a bit in a jolly manner?) in just one word?

    Wonderful pictures from Paris, I definitely hope to see more soon and bon courage with your ugric adventures! :)

  4. Les langues agglutinantes sont decidement fascinantes. Bon courage pour le finnois (c'est juste pour le plaisir?).

    Paris, souvent, quand je vois les photos sur les blogs, je prefererais y etre touriste que d'y travailler

  5. Welcome back, Emily Vanessa!
    Such beautiful photographs. I love Paris! You've made me nostalgic and I long to go back. Hopefully this summer, it's only 3 hours from here after all :)

    You're studying Finnish? I'm impressed! How did you decide to do that? It's a very difficult language. I struggle with Dutch, I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to study a Scandinavian language.

  6. So good. Everything about this is impeccable.

  7. @Rosa - I'm glad I'm not the only one interested in this wonderful language. I miss Paris in the spring and three days htere felt way too short.
    @Anonyme - Hei ja kiitos kommenttisi! Minä pidän suomenkielestä mutta vailittettevasti en ollut koskaan Suomessa. I'm hoping to vist Helsinki in September and dream of being there every day. In the meantime, I hope to improve my language skills and make some Finnish specialities at home.
    @Sonja - it's so great that I got two comments from Finnish speakers for this post! I can imagine how long it must take to be perfect in this language as so far I've only learned about 6 cases which leaves 9 more! But it's such a beautiful langauge that I want to persevere. Thanks for teaching me a new word - I love how long they are. Words like 'ostoskeskus' for shopping centre and 'pikkuleipä' just sound so nice, even if it's tricky to learn vocabulary.
    @Menthe Blanche - Merci beaucoup!
    @Gracienne - J'aimerais bien habiter un jour en Finlande mais en ce moment ce n'est qu'un projet pour l'avenir et d'abord je vais rentrer en Angleterre pour suivre une formation. après en verra. Je ne sais pas je pouvais habiter à Paris, même si c'est une de mes villes préférées - ça coûte si cher et on a très peu de place au centre mais pour visiter c'est magique et je compte y retourner bientôt.
    @Magda - Thanks so much for all your lovely comments and support! I was really jealous when I flew via Amsterdam and saw posters for the train to Paris. It's just so easy tp get there for a weekend. I love taking the Eurostar and it's so much more relaxing than flying. I decided to start with Finnish because I've been interested in Scandinavia for quite a while and somehow it's the challenge of the language appealed to me. I was a bit scared at first but some things are less difficult than you think although to be perfect would take many years I think. As you're Greek I can imagine Dutch would be tricky becuase it's so different from your native language. Speaking German would definitely be an advantage as I've heard it's a mixture of English and Platdeutsch. I'm also learning Danish (crazy, I know!) and find it quite easy for the reason above, although the pronuciation is pretty complex. By the way, I'm always amazed by your English - you write like a native speaker with perfect grammar and zero mistakes. I could never do that in any of the lanaguages I know, even if I understand French and German really well. Take care, xx.
    @Jamie - Oh wow, thanks a lot. It's lovely to hear that.

  8. Paris is a magical place. I really felt something special when I was there last winter... I understand wanting to return. You've captured so many lovely moments.

  9. Thank-you for this Parisian tour. I was last there in the autumn of 2010 (was it that long ago?!) and so I especially enjoyed this little stroll.

  10. oh my goodness, i just love your blog. these pictures of paris are so wonderful, i myself have been thinking of taking a trip there to visit a friend sometime this early summer. i love how you've intertwined finland and paris with your writing, what with the restaurant and you thinking about finnish there in paris. i have a love/hate relationship with the partitive. it expresses a lot more than english can sometimes, but is so different from anything in english that sometimes i struggle with it. the cases in finnish are so, for lack of a better word, academic sometimes. i use a lot of them when talking, but when you write finnish, you can get so poetic and really sound exquisite. finnish is a great language!

  11. I simply adored this post! My daughter lived there for 7 years, and I spent a month with her every year. I love Paris too. But then, who doesn't?!
    Your photos captured lots of memories for me. Thank you!

  12. @Denise - The blogpost that you wrote about Paris was one of my favourites about this wonderful place. I hope we both manage to get back there soon.
    @Gracia - Thanks a lot. Yes, time goes by way too fast when I consider that my first trip to Paris was way back in 1999 and that I hadn't been to the Mussée d'Orsay for 10 years either. This was probably my nicest trip there though even if was to short.
    @Jenna - Hey there, thanks for stopping by and for the comment about the photos. Yours are so beautiful that I feel very flattered :-) I love it on your blog when you write in English and Finnish as I can pick out the odd phrase and it's so amazing. The cases fascinate me even if I wonder if I'll ever be able to use them all; recently I read a novel called New Finnish Grammar where the main character talks about how he likes the ablessive because it expresses negative statements like "We have no Koskenkorva" and there are more things we haven't got than things we posess. I would never have thought about it like that but somehow it's nice. In German I don't have any particular feelings towards the cases but somehow in Finnish it's different.
    @Barbara - Oh how wonderful that must have been for both of you. I was once lucky to spend a couple of weeks there so a month must have been heaven. I'm so glad the post brought back good memories.

  13. okay. i'm French and as many French not living in Paris, well i'm not super fond of Paris !
    BUT these gorgeous travel shots of Paris actually make me like Paris much much more !!
    You had a beautiful light !wow and a blue sky, very rare at the moment, so i'm happy this stay was so enjoyable.
    thank you for sharing. I really like the post

  14. Hi Valerie, I seem to have a love-hate relationship with Paris. Last time it drove me a little crazy and I was so glad to return to Berlin. At the beginning of this trip I got annoyed by the crowds at the Gare du Nord, how it took forever to buy transport tickets and the difficulty of taking luggage on the métro. But then it all got much better and I felt so happy to be there again and could enjoy the magic of the city. I only got angry at the cloakroom of the Musée d'Orsay when they refused to accept my coat, despite having tons of space, and I had to carry it round a hot museum all day. Grrgh. The light was really amazing - sunshine all day, sometimes with blue sky, sometimes with dramatic dark clouds but it stayed dry which was lucky.

  15. hei, opiskeletko suomea? I was reading some posts here and saw this one and read that you're studying Finnish! that's so cool - it's always so lovely to hear someone is studying Finnish even though it's not the most useful language! but it is beautiful though. :)

  16. @Carole - Thank you :-)
    @Inna - Joo, olen opiskellut suomea viisi kuukautta ja opiskelen joka päivä. Se ei ole helppoa mutta se on hauskaa. My friends think I'm crazy, especially when they see Finnish written down and can't understand why I don't want to learn Spanish or Chinese instead which would be more useful, especially as the Finns speak such good English. But for me, that's missing the point and I find it the most beautiful and fascinating language.