But if you don’t have an iPhone…


There’s a TV ad in France at the moment which shows everything you can do with an iPhone – do your shopping, check cinema times etc. It ends with: ‘But if you don’t have an iPhone… well, you don’t have an iPhone.’ I can’t remember if we had the same ad in the UK.

On a beautiful autumn day in the Jardin du Luxembourg, some people were busy tapping away at their smartphones or talking on them. Others were snoozing or reading books and newspapers. I’d say the split was about 50:50.

Esther and I had gone for the low-tech option of a snooze in the low, olive green chairs (sitting on the grass is mostly interdit in France). Neither of us have smartphones. Esther reckons she definitely doesn’t want one and I’m wavering. I know it would probably be handy but all that endless tapping and stroking looks a bit tedious to me, and I feel like I’ve got information overload anyway.

As the sun went down, we decided it might be nice to go to the cinema that evening. But of course, in the middle of the park, we didn’t have a clue what was on. But if you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone…

Keep off the grass


I love Paris, of course, but there’s one thing about it that I don’t get: you’re rarely allowed to sit on the grass in a park. A few summers ago my French friend Esther and I tried to sneak in a rest under a tree in the Jardin Albert Kahn. We were moved on within minutes by a scary lady with a whistle and a loud hailer.

The grass in the park beyond the gate (above) wasn’t exactly bowling green standard but nonetheless the sign says that the lawn is ‘having a rest’, and that the quality of the grass is ‘everyone’s responsibility’.

Maybe it was just a temporary sign, but Esther confirms that she can rarely find anywhere to sprawl and read a book or sunbathe in summer and she finds it frustrating – especially as she spent many years in London, where you can lounge pretty much anywhere. Maybe the reason why Paris empties in August is because the population is desperate for an alfresco lie- down.

Paris je t’aime part III

Nation, Paris

Forsythia hedges were providing streaks of yellow all over Paris this weekend. They were often paired with photinia hedges, currently sporting their red spring shoots. It’s not a combination you want to look at with a hangover.

Plants are often fenced in in Paris, from hedging to bedding. I wonder why that is.

Paris je t’aime part II

Marais, Paris

The back part of Cafe Montecao is built almost entirely of glass and is covered with ivy, growing in around 20 smallish pots fixed to trellis (I presume an irrigation system is in place, otherwise watering must be pretty tricky). It’s an unusual take on the green wall idea.

The interior is filled with palms and it all looked very romantic/restful. It reminded me a little of De Kas in Amsterdam. And it has rose ice cream on the menu…

Paris je t’aime part I

Marais, Paris

I was expecting to see some interesting window boxes and balconies in Paris this weekend, but it probably wasn’t the best time of year for them. And of course very few Parisians have a garden, so it was slim pickings all round for this blog. It actually made me realise how green London is, with its private gardens, squares and parks – although I reckon Paris has the edge when it comes to trees. Almost every street was lined with them.

These daffs were outside a shop in the Marais. You can’t really tell from this pic but the pots were on very long chains: hanging baskets, Paris-style.