Month: January 2014

2014 – Exploring the History of Paris through the senses

This year this blog will explore the history of Paris, and seek out the tastes, smells, sounds, sights – and maybe the tactile dimension – of different eras. In short, the blog will feel its way through the history of Paris via the senses. It is becoming clearer that moving to Paris was also a decision to enter into a history  – a complex one at that – that has been shaped as much by huge macro factors like politics and economics as by what people felt, heard, saw, and smelt. The understanding of the world that Parisians have held has been inextricably shaped by the senses. In seeking to appreciate  my time spent here as a grad student, I hope to explore this city’s history with special attention to the senses.  

Sensing Paris and London: Taste and Smell

Grateful Graduate Project 2013: Reasons to be grateful 346-365 of 365   The experience of Paris and London is enhanced,  or otherwise, by the senses. The tongue and nose – the senses of smell and taste – are central to how we perceive places and our memories of them. In 2013, I was grateful for the small tastes and smells that gave a sense of place to both of these two cities and signified different times of the year specific and corners of these cities. These small things were especially important ways of smelling and eating my way around Paris and London…  Tastes Red, red, Wine, nothing says Paris, family, friends more than the taste of a French red Croque Monsieur  – an essentially Parisian taste British Beef – a world away from the stuff you find in Paris Cheese, French Cheese –  it is interesting how the taste of  French cheese works on so many levels of emotion and in giving sense of place Fish – the taste of fresh fish (and chips) instantly …

Songs on Paris – and London

Grateful Graduate Project 2013: Reasons to be grateful 326 – 345 of 365 I am grateful for  the role that this music plays in creating a sense of place, evoking memory, and stoking positive emotion toward Paris and London. These mostly Parisian songs are a few odes to these beloved cities that have enhanced the experience of being in these two great cities. I am grateful for each of these for the interesting function they perform in strengthening resolve, maintaining affection for these cities, and inspiring confidence in Paris – and London, too.  The experience of studying here is therefore not solely shaped by books but by  stimuli such as music. À Paris, Francis Lemarque            Fibre de verre, Paris Combo            April In Paris    Ella Fitzgerald            Couplet de la Rue de Bagnolet, Gerard Pitiot            C’est si bon, Yves Montand            Bilingue in Paris,  Pascal Lejeune            Fleur De Paris, Maurice Chevalier            La ballade de Paris, Yves Montand            Le flamenco de Paris,Yves Montand            Swing From Paris,  Stéphane Grappelli …

Paris and London Websites and Blogs

Grateful Graduate Project 2013: Reasons to be grateful 306-325 Each of these sites have forced me to look at Paris and London anew, and see them from a more profound perspective. I am grateful for each of these for providing light, deepening the joy of, and  even balancing my romantic ideas of the cities with doses of reality (strange that at times reality becomes more apparent by exploring it through virtual spaces!): centreforlondon.org  – a dynamic website covering several aspects of London’s present and future prospects. blog.velib.fr – run by the city of Paris, a great primer on how to maximise the experience of living in this fabulous city, with an English version citechaillot.fr – explores  urban architecture, incuding that of Paris, a great way to get knowledgeable insight into the city’s structures and forms shadyoldlady.com  – a great place to pick up information and trivia on London apur.org   – this is made of serious stuff, unpacks urban life in Paris and its surrounding region, a great place to get a dose of reality …

Paris and London in Writing, Song, and on screen

Grateful Graduate Project 2013: Reasons 286-305 to be thankful    Now that 2013 is over, it is possible to reap the benefits of hindsight and  finish off the list of 365 things that contribute to making Paris and London great places to live, work, and study. Paris and London have inspired books, art, cinema, and other intellectual material that constantly renew one’s thinking and approach to these cities. In 2013, the following works renewed this blogger’s appreciation of these two cities. I am grateful to have come across these, or to have revisited them, in 2013: Hugo’s Les Miserables  (got to read this in French for the first time this year. Looking forward to seeing the movie from 2012 this year. Two years after the fact but nonetheless…) Manon, the opera, set  in Paris with St Sulpice making a cameo appearance and its reflections on religion and the human impulse toward love.. La Traviata and its representation of Paris in contrast to French countryside La Boheme  and its treatment of  carefree youth in Paris and the …