The apartment that I am staying in this time, looks down onto two courtyards from the main rooms, which makes it very quiet but difficult to see what is going on outside in Paris and how the weather is behaving.
When I look up out of my kitchen window, my view is the neighbouring building with a very small window, which intrigues me.
This morning, as I waited for the kettle to boil, I discovered the tiny neighbouring window was open and a blue sky.
Feeling toasty warm and the comfort of the deep blue sky, I decided to open my windows too and let some fresh air in.
Whooha! a chilly wind tunnel swept through the apartment from one end to the other.
That can’t be right, I thought to myself, it can’t be that cold. Look at that gorgeous sky!
With a gush of excitement but also feeling slightly frantic trying to work out what to do on such a sunny day and trying to get my act together quickly in case all of a sudden, the blue turned to grey, I raced out the front door.
The icy wind smacked me fair in the face and travelled straight up my nostrils.
Shivers, well literally shivers, it is cold today.
The weather application on my computer predicted 0 but it was -2C. Shivers, indeed.
Being Sunday, the weekend, the Marais was pumping with tourists. This is when I usually escape the Marais and wait for it to return to it’s usual weekday vibe. The Marais area on the right bank is changing at a rapid rate, the smaller boutiques are being pushed further out as the big expensive chains move in and more and more tourists seem to have abandoned the Latin Quarter on the left bank, in favour of the Marais.
Indecisive, almost near panic, my plan was to visit the markets but the markets can wait.
I want to find my angel, my giant angel.
Pushing through the crowds lining up for their falafels as they studied their maps flapping in the breeze, finally I could breath as the crowds thinned out.
Easy to find and not too far away, I memorised the route and off I went, slipping my gloves on. I will need my fingers to operate the camera a bit later.
Arriving near the Arts et Metier museum, which I do want to explore but not on a sunny day, I will leave that for a rainy day. My memory told me to turn right near the metro.
I find it strange sometimes when I take a shot that is of interest to me and choose a particular angle that alI of a sudden I have a bunch of camera wielding tourists, crowding my space, almost shoving me out of the way to achieve the same angle or image. I have often wondered if I photographed some dog poo, if they would follow suit.
Walking down the street with my neck craned high, the cool wind was finding the small gaps in my scarf, biting at my neck. I found others were looking up too, to see what I was looking at – it was funny because there was nothing to be found!
Where is my angel? I had gone too far, turning around, I headed back to where I came from, with my almost frozen fingers crossed that she would be on the right side of the street, where the sun was shining.
I laughed out loud, feeling slightly embarrassed – there she was, I had completely missed her. How could you miss that, but I did.
Finally, after two attempts at my short 4.5km walk the other day and failing to include her, I think it was a sign. I was meant to find her on this day, on this bright blue winters day. The sky was a magnificent dark blue without a cloud in the sky.
There you are I said out loud, with a warm and affectionate, hell – ooo to the massive sculpture gracing the façade of the building.
Standing three storeys high and 9 metres in length, on Rue Turbigo, opposite the Arts et Metiers Metro station, it is a wonder how I missed her.
Did you notice her before I pointed her out? If you look at the shot of the metro sign above, you will see her, ever so faintly, on the building behind.
I am sure if you visit Paris in the spring or summertime, she will be difficult to see, with the foliage from the surrounding trees obscuring the view.
But finally, I found my giant angel.
I have research in vein to try to find out the history behind this grand sculpture but the small amount of information I have managed to gather is that the building, where the angel appears to be holding up the balcony by her wings, and may well do, was designed by Eugène Demangeat in 1860.
‘My’ angel, my giant angel was designed by Emile-August Delange, who at the time was an art student at the école des Beaux-Arts et Architecture.
Similar to a number of Parisian wonders around the city, he entered his into an architectural competition but it was in fact meant to be the design for a lighthouse!
Although I was happy to finally see my angel, it was too chilly and I wasn’t coping with the cold. I tried to soldier on but after being blessed with so many mild days, this cold snap had surprised everyone, especially me.
On the upside, the sun was gorgeous and it makes for a good hair day but my fingers were verging on icicle snapping point and I needed the warm surroundings of a café.
Sunday night for me in Paris means attending Jim Hayne’s dinners and this goes back to five years ago when a friend recommended that I attend after she had read a piece about him and it was one of the best tips I have ever had about visiting Paris.
Back then, five yeas ago, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of going to a stranger’s house for dinner and wasn’t too sure what I would encounter.
However, three minutes, maybe less, after I had entered his home, I had a warm fuzzy feeling and a few minutes after that I was chatting to people from all over the world with a glass of wine in hand and a hot nourishing plate of food.
Recently I had read on Trip Advisor, the travel forum, people rubbishing Jim and this has made me upset.
So, I have climbed up onto my fromage box to say a few things and make a few comments.
The negatives from people who have never visited Jim’s Haynes Sunday Night Dinners is:
- Only females attend or want to attend
- The food is bad
- There are newer places to visit with the same concept
- Jim has sold himself out by appearing in an After Eight mint chocolate advertisement
I would like to tidy up a few fallacies just incase the Trip Advisor ‘experts’, (generally ex-pats, living in Paris), who have never attended Jim’s dinner’s but have an opinion anyhow, may need a little insight.
So, let’s address them, shall we …
Only Females attend or want to attend
These comments inferred that females, perhaps single females, were needy and couldn’t go it alone.
There is no denying I am a female. Full blooded hetro woman and I was single the first time I visited one of Jim’s dinners but certainly not in the ‘need’ of needing to meet anyone.
I had no designs on meeting a man and especially not a lover. I simply wanted to attend, in the first instance, out of curiosity and perhaps meeting some interesting people, would be pleasant.
Over the past five years, I have met three men at Jim Hayne’s home who have become very good friends. The three of them are of varying age groups and varying sexual persuasions and different professions. None of them have become lovers but good solid friends.
Many of the women who I have met at Jim’s dinners are independent women, and an equal balance of single and attached. One in particular, a woman from Brazil and whom I have also stayed in contact with, has become an athletic pole dancer, who speaks a multitude of languages and is a fine young woman. I have enjoyed keeping in contact with her and watching her new found hobby evolve over the past five years.
The food is bad
I made a point of asking at least half of the 50 people last night, what they thought of the food. This was in the way of casual conversation. You know how it goes, the normal first questions when you meet someone… is this your first time in Paris, where are you from, what do plan to do and the big burning question … how was the food.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone that I spoke to said that their salad of lettuce, cheese, nuts and pear with a delicious dressing was a lovely entrée.
However, when I asked the question of what people thought about the main dish, while they were tucking into a chicken dish with prunes on a bed of rice and caramelised carrots, I received a resounding ‘the food is great’! In fact, some offered this, without prompting.
Jim, does employ a number of friends to cook. It depends on the friend, therefore the cook of the night, as to what they design and there may be variations in quality and tastiness but on the whole it is good.
There are newer places to visit with the same concept
Yes, this is correct.
I have attended a couple of these newer places with the same concept. Unfortunately, I felt like I was a tourist having a dinner in a strangers home because I paid. Oh yes, that is precisely what I was doing.
Jim Haynes invented the concept of inviting strangers to his home over 35 years ago and is often referred to as the grandfather of networking. He has no qualms about admitting that he has generated part of his living from this idea that derived from soirées where he acted as a waiter in lieu of living in Sonia Orwell’s apartment in London.
However, it is the carefree and relaxed atmosphere that he has created that has made Jim Hayne’s Sunday Night Dinners a hit.
This is not a dinner party, as I think some might expect but a stand up buffet affair, where hot tasty food is slapped on the table by Seamus, a lovely Irish ex-pat.
If you are lucky enough to arrive early, you may be invited to deliver a plate of food to ‘Madame’ upstairs or to the very compliant neighbours across the stairwell who put up with the noise in their apartment block every Sunday in exchange for a plate of Jim’s dinner.
Jim has sold himself out by appearing in an After Eight mint chocolate advertisement
Beside the fact that Jim was invited by the After Eight Dinner Mint Company to spruik their product, I would take that as a compliment, not as a sell out. The after dinner mint company are not the only companies, or newspapers wanting to talk about Jim, the New York Times, the English Guardian newspaper and many more have also ran pieces on Jim. Google him, you can see for yourself and you can learn a little more about him in the video above.
If any company, whether it be an after dinner mint company, Maille Mustard, Louis Roederer Champagne or bloody hell, Louis Vuitton, I think if they offered to make a commercial based on my blog … I am not sure I would say no!