dran, Attention de ne pas tomber, 2014.

I didn’t want this Paris trip to be an endless bunfight in art galleries. I love the art and the amazing spaces in Paris, but fighting with a thousand other tourists to get a two second look at a panting is just not my scene. So on this trip I limited myself to just one gallery, one gallery out of all the magic that Paris had to offer. Of course I had to choose my favourite modern art gallery; Palais de Tokyo. Before I even looked at what was on I knew it was the type of gallery to have the most insane and cool of the modern art on offer, exactly what I wanted.

The nice thing about the Palais de Tokyo is that you follow a set path through the building. So many galleries are a set of rooms for you to choose to go into or not, which means you can avoid the art that you don’t want to see, but also means you miss giving art a second chance or experiencing something new. At the Palais de Tokyo you have to see everything on offer, much like an arty Ikea there is only one path through the madness, so you just have to gird your loins and enter the lions den.

 

The exhibition that was on offer could not have been more perfect if I had tried. It was ‘Inside’ which some artists took to mean the distinction between two spaces (inside v outside) and others used as a chance to study the ‘inside’ of humanity, and one guy lived in a bear for a while. You know, it wouldn’t be modern art if someone didn’t think it was a good idea to live inside a bear.

Since whenever I talk about my favourite pieces of art I get trolled by Art Majors who want to prove how much they know, I will preface this by saying I like these because they are awesome and stuff…not because they are buried in a thesis somewhere. First is this super cool effect by artist Marcius Galan, it was a white room that looked like it was cut off by an angled piece of glass, but actually it was just a paint effect (the photo really doesn’t do the mind trick justice).

Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014), Marcius Galan

I also loved this marble sculpture that looked like a sheet fort build by a four year old, and a four year old with no spacial reasoning skills at that. The fabric on classical sculptures is always fascinating to me, how artists get that sort of soft look from stone is beyond my comprehension. But cool nonetheless.

Marble blanket fort Palais de Tokyo Paris

Oh and that bear I mentioned? Yes artist Abraham Poincheval lived inside a bear sculpture for 13 days. It had everything he needed even a small kettle, so he could live completely cut off from the world…in a bear. Thank god there are artists out there to do thing sort of thing so we don’t have to.

And the last one I am going to mention, the pièce de résistance the tunnel made of scotch tape. No photos were allowed from inside (yes you could crawl around inside the thing) but here is one from underneath. It looked like some sort of extra from Dr Who, that stretched all the way across the entry hall, above the heads of people buying tickets.  It was made out of scotch tape and I feel that some sort of extreme office makeover could be called for, after all I think every day is a good day if you are working in a Scotch tape web.

Tape Paris, Numen For Use. Exposition INSIDE, Palais de Tokyo 2014

Oh and before I forget, the corridors of the Palais de Tokyo are just as exciting as the art (or it could be art, I can never really tell). All the white walls over three levels had been tagged with crude but clever black images. They used anything that was already there as inspiration like the florescent lights as the centre of an eye or a lamppost (like the one at the top). I would also suggest this for an office makeover, except I think I already know what the response would be if I walked up to my boss with a can or two of black spray paint.

If you are in Paris and want to see some cool insane stuff then head over to Palais de Tokyo. The added bonus is that it is within walking distance to both the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe so you can get your tourist fix and your nutter fix in one.

Epic Palma

I always assumed that the main highlight of a cruise was the amazing places that you get to see. After all, how tempting is it to wake up to a different shore every day? So you can imagine my surprise when upon reaching the lovely port of Palma I elected to stay on the Norwegian Epic. What I didn’t realise about cruising until I actually went on one is that these ships are floating resorts; yes the ports you visit are amazing but actually if you are after a relaxing holiday the boat is all you need.

I do love a bit of adventure, but after a stressful month at work all I really wanted to do was relax. It was the same with a lot of the groups I could see onboard, there were multi-generational families as well as a couple of stag/hen groups, which now that I’ve seen the cruising life makes total sense. There is really something for everyone on board, no getting grumpy because someone wants the pool and others want to explore – you can hang out over meals and then go off and do your own thing.

 

So what happened when I woke up to the beautiful port of Palma? I stayed on the Epic. Don’t judge, just listen to what I got up to…

Epic movie watching
1. Watched The Blind Side on the two story high screen in the middle of the boat, and ordered yet more cake to where I was sitting

2. Drank from glasses made of ice in the world’s only floating ice bar (somehow an ice bar on a boat is just infinitely cooler than one on land)

Epic Ice Bar

3. Salsa danced the night away on the back of the Epic with my scoop of journalists, let’s just say none of us are gifted in the salsa department

EPIC Dancing on the back of the boat

4. Watched a Circus show in a tent, on a boat, in the Mediterranean ocean. A circus show I might add that featured a semi naked man in a bathtub..

5. Ordered free room service to my private balcony before roasting myself in the sun

6. Line dancing class…ok this one you can judge

7. Thoroughly tested the three waterslides … about 15 times each (seriously forgot how fun these things were)

Pool on the Epic

8. Went bowling, which FYI is way way more fun when you are at sea

EPIC Bowling ally

9. Fell asleep on a sun lounger, just waking up enough to order a beer and roll myself over

10. Had a moment of calm, alone on the top deck as I considered just what a lucky blogger I was to be there

Epic view

A huge thanks to Norwegian for having me on the Epic. As always, opinions are all my own. 

Aix lavender

When you are on a cruise, there are these little things called shore excursions. Think of it as the ultimate school trip, except you don’t have to learn anything if you don’t want to, oh and there are Macarons. On the second day on the Epic we docked early in Marseilles and were the first on a bus to Aix-en-Provence. Actually, scratch that learning thing, because I learned one very important thing on this excursion… Aix rhymes with sex. Bloody French.

Aix advertising

Sex Aix is just so damn pretty, it is essentially what you dream of when you picture your future in Provence. The buildings are the perfect mix of crumbling beauty, and walking the cobbled streets you can’t help feel special simply for being there. After a brief tour about the  history of the city and its architecture (I was too busy enjoying the sun to remember any of it), we were let loose onto the town.

Aix Macaron

The main highlight for me was finding the best Macarons I have ever had at Meresse Macarons. I may have been slightly dazed by the beauty around me, but they were so good that after purchasing and downing two, I barely got out of the shop before turning round and buying another. I tried the blackcurrant and gingerbread, salted caramel and my without a doubt favorite the lychee and rose.

Aix buildings

After a perfect Provencian (oh hush, if Shakespeare can make up words so can I) morning there was just enough time for a little slice of hilarity on the bus ride back to the Epic. When talking about what we thought of Aix, the lone American on the bus just had to pipe up and say “it was ok, but they really need more washrooms”. Yep, because if you ignore the picturesque architecture, dappled sunlight shining on the cobbles, incredible food, market stalls, macarons, winding streets, smell of lavender in the air and smiling people, Aix really is all about the wash rooms.

Aix man with hose in his mouth

xx

Bistrot de l'oulette

I was hankering for a real French dinner. I don’t mean an overpriced tough steak while sitting outside on a noisy street, I mean something made with care and a lot of butter. I researched for hours online (for longer than I would ever spend at dinner!), and eventually settled on Bistrot de l’oulette which had the added bonus of being walking distance from my hotel.

The real difference with Bistrot de l’oulette is that it goes the extra mile for tourists – without becoming one of those ‘tourist traps’. The menu is in French and English, and the waiter was happy to attempt to decipher my sign language questions about the dishes. The meal started with a lovely glass of house wine and fresh out of the oven bread.

Then to my surprise as I was waiting for my food the waiter brought over a goat cheese starter – just because! It was yummy, and I loved that sort of kindness in a restaurant. I chose duck confit as my main and it was everything I imagined, the skin was crispy and the meat was tender. It was the exact type of authentic French dish that I was hankering after.

Then, because I was by myself and it was my last night in Paris I said ‘why not’ to desert. I went for the special of the day which was nectarine and mint soup, with apricot sorbet. It was a crazy combination that was summer in a dish.

I love that I found this magic little spot, and I think you all need to visit when you are in the neighbourhood. Oh and did I mention that it was reasonably prices to boot?

Bistrot de l'oulette Paris