Monday, July 29, 2013

Le Tour de France

Team Froome
Big screen
Maillot Jaune
Light show
100 ans

Last Sunday night the Brits took over the Champs Élysées. We were all there to watch Chris Froome win the Tour de France and it was amazing. It was the first time our family has been in the right place at the right time to watch any stage of the Tour and even though we knew it would be crazy we couldn't pass up the opportunity to experience this iconic French event. We arrived three hours before the riders were due to enter Paris, which was just in time to watch the caravan of promotional floats pass through, but not in time to get close enough for any good photos of it! After walking down the Champs for a while and soaking up the carnival atmosphere, we settled on a spot to watch the race where the crowd wasn't too deep and it wasn't long before the girls were able to wiggle to the front of the barrier and get a great view. They held their spot reasonably patiently for an hour while there was nothing to see and we kept track of the race from the big screen outside the Louis Vuitton building.

As the riders approached Paris and passed the Eiffel Tower, the excitement started to build, a flypast heralded their arrival on the Champs Élysées and then the race was on. The peloton passed by in a blur, riding so fast over the cobbles it took your breath away. 30 seconds and they were gone and if we had been watching any other stage of the race, that would have been it. Luckily for us, in celebration of the 100th Tour de France the race finished this year with ten laps of the Champs Élysées instead of just one, so we held our ground for another hour and watched the race go by nine more times hardly believing our eyes when for the last few laps, in order to pick up speed and avoid the cobbles, every rider in the pack came tearing down the gutter at over 40mph!

Even though cycling is one of those sports that you can definitely see better on TV, nothing beats the experience of watching the incredible speed and skill of the riders as they race past, even if it's so fast your eyes can't keep them in focus, let alone your camera! There was an exciting finish as all the British supporters screamed ourselves hoarse in the hopes of seeing a British winner of the Stage as well as the Tour, but sadly sprinter Mark Cavendish was just beaten on the line. It was a proud moment though to be present on a beautiful summer's night to watch a British rider climb to the top of the podium and hear the National Anthem on the Champs Élysées!

It was an experience not to be missed and well worth all the waiting, walking and the late night.

Congratulations Chris Froome and Team Sky - the first Stage next year starts in Yorkshire!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Wild Berries. One


Weekly portraits of my children inspired by You Are My Wild

Have you seen the You Are My Wild photo project? A group of fourteen professional photographers have been taking weekly portraits of their own children, just as they are - no styling, once a week since the start of the year. Their blog is my favourite place to go and I never miss a post. Each portrait is gorgeous and stunning and unique and every week I wish I had a portrait like that of one of my children. The project just passed its halfway mark and so I have decided to follow along until the end of the year in the hopes of capturing a slice of our life and improving my photography along the way.

I'm going to start with India, partly because she's the oldest, partly because she's almost a teenager and she doesn't always want to be in front of the camera any more but also because the title of this project is taken from You Are My I Love You one of the first picture books I ever bought for her, now a family favourite that we are still reading to Florence.

I love this photo for the reminder of a perfect day out, the golden light and the meeting of teenage sophistication and childhood joy. Rocking my beach hat but endearingly still wearing the dress I made for her last year. This is the girl who took make up to the beach but jumped at the chance to ride a carousel pony with her sisters.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beach Day

Ever since we got back from Crete we've been having the most amazing weather right here in Paris. Such a welcome change from the miserable, cold Spring we had. The girls have been happy relaxing at home and playing in the garden, but the first good summer I've experienced in Northern Europe for years was making me nostalgic for the seaside of home and summer holidays in France. The closest beach to us is two hours away, but it's an easy drive so the girls and I decided to get up early on Friday and go for it. By 11 o'clock - the time when most days everyone has still been in their pyjamas - we were happily settled in under one of Deauville's famous beach umbrellas and pleasantly suprised to find we had the beach almost to ourselves!

Savannah and water
The last time I was in Deauville, aged about six, I was miserably sick with tonsillitis and didn't enjoy myself at all. I had a much better day this time and so did the girls. The soft sand of the beaches in the English Channel makes such a good playground.

The beach is huge and it's a long walk out to the sea when the tide is out. These colourful markers placed all along the beach help finding your way back to your towel so much easier. I thought that was such a great idea.


We spent all day on the beach, but once tummies started rumbling, we set off for the neighbouring town of Honfleur for dinner. The GPS took me through the country roads to get there and it was such a pretty drive to an incredibly pretty town.

Honfleur shop fronts
We didn't have time to explore, but a quick stroll around the old harbour gave us plenty to enjoy.

La terrasse
We ate at one of the restaurants on the busy harbour front. Crêpes for the girls and seafood for me.

This was the view from our table. Florence just about sat through dinner with the promise of a ride on the carousel!

Red car
She has only just started to really enjoy carousel rides and she always chooses the car. Less scary than the horses!

Her sisters, however still love the horses.

Honfleur sunset
We had a wonderful day out at the seaside. All the better for being completely spontaneous. I hope we get to go back again soon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Bastille Day

Do you want to see some photos of the Bastille Day Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower? I have a few!

It doesn't get dark here until 11pm at the moment though so we had to find something else to fill the rest of the day. After having had the peace of our country breakfast shattered by the sound of the French Air Force jets flying over on their way to the parade at the Champs Elysées, I walked down to our Sunday market to buy fruit, cheese and bread. Essential ingredients for a French picnic.

I had wanted to go to the Bastille Day picnic beside the canal at Versailles, ever since I read this post when we first moved to France two years ago. This 14th July looked set to be one of the hottest days of the year so even though Keith was away on a work trip, I decided we couldn't miss the opportunity to participate in a celebration so close to home.

After enjoying our food there was time to relax in the much sought after shady spots under the trees. Florence also took the opportunity insisted on going for her first ever pony ride. There are no good photos of that as it was beyond me to manage a three year old, a grumpy pony and a camera (mums and dads get to lead the ponies themselves, so French!) but you can see evidence of this event on Instagram.

The picnic was a very relaxed event. Locals, dressed in white, and tourists just out enjoying the Sunday sunshine.

I think the Palace of Versailles is best enjoyed from the back garden! We don't go often enough, but I never get over how easy it is to drive into the park through the back gate and enjoy this view for free.

We went to see the fireworks with friends from the girls' school. After dinner at their apartment we left our two toddlers with the babysitter and set out to find the best place to watch the fireworks that wouldn't be too crowded or too noisy. My girls have an unreasonable fear of firework noise, but they still wanted to see the show!


Having walked from one end of the 16th arrondissement to the other we finally settled on the Place de Mexico which is one of those spots in Paris that offers up an unexpected view of the Eiffel Tower and it turned out to be the perfect choice.

We arrived with an hour to go before the fireworks started and bagged a spot at the side of the street and I got my camera out to practice my night time exposures. By the time the fireworks started the whole road was packed.

Not long after we arrived another photographer came and started setting up his tripod right next to us ready to take some serious firework pictures. We started chatting and found out he was also American and that after having scouted out shooting locations on the Champs de Mars and Trocadero, which were apparently way too crowded, he had settled on the exact same spot we had found! It was a great experience to be shooting the same scene right next to someone who really knows what they are doing and Albert was very generous with his tips and advice. You can see his amazing photograph from the night here.

So, after all that waiting here are my fireworks photos. This tutorial was a big help in ensuring I succeeded in getting some good hand held shots. Enjoy and Happy Bastille Day! Which, by the way, only Anglophones say. For the French, the day is La Fête Nationale or Le quatorze juillet.

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