Friday, 29 July 2011

Random Reason I Love Paris #3

You never know which souvenir will be your favourite. And most likely it won't be a traditional souvenir.

Of course there are marvellous memories, and fabulous photos. Planned purchases, such as the beautiful tapestry I bought in a chateaux in the Loire. It hangs in my bedroom and still makes me happy.

But there are other objects that you bring home too. Often quite ordinary commonplace objects. My favourite object that I brought back from my first trip was actually a pair of nail clippers that I bought on the Champs Elysee. I didn't set out to buy a pair of gold nail clippers on the Champs Elysee. I'd forgotten to take any with me, and so a broken nail sent me into a chemist to make an everyday purchase. I've lost those clippers somewhere, but I actually loved them. Everytime I used them I thought of Paris. I even make sure I need to buy a tube of toothpaste while in Paris, then I leave it in my travel bag, and so every time I go away I can think about Paris again.

Last year I bough a trivet. But not an ordinary trivet. A fabulous folding yellow trivet. It would be a great object and fun to use if I bought it down the street at home. But I didn't. I bought it on Ile St Louis, just after yet another visit to Berthillon. And that makes it better.

Great colour (I suspect that I will now think of it as Andy Schleck yellow) to make it easy to find in the drawer,  folds up small for  Parisian apartement, or Australian house living

it is a bit of an IQ test the first few times

In action

I loved it so much I bought one for my mother and my sister too. I hope they love theirs as much as I love mine.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday 27/7/11

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a fabulous weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our weekly reading.  

I've just recently read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was a cracking read and provided lots, and lots of fabulous new words for me.

1. Carbuncle (noun)

This isn't quite so much a new word, as a new usage for me. Carbuncle is a term for a multi-headed boil. You'll be pleased to know that I won't include a picture here, but Google Image is just a moment away for those brave enough to explore.

Imagine my surprise to see it used thus in Ruth Rendell's Foreward to The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes:

So while he could people many of his stories with characters like the unfortunate engineer who loses his thumb and that master of disguise, the man with the twisted lip- two of the best stories, these- he understood that to attract readers he must also write about a jewelled coronet which is 'one of the most precious public possessions of the empire' and the fabulous blue carbuncle, abstracted from the jewel case of a countess.

A reference as it turns out to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Here a carbuncle, is clearly a gemstone. Wiki tells us that it is an archaic name given to any red cabochon cut gemstone. It particularly applied to red garnet. (A cabochon cut stone that has been shaped and polished instead of faceted. Turns out one of my favourite necklaces is a cabochon cut stone and I never knew! I think I'll dig it out and wear it tomorrow).

Picture credit- and don't I wish I could join their society?
2. Penang lawyer

It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort that is known as a "Penang lawyer".

From the context this was clearly a walking stick. Still an intriguing term. I wondered what it looked like, and why was it called a Penang lawyer- was it used as punishment? (Possibly)

More than you could ever want to know about walking sticks
3. Ferrule (noun)

The thick iron ferrule is worn down, so it is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it.

The webpage where I found information on the Penang lawyer, also answers this one. I'm starting to realise that there are a whole world of Holmes devotees out there. And they all seem to have wildly informative websites!

Originally, canes had a bare tip which limited the life expectancy of the stick. Often, the stick would become frayed and swollen at its terminal end. To protect the tip of the cane from wear and tear, inventors created the ferrule, which is a cap to cover the bottom. It is usually made of metal such as copper or silver with an iron heel. It can also be made of horn (including water buffalo horn) or ivory. Early canes had long brass ferrules up to 6 - 7 inches to protect the cane from mud on unpaved roads. As roads were topped, ferrules became progressively shorter. By the time Mr. Holmes & Dr. Watson strolled with their walking sticks, the ferrules would have been under 2 inches.

4. Dolichocephalic

I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. 

Cephalic I know very well as head. I wasn't familiar with the dolicho- descriptor. (Supra-orbital is above the eye). 

Dolichocephaly refers to a relatively long narrow head. The Free Dictionary. 

The people pictures were a bit alarming, I preferred the dogs.

5. Roysterer(s) (noun)

This was used twice in the Hound of the Baskervilles!

But it was not the sight of her body, nor yet was it that of the body of Hugo Baskerville lying near her, which raised the hair upon the heads of these three dare-devil roysterers.... (the next bit is too much of a spoiler I fear)

From the verb to roister- to engage in boisterous merrymaking, revel noisily. The Free Dictionary. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A Paris Christmas- 2- The Foodie Challenge

I've already made one blog post about this book, and how much I loved it's insights into Paris at Christmas. This post is to concentrate a bit more on French Christmas food traditions, and get back on track with the Foodie's Reading Challenge. Plus it dovetails perfectly into my Parisian longing this July.

John Baxter comes to take on the task of preparing the feast for his French family's Christmas dinner, but before he does he is introduced to their traditional meal. And what a meal it is. A whole goose foie gras, served with cornichons and fresh white bread. Roast guinea fowl, gratin dauphinoise with cheese and cream, green beans and carrots, salad, a cheese course, a 25 egg mousse. Each course with its wine, including champagne with dessert. And we have an array of cold meats and salads!

Baxter comes to the realisation that he has two choices in preparing Christmas dinner for his extended French family- to wow them with novelty or tradition. French cuisine "relies on precisely isolating and emphasizing the essential flavour of an ingredient, then juxtaposing two or more such tastes in a  pleasing or surprising harmony. Who else but the French would think of cutting the fattiness of foie gras with a sweet, chill glass of Sauternes? Or serving scrambled eggs with the rose of the sea urchin? Seasonality and regionality also count for a lot."

Traditionally though French Christmas dinners commence with oysters, not foie gras. Strangely they accompany the oysters with a side dish of small fried pork sausages. And these meals are washed down with prodigous amounts of wine. Catering for Christmas one year Baxter becomes panicked that he only has 12 bottles of wine for the 16 expected guests.

One Christmas Baxter wants to make roast pork with crackling. A common enough dish for a lad raised in Australia. It presents unforeseen difficulties in France.

"The butcher on rue de Seine, just around the corner from our apartment, stared when I raised the possibility of a rack of pork chops with the skin still on.
He indicated the neat rolls of deboned pork loin, parceled in their added coats of fat. "Pork doesn't have skin."
"All animals have skin, Monsieur," I said.
"Yes, all right. Pigs do have skin. But our pork doesn't."

Baxter comments that "in planning my menu, I didn't face those niggling premeal discussions of the "I don't eat..." varieties so common in Anglo-Saxon homes. If you're invited to dine with a French family, you're expected to leave your dietary tastes and restrictions at home. 

At one stage Baxter and his wife travel to their summer house in Fouras on the Atlantic coast. They arrive several hours earlier than expected, and the housekeeper hasn't had time to make the preparations for their arrival, and fill the fridge with basics. After a heated discussion with his wife, the housekeeper returns with some basics- "a baguette, a bottle of milk, a slab of butter, lettuce, and a bowl of pale pink saltwater crawfish (langoustines)." I just love the French version of essentials.

Baxter also helps us navigate those difficult cross cultural waters. He describes an Australian friend going to visit a cousin in Dijon and planning to take him some cheese. Which is about the biggest mistake you could make!

"The correct gift for such an occasion was chocolates or flowers, not cheese. No French person takes cheese as a gift, any more than they bring bread or wine. To do so is to suggest that a household didn't have any of these three staples.... You would no more bring food or drink to a French house than arrive at one in America bringing your own plate, knife and fork."

"Cheese to the French is an absolute, an axiom of cuisine. Correctly experiencing its pleasures requires education, discrimination, even love. Knowing when and where to eat it, how, with whom, and in what quantity are matters of gravity, worth a lifetime of effort."

Which ties in nicely with the quote starting Chapter 1
"I've noticed that people who know how to eat are never idiots." Guillaume Apollinaire (a fascinating character it seems).

 Baxter became friends with George Johnston and Charmian Clift in 1964. At what is to be the first of many family Christmas dinners in France, John Baxter regales his new family with tales of George Johnston in France soon after the second World War. He had not become a famous author as yet, and was in need of money. France was trying to expand the export market for their wine because they had somehow continued to make wine during the German occupation. So, George Johnston was sent on an all-expenses paid tour of the French wine-making regions. He apparently drank wine by the gallon, and was then in no state to appreciate the taste of the last remaining bottle of the now pale 1812 Bordeaux offered to him by Baron Rothschild.....

"Well, I took a sip," George told me, "but my palate was so buggered, not only with the wine I'd drunk that week but the years of arak and jungle juice and sake and bad scotch, that it didn't taste of anything."

....the Baron was waiting. Honor was at stake.

"My skills as a drinker had deserted me," George lamented, "but I thought my skills as a writer might save the day."

"Perhaps like me, you have attended the farewell concert of some great old baritone at the end of a long career...... This wine," he went on, "reminds me of that baritone. The voice is gone- and yet, now and then, and faintly, one hears a pure and perfect note."

There are many other reasons to read this book. It works as foodie memoir, for egging on Paris longing, and providing name dropping literary type stories. Although as a fellow Australian I was astonished that he would concede the invention of Pavlova to New Zealand! Never!

This book appears to be being republished this year having been retitled as Cooking for Claudine. The Sydney Morning Herald published an excerpt from Cooking for Claudine, and it was lifted directly from Immoveable Feast- A Paris Christmas- which I think has the better cover and title. (I've now seen a copy of Cooking for Claudine in the shops- it is A Paris Christmas republished, with two appendices at the back, one containing a few recipes, the other the compiled tips about spending Christmas with a French family).

Foodie's Reading Challenge

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Hound of the Baskervilles

My first foray into Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. He is famous, so famous. And now I can see why. This is a cracking read. Somehow, thankfully, I remain ignorant of the plots of most classic books. So they are always a pleasant surprise to me. The Hound of the Baskervilles was no different. I had a vague notion that it was about a big, nasty dog. And it is, but it is also about much more.

Sherlock Holmes is engaged to look into the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, by Baskerville's friend Dr Mortimer, and he is quickly informed of the curse of the Baskerville family from an old manuscript depicting the grisly death of Hugo Baskerville in 1742. There is a bit of preliminary detective work in London before the action moves down to the lonely Devonshire moors.

The Hound of the Baskervilles has an interesting structure. Narrated by Dr Watson, there are several changes in style and format. It starts with a typical narrative structure, later we have two chapters that are letters written by Watson to Holmes, and then Watson's diary entries. It is full of a wonderful and rich vocabulary which will give me ample fodder for several Wondrous Word posts I'm sure.

It's a great gothic story with some nice twists, and a wonderful menacing air. I was really quite surprised at how graphically poor Hugo's death is described. We get a wonderful peek into turn of the (20th) century life for the moderately well to do single man. That you can write notes on your shirtcuff as we would write them on our hand. That if you're stuck in a tricky place you can get a boy to bring you your simple wants such as bread and new collars for your shirts. That nouveau riches wasn't a term dreamed up for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in the 80s. And I've never come across a better description of my day job:

"We are coming now rather into the region of guesswork," said Dr Mortimer.

"Say, rather, into the region where we balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination...."

Indeed Conan Doyle's inpsiration for Sherlock Holmes was to be found in Joseph Bell, Scottish surgeon, one of Doyle's lecturers at the University of Edinburgh, and personal surgeon to Queen Victoria when she was in Scotland (a fact apparently plundered in a recent Doctor Who episode- is there no snippet of history unplundered by that show? Or are there researchers out there trawling wikipedia day and night like the rest of us?). I was hoping that he would be the Bell of Bell's palsy, but that appears to be another Scottish surgeon from Edinburgh, Charles Bell. I suspect that they are likely to be related.

Conan Doyle appears to have been a fascinating man. Scottish doctor, author, activist, husband and father. He actually wrote in many other genres including poetry and historical fiction, which Ruth Rendell in her introduction to the Penguin says were never very readable, and now largely forgotten. He thought that Sherlock Holmes diverted his attention from his more serious works, so much so that he killed off Holmes in one story, but the public outcry was so large that he was brought back in for The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901.

It never occured to me that a video would exist of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

Or that he would be such a passionate advocate of both scientific observation and psychic experiences! I love that he says that he never risks hallucinations. Now that's sound advice.

Conan Doyle wrote four novels and 56 short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. I have a lovely Penguin Complete Edition and a few of the short stories loaded onto my phone, and now I can look forward to spending some more time with Sherlock Holmes. If it is all too much for you to read this rather short book in our hectic, modern world, then you could listen to this wonderful, funny, irreverent Digested Read summary by John Crace instead. Or do both, it's worth it.

the classic bribe
Classic Bribe

Sunday, 24 July 2011

It's Not About the Bike

This audiobook practically leapt off the library shelf and into my hands. Perfectly timed to match with my current frenzy of nightly Tour de France viewing. I didn't realise then that Armstrong was from Texas, which is another little bit of synchronicity, as I will be travelling to Texas quite soon! Knowing that I was a bit worried when he said he was called brash in his early days, and that he did some things when he was young and inexperienced that he probably shouldn't have done. "I wasn't trying to be a jerk, I was just Texan." Oh dear.

I know that Armstrong is controversial recently. There's suspicions and accusations and he remains under a cloud. I'm not sure that I like Armstrong's voice at all. And I certainly don't like the reader's. He somehow makes Armstrong seem whiny. And I suspect that he's probably not. Or not that much. And if you're going to read an audiobook about a guy who wins the Tour de France seven times, then please at least try to learn how to say maillot jaune. And please audio book makers, put track markers in the disc so that when people play it on the old crappy CD player in the car and they try to rewind it it won't go back to the beginning. Argggh.

Still it is a fascinating tale of a young man, an elite athlete falling prey to a malady that can strike at anyone. Cancer. It's unthinkable to him that he could actually be sick despite what with hindsight are clearly symptoms- haemoptysis, a grossly enlarged testicle and severe headaches. His diagnosis of metastatic testicular cancer comes like a bolt out of the blue. He is 25, riding at an elite level, and suddenly sick, very sick.

We hear about his treatment in rather minute detail at times. He has widespread disease. 12 nodules in his chest, and two metastases in his brain. He threw himself into the study of his disease. His celebrity status did help too. Oncology professors wrote to him to suggest treatment centres and other options. He was able to travel to three different centres, and eventually found the centre he was most comfortable with, where the doctors were confident they could design a treatment regime that would help to preserve his lung capacity. One of the chemotherapy agents commonly used in testicular cancer, bleomycin, has quite predictable lung toxicity- not exactly what you want as a world class cyclist. Lance really gives it to Cofidis, the team he was newly signed with at the time of the onset of his illness, who he believes gave up on him, and "left him to die".

It's much more than a tutorial on testicular cancer, although it certainly is that too. There are great insights into the world of elite cycling and the Tour de France in particular. International road cycling is an intricate and highly politicised sport, full of terms from the major European languages. I learnt more about the roles of domestiques ("servants", the slower cyclists in a team whose job it is to pull up the hills, blocking the wind and preserving energy for the other riders) and team leaders- the principal riders, who can still sprint to the finish after 150 miles on the road. "You don't win a road race all on your own, you need your teammates, and you need the goodwill and cooperation of your competitors too. People had to want to ride for you, and with you."

Trying to spot my friend on the nearby bridge, but the television gods only gave me a view from a helicopter

Lance describes some of the rules of riding in the peloton ("a high speed chess match"), the "flicking", the tactics, the dangers. The peloton is "rife with contact, the clashing of handlebars, elbows and knees, full of international intrigues and deals". Riders would lose 10-12 litres of fluid per day, and need 6,000 calories. Lance also gives us a very moving section on the death of his Motorola team mate Fabio Casartelli during a high speed descent on the 1995 Tour de France. The next day the peloton does not race, riding in formation, and giving the team a ceremonial stage victory.

It is after Fabio's death that Lance learns what it means to ride the Tour de France, "it's not about the bike, it's a metaphor for life, not only the longest race in the world, but also the most exalting and heartbreaking and potentially tragic. It poses every conceivable element to the rider and more- cold, heat, mountains, plains, ruts, flat tyres, high winds, unspeakably bad luck, unthinkable beauty, yawning senselessness and above all a great, deep self-questioning." He learns that he must give up his young boy racer style- riding aggressively on adrenaline, anger and raw power. That he must learn patience, take the longer view, become a man.

"It would be easy to see the Tour de France as a monumentally inconsequential undertaking, 200 riders cycling the entire circumference of France, mountains included, over 3 weeks in the heat of summer. There is no reason to attempt such a feat of idiocy, other then the fact that some people, which is to say some people like me have a need to search the depths of their stamina for self definition. "I'm the guy who can take it." It's a contest in purposeless suffering. But for reasons of my own the essential test of the race is who can best survive the hardships and find the strength to keep going."

The book ends after his 1999 Tour, the euphoria of his first Tour win, and the birth of his first child several months later. Lance was to go on and win the Tour seven times. No other rider has won that many times. It is quite astonishing to realise that several of the riders in Lance's team in 1999 are still cycling the Tour this year. George Hincapie is riding his 16th Tour in 2011, and he has ridden on the same team as the winner for 9 of those years. Amazing. But then it's not about the bike.

Of course the Tour finishes each year, in Paris in July.

Popping down to the shops

Part of the thrill of going somewhere different for me is the joy of checking out local supermarkets.  The ordinary experience of visiting the supermarket and buying basics is one that we do wherever we live. A unifying experience worldwide. But one that takes on a particular excitement in Paris.

Of course there are supermarkets and then there are supermarkets. At your basic level Parisian Monoprix:

The champagne section, of course they have a fridge too if you need a cold one urgently

If only supermarket vegies looked like that at home

A tiny portion of the massive U shaped delicatessen counter- meats, cheeses, terrines

Not a cracker in sight in the whole country but they have Tim Tams! No, I didn't buy any

It's probably a bit rough to call Galeries Lafayette Gourmet a supermarket. But you can do the shopping there for dinner, and we did on several occasions. It was magnificent.

The smoked fish section

A veritable wall of chocolate

Even the tissue boxes are fancier in France

The oyster bar

The poultry is a stunning display

Amazing tarts

A huge spice section, like a market in Marrakesh
A minute portion of the available cheeses

Yoghurt in glass jars

The major patisseries all have stands at Galleries Lafayette. It's a great place to see them all in one place.

I think this is Sadaharu Aoki

More of Sadaharu Aoki

Hediard is even more upmarket, and more a providore than a supermarket. 

I possibly got a tad carried away this week, but I think you can see how much I loved supermarket shopping in Paris.

Saturday Snapshot, is a wonderful weekly meme from at home with books.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I've been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it a few years ago. There was such a lot of hype surrounding this book. So I was very excited to finally get to reading it. Thankfully the wait was worth it.

This book does defy description somewhat. People struggle to classify it. They call it a graphic novel. But it's not just that. They call it a picture book. But it's much more than that too. They call it a unique blend, and it possibly is that. 

The best description I've seen is a silent film on paper. That really nails it for me. It's an intriguing format for a book. A book like no other. 

one of my favourite drawings

he's so obsessed with where the page turn goes, that sometimes the page looks like this

and other times it's like this

A simple story on some levels, but with some rather extraordinary differences. Hugo is a young boy living alone within the walls of a Parisian train station. That's an unusual place to start. Like all the best childrens books there are no annoying custodial adults to get in the way of the story. Hugo has been orphaned, then lives with his uncle at the train station, but his uncle has disappeared several months before our story starts in 1931.

Hugo has a number of secrets. He lives in secret at the train station. He keeps the clocks of the station working in secret. He carries a notebook that has a special significance for him, and he has an intriguing plan to repair a secret object. 

Indeed the particular Parisian train station is kept secret from us for a frustrating 382 pages, before we can put our curiosity to rest. Suddenly Hugo has a dream about an accident that occurred at his station 36 years ago, when a train came in too quickly and crashed through the front of the building. This accident famously happened at Gare Montparnasse. The picture of the accident is incorporated into the book.

The story encompasses so many elements- magic, friendship, loneliness, grief, alcoholism, early French cinema. And it's all presented in a unique, groundbreaking and prizewinning style. I really love books that base their fiction in fact, the best fantasy is often achieved this way. Selznick has taken the story of Georges Melies, and a train station in Paris, and constructed an amazing thing. People who have read the book all seem to go trawling via google for more background, which is surely a sign that the book is doing something.

In this video Brian Selznick explains some of his inspiration for writing the book, and his fascinating methods for constructing the book. There are many, many more videos out there about the book, it's quite extraordinary. I've spent quite a bit of time watching these videos, and love the fact that Brian Selznick named Hugo after a toy from his own childhood.


I do so love that we live in the Google age and it is so easy to find and watch things like Georges Melies original film A Trip to the Moon from 1902! How extraordinary is that? Martin Scorcese is making a film of Hugo Cabret which will be released later this year, so our Hugo experience can live on. 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Caramel Popcorn

Somehow I've lived what would be a lifetime for some people and had never seen The Sound of Music! Well, until this year- and now I've seen it twice! I recently saw a local theatre company production, and was then keen to see the famous movie musical.

A number of things were surprising to me. There were Nazis! I'd only ever seen snippets on the tele- Julie Andrews twirling about in Alpine meadows didn't make me think of Nazis, nor did songs like Do Re Mi.

How to guess there are Nazis?
Whilst watching the local theatre company version I was very surprised when they began to sing Climb Ev'ry Mountain. It's a very famous song. Of course I've heard it before. Turns out it's from Sound of Music! Who knew? Everyone seems to have had a go at this from June Bronhill to Christina Aguilera and Michael Jackson.

I think perhaps this is my favourite song though:

It's so silly. Yet so catchy. There's probably not enough yodelling in the modern world.

I also learnt I appear to be the only Australian woman over 25 who hasn't done the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. Apparently we all go gaga over the rotunda where Rolfe and Liesl sing.

When my friend came around to share my first movie experience of Sound of Music, we ate a number of things, one of which was Caramel Popcorn. I'd pulled this recipe out of the Sunday Telegraph a few months ago, and been waiting for an excuse to try it.

Caramel Popcorn

1/3 cup popping corn
15gm butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp bicarb soda

Place the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the butter is melted. Increase heat to medium and bring to the boil for 3-4 minutes or until golden and thick.

While caramel is cooking, place popping corn in air popper and collect popped corn in a large bowl.

Remove from heat, and add the bicarb soda and stir to combine. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss to combine. Spoon onto a baking tray to set. Break to serve.

Donna Hay
Sunday Telegraph

The original recipe used an oiled saucepan for the popcorn. We don't make popcorn all that often at home, but for some reason I bought a popcorn maker somewhere along the way. It's great.

My son will love this when he gets to try it.

We were too impatient to eat and didn't set the caramel corn out to dry on a tray, and it was still delicious- we had to finish watching Sound of Music after all. And what did I think of Sound of Music? The Sound of Music is essentially Jane Eyre set to music with added Nazis and 7 children, a bit like the 7 dwarfs.  I am glad to have finally seen it, and may even watch it again, especially if I make another batch of caramel popcorn.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Musee Victor Hugo

Musee Victor Hugo is a tiny jewel tucked away in the beautifully symmetric Place des Vosges. Not growing up French ( a tragedy that I struggle with daily), I had never quite realised the significance and regard with which Victor Hugo was, and is, held. This museum helped to correct my ignorance.

Louis XIII 1610-1643

Place des Vosges is the most symmetrical square in Paris, very beautiful and tranquil place

but still with a social conscience (100,000 people live on the streets each month)

Victor's old apartment is now a fabulous museum. It had a fantastic audioguide available in English. Even better the boys stayed outside and I was able to enjoy it at my own speed, and in peace! It helped me realise that Victor Hugo was much more than an author. He was to feature again and again during our trip. I didn't set out to stalk Victor but we accidentally did a bit. He is buried at the Pantheon, and of course we went there. He was exiled for a time in Vianden, in Luxembourg, which is exactly where we took a day trip to when we stayed in Luxembourg for a few days. We went to see Vianden Castle, and found another Musee Victor Hugo along the way. It is one of the few regrets of my trip (apart from the fact that I wanted it to be two months longer) that I never did read Notre-Dame de Paris whilst we were there. At least I already have my reading for my next Paris trip lined up and ready to go. 

The great man himself

I've never needed a case for all my gloves (gants)
A portrait of his eldest daughter Leopoldine, who drowned in the Seine when she was just 19, newly married, and her new husband drowned in the attempt to save her.

Victor's father, General Hugo

Hugo by Rodin, a copy of this bust is also in Vianden
 I initially couldn't work out what I thought was odd about the desk in his bedroom. The audioguide told me that this was indeed his writing desk, where he stood to do his writings. That is what is odd! The height. I just can't imagine that it would be comfortable for the many, many hours that he would have stood there.

He was very big on wallpapered ceilings

Even the buskers are classier in Paris

Saturday Snapshot, is a wonderful weekly meme from at home with books.