Early October I was invited to a friends’ wedding in Marrakech, which was the perfect chance to discover the city for the first time. Obviously, I didn’t have that much liberty to explore the city in real depth, but I feel that if you use your time wisely you can actually get quite a lot out of your visit.
What probably charmed me the most was the Majorelle Garden surrounding Yves Saint Laurent’s house, now turned into a museum. The amount and variety of plants, cactus and flowers, along with the fountains and the famous deep blue used throughout the park made for an amazing garden of Eden. Obviously, the Medina was full of the charms and wonders typical of Morocco. Shops, craftsmen, narrow streets, mosques and such a crowd!! I am also glad I came across the medersa Ben Youssef whose architecture is a true splendor. All in all, a short and sweet city break.
Morocco is an amazing country with no less amazing art de vivre: the richness of the architecture, the skillful craftsmanship of the many indoors and outdoors ornaments, the refinement of the interiors, decoration and objects are the mark of a highly sophisticated culture and civilisation. The mauresque and Andalusian influences repeatedly show through monuments, such as the University of Al Karaouine, or palaces-turned-hotels for instance, making for a sense of majesty and simplicity at the same time.
As part of my September trip to Fez, I got to wander a lot in the city’s Medina. According to many, and to the Moroccans themselves, Fez is considered as the most authentic city of the kingdom: this doesn’t mean that there are no tourists – because they are present as anywhere else worth visiting – but it seems that Fez, unlike many other cities, is not trying too hard to flaunt its beauties. Its treasures are well hidden, and one will have to search behing closed doors to discover them. This may be achieved by looking into a few riads, those lovely small palaces built around indoors fountains and gardens, or by casting an eye in one of the small yet richly adorned mosques of the Medina. The colourful markets scattered across the crooked streets and paths are another jewel themselves. Fez definitely is a great place for anyone looking for an exotic change of scenery, and it makes for a very picturesque destination.
At the end of September I travelled to Morocco and spent a couple of days in Fez. Its millenary Medina is filled with treasures and surprises, and wandering through the maze of its small streets definitely is the best way to get a good sense of the heart of the city.
Tanneries, potteries, weavers, carpenters, painters, etc. there are plenty of crafts still being practiced and taught. All those traditions and this know-how were quite incredible to witness, at a time when we’re used to manufactured goods produced in factories. There, people are working with their hands, their skills and what they’ve learned, generation through generation. And it was beautiful to see.
For this last chapter about my trip in Istanbul, I wanted to share images of the bazaars and markets: these are a truly amazing aspect of the city, one that Istanbul is famous for. Obviously the Grand Bazaar is definitely worth a visit. To be honest I was a bit worried that it would be over crowded with tourists and feel like a gigantic maze of soulless shops. But I was quickly proven wrong. Of course there are tourists looking for the perfect gift, souvenir and other memorabilia to bring back home, but on the one hand, who could blame them? One can find the most amazing leatherwork , silverware and treats. But also, the well-named Grand Bazaar really is very big, so if you want to venture further and get a true feel of Turkey’s most renowned trading place, then you can easily loose yourself in the myriad of paths, explore the nice hidden cafés and restaurants, admire the thousands of colourful lanterns, fabrics and hookahs. Now, who’s hungry for some Turkish delights?
Besides its incredible location by the sea, the life and animation of the streets are what impressed me the most in Istanbul. Of course there are world-renowned landmarks that you cannot miss, but in my sense, simply wandering through the streets and getting to know the many neighbourhoods of the city is a wonderful way to get a flavour of Istanbul.
The streets are filled with all these “little nothings”: a woman selling flowers, corn, or pretzels, the crowd of people walking up and down the streets carrying children and groceries, calling up one another, women chatting among themselves, cats and dogs knocked out by the heat and desperate for a hideout in the shadow, the fascinating echo of the five daily prayers – all these small pieces of life brought together form the most lively and colourful canvas you can imagine.
A couple of weeks ago I went to spend a few days in Istanbul. The city really lives up to its reputation and it would be an understatement to say that I wasn’t disappointed: Istanbul is simply grand, magnificent, full of art and history, amazing by its architecture, lovely and full of inspiration in its quieter neighborhoods. In one word – gorgeous.
What I particularly liked about Istanbul is its situation by the sea, in-between two continents. The city is so expanded, it’s incredible to contemplate. But it is almost always freshened up by the ocean’s breeze. Obviously, besides the pure and salty marine air, the great thing about it is that one can find countless striking views of the Golden Horn. Uskudar, on the Asian side, provides a great promenade by the sea with fishermen, seagulls, wooden houses and children taking a swim. For other lovely marinas, look at Ortakoy or Bebek, both charming. Also great to wander about and have a nice bite, the fish market by the Galata Bridge has delicious fish sandwiches…
Recently I was struck by the diversity of styles, colours, heights and shapes of the Parisian doors. You can simply walk for a little while between République, Arts et Métiers and le Marais, and in those 20 minutes, you will capture a great deal of architectural wonders. To be fair, I am not so picky, and I like a little bit of everything; doors that are impressive by their height, magnificent by their intricate design, doors that almost blind you by their bright and somewhat unexpected tones, doors that get one to wonder what’s hiding behind… I think those are my favourite kind of doors, they awaken the child inside me, always ready to fantasize about other people’s lives, and always ready to make up stories about them!
It almost feels a bit funny to post about growing up in Paris, being a « local product » from the city myself, born and bred there… I have so many memories from my early childhood in Paris.
My primary school of course, with its street façade very similar to any other school, very republican and all, its courtyard; the play dates with my friends at the Champ de Mars, the thousands of pigeons that we loved to scare off! I was truly crazy for dogs too, and I still am! My Grandpa had a lovely little Westie, so I just couldn’t resist when I walked past the one you’ll see below.
But mainly, I think that what mostly remains from this time is a carefree and happy feeling, this impression of peace, confidence in life in general… and endless games!
Last week, I went to Brixton and discovered its increasingly famous market. It is quite fortunate that it is a covered one as the rain was constantly pouring!
The market itself is divided between several alleys, all punctuated with food stalls, small cafés and restaurants as well as vintage shops. One can find the most amazing exotic products, or have lunch at one of the Columbian, Jamaican or Mediterranean restaurants there. The market is also full of surprises; wigs, old discs, fashion treasures – all begging to be picked!
Here are some of the wonders I brought back with me.
Last week, I decided to revive some good old habits; I grabbed my camera and set out to the Canal St Martin, looking for anything that would please my eye. I am really glad I did it, first of all because it was the first time I was out and about in Paris since I’ve moved back, and second of all because I had the pleasure of rediscovering the Canal St Martin which I find so lovely.
I don’t know if it was the sun, the blossoming cherry trees or the lovers kissing on the bridge, it just all came together. I even had the pleasure of meeting a fellow photographer, and taking the walk down the canal with her. All in all, a fantastic Saturday morning!