Category Archives: photography

A new creative beginning…

So it’s done. I applied for a diploma in graphic design at a design college a few weeks ago and in two weeks will embark on something I’m excited, yet apprehensive about.  And yet the creative journey has already begun.  I had to submit some artwork for the application, and although perfection was not mandatory, I still gave it a good go.  I surprised myself with how natural it felt, and when asking myself ‘why, oh why had I not been doing this all along?’


Chanel Chance By JoyLovesParis

For the drawing part of the submission, I chose the photograph of my Chanel Chance perfume bottle (as seen in my previous article The Scent of Paris) as my subject.  I really liked the texture of the bottle, as well as the character from the wear.  My first attempt was in pencil as I’m more at home with the medium.  But then I decided to move out of my comfort zone and did one in ink, then watercolour.  I had much preferred drawing over painting in the past, as I felt I had more control. When I picked up the paintbrush, however, it felt like I had been doing it for years.  The whole process woke up a part of me that had laid dormant for such a long time.  I stayed up that night til the wee hours of 2AM finishing my work and feeling energised and inspired.

They aren’t exact replicas of the original photo, but then I don’t think I am that sort of artist (nor am I that skilled / practised!).  It was a challenge, but one that I enjoyed. The angles and textures were difficult but I liked that each interpretation was different.

I am ecstatic to be starting my course, but I am even more excited about this new creative journey that I have commenced.  I’m booking in to some watercolour and modern calligraphy classes over the next few months to sharpen my skills, invigorate myself some more and to get back to what I had left behind so long ago.  I’m getting closer to what I’m supposed to be doing, I can feel it.


Peonies & Paris: An update

As the year comes to an end, chaos usually ensues.  The past couple of weeks have been quite hectic, but I’m happy to have been able to find time to post at least once more this year.  Other than the usual Christmas events and taking care of a teething toddler, here is what else has been happening in my world:

  • Peonies.  On a whim I picked up a bunch to spoil myself, and from the moment the petals opened up and I smelled its scent, I fell in love.  I pulled out my camera and took a few shots to practice my photography.
  • Overseas travel was not something I was expecting for a while, but there is a wedding in Toronto that my husband wants us to attend, so attend it we shall!  We worked out a route that will get us there via Hong Kong, Paris and New York.  It’s all set, and I’m ecstatic that I will get to see my beloved Paris again!
  • I’ve got my heart set on changing careers, so will be starting a course in the new year. However in the last month or so I’ve been toing and froing about which one to do.  I have finally decided (for real this time!) to do the graphic design diploma then, if I still yearn for it, will pursue further study in fashion.  Et voilà.
  • Another thing that I have been wanting to do for many years is to move and work overseas.  My efforts for making this happen have somewhat waned of late, probably due to the lack of response from applications, as well as anticipation of upcoming plans. In its stead I would now settle for a career that would allow (either through the job or by giving means to) travel regularly (perhaps annually?). I’m not exactly sure how I’ll find such a job/career, but I’m hoping putting it out there in the universe will allow to happen, somehow 🙂
  • I started Blogging 201 to try to tszuj up my blog a little, but alas, my time has been limited and I have yet to complete all the assignments.  It’s going onto the To Do list.

Things to look forward to in the New year:

  • So Frenchy So Chic in The Park.  The lineup looks good, the food amazing, and a family day out surrounded by French culture is always a good day in my books!
  • I signed up my 18 month old daughter to a weekly French class/playgroup. It will be interesting to see how they go about teaching babies (from 6 months!) and toddlers another language. It’ll also be a good refresher for me.
  • Planning the details of The holiday. Side trips, accommodation, transportation etc. I love this stuff.
  • The start of my journey to a new career. It’s scary but who knows where I’ll end up! My next mission is to get my art pieces done to submit for course entry.  I’ve started a few sketches, but I’m hoping to do something I’m totally happy with during my time off this holiday season. Watch this space.

Happy holidays to you all! Joyeux Noël à tous!






Frenchie Finds: So Frenchy So Chic 2016

SFSC 2016 By JoyLovesParis

So Frenchy So Chic 2016 is the latest release of the series which is described as the “unofficial soundtrack to the Alliance Française Film Festival”.   The film festival will be held for its 27th year in 2016.

My collection of SFSC CDs By JoyLovesParis

I have been a follower of this series since the 2010 release (I somehow missed it in 2011 and was unable to locate a copy of the earlier releases) and will be for a while.  There is a nice mélange of tracks from French artists in French and English, in many genres including French Pop, electronica, Indie and folk that can take to you to another place (not necessarily France either!). The series is a great start for anyone wanting to get into French music but not knowing where to start.

I would consider the compilations as ‘chill’ music and love to have it on while relaxing at home, on long drives and when I want to feel a little French inspiration!

Various Artists, So Frenchy So Chic 2016. Cartell Music, 2015.  Available from Cartell Music.

For more information on the So Frenchy So Chic in the Park see the event website:


Le Dîner en Blanc Sydney 2015



What started out as a small picnic in Paris is now an annual event in ‘secret’ venues internationally. On November 28th 2015, Sydney held its fourth Dîner en Blanc. With Sydney harbour’s spectacular landmarks as a backdrop, the exclusive night out combined food, friendship and fun.

The invitation process

To gain access to this event in Sydney as a newcomer, you must either be invited by a previous attendee (member) or be on the waiting list and succeed in booking one of a few hundred tickets during their release. With thousands of people on the waiting list, chances of getting through are quite slim.  But I somehow got lucky and secured membership for myself and an invitation for a guest.

The preparation

We are given an extensive list of suggestions for the event. From what not to wear, to furniture, crockery and decor for the table. Finding all-white items can be a little challenging, but with a bit of preparation, you will discover that there are a lot of white things out there!

Revealing the ‘secret’ venue

The mystery surrounding the venue adds a bit of intrigue to the event. My selected meeting / departure point was Wynyard station. We were provided with train tickets and instructions to alight the train at Circular Quay station. It narrowed down the list of possible venues in my mind, with any one of them potentially being spectacular.

From the direction we were headed once at Circular Quay, it was evident that the secret venue for 2015 was to be in front of the magnificent sails of Sydney’s Opera house.

Le dîner

After a couple of hours that involved catching a train, lots of walking and waiting, security checks, searching for our group’s location, and setting up our table, we were finally seated.

The customary twirling of the napkins followed a minute’s silence for the victims of Paris’ recent tragic events.  This indicated the start of dinner.

We had pre-ordered a picnic hamper  from the organisers that had more than enough food for two. It was a delicious selection of French inspired dishes which included a pork and pistachio terrine, ocean trout salad niçoise and salted caramel eclairs.

The lighting of the sparklers marking the opening of the dance floor (or steps of the Opera House) followed dinner and was magical to witness.

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The atmosphere was indescribable. We chatted to people during the evening, danced on the steps of the Opera house and were in absolute awe of the size and significance of the event.  The views of the forecourt and the harbour from the top of the Opera House steps were breathtaking.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember.

We left a little before it ended at midnight feeling tired from the whole experience (transporting a table, chairs and picnic supplies can do that). But would I do it all again next year? Absolument!



For more on the history of the event, see my previous post Le Dîner En Blanc.

See the Dîner En Blanc International website for information on events in your area. 


La Tour Eiffel: You never forget the first time…

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When thinking about going to Paris for the first time, many dream of the beautiful boulevardes, the famous museums, the cafés, and of course, getting your first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.  It’s probably the most recognisable landmark in the world and is often seen on screen, in print and is replicated in many forms (it’s an essential Paris-lover / Francophile accessory!).


Once you finally arrive, it’s a surreal feeling. Dreaming about being somewhere for so long then finally getting there is an amazing experience.  You first seek out the Eiffel Tower. Virtually anywhere you are in Paris, you just have to look up to see it. The first time you see her will likely be memorable.  It’s then when you know that you have finally made it.


I still remember the very first time I saw her. I was 24 and travelled to Europe for the very first time, solo. I chose a special fare that landed in Paris then a Eurostar trip to London a few hours later.  I took a taxi from Charles de Gaulle to Gare Du Nord and remember seeing her.  She was peeking out through buildings as we entered the outskirts of the city. My heart almost leapt out of my chest, and I felt the biggest smile form on my face. I fell in love that day.

My first trip to Paris in 2005

If you have a memorable story to tell of your “first time”,  please share in the comments below.

À la prochaine!


The scent of Paris

Memories brought back by Chance. ©JoyLovesParis
Memories brought back by Chance. ©JoyLovesParis

On an impromptu two week trip to Paris in May 2012, I gave myself the challenge of packing minimally. It was a difficult task but one that I proudly conquered.  I’m usually one for options (for every mood, weather condition & occasion!) but this time I decided to choose wisely.

Chanel Chance ©JoyLovesParis

Now it may seem like quite a simple thing, and I do tend to overthink things, but the choice of scent is important to me. I have always had a sensitive sense of smell so I try to surround myself with pleasant fragrances.  Scents can help create a certain mood, can tell you a lot about a personality, but more importantly can evoke memories.  I ended up taking Chanel Chance as my chosen perfume for the trip. It was a perfume given to me as a gift, and one that took me time to enjoy.  It was discovering the notes and layers of the scent that gained my appreciation for it.

Months after my trip, I recall wearing Chance again.  The fragrance brought back memories of those two weeks. The two warm humid days in Singapore. The smell of food at Borough markets on the weekend in London. The sunny spring morning walks along the Seine. The tulips in Giverny and the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. The Chanel sunglasses I had excitedly acquired at the boutique in Printemps. The gorgeous coq au vin I had at a nearby café.  A cool and windy trip on the Bateau Mouche. The time lost inside amongst books and history of Shakespeare and Co. And oh so many more memories.

I have since associated that perfume with Paris. To me, it is the scent of Paris.

People watching in Paris


People watching is a favourite Parisian past time. When you pass by cafés, you will notice the chairs turned out towards the street.  When inside a cafe, tables can be quite close to one another.  Sometimes you can’t help but eavesdrop on other conversations and watch people interacting. Using your imagination to add in the extra details can be quite entertaining.  Common etiquette dictates that it is rude to stare and to listen in on others’ conversations, but it doesn’t seem to be the case in Parisian culture.  I did not seem to notice being ‘observed’ the last time I was there, maybe Parisians practice subtlety in this aspect.

Angelina cafe Paris 4368
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Around the industrial revolution, flâneurs wandered aimlessly along the newly completed boulevards and arcades whilst observing life around them. Many writers and poets of the 19th century were known flâneurs, and were likely inspired by their observations. Defined by Oxford dictionary as “a man who saunters around observing society“, this is probably how the art of people watching began. (There is quite a bit more to the concept of the flâneur in the literary and philosophical sense, it is worth  looking into it further if it interests you.)

Café de Flore
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
I have to admit that I don’t mind a bit of people watching myself. Once observing strangers’ body language, I then make up a story to go with them (occasionally I confirm my story when I overhear some of the conversation…). It is quite amusing, I can see why Parisians enjoy it so much.


Les bouquinistes de la Seine


One of my favourite things to do in Paris, is to wander through the couple of hundred bouquiniste stalls along the Seine. Described by many as an “open-air bookshop”, they combine my love of books, antiques, bookshops and market stalls in such a picturesque way.


At these stalls, you will find a huge selection of French second-hand and vintage books, magazines, posters and souvenirs. You get a sense of nostalgia whilst looking through the vintage posters and the aged book spines from bygone eras.

Bain News Service, Book stalls, Paris
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Les bouquinistes on the Seine have been around for centuries and form a part of Paris’ literary history, tradition and landscape. What started out as a way of life for wandering merchants in the 17th century to sell used (salvaged) books along the Seine, the practice has evolved over time, through the revolution and the world wars. With such a history, it is no wonder that they gained UNESCO world heritage status in 1991.


Each stall consists of four boxes that are attached to the walls along the Seine. As local rules dictate, the exterior of each box has to be dark green in colour, and at least three of the boxes must contain books. These stalls are well regulated by the Paris city council, and are subject to regular inspections.  The bouquinistes are frequented by the locals (as the majority of material is in French), but the stall holders have had to adapt to the numerous amount of tourists by selling souvenirs – much to the dismay of the Parisians.  An interesting article I came across from The Guardian in 2008 describes the booksellers’ plight of needing to make a profit while trying to keep to the city council’s rules (and local opinion).

Bouquinistes boîtes fermées
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
You can find these booksellers on the Right Bank from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre, and on the Left Bank, from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire. They are open every day, with the exception of poor weather.

Stars indicate bouquiniste location areas. Map made using Google Maps.
Stars indicate bouquiniste location boundaries. Map made using Google Maps.

On past visits, I’ve bought a few children’s books at these stalls (a copy of Le Petit Prince and a few French Mister Men and Women stories). Each of them were carefully wrapped in cellophane and in pristine condition. On my next visit, I hope to find the perfect vintage print from the Babar series for my daughter’s room (I couldn’t decide on one the last time I was there).

Les bouquinistes are lovely to walk through, make sure you stop to admire (or even buy) the beautiful books!

Me wandering through the bouquiniste stalls ©JoyLovesParis

Useful links:

Frenchie Finds: Secret Paris


Colouring books are absolutely everywhere at the moment.  They are said to be great for relaxation and stress relief, but I was a little doubtful on purchase. I was drawn to Secret Paris for its gorgeous illustrations, which take you on a little tour of Paris.  Flicking through the pages is like walking through the city, passing by recognisable landmarks, eateries, boutiques and objects that give you a glimpse into Parisian life.


I was pleasantly surprised to find colouring quite calming. For the short time I had to colour in a page of Parisian souvenirs, I had forgotten about my day’s to-do list and instead worried about what shade of blue the stripes on the marinière should be. It’s such a simple idea really, creating a diversion by focusing your attention on filling in blank spaces with colour.  For some reason though, I seemed to find it hard at times to stay within those lines (artistic licence I tell myself!). It is actually quite a fun way to de-stress, and a great alternative to other relaxation methods.

So the next time you’ve had a hard day, pull out your coloured pencils and get colouring.

Secret Paris Zoé de Las Cases, Octopus Publishing Group, RRP AUD$19.99

There are other colouring books in this series including Secret New York and Secret Tokyo.