CLAIREINPARIS's SparkPeople Blog CLAIREINPARIS's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Visiting the Rodin Museum with Sparkfriend METOBE! Happy New Year dear Sparkfriends!!! Apart from the more traditional health and happiness, I would also like to wish you lots of beauty in 2017, as it is so good for the soul... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> And here is a full blog packed with beauty to start the year wonderfully! <BR> The Rodin Museum of Paris is one of the most popular among tourists, and rightly so (tip: try to go off season if you can, and... Sun, 1 Jan 2017 11:31:12 EST Happy Birthday, Holly! Happy Birthday to my wonderful Sparkfriend HOLLYM48! I thought I would write a blog to wish Holly a happy birthday, because I think friendships made on Sparkpeople are such a big part of the success here... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> When I joined Sparkpeople, almost 6 years ago, little did I know that it would bring so much into my life!!! A new perspective on health and fitness, a love for hiking, of cou... Thu, 29 Dec 2016 08:25:45 EST Christmas in London - Part 2 I hope you had a beautiful Christmas! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> For me I spent Christmas Eve with Sparkfriend METOBE and her husband! It was a very special time, and it was way past midnight when I left the beautiful little studio apartment they are renting, which overlooks the Town Hall! Then the highlight of Christmas day was when my two lovely little neighbors knocked on my door on the morning to bring... Mon, 26 Dec 2016 13:12:28 EST Christmas in London - Part 1 It's Christmas! I was in England this week for my own Christmas celebrations (now back in Paris)!!! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> But I want to ask: <BR> "Which one of my colleagues thought I deserved to be given a reindeer hat as part of 'Secret Santa'?!!!" <BR> It is quite ugly in reality (the material is very uncomfortable), although it does have 2 eyes!!! But I decided to be a bit less French and take my... Sun, 18 Dec 2016 17:09:15 EST My belated birthday hike! A hike at last! Life has been rather busy lately, and yesterday I was starting to feel like things were falling into place... apart from the fact that I was missing my hikes so much! And today it was going to be very sunny (and cold!), so I decided I really had to go on a hike... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I extended the rent of the car (I haven't had one since mine was vandalised last September) for a day ... Sun, 4 Dec 2016 15:20:12 EST Hiking near Ecouen My hike yesterday was almost on my door step, only 5 minutes by train from home, i.e. 20 minutes from Paris. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> As I still don't have a car, hiking is complicated: I cannot reach the beginning of my hikes, which are usually in the middle of the countryside. But this hike I could reach by train, woohoo! Actually I had never done it simply because it is so close from home it all looks ... Wed, 2 Nov 2016 08:21:33 EST Dancing in the rain! So I came back from Ghana on Saturday... I didn't see a single thing about Ghana, apart from the airport (nice airport in Accra though, well organised, what a pleasure!) and the hotel. Sigh. But it doesn't matter, some trips are like that: they can be wonderful, but I don't get a chance to leave the hotel. And after all, I have to remember I am there to work! ;) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> There is a memory ... Wed, 26 Oct 2016 11:30:24 EST Armenia Part 2 - Going to the mountains This blog says a lot about how strange (yet exciting) I feel my life is right now! I am writing this second blog about my Armenia trip in my hotel room in Accra, Ghana, where I arrived last Saturday (flying home tonight). <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I wanted to write it earlier but it was just too hectic during the week I spent in Paris between Armenia and Ghana, so here I am finally! <BR> <BR> <img src="... Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:23:34 EST Back from Armenia Part 1: Yerevan As often after my trips, my heart is full of emotions, my head full of memories of people I met, places I saw, food I ate, stories I heard... Armenia was, as I had thought it would be, an unforgettable trip. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It all started with this view of Mount Ararat. Mount Ararat once in Armenia, now in Turkey. <BR> My Armenian colleagues decided I needed to do 'touristy' things on my first ... Sat, 8 Oct 2016 16:20:20 EST Greetings from Stuttgart I am actually back from Germany already! But I was inspired by this heart-shaped gingerbread for the title of my blog... :) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> "Gruss aus Stuttgart", i.e. "Greetings from Stuttgart". <BR> <BR> I was in Stuttgart last week for work meetings. Stuttgart is only about 3 hours by fast train from Paris, very convenient! <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 25 Sep 2016 05:50:50 EST A long late summer hike It was a beautiful late summer day yesterday in Paris! Time for a long hike! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I had been wondering about this hike for a while. My booklet said it was 'physically demanding', because it was constantly up and down... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... for 5 hours! (17.5 K/11 miles, which should take a... Sun, 11 Sep 2016 13:33:33 EST When the lights go on again... Omaha Beach Part 2 I went to Omaha Beach the first time many years ago, around Easter time, as I was on vacation in Normandy. I had seen a couple of movies about WW2 of course, and studied the allied landings in high school. So I was ready for a bit of a live history lesson that day. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Well... I don't know what lesson it was, but not the one I had been expecting. I got there on a very grey and windy a... Sat, 27 Aug 2016 17:17:33 EST A meaningful hike - Omaha Beach It is probably the one beach in France all Americans have heard about... Omaha beach. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I don't know how it makes you feel, but its name only raises many emotions in me. Gratefulness, admiration, sadness, humility... but more than anything, being French, gratefulness. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... Fri, 26 Aug 2016 04:34:06 EST My walks in Southern Normandy The part of Normandy I usually show in my blogs is Northern Normandy, as this is the closest to my home. On the way back from my vacation though, I stopped in Southern Normandy, in Verneuil-sur-Avre. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Let me first tell you about my 21K hike around nearby Saint-Lubin-des-Joncherets yesterday afternoon though. <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 14 Aug 2016 16:58:50 EST Brissac, a fairytale castle in Anjou I left Angers this morning and I am near Vendome tonight (that is South West of Paris too, but further East compared to Angers)... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Before I left Angers, I wanted to see Brissac, the tallest castle in France (it has 7 floors!), which is South-East of Angers. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It was fir... Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:49:27 EST Hiking in Anjou I am loving the area around Angers! Yesterday I decided to go for a hike a few kilometers South of Angers, starting in a hamlet called La Pointe. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It started right here. I was so excited I saw these two cyclists passing by... Remember how I usually never see anybody during my hikes? Well, it wasn't the case yesterday, and as I saw this picture of the cyclists on the evening, I laug... Wed, 10 Aug 2016 06:56:16 EST On vacation! Discovering Angers I am on vacation! On Sunday, I left Paris for Angers... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> And yesterday it was my first proper discovery of the city. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I am staying in this neighbourhood, called the Doutre, which is West of the Maine river (here, seen from the castle). Let me show you around! <BR> <BR> ... Tue, 9 Aug 2016 05:02:54 EST Further progress! A 24K hike I went to the Oise area for my hike yesterday, about 60K North of Paris, in a lovely village called Tillard, which only comprises of 15 houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I wanted a hike just a bit more difficult and longer than last week's! It was perfect. 24K/15 mile... Mon, 25 Jul 2016 07:02:03 EST My longest hike yet 21K (13 miles). It was my longest hike yet... Not very impressive by 'proper hikers' standards, but for me, it is definitely progress! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Lately I had been stuck with my 3 or 4-hour hikes (10 to 16 K roughly). Even though my plan is to be able to hike for the whole day (over 30K), I was nowhere near. So I decided to increase the length a bit. I have to admit yesterday's hike was mos... Mon, 18 Jul 2016 09:12:35 EST Around Commeny, a perfect day for a hike Perfect hiking weather! We haven't had much sunshine in Paris so far this year, but yesterday was definitely perfect: sunny and warm, but not too hot, with a lovely gentle breeze and enough clouds to make the pictures interesting!. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I went to my beloved Vexin area, North-West of Paris, which never disappoints... It is the heart of Impressionnists' country, between Giverny (Monet) a... Mon, 11 Jul 2016 09:58:25 EST It's a bad day, not a bad life - on rainy summers and breaking up I am home for the summer, with no work trips until September. I love being home! But it is one of the rainiest spring/summer we have had in Paris for a long time, so far, so it is difficult to make the most of it... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (One of my summer traditions... each year when I stop my work trips for the summer, I buy myself a pot of basil! here it was on my chimney a couple of weeks ago!) <BR> <BR... Sun, 3 Jul 2016 12:00:32 EST Hiking in St Clair - with wild orchids! I wasn't too far away from home for my hike today, roughly 30 minutes... at the border between the Paris area (Ile de France) and Normandy. Indeed, it was in St Clair that Normandy was created, in 911... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> And it was so green! Well, it was the first day without rain I have seen in a llllong time! No, wait. The first afternoon without rain, it rained this morning! ;) <BR> <BR> <im... Sun, 19 Jun 2016 17:42:30 EST Tallinn (Estonia Part 2) I had hoped to go to Tallinn, capital city of Estonia, one day, and so I was delighted when I was asked to attend meetings there! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Even more so when I remembered it was home to one of my favorite contemporary composers, Arvo Part... Here is one of his pieces that touch me the most, 'Spiegel im Spiegel', to accompany you if you wish on this discovery of Tallinn. :) <BR> <link>www.... Tue, 14 Jun 2016 07:11:42 EST Lahemaa National Park (Estonia Part 1) This is my last day in Estonia, and I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed this work trip ! Great meetings, great atmosphere, great food and great country. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Moreover, yesterday, with 4 other colleagues, we had decided to stay for an extra day in order to get to see a bit more ... Sat, 11 Jun 2016 18:55:38 EST Sat + Sun (Minnesota Part 3) I am now in transit waiting for my flight back home to Paris. A nice opportunity with all these hours ahead to share with you my impressions and pictures of Saturday and Sunday in Minnesota! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It was another beautiful day at Holly's! (Here lunch with Holly - HOLLYM48 -, her husband and daughters.) <BR> <BR> <img src=" Mon, 23 May 2016 15:37:02 EST Landscape Arboretum (Minnesota Part 2) This is how my mornings start here at Holly's (HOLLYM48) in Minnesota... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Hard life, hey? <em>211</em> <BR> Every morning, among the many options, I choose low fat Greek yogurt with berries and pecan nuts, with a latte. All that in the garden in the sunshine. Ahhhhhh I could get used to this!!! <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 22 May 2016 19:58:03 EST Como Conservatory (Minnesota Part 1) After my crazy but wonderful time in Philadelphia for a work conference, I flew to Minneapolis on Wednesday night and was welcome at the airport by HOLLYM48 and her husband, whom I had met in Paris last year. Then on Thursday Holly and I met WILDASTER (Annette) at the Como Conservatory... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It was a PERFECT day! So sunny and warm, not at all the way we tend to imagine the North of t... Sat, 21 May 2016 15:20:26 EST Philadelphia! Just in case you didn't know already... I am in the US!!! <BR> <BR> I arrived in Philadelphia last Monday for a big conference, which is hard work as I am part of the organising team. But fun too and I am delighted to be with several of my wonderful colleagues (some of whom you might remember from my trip to Ethiopia last year)... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> This is the view from the top of the hotel where ... Sun, 15 May 2016 21:04:07 EST Normandy - Part 2 of my wonderful weekend I am glad you all seemed to enjoy my first blog about my wonderful weekend! Here is Part 2 - my hike in Normandy with L, the eldest daughter of my Dutch friend Cora, who visited me last weekend. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I know I say it each time I go for a hike in Normandy, but really, I love Normandy! :) <BR> <BR> <img src=" Wed, 20 Apr 2016 00:50:33 EST Paris - Part 1 of my wonderful weekend! I had such a wonderful wonderful weekend! My head is full of great memories. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It was a very full weekend, from the moment on Friday afternoon when I picked up at the station L, my Dutch friend Cora's eldest daughter (above looking at the view over Paris from the Sacre Coeur Church on top of Montmartre), until I took her back to the station this morning. <BR> <BR> <img src="http:/... Mon, 18 Apr 2016 14:52:31 EST Sunny London! I am back from London! Rainy Paris was waiting for me after I left a very sunny London! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I had some really useful work meetings in England (so good to see my colleagues after 3 months of working from home!)... and, as you can tell, a great time with my friend Liz -- as always! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR... Sat, 2 Apr 2016 18:08:01 EST My Good Friday hike My hike yesterday started at the foot of this cross, in Montmille, Oise (about 1 hour North of Paris). Fitting for a Good Friday hike, don't you think? <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I had parked outside the nearby town hall... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... with the flag half-mast following the Brussels attacks this week (F... Sat, 26 Mar 2016 02:47:27 EST Hiking between winter and spring I went to Famechon today, in the Somme department near Amiens, North of Paris. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Quite a lot further North than I usually go, but it was close to the motorway, so it took me about one hour to get there from my home in the suburbs North of Paris. <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photo... Sat, 12 Mar 2016 14:53:08 EST My long weekend in Brittany I was looking forward to this long weekend in Brittany! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> And not just because of all the blue shutters and doors I would be able to see! :) <BR> <BR> Before I continue, I would like to share this YouTube video of a French singer I like who comes originally from Brittany and sings in Breton here: <BR> <link><BR>list=RDjTuBnZrLbq0#t=9 </link> ... Mon, 29 Feb 2016 08:15:03 EST Albert Kahn Gardens + an unexpected night walk I had a good and interesting afternoon today! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I met a friend outside Gare du Nord (the station where i arrive from my home in the suburbs, 15 minutes away from Paris)... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> ... Sun, 21 Feb 2016 17:24:10 EST Update on working from home + dating again - rollercoaster time! I haven't written a blog for way too long, I thought I needed to touch base tonight before I go to bed and assure you all I am ok. :) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> As you may know, I have been working from home since early January, although I was away for 2 working weeks that month. So in total I have worked 4 weeks from home and guess what... I am LOVING it! It is nice to be in a warm office that I really enj... Sat, 13 Feb 2016 17:31:38 EST Back from Lisbon I am home! I flew back from Lisbon late last night, having made sure our conference's participants were all on their way home. Phew, what a week. It was wonderful to see all my colleagues but I am pretty tired! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Before I continue, I must tell you about Fado! Have you ever heard Fado music? It is the soul of Portugal and you might enjoy listening to it as you read this blog... <BR>... Sat, 16 Jan 2016 13:47:59 EST Thoughts on working from home and a few other things! I started working from home a few days ago. I really didn't want to! Actually it puzzled me (hence this blog!) when in my latest blog I mentioned that I would be working from home permanently that so many of you seemed really happy for me. I sooooo didn't want to!!! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (My home office as it looked like a few minutes ago... I love the sheep skin under my feet! It is actually a very light of... Fri, 8 Jan 2016 12:38:30 EST A warm and sunny Christmas hike! We are having an incredible Christmas season in Paris, warm and sunny... It feels like Easter more than Christmas! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> To me it was perfect weather for a hike! Yes, there were still autumn flowers (we haven't had any frost yet!), but also winter berries, and also my beloved wild clematis, looking at their best in this gorgeous sunshine... <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photosaws.sparkpe... Sun, 27 Dec 2015 11:59:44 EST My weekend in Laon Laon isn't a touristy city. But it should be in my view! It is beautiful. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I went to Laon last weekend with A, a Parisian friend I met during one of my recent trips to Africa. Laon is only about 145 kilometers (90 miles) from Paris. And the view you see above was exactly the one that greeted us on Friday when we entered the living room of the friends we were staying with. <BR> <BR... Mon, 7 Dec 2015 17:02:12 EST A walk around Christmassy London <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I was in England for meetings this week and stayed a little longer to visit my friend Liz in London (I am writing this on the Eurostar train heading back to Paris Saturday afternoon). As expected, it was a day packed with walking around London, talking, shopping, eating and laughing. <BR> <BR> We started the day with a walk along the Thames... <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photosaws.sparkp... Sat, 28 Nov 2015 14:43:49 EST A strange Sunday It should have been a happy Sunday and a beautiful hike. Nothing went as planned. And I think it was fitting. Nothing is going right in Paris at the moment, so why should it have been a normal Sunday? <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> France is grieving. On Friday night, I was at the cinema in central Paris but decided not to have a drink with my friends afterwards as I was tired. I went home and checked my emails... Sun, 15 Nov 2015 13:25:16 EST A hike near Versailles I went to Jouy-en-Josas, near Versailles (South West of Paris) for my hike yesterday. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It is normally a bit too far away from my home in the North, but I had to run an errand South of Paris, so of course I stayed in the area afterwards - a great opportunity to try new hiking paths! <BR> <BR> <img src=" Mon, 9 Nov 2015 06:27:32 EST Back in Ronquerolles We moved the clocks this morning in France. Of course the night falls earlier now, so I had to be careful not to leave too late for my hike today! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Everything was packed... (I had another small bottle actually... I always take more water and food than necessary in case I hurt myself and get stuck somewhere!) <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 25 Oct 2015 18:04:56 EST Hiking around Coulombs-en-Valois Yesterday I went to Coulombs-en-Valois, North-East of Paris. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I love that hilly area and its quaint villages. I have a booklet with lots of hikes around there and have done quite a few already. But as is usually the case, it was the first time I did yesterday's hike. <BR> <BR> ... Mon, 19 Oct 2015 06:01:19 EST A gorgeous autumn day for a hike It felt like ages since I last went for a hike, after being away for 3 weeks! I went on lots of urban walks during that time, but it really wasn't the same. I missed my hikes, and I missed the fresh air. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I wanted to walk through the fields and the woods, and today was such a gorgeous autumn day to do that (I know you might say 'fall' instead of 'autumn', but each time I am about t... Sun, 11 Oct 2015 16:36:06 EST A beautiful stay When I arrived in Algiers (capital city of Algeria, North Africa), a little over 2 weeks ago, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this stay, and was dreading being away from home for 3 weeks. You know how I love travelling, and I travel a lot, but I am not usually away for so long. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (View from the top of the building where I am staying) <BR> <BR> It has been over 2 weeks, and it feel... Sat, 26 Sep 2015 08:09:34 EST Get to know you... These questionnaires are often fun! Would you like to answer this one too? I have ‘stolen’ it from my dear Sparkfriend WILDASTER (have a look at hers here: <link><BR>urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5976115 </link> ). <BR> <BR> Where is your cell phone? <BR> - On the shelf near my chair, next to a Friday evening glass of Bordeaux wine I have just poured myself! <BR> <BR> <img src=" Fri, 4 Sep 2015 14:40:28 EST My Sunday hike in the woods It was a hot summer day in the Paris area today, so I decided it was the best day for a hike I had kept on the side: a 17K (11 miles) hike entirely in the Carnelle woods (Forêt de Carnelle), about 20 minutes away from home. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> OK, it was humid! But it was so much less hot in the woods, it was really pleasant. Only I did a stupid mistake which could have had some nasty consequences: I... Sun, 30 Aug 2015 16:25:57 EST Hiking around Saint-Just- en-Chaussee, finally! After a gorgeous summer, the weather has been very wet and much cooler these last few days in Paris (and it is again today). So yesterday I was deligthed to see it was a warm, sunny day! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I drove to Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, in the Picardie area, about 80K North of Paris. From the start, it was lovely! I parked outside the library (isn’t that a beautiful building?)... <BR> <BR> <im... Thu, 27 Aug 2015 06:55:06 EST