CLAIREINPARIS's SparkPeople Blog CLAIREINPARIS's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community 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 fe... 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: ... 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> ... Thu, 27 Aug 2015 06:55:06 EST Sweet encounter in Bouafle A hike, finally! I have been on vacation for a few days now and was longing for a hike! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Yesterday I went to the Yvelines area West of Paris, not too far away to where Holly and her husband and I hiked a couple of weeks ago (was it already so long?!). <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src="http:/... Tue, 18 Aug 2015 12:22:50 EST Hiking in Andresy with HOLLYM48 On Wednesday, during a lovely evening with HOLLYM48 and her husband (who are currently visiting Paris from Minnesota!), we agreed to go on a hike today in the North-West suburb of Paris. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> About 2/3rd was through the town of Andrésy and the rest in the woods and the fields. It was such a perfect day for a hike! Sunny but not too hot, without too much wind, and just enough little c... Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:18:53 EST Discovering Hermes and its neolithic paths! I decided to go back to Hermes today (near Beauvais, in the Oise area North of Paris). I had tried to do this hike 3 weeks ago but had to give up after 10 minutes or so, realising it was way too hot (well over 30C/90F). <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So I went back today, and the weather was just perfect. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR>... Sat, 25 Jul 2015 18:45:50 EST I love hiking in Normandy! Oh how I love Normandy! Hikes in Normandy are often my favourites. Today, I was in Pressagny-l’Orgueilleux, near Vernon (and near Giverny, Monet’s house and gardens), for a 16K hike. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> My hike started near the Antique shop. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> And a few minutes later, having crossed par... Sun, 12 Jul 2015 16:57:12 EST Hiking around Rosieres between sunshine and rain It could have been a 'not so nice' hike... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... first because I forgot my camera's memory card at home (thank goodness for phones!)... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... and also because it rained, twice -- and I even heard some thunderstorm in the distance (but it never came close, phew!)... So it a... Sun, 5 Jul 2015 14:58:13 EST Ethiopia Part 2 - Awash National Park In my first blog about Ethiopia, I shared what we saw on the way between Addis Ababa and Awash National Park, where we were heading for a couple of days. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So, after 5 dusty hours on the road, we entered Awash National Park and drove to the Awash Falls Lodge. We had been a bit worried of the rain season, but we didn’t see a single drop! <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photosaws.spark... Sat, 27 Jun 2015 06:46:39 EST Ethiopia Part 1 - a glimpse of rural life I had a great time in Ethiopia! I came back feeling really grateful for a wonderful time of friendship and sightseeing… <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> … and very fruitful meetings too! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I was in Ethiopia for work, but I am so glad I took a few days off at the end to discover a (tiny) part of the ... Sat, 20 Jun 2015 05:52:46 EST A beautiful day for a hike… or to visit gardens! As I am going to spend the next week or so in a capital city (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), trapped in meetings all day long, I decided that for today I needed a hike in the middle of the countryside (no cars, no people, nothing!). <BR> <BR> Haha. Well, things didn’t go according to plan at all! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> From the start, immediately after I passed by Auvers-sur-Oise’s church, I was confronte... Sun, 7 Jun 2015 14:01:44 EST A sunny hike with SARAWALKS Sparkfriend SARAWALKS is back in France for a couple of months, and yesterday we met for a hike. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (I love this picture of Sara, so typical of her! Very lively and happy!) <BR> <BR> It had been almost exactly one year since our last hike together, and we went to the Vexin again as it never disappoints (the Vexin is a National Park North and North-West of Paris)! <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photos-ak.sparkpeo... Sun, 10 May 2015 13:15:31 EST A lovely stop on the way back from Burgundy On the way back from Burgundy, last Monday, my friend Liz and I stopped in the little town of Avallon. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> (We had been staying in a village about 30 minutes South of Avallon in the Morvan area.) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Avallon was such a nice discovery! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... Fri, 8 May 2015 07:46:16 EST Hiking between showers in Burgundy I had been dreaming for a long time to visit the Morvan area of France, in Burgundy. You get a glimpse of it from the motorway when you drive from Paris towards the South of France, and I stopped once or twice to visit little towns, but never for a vacation. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Well, I am here now for a long weekend, with my friend Liz from London! <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 3 May 2015 03:31:26 EST An enchanting hike... almost til the end! My guidebook described today’s hike as ‘enchanting’. I thought it was worth giving it a try… See what you think of it. :) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It started in Fourges, in Eure (Normandy), where I did another hike (actually very different) a couple of years ago. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> ... Sun, 19 Apr 2015 16:15:58 EST Wild anemones paradise around Crouy-sur-Ourcq I believe most of the woods around Paris are a wild anemones paradise on this long Easter weekend! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It certainly was around Crouy-sur-Ourcq yesterday! I love that area! It is North-East of Paris, when I more often go North-West, and it feels different, like I am much further away from home than I really am. <BR> <BR> <img s... Mon, 6 Apr 2015 13:30:40 EST Morocco - Rabat mostly! I have been back from Morocco for almost two weeks now, it is about time I write a blog about it! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (photo taken in the old Kasbah in Rabat) <BR> <BR> As the title of this blog shows, I was in Rabat 90% of the time, apart from a very short trip to Casablanca one day when we had to pick up a colleague at the airport and took the opportunity for a short walk by the ocean. <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photos-ak.s... Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:15:50 EST A spring hike with Cora I am having a great weekend with my Dutch friend Cora, who got here a couple of hours after I flew back from Morocco on Thursday night (blog about that trip coming later this week!). <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (This morning as we were having breakfast in a café!) <BR> <BR> Cora took plenty of pictures of me during our hike in Saint-Pierre du Vouvray (Normandy) on Friday, so you’ll see me hiking for once! :-) <BR> <BR> <img src="h... Sun, 22 Mar 2015 07:50:18 EST A spoilt hiker You know what? I think I am spoilt! Tonight as I was driving back from my hike (30 minutes away from home), it struck me: many people would be delighted by what I saw today! So why am I a bit uncertain about it? <BR> <BR> There was beautiful weather and even warmth (about 19C/66F wow!)... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... and even though it was a bit too 'suburban' at times... <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 8 Mar 2015 16:02:15 EST Snowdrops! Early signs of spring... How I love these! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> When I see snowdrops I know we are getting there and soon I'll be hiking with sunshine warming my face, birds singing and the flowers' smell! But for now, snowdrops already bring a big smile to my face! They were everywhere today, right from the start in the pretty village of Valmondois. <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 1 Mar 2015 15:24:14 EST Hiking around Royaumont's Abbey I have been to Royaumont's Abbey (built 1228-1235) a few times, but I always get a shock when I get there... it is so beautiful it takes your breath away! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> When I reached Royaumont, I parked outside the abbey, took a couple of pictures, and then put my hiking boots on and looked for the path into the woods! I wanted to start with the hike, the visit of the abbey being the reward. :) <BR> <BR> <img src=... Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:00:23 EST Bay of Somme - Day 3 I am back home! And you know, I am already dreaming of going away again, possibly to the same area (almost)! More on that later... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Thank you all for your kind encouragements after my fall on the ice yesterday. I am completely fine today, not even sore apart from my right shoulder which is a bit stiff. But it often is, so I cannot even be sure it is because of my fall. <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photo... Sun, 8 Feb 2015 13:28:38 EST Bay of Somme - Day 2 I started the day with a 3-hour hike in Le Hourdel. It was a gorgeous morning! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> The tide was low and I loved the colours of the Bay! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photos-... Sat, 7 Feb 2015 17:54:43 EST Bay of Somme - Day 1 One of my main New Year Resolutions was to go away regularly for the weekend, for hikes, rest and sightseeing. I had been dreaming to go to the Bay of Somme (about 2 hours North-West of Paris) for ages, so the destination of this first weekend away of the year was easy! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Fri, 6 Feb 2015 15:39:51 EST A Parisian walk I hadn't been for a walk around Paris for a long time! Fittingly, it started here, at the feet of the Eiffel Tower... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> As you can see, it was rather cloudy! It wasn't warm either, but Paris will always be the City of lovers! :) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I decided to walk East to Notre-Dame, and then North through the Marais. Here is a map of... Sun, 1 Feb 2015 01:38:01 EST A beautiful day for a hike in the Vexin I couldn't have hoped for a more beautiful day for my hike in the Vexin area yesterday! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It started in Magny-en-Vexin, a little town I love, but I parked outside the town centre and decided to keep the walking in the streets and looking at shops for the end of my hike! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So I was almost immediately in the countryside... Sun, 18 Jan 2015 05:20:44 EST First hike of 2015! I enjoyed my walk in Saint-Leu-Lésserent so much, last week, that I decided to go back and do a different walk this time. Actually this time it was more like a hike, 3 hours, very muddy and steep at some point. I am so glad I am back hiking! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So I crossed the Oise river like I did last time... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... only this time I... Sun, 4 Jan 2015 13:48:38 EST One month post-op's walk! One month ago today, I was just waking up after surgery and not feeling at my best. :) I cannot believe how well I have recovered and how much energy I have now! I am still getting tired quickly, but today I went on a 2-hour walk and really enjoyed it! Little by little, I'll walk further and go back to 4-hour walks (and more!)! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So, today, I went to Saint-Leu-l'Esserent, North of Paris, near Chantilly whe... Fri, 26 Dec 2014 17:21:01 EST Back on my feet and walking around Chantilly I have missed my hikes during these last 3 weeks and a half! My hikes and people, if I am honest! 3 weeks at home after the hospital, I am more than ready to see my colleagues in the office tomorrow! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> But I am back on my feet and, as I said, I'll go back to the office tomorrow (for 3 days, then stopping again for a few days after Christmas). To celebrate this, I decided to go for a walk in Chantilly today... Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:00:49 EST Weight loss surgery - one week post-op Hello dear Sparkfriends, <BR> <BR> La vie est belle! Life is beautiful! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> If you have been following my hikes and travels for a while, you know I am convinced of it. Yet, life can also be tough. I gained about 100lbs in 3 years for several reasons too personal to explain here, and I didn't manage to lose them later. (Before you ask... Healthy eating - check! Exercising - check! Counseling - check! I con... Wed, 3 Dec 2014 06:25:21 EST A lovely time in Athens with NUOVAELLE and BLOOMINGLENA Hello dear Sparkfriends, <BR> <BR> Greetings from Athens, Greece! That was the view that greeted me when I reached the hotel on Saturday evening... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Striking no? For me however, being in Athens isn't just the beauty of the city and the excitement of work meetings (NOT!!!), but of course... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> ... meeting with NUOVAEL... Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:43:02 EST Hiking around Vétheuil Do you know Vétheuil? <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> If you are a Claude Monet fan, you actually know Vétheuil! The painter lived in the village between 1878 and 1881 and made over 100 paintings of it. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 2 Nov 2014 06:20:53 EST Lost but not shot! I am sorry for the dramatic title, but today was an eventful hike indeed! I don't think I like those, I'd rather have one of my usual hikes, where the worst that can happen is to get a bit lost... And speaking of getting lost (to start with the fun bit!), I haven't lost my touch! <em>334</em> Although it hadn't happened in a few months, I still know how to get completely at the opposite of where I am supposed to go during a hike!!! <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sat, 18 Oct 2014 17:24:41 EST Hiking back in time I had wanted to do this hike a few weeks ago already, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the terrible Ourcq Battle that took place in these fields and on these paths 6-9 September 1914. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> It was the very beginning of WWI, and everybody thought it wouldn't last, and the boys would be home in no time. Sadly, as we now know, it wasn't what happened. <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sat, 11 Oct 2014 17:51:23 EST A hike at last! It feels like ages since I last went on a hike, although it is only a little more than a month. So much has happened since then! September was mad, with 3 weeks away from home in total. <BR> <BR> But back to today's hike! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I went to Sigy-en-Bray today, in the beautiful hilly Bray area that I love so much, between Picardy and Normandy. The sun was shining bright (with just enough clouds to make the sky ... Sun, 5 Oct 2014 14:54:17 EST Rome - Part 3 I am really glad so many of you have been enjoying my blogs about Rome! I am now back in Paris but still remembering with delight the few hours I had to walk around the Eternal City. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I haven't shown you many 'touristy' places as such, because I had seen these during my previous visits to Rome - and they are rarely the places I find the most atmospheric! But I did see some of the main attractions of Rome... Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:11:03 EST Rome - Part 2 In my previous blog about Rome, I mentioned the little street where I stayed (I am still in Italy but now outside Rome attending meetings): via dei Chiavari. The picture below is of a little square right next to it, called 'Largo dei Librari'. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I liked it, and it was surprisingly quiet in a very busy area (at least quiet at day time!). This is in the Campo dei Fiori area, for those of you who know Rome ... Sun, 7 Sep 2014 16:45:50 EST Rome - Part 1 I arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon. I left my luggage at the hotel and headed straight to the Trastevere, South West of Rome, across the river Tiber. It is one of the most well known and loved areas of Rome nowadays, but it was hardly ever visited not so long ago! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> So, after a quick detour to a nearby 'gelateria' where I enjoyed a wonderful ginger and sage/raspberry ice-cream, I crossed the 15th cent... Wed, 3 Sep 2014 15:33:11 EST Around my favourite village Gerberoy is on the list of France's Most Beautiful Villages. And rightly so in my opinion! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Even without the roses that Gerberoy is well-known for and which had been mostly destroyed by the awfully wet summer we have been having! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> This me... Sat, 30 Aug 2014 04:37:37 EST