Thursday, 18 September 2014

Creativity a la francaise - what creative things I've seen in Paris and Dijon (Part 2)

As I mentioned in the previous post, before going to France I didn’t really expect to find many inspirations for writing (ah, prejudices!). As to my surprise I gathered a nice collection of pictures presenting what creativity means in the small part of France I visited. 

Since we left the Paris Nord train station where we arrived from London with Eurostar, my head couldn’t stop moving and my mind processing. As always, when I am in a new place, I want to grasp its atmosphere and see as many things and places as possible, so I was very keen on walking from one train station to another to see a little bit of a “real” Paris. 

First stop on our walk was Café Craft at Rue de Vinaigriers (for courious ones, "vinaigrier" is a vinegar bottle). Couple of weeks before our trip a friend of mine (and a faithful reader of this blog) had sent me a link to an article about coffee houses around the world that one has to visit in life. What a coincidence that one of them was Café Craft, located 15 minutes walk from the train station where we arrived!

It is a tiny place which combines a coffee house and co-working space. They have a few tables outside and maybe up to 10 seats inside, plus about 10 computers designated only for those who wish to spend their working hours there. When we came the queue was formed of some local people – two of them looking like they work in the area, another lady looking like a scholar and a few tourists (seems like more people read the same article ;-) Only one person was serving a whole bunch of people thirsty for a delicious cup of coffee. He was a quiet man who made hundreds of flowers on latte made and who looked like he really loved coffee. We took our lattes away and enjoyed walking through the rest of Rue de Vinaigriers which seems to be a creative place with artisan boulangerie on the corner, art shops, restaurants and other cafes. It’s a place which asks you to stay for longer and to revel in its artistic atmosphere. 

During our further walk through the streets of Paris I was surprised by couple of things: how many people use scooters as a mean of transport, that a stereotype of French people caring fresh baguettes in their hands IS real, homeless camps in the city centre and creative accents. Last group included a hand-made bike basket, tables and chairs made out of carton in a grill bar, inscriptions on the shop (showed in the previous post) and more. 

Our final destination however wasn’t Paris but Dijon in north-east France in the region of Burgundy. It’s a place known not only for great wines but also traditional (and hot) mustard. It welcomed us warmly with tidy streets, bread smelling from every corner, good coffee, picturesque parks and again signs of creativity. One of them impressed me in a special way. It was a live advert of table tennis playing in one of the parks. Two men were walking with a small table tennis table up the main street and playing along the way. At the same time, a girl was handing out leaflets inviting to play table tennis in one of the parks that weekend. What really attracted me in that one was an effort they made to advertise the initiative and also how they used, theoretically, a simple objects and surrounding to attract passers-by. 

What I really like to find are examples of creativity in daily life and in public spaces. That’s why I couldn’t stop myself from photographing this post box made of an old wine barrel. Also, I really like that in the Museum of Fine Arts they put an easel with papers for the amateur draught people to showcase their skills. Even my husband tried to draw few lines. 

Some other examples I found in the food industry. Burgundy is not only about wine and beef but there are many other great examples. If you ever get to Dijon I recommend you visit restaurant L’Epicerie et Cie which I’ll describe in details in next post but what also caught my attention was black & white pasta, a great base for creative dishes. 

While we stayed in France the weather was beautiful, time with our friends amazing and the experience of getting to know French creativity encouraging. I already can’t wait to board Eurostar again and explore Paris and other places in more details. Et voila!

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