Paris for New Year’s: Day 4

The day on which we had “Parisian date night,” and when I found my most and least favorite museums of the trip.

By now, some of you may be wondering how I can write about such details from a trip we took a year and a half ago. The answer is simple: we keep a little notebook. Each morning while we ate breakfast, we recorded what we had done the day before and planned what to do on that day.  And as I said in my last post, this was about the point in the trip where I got un petit mal du gorge – a little sore throat – which lasted for the rest of the trip. Being the sweetheart that he is, Sal took it upon himself to record our activities on this day. I have a difficult time reading his handwriting, but I’ve tried to preserve his voice a bit as I describe this day.

Despite the sore throat, this day is a very fond memory. On this day, we went to what has become one of my favorite museums, we ate the best steak frites I had on the whole trip, we saw bunny rabbits, and we had some very traditional – but unusual – fun at the end of the day. Read along to see what happened.

As I said, I was a little sick this morning with a scratchy throat. We slept late and ate a nice apricot custard tart from the fridge – part of our local market haul on the first day. Then we set out to the 7th arrondissement, a neighborhood on the Left bank where embassies and aristocratic households are – including the Hôtel Biron, home of the Paris section of the Musee Rodin. The Hôtel Biron is unique in that it is fully free-standing and set back from the streets, surrounded on all sides by formal gardens instead of nestled up against an entry courtyard. Rodin lived in the hotel in the early 1900’s and was quite taken with the idea that the building should become a museum to his life’s work. To ensure this end, he left his studio, work, and papers to the city of Paris upon his death.

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Design Thinking: Veganism, Constraints & Innovation

I’m not a vegan, but I play one in design thinking workshops. Why? Vegan cuisine is a great example of design constraints in action.

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My “frustrated” face

Over the years I’ve handed down a lot of design assignments to students and workshop participants. These assignments range from “ideate something that can happen on a cell phone that would help a new person feel welcome in your city” to “create a time-keeping device that expresses your future career goals.” Whatever the goal of the assignment, the reaction is typically the same: people are frustrated by constraints.

When I tell students that their time-keeping device can only be made out of the six objects in the box in front of them (including a rock and a piece of red string), they immediately ask about adding additional items. When I tell workshop participants that their “welcome wagon” must include a cell phone interaction, they ask about building a community center. Some people – at this exact moment in their relationship with me – probably look at me and think What a crazy jerk. If only she’d let me use my idea it would be so good!

So why do I try to constrain design in specific and often weird ways? Because the alternative is watching people flounder for inspiration, stick to what they already know, or bite off more than they can chew. Providing clear and often extreme restraints in a design exercise is the same as guiding a graduate student to pick a very specific thesis topic: it clarifies the work in the long run and prevents important discoveries from being lost under a mountain of other information. In my experience (and I’m probably biased) by the end of these projects, learners see the value of those tight, strange guidelines they were given.

At this point, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to talk about veganism… Well, here it is. I think vegan cuisine makes an excellent case study of how seemingly extreme constraints can lead to a flourishing of innovative solutions.

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Paris for New Year’s: Day 3

Ah, our third day in Paris… henceforth to be known as the day we walked nearly 14 miles. Our combined love of museums and my own issues with anxiety and crowds bounced us around some well-known destinations: the Louvre, Angelina, the Galeries Lafayette, and the Palais Royal. We also ended the day with a very special discovery, which that has become a fond memory for both of us.

For New Year’s 2015, I went to Paris for eight days with my well-dressed partner in crime, Salvatore. I started to write it up last year but put my blog on hold for a while – so here is the rest of the series. You can start reading here.

This a longer post with many photos, because that’s what I personally enjoy in a travel blog. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer you. J’apprends le français, desole pour mes erreurs.

Ah, our third day in Paris… henceforth to be known as the day we walked nearly 14 miles. Our combined love of museums and my own issues with anxiety and crowds bounced us around some well-known destinations: the Louvre, Angelina, the Galeries Lafayette, and the Palais Royal. We also ended the day with a very special discovery, which that has become a fond memory for both of us.

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We woke early so that we could get breakfast and head to the Louvre to beat the lines. We ate at the café downstairs from our flat, La Rose de France. This charming café became our daily spot for petit dejeuner because of the extra-extra-buttery croissants, the quirky velvet décor, and the fascinating proprietor. She seemed a force to be reckoned with. I don’t have many photos of the interior because – while polite and welcoming – she seemed to notice when I had my camera out and didn’t look pleased by it. I may have misread her attitude, but it seemed best to err on the side of respecting boundaries. Visit their website to see how cute it is. If you ever visit and wonder where the storage is, I’ll tell you a little secret: it’s under a trap door in the floor!

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Paris for New Year’s: Day 2

For New Year’s 2015, I went to Paris for eight days with my well-dressed partner in crime, Salvatore. I started to write it up last year but put my blog on hold for a while – so here is the rest of the series. You can start reading here.

This a longer post with many photos, because that’s what I personally enjoy in a travel blog. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer you. J’apprends le français, desole pour mes erreurs.

We rented an Air BnB in Place Dauphine for our trip, and when we woke up our first morning, I had no regrets about paying a little extra for the location. I could lean out our top-floor window and peer down into the triangular park below. People starting their day crossed the bare each between benches and little Christmas trees.

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For breakfast, we ate the bounty of last night’s walk: pain levain, tiny apricots, and a sheep’s milk cheese from La Fromagerie de L’Isle. Then we set out with a particular mission in mind; my half-brother, Mark, had heard we were going to Paris and given us a card with a $20 bill inside and these instructions:

“Take this money and change it into euros. Then go an area you haven’t explored yet and walk down an interesting-looking street until you see an interesting-looking café. Go inside and get two coffees and two croissants. Look up and take a photo of whatever you see from where you’re sitting. Send it to me – that’s my souvenir.”

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