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Dreaming of France: 29 Avenue Rapp

Scrolling through my Instagram& finding this image, I’m surprised I haven’t shared this particular French door for Dreaming of France before. 29 Avenue Rapp boasts what might be the most famous door in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful.

Designed by Jules Lavirotte in 1901 it’s a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and features the very risque sculpted Adam and Eve above the door. I first saw the building in the movie Gigi as the building where Gigi's Aunt Alicia lives and where Gigi goes for her lessons in how to catch the right man. Preferably someone rich like Gaston.

Naturally when Mark and I visited Paris, we had to pay the building a visit. What struck us about 29 Avenue Rapp was how many people just walk on by, as if were nothing special, just another old stone edifice, the door, just another entry. I think even if I lived on the block, even if I saw the building and its door every single day, I would still have to pause and take it in. Not a whole …

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 44: Uxbridge to Hayes

 If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the previous days. We're heading to the Central Line. This is Day 44.

Last week I told you I was taking the tube to Uxbridge—the terminus of the Piccadilly Line—and walking the rest of the way to Hayes where my mum grew up at #3 Mansfield Drive. I’ve foraged through a load of old pictures but I can’t find the house in our collection and I can’t tell from the image on google which of these houses it actually is as the numbers don’t seem to be marked. Both homes have been spruced up over the years, and to be honest, neither rings a bell. Neither house has the red painted front steps I picture scrubbing and polishing to a shine as a toddler. In reality, knowing the way three year olds work, I wonder at my polishing and scrubbing. When my boyo was little I would give him a pail of water and a sponge paint brush so he could paint our front steps. Maybe that’s the kind of scrubbing I did. Imaginary.

Looking at the birds eye view, the houses do have the long, narrow back garden I remember. My grandmother’s had a wooden fence at the very end, overgrown with blue morning glories. I have a vague memory of sitting out there bashing away on a toy piano, or maybe it’s just that I’ve just seen the photograph enough times to believe I remember. One of those funny tricks of the mind where the stories others tell us become our own.

As long as we’re in my familial neighborhood I did find a few interesting old photographs.

My grandmother, Maude Hayden, as a very young woman.

My mother as a child with her parents. 1928/29

My mother was born in England in 1925, her father—who we called Pop—took the family to India shortly after her birth, where they stayed for the first eight years of her life, living the kind of British Raj lifestyle depicted in Indian Summers on Masterpiece Theater. 

 Pop at 231 The Broadway, Southall

Years and years later, back in England, this photo dates to my grandfather’s time as a newsagent at this shop in Southall. Today it’s an Asian Meat & Poultry Market. I included the trek to 231 The Broadway, Southall in my virtual journey below. It’s a long one today, 5.4 miles so put on your high heel sneakers.

Counting the Fitbit steps

Day 1-43:                                                 
steps/137.6 miles      

Day 44: Hayes                                         12,150 steps /5.4 miles    

Total Imaginary Miles to Date           325,340 steps/143 miles

Days 1 —43

It's British Isles Friday when I link up with Joy Weese Moll I blame Joy for getting me started on this crazy journey!


  1. Great family photos! I'm impressed that you can put that much family history together with a modern map.


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