S.A. Partridge's Blog, page 3

May 11, 2015

The Franschhoek Literary Festival kicks off this Thursday.

I have two school events and one panel on the main festival programme. If you’re in town and interested to hear what goes into writing teen fiction, join myself, Edyth Bulbring, Mamle Kabu and Zimkitha Mlanzeni at the Church Hall on Friday at 10:00.

Thursday 14 May:

10:30-11:30 School event – Bridge House School

Friday 15 May:

8:15 – 09:00 School event – Groendal Primary

10:00-11:30 Who likes what teens read? – Church Hall

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Published on May 11, 2015 02:17 • 11 views

March 19, 2015

A flyer for the Fresh Start Club at the Cape Town Zombie Walk

A flyer for the Fresh Start Club at the Cape Town Zombie Walk

To say that Terry Pratchett got me through high school would be an understatement.

I was a loner at school. After moving suburbs I had to start at my new high school a year after everyone had formed their close circles. Most of those friendships were carried over from junior school anyway.

I was a borderline goth, a tomboy and painfully shy. And I lived in the poorer neighbourhood bordering the manicured garden city where my school was located. It’s safe to say I was doomed from the start.

I had friends. Lots of them. But they were neighbourhood kids that I only saw in the afternoons and on weekends. During school break I sat by myself, reading.

But I had Terry to keep me company. His books were my escape hatch to the Discworld, which has always existed parallel to mine.

All the hidden references in the novels made me feel like I was privy to some larger inside joke. And I was the only one reading them. Every footnote, all Nanny Ogg’s double entendres, Rincewind’s mixed feelings about potatoes – they were mine alone to enjoy.

I know this because every time I visited the library to take out another one, the check-out page would be empty. If there was a date stamp it was because I had taken out the book before.

In a world where I was as important as the earthworm specimens in biology class, those books kept me sane.

I remember sitting on the steps behind the building giggling uncontrollably when Rincewind unwittingly started off creation with an egg and cress sandwich. That scene still makes me laugh.

I’ve never lost my love for the Discworld. When I started working, my paychecks were spent building my collection. And I collected everything – from the companion novels and quiz books to the maps and diaries. I even own the boardgames.

My life is richer for it.

When I started my LEGO stories Tumblr there was no question about what literary characters I wanted to recreate in LEGO.

So here are a few LEGO stories inspired by the Discworld.

Men at Arms

He [Carrot] could lead armies, Angua thought. He really could. Some people have inspired whole countries to great deeds because of the power of their vision. And so could he. Not because he dreams about marching hordes, or world domination, or an empire of a thousand years. Just because he thinks that everyone’s really decent underneath and would get along just fine if only they made an effort, and he believes that so strongly it burns like a flame that is bigger than he is.
From Men At Arms

The last continent

It was a complete mystery to Mustrum Ridcully, a man designed by Nature to live outdoors and happily slaughter anything that coughed in the bushes, why the Bursar (a man designed by Nature to sit in a small room somewhere, adding up figures) was so nervous. He’d tried all sorts of things to, as he put it, buck him up. These included practical jokes, surprise early morning runs, and leaping out at him from behind doors while wearing Willy the Vampire masks in order, he said, to take him out of himself. From Men at Arms


‘It’s the expression on their little faces I like’, said the Hogfather.

‘You mean the sort of fear and awe and not knowing whether to laugh or cry or wet their pants?

Yes. Now that is what I call belief’.
From The Hogfather


All dwarfs are by nature dutiful, serious, literate, obedient and thoughtful people whose only minor failing is a tendency, after one drink, to rush at enemies screaming “Arrrrrrgh!” and axing their legs off at the knee. From Guards! Guards!

Soul Music

C. M. O. T. Dibbler liked to be up at first light, in case there was an opportunity to sell a worm to the early bird. From Soul Music

Thank you Terry. Thank you for the wonderful stories and the characters and the in-jokes. Thank you for your wonderful sense of humour and your wit and your mind. But most of all thank you for giving me a reason to smile at a time when the world was unkind. I am a better person for it.

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Published on March 19, 2015 05:16 • 51 views

March 2, 2015

I was going through some old notebooks yesterday and found my reference images for the character of Demi from Sharp Edges.

As you can see, I was toying with the idea of calling her Dakota for a while.


I like to visualise my characters when I work and fill diaries with inspiring images and character references (sometimes I even draw them myself). Another fun aspect of researching Sharp Edges was hanging out at music festivals. You don’t see me complaining!

These images were originally from weheartit.com

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Published on March 02, 2015 00:14 • 33 views

January 27, 2015

Pride and Prejudice Bennett House Dining Room

I’m a recipe magpie. Basically this means that more often than not, someone else invented the meals I cook. I love my celebrity chefs. Put me in front of a TV and I’ll watch The Great British Bake Off and Little Paris Kitchen all day.

For Christmas lunch I whipped up a feast for family and friends. Needless to say I drew on the expertise of Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater and good old Jamie Oliver to help me out. Everything tasted great, so clearly there’s nothing wrong with my cooking. I just love recipes.

It’s not that I don’t like experimenting in the kitchen. The problem is, if I see something delicious, then I get the sudden urge to make it myself. This isn’t confined to food shows. After binging on Downton Abbey, I was struck with the impulse to invite people over for tea and cucumber sandwiches.

I don’t even need to see a picture of a dish to want to make it. Reading about food is enough to get me in the kitchen. As a kid my favourite book was Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree. If a recipe for Silky the fairy’s Pop Biscuits existed at the time, I probably would have insisted my Mom make them. (Thanks to the Internet, it does now)

Tasting real honest to goodness Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Studios in Leavesden was pretty much the best day ever. I’ve even hosted my own Harry Potter party complete with chocolate Snitches, liquorice wands and pumpkin pasties. (I blogged about it here).

Reading any Terry Pratchett novel is enough to get my tummy grumbling. From Archchancellor Ridcully’s Wow-Wow Sauce to Distressed Pudding and Sausage Inna Bun, if it sounds good, I want to eat it.

You can imagine my joy when Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook came out. And yes, I own a copy. It is much loved.

The Lord of the Rings is another great hunger inducing novel. Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses? Yes please! I’m not alone in this literary food quest either. The Internet is bursting with recipes for Elven Lembas Bread and other fictional delights. There is even a blog dedicated to recipes of dishes mentioned in Agatha Christie novels.

I was on leave recently and decided to spend my days reading Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. It’s a sublime book, filled with delicious goodies. For example, quite early in the novel, Cromwell baked a batch of delicious tarts for Lady Anne and her ladies. The whole point of being on holiday was to do as little as possible, but after reading that chapter I put the novel down and reached for the nearest recipe book.

If you’re curious to taste the Tudor treat for yourself, Jamie Oliver has the most amazing recipe for jam tarts.

Thinking about it, this fascination with literary nom noms isn’t that unusual. I love cooking as much as I love books. It makes complete sense to combine them both.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the kitchen reading a book.

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Published on January 27, 2015 02:15 • 32 views

November 17, 2014

Tis the season to get reading.

I don’t know about you, but I always buy a book or two (or three) to read over the holidays. We’re so lucky to have the most beautiful weather over the festive season, and there’s nothing better than sitting in the sunshine, or under the shade of a tree at Kirstenbosch Gardens, with a book and the entire afternoon to read.

There are some amazing young adult books out there at the moment, but before you reach for the nearest John Green or Cassandra Clare, why not give some local fiction a try? And if you’re buying for your kids, nothing beats a great story set on home turf.

Here’s a handy list of local young adult fiction available right now.

Army of the Lost The Mark

The Army of the Lost by Lily Herne

The third in the Mall Rats series, The Army of the Lost is set in a near-future South Africa decimated by a zombie apocalypse. This instalment takes place in a corrupt Johannesburg enclave and is just as thrilling as the first two.

What the back says:

“Eleven years after South Africa was ravaged by the walking dead, most of Johannesburg’s survivors are forced to scratch out a living in the filth of Sandtown, an enclave in the old Sandton City mall, ruled over by a minority of rich, self-serving bureaucrats. Tommy, a bullied fourteen-year-old Sandtownite, dreams of joining the Army of the Left, a radical organisation intent on setting the city free of the dead that lurch around its walls. But fate has other plans for him…

Betrayed by one of their closest allies and sold to the highest bidder, Lele, Ash, Ember and Ginger – the remaining Mall Rats – find themselves sucked into the dark heart of Jozi’s twisted political system. While Ash is forced to face his traumatic past and Ginger struggles to regain his sanity, Lele goes head to head against Jozi’s most powerful manipulator – a man who has sinister plans for her. Meanwhile, left for dead on the outskirts of Jozi, Saint begins her own journey. A journey that she hopes will provide the answers to all of the Mall Rats’ unanswered questions…”

Sally rating: 4 stars

The Mark by Edyth Bulbring

Edyth is paving the way for other local writers to follow. Her incredible April May series is already making waves overseas. The Mark is her latest offering.

What the back says:

“In the future, the world has flipped. Ravaged by the Conflagration, this is a harsh world where the relentless sun beats down, people’s lives are run by a heartless elite and law is enforced by a brutal brigade. A mark at the base of the spine controls each person’s destiny. The Machine decides what work you will do and who your life partner will be.

In this world, everyone must make their contribution. Some more than others.

Juliet Seven – “Ettie” – will soon turn 15 and her life as a drudge will begin, her fate-mate mate will be chosen. Like everyone else, her future is marked by the numbers on her spine. But Ettie decides to challenge her destiny. And in so doing, she fulfils the prophecy that was spoken of before she even existed.”

Dreaming of light Devilskein

Dreaming of Light by Jayne Bauling

Dreaming of Light has been raking in the awards, including gold at last year’s Sanlam Youth Prize Awards and being listed on the prestigious IBBY Honour Roll.

What the back says:

“Regile is a zama-zama working illegally in an abandoned mine near Barberton. Being eighteen, Regile has moved up the ranks and is now paid a salary to keep the other child workers in line.

Towards the end of a three-month stint underground, a fourteen-year-old boy from Mozambique, Taiba, starts asking questions about their rescue.

Taiba constantly reaffirms his belief that they will be saved: by the police, by the private security firms that guard the mines, or maybe even by the mythical Spike Maphosa. Regile knows that such hope is dangerous.”

Watch the trailer.

Devilskein and Dearlove by Alex Smith

This is my ultimate favourite book of 2014. It’s gorgeously fantastical and lyrical and has already made its way on to the Carnegie Medal longlist.

What the back says:

“When thirteen-year-old Erin Dearlove has to move in with her aunt on Cape Town’s bustling Long Street, she struggles to adapt to her new life, harbouring a dark secret. But her friendship with their upstairs neighbour, Mr Devilskein, soon helps her to adjust. Like Erin, Mr Devilskein has something to hide: he is the keeper of six mysterious doors. He entrusts Erin with the key for one of these doors, and she discovers that they lead to infinite magical worlds. In wonder she explores an underwater paradise, the lost works of William Shakespeare, and a beautiful Chinese garden. During her adventures she meets a prisoner names Julius Monk, but Julius is not all he appears to be. The captive and his Book of Dooms prove dangerously enticing, and soon it is up to Erin to save the lives of those she’s grown to love.”

Sally rating: 5 stars

Watch the trailer.

Chain alive

Chain Reaction by Adeline Radloff

I loved Adeline Radloff’s action-packed super hero story, Side Kick. This is her latest novel, which bagged a silver Sanlam Youth Prize.

What the back says:

Chain Reaction tells of the experiences of bully Stephanie Adolphus; the beautiful Krystle Thomas whose home life holds a shameful secret; Lisakhanya, a girl from the township; Krystle’s sister who is trying to make any sense of her life; Dillan, Stephanie’s bullied little brother; and Ben who has an overbearing abusive stepfather.

Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view. In the end, one character’s decision to do something differently, impacts on all the character’s lives. It deals with the issues of bullying, the notion that true beauty is a blessing and not a curse, the complexities of young love, and fear of abuse.”

Alive Again by Andre Eva Bosch

This intriguing title won a Gold Sanlam Youth Prize earlier this month.

What the back says:

“The highly intelligent and very beautiful Nandile Dube hopes to be an “honest human rights lawyer to make sure helpless people get treated fairly and with respect”. Her mother supports Nandi’s dream and works double shifts to pay Nandi’s school fees. Mrs Dube constantly encourages Nandi to chase her dream. Nandi’s father, however, thinks education is wasted on a girl.”

sharp_edges beastkeeper

Sharp Edges by S.A. Partridge

My fourth book for young adults was released last year. It received the MER Prize for Best Youth Novel at the Media 24 Literary Awards.

What the back says:

Six friends attend a music festival in the Cederberg. Only five come back. For her seventeenth birthday Demi Crowley invites her five closest friends to join her at a music festival for a party to end all parties. But what was supposed to be the night of their lives soon becomes a nightmare none of them will ever forget.

Sharp Edges is a topsy-turvy tale of love, loss and friendship that will stay with you long after the final page has been turned, and leaves you questioning what you really know about your friends.”

Watch the trailer.

Coming soon:

If you can wait a month or two, I highly recommend getting Cat Hellisen’s new book, Beastkeeper. It’s a beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast that’s already attracting rave reviews, and it’s not even out yet!

What the back says:

“Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.

When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.

Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.”

Sally rating: 5 stars

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Published on November 17, 2014 01:21 • 72 views

November 6, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.52.17 AM

I want to tell you about Rosie Brooks. Picture in your mind a perpetually smiling blonde with star tattoos who loved music.

We met many years ago at work. We were both ad-copy writers for an e-commerce company in the city. We hit it off as only two broke girls trying to be independent could. We decided to share a small cottage in Harfield Village.

It was chaotic and fun and thinking back, we were both far too young and irresponsible to live on our own. But neither of us would give up that independence for anything. Somehow we made it work.

I rather liked our modest little household.

We took the train to work together, which was always an experience. We would eat tomato Fritos while we waited for the train to leave Cape Town station. Quite often we had to change our route home to avoid a creepy southern line stalker. (He once threw stones at our window and we realised that he had secretly followed us home).

One night we walked to Rosmead Spar to buy emergency supplies and pretended that the drunks lurching around the streets were zombies. We ran home half laughing, half screaming.

Another night we sat huddled together in the lounge with all the candles we could find and listened for possible sounds of a break in. It was during a time of rolling blackouts and our street was experiencing a crime wave. Three families moved out after repeated robberies, so during the night in question we were surrounded by empty houses on all sides.

We forked out money we didn’t have on ADT.

She was convinced her room was haunted. I think we were both more frightened of ghosts than we were of burglars.

We were always stone broke. I used to store my non-perishables for the end of the month. On more than one occasion I would reach into the cupboard for a tin of tuna only to discover an IOU. I put stickers with our names on them on our respective cupboards. Despite this blatantly passive aggressive move, Rosie would always share her food with me. She was incredibly unselfish and always wanted to know about you, about your family, about your pets.

Sometimes we would clash and these fights were legendary. Many notes were passed under each other’s doors. She would blast Metallica when I wanted to go to bed. I would slam doors. We always made up afterwards.

Neither of us could afford tickets to attend Cokefest at the nearby race course, so we sat on fold-out chairs in our garden and listened to Muse and Chris Cornell, both heartbroken that we couldn’t go. Thankfully the music was loud enough for us to hear perfectly clearly. Korn was so loud I couldn’t sleep that night.


Doing nice things for people was second nature to her. She sent her beloved sausage dogs to live somewhere else so that my cat Hannibal could stay. Even though her dogs were there first. She loved Hannibal. Every time I ran into her she would ask after him.

Rosie was a Fighter. She had successfully assassinated her demons and had levelled up to Survivor. She would host support meetings at the house and afterwards would toss all the cups in a crate which she would hose down outside. In this way she taught me how boring housework could be tackled creatively. I still wash my clothes in a bucket in the shower. Lots of stomping is involved.

I was the first to move.

I’m sorry to say we didn’t stay in touch.

Over the years we ran into each other a few times – at Woolworths, at a work function at the Strand Hotel, at Home Bar where we were both on disastrous dates, in the waiting area at my office where she was applying for a job.

I knew she was sick, but she was always so positive, so strong.

Last year she came to my book launch and I could see she was fighting for her life, even though she refused to say it. She wouldn’t stop smiling and kept asking after my Dad and Hannibal. She said she was seeing someone that made her super happy.

I found out this morning that Rosie passed away. Even though we lost touch after our brief time as housemates, her death has derailed me. She was so vivacious, so full of life, so infectiously happy.

She left a mark on me like one of her star tattoos.

So now that you know about her, I ask you to never forget.

Remember her for her smile, her generosity and her fighting spirit.

Please remember Rosie Brooks.

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Published on November 06, 2014 01:24 • 37 views

November 5, 2014

This year I dressed up as Chucky for Halloween.

This year I dressed up as Chucky for Halloween.

Can you believe it’s already November?

This year has zoomed by, but everyone says that, right? Look down for a second and you’ll find that time has rushed right past you like the Flash on his way to a crime scene. A week has already passed since Halloween.

As I type, all the plastic spiders and pumpkins are being replaced by glittery tinsel and fake snow is being sprayed on the windows.

I’m not ready to let go yet.

If only Halloween lasted for more than one measly day a year.

Imagine going to work every day dressed as your favourite horror movie monster. Imagine walking to your front door to find Skrikkie the skeleton grinning at you while your neighbour’s doorbell, still set at “bloodcurdling scream,” scares the pants off a passer by.

I’d be pretty happy if every day was Halloween. I’d never tire of the guy from repro running around in a clown mask trying to scare everyone. And meetings would be so much more enjoyable if all the participants were dressed as zombies.

I would throw out all my clothes and invest in x-ray stockings, black capes and a good quality witch’s hat. The only exception would be the obligatory superhero costume for Free Comic Book Day. And maybe May the fourth. Maybe.

Spooky food would be on the menu every day. “Is that a finger sticking out your salad, Sally?” Why yes. Yes it is. Would you like some Eye of Newt?

And instead of mints, restaurants would hand out jelly eyeballs and marshmallow ghosts.

Cinemas would only screen scary movies. Animated films would all feature adorable monsters. Every series of The Simpsons would consist entirely of Treehouse of Horror episodes. Vampire fiction would never go out of fashion.

It sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

I recently dyed my hair black and blue, kind of like Bluebird in the Batman comics. The day after Halloween a cashier at Woolworths asked me if the blue streaks were a leftover from Halloween. I looked up and the words just flew out.

Every day is Halloween, I said.

And it really should be.

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Published on November 05, 2014 02:37 • 27 views

October 15, 2014

Hello. Watches tumbleweeds roll across blog page.

It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been quietly chipping away at a new book and catching up on my reading. I’ve been meaning to post some reviews for ages, but every time I open up a blank document something distracts me (work, but also fun things like seeing friends, creative collaborations and adventuring around with my partner in crime.)

So before someone or something grabs my attention, here are some thoughts on a few recent reads.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Some books hit you like a bullet. Once I picked up Gone Girl, it didn’t matter that I had an apartment full of guests; I had to read, read and read until the book was finished. Flynn’s style is electric. The first and the second half really gripped me, but the ending left me a little uncertain.


Nick and Amy are both bottom of the barrel dodgy. They deserve each other. I was a little disappointed that Amy was dismissed as a crazy woman and that was the end of it. I didn’t want to sympathise for Nick. (He’s even more “likeable” in the film) But I suppose everyone will have his or her own interpretation. That’s the beauty of books.


I waited until my partner had seen the film before voicing my thoughts (FYI it’s not a great date movie). As we drove home from the cinema we spoke about relationships, the compatibility of men and women, secret lives, pretending to be someone you’re not. I love that a book can open up dialogue like that. It’s definitely stayed me long after I’ve put it down.

Girl with all the gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts by Mike Carey

The Girl With All The Gifts is a zombie novel with a difference. I loved how easily I could slip into all the different characters’ heads – a zombie girl, her teacher, a mad scientist, a military man. Carey has created a smart, entertaining read with science at its core, adding a new perspective to the zombie origin story, and frighteningly, one based squarely in reality. (Do yourself a favour and Google Amazon zombie fungus). Fast-paced and twisty and a must for fans of the genre.

For those of you who missed Mike at the Open Book Festival, here are some photo highlights.

Army of the lost

The Army Of The Lost by Lily Herne

The third in the exciting Deadlands trilogy, The Army of the Lost follows the Mall Rats as they’re captured by a mysterious militarised group. The book is set in post-apocalyptic South Africa after a zombie outbreak has decimated the human race. A fun, effortless read, especially for fans of contemporary YA and zombies. I’m particular impressed with the diverse cast of characters representing real South Africa and the LGBT community.

I also read The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick and Garden of Dreams by Melissa Siebert and I’m currently reading Tease by Amanda Maciel but these reviews are for #STBooks and will appear on Bookslive at a later date.

What are you reading at the moment?

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Published on October 15, 2014 02:17 • 87 views

September 29, 2014

I always look forward to September, when literary giants descend on Cape Town for the Open Book Festival.

I was excited to chat to The Girl With All the Gifts author Mike Carey for Open Book’s first-ever zombie dress up event. I arrived dressed as Dr Caldwell, a character from the novel, while Mike turned heads in his zombie make-up.

We had a great discussion about The Girl With all the Gifts, which is the must-read zombie novel of 2014, plus Mike shared his knowledge of all the parasites and organisms that could eventually lead to humanity’s extinction (He is quite the expert). Thankfully, he had some tips on how to survive if that ever happened.

Many thanks to Warren Talmarkes for taking these awesome photographs of the event.

(Click to enlarge)

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Published on September 29, 2014 03:47 • 26 views

September 17, 2014

The world was made for exploring and life for adventure. That’s what my partner and I told ourselves as we headed off for a week to the city of love.

There is so much I want to say about that magical place, but that would probably take a week or more to write, so while I ponder over my notes and get my head around the experience, here’s a list highlights.

Ten things I loved about Paris


1. The atmosphere

It doesn’t happen on the first day, but after a while a shift happens. You slip into Paris as if someone put rose-tinted shades over your eyes. The graffiti and traffic and commuters disappear and suddenly you’re there – the sidewalk cafes, the gently rolling river with its lock bridge, the golden fall leaves, the bicycles rushing past – all of these elements form part of the undeniable spirit of Paris.

2. The markets

One morning we woke up and found a sprawling fresh-produce market right outside our hotel that sold everything from flowers and vintage clothes to farm-fresh fruit and cheese. Everything was just picked and delicious. The strawberries tasted like a real strawberry should – soft, spongy and subtly sweet.

3. The food!

We swore to eat as many meals as possible at the bistros and cafes lining the sidewalks of the city. One exception, and the culinary highlight of our trip, was a light lunch at the garden cafe of the Rodin Museum. A simple ham and cheese baguette for him, a pasta salad for me and the most divine mille-feuille and raspberry tart to share, washed down with an ice-cold glass of chardonnay. Oh and the glacé macarons (macarons with ice cream in the centre) were out of this world.

4. Montmartre

Located at the top of over 200 steps lies Montmartre, a charming district with narrow stone streets, cafes and ivy covered buildings, all watched over by the stunning Sacre-Coeur basilica. We loved this place so much that we visited twice; once to browse the artists’ market while savouring crème brûlée ice cream, and then to visit the Dali exhibition and to eat moules-frites and crepes.


5. The Seine

We discovered romantic Paris in the guise of the hundreds of couples lounging along the banks of the Seine. It’s ridiculously beautiful, with more than 30 bridges, each with their own story. We found our own spot under the scowling heads of Pont Neuf to enjoy a light lunch. The Seine is glorious in the afternoon, with the autumn leaves falling at your feet and the golden sunlight reflecting on the surface and glinting off the gold leaf on the statues.

6. Canal Saint Martin

Our last night in Paris was spent strolling alongside the Canal Saint Martin looking for a bistro to have dinner. As the sun went down, hundreds of people made their way to the banks to picnic, have a beer or a glass of wine or to just hang out. The area had a wonderfully convivial atmosphere.

7. The museums

It goes without saying that Paris is famous for its art. We took in as many museums as we could and took full advantage of the fact that they’re free on the first Sunday of the month. The collection at the Louvre is incredible – Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Ingres, Delacroix, as is the Musee de Orsay – Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Gauguin. A friend asked me to bring back a Monet souvenir, so we headed to Musée de l’Orangerie to see his famous Les Nymphéas, which were truly breathtaking.


8. The exhibitions

We went in off-season, which turned out to be a win-win as the weather was beautiful and the queues were short. We had the Star Wars Identities exhibition entirely to ourselves, so we could take our time navigating our way through the interactive choose-your-own-adventure. Plus I can now say I saw C3PO and R2D2 in real life. We saw an ad for the Dali Street Art Exhibition on the metro, so we saved that for our last day.

9. Disneyland

Was so much fun. The rides, the Studios, the shops, the LEGO store. The downside of going in off-season was that some of the rides were closed for maintenance, but there was no way we could have done them all in one day anyway. Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast comes highly recommended.

10. The history

Walking in Paris is like walking on top of the past. We rested our feet in the Tuileries Garden, built by Catherine de Medici in 1564. We visited Notre Dame, where Mary Stuart married Francis II in 1558. I browsed for books at Shakespeare and Company, modelled after a bookshop frequented by Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Everywhere we went had echoes of the famous men and women that came before us. All of it formed part of that unforgettable spirit of Paris.

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Published on September 17, 2014 06:10 • 27 views