Tag Archives: The Little Prince

A perfect synergy

Like pretty much everyone on Earth, I love Moleskine notebooks. They are beautifully crafted yet solid enough to survive the punishments of travel. Then they also come with a history that sets them apart from other stationers: the illustrious writers who made their name, and the company that was brought back to life after the original makers went bust.

As you may remember, I also love The Little Prince. So imagine how my heart and wallet was open to this:

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Nice work, marketing team!

Inside it is mostly the usual Moleskine day-to-page diary that I can’t seem to function without, but there are some sweet little touches here and there. The back cover has a favourite quote from the book, the paper insert features another, as well as passport details for our small royal. Not forgetting the ‘Adhesifs en Edition Limitee’. The eternal child in all of us couldn’t fail to be excited by these limited edition stickers:

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When I was a child, I remember my mother taking time out of the busy pre-Christmas schedule – usually on a Sunday, it would probably be raining – to copy out the birthdays and important anniversaries from the old diary to the new. I might sometimes sigh over her shoulder at the months and months I had to wait until my birthday, but I loved the ritual of marking the year’s important events. One of those essential yet time-consuming life admin tasks that can fill you with a nerdish glee as they progress.

I haven’t filled out this one yet, but I am very much looking forward to doing so, as well as to seeing what the year held within its pages has to bring.

For some, who are travellers, the stars are guides.
For others they are no more than little lights in the sky.

Pour les uns, qui voyagent, les etoiles sont des guides.
Pour d’autres elles ne sont rien que de petites lumieres.

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The Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone, Japan

Finding myself with time to spare and a copy of The Little Prince at hand, resting on the shelf more for decoration than for anyone to read, presented an opportunity. So I settled down, opened the pages and drifted off on adventures with my friend from Asteroid B-612.

Later, the realisation dawned that I had been meaning for a long time to write about my visit to The Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone but the endless concerns of pretending to be a grown-up had intruded. The photographs remained tucked away and with them my memories of walking down a French street without having ever left Japan.

A street in Provence, in Japan

This is not so much a museum as its own world: dedicated to The Little Prince and the life of the pilot he meets in the desert, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The buildings that house the museum, along with the gardens that surround them, could have been transported here from Europe.

Museum entrance with gardens

Museum gardens

Little Prince Museum grounds

While the attraction may be owned by a Japanese broadcaster and have been created in the midst of a literary theme park boom, it has clearly been put together by those who love the author and his most famous work. There is much joy to discover in the small details. This window exhibit in one of the shops on the French street features contemporary adverts from airlines and destinations that were popular during Saint-Exupéry’s flying career.

Suitcases on display

Here is the entrance to the exhibition hall where, once admitted, you are required to put the camera away.

Theatre du Petit Prince

That is a shame as far as this photo series goes, however it does allow the visitor to focus on the detailed recreations of scenes from the author’s life, including his childhood bedroom, office from the early days of postal aviation and apartment during his exile in New York, among others.

The exhibits’ descriptions are mainly written in French and Japanese, although there is an audio guide available in English. Having made the decision to go without, I coped pretty well while giving the last vestiges of my French abilities a workout. It doesn’t really matter which language you are most comfortable in though, as the final exhibit shows, The Little Prince now appears in almost every language found on our planet.

There is, as you would expect, a well-stocked gift shop, café and restaurant. Yet even on a grey day such as the one of my visit, with rain never very far away, the gardens are not to be rushed through. To do so may mean missing one of the many scattered sculptures.

Here is our hero with the characters of the sheep and the fox:

Little Prince, sheep and fox

Little Prince detail

And here he is on his small home, with his rose:

Little Prince and Asteroid with rose

The details of Saint-Exupéry’s life are worthy of a hundred adventure tales and, whether you are familiar with his works or not, a stroll around this beautifully crafted museum is an excellent way to discover more about the man and his creations.

Model of Saint-Exupery's plane

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Japan, the museum is about an hour away from Tokyo. A visit will delight all who are children, or were once children or who wish they still were children.

What better guide could you ask for?

Le Petit Prince, Hakone

For you it’ll be as if all the stars are laughing. You’ll have stars that can laugh!

 

 

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Fortunate discoveries in Paris

If Paris were a female she would be a natural beauty with Debbie Harry’s chiselled cheekbones, natural bone structure, a facial composition of bliss and elegance.

debbie-harry-annie-leibovitz-vanity-fair

The kind of girl who looks amazing even with just a simple outfit on, hair scraped back and early morning breath. Artistry is in the very DNA of the City of Light. I love to amble around watching the day turn into night and witness the compositions I’ve seen in Brassai’s photography come alive.

brassai

Sunday morning, sharp cold air stabs like a thousand miniscule icicles. Time to fuel up on bread and jam with proper coffee taken in a French café, where they had run out of croissants. I meander towards the Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse, through the cemetery.

Montparnasse-cemetery

Here the dead live in close proximity with the living in high-rise apartments, but as my old Nanny Carrie used to say:

It’s not the dead you should be afraid of, lad, it’s the living.

I should be on the right path, yet to be honest, je suis perdu. I stumble upon the La Pagode cinema on the Rue de Babylon and eventually hit the Seine.

seine

Bang a right and allow myself to flow along the river. Like a piece of flotsam I drift, starting my exploration through the myriad of booksellers.

Peter Ackroyd personifies London, in his biography of the smoke, as a living entity. The tube, river and roadways acting as arteries pumping the life blood into the epicentre. Keeping it alive. The river is potentially the oldest part, the life line of the city. It is true of Paris also.

Along the Seine there are around 200 independent book sellers outdoors. 300,000, collectible, new and used books and magazines under open skies. The banks are littered with iconic green metal boxes, depicted in numerous famous landscapes – notably from the Impressionist period.

bouquinistes 2

There is an urban myth about the origins of this bohemian trade. A ship transporting volumes of books capsized near Notre Dame. Sailors rapidly swam ashore taking with them as many books as they could and sold them to the passers-by to substitute the wages they had lost. This quick sell proved to be a lucrative venture.

The Bouquinistes sold old, bashed volumes and highbrow society would not buy these vulgar types of books. In 1450 with the invention of the printing press, there was an increase in the sale of pamphlets targeting the government and the church. The vagabond traders had no fixed selling point meaning if necessary they could make their escape from the law. The area along the river became a rallying place for citizens and students to vent their spleen.

The literary business really took off following the Revolution; houses of the bourgeoisie were demolished, emptied and affluent book shelves were sold through the bouquinistes.  Jean Genet, the infamous writer, made stealing books and selling them on to the bouquinistes practically an art form and his signature trademark.

Bouquinistes

During World War Two, the Resistance transmitted code messages in the pages of the books. It was a hard task for the Nazis to find the messages hidden.

I decide to take a trip along the river by boat. Sadly, as I take in the sheer beauty of Paris, at least 3/4s of the people on board chose to experience Paris by water, not through their own eyes but through the perspective of the “I” phone.

I remember a time when I could go to a gig, dance like a loon and throw myself around. Now in recent gigs I’ve been to, I have seen people recording the event, filming the whole spectacular. Recording life, instead of living life, has become the new hashtag experience! Eyes are the window of the soul, but does anyone have a spare charger?

I finish my journey at The Shakespeare and Co Bookstore, a favourite haunt of mine and decide to purchase THE LITTLE PRINCE, one of those many titles I have not quite got around to yet.

the little prince

A perfect way to lose oneself on a Sunday morning in March.

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