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Day 304: Fountain of the Rivers

As previously planned, I have gone back to Place de la Concorde for more photos, but with a promise that they’ll look different. Today, we are getting a view towards the north, with clear image of the fountain at this public square and a couple of landmark buildings at the background.

This fountain is called Fountain of the Rivers, with allegorical figures representing rivers Rhône and Rhine, surrounding by figures alluding to wheat, grapes, flowers and fruits, the main harvests of France. The classical and majestic building behind the fountain is Hôtel de Crillon, formerly a palace but today one of the luxury hotels of Paris with its own Michelin-starred restaurant. To the right corner of the picture, you’ll see La Madeleine, a church built as inspired by Maison Carrée of Nîmes. I’ll come back to La Madeleine another day.

Day 303: Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre

After all the temple overload, here’s a change of image. I was up at Montmartre and spotted this church just across from Abbesses métro station – the Église St-Jean-de-Montmartre. Many would also call it Église des Abbesses, given its location, which makes it confusing for non-locals. Initially, I was wondering myself if the two names refer to the same church.

I love the bright colours used to stain this series of glass panels. The use of iconography here is very much along the classical line, but these glasses have been painted with clear landscape and swirling sky, a scene that is not typical for this depiction of Christ’s cruxifixion. At least none that I recall. Of course, one can argue, after countless of stained glass seen, how could I remember the details from one to another? It’s true, you know.

Day 302: Montmartre spying continues

Remember my recent greedy/wild photography mission? Here’s a new shot of Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur, and today the view point is none other than the newly-opened 5th floor gallery of Musée d’Orsay! After a week of strike action by the staff of the museum, it finally reopened on Thursday and I made good use of my MuséO card to gain entrance for a look at the new gallery.

From this shot, in the foreground, you can see Jardin des Tuileries in full autumn glory and the adjacent buildings of rue de Rivoli. But note the tiny golden statue at the left hand side, just peeking above the roofs. I’ve tried magnifying the photo to check, but couldn’t quite make it out. I’m deducing one of the golden sculptures above Opéra Garnier, but I can’t be absolutely certain. There’s something odd that makes me doubt this deduction. It needs further confirmation.

Day 301: Cultural station – Concorde

At the first glance, the walls of the Concorde station (for métro line 12, not 1 nor 8) seem to contain a whole bunch of decorative and alphabetised tiles, but surely that cannot be. If you take a little time though, words start to jump out, in French, but trying to make sense of it all is quite a daunting task. Without punctuations and spaces, to a non-native speaker like me, after a couple of lines, I was quite lost.

These tiles actually carry extracts from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen), a document dated back to the days of French Revolution. (Back then, however, they forgot women’s rights.) This was put in place in 1989-1991 during the renovation of the station by Françoise Schein.

Day 300: Les péniches

Autumn colours have really bloom in the last few days. Last week when I passed this very same spot, there were speckles of orange and yellow, with a lot more green. But now, look at it, the leaves are burnt orange, ochre and golden in hues. Simply beautiful. Soon these trees would be stripped bare by nature though…

I like it how these péniches are so well lined up along the River Seine (at authorised quay sides of course), and the little touches the owners put to make them as homely as possible. In the horizon, Grand Palais looms large. It is currently hosting an exhibition of Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso… the Stein Family. Should be a good one, and I need to find time to go over.

Day 299: L’Acteur grec

Now that autumn leaves are showing their colours, I could not resist going back to Jardin du Luxembourg, to this spot where I have in past love the view it afforded me, with colourful flower beds and the Phanthéon standing proudly in the background.

This sculpture represents a Greek actor in rehearsal, with the manuscript in his hand containing the lines that he ought to learn, and a mask that will disguise his true self once drawn over his face. I do wonder if it is a tragedy that he’s rehearsing for, or perhaps something more cheerful instead?

Day 298: Mazzolin di fiori

Today’s photo is courtesy of a tip-off from Chloé. I was told “there’s a funny sculpture thing outside Odéon theatre which you may want to check out for your photo-of-the-day”. Of course! I’d happily check out things that are novel (to me) and record them for posterity. ;)

This egg-shaped igloo-looking sculpture – yes, you can walk in and it’s taaaaall at 5.5m in height – is a work in oxidised aluminium by Andrea Salvetti. Mazzolin di fiori (bouquet of flowers) is made entirely of cut metal sheets of, well, flowers (5 petals each). It is pretty to look at, but not to seek shelter when it’s raining. It’s a bit leaky. Not sure how long Avant-Scene will sponsor its existence so if you want to check it out, make it quick.

Day 297: Cœurs de nature en France

I have just got round to look at the photos currently on exhibition along the Jardin du Luxembourg. It started about 6 weeks ago, of which I was away for a good couple of them. Entitled Cœurs de nature en France, this exhibition will run in two waves – the first from 15 September to 4 December, and the second from 6 December to 15 January 2012.

The exhibition is showcasing some of the most spectacular photos of nature of France, be it within the l’Hexagone or the overseas territories. It makes me want to abandon my desk and head out to the natural parks and experience that piece of beauty myself, in person. Then I recall I am not that outdoors-y a person, and I won’t even have the right gear to be out there safely. Still, a girl can always fantasise. Or learn how to survive the great outdoors. ;)

Day 296: Auto Passion

I don’t normally go to a bar at 10am, least to say on a Sunday morning at that too. Today is an exception. My friends and I need a place to watch the Rugby World Cup final match between host New Zealand and the challenger France. Our original intended location had problem with their tv set so there was a small frantic search for a new place nearby and quickly.

We found a bar that is quite sports-themed, in particular, motorsports. It doesn’t really matter, as long as there are live broadcast of the match. But during the break, I surveyed around. It is a rather impressive interiors that they’ve got here, complete with even a car right smack in the middle of the bar. In a city where space is at a premium all the time, this form of use of space is unusual, but I guess that’s also what makes it special. They’ve definitely got the passion for all thing auto.

Day 295: Salon du Chocolat 2011

Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme chocolates!

One of my favourite events of the year has got to be Salon du Chocolat. An annual event held at Porte de Versailles, in the past, I have travelled specifically to Paris so I can splurge on amazing goodies at the salon. This year, well, I live here now. No excuse to not go. ;)

This year, it’s busier than ever. I don’t remember the salon being packed at 10.30am in the past, but it is now. Anything wonderful that can be created using chocolate, can be found here. Dresses, replicas of Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, beloved carton characters – they are all somewhere in the exhibition hall this weekend!

My haul this year? Quite reasonable compared to the past. At least I believe so, hehehe. A couple of bottles of chocolate wine, some chocolate selections, a couple of boxes of pralines, and discounted Gü products.

Day 294: Smile

I love it when something extra pops up on my photos.

Walking down rue de Rennes, this series of glass windows/walls caught my attention for the reflection that it was giving off. And because of the angle of the building, it makes an interesting combination of refracted objects, which include other buildings and street lamp.

It was only when I was home, and uploaded this photo, that I noticed the smiley. Someone has sprayed one onto the wall of a block off the main road. It is simple, just two big eyes and one mouth line, but sufficient to put a smile on my face too. It’s a sign to tell me to keep faith and be happy. So I am. :)

Day 293: Foggy morning

It is such a change to wake up to a peaceful morning with a view of fog-shrouded woods, instead of hearing the city vehicles zooming by, occassionally laced with emergency siren as the police/ambulance/firemen/SAMU tried to get somewhere as quickly as possible, and all we see is just the same old buildings surrounding us. It makes me want to stay here longer, but alas I have to pack to leave later in the day.

Everyone I’ve spoken to have enjoyed the change of scene, and a handful few had even walked the woods like we did, which starts just beyond these wooden benches. When it is not foggy, you could even see a lake just beyond the trees. I guess in this condition though, it may be a tad tricky to wander around in the woods, not to mention it is a wee bit chilly, brrrr. I need a cuppa hot chocolate.

Day 292: Les champignons

Midweek getaway to the countryside – what’s not to like? I’m on a 2-day work retreat and this morning, we’ve all been whisked away to Nouan le Fuzelier in central France. A good couple of hours drive away from Paris, we settled in quickly for a bit of a work session and lunch. After that though, a wee break to enjoy the rural landscape.

My colleagues and I went for a walk in the woods. Being the clueless one about French countryside, I got a lesson about nature today. Quickly thereafter, as my eyes adjusted better to our surroundings, I started to see new plants, noticing the ecosystem, spotting random wild mushroom colonies. That was pretty fun. However, since we couldn’t recognise the type of mushrooms, we decided it would be better not to pick some back for cooking. Have you any idea what mushroom variety this may be?

Day 291: Wine superiority

After last week’s confounding collage art by Tristan des Limbes, today’s piece found at Butte aux Cailles looks rather straight forward at the first glance. Or is it? Perhaps there is also multiple explanations to it, but I’m going with the most obvious.

I see this as an allegory of submitting oneself to the superiority of French wine. As good as made by the gods. But drinkers beware! Too much of it, and you’re slaving away to an addiction that will bring you down on your knees. For a substance to have control over you is never something positive.

Day 290: Body, 2011

There are some new additions to Jardin des Tuileries, but sadly they won’t be here to stay for long. It’s all in preparation for the FIAC 2011 contemporary art fair which will be running this weekend. And what’s nice about these outdoor exhibits (as opposed to those inside various museum spaces) is they’re free for all to enjoy!

While some pieces are still currently in construction (e.g. there’s a strange artichoke-like looking sculpture nearby), Moulène’s piece called Body (apparently inspired by Renault Twizy Z.E.) is already sitting pretty. With its striking colours, it’s quite hard to miss really. I’m going to make a round and see what else will be put in place.

Day 289: Chez Angelina

We all could do with a little treat every so often. For some reason, I seem to fixate on the idea for a cuppa white hot chocolate at Angelina and even managed to convince Liting to come along with me. However, as we got there by about 5pm (prime hour for pastry and hot chocolate), the queue isn’t inconsiderable.

Patiently did we wait for our turn. In between, we people-watched and stole a few (creative) shots. I particularly like this one, which I had all but a small window of opportunity to photograph. Sure I wish this is a sharper shoot, but the slight blur and imperfection are, in my opinion, the elements that made this image works. What say you?

Day 288: Sunny at Montsouris

Perhaps the autumn weather is not as bad as I thought. I can manage grey skies during the week while I’m at work, as long as every weekend is as sunny as today. Enough for me to sit outside with a good book and read for a few hours and I’m pleased as punch. What can I say? I’m a simple girl, enjoying simple things of life.

Clealy I am not the only one taking advantage of this pleasant weather. Families are out in throng. Couples too, whispering sweet nothing (or so I am assuming) to each other. And those of us flying solo, we’re content just to have our own me-time. I, for one, needed this, since I am a little stressed out from work. Here’s to oh sunny sunny day :)

Day 287: Rugby giants

Brrrr. That’s the vibration from my mobile phone. Anne has just texted me. “You should check rue Princesse for today’s pic.” Have I told you just how wonderful my friends are? They are keeping an eye out nowadays for anything that may be of interest to me and send tips my way. She was, however, being mysterious. It means I do need to check this out myself.

As soon as I turned into rue Princesse, I couldn’t stop giggling. And silently thanking her for knowing me this well. Two French rugby jerseys in gigantic size are hung over the street, reminding everyone that France is still in the game and on path to compete for the Webb Ellis Cup. They would have to defeat Wales tomorrow to be in the final, against either Australia or New Zealand. Nailbiting stuff!

Ps: France fell at the last hurdle, losing the Rugby World Cup by 1 point to New Zealand on 23 October.

Day 286: Jazz on the street

Paris loves jazz. Or maybe it’s jazz loves Paris. Either way, they are good things, because I love both. It means while I explore the nooks and corners of the city, I could always count on coming across someone playing live jazz. It could be a bar, or it could be on the street. I’ll take whichever comes my way.

At this moment, I could sway and dance to the music, or barely tap my foot in sync with the melody. Instead, I am trying hard to keep still, from not humming the song and let it vibrates through my body. I already only have a small compact camera and it’s getting dark, so two strikes against the possibility of good pictures. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be successful in getting a single sharp photo of this quintet, but that’s ok too, because I am too happy to care.

Day 285: Mini Lion of Belfort

Another monument at public square for you today – it’s a miniature of the Lion of Belfort. It sits rather prominently at Place Denfert-Rochereau, with plenty of after office vehicles zooming around in their rush to get home, or make it for dinner appointments, or whats not. At the same time, there was a vanful of police next to me so I just made a quick job of photographing this and left.

The Lion of Belfort was sculpted in celebration of France’s resistance during the siege of Belfort, led by none others than Colonel Denfert-Rochereau. Given this square in the 14th arrondissement is already name after the colonel, why not place a miniature of the famous lion that commemorates the effort at the square, right?

Day 284: Au secours

This piece of street art is very intriguing. When I last walked past the junction between rue des Feuillantines and rue Pierre Nicole, it was in the summer. I didn’t see this collage then. But it was there this evening. Its creator goes by the name of Tristan des Limbes.

I can’t quite make out who is making this cry of help, nor the reason why. Is this a representation of mother earth crying out for help, or someone’s buried conscience, or something else? But I guess that’s makes art beautiful in its own right. It can have multiple interpretations, each to its observer, and still there is no need for just one answer. It may be A, it may be B. It may even be Z.

Day 283: Paris Observatory

It is another grey autumn day in Paris (I best get used to it), but not particularly cold, so still alright to wander around a little in the evening on a long walk. Somehow, my aimless stroll took me to the historic main building of Observatoire de Paris. The one the famously aligns with Fontaine de l’Observatoire and Jardin du Luxembourg.

So this quilted looking dome of the Perrault building is the Arago dome, named after François Arago, the director of the Observatory from 1834-1853. It houses an astronomical telescope, and may be visited as part of a 2-hour guided tour (reservation required) of the entire building. The tour also takes you floor by floor, to see the talking clocks room (ground floor), the grand gallery (first floor) and the Cassini Hall (second floor) where the Paris meridian is marked. I should try to book myself in for a tour.

Ps: hmmm, the French version says reservation is currently not available.

Day 282: Sunday market – Philippe

“Philippe!”
“Oui?”
“T’es occupé?”
“Naaaan. Qu’est ce que tu penses?”

Ok. I give up. I am simply unable to recreate the atmosphere at the market on paper. Or in this case, on blog. And in French. Especially in French.

Philippe is the local producer that I get my greens from at the market. He’s friendly, always smiling, and patient with me while I stutter through my shopping list week after week. To be honest, anytime that I’ve been there, he’s always busy. Maybe with exception at the times that I was at the market much earlier than usual. He’s usually there with a couple of assistants, working steadily to serve the customers in line.

There’s a warm camaraderie between Philippe and a couple other stall vendors nearby. It is not unusual for them to holler and ribbing at each other, looking for some change (they are each other’s bank for coins and smaller notes), have a cuppa coffee and a bite f croissant pre-9am rush. This is the kind of atmosphere you’ll never get in a supermarket. This is the kind of cheering up that I’d happily take any Sunday morning.

Day 281: Cultural station – Saint-Germain-des-Près

The métro station of Saint-Germain-des-Près is special, in that, unlike all other (cultural) stations in the city, it doesn’t have large billboard spaces. Just clean, white-tiled curved walls. And glass display panels. Perfect as space of temporary projections of works of art and literature.

I was running late for my friend’s party near Odéon this evening. When I looked out the window of the métro at Saint-Germain-des-Près, there were projections of illustrative works by students of an art school (sorry I forgot to jot down the name). I made a mental note that I must return to this station later, on my way home. I love the vintage Hollywood vibe of these sketches. Think Cary Grant and Gregory Peck. And now go, awwww.

Day 280: Fountain and tower

With the days getting shorter, it’s getting more and more challenging for me to do after-work photowalk. Even tougher when I have tango class to attend this evening, so back to some place I don’t have far to go – Place de la Concorde – mere 5 minutes walk or so from yesterday’s view point.

Standing in front of the Jardin des Tuileries by the gate, a few options come to mind. I definitely could come back here a few more times for very different shots. For today though, you’re getting one of the fountains at Place de la Concorde (the south Maritime Fountain) with a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. There were too much traffic though, of else I would have shot a more inclusive photo, instead of this weird half-way cut-off, oops.

Day 279: Across the river

I’m beginning to believe that if you throw a coin at something in Paris, you’ll probably hit a landmark of some sort. Some more famous than the others, of course, but sometimes, even what seems to be something nondescript, could well bear a sign to tell you that someone famous used to live or do-such-and-such here.

Standing along Quai François Mitterrand and looking over the River Seine, on a large scale, it’s easy enough to spot Square du Vert-Galant, Pont Neuf, statue of King Henri IV (of France) and the dome of the Panthéon. With a navette throw in there for good measure. Could be nice with some blue sky over it though, don’t you think? Pretty please, I’d like the grey days to be over.

Day 278: A night at the opera

Yay, my first opera in Paris!

When I was young, I had this impression that opera are meant for some old and rich couples who don’t know what to do with their free time. That was until I gave it a go at the Arena di Verona. I saw Aida that fateful summer evening, and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve returned to Arena di Verona a few more times as well as watching operas in Dublin and in Vienna. I’ve seen many of the most popular operas.

Most operas in Paris are nowadays shown at Opéra Bastille; Palais Garnier is more commonly used for ballet performances instead. However, Anne and I found out that Mozart’s last opera – The Clemence of Titus – would be performed here instead, and given the reasonable price that we could find, we snagged two seats for tonight. The arias were well sung, the location opulent and indulgent, the set carefully altered at each scene, and the orchestra played beautifully indeed. It was a very good night out.

Day 277: Behind the curtain

If you ever wonder, if someone is spying on you from an abandoned building, then there is probably something there. Maybe not a person per se, but possibly a trompe-l’œil that somone is tracking you from behind a small curtain. I guess this can be spooky at night.

This building on rue de la Glacière is marked for tearing down and rebuilding. Cranes can be seen peeking through the metal barrier put up to prevent public wandering onto a building site. There is an air of neglect, which made this trompe-oeil even more striking. Can you feel the loneliness radiating from this boy behind his hiding place?

Day 276: Café Pouchkine

There will never a short supply of French pastries in this city but for a change every now and again, foreign(-inspired) pastries are much welcomed too. I, for one, could not resist the durian macaron from Pâtisserie de Choisy, or matcha and azuki bean cake from Sadaharu Aoki. Today, I discovered Russian-accented French pastries.

Café Pouchkine can be found at the ground floor of Le Printemps. The cafe may be small – bar/counter seating for about 10 people? – but the pastry selection is solid and they pack quite a flavour in them too. Only two pastry varieties were tested today, so I will be back to check out some others. Hopefully soon.

Day 275: It’s a crush

Given we still have very sunny spells for now, the last of the flea markets are taking place in a few locales around the city, one of them being Butte aux Cailles. What is normally a quiet and small street – well, more like a lane – was completely jammed today! The photo doesn’t lie.

I have browsed my share of brocantes since I started living here. You know, it is actually common enough for these flea markets to be very busy, but mostly of people browsing rather than buying. It also appears as if the vendors brought everything unwanted from the storage an try to offload them whichever way possible. Let’s just say I am no longer surprised at seeing a rusty old bicycle frame being put on sale. No wheels. No lights. No basket. Just rusty frame. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure ;)


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