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Project 365 – Week 43

A mostly grey week made me hanker for more sunshine, but as I was busy catching up with various course load from my online classes, among other things, time just flew by and before I knew it, we were packing our bag to go away for the weekend to attend a family event, and by the time we got back to Paris, my best friend was settling in into our apartment with a cup of hot chocolate and awaiting our return. Next few days will be busier than ever!

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59 rue de Rivoli

21 Oct: It is easy to walk down rue de Rivoli and identify the building that is today an art squat. I’ve photographed 59 rue de Rivoli for my previous Project 365, and it appears the exterior of the building is ever so lively! The changes made had been subtle, in terms of forms of the decor given the theme promoted by the artists in residence, but the materials used seem to be similar, mostly clothes and string-based. I like this new “kite-like” theme more than the old “pants-like” theme.

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Project 365 – Week 41

It is somewhat disorientating to be back in Paris when I’m still in semi-Asian mode. You know, like wanting to eat noodles or nasi lemak first thing in the morning, craving for dim sum in the afternoon, longing for late-night supper, lamenting the lack of time to play more with my niece and my nephew, missing my family in general… Poor F had had an overdose of Asian food though (my family was feeding him ALL the time) and had decreed that we would be eating European fare for the coming weeks.

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Happy Hours

7 Oct: Many bars around Paris have some kind of happy hours offer nowadays, but sadly, not at my favourite cocktail hangout… and sometimes, I wish happy hours in Paris can be more like the happy hours in I used to enjoy in Milan. Strictly speaking, it’s not happy hours per se, but l’aperitivo, the time for a pre-dinner drink. Traditionally a good selection of snacks/food are also available and usually included in the price of the drink. Classic options include olives, chips, pizza and pasta but some upscale places would even serve fruits, antipasti, savoury pastries and more!

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Project 365 – Week 32

Having two cameras, one dSLR and one PnS, is a good thing. Depending on the situation and the size of the bag I’m carrying, I can opt to bring one or the other, or both. The downside, however, is I’m hitting more or less the same range of image number on both cameras. When it comes to organising them, I had to be very careful not to let any overwriting from happening. My folder system goes by the event name, and photos from both cameras could potentially end up in the same folder. I should reset the count for one of them.

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Cat

5 Aug: This kitty in real life look like a grey fluffy ball, loves to be petted, super duper cute, but for some reason, when I tried to photograph it, it gave me this serious big cat-like look. I guess it didn’t want to appear too adorable, and it was not too adorable indeed when it jumped on me at breakfast table one morning. It went straight onto my lap and leaving some scratch mark even though I tried to lift it up as quickly as I could. See, I was wearing shorts… ouch!

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Project 365 – Week 30

I’m beginning to think every week is a crazy week somehow. It’s the same ol’ complaint: so much to do, so little time. Clearly I haven’t yet figure out how to stop the time-drain that I bemoaned about a fortnight ago… On a more positive note, I’m getting a couple of sightseeing days in Brittany next weekend when I’m in the region for my friends’ wedding. Frankly, I’m superstoked about the prospect of this getaway, even if it’s a very short one!

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Wall-E

22 Jul: Last year, thanks to a promo, I got myself an annual pass to the Disneyland Paris. However, after that one visit with my siblings – where I didn’t go on a single rollercoaster ride – I haven’t been back until now. My inner child certainly loved this day out, squeeing in joy, humming repetitive songs, and making impressions of Eeeeee-vaaaaa and Waaaaaall-Eeeeeee. I finally tried a few of the newer rides that were not there before from, I don’t know, 2004, when I last really ran around Disneyland from one ride to another. Crush’s Coaster in my new favourite ride ;)

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Project 365 – Week 29

What a scorcher of a week. With temperature hitting high 20s and pushing into 30s, we are pretty much melting in the city. I guess most of Europe is really not equipped for dealing with such high temperature. In UK, roads were melting! This is the time that reminds me just how amazing the inventions of fans and air-conditioners are. And freezer to keep ice cubes.

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St Sulpice

15 Jul: Passing through St Sulpice in the evening is one of F’s favourite thing to do in Paris. He shuns the cathedral of Notre Dame (and its accompanying crowd), preferring instead to gaze at St Sulpice bathed in the shades of red and orange, and with just a handful few passerby, perhaps a few who also linger and happily sit on the benches surrounding the square in front of the church. The sound of the water from the Fontaine St Sulpice is calming, making us feel like we’re somewhere else and not in the busiest city in France.

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Project 365 – Week 24

I had not set out to photograph the week in shades of pink and blue, and yet somehow that’s how this week’s round-up is taking shape. Unintentional colour scheme aside, I’m experimenting a good bit with F’s new toy and totally having lots of fun at it! Looking at the photos below, you could probably figure out which were shot using the dSLR and which using my good ol’ PnS ;)

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Designer's Days

10 Jun: I am not sure why these flyers have just popped up on the phone booth near where I live. Afterall, Designer’s Days took place through last week and if any of the events needed promotion, it should have taken place then, not now. In any case, I like the retro feel to the flyers and the use of a large apostrophe as its identifying logo. It is simple yet relatable, and it is clever too, how the repetitive images in the background are linked to the quotation or the person behind the quotation.

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Project 365 – Week 22

Paris constantly surprises me. Streets that I use on regular basis still contain unknown elements, waiting to be discovered. Double-takes on my part become something I look forward to and I am also gradually more observant, provided I’m not in a hurry or lost in my own little world. I should start exploring them by foot instead of flashing past them on a bike or on the bus.

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Fontaine des Innocents

27 May: In the past, the royal procession of a newly-crowned King of France would enter the city on a route that includes rue St Denis and passing by Châtelet to get to the Palais de la Cité (today used as Palais de Justice). Commemorative monuments (most of them on temporary basis) would be erected along the route and the Fontaine des Innocents was among those erected to welcome the royal entry of King Henry II. Back then, the “fountain” was not free-standing but built against the wall of the former Holy Innocents’ Cemetery (hence the name), with taps to provide water to the citizens of Paris. The “windows” were actually part of the viewing balcony! It was moved to its current location in mid-1800.

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Project 365 – Week 19

There’s a change in the pace of my personal life this week, and instead of slowing it down a notch to catch a breather, it got cranked up to include reasonable amount of travelling for a couple of weeks. We just came back from the region of Lorraine where we attended a wedding over the long weekend, just to unpack and repack today for a week in Ireland. All these travelling is going to test my resolution when it comes to this blog’s schedule – I have opted not to travel with a laptop and I’m not normally someone who plans post(s) in advance either. Guess I will have to learn the how-to now, stat!

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Parisian terrace

6 May: It is May but the sunshine pretty much comes and goes, its level measurable by the amount of people sitting at the cafe terraces for a drink or two. On a good day, it could be a real challenge scoring a table from an already tightly packed terrace, never mind the best effort afterwards not to wince when presented with the bill that appears to have packed in also a cost for the beaming sunlight onto your table. Often (just often, not all the time), it’s worth it though.

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Project 365 – Week 18

What a day today has been. The emotional rollercoaster evoked by the general election in Malaysia, which undermined the true spirit of fair and clean election, was followed by the disenchantment that the popular vote didn’t translate into electoral win (because, you know, when the margin is small and one does 5 recounts to include “forgotten” ballot papers, one suddenly wins and that’s the end of recount!). Malaysians deserve more than polarising rhetorics from the ruling party, race-based politics, vigilantism against phantom voters, and bald faced lies propagated through the government-controlled media… :(

On the positive side, voters are more aware of their rights and more politically involved than ever – in the past, many didn’t even care because they felt change was a hopeless quest. They know better now. Their voices will be heard louder in the coming years. For now, time to look onward and upward.

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Column sculpture

29 Apr: There are many sculptures tucked within the Jardin des Tuileries and it seems I’m still discovering new ones each time I popped over for a stroll. Today’s find is one simply entitled Column, by Antony Cragg. Tucked just behind the Jeu de Paume, had I not been at the WHSmith to look for books and then decided to take a small walk, I may still not be aware of its existence!

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Project 365 – Week 16

This has been a week full of sunshine and bright sky, and the occasional downpour hasn’t dampened the mood at all. I find myself taking a lot more pictures than I normally would; as Sarah pointed out a few days ago, everything looks better with the sun. Without further ado, the photos from week no 16 of the year.

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La Tour Montparnasse

15 May: Not a lot of people have love for the Tour Montparnasse. It is deemed ugly, and Parisians normally joke that the best view in Paris is the one from the top of the tower, as this is the only place one doesn’t see the tower itself. Yes, it is out of place given the architectural style of the buildings in the surrounding, but I don’t think it should be so villified. Besides, for me, this is great for giving people direction on where my neighbourhood is. “See that tall tower over there? I live just around the corner from it.”

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Project 365 – Week 13

This round up is being posted later than usual. Despite last weekend being a long one, I was busy playing host (to a visiting friend) and tourist at the same time. My friend left this morning so I guess it’s time to get back to normalcy. Work to tease out, reading to catch up on, photos to sort, and blog entries to post. And oh, making up for lost sleeping time now that we’ve lost an hour to daylight saving. ;)

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Flowers

25 Mar: This bouquet of flowers reminds me of Wexford – the sunny southeast of Ireland – of which the official county colours are yellow/gold and purple. Ironically, there is very little sunshine in Paris at the moment that Wexford may well be seeing more of the fireball in the sky than here. Still, this vibrant combination does cheer the day up a little. To the big guy up there: hello, we’d like spring whenever you are ready to send it our way?

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Project 365 – Week 12

One of the big news circulating in the last couple of weeks has been on the imminent death of Google Reader. It may be a non-issue to many people (how many of you here read this blog via Google Reader as I advised last year, or do you subscribe to the email notification?) but to the more techy crowd, this represents a more serious problem. It’s an issue of trust. A number of Google Products have been retired in relatively short period of time (cf The Google Graveyard), and it is chipping away the goodwill of its users, many of whom have worked hard to build a techno-ecosystem that’s most efficient for their use. To have random tools taken away from this network of utilities is jarring to say the least. Last year, I was sad to hear about the shut down of iGoogle but there was over a year’s notice to transition the content elsewhere. With Google Reader, it’s reduced to mere 3 months. At least, you could still, for now, use Google Takeout to download all data that you want to keep.

Ps: I apologise for the lacklustre photos for the week. The lack of sunshine really shows how dull things can get…

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Paris

18 Mar: There is a typical “feel” of Paris which everyone could pinpoint out right away. In my humble opinion, it stems in large part from the architecture introduced by Baron Haussmann, which incorporates these distinct rooftop styles. The top floor with grey exterior, corresponding windows to the maid’s rooms, and terracotta chimneys that emit white fumes when there’s a nip in the air. If you are lucky, peeking through your rooftop view, you may well see some of the most well-known monuments, including the grand dame in iron, la Tour Eiffel.

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Project 365 – Week 9

Another gear has kicked in at work and the next two months will be full-throttle busy. I’m not yet sure how it will affect this project, but don’t be surprised if the photos are shot mostly between places I pass between home and lab instead of other Parisian neighbourhoods. The blame for lack of leisure reading now sits squarely on work too. I’m doing so much project-related reading that I have little wish to read more while at home…

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Paris snowy rooftop

25 Feb: It snowed overnight so first thing I did upon arriving at work this morning was to head straight for the top floor of the building. As it was still snowing at that time, the view was not as crisp and clear as I’d like. You could just about make out where the Eiffel Tower and the dome of the Invalides are in the shot. Oh how I wish I have an office on this floor of the building…

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Project 365 – Week 7

I have just realised, while I’m keeping up with this photo project, I am falling behind with my reading. A whooping seven weeks into the year and I’ve just finished my third English book, never mind none in French yet. And rather frantically, I haven’t been able to find my public library card either. A spring cleaning is seriously needed because I’m hoping to make this year the one where I make full use of the libraries around Paris instead of buying more books when I have no space to store them.

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Winter sunset

11 Feb: Frédéric often tells me how much he loves the winter sky, specifically the softer colour hue at the end of a fine day. This evening was one of those where you couldn’t take your eyes off the horizon, where shades of colours blended into one harmonious palate. I wasn’t the only one who stood rooted at a spot looking up – a number of people on my Twitter were excitingly sharing their photos of this beautiful evening.

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Project 365 – Week 6

It has been a strange kind of week, which I couldn’t quite put my fingers on. The days rolled by quickly and yet everything felt stretched out in time. And weekend, well, it just disappeared. Maybe that’s a sign I’ve spent way too much time on the phone (well, plenty of calls to be made to family to send my Chinese New Year greetings) and watching rugby (nail-biting, and ultimately disappointed that both France and Ireland fared poorly)?

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Miniature orchestra

4 Feb: Just how cute is this set of window display? It is a miniature orchestra set, most of the items smaller than my palm! The shop itself is one selling actual size musical instruments, mainly string instruments. Jean Pavie – Luthier can be found on Quai de la Tournelle, and this shop itself has been in operation for nearly 30 years. Creating is a work of art here, and there aren’t many of them around anymore nowadays.

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Project 365 – Week 5

As I’ve promised previously, back to normal transmission. I’m glad that the days are getting longer, but I’m a tad frustrated too that I’m rather busy at work so by the time I’m out of the office, it’s dark outside. There’s a limit to how far I can go without being home too late for dinner either. I must try harder to get more variations!

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Musée Curie

28 Jan: The first woman to ever receive a Nobel Prize, Marie Curie was an extraordinary scientist. She won not only one, but a second Nobel, and both in different disciplines (Physics and Chemistry). Her former lab has now been transformed into a small museum and it was also here where her daughter and son-in-law made new discovery that went on to win another Nobel Prize for themselves. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday in the afternoon from 1pm to 5pm. The admission is free. (I must come back when it’s open one of these days!)

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Project 365 – Week 4

Am I having alternate good and bad week with this project? Sometimes I even ponder if I know what I’m doing anymore… Perhaps it was also my state of mind – I started the week with a terrible backache, which tapered off but got me more cautious about overdoing it, about going out in the cold. Booo.

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The boy

21 Jan: Ok, this is cheating. This photo was actually taken on the snowy morning of 20 Jan, when F accompanied me to the Louvre and then to Montmartre. I stayed home most of the day to rest my aching back, and as a result, this project was far from my mind until the next morning. Ooops. As compensation, well, I give you F ;) (and he doesn’t even know that he’s going to be featured here!) I have no idea what he was doing either at this very moment – adjusting his neck-protector-against-the-cold thingy, I think.

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Encore plus de neige

Paris remained magical on Sunday morning. In fact, even more so in comparison to Saturday. Throughout the day, snow continued to fall all over the city (and other parts of the country), depositing layers of powdery ice over everything as well as everyone who ventured out from their cosy apartments.

Frédéric and I went out for an impromptu date morning, but first up, after seeing Carina’s blog post, he requested if we could stopped by at the Louvre before heading up to Montmartre, my destination pick. Of course! After we wrapped ourselves well, we were out the door.

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

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Not chasing for photos?

It feels a little odd, in the last few days, not to actively think of where I should go in search of my photo of the day. No more pondering if I’ve taken too many shots in a particular arrondissement and that I should venture further afield, nor worrying if the weather will turn against me and prevent a good yet brisk photowalk, and so forth. It is liberating. At the same time, I quite miss my daily “photo op forage”…

If you’re wondering what to expect the next time you drop by this page, well, I am still pondering the same question myself. Undoubtedly the major focus remains with Paris, perhaps not too different from the blogs of many expats in this city but hopefully there are still something new and fresh and interesting to you. Intermittently, I’ll talk about my travelling adventures, past and present, and finally share the many photos that I’ve taken but remissed in publishing so far.

I have a number of targetted projects for this year too, which shall not escape a mention in the blog, including (1) 36 views of Sacré Cœur/Montmartre, (2) museums of Paris, (3) cheese-a-week and (4) cultural metro stations. If there are anything in particular that pique your interest and want me to check them out, you can always let me know too!

This is a big year for me, with much on plan and I don’t yet know how much time I will have to devote to this blog. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to work on it on a regular basis and you will not be left without entertainment for too long. I’ll be back this weekend with a couple of updates to start. Later.

Day 356: À l’année prochaine, Paris

What a sunny wintry day today had been (a bit nippy though) while I ran around this afternoon to grab a couple of things, finished up packing and headed for the airport to catch my flight out to spend winter holidays with my family and to see my friends again. My worry on delays due to airport security staff strike was duly misplaced, as the terminal I was in was unaffected and if anything, our flight even left a little ahead of schedule. Chrismas magic indeed.

This shot is also my final photo for Paris in terms of Project 365, as I won’t be back again till New Year’s Day. How apt that this beautiful belle was giving me a chance to shoot her under conditions how I love her best – sunny, with quaintness for such a large cosmopolitan city, and the feeling of never-changing charm. Despite having passed by this area countless of times throughout the year, it just never get old and I am still seduced by the sights before my eyes. I’ll see you again next year, my dear.

Day 331: Pavillon de Flore

I suspect this is the last of the autumn colours in the city. Everywhere else, trees seem to turn (nearly) nude overnight. From my windows, I can now look across the park to see buildings on the other side since the privacy shield provided by tree foliage is disappearing. Going out without a coat and a scarf is no longer an option, unless you’re trying to dodge work/school and therefore need to get a bad cold (or pneumonia for that matter).

It’s less than a month to Christmas but my countdown is currently to the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. After that, with each passing day, we will see the day stretching itself longer again. Too little daylight hours is putting a real spoke into Project 365 since I’m exploring less in unknown neighbourhoods. You know what mama says about walking alone in the dark, especially when I haven’t a clue how to get out quickly from the area…

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 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 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 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 229: Cours d’Anglais. Ou pas.

Alright, I’m not really interested in English classes at the moment (although goodness knows, at times, I do need grammar refreshers course of some sort). What I do need, however, would be French classes. Five months in since my move and I’m not making as much progress as I would like to, booo.

Ideally, I should attend formal classes so I would be more disciplined. Working through the odd lessons here and there by myself hasn’t been too successful an endeavour, given how I’m often putting off running through the exercises. My friends and my colleagues have been brilliant, encouraging me to converse more in French, but there’s only so much they can do to nudge me in the right direction. Bottom line is, I simply haven’t been diligent enough. Bad Lilian.

Day 228: Église St Eustache

Église St Eustache at Les Halles is quite particular. Pretty, but particular. The last Gothic church built in Paris, it took over 100 years from the laying of the first stone of the current building to completion. Well, sort of. It was never completed to its full Gothic glory (hence stumpy spires found today instead of elaborately decorated ones) and during the long construction period, it also transitioned into Renaissance architecture, making it a rather unique building all in all.

This set of doors is but a small part of the cathedral which I thought is rather cool. It’s the perfect symmetry between the wooden doors and the stone walls, around a semi circular nave. I must admit to not have investigate it very closely, but from where I stand, it’s a harmonious matching that had me admiring whomever the mason who came up with this idea.


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