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Project 365 – Week 51

You know what I’m missing this week? Rushing around to grab last minute presents – I’m impressed with my own efficiency in getting all shopping done and delivered – and packing to travel to Ireland come Friday. Otherwise, instead of the cheese, you’d see flutes of pink champagne in the Shelbourne; instead of The Parisianer artworks, you’d see street lightings displaying Nollaig Shona Duit; instead of the kouglof, you’d probably see slices of Bailey’s cheesecake. Nonetheless, exciting time ahead: my very first French Christmas coming right up!

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Sunset

16 Dec: What a glorious sunset! F was off work today, so we went on a little date in Montmartre. The last time he came up here with me was when we photographed a very snowy Sunday morning in January. We didn’t do too much, just strolling in the neighbourhood, visiting the Sacré-Coeur, peeked about the Christmas market, and then watched the sun set over the City of Light. It sure makes a memorable outing.

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Project 365 – Week 44

It feels like we’ve suddenly plunged into winter this week. It started wet, then windy, followed by arctic chill for a couple of days, and back into wet and windy weekend. Not too much fun for my friend who was playing tourist in the city. And as if wet and windy in Paris was not bad enough, F and I headed up northwest to Brest to visit our friends at the weekend. Oh, gosh, it has been a long time since I was that soaked!

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Road sign

28 Oct: Here’s a fun fact: in Paris, while there are “no entry” sign aplenty, there is none of “stop”. Another fun fact: many of the “no entry” sign has been used as canvases for street art. I’ve started coming across “Kiss Kiss” (that’s my nickname for it) on a rather regular basis since my return from southeast Asia, so I wonder if this is the current batch of no-entry-art. Previous batches have been “The Handyman” (man carrying a bar), and “Witch Hunt” (man in the stocks).

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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 42

Now that we’re settling back in to the daily grind, our social calendar also starts to fill itself up quickly. We’ll be seeing friends and family, in Paris and elsewhere, and significantly my oldest and best friend will be here in a week for a visit. I have so much to show and to share with her, that I don’t really quite know where to start. Since la rentrée there are many interesting exhibitions to see, new places to eat, etc. I need to make a list and let her choose what she’d like to do most.

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Notre Dame Cathedral

14 Oct: Paris is beautiful, and even more so in autumn. For F, it’s the softer lights of the sky that make autumn an enchanting season of the year. For me, it’s the colours surrounding us. There’s something about golden leaves on the trees and a variety of hues between vermillion and tangerine to spread some seasonal colours – quite a difference from the multi-coloured summer blooms. I also love stepping on the drying leaves, hearing the rustles under my feet while daydreaming as I walk. Even the slight nip in the air doesn’t bother me when I get into this little world of my own.

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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 37

I must be out of my mind. I’ve signed up for online courses that are starting pretty much at the same time as my main vacation this year. Since this is my first dip into such uncharted territory, I am not sure how much commitment would be required of me. Not only that, I have also planned for a fortnight of internet detox, so that’s unlikely going to be helpful either!

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Hôtel de Ville

9 Sep: The parvis of Hôtel de Ville is always busy. Centrally located, it is subject to tens of thousand pairs of footsteps daily, and yet rather curiously, I hardly go anywhere near it unless I’m searching for an ice cream fix. More specifically, when I want some delicious gelato of Pozzetto. I grumbled that the building is too large to be photographed (come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever posted a photo of it in this blog…) but frankly, I should have tried harder. How about starting with just a little part of it for now?

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Project 365 – Week 36

May I say just how much I am looking forward to my vacation? All things finalised, booked, printed and nitty-gritty details all updated to my TripIt app, I guess that means we are all set. The only thing that I know I won’t be able to realistically achieve is to schedule blog posts during my absence, so there’s going to be a whole lot of back-dated posts in the next few weeks…

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Afterworks

2 Sep: The first time someone suggested that we go to an “afterworks” I was rather confused, especially since the invitation was issued in French. The explanation that was given to me sounded like a Friday evening blowout party at a club, something not particularly my kind of thing, so I declined. For me, an outing after work is more aligned towards a group at a local pub where we can chill, have a drink or two, chit chat, and maybe then decide if to go on an impromptu dinner together or not. (I sound old and sooo not hip, isn’t it?)

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Project 365 – Week 34

Finally, the works in our neighbour’s apartment terminated so no more loud drilling, hammering, and the likes. Sadly, the traffic is also coming back to the city, so one form of noise replaces another. On the plus side, some of our favourite restaurants are/will be re-opening after being away for several weeks, so I’m looking forward to a break in cooking and baking. Ah, such is the ebb of city life. ;)

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Off Gare de l'Est

19 Aug: We are a couple of days away from the full moon, and this is a significant one in the Chinese calendar. According to the Chinese custom, it marks the height of the Hungry Ghost Festival, and if I was still living with my grandparents, they’d be telling me right now not to stay out late so I won’t encounter any roaming spirit. But hey, I live in Paris, the sun doesn’t set in the early summer evening. I also don’t see various festival-associated offerings and rituals performed, so I don’t get spooked quite as much. Instead, I am out with my friends, and we’re all appreciative of just how big the moon seems tonight.

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Project 365 – Week 33

I’ve been working on a bit of a side project in recent weeks, and it’s taking me away from writing this blog as regularly as I’d like to. I don’t explore the city as much either, sticking mostly within my own neighbourhood. At the same time though, a neighbour in the building is doing some renovation work, and the constant drilling and hammering proved to be a nuisance and often breaking my concentration. If only my laptop is not one that requires attachment to the mains all the time, then I could head out somewhere new and work out there at the same time. Wouldn’t that be ideal?

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Lightshow at Disneyland

12 Aug: A couple of weeks ago, Chloé and I went to the Disneyland for a little bit of summer fun. However, the day was long and the heat was getting to us too. We skipped the closing lightshow and fireworks for another evening, i.e. this evening! It was a magnificent show, synchronised to the many catchy tunes, featuring well-loved Disney characters. If only they would start the show a little earlier… Pretty much everyone was good to watch the show by 10.15pm, 10.30pm, even 10.45pm, but no, they held off until 11.00pm. It was starting to get chilly without the warmth of the sun, you know.

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The 300 steps of Tour St Jacques

For a very long time, the Tour St Jacques (i.e. St James’ Tower) had been under scaffolds for restoration works. It wasn’t until shortly before my move to Paris that it emerged cleaned and repaired to the eyes of the public. However, access to the tower itself remained elusive. No more. Between 5 July and 15 September this summer, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visitors can ascend this former bell tower to the church of St-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie via some 300 spiral stairs to the open summit, but only if you are quick enough to book a spot among the 136 per day.

Dedicated to St James, the detroyed church and its tower form part of the landmarks on the French pilgrimage route of El Camino de Santiago. This tower that measures about 12m by 12m in base dimension and attains 62m in height (including that of the statue of St James on its pedestal) is the sole structure within the heart of Paris where a complete 360° panoramic view is on offer. A summer day blighted by heatwave may be unappealing as a day to work those gluts and go all the way up, but the effort is richly rewarded.

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

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Project 365 – Week 27

Paris is greeted by sunshine, going into the second half of the year. Hurrah! Sure, there were intermittent clouds and grey sky this week, but blue is becoming prominent too. A massive dose of sunshine is also due our way in the coming days, so to “celebrate” I’ve been exploring around town a bit more than I have been in the past few weeks. We also hosted a couple of visitors early in the week so they were brought to just about all of the main sights possible within the time constraint.

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La Maison Rose

1 Jul: The village of Montmartre is undoubtedly busier than usual, but there are still quiet corners to be found. La Maison Rose (i.e. The Pink House) is located right around the corner from the Montmartre Museum and the last vineyard of Montmartre, and the streets nearby could easily take you away from the crowds. A few steps in and you’ll find yourself pretty much on your own, basking in the fact that you’re still in Paris but it feels far, far away from the madding crowd.

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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 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 17

Now that spring has truly arrived, a massive spring cleaning is required chez nous. Not that we’re normally incredibly messy people, just that we had workmen in for a good few days fixing and repainting the windows. The layers of dust that settled on just about every surface had me cringing silently, so a top-to-bottom cleaning is definitely required. Still, I’m taking a little break to bring you the latest round-up of Project 365.

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Keith Haring

22 Apr: A Keith Haring retrospective is currently running in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. For a week, the métro station of Alma Marceau was transformed into a cultural station, showcasing some posters of this pop-art master, featuring the iconic jelly bean-like figures in striking bold colours or in black and white. This exhibition – themed Political Lines – is on my to-visit list, and if you are in Paris, you shouldn’t miss it either.

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Project 365 – Week 15

It was as if winter morphed overnight into summer, and today we’ve been enjoying unprecedented (for this spring anyway) a temperature hitting upward of 25°C! Despite having more work to finish up, I decided to give myself a break in the afternoon and went out for a cycle and a walk at the parks instead. The photos will come in a day or two, when I have time to go through them. In the mean time, here are the photos taken through this week.

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Cafe terrace

8 Apr: I have a confession to make. In all the years that I’ve visited Paris and that I have been living in Paris, I could count with one hand just how often I took up a seat at a cafe terrace. A little shocking? Perhaps. Afterall, Paris is the perfect city to score the front seats of the sidewalks and watch the world goes by. Perhaps I should make it my goal this summer to at least have tea or a meal al fresco, at the open terrace.

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Project 365 – Week 14

What a weekend. As you know, yesterday morning has been all about the brunch with Jean Imbert and it was a good, high start to the day (I’m sure it’s not just the coffee/ caffeine talking). Frédéric and I were also at the cinema twice in two days, cycled around town, and in whatever extra time I managed to steal, I blogged for April last year too. Yup, time to play catch-up, so keep an eye in the next couple of weeks for more posts, including those related to Iceland!

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Peacock at Parc Floral

1 Apr: It was yet another day I played tourist with Nancy and we headed out east to the Bois de Vincennes. After consulting the map and a quick check of our watches, we knew we didn’t have time to do much so we kept to visiting the Parc Floral while we were in the area. That was when we passed by this peacock which was seemingly oblivious to the attention it was getting. This was officially my first live peacock sighting in greater Parisian area. I wonder if there are any in Paris itself…

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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 3

If week 2 has been a tough one, motivation-wise, week 3 of Project 365 was the opposite. Thanks to a couple of late visits to catch temporary exhibitions that were closing, I found myself allocating some extra time before hand to grab some night photos. I also discovered unlikely photography spot from the very building I work in (!!!) and of course, there was the snowy weekend to round it up prettily.

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Grand Palais by night

14 Jan: It was the final evening of Bohèmes at the Grand Palais. Really, you’d think with a Sésame+, Frédéric and I would have seen this a couple of months back. But no, we kept delaying it. Frédéric even went to see Hopper thrice in the mean time. Just before joining the queue, I hied myself over the Pont Alexandre III to see if I would get a decent photo of the Grand Palais by night. Not bad, right?

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Project 365 – Week 1

In 2012, I took a break from Project 365 after running it for a couple of years – that of 2010 as a personal project known to a handful few friends, and that of 2011 hosted on this very blog itself. During the break, I found myself spending significantly less time exploring parts of Paris which I don’t yet know well, which is a shame really.

It’s time to be more pro-active again, and hopefully with Project 365, I’ll get that extra dose of motivation to be out and about, particularly when it is dark/wet/dull outside and certain neighbourhoods lie just a little far/inconvenient to reach from where I am. Instead of updating photo daily, I will do so as a weekly photo blog post. Enjoy!

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Tour Eiffel from Centre Pompidou

30 Dec: Nico was visiting us and we took the opportunity to hit Dalí retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. We took advantage of late night opening hours to avoid long queues, and while waiting to enter, we were treated to the beautiful view of Paris by night. Eiffel Tower quite easily dominated the skyline.

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Paris and Sempé

Several times a year, the Hôtel de Ville in Paris plays host to exhibitions that are free for all visitors, proudly showing off the connections between the featured exhibitions and the city itself. If you’re lucky to be around when two exhibitions are running concurrently (i.e. one at Salon d’accueil which entrance is on 29 rue de Rivoli, one at Salle Saint-Jean which entrance is on 3-5 rue de Lobau) you could easily see both, one after another.

The latest exhibition organised by the Mairie de Paris flaunts the illustrative talent and humour of Jean-Jacques Sempé. I managed to contain my (considerable) excitement and eventually queued up for the exhibition a week after its opening, first thing on a Saturday morning, along with a (not-so) secret partner in crime. ;)

I first got to know Sempé’s work through another exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville itself, back in 2009. I happened to be passing the city and managed to squeeze in the exhibition of Le Petit Nicolas on its last day. (Over at Salle Saint-Jean, an exhibition on Gustav Eiffel was attracting the crowd with its longer queue.) In case you wonder, Petit Nicolas is a series of children’s books which I quite like and they make good reading materials for non-fluent non-Francophones like me. The author René Goscinny (of the Astérix fame) enlisted Sempé to visually bring the characters to life with simple (mostly) single panel drawings. I remember leaving the exhibition smiling wistfully to myself, such was my enjoyment of these imaginative and story-rich oeuvres.

Sempé not only provided illustrative works for these books, but is humourist in his own right. With a few clever strokes and glibly-filled speech bubbles, Monsieur Lambert was born. Throughout his career, he also sketched the lives of Parisians and New Yorkers, sometimes with teeming crowd, other times with elegant single lines which cleverly create the silhouettes he intended them to be. Even his “silent” drawings tell you more than a thousand words, often leaving you chuckling, softly or right out loud.

Many a cover of The New Yorker magazine have been created by Sempé. The photo above is a mere collage of four covers which I managed to sneakily photograph during the exhibition – moi la rebelle quoi ;) – there were dozens more from over a hundred commissioned. Overall, with some over 300 pieces of his work on display in this exhibition, it does take a little time to go from one drawing to another, some coloured, some in black and white. I even bought the exhibition’s companion coffee table book so I can peruse through them in my own time at home.

If you want to know what Sempé has sketched of Paris, my advice would be to see them for yourself. Get to the Hôtel de Ville early in the morning so avoid having to queue outside for too long (this winter may have been mild but standing outside for more than 20-30 minutes could quickly turns unpleasant and chilly) and to enjoy the exhibition without having to jostle with the other enthusiasts. Especially now that the exhibition is closing soon. In my personal experience, closing exhibits tend to pull crowd in like nobody’s business – a wait of 2-3 hours would not be out of place!

Sempé, un peu de Paris et d’ailleurs has been in exhibit since 21 October 2011 and is due to end on 11 February 2012. Just a month to go peeps! Open daily except Sundays and public holidays, from 10am to 7pm (last admisssion 6.30pm).

Day 352: Palais de Justice

I could get used to this. The days may be crappy during the week but come weekend, it’s glorious and sunny (still cold though – afterall it is winter). I really have nothing to complain about since this means I could explore the city without looking like a drowned chicken. It’s really only at weekend that I usually try to venture a bit further from my normal haunts.

This weekend however, I’m not exactly skipping along the cobblestones of streets unknown in the 17th or 20th arrondissement. Having the last of Christmas shoppings to complete plus a few meet ups with friends, I’m still wandering about the usual neighbourhood. The Palais de Justice was formally a palace but today a complex that includes the law courts. Sitting tight and looming large over about half of Île de la Cité, it also houses the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle (which in order to visit, one would have to go through security checks that’s similar to that going to the various judiciary offices).

As you may have also noticed, just beyond the Palais de Justice is one of the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Seriously, Paris of old makes a very compact city when you consider just how close all the important and main sites are centralised. That’s another story for another day. Later.

Day 348: A different (Christmas) tree

I like the library network in Paris. With just one membership card, all the public library is accessible and so I can get books out from any of the branches run by the city council. And it’s free! (Membership with access to multimedia costs something like €35 per year – still a bargain if you ask me.) Since I noticed something interesting may be available at the branch of Baudoyer, away I went.

Just outside the entrance to the building complex of Mairie du 4ème where the library is housed, there are several interesting and eye-catching Christmas trees at Place Baudoyer. Oh they are festive, green with hints of reds, and fitting as festive decoration. On a closer look though, these trees are made using recycled material. More specifically, plastic bottles of carbonated drinks. How cool is that for an idea and to raise awareness!

Ps: as I took this photo, a woman stopped next to me and started chatting (in French no less) of the importance of caring for the environment, why these trees are magic and potentially a lead for my next photo of the day. I’m just thrilled she thought I fit in enough to strike a conversation with me :D

Day 328: Nimble cats

I still haven’t started my shopping list (eeep!) but I am constantly on the look out for presents, hoping to see something that will inspire me, for the light bulb moment (ding!), for just the right gift for the right person at the right price. Not easy, I tell ya.

It was tempting to get these cute little kitties, except they’re on the pricey side. Apparently even ornamental items don’t come cheap in the festive season (or any other season when you are in Paris). The price tag I spotted marked €18, but I didn’t exactly investigate further if that’s the price for a single cat or the set of three. Worth buying?

Day 274: City Faun

Artists and performers unite. As the sun set, Nuit Blanche will take over the city and transports interested art revellers into new worlds, some more peculiar than others (let’s face it, we don’t all understand every art movement there is), through various parcours that has been designed for the night arts festival.

Even as I walked about the city today, I’m already seeing unusual presence. A bit like, say, the world of Harry Potter colliding with the muggles’. This guy was spotting a pair of hoof-like feet, thus towering over everyone (he must have had 2 feet advantage of me!) and when he walked, you guess it, it sounds like a horse is coming through. He became a faun, all in the name of arts.

Day 249: Vintage Paris

In many ways, Paris is still locked in the past. Look at the skyline a hundred years ago, and look at it again today. There aren’t many differences to be found. Sure there may be a crane or two appearing near the periphery limit, but centrally, it has stayed true to how Baron Haussmann had intended the city to be. This picture could have easily been shot decades ago. (I was at the top of Centre Pompidou for this photo, in case you’re wondering.)

This is a good time to introduce you to Paris Avant, a site that posts pictures of Paris of today and yesteryear, side by side, every day. To date, over 1650 pairs of photos have been published. Truly amazing effort by Frédéric Botton. (And here I am, struggling to be up to date with my daily entry – how embarassing. I’m working on it, I’m working on it. I promise.)

Day 247: I spy Montmartre

With my friends from Dublin visiting, and seeing today’s also the first Sunday of the month when many museums and historical landmarks are free to visit, we opted for the Museum of Modern Art at Centre Pompidou. It has an amazing collection, ranging from the “classics” (Picasso, Miro, Gris etc) to the quirky (there are pieces I have yet to decipher) – just the perfect place to spend a lovely afternoon together.

Something outside the windows kept catching my attention – the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur. And with it, it brought to mind an exhibition by Henri Rivière which I saw a couple of years back, displaying some prints of 36 Views of Eiffel Tower, which in turn was inspired by Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Can I call dibs on photographic version of 36 Views of Sacré-Cœur? I can’t imagine it would be easy with a point-n-shoot camera, especially for distant views. Now that we’re coming into winter too, daylight hours are limited (I do need to work) and absolute clear days at weekends may be hard to come by. We’ll see…

Day 242: Bedazzled Invader

Pixel art is fun, pixel art in bedazzled tiles is even more entertaining.

Spotted on a wall somewhere in the Marais (I cannot for the life of me recall the street name right now), this space invader is sitting pretty with coloured alien antennae (note the matching colour scheme) and a special one that sparkles and dazzles. Is there extra point for zapping the alien via that particular antenna? ;)

As a child, growing up, my first memories of computer/video games are of Mario Bros (ah the days of game cartridges and square Nintendo box), Space Invaders (black 8″ floppy disks!), Pacmac and Pinballs (giant machines at the arcade, anyone?) but somehow I seem to have outgrown them quicker than I’d anticipated. Nowadays it’s all nostalgia and reminiscing the past, and me unable to play wii without embarassing myself.

Day 235: Saint Denis the Headless

I have previously introduced Sainte Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Today, we shall talk about Saint Denis, a martyr who was Bishop of Paris a long long time ago and the patron saint of France (how’s that for a trump card?). And to make sense of the story of this headless saint, we should also talk about Montmartre.

Saint Denis was said to have been beheaded at Montmartre (giving rise to this name that means “mountain of the martyr” – but on all accounts, there are 2 other possibilities on how Montmartre came to be known as what it is called today) but a devout bishop that he was, it didn’t stop him from continuing to perform his duty to the God. He picked his head up and started walking to the north, all the while preaching a sermon as it should (I figure that must be one of the miracles to propel forth his beatification) until he came to a spot where he decided it would be his final resting place.

A cathedral/basilica bearing his name stands today at that spot, and he has plenty of royal companies in burial, as all but three French kings have their final resting places here. I still haven’t visited the cathedral, and if you’re wondering where I find the statue above, well, it’s from the left portal of the west end of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Day 223: Sandcastle

Boy it feels “heavy” in the city. No wonder everyone seems to have escaped to the beaches, fake or otherwise. Anything for a little bit of fresh air and cooling breeze. On passing Paris-Plages today, the quay was absolutely packed with adults and children alike, and a stroll along the beaches revealed various on-going events. Best to enjoy with ice cream in hand, I believe.

From simple sun-bathing or sand-playing, to enjoying a game of petanque or two, to watching performances by street artists, to enjoying a short massage session at the pop-up massage stands. And giant Disney-inspired sandcastles can also be found, and they’re quite the attraction as various camera (including mine) went a-clicking busily around it. I know, I am such a tourist :p

Day 201: Paris Plages

In Paris, you don’t have to go to the beaches. The beaches come to you instead ;)

The mairie has been busy since the weekend, constructing the quay-side beaches which make their appearances annually in July and August, for approximately 4-5 weeks. When I passed by this evening along Voie Pompidou, the landscapers were busy putting in the final touches while anyone unauthorised were barred from entering Paris Plages.

Trucks and trucks of sand have been brought in, new lounging chairs set in intermittent distances, and shower areas set up too. Now, nobody’s allowed to swim in the Seine (and I’m not sure if anyone would really want to either, without taking on the risk of disease) so the beaches would be use mainly as sand pits and sunbathing spots. However, there is also a floating pool near Pont Marie for a quick cooling dip and aquagym. And over at Bassin de la Villette, I believe there would be an artificial wave good for surfing too!

Paris Plages 2011 runs from 21 July to 21 August at Voie Pompidou, Hôtel de Ville and Bassin de la Villette. Click here for the full programme.


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