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Project 365 – Week 50

A couple more weeks to the end of the year, so a couple more weeks to wrapping up this series of Project 365. I’m currently considering if I will proceed with another one next year or not, and if I do, how should I do it? Always the same old dilemma – what should be the theme of the project? Photos of “a step a day”? Photos of colour of the month? Any other suggestion?

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Postcards

9 Dec: I mentioned recently about doors in Paris being varied and relatively unique, and see what I found today – postcards depicting the very thing! I particularly love those with heads of mystic beasts but the simpler ones are not too shabby either. There is no such door knocker for my building though, as the door is a glass one. Perhaps I should start a collection of such photos, hmmm…

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Project 365 – Week 49

It had been a good week. I finally completed my first MOOCs, after sitting through two exams this week, and there will be a couple more to come in the next fortnight. The weather took a turn for the sunnier side and I’ve been enjoying long walks whenever I could muster the time to. The Christmas shopping is more or less sorted. Swimming progress had been a little slow now that we’re working on correcting my techniques but otherwise it’s good to see some improvements, no matter how small. Of course, plenty of socialising time organised so I get to see people before we all leave for the Christmas break. As I said, a good week.

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Harps

2 Dec: These harps reminded me of Ireland, where it is a state symbol, used in official government correspondence, on the coins, coat of arms and more. It is also used as corporate logo for Guinness, just in the opposite orientation as those of official nature. When I first moved to Ireland, I had not realised the extent of use of the harp in govermental letters, so I was rather confused to see so many letters arriving to my aunt’s from “Guinness”. Took me a few days to figure it out that my aunt didn’t (and doesn’t) have vested interest in Guinness… ;)

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Project 365 – Week 47

I guess it’s the season. Christmas decorations are starting to crop up all over the city, and shop windows are also being changed for a twist of seasonal cheers and a few touches of festive glitters. I’m starting to look into my list of Christmas gifts to get, and in the next days orders shall be made online. This way, gifts can be delivered directly to my in-laws’ (where I’ll be spending Christmas this year) and I would not have a million and one thing to carry in the train. Win-win.

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Door grill

18 Nov: Doors of Paris can be impressively ornated. Solid timber doors with its various knockers, glass doors framed by stylised lines, metal grills with classic motifs like this one above. While cherubs are adorable and make fine adornment, my favourite is to see two side of the grills with couple looking at each other, the man at the centre of one side of the grill, and the woman at the centre of the other side. Come to think of it, I should photograph such pair one of these days, so I can share it here.

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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 35

Blink, blink. September has just turned up, the French population is gearing up for la rentrée while I, well, dealing with a bunch of paperwork actually. That, and finalising the details of my upcoming holiday. In the mean time, I’m suffering from writer’s block and find it very difficult to put words to paper (or to WordPress, in this case). Please excuse me while I search for my inner wannabe-writer…

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Carved façade

26 Aug: There are the typical Haussmanian buildings, and then there are a whole lot of variations of non-Haussmanian too. I don’t think I was too far away from Pont d’Alma when I took this shot, just because it’s quirky enough to be different from its neighbours. I’ve been trying to search for more information on this architectural style, but haven’t have much luck so far. I may need to dig deeper, or whip up the thick book of Parisian architecture bible that F bought a long time ago. It’s a very interesting book, but just a bit too much French for me to read, so it’s work instead of fun reading.

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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 28

I am pondering, how is it that I seem to have less time to do everything that I want to do when the reality is that I should have more time? Have I taken on too much for myself to handle, or am I becoming less efficient nowadays, or what? I feel like I need to sit down and devise a better system for my personal research project but at the same time worry that this would be an even bigger time blackhole than how it already is. Tough.

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Carrot cupcakes

8 Jul: It has been a while since I baked. For my friend’s house-moving yesterday, I decided to whip up a large batch of carrot cupcakes to remember the day by, and to also feed the helpers who were set to shift her belongings some 900m away to the new apartment. To up the nuttiness ante, I used chopped hazelnut instead of the usual walnut. Topped it up with some cream cheese icing and we were good to go – gnom, gnom. These two were the last of the cupcakes when it occurred to me that I should at least take a photo or two!

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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 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 10

This has been a week of small victories. Getting my carte vitale, progressing positively with my project at work, celebrating the anniversary of my move to Paris, semi-plotting meet-ups with friends who live elsewhere (including Malaysia and Australia!) and pencilling in diary the dates to host them. I love it when things run smoothly. Only one big last administration hurdle for the year looms big – I’m heading to the Préfécture in a few days. Fingers crossed, all will be well.

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Walking down spiral stairs

4 Mar: One of the busiest day yet. It really was home -> work -> home kind of day, without any time for detour. Luckily F offered to cook dinner and deal with all the washing up. And so you are stucked with a photo from Sunday actually. We took advantage of the free monument visit Sunday and went to the Arc de Triomphe. On our way down, I couldn’t resist taking a pause to grab a couple of photos. Since it was relatively dark, I needed longer exposure time, resulting in the ghost-like moving feet as other visitors walked past me to descend the monument.

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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 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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Paris sous la neige

Overnight, Paris underwent a most magnificent transformation.

I got up really early this morning, put on layers of clothes and headed out when it was still dark outside. The plan was to get to a couple of spots within the city where snow would not be cleared away too quickly, and while they were tourist-free. I should have a good couple of hours to try to grab some photos of a Parisian winter wonderland.

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

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Day 350: Cultural station – (Headless) Ryaba la Poule

It’s time for a new instalment of cultural station, don’t you think? I happened to be on my way to Madeleine today so instead of taking a bus like I normally would, I took the metro instead so I can photograph this panel of stained glass of Ryaba la poule (Ryaba the hen) by Ivan Loubennikov. Unfortunately, in my hurry (I needed to make it for my tango lesson across town), I didn’t notice that poor Ryaba is now headless, oops.

This is the story of Ryaba as inscribed next to the mural:

Il était une fois un vieil homme et sa femme
Ils avaient une petite poule du nom de Ryaba
Un jour elle pondit un œuf extraordinaire : tout en or !
Le vieil homme tenta de le casser : toc toc ! : rien à faire !
Sa femme tenta de le casser : toc toc ! : rien à faire !
Une petite souris qui passait par là fit tomber l’œuf et le brisa
Le vieil homme se mit à pleurer. Sa femme aussi
Alors la petite poule leur dit : ne pleure pas grand père
Ne pleure pas grand-mère
J’en pondrai un à nouveau, mais pas en or…

My attempt at translating this:

Once upon a time there was an old man and his wife
Who had a little hen called Ryaba
One day it lays an extraordinary egg: it’s all in gold!
The old man tried to break it: toc toc!: nothing happened!
His wife tried to break it: toc toc!: nothing happened!
A little mouse in passing knocked the egg down and broke it
The old man began to cry. His wife too
And so the little hen said to them: do not cry grandfather
Do not cry grandmother
I will lay another, but not in gold…

Ps: spot the egg which is reportedly 80kg in weight!

Day 337: Maison de l’Alsace

I am all moved out from Cité U now. The morning was a bit rough, seeing I’m currently a little ill (I have a cold, boo), there was all the packing to do yesterday (how did I accummulate so much things over a mere few months?) and this morning, the big guy up there decided to send me off with ongoing drizzles. Nice. And now there’s also all the unpacking to do too…

Still, it doesn’t mean a girl can’t take a little break and head out for some fresh air. From the new place, I now even have direct buses that goes to Champs-Élysées – perfect for a little photo excursion in continuation of the Christmas theme. Today, I present to you, Maison de l’Alsace, which looks quite like a Christmas present waiting to be unwrapped. Accordingly, if I join the queue to get to the second floor, I will find lots and lots of Alsacian goodies. Hmmm kugelhopf…

Day 335: (Fake) snow day

Ah reader dear, I’m afraid you’re going to be stucked with plenty of Christmas related photos for this month, for they are now probably the most exciting things in town when the weather is otherwise a bit chilly, the sky grey and the days getting shorter and shorter still. You want light? You get Christmassy. And there’s nowhere more Christmassy than Champs-Élysées at the moment.

But it’s not just the street lighting that’s getting all the attention. Shops too are getting innovative to attract attention so more shoppers would hop in along to check out their merchandises. I think This is at Zara (sorry I wasn’t paying too much attention) Morgan and I love how the mannequins are inside a large polymer balloon are in constant swirl of fake snow. It looks like a very good Christmas party that I’d like to take part in, especially if there are dancing involved. ;)

Day 334: Lights of Champs-Élysées

It has been a week since Christmas lightings were up at Champs-Élysées. I have passed them by in the mean time, and I must say I am still not too convinced with this year’s idea of festive street lighting on this famous Parisian thoroughfare. They are rings of lights that changes colour, that’s all. I feel like I’ve been transported into a wrong futuristic movie or something. I’d like the traditional fairylights back, pretty please.

In any case, there is a good reason for me to venture deep into Champs-Élysées today – to check out the newly opened Marks and Spencer, in particular, the food hall! After a decade of absence, M&S is back and it appears they are rather popular. There’s a queue to get in, and once inside, there’s another queue for the food hall. The food hall itself is small, consists of a single aisle with two rows of shelves on either side. Ah I had so much hope for finding things that I’ve been missing but alas, it’s not quite available here just yet.

Day 325: Glühwein

No, I haven’t got a chance to get a taste of this season’s first mulled wine yet, but I will, soon. When I’m not quite as tired as I am at the moment (no thanks to a bizarre sleeping pattern that I couldn’t explain) then perhaps I can get more into the spirits of winter celebration and go all out!

I was passing the Christmas market on Champs-Élysées quickly this evening. It is a little chilly out, so the queue for the mulled wine was not inconsiderable, given this is only a Monday evening. It’s a pity though this stall only sell the wine in Styrofoam cups. It would have been nice to get them in ceramic mugs (great hands-warmer), even if it costs a bit more. The cup can then be kept as souvenirs. That’ll be what I call a strategy from Selling 101.

Day 321: La Grande Roue

Christmas is in the air :D

Last weekend, the cabins for Christmas market were being put in place along the east end of avenue des Champs-Élysées. At the same time, city workers on mini cranes were busy hanging up light fixtures to decorate the trees lining side by side to the cabins. With the temperature dialing in low at 2-4 °C, there is a certain excitement for the winter celebration to come.

Today, a mere few days later, I am seeing a huge Ferris wheel sitting prettily on Place de la Concorde. That caught me by surprised. For some reason, I had it in my head that the Ferris wheel is usually not erected until December, and it’ll be there for about 4-5 weeks. Guess I’m wrong. It’s there now, and they’ll start operating tomorrow until 19 February 2012. A whooping 3 months instead of about one!

The Christmas market at Champs-Élysées itself will be following suit on Saturday 19th, through to 2 January 2012. And for those looking forward to Christmas illuminations of Champs-Élysées in general, don’t forget, Audrey Tautou will be switching on the lights on Wednesday, 23 November, at 6.30pm, in front of l’Atelier Renault.

Day 316: Post-Armistice Day

Glorious flags lining the avenue. I should have come over to the Champs-Élysées yesterday. I didn’t know there would be a large scale celebration, but I should really have thought of it. Afterall, for whom is it that the flame beneath the Arc de Triomphe but of fallen soldiers in performing their duties to protect their country during the wars.

This photo constitutes yet another image and viewpoint from Place de la Concorde. You’ve previously been shown the peeking Eiffel Tower and fountains of the place, along with Madeleine. Today, what you see also stretches beyond the arc to reveal the financial hub that is La Défense. The traffic is always a bit crazy here, so don’t go crossing the road randomly! Only at the lights, please.

Day 305: Carrousel

The carrousel is proving to be very popular in this town. Just go to any random corner and I bet there is yet another carrousel standing there, with queues of accompanying parent(s) and their little ones who “weaally, weaally, want to goooo” on the moving vechicles! The operator must be earning a small fortune.

This particular carrousel is found just across the road from the Eiffel Tower. It has proven to be popular not only with the tourists (well, mostly because of their kids) but locals alike. Tickets can normally bought in bulk which comes at discounted price and I’ve seen clever mommies around Paris who dishes out the ticket only one at a time. Time saving when you don’t have to queue up each time, and money saving with the reduced price to bundle of tickets.

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 248: City lights

Strolling Champs-Élysées is not something I do at a regular basis. Since moving here, I may have sauntered over perhaps for a total of 2-3 times? By contrast, I’ve been to Montmartre about once a month, despite it being on the opposite end of the city from me. Then again, Paris as a wonderful city for exploration, there are plenty of nooks and corners to discover that repeated trips to same places are sometimes not warranted.

Nonetheless, once back on Champs, it’s easy to remember why this is the City of Lights. Even past midnight and at wee hours in the morning, there are so much lives and activities here, vehicles zooming past, shop lights glowing (like this display at Peugeot), and the clickety-clack of high heels hitting the pavements. All things dynamic and go, go, go, yet everything’s also elegant at the same time. In the distant, at the right time, you’ll even see the sparkles from la Tour Eiffel. Suddenly, life is bright and shiny again. It’s magic :)

Day 202: Gare St Lazare

Bus no 21 runs between Cité U (well, Stade Charléty to be more precise, but it is adjacent to Cité U) and Gare St Lazare. After 4 months of listening to the announcement the morning that the bus is destined for Gare St Lazare, I decided to travel in that direction to see what the fuss is about.

While the station is not particularly large, it is the second busiest after Gare du Nord. A lot of commuters who live in the western suburbs and work in Paris would take their Transilien trains to/fro Gare St Lazare daily, and passengers north-bound towards Normandy (such as Deauville, where there is a real beach) would also grab their trains here. I was hoping to recreate the feel of Monet’s painting but there were just too many people around. Plus the train nowadays don’t give out that much smoke.

Day 181: Cruising

If you are one of the few rich Parisians, I guess you could drive an open-top luxury car, smoke a cigar or two, and cruise around in your own good sweet time. Otherwise, you’d be like me, sitting on the bus looking out and spot how the others live ;)

My mode of transportation may not be fancy but I’m feeling great nonetheless. I’m on my way, heading out to the Beauvais airport for a quick weekend trip back to Dublin. With a schedule that can be described as bien chargé so I can see as many of my friends and family as possible, I foresee running around like a headless chicken while I’m at it. Not that I mind.

Day 169: Musée Jacquemart-André

Tucked away in the rather posh and affluent 8th arrondissement is Musée Jacquemart-André, formerly home to a certain Monsieur Jacquemart and his wife Madame J neé André. Not a museum frequently visited by foreign tourists, there was nonetheless a queue when I went there for a visit with my friend, most of them French and trying to catch the Caillebotte Brothers exhibition before its closure in a couple of weeks. Like me really. I’ve been wanting to see the Impressionist-half of the siblings, while being mildly curious about the photographer-half of the duo.

The museum is absolutely stunning. I could not justifiably describe it – it is something you should see for yourself. The tropical conservatory, ornated staircases, decorated apartments and opulent dining room are but some of the features. The dining room is today a café that serves delicious salads and a few other special dishes, and they entice diners in by displaying a mouth-watering selection of cakes and tarts right by the door to enter the eatery. Smart marketing move ;)

Day 140: Génie sur Seine

I never quite get nymphs, sirens and water spirits straight. I’ve seen the terms used interchangeably in some writings, while other sources portray them as distinct creatures, albeits water/sea related. Who’s right and who’s wrong? However, I do think of nymphs and sirens as creatures with seductive nature, so I would deduce this sculpture to be a water spirit if anything. Just look at it – she’s so young and carefree!

Pont Alexandre III is undoubtedly the most elaborately decorated and opulent bridge of Paris. This water spirit is only a small component to the bridge which spans River Seine to link Les Invalides on the left bank to both Grand Palais and Petit Palais on the right bank. From gold-gilded statues to Art Nouveau lamps to bronze sculptures, this bridge is, and will always be, a wow factor to all visitors to Paris.

Ps: yup, French wiki confirmed this is a water spirit (génie).

Day 100: Arc de Triomphe

… and on Day 100, she went to Champs-Élysées.

It has been a while since I last set foot on this lovely-but-tourist-packed thoroughfare. The funny thing was, as soon as I stepped out from the metro to go above ground, I immediately transformed into a tourist anyway. Especially as I stood in the middle of the road to take this photo, like all the others that came before and will come after me; the only difference being me not posing to have a photo taken with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. :p

I’ve always prefer to be at the other end of the avenue, closer to Place de la Concorde, where there are green spaces rather than zooming cars along a giant roundabout with tens of lanes of vehicles joining in every second. The first time I was inside one of those cars manoeuvering their way out from Étoile, I was so glad it wasn’t me driving. I would probably just go round, and round, and round, and round…


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