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Postcards: A Parisian sunset (FR)

The start of year has been very kind to us. We hosted a couple of friends since New Year’s Eve, which we celebrated by attending a graceful performance of the Nutcracker at Palais de Congrès, and since then we’ve been busy with various activities. That was how we ended up at Jardin des Tuileries on day 2 of the year and caught this beautiful sunset.

Sunset in Paris

Sunset in Paris

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A sunny February afternoon

My dad’s cousin was in town with a few friends, and they got lucky as the weather turned from grey and dreary to blue and sunny overnight. On their first afternoon, I took them on a long walk and to show off a good number of the city attractions. They probably wondered if I was trying to punish them though, given all the walking they did with me… (Disclaimer: I love exploring Paris by foot and I am also a pretty brisk walker)

This walk also rewarded me by way of photographs that I’d like to share with you. This is Paris, all set to charm and to seduce, that it is hard not to fall in love with it all over again. Then again, as a friend pointed our recently, even in rainy weather, Paris has a way to translate that into a poetic romance.

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

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Vantage Paris

Another fun thing about organising my archived photos is the realisation that, over the years, I’ve been very lucky to have seen Paris from many vantage viewpoints around the city. Nearly all of these locations are accessible to everyone all year round, free or ticket-requiring. If you are looking for a place to see Paris from higher grounds (without breaking the bank by hiring private flights), up up you go!

Viewpoints of Paris

1. Eiffel Tower: This is an obvious one, and my last visit there was as a family outing. We were very pleased to have a wonderfully sunny weather, despite strong wind earlier that day which caused closure of the top-most level. It had reopened by then, but the crowd trying to access it was too crazy for us to even consider tackling. The mid-level viewing decks worked perfectly fine for us.

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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 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 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 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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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 23

With a blink of an eye, we’re nearly half-way through the year. It feels like it should be summer already, but the weather is not showing signs of this sort, preferring to swing to and fro between a real scorcher of a day and a horribly wet one. Elsewhere, heavy rain had flooded numerous central European cities and towns, and those in the French Riviera were greeted by tornadoes! Sort of make me glad that we’re only dealing with either sunshine or rain in Paris.

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Hotel Belloy

3 Jun: The beauty of buildings in Paris often lies in lines and symmetry, but that doesn’t necessarily means something square or rectangular. Instead, they radiate in accordance to the layout of the streets. Paris doesn’t do organised repetitive blocks, which inevitably means a large number of apartments come with irregular shapes and could render them quite tricky to decorate on the interior or to maximise whatever little space there is in an apartment. Small hotels would have an even tougher time trying to fit, say, an ensuite bathroom in…

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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 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 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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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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Project 365 – Week 2

This has been a tough week to be motivated to go out and play photographer. For the most part of the week, I was battling a horrible cold and cough (which includes a couple of “home arrest” days to try to get better) while staring out the window at what looked like the most dull weather for the longest time.

At the rate things are going, I may have to do something drastic, like buying new dresses and scarves in multiple bright colours? Anyway, without further ado, here are the photos of this week.

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Galettes des rois

7 Jan: Truth be told – I completely forgot about Project 365 today, but by mere coincidence, I have one photo in my camera and two in my smartphone – all of the same thing: galette des rois. I’m sure you don’t need me to go into details as to why would I possibly want to take so many photos of galette des rois… Even then, my mind was not on task, thus capturing mere out of focus images. I was eager to put down the cameras and eat!

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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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Views from la Tour Eiffel

It has been a good many years since I last ascended the Eiffel Tower. If I recall correctly, the last time I went up would be in 2004 with Beejay (his 21st birthday present; a trip to Europe from Andrew and I!) but Andrew assured me it would have been 2006 when he was visiting Paris with me and his then new wife. Either way, 6 years, 8 years, those were a lifetime away. Fast forward and what do you know – us three siblings visiting anew together, them with spouses and kid in tow!

Given the fame of the Iron Lady, to have each deck of the tower filled with visitors is nothing new. But the number of pushy “photographers” trying to jostle for a spot of their favourite views, that’s a whole new level of crazy. It mattered not to them that they were pushing aside a lady carrying a young child but luckily my niece is pretty much the zen-kind of little girl, so she just looked at them curiously then got back to surveying her surroundings.

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Playing tourist, family-style

It has been a well-charged fortnight with one visitor after another (it’s like we’re running a B&B, but free!) and this week, it’s time for a little family vacation. With my brothers and I living in different countries, a get-together for all of us has never been easy. We’d be so lucky if we manage to all be in the same place together once a year for a few days. Even more precious is when we could squeeze in a rare holiday within this period of time. They are in town to visit and I, for one, am very very happy!

While I’ve always maintain the philosophy of playing tourist on a regular basis – you know, visits to various (lesser-known) museums and walking tours to explore different neighbourhoods – this time, we’re talking the major sights. We’re even talking chez Mickey! Ultimately, our schedule will be dictated by a toddler, otherwise known as my adorable niece. Lucky girl gets to visit Paris at 8 months old!

For now, as time is precious, I’m just going to share this one photo which I adore. Beejay took a series of these by stealth when I offered to hold Elise while her parents worked on snapping some holiday shots. I normally shy away from the camera and prefer to stay behind the lenses, but this works out really well and I think this photo will be printed very soon for safekeeping.

I’ll be back in a few days with more posts (accck all the drafts sitting there which I really really should get out!) and till then, have a wonderful week. :D

Day 341: View on way home

Remember I mentioned not so long ago that, in Paris, you could throw a coin somewhere and you’d probably hit a monument? Something along that line anyway. Well, I found out today that if I walk back to my new place from across the road as opposed to the side I usually take, I am treated to a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. If it’s on the hour after sunset, then the tower is also sparkling pretty.

Not much is going on otherwise. I haven’t been feeling well for a good few days now, and the grey grey sky outside that’s on feature a lot lately is not helping much. I hope this is not going to be all that I have to look forward to for the next 2-3 months or it is going to send me straight to the world of winter blues. Paris, I’m counting on you to keep me amused and happy!

Day 308: Peek-a-boo

First, my apologies for this not terribly interesting shot. I was in a bit of a hurry this evening, heading over to Porte Maillot after work. I had a flight to catch, a weekend destination for a short getaway, and a bunch of amazing friends waiting for me across the Celtic Sea.

As I got to Porte Maillot and walking around part of the roundabout just in front of the Palais des Congrès, the Eiffel Tower began to play peek-a-boo with me. Sometimes I saw it, sometimes I didn’t. It was kind of fun, catering to my whimsical mood at that point in time. Perhaps it’s the excitement of what’s to come for the couple of days ahead. In a way, I’m going home…

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 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 233: Eiffel Tower, again

I’m doing a lot of river crossing this weekend.

Today, instead of walking, I was on the métro (Line 6) and between the stops of Bir-Hakeim and Passy, for some reason, the driver decided to go slow when crossing River Seine by way of Pont de Bir-Hakeim. It afforded me a few precious seconds to quickly whipped out my camera and grab this shot. Unfortunately the threat of rain that I mentioned yesterday was making itself known, and the sky looked quite ominous, don’t you agree?

What you can’t see from this photo is that the bridge stands on one end of Île aux Cygnes, a narrow man-made island built in 1827 to protect the adjacent Port de Grenelle. Only one walkway can be found on this isle – the Allée des Cygnes. The walkway connects the bridge to a replica of Statue of Liberty at the other end of the isle. The statue, which faces west towards its sister in the Big Apple since 1937, is scaled at one-fourth of the one on Liberty Island.

Day 195: Fireworks of 14 Juillet

Despite being a frequent visitors to Paris (and France) in the past, I have actually never been here before for La Fête Nationale. We don’t call it Bastille Day here and in fact it may even confuses the French – “c’est quoi, le Bastille Day?” So, my first celebration, and although I skipped the military parade in the morning, I was at Champ de Mars (with a few thousand others) to enjoy the fireworks in the evening.

My friends and I got there early to bag ourselves a sweet spot at the feet of the equestrian sculpture of Marechal Joffre, having a spot of picnic and chit chatting while enjoying a pretty decent free concert prior to the start of the fireworks. As the sky got darker, the Eiffel Tower started lighting up while I played with a few settings on my camera, capturing something like above, which I thought was really cool. The fireworks finally began just after 10pm, and for about 40 minutes, we were treated to a visual feast of bangs and sparkles, dancing to the songs of Broadway Musicals. Two words – über impressive!

(For additional photos, see here)

Day 137: A view from Pont du Garigliano

Visitors to Paris tend to stay within the central area of the city – let’s face it, there are so much to do one need not venture further out in any case – and as a result, perhaps the only tall buildings they would have noticed are Tour Montparnasse and those at La Défense (and you can spot them right from Champs-Élysées). Otherwise, Parisian architecture seems rarely topping the sixth or seventh storey in height, much less constructed with plenty of steels, metals and glasses.

Down by Port de Javel, standing on Pont du Garigliano, one may not recognise Paris if not for the Tour Eiffel which stands beyond the horizon of tall modern buildings. It is still quite pretty here, with less human traffic (at least that was the case when I was out there this evening) and the feeling that the dynamism of Paris is something that I would need a lot of time to fully understand. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I would be able to find time somehow to soak all the knowledge in.

Day 90: La Tour Eiffel

Start of week 4 since the big move, and I still haven’t posted any photo of famous Parisian landmark, so this evening, after work, I took some time to traverse west of the city in order to grab a photo of the infamous La Tour Eiffel by night. It was a rather impromptu decision, so I don’t have my mini tripod with me to help steady the shot. This turned out reasonably well but the sparkly version, not so great.

I took the bus to cross the city and it makes sense – no métro changes plus I get to see the view above ground. The 7th arrondissement used to be sort of my “home” ground in Paris, and as we passed some of the more familiar streets, I started to feel all very nostalgic of the neighbourhood. I should try to come back more often, and find time to get to Champs-Elysées somehow. I may have been travelling in and out of the city (and now all moved here) but it has been a very long time since I was at the stylish thoroughfare. 2-3 years perhaps?


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