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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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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And this is how they ride for free…
Take the public transport often enough and the various methods employed by fare evaders would have been clear. However, as the general consensus holds firm to the principle of “it’s not my business to say anything” it is easy for these folks to get away with it.
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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!
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.
The métro station of Saint-Germain-des-Près is special, in that, unlike all other (cultural) stations in the city, it doesn’t have large billboard spaces. Just clean, white-tiled curved walls. And glass display panels. Perfect as space of temporary projections of works of art and literature.
I was running late for my friend’s party near Odéon this evening. When I looked out the window of the métro at Saint-Germain-des-Près, there were projections of illustrative works by students of an art school (sorry I forgot to jot down the name). I made a mental note that I must return to this station later, on my way home. I love the vintage Hollywood vibe of these sketches. Think Cary Grant and Gregory Peck. And now go, awwww.
I’ve previously blogged about a couple of cultural métro stations, and I think it’s not a bad series of sub-category to write about when it comes to things related to Paris. If I recall correctly from an article I read a while ago, there are some 50 such stations in the network. It would be fun to uncover them as I go along ;)
This work of mosaic on the ceiling of Cluny la Sorbonne was created by Jean Bazaine. Entitled Ailes et Flammes (Wings and Flames), some 60,000 handcut tiles were used to complete the piece that also includes forty-six (mosaic) signatures of Kings of France, politicians, architects, physicians, scientists, philosphers, poets, painters and writers. If you ever travel Line 10 and passing this station, keep your eyes peeled.
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.
It has been said that, in Paris, on average, one can find a métro station within 500m radius of his/her standing point. With some 300 stations servicing the city (and more to come with extensions currently taking place on certain lines), it is by far the most popular mode of public transport among the visitors for its ease of use and the low cost ticketing system (always buy your tickets in carnet of 10, currently costing €12.50 – individual ticket costs €1.90) which allows unlimited transfers for each journey.
An exhibition that tells you all you will ever need to know about the métro is currently running at Musée des Arts et Métiers (until 1 January 2012). It runs through 111 years of history behind the network, from the construction of the very first Line 1 for Exposition Universelle of 1900 to the completely automated Line 14 in 1998, and the near-completion of conversion Line 1 into a fully automated line this year. There are also behind the scene tours, and bound to satisfy the curiosity for any train-buff out there.
A number of métro stations in Paris are not your typical stations bombarded with advertisements and just tunnels and stairs to get places. These are known as cultural stations. At times, the cultural aspect is rather temporary but for others, they’re more permanent fixtures. My favourite so far? Arts et Métiers.
Just to put things in context, Musée des Arts et Métiers is a museum of all things scientific and inventive. It is a shame that this gem of a place is often overlooked by visitors of Paris. In 1994, during the bicentenary celebration of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the métro station was redesigned to evoke the atmosphere of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus from “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”, a science-fiction written by Jules Verne (of “Around the World in 80 Days” fame). It’s quite a perfect tribute, don’t you agree?
The very first time I walked past the kiosque des noctambules (sure, I didn’t know the name back then either) I was perplexed by its colourful bejewelled state (who installed a glass bead-like art sculpture here?) and then noticed people coming up from underneath. Curious. A quick investigative effort revealed that it is the entrance to the métro station of Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.
A contemporary art piece by Jean-Michel Othoniel, it was commissioned for the centenary celebration of the inauguration of métro in Paris. First introduced in 1900, métro line 1 was used to transport visitors of the city to enjoy the sites and sights during the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Back then, the line runs between Porte Maillot and Porte de Vincennes and Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre was one of the eight stops of the line. Pretty steep in history eh?
Métro stations in Paris have their own characters. Certain stations are cultural, e.g. if you’re at Louvre-Rivoli, you’ll see casings with “artefacts” to reflect the fact that you’re at the station for Musée du Louvre (although I assume the items are replica rather than the real deal); certain stations are under renovation works (these are not that interesting); certain stations get thematic advertisement series, like this one.
Odéon has been given the creative advertisement treatment this week. Walking along the platform, the faces of the kids looking surprised, astonished, delighted, gleeful and all, it pulled me in right away and I knew I had to act fast. One minute before my train arrived and off I scrambled, searching for my camera in my bag. Reviewing the photos at home, the posters are marked with “Ce qu’il/elle a vu? Regardez le quai d’en face” – “What did he/she see? Look at the opposing platform”.
Don’t ask me what were the advertisement posters on my side of the platform. I didn’t pay any attention at all.