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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 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 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 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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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 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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Encore plus de neige

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

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

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

January snow in Paris

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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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Day 317: Another piece of Montmartre

Walking around Paris can bring you to unexpected local areas. I discover this view of Montmartre purely by chance when Alex and I yesteday walked too far along rue St Anne following our late lunch while en route to Jacques Genin. Introducing rue Lafitte in the 9th arrondissement and view number 3 of 36 views of Montmartre.

In the foreground, if you look carefully, you’ll see the Notre Dame de Lorette. Its style is a tad like the Madeline, in neoclassical form. I have yet to visit the interior though. Yesterday’s weather was simply too nice to be suck indoor. We were walking randomly to get acquainted so I now have more ideas of where I can bring my camera to in the next few weeks for photo of the day ;)

Day 303: Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre

After all the temple overload, here’s a change of image. I was up at Montmartre and spotted this church just across from Abbesses métro station – the Église St-Jean-de-Montmartre. Many would also call it Église des Abbesses, given its location, which makes it confusing for non-locals. Initially, I was wondering myself if the two names refer to the same church.

I love the bright colours used to stain this series of glass panels. The use of iconography here is very much along the classical line, but these glasses have been painted with clear landscape and swirling sky, a scene that is not typical for this depiction of Christ’s cruxifixion. At least none that I recall. Of course, one can argue, after countless of stained glass seen, how could I remember the details from one to another? It’s true, you know.

Day 302: Montmartre spying continues

Remember my recent greedy/wild photography mission? Here’s a new shot of Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur, and today the view point is none other than the newly-opened 5th floor gallery of Musée d’Orsay! After a week of strike action by the staff of the museum, it finally reopened on Thursday and I made good use of my MuséO card to gain entrance for a look at the new gallery.

From this shot, in the foreground, you can see Jardin des Tuileries in full autumn glory and the adjacent buildings of rue de Rivoli. But note the tiny golden statue at the left hand side, just peeking above the roofs. I’ve tried magnifying the photo to check, but couldn’t quite make it out. I’m deducing one of the golden sculptures above Opéra Garnier, but I can’t be absolutely certain. There’s something odd that makes me doubt this deduction. It needs further confirmation.

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 246: Portrait

Over and around the back of the Basilica of Sacré Cœur is Place du Tertre. I don’t really remember ever passing it in tranquility – between restaurant terrace seatings, artists, portrait painters and the visitors, it is always teeming with people. Perhaps one day I would get there early so I can enjoy some peace and quiet time up on the hill, overlooking the beautiful yet sleepy Paris.

The trade of portrait paintings is roaring today. From an easel to another, you may assess the style of drawing before deciding on just the way you’d like to be immortalised on paper. Some portrait painters are more serious in their endeavour, drawing classically astute portrait. Other portrait painters prefer to produce caricature or allegorical object.

There are other artists there too, whose work (many Paris-themed) I was keen to look at but alas couldn’t buy. Just the thought that I may have to move at some is enough to spook me from accummulating things. Besides, without my own apartment, where am I going to realistically hang those?

Day 237: Moulin Rouge

When one talks about Montmartre, one talks of the artists that use to populate the quarter and the , one talks of the Sacré-Cœur, one talks of the movie Amélie, one talks of the Moulin Rouge. Curiously, not many people talks about the one museum in the area that opens daily till 2am. Surely there must be enough people that visit the place to keep it going for so many years (14!).

In my time in Paris, I’ve traced the footsteps of some of the artists through the cobblestones of the hill, admired the grandeur of the basilica which, from its dome, one can see Paris in 360°, watched Audrey Tautou in her quirky role as Ms Poulain, but never have I take a peek into the can-can dancing world of Moulin Rouge. For one, the price is a bit too steep for my pocket, and secondly, it is strictly a tourist-trap. As for the not-often-mentioned museum, someone may have got curious once upon a time…

Day 203: La Marguerite

You know I’m always on the look out for nice pastries. However, it is also prudent that I don’t overdo it. As of present, I seem to be stepping in a pâtisserie about once every fortnight and for the intermittent weeks, perhaps a chocolaterie every second fortnight?

Arnaud Delmontel is a bit out of the way and quite a chance discovery. I had trodded my way to Montmartre in search of a small shop where I’ve previously bought some lovely matcha madeleine but unfortunately the shop is currently closed for its congé annuel. However, right across the street is Delmontel and its cakes on display just called out to me. Like moth to a light, I fluttered my way over and bought les petits gateaux for myself and Anne. The verdict? Mine was rich an creamy but Anne’s was a tad dry on the outside. A place to revisit when I’m in the area again next but perhaps not one to deliberately journey out for.

Day 123: Le Passe-Muraille

Many years ago, Marcel Aymé wrote a short story called Le Passe-Muraille (The man who walks through the wall) and it became of one his most famous works. Set in Montmartre, at rue Norvins, where Aymé lived, the protagonist Dutilleul found himself with most unusual talent for walking through walls but later accidentally “cured” himself and was stuck in a wall following a late night rendezvous. Poor guy had no one but the painter Eugene Paul who occasionally sang, accompanied by a guitar, as consolation. (Read the translated work here.)

Today, at the corner of rue Norvins, sits a bronze sculpture to honour Aymé and this short story of his. It is a poetic tribute, for the location commemorates not only where Dutilleul found himself imprisoned for life, but also the writer himself living in the building just adjacent to the wall. Visitors today seem to believe that rubbing the hand of the sculpture would bring good fortune. The proof – shiny and sparkling hand of the bronze figure. ;)

Day 120: Wedding photoshoot

Choosing a single photo for today is tricky, since I was on a walking tour of Montmartre and saw plenty that are interesting or amusing. I guess that means I need to set up a separate album at some stage. (I am already terribly slow in updating the blog, ooops.) For now though, one from among the firsts of the day – wedding photoshoot at the hill of Montmartre. The poor girl was coooooold, and in between shots, huddled enveloped within a huge furry jacket.

It is not uncommon to see wedding photoshoot around Paris. By the Eiffel Tower, next to fountains of Place de la Concorde, along Champs-Élysées… What is rather curious though, is that usually the couples are either Japanese or Chinese. I have not yet seen any French ones doing the same. Perhaps it has got to do with Asian tendency for establishing an entire album of wedding photo ahead of the big day. If French don’t do that, then it goes without saying they won’t have time to run around the city for posed photos on the wedding day itself.


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