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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…

Day 99: Obscura Day

No, I haven’t suddenly gone to south east Asia to photograph one of the many wats in the region.

Obscura Day is a day to celebrate and raise awareness of all things off the beaten path that few know about. At this part of the world, Adam from Invisible Paris organised a tour of the ruins of Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale near Nogent, even if it is technically under Paris’ jurisdiction. With the glorious sun shining down, the day couldn’t have been more perfect.

There are much history behind the JAT which I couldn’t recount all here (Adam even showed us a good coffee table book of the garden) but one point that really hit home for me is that, as human, we are very curious about other culture and civilisation. Sure, in the past, they didn’t do it quite right by constructing “human zoo” of people from various colonies on one site but today, we still seek for what seems exotic to us, learn about their ways of life, etc.

Check out JAT if you could. Just catch RER A2 in the direction of Boissy St Leger and get off at Nogent-sur-Marne. From the station, the JAT is clearly signposted and a mere 5 minutes leisurely stroll away. Entry is free.

Day 98: Panthéon and Aimé Césaire

For a couple of weeks, from what I gleaned, the Panthéon was closed to the public in preparation to pay an hommage to Aimé Césaire on the eves of the 3rd anniversary of his death. A poet, writer and politician in his lifetime, he was deemed an inspiration and defended not only the Martinican identity but also of black Africans under colonial rules. He was the champion of civil rights movement in French-speaking overseas territories and islands.

Unlike many who were interred at the Panthéon, Césaire’s remains was not exhumed and brought to Paris, in accordance to his will. Instead, the commemoration came in the form of a dedicated plaque, unveiled in a ceremony on 6 April by President Sarkozy.

The Panthéon has since reopened and until Sunday (10 April) entry is free of charge, although when I dropped by today with Brian and Ivan, many sections of the crypt are still out of bound and the famous Foucault’s Pendulum in the great hall has been temporarily removed.

Day 97: Love locks

We are having a truly sunny spell at the moment. With temperature hitting low 20s°C for the next few days, it is unsurprising that everyone is out having (or currently planning) picnics, and across River Seine, Pont des Arts is quite the perfect spot. Even I was drawn to go over there quickly today, albeit only to take a few photos before heading to a friend’s for girls night in.

If you’re walking the bridge that has long been touted as lovers’ bridge, you’ll see padlocks all across the length of the bridge on both sides of the railings. The whole idea would be for couples to affirm the bond of their love to each other, represented by the lock, with the key thrown into the river, lost to seekers (and therefore those sought to break this hold).

However, the romantic that I am (not), I can’t help but wonder, what happen when love turns suffocating, as if an imprisonment, to which one party could not escape the other? And the symbolism of being under lock and key, does that stand for playing the role of somebody’s love slave? What do you think? Would you put a lock on Pont des Arts if given a chance to?

Day 96: Blown away

Have I ever told you just how varied Parisian street art can be? From simple spray can graffiti variety to stencils to truly thought-provoking pieces, they never cease to amaze me. And there are a lot more street arts that I haven’t yet spotted so far.

I term this Alice-in-Wonderland-esque as “Blown away” and if anything, it reminds me much of Ireland, where windy days are not rare and nobody even bat an eyelid at “inside out” mushroom umbrella. Some day, on Grafton St, there is even a street artist/mimer there who stands at his spot with tie blowing away from him face and him struggling with his weather-sensitive umbrella. I may have his photo somewhere – if I find it, I’ll update this post accordingly.

Day 95: A room with a view

I like looking out my windows.

Sure, on account of work and socials and random walkabouts, I am not here too much but when I am, I often take a little time to stand by the windows and watch the world passing by. Regardless of time, each time that I look out, there’s always someone jogging, walking their dogs, strolling in leisure, etc. At times, matches of ball games are played out, to the cheerings of supporters and passerby alike.

This evening, around sunset, whichever way the light fell, it gave a golden glow to the top of trees just outside. The tall branch of the pink blossoms served to add another layer of colour to the scene. It was so beautiful and tranquil. Take it from me – this photo hardly does it any justice.

Day 94: Wooden toys

Back when I was a child, we don’t have fancy toys like kids today do. Instead, we entertained ourselves with figurines in plastic (green little soldier set, anyone?), wooden building blocks, climbing into all sorts of nooks and corners (we had to, in order to not be caught during hide and seek), and much to my neighbour’s dismay, her pots of flowers and shrubs would ended up as ingredients for masak-masak.

Each time I pass by Jouets Bass that sits between rue de l’Abbé-de-l’Épée and rue St Jacques, I get a little nostalgic. There are so many colourful traditional toys on display, making it oh so tempting to walk in, buy a few items and try to recapture the simple childhood that I had. Those were happy days.

Day 93: Fairylights

Dancing stopped just a few minutes ago. The evening session of ceili had been fantastic and the final group dance had been the most entertaining among them all. Bride and groom and all guests alike, we stomped and twirled and laughed together to the rhythm of the band.

Outside, the weather had cooled down considerably. At the patio, the fairylights shining like a million sparkling stars, which I could not take my eyes off from them. Shivering, I whipped the camera out, hoping to quickly catch one or two decent shots, and I am more than pleased that this one came out quite as magical as I remember the day to be.

Congratulations C+R!

Day 92: Reflection

It my friends’ big day and I’ve made my way to Bruton earlier than I had planned (not without its own drama though). And you know what people say about silver lining – mine was to catch up with the soon-to-be Mrs E before everyone else arrived. She looked wonderful and as a radiant as a bride could be.

When I left her to get ready for the day, I explored the ground of the venue, which comes with a strong green ethos and supports for local food supply and economy. At the back of the centre was a small yet beautiful organic vegetable garden, as well as a goat, a pony and a couple of pigs. The pony was such a sweet-tempered little fella it let me came up close and personal to take this shot. Of course, he was also trying to come close enough to chew my scarf…

Day 91: Horned Bridge

I flew in to Bristol this evening after work, and accounting for a small delay flying in from Paris, it was dark when I finally checked in to the YHA. Nothing luxurious required, since I just need a place to lay my weary body for a sleep before heading to Bruton, Somerset in the morning.

Of course, I took the chance to do a small walkaround as well. Where I am is quite central, close to all amenities, teeming with positive vibe, and picturesque too. This bridge is officially christened Pero’s Bridge, and it is located just off the YHA, linking two squares across Bristol Harbour. However, given the presence of a pair of horn-like sculptures, it is also nicknamed the Horned Bridge.

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