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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 232: Sunny sunny day

We have a weekend of heatwave upon us. The forecast is for the temperature to hit over 30°C today till Monday, although there’s also a risk of rain tomorrow. It’s like it couldn’t make its minds to stay ensoleillé or not. For now though, I’m going to make the most of the sunny spot that has been missing from the city for a few weeks.

Look, isn’t Paris so beautiful on a day like this? :D

I took this photo from Pont du Caroussel, crossing the River Seine from Louvre to the quarter of St Germain (we were in search for ice-cream and were on our way to Grom). The bridge ahead is Pont des Arts (with hundreds of love locks) and in the background, you should also spot the towers and spire of Notre Dame Cathedral as well as the spire of Sainte Chapelle, both buildings standing on Île de la Cité.

Day 231: Métro

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.

Day 230: Institut de France

It has been a while since I do a night shot. Not always easy, since a long day at work is not conducive to late night photowalk, plus, given it’s still summer-ish, the day remains relatively long and it doesn’t get dark till around 9pm. Well, as the day gets shorter with upcoming seasons of autumn and winter, things may change just yet.

Institut de France, the upholder of all things cultural and educational in France, stands on the Left Bank of River Seine at one end of Pont des Arts. Home to the Académie Française (whose members’ main duty is to protect the French language) and a number other academies as well as foundations, museums and castles, the Institut was built on the former site of Nêsle gate and tower that forms part of the Medieval city wall of Paris. As far as I know, the Institut is normally not open for public visits except for certain specially arranged tours and the likes.

Day 229: Cours d’Anglais. Ou pas.

Alright, I’m not really interested in English classes at the moment (although goodness knows, at times, I do need grammar refreshers course of some sort). What I do need, however, would be French classes. Five months in since my move and I’m not making as much progress as I would like to, booo.

Ideally, I should attend formal classes so I would be more disciplined. Working through the odd lessons here and there by myself hasn’t been too successful an endeavour, given how I’m often putting off running through the exercises. My friends and my colleagues have been brilliant, encouraging me to converse more in French, but there’s only so much they can do to nudge me in the right direction. Bottom line is, I simply haven’t been diligent enough. Bad Lilian.

Day 228: Église St Eustache

Église St Eustache at Les Halles is quite particular. Pretty, but particular. The last Gothic church built in Paris, it took over 100 years from the laying of the first stone of the current building to completion. Well, sort of. It was never completed to its full Gothic glory (hence stumpy spires found today instead of elaborately decorated ones) and during the long construction period, it also transitioned into Renaissance architecture, making it a rather unique building all in all.

This set of doors is but a small part of the cathedral which I thought is rather cool. It’s the perfect symmetry between the wooden doors and the stone walls, around a semi circular nave. I must admit to not have investigate it very closely, but from where I stand, it’s a harmonious matching that had me admiring whomever the mason who came up with this idea.

Day 227: J’attends…

… l’orage au désespoir.

The poor penguin, lamenting that [it is] waiting for the storm in despair. Is it heartbroken? Or just feeling a bit blue because of the crappy weather? Or a combination of both? Fear not, it doesn’t reflect how I am currently feeling. In fact, we’ve been blessed with a sunny bank holiday Monday, which is promptly celebrated with a trip to Pozzetto for a spot of ice cream and playing spectator at a tango session at Quai de Seine.

And on a side note: I’ve put in place a few small changes in recent weeks to the site. They’re not by any mean complete but at least good starting points, I guess.
– lists for my Big Read Challenge of 2010 and 2011
– tracker on the progress of Challenge Resto A-Z
– the pages above summarised under Coffee Break
– subtle updates to The Ultimate Travel Challenge

I have a couple other things planned (as per friends’ suggestions) that I don’t yet have time to look into, but should I do, I will let you know where to access them. But first, I need to figure out how these would fit in the framework of this site, then how best to present them. Sorry if it all sounds a bit cryptic but I haven’t think through them just yet, so I myself don’t know how it’ll morph into the final presentable state.

Day 226: A view from Grund

I forgot to mention yesterday that the ultimate tips in visiting Luxembourg Ville is to wear comfortable walking shoes (and thanks Cait for this tips too!). The city is small and easy to explore by foot, but also quite hilly in parts. Fancy shoes have no business on such stomping ground. Unfortunately, it also drizzled on and off most of the day, so you’d even want shoes with good grips.

I went walking at Grund in the morning. Sitting in a valley between the two plateau of Haute Ville (where the old town is) and St Esprit, the quarter is picturesque and I bet would have looked even more amazing had the sky been more blue than grey.

After a quick peek at the Natur Musée (i.e. Natural History Museum), I made my way to Musée d’Art Modern (a.k.a. MUDAM) which I absolutely love for the clever conceptual collections in place. In the afternoon, I visited the Grand Duke’s Palace (only open in June-August for 6 weeks for guided group tours) as well as Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art (i.e. Museum of History and Art).

As you can see, two days of activities-packed visit. I wish I had more time to explore outside of Luxembourg Ville though. I like what I’ve seen so far, and certainly would like to see more. Good excuse for another trip in the future? :D

Day 225: Lunch, al fresco

I’ve always had this idea that I’d like to visit Luxembourg, not that I know what’s there to see when anyone asked me “why?”. Errr, just because? When the opportunity presented itself a couple of days ago (major reduction on train tickets) I decided to take advantage of it and play tourist for a couple of days. With very little preparation made, it really is a weekend where I’d be winging it.

One of the magics of a little me-time means treating myself to an al fresco lunch at Les Caves Gourmands, which has been awarded “Bib Gourmand” by the folks from the food bible of Michelin. Without paying much attention to the menu (I was more intent on scanning the tourist guide for things to do in Luxembourg Ville) I ordered the set menu of the day. I was served “caviar” of aubergine to snack with some bread, beautifully cooked calamari with warm tomato salsa and olive oil drizzle that was packed with a Mediterranean-punch of flavour as my starter, roast chicken and crayfish with potato and summer greens for main course (the poor crayfish was left uneaten since I didn’t have any anti-histamine pills with me – such a pity, but I didn’t want to spend any time at the hospital either) and greengage with ice cream to sweeten up the meal.

Having eaten well, I was all ready to explore the city more. The day had began with a visit to Casemates du Bock and Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg and after lunch, a walking tour was swiftly organised. I also managed to squeeze in Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’Art Contemporain after the walking tour. And no pastry? Of course not! Oberweis got a visit, courtesy of recommendation by Cait.

Day 224: Colin-maillard

Just when I thought the sculptures by Daniel Hourdé around St-Germain have been removed (given the main period of exhibition in the quarter should be over), I stumbled across a couple more today at rue de Furstemberg, just outside of Musée National Eugène Delacroix. Not that I am complaining. The more I stumbled across his sculptures, the more I admire his body of works.

I don’t know how to explain it, but there is a certain evocation of power and strength beneath every movement of the sculptures, accompanied by an expectation for the fluid movement to be extended and continued. I half expect to see them to come alive before my very eyes. And coming alive gracefully they will.

Ps: the title of this sculpture means blind man’s bluff. And behind this statue, you could see another sculpture. That’s Les epines de la volupté (the thorns of lust).

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