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Day 284: Au secours

This piece of street art is very intriguing. When I last walked past the junction between rue des Feuillantines and rue Pierre Nicole, it was in the summer. I didn’t see this collage then. But it was there this evening. Its creator goes by the name of Tristan des Limbes.

I can’t quite make out who is making this cry of help, nor the reason why. Is this a representation of mother earth crying out for help, or someone’s buried conscience, or something else? But I guess that’s makes art beautiful in its own right. It can have multiple interpretations, each to its observer, and still there is no need for just one answer. It may be A, it may be B. It may even be Z.

Day 283: Paris Observatory

It is another grey autumn day in Paris (I best get used to it), but not particularly cold, so still alright to wander around a little in the evening on a long walk. Somehow, my aimless stroll took me to the historic main building of Observatoire de Paris. The one the famously aligns with Fontaine de l’Observatoire and Jardin du Luxembourg.

So this quilted looking dome of the Perrault building is the Arago dome, named after François Arago, the director of the Observatory from 1834-1853. It houses an astronomical telescope, and may be visited as part of a 2-hour guided tour (reservation required) of the entire building. The tour also takes you floor by floor, to see the talking clocks room (ground floor), the grand gallery (first floor) and the Cassini Hall (second floor) where the Paris meridian is marked. I should try to book myself in for a tour.

Ps: hmmm, the French version says reservation is currently not available.

Day 282: Sunday market – Philippe

“T’es occupé?”
“Naaaan. Qu’est ce que tu penses?”

Ok. I give up. I am simply unable to recreate the atmosphere at the market on paper. Or in this case, on blog. And in French. Especially in French.

Philippe is the local producer that I get my greens from at the market. He’s friendly, always smiling, and patient with me while I stutter through my shopping list week after week. To be honest, anytime that I’ve been there, he’s always busy. Maybe with exception at the times that I was at the market much earlier than usual. He’s usually there with a couple of assistants, working steadily to serve the customers in line.

There’s a warm camaraderie between Philippe and a couple other stall vendors nearby. It is not unusual for them to holler and ribbing at each other, looking for some change (they are each other’s bank for coins and smaller notes), have a cuppa coffee and a bite f croissant pre-9am rush. This is the kind of atmosphere you’ll never get in a supermarket. This is the kind of cheering up that I’d happily take any Sunday morning.

Day 281: Cultural station – Saint-Germain-des-Près

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.

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 279: Across the river

I’m beginning to believe that if you throw a coin at something in Paris, you’ll probably hit a landmark of some sort. Some more famous than the others, of course, but sometimes, even what seems to be something nondescript, could well bear a sign to tell you that someone famous used to live or do-such-and-such here.

Standing along Quai François Mitterrand and looking over the River Seine, on a large scale, it’s easy enough to spot Square du Vert-Galant, Pont Neuf, statue of King Henri IV (of France) and the dome of the Panthéon. With a navette throw in there for good measure. Could be nice with some blue sky over it though, don’t you think? Pretty please, I’d like the grey days to be over.

Day 278: A night at the opera

Yay, my first opera in Paris!

When I was young, I had this impression that opera are meant for some old and rich couples who don’t know what to do with their free time. That was until I gave it a go at the Arena di Verona. I saw Aida that fateful summer evening, and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve returned to Arena di Verona a few more times as well as watching operas in Dublin and in Vienna. I’ve seen many of the most popular operas.

Most operas in Paris are nowadays shown at Opéra Bastille; Palais Garnier is more commonly used for ballet performances instead. However, Anne and I found out that Mozart’s last opera – The Clemence of Titus – would be performed here instead, and given the reasonable price that we could find, we snagged two seats for tonight. The arias were well sung, the location opulent and indulgent, the set carefully altered at each scene, and the orchestra played beautifully indeed. It was a very good night out.

Day 277: Behind the curtain

If you ever wonder, if someone is spying on you from an abandoned building, then there is probably something there. Maybe not a person per se, but possibly a trompe-l’œil that somone is tracking you from behind a small curtain. I guess this can be spooky at night.

This building on rue de la Glacière is marked for tearing down and rebuilding. Cranes can be seen peeking through the metal barrier put up to prevent public wandering onto a building site. There is an air of neglect, which made this trompe-oeil even more striking. Can you feel the loneliness radiating from this boy behind his hiding place?

Day 276: Café Pouchkine

There will never a short supply of French pastries in this city but for a change every now and again, foreign(-inspired) pastries are much welcomed too. I, for one, could not resist the durian macaron from Pâtisserie de Choisy, or matcha and azuki bean cake from Sadaharu Aoki. Today, I discovered Russian-accented French pastries.

Café Pouchkine can be found at the ground floor of Le Printemps. The cafe may be small – bar/counter seating for about 10 people? – but the pastry selection is solid and they pack quite a flavour in them too. Only two pastry varieties were tested today, so I will be back to check out some others. Hopefully soon.

Day 275: It’s a crush

Given we still have very sunny spells for now, the last of the flea markets are taking place in a few locales around the city, one of them being Butte aux Cailles. What is normally a quiet and small street – well, more like a lane – was completely jammed today! The photo doesn’t lie.

I have browsed my share of brocantes since I started living here. You know, it is actually common enough for these flea markets to be very busy, but mostly of people browsing rather than buying. It also appears as if the vendors brought everything unwanted from the storage an try to offload them whichever way possible. Let’s just say I am no longer surprised at seeing a rusty old bicycle frame being put on sale. No wheels. No lights. No basket. Just rusty frame. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure ;)

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