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Project 365 – Week 12

One of the big news circulating in the last couple of weeks has been on the imminent death of Google Reader. It may be a non-issue to many people (how many of you here read this blog via Google Reader as I advised last year, or do you subscribe to the email notification?) but to the more techy crowd, this represents a more serious problem. It’s an issue of trust. A number of Google Products have been retired in relatively short period of time (cf The Google Graveyard), and it is chipping away the goodwill of its users, many of whom have worked hard to build a techno-ecosystem that’s most efficient for their use. To have random tools taken away from this network of utilities is jarring to say the least. Last year, I was sad to hear about the shut down of iGoogle but there was over a year’s notice to transition the content elsewhere. With Google Reader, it’s reduced to mere 3 months. At least, you could still, for now, use Google Takeout to download all data that you want to keep.

Ps: I apologise for the lacklustre photos for the week. The lack of sunshine really shows how dull things can get…

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18 Mar: There is a typical “feel” of Paris which everyone could pinpoint out right away. In my humble opinion, it stems in large part from the architecture introduced by Baron Haussmann, which incorporates these distinct rooftop styles. The top floor with grey exterior, corresponding windows to the maid’s rooms, and terracotta chimneys that emit white fumes when there’s a nip in the air. If you are lucky, peeking through your rooftop view, you may well see some of the most well-known monuments, including the grand dame in iron, la Tour Eiffel.

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The Gardens of Versailles

A walk in the park is a fairly romantic thing to do, and there are quite a few gardens and parks around Paris perfect for such endeavour. However, if you want a walk somewhere unforgettable but still easily accessible, you can’t beat the beautiful setting of the Gardens of Versailles.

Garden of Versailles

There is a certain grandeur that’s unrivalled at Versailles. The formal garden of its l’Orangerie, the classic French gardens and occasional labyrinths, and the bosquets lining the basins and the grand canal – all the elements that evoke timeless admiration of the beauty that lies before one’s eyes. Judge it yourself, although note that these photos were taken at different times of the year. (Hint: it’s good to visit it multiple times throughout the year)

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Day 207: Little Red goes to the wood

The marketing team behind this poster has quite a sense of humour.

The mairie is currently encouraging its residents and visitors to appreciate the green spaces and tropical woods surrounding the city. They are not wrong you know. There are a lot of beautiful green spots in Paris that one could explore, and I don’t mean just Luxembourg or Tuilleries Gardens. In particular, the focus is on Parc de Bagatelle, Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes.

Anyway, I digressed. So while the mairie is trying to forge a culture close to nature, are we all supposed to turn into a curious Little Red Riding Hood? There is a wolf lurking somewhere out there, with a sly grin in his face. Hmmm… Still, the poster brings a smile to my face every time I see it. While a photograph of a poster is not terribly exciting, I still feel it should be shared :D

Day 187: Le jardin des éphémères

Just recently I blogged about tennis-themed set up at the parvis in front of the Hôtel de Ville, but as Roland Garros moves on, the same large space undergoes a rather magical transformation into an ephemeral garden for the summer. Every year, a different garden is constructed, and this year, Anamorphosis is brought to life by François Abelanet.

Walking around the garden, each step brings forth a new perspective, a trompe-l’œil, thus a continuous source of fascination. There’s even a view point platform built, but the queue was a tad too long for me to want to join in. I may wait for another day, perhaps early in the morning or a sunnier day, to explore further.

Addendum: … or not. The garden has moved on before I have time for a second go, booo.

Day 136: Formal garden

I quite like walking around the Marais quarter, which is lively and bustling but also attracts a certain kind of fashionable crowd (not that I am one of them – and I doubt I could afford to be one either), making it an interesting people-watching neighbourhood. More importantly, the quarter did not undergo a Haussmann “re-looking” (a casual French term for makeover apparently) and therefore plenty of interesting architecture to check out too.

Hôtel particulier is one of the features which I think of as a link to the romantic past of the streets here, thanks to the favours bestowed by the royalties and the peers of French court once upon a time. The grand urban mansions usually come with entrance courts and gardens, and if you could cast your imagination a little back, if only back to the days where Impressionist artists could cast paintings of garden strolls in Victorian dresses and suits, the gardens would be just perfect for socials and interludes in between attending various soirées that one had been invited too.

Today, a number of these hôtel particulier have been converted into administrative buildings as well as museum spaces. Some of these are free to visit (e.g. Musée Cognacq-Jay, Musée Carnavalet, la maison de Victor Hugo) so there is no excuse to not get acquainted with the idea of grand Parisian townhouses. I should revisit them too. It has been a while.

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.

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