Saturday, December 31, 2005

The little train to the Acclimatation Garden

In the Bois de Boulogne (sort of Paris equivalent to Central Park in NYC) there is a garden called le Jardin d'acclimatation (English) which original purpose, back in 1860, was to show the latest exotic discoveries to the Parisians (more than 100 000 animals, sequoias, palm trees, etc.) Unfortunately, none of these living creatures survived the terrible 1870 war against the Prussians (Germans). The animals were all eaten and the trees ended up in mantelpieces... Now the garden has been turned into a small amusement park for kids. To get there you can take this little train from Porte Maillot (17th arrondissement). Don't miss it if you come to Paris with young children.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Snow again

It's been a long time since we have had a "real" winter. Not only is it cold (well for us, not for Pensylvanians of course!!) but on top of that it is regularly snowing. It's really unusual in Paris and I simply love it even if it makes it difficult to run my bike.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Paris Catacombs

Under Paris there are about 300 kilometres of galleries. They originate from the time (under king Philippe Auguste, around 1200) when the city expanded so much that stones were badly needed. Later on, at the end of the 18th century, these galleries were turned into a huge cemetery and became the Catacombes. Now, most of these galleries are closed to the public - although you can visit a place called l'Ossuaire where skulls are to be seen - but some people still find ways to go under (I did when I was young not far from where I took this shot!). This time I did not take this photo, GRiZZ who is undoubtedly a Cataphile (Catacombs lover) did and I asked him if I could borrow it for ParisDailyPhoto. He nicely accepted. Do pay a visit to his stunning website you will not regret it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Collage, rue Quincampoix

I came across this "graffiti" yesterday evening rue Quincampoix (3rd arrondissement). The term Graffiti is actually improper for it is actually more a collage (a patchwork of different pieces of cardboard) than an actual drawing on the wall. Although I have no idea of what it means exactly I have found it quite interesting. If any of you knows who made it - and if there are several of those in Paris - please let me know.

Update! Thanks to Roswitha, we know now who hides behind this work. VLP stands for Vive La Peinture and you should definitely pay a visit to their blog.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Freezing Cold!

Gee, it's really cold in Paris at the moment - about 0 degree centigrade (32 Fahrenheit). The weather people have issued a warning for the coming days for it should get worse! And to think I am off to the mountains at the end of this week...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Pudding

So today IS Christmas. The way it works in France is that the kids wake up early to find out that Santa Claus has come during the night (through the chimney pipe...) and has dropped their gifts under the Christmas tree. The most religious families go to Mass (if they have not already been at midnight) and start preparing the food for the Christmas lunch which will always end up with La bûche (as seen here), a delicious Christmas cake. Why is it that when we want to celebrate something - whatever the culture and the religion is - we need to stuff ourselves with food?!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa (Le Père Noël) is on his way...

Here is picture I took especially for Christmas eve. Santa and his vintage car were taking a break in front of a restaurant in the 17th arrondissement after his shopping spree. Maybe he had good luck finding what he needed at La Fnac (in the background), a large French chain of stores specializing in records, books, home video equipment... Maybe some of these goodies will be coming your way. Nevertheless, may I be the first to wish you and yours a very happy holiday.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Eiffel Tower in the mist

I know it's not very original to show the Eiffel Tower on a blog about Paris, but one, I do not show it very often, two, it's really beautiful at night and three, the current mist gives it a special flavour. Why miss it?! By the way, the light beam you can see in the mist comes from 4 searchlights that have been (re)installed in 2000; they turn around the top of the tower at a slow pace and are visible 80 kilometers (50 miles) away.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Grande Roue (Ferris Wheel)

Every winter the Grande Roue (Ferris wheel) returns to the Tuileries gardens (Jardins des Tuileries) at the very bottom of the Champs Elysées, on the other side of the Place de la Concorde. From L'Etoile (Charles de Gaulle Place) where I took this photo before the wheel was installed, the view is gorgeous. I will show it to you soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Running rabbits in the streets of Paris

Yesterday I went to a party at Le Cabaret, a famous club located Place du Palais Royal and on the way out I came accross an unusual scene: two jumping and running rabbits and a bunny girl (not to be seen on this photo, obviously). All this with the Louvre in the background... Only in Paris!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Doll House

When you enter Pain d'épices (gingerbread), a shop located at 29 Passage Jouffroy (9th arrondissement) eveything around you looks so small you suddenly feel like a giant... No wonder, this marvelous shop sells items for doll houses. If you look closely in the foreground, you can see small baguettes and shopping baskets! And further away towards the background there are miniature sweet containers, plants, cans, bottles... you name it. Everything you ever dreamed of to furnish Barbie and Ken's home sweet home!

Monday, December 19, 2005

French Pigs!

I pass this cute pig family almost every week-end when I go to the market near my home and I keep thinking "I must make a photo". Saturday I did. And here is the result... The charcutier (porkbutcher?) who uses them to attract customers even gave them a name (that is why they have a label). Clever.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Christmas tree saga

Like in many places that celebrate Christmas, French people decorate their homes with a Christmas tree (le sapin). Parisians are no exception but, of course, we have to adapt to our urban conditions... The fact that we have to carry them up to the apartment, find some room (the average size of an apartment in Paris is slightly less than 50 sq. meters - 164 538 sq. feet), the heat that makes them dry and lose their pine needles quickly... means that many people buy them at the last minute (as seen here today). When it is all over, it begins another issue. We either carry them all the way down the stairs again, or... throw them out of the window!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Paris cobblestones

One thing very typical of Paris is our cobblestone streets. They are very slippery when it rains (I mean very!), but of course, it is far better to have them than mud. It is King Philippe Auguste, around 1185, who decided that owners of houses and/or streets would have to pay themselves for the paving. Needless to say, this measure was not very popular. As a result, only some streets (mainly St Jacques, St Martin, St Antoine and St-Honoré) ended up getting paved. After his reign, the "government" - well the kings (see here, for a complete listing) took the street paving in charge.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Le Grand Colbert Restaurant

If you come to - or already are in - Paris and look for a nice Brasserie which is NOT a typical tourist haunt then you might try Le Grand Colbert (2 rue Vivienne, in the 2nd arrondissement). The minute you enter you feel like you have gone back to the 19th century (OK, women no longer wear long dresses and hats!) looking at the ceiling molding and the carefully polished brass. You have to be into traditional French food (foie gras, sea food platters, Choucroute, profitéroles...). You will spend 40 to 50 euros per person if you have a 3 course meal and "normal" wine. While you are in the neighbourhood have a walk in the Galerie Vivienne nearby.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Artificial forest in front of the Paris Pantheon

I don't know if you remember this photo sent by Erica who got proposed to in Paris and who sent me a photo of her posing in front of the Pantheon (5th arrondissement). I went back there yesterday evening and enjoyed their Christmas decorations. They actually "planted" a "forest" of Christmas trees in front of the building and lit the whole thing. Very nice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Real estate in Paris: the price is not right!

In Paris the price of real estate is really crazy. On this photo, a 30 sq meter studio in the 1st arrondissement (a good location) is sold for 276 000 €, that is 9 200 € per sq meter! The price of an apartment or a house (there are few houses in Paris) is primarily based on the number of square meters then on the location (it may double or triple from one arrondissement to another) and the general condition of the place (note that kitchen cabinets or appliances are generally not included). Balconies, terraces, elevators… are obviously a plus. The price shown in the ads include the agency fees but not the “notary fees” (mostly taxes) which amount to roughly 6%.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Second skin" exhibit

In the exact same street where I took yesterday's picture (rue du Faubourg Poissionnière) my eyes got also caught up by an exhibition in the Fraîch'attitude art gallery. This gallery specializes into modern art and more particularly into art pieces made of fruit or vegetable or anything produced by Mother earth... And until December 17 (hurry!), they host an artist called Isabelle Tournoud who designs garments made of straw, eucalyptus leaves, dried tomatoes(!), and plenty of other gifts of nature! It's definitely worth the visit.

Monday, December 12, 2005

When taste runs in the family

I have been driving pass this store several times lately (42, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière in the 10th arrondissement) and every time I feel like taking a picture of the gorgious window shop. Yesterday I did! And I searched who was behind these stunning fabrics and house accessories. I then discovered the world of the Pansu, a family owned business (created by Jules in 1871) and now run by the great great children. I have not had the chance to go inside yet but I surely will and so should you if you're looking for high quality fabrics, tapestries, rugs...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bobbies at Le Printemps Department Store

This year Le Printemps - a large department store - has decided to "invite the London Fashion scene for an eccentric Christmas..." And to prove it yesterday, you could find two Bobbies (London policemen) walking on stilts in the middle of a very intrigued Christmas shopping crowd by the store. I was there, with my camera; thought it was perfect for a Sunday photo.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas lights on the Champs Elysées

They call it "the most beautiful avenue in the world" (I bet there are many!), but call me spoiled, I am so used to it that I don't even pay attention anymore. Last night though, because of all the Christmas lights and everything, I could not help but take a picture thinking that maybe, just maybe, you would enjoy the view (I did!)... For your information, the big pole in the background is an Obelisk (L'Obélisque) and it was given to France in 1829 by Mehemet Ali, Vice King of Egypt. The photo was taken from the top of the Champs Elysées, near the Arc de Triomphe.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Paris Daily Garbage!

It's only after November 1883 that it became compulsory, for the Parisians, to put their garbage into cans (called Poubelles in French, after the name of Eugène Poubelle who invented them). Now 3,000 tons of garbage are produced everyday in Paris, all buildings have their cans (that are provided by the city) and they are collected daily (except for glass and "dry" stuff) by 435 garbage trucks (so the town hall says, I did not count them!). A large part of these trucks is (are?) powered with natural gas (the same you use in your home to cook meals). Much more about Paris garbage history (should you be interested?) here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Paris, the city of love

I am always amazed and moved when people love each other so much that they have to let the world know about it. That is probably what these two young lovers (they have to be young!) felt like when they wrote this simple message ("we love each other") on this piece of "urban furniture". I took this picture at the Notre de Dame de Lorette Metro station in the 9th arrondissement - here it is from another angle.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Les Blogs 2.0

Monday and Tuesday I attended the latest Les Blogs conference (like last April). I loved it although I sometimes felt I was in the twilight zone! Most of the attendants were more fluent in RSS feeds syntax than in plain English, focusing on the speakers and not on your laptop screen was a big faux pas and you were considered as a total loser if you were not able to gather more than 50 Business cards a day! And all this did not take place in Silicon Valley but in Paris!

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More Christmas Balls

I had no idea yesterday's post - the dog - was going to start a good old capitalist vs "communist" (what does one call an anti-capitalist person these days?) war but it did. Now I hardly dare showing more Christmas balls... And thought I had originally planned on this two fold sequence and I don't have time to change my plans! So, here is one of the latest Benetton ads in Paris at the moment (and probably other places in the world). Much less provocative than their campaigns in the 90's. Some things do change...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas Dog

In Paris, I love the pre-Christmas season as much as I hate the post Christmas season! Everywhere in shops, restaurants, cafés, you find nicely decorated window shops, Christmas lights, etc. But since I've lived here I had never seen a decorated dog... Well, there was one yesterday outside the place where I go grocery shopping. He was kind of "Why do you keep staring at me? Do you want my picture?" As a matter of fact yes! Thought it was a good way of starting the week.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Photos for charity

Yesterday evening I went to a charity organised by two friends of mine (Olivier Grunewald and Bernadette Gilbertas) whom I admire a lot for their lifestyle. Olivier is a world renowned photographer and Bernadette, his companion, is a talented geographer and writer. Together they travel the world and the seven seas and come back with wonderful photos and stories. Yesterday they organised an "Atelier sales" to make some room and collect money for the WWF, Reporters without Borders and Handicap International. Needless to say, it was a big success. Do have a glimpse at their latest book, even if the text is in French, the photographs are enjoyable by all.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Arthur and the Minimoys

You probably heard of the French film director Luc Besson (Subway, The Big Blue, The Fifth Element, The Messenger...). Well, he his currently making an animation movie called Arthur and the Minimoys. The film will not hit the theaters before next Christmas (2006) but it is already being promoted, as you can see on this picture that I took on the Champs Elysées. As a matter of fact the BNP Paribas (a well know French bank) is one of the main sponsors of the movie; they surely want it to show!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Demonstration for Aids awareness

Quite sadly the number of HIV positive people is currently picking up in France. Last year 7,000 people found out they were positive - against "only" 6,000 in 2003. Currently, there is an estimated total of 110,000 infected people in France. Yesterday was December 1st, traditionally the World Aids Day. Several associations demonstrated for Aids awareness at place de l'Opéra (1st arrondissement). More photos here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wallace Fountains, at last!

I don't know if you remember this post about Morris columns but it triggered a lot of comments about another usual object in the Paris scenery : the Wallace Fountains (Les Fontaines Wallace). Named after Sir Richard Wallace - a very wealthy Anglo-French philanthropist who used part of his money to improve the life of Parisians - there are still 108 of these still up and running fountains throughout Paris (the first one was installed in 1875). I took this shot at the bottom of the Champs Elysées and here you can have a more global view of it.

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