Thursday, April 30, 2009

Enough cold and rain!

Don't get fooled by the ray of sun that you can see in this photo, it's actually pretty cold and rainy these days in Paris... The only positive aspect is that it gave me the opportunity to take this photo while I was crossing the Seine to go back home. If you blow it up, you'll see the Grand Palais in the background (on the right), pretty spectacular with the light passing through it. My only concern is that this bad weather stops right before the PDP Picnic on May 13; I want heat and sun!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Less taxes, more cafe?

Good news, prices in restaurants and cafés should drop a little from the 1st July onwards. Why? Because the VAT (Value Added Tax, a sort of sale tax) will drop from 19,6 % to 5,5% after this date. This long time demand was granted yesterday (May 28th) by President Sarkozy to the restaurants and cafés trade unions. This will cost 2.5 billion euros to our government! As a counterpart, the unions committed to hiring at least 40 000 people. As for the prices, even though they may drop the first 2 months, I'm pretty sure they will go back to "normal" afterwards. (BTW, don't forget the PDP picnic on May 13th. FYI, I've added last years videos in the the Facebook event page)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

24/7 protest

Those of you who thought I was going to post a photo of Jackson Browne that I just went to see at the Olympia are going to be disappointed... Instead, I went especially yesterday (Monday) to the Hotel de Ville (town hall) to take a photo of a demonstration that has been going on since March 23. 24/7 people walk around the black board you can see in the background. What are they protesting? The latest education reform that was voted 2 years ago.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Do I hear more?

You know how auctioneers (commissaires priseurs in French) put on display the stuff they want to sell before they actually perform the sale? I went to one of those on Saturday called "Himalaya and its sources: tribal and classical art!" Doesn't it sound good?! Now you may wonder why I got into this? Simple: the person in black in this photo has a lot to do with it! And if you're a true visitor to PDP, I'm sure you will have recognized her already! It's not too late if you want to buy one of these magnificent kimonos, masks or sculptures... The sale takes place on Monday evening and Guille (ooops, I disclosed her name!) accepts orders by phone... Check the catalog.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The City Guide for Parents with Children

You know I don't like to post photos of people on this blog without their permission... But this time I have it (well obviously not from Wiley, the little girl whose hiding behind her camera!). Let me then also introduce you to Sheridan (the mother) and Alexander, the boy in the foreground. They live in Brussels but came to Paris today to support their mother who proudly contributed to a book (The City Guide for Parents with Children) currently on display in the window of WH Smith, on rue de Rivoli. Aren't they beautiful?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Coco "before" Chanel

If you're a true francophile you've probably heard of Audrey Tautou, the French actress who was in Amélie. Well, as of yesterday she's in a brand new movie, called Coco before Chanel, so basically a story about her life before she became the famous designer we all know about. I've only seen the trailer so far, but I'm really tempted to see the movie. Besides, Audrey Tautou is, in my opinion, the perfect cast. I'll tell you more when I see it. That's all, I just wanted to keep you informed of what's on at the moment in Paris! BTW, I took this photo opposite to the Senate.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The art of David Cintract

Close to Le Louvre, there is a pretty cool modern art gallery - called Art Club - that I love. Lately, as I was in the area, I took this photo through the window and I love the blurry effect. The man in the foreground is a sculpture (a mannequin) by David Cintract, a French "nouveau-pop" artist. Very talented - well, in my opinion! On a different note, it's time to buy your plane/train tickets to Paris to attend the 4th annual PDP Picnic (see event on Facebook) on May 13!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Naked, and even more...

You may have already been to this exhibition called "Our body" because it has already made it to a lot of American and European cities before Paris, where it is at the moment. Or should I say "was", as following to court order, they had to close it down today. Why? Because two associations pressed charges, on the grounds that dead bodies belong in cemeteries and not in exhibition halls. I can understand even though I do not share the same opinion. I went to see it in February when it opened and thought it was worth seeing. Have a look at their site, to get a better idea of their intentions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paris Ghetto!

It's been several mornings that I've passed by this graffiti on my way to the office and every day I wonder who, on earth, could take the time to write "ghetto" on the sidewalk! Anyway, this morning I decided to take a photo, which, don't ask me why, I like a lot. Like in all big cities, in - or around - Paris, we also have areas that some consider to be ghettos. Generally, it's a word associated with poverty, but in the 80's, 3 famous French comedians made what could qualify as a rap song in which they made fun of 3 rich neighborhoods named Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy calling them "C'est mon ghetto" (it's my ghetto). Hard to get if you don't speak French, hilarious, if you do...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meeting Point

Let me introduce you to a very Parisian place: the Saint Michel Fountain. And it's not because it's a historical monument ordered by Haussmann to Gabriel Davioud in order to hide an ugly facade that it is famous... No, it's because it's probably the most common meeting point of the left bank. You'll often hear "let's meet at the Fontaine Saint-Michel at X o'clock" for instance. That is precisely why, all day long, this place is full of people waiting! I'm sure that most of my Parisian visitors will concur that they waited for someone at the Fountain Saint Michel at least once in their life!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Art or commerce?

Sometimes I pass by a shop window and I think to myself "gee, that is really clever/beautiful/artsy". That's exactly what I thought when I saw this Diesel display in a store near Beaubourg. Of course, the black and white adds to the effect, but still... Maybe one day Window dressing will be fully considered as art. It's already a real job, and Window Dressers even write books.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Valet Parking

In France, if you go to a fancy restaurant or club and don't want to bother parking your car yourself, you ask the "Voiturier" (Valet) to do it. In this photo I photographed the one of Fauchon, on place de la Madeleine. The funny part is that before you were just supposed to tip them when they would return your car, now there is an "official price" which is generally 8 euros (still cheaper than a parking!). I was a voiturier once, when I was 20 or so for a very chic Cartier party on Place Vendôme. All I was scared of, was to scratch these super expensive Mercedes and Rolls Royces!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Men are from Mars...

You all know the best seller "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" by John Gray, I suppose. Well, in Europe, a Belgian guy - Paul Dewandre - adapted it for the theater and I went to see his show last night at the Olympia. Funny and so true... Here is a clip on Youtube, of course, it's in French.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Les "trenties"

Last evening I had a drink with a few friends at Bertie's, a pretty trendy, chic bar/restaurant located at rue Edouard VII, a pedestrian area located between Opera and Madeleine. On Thursday nights they have what they call "The Trenties" night - a play on words with 30 (trentre, in French) and trendy. And apparently, it works; the place was full of, what would certainly qualify as "Young Urban Professionals"... what we used to call BCBG (for Bon Chic Bon Genre) in the 80's. As for me, well, I felt a bit misplaced, I don't know why!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paris Sales Shopping

Scandal! Remember? I told you the rules regarding sales (soldes) were extremely strict in France (only twice a year, from a fixed date to another, etc.). Now, the government has decided that there would be two more approved weeks for sales, at the convenience of shop owners, and a lot of them have chosen to use their additional 2 weeks now. Of course, like most attempts to change things in France, this new measure is widely criticized, especially by the French Garment Association. About the photo, needless to say that this shop is way past the soldes (by) date, as it is closed for good. Precisely why I like it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Place du marché Sainte Catherine

Here is a place I've been willing to show you for a long time, but never managed to take a photo that I liked. It's called "La Place du marché Sainte Catherine" and it's located in the 4th arrondissement in Le Marais. It's one of those typical Parisian squares, that was built centuries ago (actually in the 13th century) surrounded by cafés and restaurants and relatively old buildings (18th century). Some evil minds will say that this photo does not show much of the Place, of course, but it's the atmosphere that counts!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The first car!

If you think you have trouble parallel parking with your car sometimes, think of this. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the first automobile. It was made by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, a French military Engineer in... 1770 and it is now exposed at the Musée des Arts et Metiers museum. 3 wheels, a steam engine, all this to carry up to 5 tons at the incredible speed of 4 Km/hour (2.50 Mph). OK, let's be honest, in never really worked, but it was the first time a vehicle did not need anything else than its own propulsion means to move. The photo is pretty boring, but I thought of showing this to you because of what I saw today: the last call to apply for a post-doctoral or senior research grant in a public laboratory in Paris.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ziko or Sicko?!

Don't ask me what Ziko stands for, I have no idea. I searched the web and found many Zikos, one of them being a New Zealand band, but I doubt they "advertise" on the walls of Paris! Anyway Ziko must have something to do with music as in slang the word "Zic" refers to music. I just liked the aesthetics of the grafitti even though it's not very elaborate. I think it all comes from the black wall and the black fence, which is extremely rare - most fences they install when they have work in progress in the streets of Paris are green.. PS: thank you for your nice Easter wishes yesterday. I did not eat that much chocolate after all!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Yes, it's Easter, Passover, Pâques... And I already told you the story, but you may have forgotten it. So here it is again... "In France, on the day of Easter around noon, kids are told to search for eggs (generally made of chocolate) in the garden of their house (or on the balcony if they live in an apartment). These eggs are supposed to have been brought back by bells that just returned from a short trip to Rome (home of the Vatican) to be blessed by the Pope." And BTW, we're off on Easter Monday - not on Good Friday - so I still have a day off ahead ;-) If you wonder where this photo was taken, well... I do too. Because I forgot where it was, even though it was not that long ago. As we say in French "I have the memory of a goldfish!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The multiple faces of the French police

When you think of the police, aren't you more likely to picture the guy who just gave you a parking ticket than the one who watches over your neighborhood? Why? Because they have an image problem! How do you fix this? With better communications. Like, for instance, this new years best wishes video message, or with this huge plastic canvas hanging on the front of La Préfecture de Police (the main Paris police building) on the Ile de la Cité. It shows all the faces of police(wo)men, from the one that dives into the Seine to rescue people who fell into it, to the one who clears mines, without forgetting the civil servant that issues your passport.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dance heaven

Last night (Thursday) I had dinner near the opera and on my way back home, I passed by Repetto, a shop dedicated to ballet outfits which is very famous in France. I've always known it but I never really knew who this Repetto was. I started investigating, and found out that she was the mother of a famous French dancer called Roland Petit. She started making ballet shoes after WWII, at the request of her son. Since 1999 the brand is in the hands of Jean-Marc Gaucher who extended the range of products sold and gave it an international reputation. In 2006, half of the revenues still came from ballet shoes.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Where civil servants never go on strike!

Yesterday, for my work, I had to go to one of the most prestigious schools in France called L'ENA (for Ecole nationale d'admistration). There, students learn how to manage France, either locally or at the top of the French administration (most of the top civil servants that work with the President come from this school). A lot of French politicians also attended this school and a few top managers who work in the private sector too. Anyway, this won't tell you much if you're not French of course, but let me tell you that, for me, entering this mythical den what quite something! I photographed one of the corridors, the one in which all classes are ranked year by year on the wall since 1947. Fascinating.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A bus for the homeless

Yesterday I came across a nicely decorated bus near Montparnasse. At first I thought it was some sort of advertising, but I had a closer look and found out it was dedicated to the homeless. It's called Le Bus Abri (the shelter bus), which is a play on words with Abri Bus, which is what we call our bus stops, and it's painted like an apartment building, because, precisely it's meant to be a little temporary house, if a homeless person wishes to find a shelter for an hour or a day. If I understood well what they say on their site, this bus is also a political claim.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Game of Shadows

I love it when spring comes and when people start "living outside" again. It was so today. The temperature reached a steady 20°C (68°F) and there were a lot of people at café terraces and on the river bank like these two, who apparently decided to grab a bite in the sun, just before sunset (see the big shadows on the wall). Remember, that is what we'll all do on May 13, when the PDP picnic takes place ;-)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Paris Marathon 2009

It's not usual for me to set my alarm clock to 7:30 on a Sunday morning, but I really did not want to miss the Paris Marathon. I really look up to all these people who run so long in so little time (and I'm not even thinking of the winner, Vincent Kipruto, a 21 year old Kenyan who ran the 43 km in... 2 hours, 5 minutes et 44 seconds!). Of course running through the empty streets of Paris must be a special treat, but still! Anyway I took this photo in a tunnel on the river banks; I love the effect. Check this little Animoto for more.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Salon du Vintage 2009

I don't know if you remember the pink Nina Ricci dress that I photographed last year at the Salon du Vintage, an exhibition dedicated to fashion trends that have marked history. Well I went back this year to check out what the 80's had to offer, for that was what this 3rd edition was dedicated to. Not bad... Actually, much less ridiculous than what the 70's produced! Remember Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girls (1988) or Flashdance (1983), those were the 80's!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Promenade des amoureux

On my way back home yesterday I saw a little silhouetto of a man (scaramouche, scaramouche!) in the middle of a garden along the rue de l'Amiral Coligny, near the Place du Louvre. I stopped right away and found out he was part of a temporary art exhibit by Italian artist Carla Milesi called "La promenade des amoureux" (the lovers walk). In fact there was not one silhouetto but plenty. I check on the artist's website and I also found out that they were made of... concrete. Very creative. To be seen until April 20,2009.

Friday, April 03, 2009

French Invasion!

I can't resist showing you the current ad campaign for Eurostar (the train that goes from Paris to London via the Channel tunnel) for I find it funny (it's probably even funnier to my British visitors). The English and the French have often been at war (including the one that lasted 100 years in 1337), but since 1904 and "l'Entente cordiale", we get along pretty well. Only, we still call them "Roast beefs" while they call us "frogs", but nothing nasty about it. Having said that, I may consider buying a Eurostar ticket for 77€ (that is really cheap) and pay a visit to London, Canterbury or... Cheltenham!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Laughing in Paris

I know it's no longer April fools day, but we still can have a good laugh, can't we? In Paris, we have until April 4 for that! That is, until the "Paris fait sa comédie" festival (a festival where a lot of French and Canadian comedians perform on stage) closes. It takes place around my home, in several theaters on the Grands Boulevards and in the street also, where, as you can see in this photo, they also have a few street events. Have a look at the video clips featured on the official site if you understand French (and French humour!) if not let me offer you this...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Thinking outside the box...

Today's theme day is "yellow". I thought of photographing a garbage can with a yellow top, where we put the paper we wish to recycle, but it was not really aesthetic. Instead I chose to show you something very French: a public mailbox. I've looked everywhere, but I have been unable to find out how many of them, there are in Paris. The only thing I can tell you is that they have not always been yellow; before 1952 they were blue (I'm sure very few French people know that!). Of course, as always, click here to view thumbnails for all participants in this theme day.