Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Working late

Who said the French don't work long hours?! For even if it's true that the legal number of work hours per week amounts to 35, most people work much longer than that. Besides, to remain synchronized with the "the rest of the world", a lot of French companies agreed with their employees that they would continue to work 40 hours a week and would be granted 12 to 15 extra days of holidays as a compensation. Worldwide comparisons must then be made on a yearly basis, but I have been unable to find reliable figures... FYI, I took this photo last evening at La Défense.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Not far from the Eiffel Tower, there is a sort of business center called Cap 15, that companies can use for special events (including a nice terrace over the Seine and overlooking the Eiffel Tower. The building in itself is pretty tacky, but they recently installed these modern frescoes all around it, which gives it a pretty cool effect. If you want a personal detail, this is also the building where I did one of my first training periods, when I was a student... (well, at that time it was not a business center but very old offices that they actually demolished to build this one, that shows you how old I am LOL!).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Swedish moment

Don't ask me why - probably because the terribly cold wave we have in Paris at the moment comes from Northern Europe, I had lunch at the Paris Swedish Church where the Paris Swedish community had their annual Christmas market. Not surprisingly I had salmon, a few smoked reindeer slices, a bit of ginger bread and a glass of delicious "Glögg" (Mulled wine). On the way out I stepped inside the Church and admired its stunning Christ statue. Nice unusual moment - especially in Paris! (And yes, before you ask: ALL the furniture they have on site is Ikea made ;-))

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Of course in France Thanksgiving does not really mean anything, but I know I have a lot of American visitors on this blog. And since you guys are probably enjoying a nice family weekend I thought a nice turkey photo was appropriate for today... I took it during my own Thanksgiving celebration in Paris, that American friends of mine organized a few days ago. Always a fun moment. So let's see, what are you thankful for?!

Friday, November 26, 2010

My new friend!

I don't know if you remember this last year's photo, but it happened again this year... "it", is the Geek Party, an event where a bunch of high-tech people gather and show to "the rest of the world" what they created. I saw many interesting things again this year, and especially this guy, called Nao, a French robot made by Aldebaran Robotics. Nao is by far the cutest robot I've ever seen in my life and even though he's only able to do what programmers tell him to do, he is still very cute! Check for yourself in this little video...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An inviting grave

Call me weird, but sometimes, when I want to take a little break from the rush, I take a walk in one of the many cemeteries that we have inside Paris. And for the first time in my life I visited the one of Montmartre, right at the bottom of the "Butte", near the Place de Clichy. A very interesting one, with many famous people. I took a few photos while I was walking without knowing exactly whose grave I was taking. It's only when I came back home that I discovered  that I had taken the tomb of a famous French actor who died recently: Jean-Claude Brialy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Palais Garnier in the light

You may think this is the normal lighting of the Opera, but it's not. They probably had a special night or something, when I passed by it a few days ago. The quality is not very good (it's really time I change my camera!) but... you get the picture! FYI, this the Palais Garnier, after the name of the architect who built it and it's a beautiful building both outside and inside (you can visit it daily from 10 am to 5 pm for 9 € and it's worth it...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The birds!

No, these birds did not dive on me like in The birds, the movie by Alfred Hitchcock, but I've found the scene pretty scary. I took this photo near the Châtelet, by the Tour Saint Jacques, that has recently been renewed (see this post and this post). You can also have a good look at the weather we're experiencing in Paris at the moment. Grey and cold - and even colder soon... I'm off to Lille today, in the north of France, it'll be even colder!

Monday, November 22, 2010

No to prostitution

I often  go to rue Doudeauville in the 18th arrondissement at the moment (that is where I shake my body on a Powerplate to keep in shape!!). It's not exactly the best neighborhood in Paris - it's not the worst either - and obviously they have to deal with prostitution problems. Apparently the best way inhabitants of this apartment building have found to protest is to hang this huge sign saying "no to prostitution!" (I once almost did the same to protest against noise coming from a restaurant beneath the place I used to live in). It reminded me of this sign. I really wonder if it's going to be any efficient...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Going around...

This may be hard for you to see, but if you look closely in the background of this photo, you will see the lights of a merry-go-round that I photographed at Place de l'hôtel de ville (town hall). This is one of the many free merry-go-rounds of our capital - there is one in almost all arrondissement. The water in the foreground belongs to a fountain that they have over there - not the rain! Have a soothing Sunday everyone.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cloudy Paris

So this is definitely November and it shows! The Eiffel Tower was in the clouds last evening when I returned from a meeting at Boulogne Billancourt (in the close suburbs of Paris). I took this photo from the lovely Passerelle Debilly that you may remember because of this love story... We're expecting more cloudy weather this weekend and a drastic drop in temperature next week!

Friday, November 19, 2010

First snow!

What? This is only mid November and it already snowed?! And no, I did not take this photo in Canada, but yesterday in Paris ;-) Explanation: for a conference, I had to go to Heavent, a trade show that is currently taking place at Porte de Versailles in the 15th arrondissement. This show is dedicated to events planning and all that revolves around this industry. There were lots of service providers that operate in this field, including a fake snow maker. Here you go LOL!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

French Cuisine at Unesco!

You probably noticed it if you came to France, food plays a really large role in our culture. Everyone knows how to cook - at least a little - and when you go to any restaurant you expect the food to be good! Of course things have changed (a lot of restaurants use ready made dishes now), but the demand for quality is still there. So I guess it's no that surprising that, as you may have heard, Unesco officials just declared “French cuisine” as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity" (read more on the NYT)! It's probably a little far fetched, but it's good for our nation self esteem. And to illustrated this, here are some zucchini roulés. What's good, must also look good ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pavillon de Flore

The light was really wonderful last evening (well around 4:30 pm), when I came back home - and so was the sky. You know me: I stopped right in the middle of the street and took a photo ;-) This is Le Pavillon de Flore by the way, it's part of the Le Louvre and it was before part of the Tuileries Palace (its construction began in 1595). Really beautiful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Busy crossing

I don't know why, but I love this photo. Probably because it shows that Paris is not just an "open air museum" like I often hear, but also a "real" city with heavy traffic and busy streets - which also means traffic accidents (there were 44 deaths on the road in Paris in 2009...).  I took this photo at the crossing of rue de Rivoli and rue des Archives, right by one of the entrances of the BHV department store.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Government

As of today France has a new government. Don't go thinking President Sarkozy resigned or anything, no, in France we have a weird system: the President is elected every 5 years, he then appoints a Prime Minister who appoints the other ministers. When things go a little shaky (like recently with the retirement law that put many people in the streets), the President calls for a new Prime Minister who then appoints new Ministers... This time though, the new Prime Minister remained the same as the old one (François Fillon), only the rest of the team got reshuffled (more on France 24). Are you still following? Anyway, it gives me the opportunity to use a photo that I took about a month ago while Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand (the nephew to François Mitterrand, the former French President) inaugurated le Studio 13/16, a place dedicated to Teenagers in the Beaubourg center. He happens to remain at the very same position in the new Government...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Culture on line...

Who said people prefer to surf the web than going to exhibitions or museums?! Look at this line. I took this photo on the back side of the Hotel de Ville (Town hall) where there is the entrance to an exhibition hall where they regularly have very good - and free! - exhibitions. The current one - and until the end of February - is dedicated to Andrée Putman, a very famous French designer who was born in 1925 and is still alive an well. Check her website if you want to find out more about her work.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good deed!

This is probably not the nicest Paris photo you've ever seen here, but it's very Parisian! This, ladies and gentlemen is a Calendar (not as good as the PDP calendars of course ;-), but still!). And from whom did I buy it? From a Paris fireman that knocked at my door yesterday (Friday). It's the tradition here that before Christmas (and obviously much ahead of Christmas!) Firemen go from door to door and sell calendars to fund an association that helps firemen' family in need. I was happy to buy this calendar to support these courageous guys (and that includes going door to door selling calendars too!). That's all. We're still in the middle of a very long weekend here, and I enjoy it ;-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A fun way to visit Paris

If you're looking for a different way of visiting the Paris covered passages, here is a fun thing to do. Every Saturday and Wednesday (and more often during holidays), you can help Jean-Jacques de La Tour, solve a cold murder case (very cold, as it took place in 1870 in Le Passage Jouffroy!). Along the way you come across witnesses and clues... All this is fake of course and the witnesses are all actors (like this "Gavroche" that I photographed in this photo) and part of the L'enigme des passages couverts visit. The fun part is that I came across this tour by sheer coincidence, as I was going back home.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day off

Guess what? Today is a holiday in France. We're celebrating the end of the first world war, and more precisely the armistice between the allies and Germany in 1918 (see more on good old Wikipedia if you're interested). Now that we're all united within the EU, It seems so odd to me that there were once wars between France and other European countries like Germany or England. Anyway the good news is that even though there are now no veterans left, we're still going to enjoy a nice day off! Time for me to catch up on my work though ;-) BTW, I took this photo in the 20th arrondissement, rue Fontarabie.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And now the garbage men...

In Paris, when a strike ends, a new one starts! OK, I'm exaggerating, but you've gotta say... This morning when I went out, I had to weave through piles of garbage to reach my scooter (OK, I'm exaggerating a little more...) The reason why? Because the garbage men are on strike... Nothing to do with the retirement law, they "just" want a raise. Now facts and figures... There are 4 000 applicants each year for this job in Paris and only 300 make it. They have to take a - simple - written test to pass and they make 1 200 €/month when they start.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Endangered spieces?

These two guys are "bouquinistes", that is shopkeepers that have been granted the right to own a little box by the Seine banks to store and sell old books to the passers-by. Problem: people buy less and less books from little shop owners, they prefer to go on line or to larger stores... Consequently the bouquinistes started selling other stuff than books, souvenirs for instance, to make the ends meet. The problem is that their contract specifies that they must sell books and nothing else and the Paris town hall has started chasing those who don't play by the rules. It is also trying to find a solution to boost their income, like a Fête des bouquinistes, for instance. I doubt this will be enough.... How about selling kindles?! Update: here is an interesting point of view by Nicholas Negroponte (not about Bouquinistes, but the book industry)

Monday, November 08, 2010

More Love locks!

Do you remember the photo of the "love locks" that I took on the Pont des Arts and that I posted last June. Well today I found more! On the Pont de l'Archevêché, behind Notre Dame. I waited for some time (in the rain and the cold, thank you very much!) to get a Péniche - a flat boat that runs on the Seine - in the background, so that it would complete the perfect romantic shot ;-) Cheesy? Well yes, a little bit!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Autumn leaves

Yes, I know, every year I post a photo that looks more or less like this one, around the same time of the year...But autum leaves make good photos and when they are taken in Paris, it makes a big difference ;-) I've taken this photo, in a little garden near the rue de la Madone, in the 18th arrondissement where I went shopping for Chinese food (there is a litlle Chinese quarter over there). That's all, have a nice fall/autumn Sunday everyone, except for those who live in the South hemisphere who are gently entering Spring...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Camping on the Pont des Arts

We were almost done with the retirement protests when a new one just started! This time on the Pont des Arts, where a bunch of associations installed tents, like they did by the Canal Saint Martin in 2006 (check this photo, if you don't remember). I went there last night around 7 pm and took this photo. Had I waited one more hour, I would have not been able to take the same shot...  I just read the Police kicked them out around 8 pm. I'm not surprised, it's one of the most touristy bridges in Paris and the government surely does not want a repeat of what happened at Canal Saint Martin in 2006, where they remained months...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Under the cobblestones...

So it was true... There is a beach underneath the cobblestones of Paris! Explanation: during the student riots in May 68,  several slogans were used by demonstrators (check them here - go to the Slogans and Graffiti topic in the middle of the page). A very famous one - that we still remember today was "under the cobblestones, there is a beach" (sous les pavés la plage). So you can imagine that when I saw this scene this morning near the Gare du nord, I immediately thought of this slogan and jumped on my camera ;-) I'm sure my French visitors will smile when they see it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

France: an aging country...

One of the reasons why the recent law about retirement age was so controversial is that the French are getting older and older and that our life expectancy is also increasing (which is a good news of course, except for our national debt!). The recent figures published by Insee (the French national statistics organization) are formal: by 2060 the French life expectancy will jump from 84 to 91,1 years for women and from 77 to 86 for men. More than that, there will be 200 000 100 year old people against 15 000 today (and 1 150 in the 60's). France is not on top of the world list though, Andorra is! (check this table). BTW, I chose an illustration by MBW, which I believe shows Leornard Nimoy who precisely was not exactly born yesterday ;-)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Inside Le Grand Colbert

If you're looking for a good, typical restaurant in Paris, I suggest you pay a visit to Le Grand Colbert; a typical brasserie that first opened in 1900 (during La Belle Epoque times). I went there last Sunday for lunch with friends and really enjoyed myself. Not only is the food excellent, but more than that, the decor is really worth the journey... (not to mention that after your meal you can wander in the neighborhood which is also worth the look!). Price-wise, let's say it's affordable but not cheap... Last time I mentioned Le Grand Colbert (2005) they did not have a website, but now, they do!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Those who already have been to Paris, will probably have guessed right away where I took this shot, but those who did not may wonder... Hint: the victorious guy is holding a... Lute. So yes, there is music involved... Bingo! It's the top of the opera house (the old one, the one called Palais Garnier, after the name of it's architect). As you can see, the weather is pretty good in Paris at the moment. And since yesterday (Monday November 1st) was a holiday in France, I kinda took advantage of it ;-)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Public Transportation

First of the month=theme day! You must know that by now! And this month, I paid attention and did not forget about it, like last month ;-) This November theme day is "Public Transportation" and God knows that when it comes to underground transportation, buses and even funiculars we have the choice in Paris. I chose a rather futuristic view of the Metro; the brand new turnstiles. Now have a look what public transportation looks like throughout the world.