Sunday, July 31, 2005

What's left of yesterday's market

There are 89 markets in Paris, 71 traditional ones (58 open air and 13 indoor), and 18 specialized ones (organic, African, flea, flowers...). I will show you more of them in the months to come...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Anything to confess?

I am sure you do! I came across this unexpected statue in a church that is not so famous although pretty beautiful. It's called l'Eglise Saint Gervais/Saint Protais (after the name of two twin brothers killed by Emperor Nero), was built in the 16th century and it is located in the 4th arrondissement, on former swamps.
Update: a reader tells me that this statue is the one of Jean Marie Vianney, also known as Le Curé D'Ars and who, among other things, "specialized" into confession. No wonder then...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Free to wear the Islamic scarf

Following a law that the French Parliament passed about a year ago (more in this article), I am told that a lot of Muslims outside France think that women don't have the right to wear their so called Islamic scarf in public. Of course, this is totally untrue, as this photo obviously proves. The law only prohibits that any religious sign, such as Jewish skullcaps, large Christian crosses, Indian Turbans and Islamic scarves be worn at school.
I have never been able to decide whether I thought this was a good decision or not; after all there is freedom of religion in France.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Harmony by Volti

His name is Antoniucci Volti, he was born in 1915 and died in 1989 and he made this fantastic sculpture called Harmonie. You can see it, and even sit around it, if you happen to walk by the rue de Turbigo (3rd arrondissement) at the Arts et Metiers metro station. After all it is true: walking down Paris is like walking down a museum!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

No nature, no future!

"Keeping a lamp on with no need kills the planet."

"Running a half loaded washing machine kills the planet."

I am not too keen on ecologist political parties here for many reasons that are pointless to explain on this blog but I do support people who actually act to keep our planet alive and as clean as possible!. Among those is Nicolas Hulot who used to produce shows like the ones of Jacques Cousteau on TV and who has started a foundation in 1990 with the aim of training the public to be more environmentally friendly. This foundation is currently running an ad campain at the moment in some streets of Paris and although it can be shocking I thought I could show it to you.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Armstrong wins the Tour de France for the 7th time

Here is a photo of Lance Armstrong on the Champs Elysees yesterday (actually I stole it from the television because it was raining and I was too lazy to go out!). I am not a big Tour de France fan but I admire this guy not only for his sport abilities but also - and above all - for his goodwill.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Paris Plage at night

OK, I can hear you now: "enough of this Paris Plage thing, we got the idea now!!". Well I thought another one, at night, would be nice, so here it is. It shows another part of the "beach" where they installed tables and parasols so you can enjoy a beer or coke - or wine I suppose!! - and special fields to play Boules - also called Pétanque.
La Pétanque is very French a game that originated in the south. Players have two metal balls that fit in the palm and must throw them (a few meters ahead, not far away) the closest possible to a small wooden ball called Le cochonet. Well these are the basic rules, there are official and very strict rules and if you're interested they are listed here - in English.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Paris Plage, day 2

And now with people... If you're among the 80 daily regular visitors of this blog you already know this photo and this photo, taken from - almost - the same angle but at different dates. Today, I wanted to show you Paris plage (Paris beach) once it's opened. A great success! I'll show you some more pictures - espacially at night when it's all lit - in the days to come.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Da Vinci Code is being filmed in Paris...

... And thanks to a friend of mine (Stéphane, who already took this great picture), here is a sneaking preview of one of the scenes! It's a stunt in the streets of Paris where, apparently a Smart car is being chased by the PT Cruiser. The image quality is not very good (I am not complaining Stéphane!!) but it adds to the atmosphere! Do you know when the film is to be released?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Paris Plage day 1

Here we are... remember this photo? I told I would show it to you again the next day? Well in fact you had to wait a little longer because it took more time than what I thought (4 days, and a couple of more hours...). Anyway, the whole idea is to turn the thouroughfare that runs along the river Seine in Paris into a giant beach and walking area. They installed palm trees, sand, showers, several little cafés, springs... Of course you - obviously - can still see the concrete of the road, but globally it's a nice change of scenery! I will show you much more of Paris Plage in the days to come...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Paris public trash cans

Today I wanted to show you a typical parisian garbage can! Not very glamourous eh?! Wouldn't you think that, in a city like Paris, they would try to make them as discrete as possible and melt them into the scenery? Welll... In 1995 we've had a serie of terrorist bombings and most of the bombs were hidden in garbage cans. Therefore very quickly the authorities removed the cans - even in the metro. But as it was not very convenient to keep a city like Paris clean without garbage cans, they came up with this solution: install transparent plastic bags instead of regular trash cans so that big bulky bombs would be more difficult to hide.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Pont Marie (Marie Bridge)

In Paris, there is nothing more beautiful than the river Seine banks. And more precisely most of the bridges that allow to go from one bank to another or to go onto the two islands located in the very center of the city. The bridge that I shot here (in the background) is called Le Pont Marie (after its architect Christophe Marie) and it was built between 1614 and 1635... And as you can see, it is still up!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Constitution at the Paris Concorde Metro station

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Does it ring a bell? Yes, it's the opening of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Well, it also became a source of inspiration to the French revolutionaries who wrote the French constitution (Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du citoyen) some 13 years later. And as a symbol, you can read some of its main articles on the walls of... the metro station Concorde!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

In Paris, miracles do happen... (Overnight!)

OK, here is just a photo of a main thoroughfare along the river Seine in Paris that I took yesterday around lunch time. Nothing really spectacular, I agree! But come back here around 2 pm today and I will show you the same exact point of view...

2 PM update. Oops, it seems I have been a little presomptuous... In fact the miracle will take a little longer than what I thought! You will have to wait until Thursday July 21 to see it. Sorry for that;))

Friday, July 15, 2005

Firework on the Eiffel Tower

Yesterday evening, as I mentioned it in my previous post, there was a firework in Paris to celebrate Bastille day. I generally don't enjoy fireworks for they bore me very quickly! But this one was absolutely magnificent and I consider myself as very lucky to have seen it; not only were the effects very good but they also managed to mix them with the usual enlightening of the tower. Really fantastic. I am a happy tax payer!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bastille day 2005

Today is July 14 (Le 14 juillet) and it is the anniversary of the French Revolution. Why is it also called Bastille day? Simply because the revolution is supposed to have started the day a group of Parisians marched towards a prison named La Bastille and freed all the prisoners. If you want to know more, I suggest you click here !

Since then, there has been many celebration forms but nowadays it's more of less always the same: little balls around the city on Bastille day's eve - called Les bals des pompiers (firemen balls), because they take place in fire stations. There is also a giant firework and... a celebration of the French army on the morning of Bastille day. Of course, this takes place on the champs Elysees, as you can see from the photo I have taken on my television screen this morning (yes, it's also a holiday so I felt lazy today!)

Special info for my Brazilian readers: as 2005 is the year of Brazil in France (remember this picture?) Brazil has been widely associated to the celebrations. Your President Lula attended the march (some of the Brazilian regiments even marched on the Champs Elysees) and there has been a huge Brazilian concert yesterday evening at La Bastille square.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Statue at Ecole Militaire (Military school)

In the 7th arrondissement, at the end of the Champs de Mars, you will find a superb building called l'école Militaire (Military School). It was built by architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel between 1751 and 1768 and it became, in 1777, the Academy became l' Ecole des Cadets Gentilhommes. And, guess what?! Young Napoleon Bonaparte was a cadet in 1784! By the way, the statue you can see here is of another famous French army man; the Maréchal Joffre, who played a large role during world war I.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pigeons having a bath!

It's very common to see pigeons in Paris (there are about 100 000 of them) but it's pretty rare to see them "bathing" in the sewer (in Paris, it's still usual to see water running along the sidewalks like in the old times).
Due to many reasons (pollution, cars, food poisoning...) pigeons tend to live no more than 4 years (whereas a pigeon can live up to 30 years!) but people in the town hall still think these birds cause too much damage... Therefore, in order to limit their number (they normally lay two eggs, 6 times a year!) they are fed with contraceptive seeds (no kidding!) every day.
But the most surprising thing I learnt when carrying out this "research" about pigeons is that, in some parts of Paris (mainly the Library Francois Mitterrand in the 13th arrondissement), they brought back hawks to "naturally" control the pigeons population! Isn't that clever? (Yeah, ok, what animal are they going to use to control the hawks now?!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Le Passe-Muraille (The Walker-through-Walls)

Isn't that cool? It's a sculpture by famous French actor Jean Marais made after a short story by Marcel Aymé (1902-1968) called le Passe-Muraille (the Walker-through-walls). As you can deduct from the title, this short story (that most French pupils have read!) tells the story of a clerk who finds out one day that he is able to walk through walls... He can then listen to private conversations, read confidential documents, steal, get even, etc. This statue can be found in Montmartre (18th arrondissement) quite logically on the place (square) Marcel Aymé.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Peace Monument by Clara Halter

At the end of the Champ de Mars, close to the Eiffel tower you can see this monument called Le mur de la paix (the peace wall). It was made by Clara Halter, the wife of famous writer/painter/philosopher Marek Halter and officially erected in 2000 (march 30 precisely). I love it but apparently some people (inhabitants of the neighbourhood) complain for it was originally meant to stay 4 months then be moved to other Paris neighbourhoods. They say it damages the view...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Yummy jam!

OK today is Saturday, it's been a tough week on the news front, we all deserve a little treat! Here is a photo of jelly sold by a shop very close to my home. Hard to resist!

Friday, July 08, 2005

In Paris too, the Statue of Liberty enlightens the city

You may already know that the statue of Liberty that you can see in New York has been given to the Americans by the French as a gift. Sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (and Gustave Eiffel - yes, the one of the tower! - for the metal structure) started its construction in 1875, completed it in 1884 and shipped it to the States (in 350 pieces!) in 1885.
On July 4, 1889 the American community in Paris offered the French people a bronze replica of the Statue (1/4 scale, about 35 feet high) that you still can see on the Ile des Cygnes (swans island) in the Seine River - and in this photo!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Guess we did not fight hard enough!

Remember? I took this photo on the Champs Elysees begining of June at a time where we thought we could win the games! Now we know the British are better at that game... Ok, that is my last post on the Olympics, I promise!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In 2012, for the Olympics go to London, not Paris...

I am so disappointed! I took this photo half an hour ago, in a café where I had a quick lunch and where they had this TV on. When Jacques Rogge, (the Olympics Committee president) started to open the envelope there was an intense silence… Followed by a massive disappointment! My thoughs go to all people who worked on this project and forgot for a while their political differences. And, by the way, congratulations to London!

Olympics: D-day!

Of course I think London is beautiful, sure I like the Spanish very much, naturally I'd love the Russians to have the chance to show more of Moscow and yes I simply love New York BUT... I wish so much Paris could win the Olympics race for 2012! Come on guys, we have not had the summer games since 1924...
Meet me here @ 13:00 am (GMT) and you'll have the answer.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The code to the door...

In Paris 99% of building doors are code protected. Some are effective only from 7 or 8 pm to 8 am and during week-ends and some 24 hours. This electronic device has progressively replaced the concierges (building supervisors) that were common before the seventies when labour costs were lower. Thus, if you come to Paris and visit friends don't forget to ask for their "code" as you probably need one to get into their building!
I am curious to know if this system is also developed in other cities? Just let me know.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Rue Rembrandt

Everybody knows the famous Dutch painter (1606-1669). Here is simply a view of the street we named after him in Paris.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Paris United Nations?

No, don't get fooled by a bunch of flags! This is... the front of a Hilton hotel in La Defense.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Coal heating

Until 1950 most of Parisian homes where heated either with wood or with coal. In "modern" buidlings there was a central heating system with the boiler in the basement. Therefore the coal was delivered by coal dealers and kept in a special location in the basement of each building. During winter, the Concierge (building superitendent) would regularly load the boiler with coal to allow the heat to spread to the radiators throughout the apartments. Needless to say, it was not very environmentally friendly and not very efficient...

Nowadays, I don't think anybody uses coal anymore, but there are still many remains of this era; like the coal feeder you can see in this photo and that you will see on many old buildings throughout Paris and other large cities in France.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

Need a ride?

I swear, I did take this photo in the middle of Paris! Why do some people carry ponies around the city? Well, very good question; in fact they are part of the Moulin Rouge show as I could validate a couple of hours later when I saw these very same "mini horses" on stage!

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