Monday, August 08, 2005

Fresco in Paris 13

I am not too keen on Grafittis but when they look like real frescos that is another story! I shot this one in the 13th arrondissement which is, in my opinion, one of the dullest arrondissements of Paris (sorry guys, it's just my opinion!!), so it is definitely an improvement!


  1. I love polemics - and this one was bound to happen one day ! THank you Eric ! What's the dullest arrondissement of Paris ?

    Without hesitation for me, it's definitly not the 13th, but I would put 15th first, far ahead from all its competitors, then 14th, and last (but not least), 16th...

    How strange, they are all located on the left bank !

  2. (Except for the 16th, but this definitly is an error of mother nature)

  3. LOL Fred. Yeah, well, it's debatable. I agree that the 15th is definitely charmless (Gee, it's a good thing we have this discussion in the middle of August when nobody is around!). Parts of the 14th are OK to me.

    Fred, we have to explain to foreign visitors who are not aware of our local snobbisms (!), that Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (districts) and that each of them has its own "personality".

    And with these personalities come stereotypes …

    For instance, in the 7th arrondissement it is said that you find "old money", unlike in the 16th where "new money" is to be found … The 15th is supposedly – almost! - exclusively inhabited by people coming from the provinces, in the 6th rich intellectuals are to be met… The 12th, 19th and 20th were traditionally the arrondissements of the working class, etc.

    Wait, that is not all… There is also a “fight” between the right bank and the left bank (of the river Seine). On the right bank: down to earth, money oriented people. On the left bank: artists, intellectuals, poets…

    As for the people living on two tiny islands in the middle of the river it’s a different story. (Coincidentally, I just heard someone form the Berthillon family - a famous ice cream and sherbet maker whose shop is on the Saint Louis Island - this morning on the radio). They happen to consider their island as a small village TOTALLY different from the CONTINENT where they HAVE TO go from time to time when they don’t find what they want locally. So funny!

  4. everybody has to define themselves...

    Once again, nice pictures Eric. I check your page whenever I log on. Let me know when the book comes out. I'll buy a copy. :)

  5. I do agree with your image of 7th, 6th, 15th, 14th, very true, no one can deny it...but quite surprised with your view of differences between left and right bank.

    So right bank would be composed of money oriented people ? And the left bank would be inhabited by artists and intellectuals ? That was true 50 years ago...

    Nowadays left bank is mostly composed of wealthy traditionnal conservative people, kind of old traditional bourgeois style (old school taste - but still nice, hard to deny), who enjoy living in the past luxury, definitly money oriented, with no shame about it, and right bank is becoming more and more inhabited by a young modern left wing crowd, less conservative, more trendy, and more opened to the world and mixity. Except in the 13th, it is difficuly to find mixity on the left bank, wheras nort-east quarters of Paris are much more cosmopolitan. The drawback of this population is that they precisely have a problem with money : they do have money, but do not want to show it, and enjoy to fake living in modest conditions. Thus the famous "Bobo style" - for our oversea readers, which means "Bourgeois-Boheme" style - mix of contradiction between arty but wealthy people. Let's do not forget that all the poorest part of Paris are located on the right bank(19th, 20th, 18th, 10th), but are quickly becoming very trendy through drastic refurbishments, that push away the poorest, and replace them with 30 years old executives that like and find trendy to live in ex-poor areas (after full refurbishment of the buildings of course). Thus quarters like "Montoregueil" or "Canal St Martin" have completely changed in less than 15 years. And this is not over...

  6. That pushing away of the poorest by up and coming yuppies was a huge phenomenon here in the U.S., beginning in the 1980's, and was given the name "gentryfication."

    Is is possible at all to find affordable housing in Paris (rental or purchase)? I am just curious.

  7. what about the 5th ? what do you guys think of the 5th ? Too touristy ? I want to know b/c I've booked an apartment there for a week in september. Picked the 5th b/c it seemed very central.

  8. > Quick update. No it is not possible to find affordable housing in Paris!!! But that is just like everywhere in big cities at the moment I understand (and it was already so in 1991 until it dropped dramatically until 1998). At the moment the average square meter price (to buy) is 4.745 euros. But there are large differences between arrondissements : 3.484 euros in the 19th arrondissement and 7.284 euros in the... 6th! See this interesting article in French...

    > Dev. Don't worry, the 5th is among the best arrondissements in Paris. Central, chic but no show off and still a kinda student atmosphere (it's the arrondissement of the Sorbonne university). Where are you from?

  9. Prices dont stop going up over here, it has raised about 25% in 4 years, and doubled in 15 years, which is totally crazy - like everywhere in the world though.

    Paris ranked at the 12th place in the most expensive cities in the world chart - so it is not so bad (firt ar Tokyo, Osaka, London and Moscou).

    Regarding the 5th - it is just very left bank. Very nice, all pretty, very wealthy, with a famous academic area, very intellectual, very safe, typically parisian - I almost lived there 5 years - wonerdeful garden (Le Luxembourg), clean pubs and cafes, clean students ; I guess it just misses... a soul ?

  10. Fred - I guess I can do without soul for a week.

    Eric - thanks.. although I am already feeling disheartened b/c the guidebooks keep referring to the area as "bacteria alley". It was one of few reasonably priced short term rentals I could find on short notice. I guess I shouldn't worry b/c I won't be eating there...although being a vegetarian I wonder if I'll be eating anywhere. Lots of bread and cheese... :) I'm from a lot of different places but currently settled in Minnesota, USA.

  11. Dev - for a week, it 's just perfect. For more, it really is a matter of taste...

  12. Eric, didn't you live in the 13th few year ago? :~} JM-

  13. Actually NO! I did not like it at all!! Although I must say that since then, it has changed (that is "improved") a lot.

  14. Dev, for a week, 5th is perfect because it is very central. very convenient. area is nice. and i'm sure you'll love it.
    i guess it's called bacteria alley because there's a lot of turkish greek food that doesnt look to be totally pasteurized all the time... although i have eaten quite a lot of these, and never got sick. so who knows?

    i pretty much agree with fred's analysis on the districts. left bank is definitely more conservative, BOURGEOIS in all meanings of the term, good and bad. nice area, safe, good-looking, nice to walk by. but rich, dull, and conservative.

    13th is bad, but there is butte aux cailles, there is mouffetard market nearby, place d'italie beforehand for rollerblading (now montparnasse). otherwise it's true that the district kinda sukks. but nothing as bad as 14th or 15th, especially 15th: so provincial, it makes me puke... nice little buildings, nice little roads, nice little people. nice everything. in one word: DULL.

    fully agreed on montorgueil or the oberkampf gentrification/ syndrom. funny actually, in sao paulo as well they are trying to gentrify the center. looks like it's a global trend...

    then eric, you inverted 16th and 7th: old money is actually in 16th. old grannies and families who inherited their huge apartments, fortunes and hotels particuliers, are rotting around there. in 7th, it really more looks like young couples with money, and all those "intellectuels de gauche". 6th is even more upmarket, i find.

    and you forgot to mention the difference between the 1- and the 2-digit districts. ca n'a rien a voir... but actually that is a very 7th-, or even 6th-district debate...

  15. in the end, i forgot to comment on the photo, which i had really liked. i usually like graffitis, when they are specially designed/ made, like this one. it brings some life and color to some dull white buildings. i really think they had value, and that we should have more of those.

  16. That's a great story. Waiting for more. » »