Monday, December 31, 2007

Let's jump into 2008!

Here we go! Today is the last day of the year and I thought of posting this "newspaper lady" that I found yesterday in the Beaubourg area on my way to the hardware store! It must have been a lot of work to create this piece of art for her "dress" is actually made of newspaper directly glued to the wall. Love it. Shame it's not signed - or I did not see the signature. If anyone knows the artist, please let me know. Don't forget tomorrow is the 1st of the month, therefore a city daily photo bloggers theme day; we are all (so far 101 participants throughout the world!) supposed to post our best photo of the year... Hold your breath!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A nice little theater

Not far from the Beaubourg Center, there is a nice little theater called "Le théâtre du Renard" (the Fox Theater), which is not very well known even though it is very pretty inside. Its name comes from the name of a street where it's located, la rue du Renard which used to be a prostitution area under Louis the 9th (in the middle ages).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Will Ingrid be freed?

The quality of this photo is terrible - sorry for that - but I still decided to publish it because what matters here is the symbol. The lady on the screen is Ingrid Betancourt and she has been a hostage in Colombia for 6 years now (I already posted a photo about her, here)... The authorities often remind us of her, like you can see on this photo of the Parliament (Assemblée Nationale) where they installed a huge screen showing her. Recently there has been good hopes that she could be freed but so far, she is still a prisoner.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Children are talented...

Here is a nice little fresco called "the Arrival of a Circus in a Country Village" entirely made by the children of the Clichy Trinité quarter (an area of Paris located in the 9th and 18th arrondissement) under the guidance of Paule Pointreau, a teacher specializing in teaching fine arts to children. This fresco is located in front of "La Trinité" church (where I took the black and white photo 2 days ago) in order to hide works.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Caps exhibit

Remember the train photo I took last week? I told you it was for an exhibit in Le Grand Palais (the 70 year anniversary of the National French Train Company). Well I went to see this exhibit and it was fun - I even got to see the inside of the locomotive I shot the other day. They also display things that are train related, like station furniture or even ticket controllers' uniforms and caps, as you can see on this photo! A nice change from Christmas scenes... If you want to see more photos, here is a little animated diaporama made with a little help from the guys from Animoto!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Empty Paris

This photo could have been taken in the 50's, when there were still few cars in Paris... In fact, I took it two days ago, Place d'Estienne d'Orves, on Christmas Eve, while a lot of Parisians had deserted the city to spend some time with their family in the provinces (most "Parisians" originate from the provinces). I'm just back from Normandy, quickly read the nice comments you left yesterday and the day before yesterday. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's officially Christmas and even though I do not have access to a computer where I am at the moment, I wanted to wish you a good one with this very inviting Santa I found in the window of a café not far from my home. "My" Santa brought me... a new lens for my camera, so you know what that means... more photos for the year to come. When I think I used to hate taking pictures!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve in Paris

I know this café looks like it was especially designed for a set in a movie (even the light looks like it originates from a projector!). And though, I swear I took it this morning close to the Notre Dame de Lorette church! I thought it was perfect for a Christmas eve photo. I'm on my way to Trouville (Normandy) for a family gathering but I'll be back soon - very soon! Have a nice Christmas dinner - if you celebrate Christmas of course - I, myself, will be eating oysters and foie gras, I'm sure...

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I know what hells look like now, believe me! It all started at Virgin Megastore where I wanted to buy 2 DVDs and where the place was so packed that I had to leave after 5 minutes. I then tried La Fnac (a "cultural" goods chain store) where I had a living picture of what the expression "mass consumption" means... There, even though I wanted to buy something I gave up when I saw the endless lines in the check out lanes! The bottom line is that I have to go back tomorrow early in the morning ;(( Next year I buy everything - I'm talking everything! - on line.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

By the pale moonlight

Which is the brightest star in this photo, the moon or the Eiffel Tower, LOL?! I went by the old iron lady tonight because I wanted to show you an exhibit that they have on the 1st floor, but the line was so long that I gave up! I'll try later. I'm still not done buying my Christmas gifts, so my weekend will be entirely devoted to Christmas shopping!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas trees

Christmas without a Christmas tree would not really be Christmas! Parisians homes - especially those with children - are very fond of them and that is why you literally have forests of trees in front of each florist at the moment. Depending on their size and type (Epicea or Nordmann) - they cost on average between 50 and 100 €. Pretty expensive for a tree that will only last until early January, but it is such a nice tradition. Another tradition is the one of Christmas gifts, and believe me, this year, I have never been this late!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Paris' war declaration against advertising!

Advertisers love Paris, but Paris doesn't like them... Today, the Paris council decided to reduce by 1/3 the amount of advertising space in the city. This will impact not only the space in general but also the size of posters. Thus the 1,000+ 4 x 3 meters (13 x 10 feet) billboards will soon be banned and so will the 6,000 smaller ones that are on display in the windows of shopkeepers and cafés. It will also be forbidden to advertise within 50 meters (164 feet) of a school, on the embankment, in Montmartre, etc. Needless to say that this measure is pretty controversial...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Train exhibit

Ladies and gentlemen, you're presently looking at the first high speed locomotive France ever produced: the famous BB 9004, which, in 1955, broke the fabulous record of 331 Km/h (206 mph). Of course compared to the 575 Km/h (357 mph) of the TGV (bullet train) it's nothing, but considering it took place 52 years ago... Anyway, the reason why I shot this locomotive in the middle of the street is that next week; the French Railway Company (SNCF) will celebrate its 70th anniversary with a huge exhibition in Le Grand Palais. I'll try to go and take a few pics.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A little tribute to Simon Bolivar

You probably all know Bolivia, the country located in South America. You may not know, however, that this country owes its name to Simón Bolívar, a South American heroe. And what you surely don't know is that this senior died on a 17 December (1830). To celebrate this death, there was a little ceremony this morning by the statue of Simón Bolívar located near the Pont des Invalides and since I happened to be there at that moment, well I couldn't help taking a photo!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Save the pigeons!

It's been almost a month since I've shown you a Paris demonstration! This time it's got nothing to do with retirement nor education, but... with the pigeons! I actually came across this "No to the pigeons' massacre" demonstration opposite to where I took the rooster photo. At first I thought it was some hoax but it turned out it was not, as you can see for yourself on this claim billboard I shot here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter vitamins

Since many of you -us!- have been sick lately, I thought of sending you some vitamins from Paris... Here you go, live from La rue des Martyrs, where I went grocery shopping this morning. You can tell it's winter from the kind of fruit they offer - well except maybe the kiwis that probably come from some exotic place! - A friend of mine tells me this photo also shows something very unusual for non Europeans: plastic wrapped corn. Why on earth would this be unusual?!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cocorico / Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!

Yes, this is a rooster, and no I did not take this photo on a farm in the suburbs, but right in the middle of Paris, at the Invalides!! I could not help stopping and digging out my camera for 3 reasons: first of all, because it's pretty unusual to come across a - living - poultry in Paris, 2nd because the rooster is the emblem of France and 3rd because he was not at all shy in front of the camera!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hotel de Ville Ice Rink

Every year around the same period (December through March), they install a huge ice rink in front of the Hotel de ville (Town hall) where Parisian can skate for free (providing you have your own blades of course, otherwise you have to rent some) until midnight. I love the idea, even if I only tried it once!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stickers sculpture

Weird isn't? And do you know what it is? Simply the numerous stickers that visitors stick to this street lamp on the way out from the Rodin Museum, LOL. I like it and I think it's cool that they don't remove them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My first ebook!

No, PDP did not turn into some geeky blog overnight - even though I AM a geek, LOL - but I am just back from Le Web 3 conference (the only real international event about the web in Europe that I attended in 2006 and 2005) and someone (Malo, from M21 editions) showed me an ebook. This "thing" looks so much like a real book (I'm talking about the screen, not the actual device, of course) that, when I first looked at it, I thought it was a fake. Very interesting. Still pretty expensive (450 €) but soon, I'm sure it'll be much more affordable. Update (Dec 14.): read this, if you want to "see" the event through the eyes of an American who made the trip to Paris on this special occasion!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crime scene?

No, this is not the Police investigating after my burglary! Just a way to evacuate the cars in one of the streets in my neighborhood... And do you know why? Because they are going to shoot a film/movie pretty soon. There are about 700 filmings every year in Paris and from what I could see on the site that the Town hall dedicated to filmings, not only do you have to apply for a permit but you must also pay... It's not too expensive though: 380€ per day for an average location and much more for an exclusive one.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cellar break in

Sorry, not a very fancy Paris shot today, but still a very Parisian one. You're looking at... my cellar (well a part of my cellar!). And the reason why I'm showing you this today is... that I just found out this morning that someone had broken into it! Not much harm, though, from what I could see; they went through my old LPs (maybe took a few of them, I don't remember them all) left a few bottles of wine on the floor (hard to understand why because that is generally what cellar burglars are after) and left a... bag of garlic (I swear I don't keep bags of garlic in my cellar!!). Could have been much worse, but still not very pleasant.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Paris Car share

Like many big cities throughout the world - and on top of our rent a bike 'Velib' system - the town hall of Paris has appointed 3 companies (Caisse Commune, Mobizen and Okigo) to offer a car share service. The principle is simple: you first need to subscribe to the service (some companies charge a subscription fee) then whenever you need a car, you just need to pick it up in a parking space near you (like the one I photographed) and pay by the hour (2 to 9 € depending on your plan) or the kilometer. When you're done, you return the car where you took it. The petrol (gas) is included. Pretty clever, especially when you need a car to go to Ikea or to take the kids to the country!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Another Notre Dame

After the "big" Notre-Dame of yesterday, here is a much smaller one - called Notre-Dame de Grace de Passy (Passy is a quarter that used to be a little village up the hill before it was integrated into Paris in 1860). I never noticed it before although it's really cute and... old (the original parts - it's been renewed and enlarged since then) were built in 1667! Have a nice weekend.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The (hunch) back of Notre-Dame

I had to show you this. "This" is the back of Notre-Dame, the magnificent cathedral located on the Ile de la Cité that you probably have seen if you already made it to Paris. The good news is that, since yesterday it's now lit from the back as you can see on this photo (I already showed the front here). What more to say: it's gorgeous!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The infamous cover!

Yes, this is Time Magazine, but if you're American you've probably never seen this cover, for it was made only for the European Market. The title speaks for itself - so does the photo! - and, well, how can I say, it did not really trigger a lot of positive reactions to say the least. The article is cruel, but a bit true I'm afraid (what would you answer when the author, Don Morrison, asks "Quick: name a French pop star who isn't Johnny Hallyday"). Of course, French intellectuals do not really agree... I'd like to hear your opinion; but first read the article, it's here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hotel Everland

Despite what you may think the important part in this photo is not the statue in the foreground, nor the impressive columns of the Paris modern art museum in the background but the green "capsule" on top of the building. And do you know what it is? A piece of art and... a hotel room!
Yes, people, if you're looking for a - very original - place to stay in Paris, well you have until December 31, 2008 to book this room. Needless to say that you have to be very patient, for they only allow bookings 2 months in advance, in order to give everyone a chance... Give me your feedback if you do it! Find out everything about the Everland hotel here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Texas Knitters

I bet you never heard of Knitta, aka "the Texas Knitters"... As you can imagine these ladies - and men - have something to do with... knitting! But instead of knitting sweaters or scarves, they knit garments for the street furniture! Some members of the knitta team were in Paris last weekend, sheltered by an art gallery in the Village Saint Paul. I went to see them and took several photos of their work .

Monday, December 03, 2007

Horse power

You want to know what we do in Paris to fight global warming and pollution? We switched back to horses! OK, I'm kidding... And though this is really a man on a horse that I photographed this morning (Sunday) in front of the Galliera Palace (that I already showed here). He was not the only one... Dozens of horse riders and carriage drivers did the same. Why? Because they were all taking part in a big march to celebrate the opening of Le Salon du Cheval , a big fair dedicated to horses. And a special thank you to Serge, who emailed me to let me know about this march and who maybe in the other photos I took.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Aids awareness 2007

Yesterday (December 1st), like each year, was the Aids awareness day. By sheer coincidence I happened to pass by the Pont des Arts where the Sidaction team (a French NGO) was doing a human chain to attract people's awareness. They also had a bunch of drummers. The whole thing was pretty impressive and even a little festive, even though the disease is not... Of course, I took several photos (see more in the making of - and here) and even a little video. Also, if you're not too prude, here is the Aids awareness campaign.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Theme day: bridges

Hey, guess what? Today is the 1st of the month and, yes, the theme day has returned! I chose the Bir Hakeim bridge that you have already seen on this blog from another angle. It's a very interesting bridge because it's got two stories: one for cars (built in 1878) and one for the metro (built in 1905). The top part - used by metros - is a real work of art even though some ornaments have disappeared during a renewal work in the 1940s. Recently, they added a bicycle lane.

More than a 120 City Daily Photo blogs are currently participating in this theme day. Please pay them a visit, but remember that they don't all post at the same time .
Boston (MA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Inverness (IL), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Stockholm, Sweden - Setúbal, Portugal - Brussels, Belgium - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Hyde, UK - Manila, Philippines - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - London, England - Austin (TX), USA - Toulouse, France - Weston (FL), USA - Sesimbra, Portugal - Selma (AL), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - North Bay (ON), Canada - Arradon, France - Paderborn, Germany - Durban, South Africa - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Portland (OR), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wichita (Ks), USA - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Grenoble, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Arlington (VA), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Cheltenham, UK - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Saratoga Spgs. (NY), USA - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Nashville (TN), USA - Toruń, Poland - New Orleans (LA), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Melbourne, Australia - Moscow, Russia - Trujillo, Peru - Château-Gontier, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Joplin (MO), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Brookville (OH), USAChateaubriant, France - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Baziège, France - Auckland, New Zealand - Wellington, New Zealand - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Subang Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Detroit (MI), USA - Riga, Latvia - Nelson, New Zealand - Budapest, Hungary - Cape Town, South Africa - Sydney, Australia - Dunedin (FL), USA - Sofia, Bulgaria - Radonvilliers, France - Turin, Italy - Montpellier, France - Kansas City (MO), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Wailea (HI), USA - Lubbock (TX), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Terrell (TX), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Budapest, Hungary - Montréal (QC), Canada - Sharon (CT), USA - Le Guilvinec, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - London, UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Orlando (FL), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Paris, France - Mainz, Germany - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Darmstadt, Germany - Naples (FL), USA - Torino, Italy - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - The Hague, Netherlands - Minneapolis (MN), USA

Friday, November 30, 2007

Place Vendôme ready for Christmas

Several of you have asked me for some Paris Christmas decoration photos, so let me start with this one, that I just shot a couple of hours ago on Place Vendôme (which I already shot from further away here). They scattered several candlesticks throughout the place and installed special projectors to enlighten the column in the middle. Really nice.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Democratie en France

Over the past few days I noticed that Paris was covered in these little posters and I really wondered what they were all about. Only today did I find out that they're intended to promote a film called "Démocratie en France" made by four American directors who wanted to picture the French democracy during the last elections. To be honest, I just saw the trailer, and I'm not really thrilled. Maybe, because I already saw thousands of after elections analysis and I don't need to see another one...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

George who?

When it comes to home made coffee in Europe you can be sure that a Nespresso machine is not very far. Nespresso (a brand of Nestlé) is a huge success here: almost 1.5 million machines and 2,3 billion capsules sold and18% of the capsule machine market. All this success is due to the good quality of the coffee of course, but also the advertising campaign which stars George Clooney. From what I read though, Americans will never see this campaign as George refuses to "spoil" his image "at home"! Click here to see the television and movie theater version.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Smart car of the month...

It's been a while since I've shown a little Smart car on PDP. In Europe, a lot of them are used for advertising, like this one which is currently used to promote the release of the Jungle Book DVD. Why do people accept to have advertising on their car? For the money of course! Providing you drive at least 700 km per month (about 500 miles), each campaign can help you make between a 100 to 300 euros a month. BTW, I hear they are going to sell the Smart car in the US, I'm really eager to see if American drivers will go for such a small vehicle.!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Revolution !

OK, the transportation strikes are behind us but, wait, there is more! Now the students - and high-school pupils! - want to be in the picture too. They have started demonstrating and picketing in several universities to protest a recent law. One of these demonstrations gave me the occasion to take this photo, that I find pretty funky! The guy in the picture is Kamini, a famous French singer and the stickers that the demonstrators glued to his poster say: "No [need to] claim" and "Let's block everything].

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Et pourtant elle roule !

Here is a much less sophisticated scene than yesterday... It's all covered in Graffiti but... it still runs!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Back to shopping!

That's it! Now that the strikes are almost over, life is going to start again! Shopping in particular... I thought I would show you an other extraordinary Christmas window. This one belongs to the Galeries Lafayette where they usually have very creative stuff. I love it. Have a good weekend everyone.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The end of the strikes ?

Several of you emailed me asking "I'm coming to Paris next week or so, how difficult will it be to go from the airport to town and to move around Paris afterwards?" Well, good news, the strikes are coming to an end and even though some strikers still don't accept to give in, it's very likely that everything will be back to normal next week. And don't forget, you can still use the Velibs to move around Paris now!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

According to my stats, about half of my visitors are American and I know that today is a very important day in their culture: Thanksgiving (Le merci donnant). To wish them a happy one, I thought of going to this place in the 4th arrondissement called... Thanksgiving, where all Americans in Paris go shopping when they're fed up with French cuisine!! The place is not only a caterer but also a restaurant with Cajun specialties. Needless to say that at this time of the year, they are pretty busy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Meet the French ancestor!

If cameras had existed 2000 years ago, I probably could have taken a photo of a similar guy (a Gaulois, one of the previous inhabitants of France) at this very same place (on a bridge over the Seine) LOL. I photographed this one on the Pont des Arts, during his "stag night" - well "day" actually - (what we call enterrement de vie de garçon - "bachelor life funeral") organized by his friends before his demise... err, I mean marriage. He is dressed up like a famous French character called Asterix.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Magic Blackberry!

I attended the launch of a new Blackberry by a French mobile carrier yesterday evening near le Grand Palais. After the traditional introduction speech, to entertain the audience, they invited a magician on stage who started playing with the new phone and perform a few tricks with it. It was quite impressive, I must say. He ended his number with this confetti scene, which, I was sure would make a good photo ;) A nice change from the demonstration photos!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The non strikers strike back!

Sorry to start the week with a demonstration photo but this one is unusual: it's a counter strike demonstration! It took place today (Sunday) between Place de La République and Nation with the intention of showing some "disagreement" with the transportation strikers. Interesting but totally useless; this week, not only will the transportation strikers go on but they will also be joined by civil servants, students, teachers, air controllers... you name it! Ahhh Good old France!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Caught in the act

At last! I managed to catch one of those guys who pollute the walls of our cities with their graffiti! Just kidding... In fact this is not a real graffito but a piece of art "commissioned" by the organizers of "La journée du bonheur" (happiness day) on the occasion of a happiness gathering that took place today by the Seine and that I witnessed. Cool idea!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What transportation strike?

I don't know how long the strikes will last, but so far so good. People get organized, they walk, use roller blades or, drive their bike - or Vélib' - to work (I took this photo this morning on Place de la Concorde). Also, as always in difficult times, people talk to each other much more, they share their feelings, help each other... Of course that is, those who live in Paris for the ones who live in the suburbs and have to suffer the long hours in the traffic probably don't agree with me!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chanel n°5

Here is another very creative windows display from the Galeries Lafayette. It "stars" the most famous perfume in the world : Chanel n°5. Unlike most recent perfumes, this one lasted more than a decade... It was created in 1921 by Ernest Beaux for the unforgettable Coco Chanel and a lot of famous people wore - and still wear - it : Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman and, of course, Marilyn Monroe who once said: "What do I wear to bed? Why, Chanel No. 5 of course."!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Last call for the retirement train

I know you must be a little fed up with demonstration photos, but, well, this is what's happening in Paris at the moment. Like last month (I was on vacation, so I could not witness it) the public transportation workers went on strike and demonstrated near Montparnasse (where I took this photo) to protest the elimination of special rules that allow them to retire earlier than the vast majority of the French. In 1995 the same kind of reform triggered a complete shut down of the country for a month and the government had to give in. This time though, it is very unlikely that the outcome will be the same.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat...

It's only early November, but some stores (department stores mostly for now) have started displaying their Christmas windows. I took this one at Le Printemps where the theme is "Nordic fairytale, a world of ice and magical Christmas lights"! Beautiful I must say, and a big hit with the tourists - and locals! Christmas weather is here too, beleive me. Cold and wet. I hate it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Quiet please!

OK, this is not the most glamorous photo I've shown on this blog, but I've found it "funny". It reads "here, there is an alarm that goes off every night, please do something!". The noise is a problem that Parisians have to deal with daily even though, from what the Paris town hall says, there has been some improvement lately. Apparently, at night, less than 50% of the Parisians are exposed to less than 55 decibels, and only 4,5% are exposed to more than 65 decibels. If you're interested, check the Paris noise maps at the bottom of this page.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Baguette Sandwich

I know I'm going to make some of you very jealous! But yes, yesterday, I had one of these delicious baguette sandwiches for lunch... Fresh, crunchy, fully loaded, just like I love them. Not to mention that this kind of baguettes - called La flûte Gana, created by Bernard Ganachaud - is one of the best kinds I ever tasted. I've tried to look for more info on the baguette, but I 'm unable to know if it was created under Napoleon or much later, in 1920. More info here or on Wikipedia.