Saturday, July 31, 2010

The sinking bus...

I did not really have the intention to go to see the bus that fell into the Seine, but I happened to pass by the "crime scene" this afternoon (Friday) and I could not help but stopping and taking a photo. For those of you who haven't seen my news flash yesterday, an Austrian bus fell into the Seine right at the level of the Eiffel Tower. No casualties as there was no one on board, but a pretty unusual scene. They had to find a crane large enough to extract the bus from the river, and it was not that easy... But they finally managed. The driver said he did put the breaks on, that he does not understand what happened... Anyway, if you haven't seen the video, check it here (huge success: 300 000 views in one day!). Don't know why, but this made me think of this commercial...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Montmartre Sales

I photographed this scene at the Sacré Coeur, the large church on top of Montmartre. During the tourist season (which is basically 365 days per year!) you can see lots of "Vendeurs à la sauvette" (street hawkers) that sell everything from fake Vuitton bags to silly little stuffed puppies like in this photo. Of course this is highly illegal, but the Police cannot chase them every minute and they always have someone on the watch. I must confess it made me feel uncomfortable, because it gives this place a kind of Souq atmosphere which is pretty far from the high-end, sophisticated fashion capital Paris likes to think it is... NEWS FLASH: a bus just fell into the Seine, and an American tourist caught it on "tape".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A taste of the old times

I took this photo in the upper part of La rue des Martyrs (the one part that is at beginning of the Butte Montmartre. It's a very traditional street, with old shops and active local life (and a few tourists too, yes!). It's been named that way after, - supposedly - Saint Denis, bishop of Paris in 250 AD, walked through it after he had just been beheaded (yes, you read it right after!). Actually he is said to have picked his head up and walked six miles after it was chopped off! See the whole story here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Mask!

I don't know if you remember, but I already showed you one of these masks last October and I know some of you find them scary, but I can't help being captivated by them. Unlike "simple" graffiti, they are strongly glued to walls, facades or, in the present case bridge (I took this photograph at Le Pont du Louvre). Like I already explained, they represent the face of Gregos, the artist who makes - and glue - them!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tourists are back in Paris!

Yes! Ladies and Gentlemen... Tourists are said to be back in Paris - and in France in general. Well, we'll know for sure at the end of the year of course, but "they" say that due to the slight drop of the Euro, people from outside Euroland are more likely to come back. In 2009 "only" 74 million visitors had crossed our border (that is 6% less than in 2008) and among them -10% Americans and - 17% British! France still remained the #1 tourist destination in the world though! I took this shot near Montmartre (you can see the Carousel in the background) last Saturday and, believe me, it was full of tourists...

Monday, July 26, 2010

L'étoile !

OK, I won't even think of pretending I took this shot! Besides, it is highly prohibited to fly over Paris unless you have a good reason... No, I stole it from the television on the occasion of the arrival of the Tour de France on the Champs Elysées (that is actually what I like about this event each year: they show breathtaking views of Paris). Now, look more closely (click in the photo to enlarge it). Do you see the little "arms" around the Arc de Triomphe, embedded in the pavement? Very few people know they are there, because you can only see them from above. Well, they are star arms and that is why before being called the Place Charles de Gaulle, it used to be called "L'Etoile" (the Star).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tour de France

Today (Sunday) the Tour de France arrives in Paris. I don't know if I'll have the strength to go the Champs Elysées, crawl through the crowd with the hope of taking DA photo! What amused me, though, is to see yesterday (Saturday) all the tourist shops carrying the Tour de France merchandising items such as T-shirts, mugs, caps, you name it. I did not know the Tour was so popular that it's now souvenirs material... I'm not a big fan of this event, but I really admire these guys (I heard that some of them spend 7 to 8,000 calories a day!) Follow the Tour live on video here, the arrival should be at 3:30 pm, Paris time).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Glorious Gare du Nord

There are 7 active train stations in Paris (they are listed here, if you're interested) and I must say I'm not too fond of these places (I don't know why there are always full of drunks and weirdos!), but last evening I had to pick up someone who was traveling from London with the Eurostar at the Gare du Nord. It had been a while since I'd been there and I was really amazed to see how beautiful it is now. I know you don't see much of it in this photo, but, hey... C'est la vie ;-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rover at the Town hall?

This will probably remind my British visitors of something! I found these big plastic balls in front of the Hotel de Ville (town hall). They are actually targeted at kids who take great pleasure in moving them from the inside. I must say I was tempted too - but I'm way beyond the age limit! They are probably part of the Paris Plage program - which goes now much further than the river banks, but I could not find anything about them on the Web...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Attention travaux !

If your were in Paris at the moment, you would find a lot of signs like this! During the summer the city turns into a giant work in progress - there are no less than 5,125 streets in Paris for a total of 2,918 km (1,813 miles)! The good side is that pavements and sidewalks are pretty well kept, the bad side is that in July, where a lot of Parisians are still home, the traffic is absolutely dreadful. Even some train tracks are impacted: hence the complete shut down of traffic between Gare d'Austerlitz and Invalides until August 21st, due to the refection of  all the tunnels... God, I would not like to be in charge of a city like Paris LOL!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Homeless in danger

I know you probably expected a photo of Paris Plage today, but no... I cannot be that predictable all the time, can I ?! No today, I'd like to tell you about a fact that I was not aware of; it appears that homeless people are much more at risk because of the heat than the cold, in winter. The Paris town hall has even put in place several shelters where the homeless can get water and some fresh air. When it gets very hot, the public baths are even accessible for free. I photographed this guy, on the Quai Saint Exupéry, by the Seine, in the 16th arrondissement. And tomorrow the temperature are going to drop by... 10 degres (C)! So I guess the problem will be solved...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Soaking in culture!

I passed by the Louvre today and it was really hot - I'm talking hot!. The tourists are suffering too, so they found a nice way of admiring the Louvre and its pyramid, while refreshing themselves a little... I found it was cool - and I'm surprised they let them do that as a sign makes it clear that jumping into the water is strictly prohibited. As for me, I'll wait for Paris Plage which is due to open today (Tuesday 20th of July)!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Classic view

I spent Sunday afternoon at Le Vésinet, a nice suburb of Paris, in the sun surrounded with friends. On the way back I passed by Porte Maillot, at the bottom of l'Avenue de la Grande Armée, from where you have the best view of L'Arc de Triomphe (in my opinion). The French flag between its "legs" is usually not there. They hang it on special occasions, like the recent 14 juillet / Bastille Day. That's all. Have a nice week everyone!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


You may think that since there is no sea in Paris, it is difficult to sail... Well, it's not true! There are about 10 recreation centers around Paris where you can enjoy sailing, windsurfing, kayaking... One of them (located in Choisy-le-Roy) is only about 15 minutes away from the center of Paris (check the list - in French only - here). Of course, I did not not take this photo there... But at the Tuileries gardens, where they also offer sailing... but with toy boats that they rent by the hour (for 4 euros)! God did I love that when I was a child LOL!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Scary? Yeah, a little...

It's been a while since I've shown you a Paris Graffiti! The colors of this one are not as vibrant as yesterday's Eiffel Tower, but it's still pretty interesting. I photographed it the same day I photographed the Bal des Pompiers, near le Canal Saint Martin (at the corner of rue Jean Poulmarch). It's a bit scary, but I really loved it at the time I took it. Paris is wonderful at the moment; people have started leaving and the weather is just perfect. Have a good weekend everyone, wherever you are in the world.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And now the fireworKS!

Don't pretend you're surprised, you knew it was coming LOL! I've said it several times, I generally don't like fireworks, but this one, never ceases to amaze me. Of course, the fact that it revolves around the the Eiffel Tower must play a role! I'm not the only one... According to the official sources there were 300 000 parisians on the Champs de Mars to watch the show...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wet march

Yes people, I know every year it's the same: bal des pompiers on the 13th, March on the 14th in the morning and fireworks on the 14th at night... But this year, during the march, something was different! The sky was full of threatening clouds that poured tons of rain from time to time. Look at these poor guys who had to play music in the rain! And yes, the blurry shape in the background is... l'Arc de Triomphe! Not to mention the planes that were barely visible in the sky! Fortunately the sky cleared up for the fireworks...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bal des Pompiers!

So most of you guessed what yesterday's fireman was doing! He was installing the little blue-white-red flags in view of tonights Bal des Pompiers (firemen ball)... I did not photograph the same fire station last evening, but one along the Canal Saint Martin on the Quai de Valmy (caserne Landon). Huge success, not only because of the stunning location, but also because of the weather that was really fantastic yesterday evening.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Little Quiz...

For once, let me offer you a little quiz... You will probably have recognized is a fireman on top of the so-called Fireman ladder. In your opinion, what is he doing? A) Rescuing a cat, B) fixing a bulb on the street lamp, 3) None of the previous. Don't cheat! And when you give up (we say "give your tongue to the cat!" in French), click here and find out... I took this photo yesterday morning (Monday, July 12) in the 18th arrondissement, precisely at this Firemen station.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Congratulations Spain!

You have to admit I did not bother you too much with the soccer World Cup this year. I really did not felt like taking part in this big worldwide communion after the poor results and behavior of the French team, ! Last night though, like billions of viewers, I watched the Final and was pretty happy that Spain won (my Latin side probably!). FYI, this is the exact moment Andrés Iniesta (the new Spanish hero, in dark blue in the photo) scored - Yes I stole it from the television! FYI, there are a lot of people of Spanish origins in France (some fled the civil war, others poverty, Franco...). Today, I'm sure they're happy, even if, technically, they are now French!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To all lost causes!

Let me introduce you to... Santa Rita, the Patron Saint of the lost causes! (Read all about her on Wikipedia, if you're interested). I found her church by coincidence in the 15tharrondissement, where I had a meeting. The church in itself is not really spectacular, but the story is. It claims to belong to the "Church of France" better known as Gallicane (again, more on Wikipedia!), a church that accepts the Roman church authority (including the one of the Pope) to a limited extent. Not to forget, on a lighter note, that every year in this Church, people can bring their animals (and not only pets, according to the poster!) to be christened blessed... I know, it's a little odd!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Flower!

Thank you so much for your nice messages on yesterday's photo. I'm just back from Trouville and, well, let's say that my aunt was better than I expected. Coming back to Paris, I also came back to the heat and... to the sun. That is why I picked this photo today, for it shows a flower that loves the sun (we call it Tournesol in French, which means something like, "Turn to the sun"). It's also the name of a restaurant in the 16th arrondissement, with a nice terasse not far from the embankment.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bye bye Paris...

That's it, it's too hot in Paris, I'm off for the day to Trouville! Well, it's true, I'm going to spend my day in Trouville, by the sea where it will probably be cooler, but not really for the good reasons. As some of you may remember, I have an old aunt there (96 years old!) and the news is not too good on this front. Anyway, let's focus on the photo! I took it at Gare Saint Lazare when I went to pick up my tickets. But right now I need to go to bed as I wake very early tomorrow, precisely to catch the train! (Sorry, I'm not to clear today, must be the heat ;-))

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Love in the air

Besides jogging along the Seine, another favorite summer "sport" of a lot of people is... cuddling on a bench in a public garden. Don't go thinking this has any influence on the "baby season" (that is, the period of the year we, French, have the most babies). A study revealed today, that there is almost no more baby season, unlike 30 years ago... BTW I took this photo at the Luxembourg Gardens and I was afraid to point my camera at them. You never know, they might be an illegitimate couple!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Jogging along the Seine

Summertime, sun, outdoor, feeling more relax... isn't that the perfect moment to go back to "doing some exercise, I feel so good afterwards!" Well yes, that is surely what this lady is thinking - besides running along the Seine is probably much more appealing than among cars... Mind you the embankment of the Hudson river is not that bad either, remember? As for me, I just renewed my membership to the gym yesterday! (You did not think I was going to run anywhere else than on a machine, did you?!).

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Under Siege...

Scary? Yes, a little bit... Did I photograph this in a mask shop? In a Halloween costume store? Nope... This face, ladies and gentlemen is... a seat! Yes a seat! It's called Nemo, it's made by an Italian designer called Fabio Novembre and it is really cool! I found it in a store near the Arc de triomphe (21 avenue de Friedland) called Etat de siège ("siège" means "seat") and Etat de siège also means "under siege"! Really cool anyway. BTW, check this little video, you'll see Nemo better... Oh, BTW, it costs 1 000 €, which is not that bad I think.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Heat wave?

The past week has been terribly hot in Paris - and in France in general - and the fear of a Canicule (a heat wave) like the one we had in 2003 which killed 15 000 people (mostly senior citizens) is in all our mind. This past weekend has been much cooler, but the coming week will be hot again from Wednesday onward. Of course compared to the heat in Texas or Arizona, there is still a long way to go, but, remember, very very few homes have air conditioning in France... Anyway I chased this couple in the street because I thought  they were a perfect illustration of the current weather - and they look cute too!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I know some of you will find it unfair that I celebrate the US Independence Day and not other countries' national day. I have an overwhelming amount of visitors from the US, compared to the rest of the world. According to Google Analytics, over the last 30 days I have had 19,283 visitors from the US! France is second (4,810) then Canada, UK, Australia, and the list goes on. Within the US California is first (4,016 visitors) then NY, PA, TX, FL, MA, IL, OH, WA and NJ. Now you know (almost) everything! And I'm sure you will all understand why I can wish to all my American visitors a happy 4th of July. BTW, this photo shows a little bit of the US in France; it's the American Embassy in Paris, at Place de la Concorde.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The power of a signature?

Two French journalists from France 3 (the 3rd TV channel) are currently being held hostages in Afghanistan at the moment. They have been held in custody for 6 months now (since December 29, 2009), so Reporters without Borders decided to draw the attention of everyone by installing a huge paperboard on the Luxembourg Gardens and by inviting passers by to sign. This guy was one of them... Have a look at a broader view here and visit the site that supports them (in French)

Friday, July 02, 2010

La Boh(ê)ème ?!

The first thing I thought of when I shot this scene was La Bohêème opera by Puccini. It takes place in Paris, among very poor people, some who "enjoy" the situation because they're artists, some who don't because they are just workers (or rather "cousettes"). In this present case, my guess is that this is more the second situation... Despite our welfare system,  about 200 000 people are considered to live with less than 670 € per month in Paris, which is really not much. Sorry for such a sad note, but Paris is not all about glamor...

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Here we go again... Today is the 1st of the month, therefore a theme day. Today's theme is much easier than the one of last month: reflections! I waited until dark, thinking it would be easier, but not really... I ended up on the Place de l'Etoile with my scooter. And the easiest I could think of, was to take a photo of the Arc de Triomphe in the mirror of my scooter. Check the reflections of the CDP community throughout the world by clicking here.