April 30, 2007

April 30

The Celtic people divided the year in two seasons. Winter started November 1 (Samhain / Haloween) and Summer May 1 (Beltaine). The night before they lighted purification fires on mountains and hills.

A similar tradition existed among Germanic and Scandinavian people, the Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht, Valborgsmässafton...). The name comes from Saint Walburga, active in Germany and declared a saint May 1, 779. She was by the Germans honored in the same way as the Vikings celbrated the arrival of spring, by fires. This was later somehow mixed together.

To this you can add the tradition about the witches, again of German origin.

In the Nordic countries, other traditions are also linked to April 30, often related to the student life (carnivals, singing...). How long will these traditions last?

There is, to my knowledge, no specific April 30 celebration around Paris, so I had to steal a picture.


A few days ago (April 26) it was 70 years since Guernica (Gernika) was bombed and 1654 inhabitants out of a population of 7000 were killed.
Tomorrow (May 1) it was 70 years since Picasso decided to dedicate a painting he was already working on to Guernica.
It was exhibited already in July 1937 in the Spanish Pavillon (financed by the Spanish republican government) at the World's Fair in Paris. It then travelled to Scandinavia, London... before coming back to Paris. After Franco's victory, the painting left for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, where it with some interuptions remained until 1981, when it was ceded to a democratic Spain. You can now see it at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. There is a discussion ongoing where the Basque nationalists would like to see the painting at Guernica or in the Guggenheim Bilbao museum.

April 29, 2007

... and then suddenly the blue sky...

... so I decided to go back home and do something with my blog.

Palm tree (banana tree)?

I took a first photo of what I thought was a palm tree, April 9. I was told that this probably a banana tree. I'm following the evolution. It's amazing how fast the leaves grow.

Street names

Since the 18th century, the plates indicating the Paris street names have looked more or less in the same way. You can find some which are older than the other ones and in the beginning the arondissment number was not indicated. These examples are from "my" street.

Street numbers generally start with the lowest numbers close to the Seine.

Previosuly, you could see the street names engraved in the stone. Sometimes the street names have remained unchanged since centuries, sometimes they have changed, because of different "revolutions" (royal or religious names) or to enable to give the name to some famous person, or to regroup certain types of street names to a specific area.

Here is an example where Rue d'Orléans was renamed rue Légendre and Rue Saint Louis was renamed Rue Nollet.

April 28, 2007

La Goulue

(I will not continue my series of tombs at the Montmartre cemetery for ever, but there are still a few to come...)

Louise Weber was born in 1866 and died in 1929. As a young girl she went dancing with friends. Her way of dancing was sometimes a bit provocative and you could ocasionally see her legs and perhaps even more, when she moved around. She soon got the nickname "la Goulue" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Goulue), obviously because she drank from all glasses which were staying around.

She got acquainted with some painters, like Renoir and did some posing.

Louise and her sister got an engagement at the newly opened "Moulin Rouge" in 1889 (she was then 23). She bacame quickly a star and can be considered as the inventor of the "cancan". Her last years were less glorious. She was actually buried in a Paris suburb cemetary, but Jacques Chirac decided in 1992 to transfer her ashes to the Montmartre cemetary. Some 2000 people plus press, radio and television assisted.

Part of her fame comes of course from the Toulouse-Lautrec paintings and posters. You can here see some of them, but also some photos of what she really looked like. I guess she became popular more for her personality than for her beauty - although the criteria for beauty change with the time.

April 27, 2007

Heinrich Heine

As I already "warned" you, there are some more tombs of famous people at the Montmartre graveyard. Here is one more: Heinrich Heine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Heine).

Heinrich, who is one of the greatest German poets, was born in Düssledorf (where I have spent a large part of my last working time the last five years) in 1797, moved to Paris in 1831, where he died in 1856.

On his tomb, you can read:

Wo wird einst der Wandermüden
letzte Ruhestand sein?
Unter Palmen in dem Süden?
Unter Linden and dem Rhein?
Werd ich wo in einer Wüste
eingeschärrt von Fremder Hand
oder ruh ich an der Küste
eines Meeres in dem Sand?
Immerhin! Mich wird umgeben
Gottes Himmel dort wie hier,
und als Totenlampen schweben
nachts die Sternen über mir

In nicer wording this means more or less that he did not care where he would be buried. He will anyhow be surrounded by the sky and the stars.

Among his most famous poems, you can mention "Lorelei" (Ich weiss nich, was soll es bedueten...) which strongly contributed to make the tale about this young maiden so popular. Like "Lorelei", many of his poems have been set to music, including by Schumann, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Strauss, Wagner...

Heinrich, jewish, had a rather chaotic life being a good consumer of wines, women... meeting Karl Marx and sharing his opinions. His works were often partly banned in Germany. His books were again burnt on the Opernplatz in Berlin in 1933. To commerate this event, one of his lines is now engraved on this site (Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen = Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too).

April 26, 2007

Flow chart

I found this tree. Maybe it can be used as illustration of a flow chart?

April 25, 2007

La Dame aux Camélias

I continue my visit of graves at the Montmartre graveyard. Here is the one of "la Dame aux Camélias" ("Camille"). You can see some camelia flowers incrusted on the top of the monument and some more or less natural camelia flowers, which people have placed there.

The lady has really exisited. Here real name was Marie Duplessis (actually the "du" was added by herself, to make her name sound more noble). She was a courtesan (mistress), who died of tubercolosis in 1847, at the age of 23. She had a number of wealthy and famous lovers, including Franz Liszt and Alexandre Dumas the younger, who immediately wrote about her and made her famous (under the name of Marguerite Gautier). La Traviata by Verdi is based on Alexandre Dumas' play.

Actually, Alexandre Dumas the younger (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/adumas2.htm) is also buried at the Montmartre graveyard. Alexandre was the illegimate son of Alexandre Dumas senior - author of The Three Musketers, The Count of Monte Cristo... , who in his turn was the illegimate son of a general from the French revolution, who was the son of a Haitian slave.

(There are a lot of graves of famous people at Montmartre, 10 minutes walk away... More to follow.) This was supposed to be my contribution for April 26, wen I will be rather busy. Obviously I put it in just before midnight instead of just after midnight.


I have been talking a lot (too much?) about artists having lived in my new area. Here is another example: Villa des Arts.

Cézanne (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Cézanne), Signac (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Signac), Renoir (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auguste_Renoir), Toulouse-Lautrec (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec), Dufy (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raoul_Dufy)... have been working / living here.

It was recently sold to an investment company, which will transform it into exclusive lofts for wealthy people.

There are a lot of these specific "atelier-flats" around. I doubt that they are today occupied by painters, sculptors...

April 24, 2007

Jacob Eberst

The Montmartre cemetery is quite close. Some time ago I published a photo of the grave of Emile Zola. Here is another one.

Jacob was born in Cologne in 1819, came to Paris in 1833 for music studies... and became the most French of German composers: Jacques Offenbach (http://perso.orange.fr/anao/composit/offenbach.html). Already his dad changed the family name to Offenbach, after the village where he was born.

Jacques, more or less the originator of the modern operetta, died in Paris in 1880, after having composed "Orpheus in the Underworld", "La vie parisienne", "La belle Hèlène", "La Périchole", "The Grand Duchesse of Gerolstein" and a lot more, including his last work, the opera "The Tales of Hoffmann"...

When you refer to Paris life in the 19th century, you automatically assiciate it with Offenbach music.

April 23, 2007


I have lately referred to my school life (you get nostalgic with the age). In the school there is an "aula", where we then all met every morning at 8 o'clock for 15 minutes of morning prayer (how times change). In front of our sleepy eyes we had a huge wall painting, called "Ute blàser sommarvind" (The summer wind is blowing), by a - at least in Sweden - famous painter, Carl Larsson (http://www.clg.se/). The painting was made in 1903. Actually his paintings from his home life are quite widely spread e.g. as Christmas card illustrations. You can still visit his home, called Sundborn (http://www.clg.se/s_index3.htm), in Dalecarlia. It's worth a visit.

A French author, Philippe Delerme wrote a book called "Sundborn ou les jours de lumière", which got the "Prix des libraires" in 1997. You can still buy it (http://www4.fnac.com/Shelf/article.aspx?PRID=4859).

Lingua Latina

My Master in blogging, HPY, has two latin phrases on top of her front page: "Nil novi sub sole" (Nothing new under the sun) and "Nulla dies sine linea" (Not one day without a line). She is perfectly following the second sentance, but she must explain what she meant with the first sentence; she has always something new to tell.
This brings me to what I learnt when I about a week ago visited my old school in Gothenburg, Hvitfeldtska, some 350 years old. It used to be called something like the Latin Gymnasium and when I visited the school, we still had some six or seven hours of latin every week. I guess it was supposed to be the basis for studies of several other languages. Today, the school is not anymore teaching latin!
Somehow, I can understand it. When I attended, I often thought that it would have been more useful to spend the six or seven hours (not mentioning the homework) on something more practically useful. However...

April 22, 2007

Election of a new president

Today there are many of us spending our time and energy to find out the result of the first tour of the French presidential elections, in advance and before the more official announcements at 20 hours tonight. There will be several blogs giving the result in advance (although forbidden) - not mine. You can of course also check on foreigns sites, like Belgian and Swiss newspapers ( http://www.lesoir.be/dossiers/presidentielles/infographie.shtml, http://www.tdg.ch/) which will - and have the right - to publish the results, probably around 18 hours. Internet may explode this afternoon and evening, so I thought I should put something on my blog not too late.

As an immigrant I have no right to vote for "my" candidate. Anyhow, for whom would I vote? (... and I am of course a neutral Swede.) There are 12 candidates and two have to be chosen for the second tour in two weeks. Many of the voters will decide in the last minute. It's not easy to find the "perfect" candidate.

Sur le site de Canal+ (http://votezplus.canalplus.fr/) on peut répondre à 10 questions et on obtient un image de "son" candidat. J'ai essayé. Voilà ce que ça donne. Un mélange de Bayrou, Royal et Besancenot. Pas toute à fait representaif de mes pensées - qui restent sécrètes.

But it's thrilling. "Everybody" will be in front of their TV tonight and the pizza, hamburger and sushi deliveries will beat all records.

April 21, 2007


When I visted Gothenburg a few days ago, my 90 year old mother kindly asked me to fetch a few things from the nearest pharmacy. I had a 20 + 20 minutes walk and and had to make the queu. This morning I needed some headache pills (don't ask why). Within 200 meters, I found seven pharmacies. I took some photos to prove it. I don't tell you in which one I bought my pills.

It must be profitable business to own a pharmacy in France. French people consume a lot of medecines even for small pains. Medecines are well refunded. Of course we pay for it somehow.

April 20, 2007

Cité des Fleurs - bis

April 5 I promised to go back to the small side street "Cité des Fleurs" when there were flowers on the trees. Here you have some samples. It would be nice to have a (small) garden in front of my flat. An alternative could be to have a roof flat with a garden.

... but I guess the best I could go for would be something like this (the flat in front of mine).

April 19, 2007

Chinese blog

A friend from China (she was our guide for a few days when my daughter and I visited China some five years ago) is now making a doctorate in France. She has now and then visited my blog and just started her own. You can find it under "Blogs to visit": "Zhang".

Where have all the flowers gone? Sag mir wo die Blumen sind?

April 6th, I took a photo of a tree in blossom. Now, where have all the flowers gone? Time flies, not only for trees.
If you wish you can listen to the famous Pete Seeger song in some different versions (Peter Paul and Mary, the Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Marlene Dietrich...) if you open this site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg8Db7VNgL0
This is a bit of nostalgia from the sixties and and I know that my kids will react (not necessarily positively). Anyhow...

Allowed, forbidden...

In "my" park, a lady made some bird feeding. She obviously did not know about (or neglected) the sign which I saw, forbidding to feed the birds in the park (they are fed by the park employees). I said nothing and did not report anything to the authorities...

In any case, you know, French people are not always so strict about rules.

Palm tree (banana tree)?

April 9th, I took a photo of what I thought is some kind of palm tree. "hpy" said in her comments that it is rather a banana tree. I took a new photo today. It's growing very rapidly. Let's see what it will become. I will survey the development closely and keep you advised.

April 18, 2007

45 years jubileum

In a previous message I referred to a meeting to be held, celebrating the 45 years of our baccalaureat. We were some 20 to meet out of a class of 28. The faces have somewhat changed, compared to the 1962 picture, but not enough to hinder us from recognising each other. We had a really nice (almost) summer weather. We visited our old school, had a dinner together... . There were some ambassadors, doctors, professors, school principals, "businessmen"... a few retired, grandfathers...
We spent between 4 and 8 years together, not only at school, but many of us also during "non-office" hours, meaning common memories of (common) girlfriends etc.

We plan to meet again for the 50 years and then normally all retired.

April 11, 2007

Blog temporarily "closed"

I'm going to Sweden early tomorrow morning. I will let my blog "sleep" for a while - about a week. In the meantime, all visits and comments are more than welcome.


When having my walk on the Champs Elysées this afternoon, I made some "statistics": I counted 100 cars. 10 were taxis - and of course all occupied. No immediate problem; I was not in a need of a taxi.
When in London rather recently, I believe that some 50% of the cars were taxis.

Champs Elysées

I had a walk on the Champs Elysées this afternoon. 20 degrees, no need for a jacket...

Malgré le beau temps, je suis allé au cinéma: "Anna M". Le film n'est pas mal, mais surtout Isabelle Carré est excellente, comme toujours.

April 10, 2007


45 years ago (it's terrible) I passed my baccalaureat, at Hvitfeldtska in Gothenburg. Next Saturday (14/4) our class will again meet. We meet more or less every five years. We were 28 in the class (on the photo there is a mixture with some other classes). I guess we will be some 20-25, whereof some - like myself - have to travel. It's always a great pleasure. Let's see how many have now retired - like myself.

I found the stupid cap we then all were so proud to wear. It used to be white. I guess it must have shrinked, unless my head...

April 09, 2007


Is there anyone around who is an expert in birds? I believe there is a swan, some ducks and geese... There are more of them, but this is a small collection. (I forgot about the pigeons.)

Il faisait beau...

Il faisait encore beau aujourd'hui. Ma fille et son ami m'ont invité à prendre un café.

Palm tree

How quickly does a palm tree grow? One way to find out is to take photo of this one, now and then.

Formula 1

I watched the Sepang Formula 1 race yesterday (on television). You have to start early if you want to become an Alonso... or Räikkönen (for my Finnish friends).

Moulin Rouge

During an evening walk last week, I could not avoid taking a photo of the "Moulin Rouge". I don't think it is necessary to make any particular comments around this tourist attraction. Everybody knows about Toulouse-Lautrec and the rest...
One thing I just learned is that "Moulin Rouge" is the biggest champagne buyer in the world - around 350 000 bottles a year. It means more or less 1000 bottles per day. It corresponds obviously to one pro mille of the world production. Personally, my own purchasing corresponds to about 0,00001 pro mille of the world production. I will try to improve.

April 08, 2007


Did they walk home bare-footed?


Once again a wonderful spring day, with visit by Paloma (4 years) and Mattias (7 months) - and their parents.

Day and night

I took this picture after midnight. Business goes on. It's good to know that if you have forgotten to buy something, there is almost always a shop open.