September 26, 2007

Au revoir! - See you mid October!

Dear blogger friends, I will have to leave you for a while, heading for Peru and Bolivia ! I should be back around mid October. I may then show you something else than Paris for a change!In the meantime my blog will sleep, but you are of course welcome to comment, including on the interview made by Cuckoo (see below)… or ask her to interview you. That could give me something extra and interesting to read when I’m back!

September 25, 2007

Graffiti - again

Yesterday I made three posts - I added a last one in the evening concerning an interview that Cuckoo made on her blog. To compensate, today I will make an easy one.. and also almost repeated.

I already some three months ago made a post on two painted storefront shutters. The shop (bar and restaurant) owners in a small street which is on my short way to or from Montmartre, rue Cavallotti (18th arrdt.), decided a few years ago to let some painters decorate their shutters. Their hope was probably to avoid some improvised and not really wished graffiti (or tags). Some quite professional jobs were done and the shutters were decorated “with the manner of…” different well-known artists. Already in my previous post I mentioned that only two shutters have since been left almost untouched, but all the other ones have been “tagged”. The other day, Sunday early afternoon, all the blinds were down rue Cavallotti. So, I could again take some photos of the almost intact “Modigliani” and “Vermeer”, but also of all the others. It’s today hardly possible to see to which artists the others were supposed to refer (you can guess Gauguin on one). Graffiti can be nice if well done on appropriate places, but I think this is really a pity. Some young painters have obviously been hired by the shop owners to make the original work – and quite nicely - and then some others have not seen the “value” of this. … and why were two left? By a specific respect for Modigliani and Vermeer? I doubt.

In another previous post, now some four months ago, I also showed some graffiti made elsewhere on other shop shutters. (In my previous posts I called the shutters “stores” – like it’s said in French. What’s the correct word? Shutter, blind…? I hope you have understood.)

September 24, 2007


This is my third post today!

I had the great honour to be interviewed by one of the blogging stars, Cuckoo, who lives in Mumbai, India. It was of course – unfortunately - a virtual interview, but very realistic – there was even a tiger present!

She made a few other interviews and I believe that she is prepared to make some more, so if you want to be one of her “victims”, don’t hesitate to tell her. In any case, I would recommend that you visit her very entertaining blog – of course, many of you know her and her blog already!

Here are the links to Cuckoo’s blog and to the interview!

Some ceramic buildings

Walking in area you would seldom visit, unless you live there, I found a building which is worth some attention (rue Belliard, 18th arrdt., see below). It was built in 1912 and the architect was Henri-Louis Deneux (1874-1969). He had his own apartment in the top floor and lived there his last thirty years. Apart from this building, Deneux hardly created any new buildings, but spent most of his active years to save and reconstruct the Reims Cathedral (the place where most French kings have been coroneted), seriously damaged during the First World War. This reminded me of some other remarkable ceramic buildings. Here you can see two buildings created 1900-01 (Avenu Rapp, 7th arrdt.), in a rather extreme “art nouveau” style by Jules Lavirotte (1864-1928). The façade, especially on one of them, has a very rich decoration, a mixture of vegetal and more or less erotic symbols (the entrance door - top picture - was almost “censored”). The last building I wanted to show today was built in 1903 (rue Franklin, 16th arrdt.) and the architect here is Auguste Perret (1874-1954). Perret later worked in a style, much closer to Le Corbusier. One of his major achievements was the reconstruction of Le Havre after the Second World War, much criticised in the beginning, but today in much higher esteem.
Perret is also the architect of one of Paris’ top theatres, often used for classical music, le Théatre-des-Champs Elysées (built 1913, Avenue Montaigne, 8th arrdt.) which also hosted the famous “Ballets Russes”.

You may possibly wish to refer to my previous posts on Guimard, Le Corbusier
You can find some of the original photos from this post on my other blog, "Peter - photos".

Breizh Parade

This little extra post is especially for our blogger friends from Brittany ; Breizh = Britanny in local language.

There have been some important activities in Paris the last couple of days to promote the Britanny region and it was yesterday concluded with a parade on the Champs Elysées. Some 3000 musicians and dancers performed, mostly form Britanny, but there were also representatives from the other former Celtic nations (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Galicia, Asturia…). There was a lot of bagpipe music (I love it). With the enormous crowd watching (and my late arrival) it was rather impossible to take some good photos from along the Champs Elysées, but I went to one of the side streets from where the parade started and managed to get few. A big popular success!

September 21, 2007

On the way from Montmartre...

From the area situated between Montmartre and the more central parts of Paris I have made a few posts about things that I believe are worth visiting – but there is more to see. This area goes under the name of “Nouvelle Athènes” (points 1-7 on the map and on the list at the end).

If and when you have visited some of these places I could suggest that you continue on Rue du Faubourg Montmartre (in red on the map). This was the street people used to take on their more ore less direct way home after a long evening in Montmartre; direction the “Halles”, for a nice onion soup in the early morning. The “Halles” used to be the centre for all fresh food distribution in Paris, but were torn down during the sixties; the activities were displaced to the suburbs and instead something modern was constructed with shops, cinemas etc. (already to be remodelled).

You could then possibly make a break on the way at the candy shop on which I also made a post (p.8) or in the very different church, Sainte Eugène-Sainte Cécile (p.9), also one of my posts. Then you have the choice to have a meal or to go to the cinema, possibly both.

The Restaurant Chartier (p. 10) has been here since 1896. It’s actually what was called a “buillon”, which means soup or a “soup place” in French. This name was used for restaurants supposed to serve some cheap but good food to people who could not afford the more expensive places. Chartier is today always full, the service is efficient but a bit rough, the “garçons” are old style, the food is correct but not excellent, very traditional dishes, the prices are still relatively low and the dining room has an old and nice charm. Somehow, it’s a place you must have tried.

The cinema Rex was inaugurated in 1932. Unlike most other cinemas today, Rex has still a big theatre, supposed to be the biggest remaining in Europe with almost 3000 seats, but has now also three smaller theatres. There used to be an organ and some dancing ladies, something like New York’s Radio City Hall with the Rockettes, but the dancing ladies are gone. During World War II, Rex became a “Soldaten-Kino”. The big theatre is today also often used for concerts (coming next: Celtic Legends, Harry Connick Jr, Hilary Duff, The Dubliners…).

From here your “guide” will leave you for the weekend! You can take the direction of the “Halles”, the “Opéra”… or just ask for a taxi to your hotel.

Hope to see you Monday in good shape! Nice weekend!

Here is the list, with links to the previous posts:
1. Cité Malesherbes
2. Avenue Frochot (same link as 1.)
3. Cité Monthiers (same link as 1.)
4. Museum of the Romantics
5. Gustave Moreau Museum
6. Square d’Orléans
7. Place Saint Georges
8. Candy Shop
9. Sainte Eugène – Sainte Cécile Church
10. Restaurant Chartier
11. Cinema Rex

September 20, 2007

Music Parade... and Festival

In the part of the 17th arrondissement where I live, called Batignolles, there is a very active benevolent association, called Rififi. They are organising a number of things. This evening (fresh news!) there was a music parade along my street and some others. This was the start for a lot of music – all kinds - to follow in the local bars, restaurants and small theatres. There will also be shows, amateur theatre plays and other manifestations during the weekend! …

I’m also invited to a party with ex working colleagues on Saturday. I will have a conflict situation.

The parade was very successful, a lot of people followed! Please note the important police force which controlled the operation; two smiling bikers!

National Assembly - ter

This is the third and last (promise!) post about my recent visit to the National Assembly. What I felt remained to be shown are some photos from the different reception rooms.

You already saw a number of chandeliers in the first Assembly post (two days ago) and they are of course an important part of the decoration in these and also in other rooms. You will somehow see some of them again; you cannot avoid them – they are everywhere!

These photos are from the Assembly President’s residence, Hôtel Lassay, used for receptions, and also from the “Salle des Fêtes”, which connects to the more operative Hôtel Bourbon.Most of these pictures can be found on my other blog, “Peter – photos”.

September 19, 2007

National Assembly - bis

As said yesterday, I’m reverting to the National Assembly and will today talk about the “working space”.

After all, the 577 deputies, elected for five years, are there to work. Normally the yearly session lasts 120 days (October – June), but in reality it’s often prolonged. (You can read August 2 on one of my pictures; that was the last session before summer holidays. The new session started yesterday.)

The deputies represent as well the nation as their circumscription - in average some 10 thousand habitants. They have their public sessions, but each deputy is also member of at least one commission.

Their common working space includes of course the “hemicycle” for the public sessions and it’s also the place where the voting takes place. The “hemicycle” got its present form and decoration in 1832; only a few details are older, including the podium for the President of the Assembly (or his / her deputy). There are also separate meeting rooms and a number of corners where the deputies can work, have their more informal discussions, have a drink...
You find also working desks in the Library which was added in 1837. The ceiling paintings are by Delacroix.
Last episode tomorrow!

September 18, 2007

National Assembly

In yesterday’s post I referred to the “Heritage Days”, involving open doors to many public buildings, and a visit I made to our National Assembly. I took many photos and I know that I often present too much in my posts. I believe that this time I will therefore split my post in three, hopefully making it a bit more digest.

I had not the intention to make a presentation of the French parliamentary system; for that you must go to other sources, but… maybe a few words: The French Parliament comprises the National Assembly and the Senate. The deputies of the National Assembly are elected by direct, the Senate by indirect suffrage. Normally new bills must be decided by both, but if after different procedures there is still no common understanding, the final vote is normally given to the National Assembly. Certain constitutional modifications would need a common decision by the two bodies. The Assembly has 577 members. The Assembly can dismiss the Government.

The National Assembly, created in 1791, sits in the Palais Bourbon since 1798. The palace is from 1728 and was originally built for the Duchess of Bourbon, daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. It has of course been modified several times. A second connected building, the Hôtel Lassay, was built at the same time and serves today as residence to the President of the Assembly and for different receptions. You can find these buildings within the red pentagon on the map.

Of course the visit started by queuing up, but it took less than an hour to get in. Some of us had the privilege to get say hello to the President of the Assembly (considered as number four in the French hierarchy). The organisation was perfect, I have never seen the sky so blue over Paris, everybody was in a good mood…!Today I will just show you what it all looks like from the outside, the gardens… and also a first look at the inside; some of the chandeliers. I suppose they must have a favourable tariff for electricity! Tomorrow I will show you something of the more official “working space” and then at last some of the magnificent reception rooms. When I have finished with the Assembly, I will put some originals on my other blog, “Peter – photos”.

September 17, 2007

The Polish School

Each year France and other European countries celebrate what is called “Journées de Patrimoine” (Heritage Days); this year this weekend. There are a lot of manifestations and it means also that the doors to certain buildings, normally closed to public, are opened. I visited among other places “Assemblée Nationale”, the French Parliament buildings. I took too many pictures and have to make some filtering before publishing.

I also visited a more modest but very nice building, situated some 200 meters from where I live; the Polish School of Paris. We were maybe 50 people who attended and we were extremely well guided by a remarkable journalist and historian, whom I already had the privilege to meet a few times (Lucien Maillard). Also some Polish music was played and some Polish poems were read.

I would like to dedicate this post to some of our more or less Polish blogger friends.

The relations between Poland and France have often been very tight, generally in a positive way. (Napoleon is actually still positively mentioned in the Polish national anthem!) I’m not going to go give a history lesson here, but different dramatic events in the often suffering Poland forced thousand of its habitants to leave their country in several waves, especially during the 19th century and many of them came to Paris. Their wish to keep the Polish culture alive lead to a need to create a school.

Frederic Chopin, who lived in Paris with some interruptions between 1831 until his death in 1849 was among the most famous of these Polish immigrants and he gave a number of concerts to collect funds to the school. The funds came however basically from some wealthy Polish aristocratic co-immigrants. The school was created in 1842, used for some time other facilities in the neighbourhood and moved to its present premises in 1874. The school was given by France to Poland in 1927.

Some other names are closely related to this school, which today has several hundred pupils and also offer rooms for Polish university students. Marie Curie (born Sklodowska) was one of these university students. Another Polish personality linked to the school is Adam Mickiewicz, one of the greatest Polish poets, who lived in a neighbour street for many years and even was President of the School Council. (You can see the modest place he and his family shared with other families on one of my photos; the small white ready-to-be-demolished building). The Polish Literature Nobel Prize winner (1980), Czeslaw Milosz, lived for a while in the same street as the school.

September 14, 2007

I forgot...

I forgot to wish you a nice weekend in the below message! I will take my now usual two-days break for other activities than blogging. See you on Monday!

Shop and house decoration

Today, I would first like to present a small collection of old types of shop outdoor decoration, as it used to look like some 100 – 150 years ago. You can fortunately still find a number of shops which have kept their original decoration and they start now to be officially protected. It means of course that some of today’s fashion shops may have some butcher or bakery ensigns – there are fewer butchers and bakeries and more fashion shops today than 100 years ago.

The examples you see here are just from the streets “around the corner”. If I find the time, I could easily increase the “collection”. As a “proof”, I found this old picture of “my” pharmacy as it looked in the beginning of the 20th century, to be compared with my photo. During the same walk I took also a few pictures of some statue like decorations on the front of buildings, probably from the middle of the 19th century. There was more attention paid to the decorative part then than on today’s buildings. Related to decoration: Would you like to redecorate your bathroom? These pictures are from a specialised shop, also “around the corner” (pictures taken through the windows).

September 13, 2007

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

The Bir-Hakeim Bridge crosses the Seine River, just south of the Eiffel Tower. Tourists may often not have the time to go so far, but it’s actually one of the best places to watch the Tower and it’s also a beautiful piece of art by itself.

The bridge was built (actually rebuilt) in 1905 in two levels, allowing the passage of the then new metro, plus cars, pedestrians, bikers… It was originally called the Passy Bridge, named after the area Passy on the right bank. It got its new name in 1948 to commemorate the battle of Bir Hakeim (Libya 1942-43).
The two Scottish guys you can see on one of the pictures are probably here for the soccer game France – Scotland, played last night (0-1) or maybe on their way to the rugby match in Toulouse, where France also meets Scotland (World Championships) next weekend.

The bridge crosses the Ile des Cygnes (the Swan Island). You can use some stairs and then take a walk all along the narrow island to its extreme south, where you can find the smaller version of the Statue of Liberty.

The statue you see is a gift from the Danish colony in France (1930) and the decorations on the side of the bridge date from its creation; symbols of the French nation are fixed to the bridge.

The bridge has "co-starred" in several films, the most famous one perhaps being the Last Tango in Paris by Bertolucci with Marlon Brando; the apartment was situated in the last corner building, just at the starting point of the bridge.

Some of the original photos can be seen on my other blog , "Peter-photos".