Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Carrousel Abbesses

As you exit Métro Abbesses onto Place des Abbesses you are greeted by this colorful carousel. It has a canopy painted with children's faces and some unusual vehicles to ride like a Scooby Doo bus, a pirate's ship, and a pink pumpkin carriage.

On a beautiful day this June the carousel was in high demand, the protective plastic curtains pulled back for full viewing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Must Be a French Girl II

Well, let's look at the check list...

  • High heels en bleu (chaussures à talons)? check √

  • Skinny black tights on skinny long legs? check √ and check √

  • Shopping bag from Fauchon? check √

  • Zippers at bottom of skinny black tights? check √

  • Oversize accessories (red sunglasses and huge hoop earrings)? check √

  • Big bulky scarf (even in the summer) Uh, non!! X

  • Not a brunette, (and no scarf) but avec les chaussures comme ça, she must might be a French girl!

    (What do you think?)

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    La Madeleine -- Tournez vers le ciel

    J'adore, j'adore la Madeleine! Are you not just in awe with the juxtaposition of the angles and the carvings as you look up? There is so much to see and you could spend many hours here and still not absorb it all.

    If you missed it, here is a previous post with another photo and some background information.

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Paris Travel Tip II

    How do you get into Paris from CDG (Charles de Gaulle Airport)?
    It depends.... Take a taxi if:
    1. You are in a group of 3 or 4 people,
    2. You bring more than you can carry (tsk, tsk)*,
    3. You are directionally challenged and prone to getting lost,
    4. You are willing to spend €65+
    5. There is a grève (RER/Métro strike)
    You can take a hotel bus making several stops before you are deposited at your hotel or take the RoissyBus which will take 1 hour or more depending on the traffic (if you are staying in Opéra district).

    You can take the RER-B for €8,5 which will take you to stations shared with Métro stops. Buy your RER ticket at this green machine with cash. If you do not have Euros you may have a long wait in the line with the tourists. You may get on the Métro (with a ticket or pass) without coming up to the street level. I have been fortunate to ride the RER to St. Michel-Notre Dame and then take a short walk to one of my regular hotels in the 5ième.

    If you are going to buy a Métro pass (1, 3, or 5 days) do not buy it at CDG as they only sell zones 1-6 and you may only need zones 1-3. If you plan ahead you may buy your Paris Visite online and have it mailed to you. However, do not buy online and print out a voucher as you will have to go to some random address on Rue de Rivoli to get your pass -- a pain. Paris Visite includes the RER, Métro, and busses and offers discounts (some museums, Disney, Printemps, etc).

    If you are going to be in Paris for a longer period there are some economical options with NaviGo Découverte which is not restricted to residents of Paris. (let's talk about this)

    I love the Paris Métro and find it easy to navigate -- Just don't get caught far from your hotel/apt as it is shutting down for the night (you know who you are). There is no advance warning -- it just stops and you are done for the night.

    If you know where you are staying and some of the venues you will be going, this interactive Métro map is a great place to start planning your visit!

    * Taxis charge by the bag. Tant pis pour vous.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Fountains of Pol Bury

    The Fountains of Pol Bury are found in the Gallery d'Orléans which separates the courtyard of Palais Royal from the garden. Since 1990, the traditional noon-cannon sounds every day.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Le photographe -- Fabien Breuvart

    Inside le Marché des Enfants Rouge is this delightful and talented photographer, Fabien Breuvart.

    To see more of Fabien Breuvart enjoy this video in which he spoke of his art in 2007. He has been supportive of the sans-papiers using his art medium and it was reported here (in English) in septembre 2008. In novembre 2009 at Paris Photo 2009 he pulled this incredible stunt that captured the crowd -- You will love the video even if you do not speak French!

    Oh yes, I do see that twinkle in his eye and think that we will hear much more from him.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Marché des Enfants Rouge

    Much has been written by others about the oldest of the Paris food markets, le Marché des Enfants Rouge, first established in early 1600s (dates vary). The name originates with the red uniforms worn by the children of a nearby orphanage, created in 1534. (Virginia of Paris Through My Lens had another explanation.)

    You can shop for antiques, art, and brocante or you can buy the fresh produce for your evening meal. You can discover delicious (and affordable) Japanese, Moroccan, West African and Greek offerings in the food stalls -- crêpes as well!

    It is situated in the northern Marais with two entrances, one at 39, rue de Bretagne and the other one around the corner on the narrow Rue de Charlot.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Oh la la! So lovely and so very French!

    There are no nuns driving blue Citroen 2CVs......

    but, Keith, this one's for you!

    Many thanks to Keith Eckstein who honored my blog

    with a wonderful, kind review on A Taste of Garlic!

    1er arrondissement, Rue de Castiglione

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Citron Vert, Citron, Pistache! -- Miam-Miam!

    Citron vert, citron, pistache! Citron vert, citron, pistache! Citron vert, citron, pistache! Miam-miam! Say it three times quickly and while you do, I will eat as many of these macarons as I can. My guess is that there are more than 60 of these little beauties and that we'll still have plenty to share! Although I have only bought macarons individually or by the box, you can buy a tower. This pâtisserie sells the towers by height with an estimate of the number of macarons. Can you imagine going to a wedding party and hovering around a macaron tower while trying not to look like a pig?

    This is Gérard Mulot en juin and the line extended out the door and around the corner. There are smudges on this glass as a result of my lèche-vitrines. I think that this French word originated with someone actually licking a window like this! Que pensez-vous?

    Soon I will tell you a more personal story about les macarons.

    Gérard Mulot
    76, rue de Seine
    Métro Odéon, Métro Mabillon

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Église Saint Paul Saint Louis -- Confessional

    The sun shining radiantly through the church windows highlights the confessional in Saint Paul Saint Louis in the Marais. I previously showed you the organ pipes in this 17th century church here.

    Église Saint Paul Saint Louis

    99 Rue St-Antoine
    75004 Ils-de-France
    Paris, France

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Shoes not required!

    Shoes are not required on this park bench in Place des Vosges -- Just an easy going afternoon in Paris.... le sigh

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Ces chaussures étaient faites pour marcher...

    Not for moi! Not sure that these are my style but these chaussures à talons appear to be très cher! We spied these in a window walking along Rue de Poitou en juin. (Ouch!)

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Le Défenseur du Temps -- l'automate

    Okay, this is not exactly a secret place but when I ask people (Parisians and tourists) most have never heard of it. The first time I saw this horloge by Jacques Monestier, sculpteur d'automates, Le Défenseur du Temps was fully functional and just amazing.

    You can find the whole story in the imbeded links but here is the Genie Notes version: The clock was commissioned in 1975 and installed in 1979 in le Quartier de l'Horloge, so named for this work. At the striking of each hour the man with his sword and shield fights against a bird, a dragon, or a crab representing heaven, earth and sea. At the special hours of noon, 18h and 22h, the three attack him all together. There are accompanying sounds for the rumbling of earth, the blowing of the wind, and the breaking of waves. It is 4M (13 feet) high and weighs about 1 ton.

    The original electronics were upgraded in 1995 but sadly there has been no funding for maintenance and the clock stopped on 1 juillet 2003. To have seen the clock striking an hour was fascinating, but the special hours were beyond description! Quel dommage.

    Here is a video of 14h as he fights the bird.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Quelle est la température?

    Il fait 20°C donc bon. The working celsius thermometer on the exterior wall, première étage, affords the entire street a handy means to tell the temperature. The beautiful window boxes along this street in the Marais just add to the scene (36, rue du Poitou). The thermometer dates prior to 1948 when the measure was changed from Centigrade to Celsius.

    Remember, you must look up or you will definitely miss treats like this. Also, remember to look down as well or you may step in another type of treat (not a good one).

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Paris travel tip I

    This is not a very sexy post and there is probably nothing in here that a seasoned traveler does not know, but just in case...

    Whether I am gone for a week or a month (I wish), I take no more than a carry-on suitcase (less than 6 pounds empty). However, I always pack two or three plastic plates, plastic forks and knives, zip-lock plastic bags, and a tire-bouchon (wine opener). None of these take up much suitcase real estate or add any weight.

    As you look at the above photo you can see why. There are times when you started early, ran all day, and when the sun went down at 11pm (yes, in the summer it does!) you were simply too tired to sit in a café (make that another café). So, you grab une bouteille de vin, une bagette, des fromages and you can have a little respite in your hotel or your apartment. It is also handy when you are going to do macaron research -- more another time on that topic (miam-miam).

    Regarding le tire-bouchon, I had the simple plastic "hotel-type" opener taken by security as I left Paris headed to the USA, but it had been to/from Paris 4 times, to South America twice, and many other places. So, I feel less certain about transporting than I did previously.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    I'll get the wine glasses....

    This beautiful (and large) glass bottle is found in the lobby of the building for Carré des Feuillants, a luxury restaurant rated highly by Pudlow and Frommers. The chef is the well-known and highly regarded Alain Dutournier, who sadly has not seen me at his table. Tant pis.

    He also has a less extravagant restaurant around the corner (9, rue d'Alger) called Pinxo. the prices at Pinxo are about 1/4th those of the grand Feuillants and receive good ratings.

    Hummm, do you think we could get the mango and passion fruit ravioli dessert to go? Uh, non.

    Carré des Feuillants

    14, rue de Castiglione

    1er Arrondissement

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Église Saint-Denys-du-Saint-Sacrement

    Église Saint-Denys-du-Saint-Sacrement was the first parish church built during the Restoration (after the French Revolution). The interior works of art make it worth a visit -- The most prestigious is The Pieta which was painted by Eugene Delacroix in 1843 in a mere 17 days.

    The ornate ceiling in the entryway is repeated within of the church the full length of the nave. I will have to return for photos of the organ pipes.

    Église Saint-Denys-du-Saint-Sacrement
    68, rue de Turenne
    Métro Saint Sebastien Froissant

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Orange scooter!

    An orange scooter? And where is it's owner?

    Quelle chance! It is Virginia's and she is ready to take off -- zoom zoom!

    Today is the beginning of my second month with Paris and Beyond -- Many thanks to Virginia who helped birth "the baby" guiding me through the steps. Thanks also to JB who distracted us both from afar.

    Merci, mes amis!

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Lonely Carrousel -- Square Boucicaut

    Waiting for the opening of Bon Marché we sat in Square Boucicaut, the garden honoring the memory of Aristide Boucicaut, le créateur du célèbre grand magasin du Bon Marché.

    This day in June the garden is empty except for the gardener and the operator of this carrousel -- no riders, large or small.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Solitude -- Under the crown of "night"

    Métro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre is probably the most photographed Métro entrance in Paris. It was redesigned by Jean-Michel Othoniel in 2000 for the centennial of the Métro as the "Kiosque des Noctambules" (Kiosk of the night-walkers). There are two crowns constructed of glass and aluminum -- one representing "day" and the other "night."

    The bench concealed under the canopy of "night" was part of the artist's installation for "chance encounters."

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Paparazzo? -- Aujourd'hui c'est moi (shhhhh)

    Oh, they're getting away! Must have that photo shot... hurry, hurry, quickly around that column! Allons-y!

    That's it... line up now, get in sync. Left, right, left, right -- That's it! Lean together -- hold hands. Perfect!! --Click!-- Whew, I got the shot!

    Merci, vous deux! Shhhhhh

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    M. C. Escher?

    M. C. Escher's infinite staircase?

    Ou l'escalier mécanique du Bon Marché?

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    The Escalator Happy Dance

    This adorable child is laughing with me! Of course, there is a story....

    The background:

    As you may know, there are many steps in the Paris Métro -- up, down, around... Some Métro stops are huge and have many iterations of "up and down and around" before it is possible to either transfer or to exit to the street level. Since my first visit to Paris, I have done a little happy dance when I find an escalator. Specifically, I fling my arms into the air (as if my team has just scored) just as I step onto the escalator. Most of the time there is a little joyous shout (woooh-hoooo) and waving of arms. It is just my little "meep" of happiness to have found the electric steps that save my tired body.

    The story:

    As I stepped on the escalator to exit Métro Sèvres-Babylone, I turned to share my "escalator happy dance" with a mom and two children who laughed with me all the way to the top. Sometimes, the crazy American CAN get a petite Parisienne to smile.

    The commentary:

    This behavior does warrant some stern stares and I do tone it down a bit in the more chi-chi areas of Paris, but lighten up, people. It will keep you young!
    Merci, Shell, for adding "meep" to my vocabulary!

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    Église Saint Paul Saint Louis -- organ pipes

    This 17th century church in the Marais has a beautiful interior with a dome that rises 180 feet (55 m.) above the crossings. If you visit be sure to note the Delacroix painting and the interior of the dome which is sky blue.

    I love church organs and the creative woodwork in which the pipes are housed. You can almost hear the music.....

    Église Saint Paul Saint Louis

    99 Rue St-Antoine
    75004 Ils-de-France
    Paris, France

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Pain au chocolat -- Tu en veux?

    By habit, a health-conscious breakfast eater it only takes me a nano-second to get into Paris mode with café au lait, pain au chocolat, pain au chocolat....

    Did I mention.... pain au chocolat? (Oh, and I know that a Parisian would not have one of these for le p'tit déjeuner)

    Have a great weekend, all!

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Must be a French girl....

    How can you tell this is a French girl?

    1) Brunette? check √
    2) Bulky neck scarf? check √
    3) High-heeled pumps? check √
    4) Chanel bag? (look at the chain) check √
    4) Skinny black pants on skinny long legs? check √ and check √

    Must be a French girl!

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Quai Malaquais -- des espions?

    The nearly deserted and wet Quai Malaquais, entre Pont du Carrousel and Pont des Arts, makes you think about December or January. This photo was taken early in the morning en juin while most of Paris is sleeping. At 6:30am, most of the tourists are asleep too!

    (Do you think that these two are spies and getting ready to exchange briefcases sur le quai? I should hide just in case!)

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Sacré Coeur -- King Saint Louis IX, a different view

    If you have been to Sacré Coeur en juin then you have an understanding of the crowds of people in/around this beautiful basilica. In reviewing my photos after the trip I realized that I opted to take the odd angles and small details rather than capture the rapping street dancers and the replica key chain hawkers. I did manage to capture some interesting people on the steps which I will share at a later time.

    The above photo is one of two equestrian bronzes flanking the triple-arched portico. They represent France's national saints, Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX, both created by H. Lefebvre. King Louis IX is the only King of France who was canonized, and there have been many places named after this 13th century French king. St. Louis, MO in the United States is the most familiar to me but others include San Luis Potiso, Mexico, and Sao Luis do Maranhao, Brazil.

    The detail in the bronze of King Saint Louis IX caught my attention with the spurs, the soft-soled shoes, the gentle drape of his leather cloak, and the filigree of the bridle. The perfect shade of bronze green is just as I snapped it and you may be able to see the bleeding of color onto the light-colored travertine stone base.
    (Oh, and that is not a fly on my camera lens but an airplane!)

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Pâtisserie Hunt I -- Dalloyau

    Several weeks ago I mentioned the hunt for new pâtisseries, not new to Paris, but ones that my daughter Holly and I had not tried. When you find a wonderful pâtisserie it can become a habit that prevents you from branching out. How sad would it be to miss the most incredible pastry because you are set in your routine.

    Our goal last December was to find at least five pâtisseries and to make notes. When you make a scientific study out of something like this it empowers you to "taste in the name of mankind" or some foolishness like that. So, our first excursion was to the 8th arr. to Dalloyau with over 200 years as a premier pâtisserie. It is best known perhaps for its L'Opéra, a cake of alternating layers of coffee-soaked almond cake, coffee cream and chocolate which is seen just to the left of the lovely La Prima Donna -- miam-miam!

    As you can see from the photo above, the prices are a bit steep but it is reported that they have over 100 pastry cooks or should we say "artists" for these exquisite creations.

    101, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Paris Market I -- Place Maubert

    In the 5ième arr. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays beginning at 7am the street market at Place Maubert is open for business. If you come in late the night before a market day, you can see the bones of the tents ready for the morning opening. One comes to expect the regular merchants, one of which is seen above selling foie gras. There are stands for flowers, rugs, pashminas, fromage, fleur de sel, textiles from Provence, meats, seafood, carry out food (prête à porter?) pour manger sur le pouce. The vendor below is a regular and I have enjoyed his delicious galettes many times.

    Place Maubert
    Métro Maubert-Mutualité
    le mardi et le jeudi, à 0700 de 1430
    le samedi, à 0700 de 1500

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Saint-Nicholas du Chardonnet

    Ma fille Holly and I have stayed in the same hotel (and same room) for many trips to Paris, and Saint-Nicholas du Chardonnet as shown in the photo below this text is the primary view from our window over rue des Bernardins. Although the photos I took in June this year show few people, the church we have watched over the years is an active, vibrant church in the 5th arrondisement. When the bells ring on Saturday at 6pm and again on Sunday morning, the street in front of the church is busy with multi-generational families and people of all ages coming and going.

    From the exterior, the church is attractive but not singularly stunning. I have found that you must enter a church to know what might be inside, that a very plain building may hide a beautiful interior. St-Nicholas has a very warm feel and is well cared for by its parishioners. The 18th century organ has an exquisite sound and the crystal chandeliers just sparkle. I will bring you here again in December to tell you (photos too) about singing in the streets of the 5th arr.

    As a tourist one may appreciate the aesthetic beauty of a place, but as with many Parisian sites there may be historical drama and controversy.