Paris

TEN THINGS ABOUT PARIS

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  • People now speak English in Paris. They actually speak it very frequently. This is a shame as you could really count on speaking French in Paris before. There are now many businesses and services that are entirely run in English.

 

  • We had super great weather.

 

  • Markets in Paris are awesome. We had the best cherries ever from Marché d'Aligre, and they were less than half the price of cherries elsewhere.

 

  • Paris is expensive. A regular lunch is about twice the cost of a meal in Canada.

 

  • Lili says: All the dogs look really healthy and well taken care of. All the dogs of street people are also really well cared for. There are no stray cats either.

 

  • Dante says: The streets are beautiful. Charming.

 

  • Buses are a smarter way to travel than the metro - you see more.

 

  • It seems to still be OK to wear perfume in Paris. (Don't even try to do that in Vancouver.)

 

  • The art is so great. We felt inspired to try our hand at gouaches, sculpture, millinery, decorating with slip, you name it. It's all just great.

 

  • I splurged at Mariage Frères.

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MY FRIEND EILA

My dear friend Eila Conte treated us to a four hour lunch on our last day in Paris. Wow. She is now retired and her husband Gerard passed away about five years ago.

Other than that, it felt like yesterday when we last met. Don't you just love it - having a friend from thirty years ago that you can just pick up chatting with like nothing has passed? And Eila's energy, broad interests and positivity are a true delight. We love you Eila!

Merci énormément. 

 

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DANTE'S FAVORITE PLACE

Musee des Arts et Métiers. What a place! Three floors of history of gadgets, machines, inventions and technology. It is a TREASURE TROVE for tinkerers of all kinds.

A flying machine. 

A flying machine. 

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Early methods to create moving images. 

Early methods to create moving images. 

Foucault's pendulum. 

Foucault's pendulum. 

An area of moving dolls and marionettes. This one is called the Acrobat on a Tightrope. 

An area of moving dolls and marionettes. This one is called the Acrobat on a Tightrope. 

Early 'mathematical instruments'. 

Early 'mathematical instruments'. 

 

JUMPING WITH JOY

There was recently a phase when Lili would mostly move on all fours (she was enacting life as a dog). Now this has changed to life as a horse, so she canters around and does the occasional big jump.  She also has done some very cool jumping jacks and I have snapped photos of some.  

Here is a selection - against various backdrops in Paris. EnJoy! 

Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) 

Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) 

Rue Montorgeuil

Rue Montorgeuil

 

Paris Zoo

Paris Zoo

Montparnasse

Montparnasse

Palais du Louvre

Palais du Louvre

Petit Palais

Petit Palais

DÉJEUNER SUR L'HERBE

Bonjour. That title means 'Lunch in the Grass' by the way. And it is a famous painting by Manet (you can see it if you double click on this post).  We went to Montmartre on the weekend to see Sacré Coeur Basilica, and it was as stunning as always. 

 

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So today it really was time for a family day (= no tourist activities) so we decided to go to Buttes Chaumont park for a picnic. It was a great idea and we had a lovely day. 

We started off at the playground.  

We started off at the playground.  

Dante in the sun with our picnic.  

Dante in the sun with our picnic.  

The park has waterfalls and little rivulets. This offers great spots for playing. 

The park has waterfalls and little rivulets. This offers great spots for playing. 

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Lili made little fairy houses of sticks. 

The belvedere at the top is a nice viewpoint. Our picnic spot was just behind the folks on the left on the bank...

The belvedere at the top is a nice viewpoint. Our picnic spot was just behind the folks on the left on the bank...

TOUR EIFFEL

This is very touristy but here goes - we went to the Tour Eiffel. I have been there before so decided to stay down and people-watch (which was very fun by the way). Lili and Dante lined up and went all the way to the staggering 275 some meters of the top floor. (The tip of the structure reaches way over 300 meters.) How anybody thought about building such a thing in 1887 is an interesting question.

 

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Dante took this great photo from the top. We had such beautiful weather today - you can't see it from this picture but people were actually swimming in the Trocadéro fountain of Warsaw - that long pool in the foreground.  At the rear of the picture, the light blob in the forest in front of the towers of La Défense is the Fondation Luis Vuitton by Frank Gehry.    

Dante took this great photo from the top. We had such beautiful weather today - you can't see it from this picture but people were actually swimming in the Trocadéro fountain of Warsaw - that long pool in the foreground.

At the rear of the picture, the light blob in the forest in front of the towers of La Défense is the Fondation Luis Vuitton by Frank Gehry. 

 

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Here are a couple of pictures from the top. When I asked Lili how the top was, she said: It was a bit freaky.  

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Now here is something über freaky - the Tour Eiffel currently has a zip line in it courtesy of Perrier, a sponsor of the Roland Garros tennis tournament. The zip line will be taken down tomorrow as the tournament ends. A hundred 'lucky' people get to ride the zip line each day - no idea how they choose who goes. The run is over 800 meters and lasts over one minute.   The logic is that 'the zip line emulates the experience of a tennis ball flying through the air' - or something like it. (I have always found the French to be extraordinarily creative with their metaphors. )  Dante and Lili saw them launch a person, and apparently everyone was clapping and whooping. I watched the odd person fly through the air from the ground - and it looked terrifying. 

Now here is something über freaky - the Tour Eiffel currently has a zip line in it courtesy of Perrier, a sponsor of the Roland Garros tennis tournament. The zip line will be taken down tomorrow as the tournament ends. A hundred 'lucky' people get to ride the zip line each day - no idea how they choose who goes. The run is over 800 meters and lasts over one minute. 

The logic is that 'the zip line emulates the experience of a tennis ball flying through the air' - or something like it. (I have always found the French to be extraordinarily creative with their metaphors. )

Dante and Lili saw them launch a person, and apparently everyone was clapping and whooping. I watched the odd person fly through the air from the ground - and it looked terrifying. 

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And here we are on the Trocadéro side. Both Lili and I ended up cooling our feet in the pool.  

And here we are on the Trocadéro side. Both Lili and I ended up cooling our feet in the pool.  

BESOTTED MOTHER SEES PAINTING

You have been warned - this is besotted mother stuff.

Yesterday when walking in town we saw the cutest ever dachshund on a leash. It was smooth haired and dappled tan / brown. It was SO pretty. I have never seen one like it before.

Its Parisian owner was walking so briskly that we just couldn't even ask her for a photograph. But both Lili and I just looked at each other and gasped as they passed.

Then this morning we decided to have a 'home day' - we visited another museum last night and want to avoid museum fatigue. I suggested that Lili try her new paintbrushes - - - and a little while later I gasped again:

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LILI AT LILI's

We went to buy some art supplies for Lili (from the very place I used to shop in 1984 when I lived in Paris). The art supply store is called Lavrut and it has been at Passage Choiseul since 1922. But what did we see has sprung up at the entry to the passage? A coffee shop with a most excellent name! So after we bought a pencil sharpener and some fine paintbrushes for Lili's new gouaches, we of course had to go and have some steamed milk and brownies. And we bought two mugs to take home as well. Absolutely.

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SALUT MONA LISA

We went to the Louvre! Wow it is always a humbling experience, and frankly I have been putting it off in fear of big lineups. Last night we went for a stroll, and the museum was open till 9:30 pm which I did not know so it was a real lucky strike. No lineups at all, we walked in, got tickets, and went to say hello to La Gioconda, otherwise also known as Mona Lisa.

 

Hello.       

Hello. 

 

 

Dante wanted a picture in front of this enormous painting. It is  'Les Noces de Cana' by Veronese (Paolo Caliari), from 1563.

Dante wanted a picture in front of this enormous painting. It is  'Les Noces de Cana' by Veronese (Paolo Caliari), from 1563.

Love this. It is in one of the main stairwells. It is The   Winged Victory of Samothrace  , also called the   Nike of Samothrace.

Love this. It is in one of the main stairwells. It is The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace.

Remember this? We have a picture book of the vegetable guys of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, appr. 1573. He made four of them, one for each season. This is summer.

Remember this? We have a picture book of the vegetable guys of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, appr. 1573. He made four of them, one for each season. This is summer.

This very cool bowl with all kinds of animals was in the new Islamic Art collection. It is from Iran!   

This very cool bowl with all kinds of animals was in the new Islamic Art collection. It is from Iran!

 

...and Lili of course loved anything with horses. 

...and Lili of course loved anything with horses. 

These marble ladies are from Greece, about 2700 - 2300 BC. Amazing!  Their poise and comportment make me think of yoga people.

These marble ladies are from Greece, about 2700 - 2300 BC. Amazing!  Their poise and comportment make me think of yoga people.

Outside in the evening sun. 

Outside in the evening sun. 

BRAVO PARIS GREETERS!

Yay! Did you know that there is an organization called 'the Greeters' and they have volunteers who take people around in their home city for free? We were sure glad to learn about this, and got to spend a really interesting morning with our volunteer guide Norbert, a retired school teacher. The idea with Greeters is that they take you around the area where they live (i.e. their own neighbourhood) as they know that best. Norbert lives in the 14th arrondissement and took us for a three hour walk from Porte de Vanvin to Montparnasse. Even though I lived in Paris for a year I saw so many things I never knew about - very interesting! Merci Greeters, merci Norbert!

 

At a community garden next to low cost housing.  

At a community garden next to low cost housing.  

Walking near Hôpital Saint Joseph. 

Walking near Hôpital Saint Joseph. 

At the home of French musician George Brassens. 

At the home of French musician George Brassens. 

A beautiful alley that was all artist residences. Amazing small scale, and little notices of community meals and block parties. This would be a really nice place to live. 

A beautiful alley that was all artist residences. Amazing small scale, and little notices of community meals and block parties. This would be a really nice place to live. 

Haha. A sign on one of the doors! 

Haha. A sign on one of the doors! 

This church was built in 1900 with materials left over from the Paris world fair! Wow what a cool example of reuse. 

This church was built in 1900 with materials left over from the Paris world fair! Wow what a cool example of reuse. 

His here building was Alberto Giacometti's studio! There were so many artist residences in the area - we were impressed. 

His here building was Alberto Giacometti's studio! There were so many artist residences in the area - we were impressed. 

Giacometti studio. 

Giacometti studio. 

We even found a couple of playgrounds for Lili. This one had a cool 'wobbly platform' to balance on. 

We even found a couple of playgrounds for Lili. This one had a cool 'wobbly platform' to balance on. 

 

PARIS ZOO, UNCONVENTIONALLY

Ha! We went to the Paris Zoo today. This was on our very short 'must do' list of things on this trip. The zoo was recently redone and is now one of the few zoos on earth where the animals are not in cages, they are in large habitats and people walk around them. 

The displays are a bit unconventional too, so instead of posting pictures of giraffes (which I also have) here is something else:

 

Lili getting on the map before our tour of the grounds. 

Lili getting on the map before our tour of the grounds. 

And guess what we have here? Yes - ants! A very cool exhibit, and the little guys were dragging bits of leaves and sticks up and across the stone.

And guess what we have here? Yes - ants! A very cool exhibit, and the little guys were dragging bits of leaves and sticks up and across the stone.

Measuring arms against a vulture's wingspan.

Measuring arms against a vulture's wingspan.

Close to the waterfowl. 

Close to the waterfowl. 

And the rarest picture of all: a wolf peeing. A noble nature call right in front of our modest eyes. Now that was a first, even for us zoo junkies. 

And the rarest picture of all: a wolf peeing. A noble nature call right in front of our modest eyes. Now that was a first, even for us zoo junkies. 

VERY COOL CARS

We went to Champs Élysées to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe but what do you know it was all closed off on account of some ceremony. Cops with machine guns keeping order everywhere, which seems to be a common situation these days in Europe.

But no problem there is great fun to be had elsewhere on Champs Élysées so we went down the street to look at the luxury stores and cars.

Toyota showroom had a super cool wooden car in the window. How about this for a nice 'back to earth' - style country ride? A tweed jacket was not included but can surely be found somewhere nearby.

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This here shows a cross section of a hybrid Toyota. The photo doesn't tell it but the car was actually swinging open and close. Creepy at first when the car looks whole and then just starts to split open.

This here shows a cross section of a hybrid Toyota. The photo doesn't tell it but the car was actually swinging open and close. Creepy at first when the car looks whole and then just starts to split open.

And here are some electric city cars. They were so cool, and are apparently in car share use in the City of Grenoble. It is probably a pilot project - but it would be great to get some in Vancouver as well. You can fit two people in one, believe it or not - you can just see the back seat in the white car.

And here are some electric city cars. They were so cool, and are apparently in car share use in the City of Grenoble. It is probably a pilot project - but it would be great to get some in Vancouver as well. You can fit two people in one, believe it or not - you can just see the back seat in the white car.

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This is at Pub Renault. Lili really liked sitting in these cars - the yellow one is an electric Clio.

This is at Pub Renault. Lili really liked sitting in these cars - the yellow one is an electric Clio.

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And how about these - girls can do anything. Yay! 

And how about these - girls can do anything. Yay! 

ROLAND GARROS

Tennis buffs will know that this can only mean one thing: the French Open Tournament. Yes! We got daypasses and saw some completely amazing tennis, right in front of our eyes - we were courtside. The groupies we are.

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The reality of mass events these days is that it takes about an hour to get in. Here Dante is going through maybe the third bag check and patting down.    

The reality of mass events these days is that it takes about an hour to get in. Here Dante is going through maybe the third bag check and patting down. 

 

This bomb dog looked very special. It also liked Lili and gave her a little lick! 

This bomb dog looked very special. It also liked Lili and gave her a little lick! 

The first match we saw was between Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer, both from Spain.  Here they are in set three. Both were incredibly strong hitters with serves in excess of 200 km/h.

The first match we saw was between Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer, both from Spain.  Here they are in set three. Both were incredibly strong hitters with serves in excess of 200 km/h.

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Lopez behind Lili and Dante. This match became an epic five setter - see the match clock in the corner - at three hours and twenty five minutes and counting.  

Lopez behind Lili and Dante. This match became an epic five setter - see the match clock in the corner - at three hours and twenty five minutes and counting.  

Lopez finally won it - in just under four hours.  

Lopez finally won it - in just under four hours.  

Then we saw the super gifted yet volatile Nick Kyrgios from Australia. He played against a fellow from South Africa. 

Then we saw the super gifted yet volatile Nick Kyrgios from Australia. He played against a fellow from South Africa. 

Nick was right in front of us and unfortunately he ended up losing the match. This was one of his bad days (he even broke a racket in anger) but we are still glad to have seen him.

Nick was right in front of us and unfortunately he ended up losing the match. This was one of his bad days (he even broke a racket in anger) but we are still glad to have seen him.

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Then we saw Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro win her game against Roumanian Sorana Cirstea.  

Then we saw Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro win her game against Roumanian Sorana Cirstea.  

We spent the entire day at the event. They have tennis on 18 courts - no shortage of matches to choose from.  

We spent the entire day at the event. They have tennis on 18 courts - no shortage of matches to choose from.  

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In the concourse there are many areas where to watch the games on big screens. The stores were pretty cool too. Dante got a commemorative T-shirt.   This was the first time for all of us to attend a mega size professional sports event. I have to say that having been at a grand slam was very impressive.

In the concourse there are many areas where to watch the games on big screens. The stores were pretty cool too. Dante got a commemorative T-shirt.

This was the first time for all of us to attend a mega size professional sports event. I have to say that having been at a grand slam was very impressive.

P.S. This is pure trivia but here goes: Roland Garros was not a tennis player, he was a fighter pilot! He died at the age of thirty in 1918, and the tennis park was named in his honor by the builder who was his friend.

PARIS PARIS PARIS

We are in Paris! My old stomping ground. Being in this city never gets old. I will start with an image that takes me right back to my year here way back when... and my then rooftop apartment. We are staying high up again, and this is the view.

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The area we are in is called Montorgeuil.  

The area we are in is called Montorgeuil.  

Nothing beats a warm Parisian baguette. They just don't taste the same elsewhere. 

Nothing beats a warm Parisian baguette. They just don't taste the same elsewhere. 

...and we went for pizza on our first night out! 

...and we went for pizza on our first night out! 

This - I am not kidding - is our street. We were walking home, and this musician was having a photo shoot right in the middle of the road. It was so cool, maybe it was for a new CD!

This - I am not kidding - is our street. We were walking home, and this musician was having a photo shoot right in the middle of the road. It was so cool, maybe it was for a new CD!