Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Red and Rouge

Well, it's already been a year since my first blog post. Last year on the 30th of August I posted a collection of 'red' photos. I love red. I often dress in red, the kids too...whenever I can persuade them  (by the way, my daughter's red coat was made by my mother in-law. Let's just say we turned heads with that coat-combo). We have a red wall in our house, and the outside of our house is red.

Here is a red sunflower I saw in the Jardin des Plantes earlier in the summer. Did you know sunflowers could be red? Favourite flower + favourite colour = dream come true.

Here's a rather amazing flower we saw in the green houses at the Parc Citroën.

I saw this skull in a very posh shop in the 7th arrondissement. The window display had about 7 tetes de morts of different colours lined up. They were hard to photograph because of the reflection. Here's the red one. One of these is not enough, you really need all seven.

On the subject of mort.

The red Bernard Tschumi folies at Parc de la Villette have kept their red colour amazingly well over the past twenty years.

Traffic lights often cast lovely red light.

The red of these strawberry and raspberry tartes is so intense.

Meanwhile, the summer holidays are coming to an end and autumn is creeping up on us.

More red photos can be seen here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow).

Friday, 26 August 2011

Noughts and Crosses

A while back I wrote a post which I entitled 'delectable decay'. The photographs aimed to show the beauty to be found in our worn and weathered built environment, including peeling paint, rusty drain pipes, and weathered wood. I took one photo of a very dilapidated building I had seen in rue Lepic, Montmartre. This one.

Well, imagine my surprise (and delight!), when I walked past this building the other day.

A ladder would definitely have been involved as those are first and 2nd floor windows..

I have seen this artist's work before at the Marché aux Puces de St Ouen. I really like it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Paris Plages

Paris Plages is an annual summer event that has been active in Paris since 2002. The roads (les quais) that run along the Seine are closed to traffic and temporary beaches are opened to the public. This fabulous initiative was instigated by the Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë. It lasts for 4 weeks from about the 20th of July to the 20th August. Initially there was only one beach located on the Rive Droite between le Pont Neuf and the Pont de Sully. Since then, every year new plages have been added in different parts of Paris, including on the rive Gauche and along the canal at La Villette.

I'm a big fan of Paris Plages, it provides a beautiful location for people to enjoy Paris and get a holiday feel, without spending a fortune. All the activities along the Plage like pétanques, babyfoot, a pirate sandpit, a swimming pool (!!!), massages to name a few, are free for all, you just have to wait your turn. The first year it started we lived 5 minutes walk from the Plage, we went there daily, in the early morning for quiet strolls to admire the views, in the afternoon to enjoy the entertainment put on for kids, and in the early evening to enjoy a beer and a barquette de frites while admiring one of the best city views in the world. 

The other day when we went to Paris Plage we started at the western end.
We then headed eastward, the first stretch is sandy, with mattresses, deck chairs and sand-pit toys available to anybody who is there early enough.
I never noticed these rather scary carved stone heads on Pont Neuf before. 
They have palm trees the whole length of the Plage, to generate the beach holiday atmosphere.
We passed a rather impressive sand sculpture.
A pirate ship.
Back in 2007 they had a climbing wall for kids. It is no longer there, I think it maybe had something to do with a 2 and 1/2 year old being spotted leaping from a platform 5 metres up. Yes, that's our son, and yes I cried after he jumped, and no, he didn't cry.
For me, I think it's the views you get of Paris that I like best. Unexpected views from unusual angles. Here's the Eiffel Tower walking with lampposts.
Here is Notre Dame peeking out between apartment blocks.
Three bent trees.
The sun came out and the water sparkled.
Boats went by.
People lounged on bright green bean bags.
They have fine water spray jets to cool you down if it gets too hot.
Then of course there is the mandatory ice-cream stop.
Here is a view from Pont Marie.
And here is a view from Pont de Sully. 
Paris in your finger tips.
More information about Paris Plages can be found here on the Paris Plages website.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire

On one of our days in the Loire we went on a cycle trip to Fontevraud a small village near Chinon, home to the largest Abbey in Europe. As we got close to Fontevraud after a cycle across fields and through woods, we locked up our bikes and walked the last (very steep) stretch into the village. This is the first view we got of the Abbey.

After our well earned ice-cream we went to check out the Abbey. The first permanent structures within the compound were built between 1110 and 1119. The founder of the abbey was a reforming preacher called Robert of Arbrissel. Robert of Arbrissel declared that the leader of the order should always be a woman, une Abbesse, a mother superior. During the history of the Abbey there were apparently 36 Abbesses. In 1804 the abbey was transformed into a prison by Napoleon and remained a penitentiary centre for more than 150 years. The last prisoner left in 1963 when the Abbey was given to the Ministry of culture who later created a cultural centre in 1975.

Here is a graffiti I spotted by chance, carved in the wall of the cantine. It apparently dates from the time when the Abbey was a prison. Rather a higher class of graffiti than average I feel.

I'm not sure about this one, less sophisticated but rather lovely as well. It shows how soft and delicate the stone is.

Apart from the church itself, one of the first buildings that attracts your attention as you enter the compound is this extraordinary building.

That pointy roof covered in turrets is the former monastery kitchen. The turrets are the various chimneys.

When you come in from the heat into the cool church, the white stone and the resulting light is frankly transcendent.

The stain glass windows are comparatively simple, but cast gentle and warm light patterns.

I took a few photos of the windows from the outside, in the cloisters. I like the muted colours.

In the cloisters they had a wonderful art installation.

It not only looked great, but also allowed you to experience the abbey from unusual view points. The kids loved it.

Official Fontevraud Abbey website can be found here

Friday, 5 August 2011

Drip drip drip

It's raining again here in Paris...drip drip drip.

The pavements are soaked.

Everything is drenched.

If you want a Vélib’ bike there are plenty up in Montmartre today. Usually there are none left after 8h30.

Bruce our eucalyptus tree is looking good I grant you.

But cabine fever is definitely in the wings.
Hang on a minute. I do believe the sun has come out. Better go!