Monday, 31 October 2011

Haunting Neighbours

We have the quietest neighbours you can hope to find. The kind that live 5 foot below the ground. Their address? La Cimetière de Montmartre.

Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.
- - - Shakespeare (Hamlet)

'Tis now the very witching time of night, 
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

- - - William Shakespeare

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"
- - - Dexter Kozen

At first cock-crow the ghosts must go
Back to their quiet graves below.

- - -Theodosia Garrison

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d
- - - William Shakespeare (Macbeth)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Puddles in the Tuileries

The other day I went to the Jardin des Tuileries with the kids. A change of scene, a different park to enjoy during our Paris staycation...yep school holidays already! We arrived in glorious sunshine, the park was heaving with people. Perfect. Fifteen minutes after we got there the sun disappeared and we got this.

The park was emptied in about five minutes flat with people sprinting for shelter, mostly to the arcades that run along rue de Rovoli. The storm that followed was pretty impressive, the gutters were overflowing. Twenty minutes later the sun was out again, so we went back to the park. I'm glad we did. Look what we found.

Here's the rue de Rivoli.

Many of the iconic green chairs were stranded.

The reflections and the light were so crisp and sharp.

The kids even went for a quick dip.

You can find more photos of the Jardin des Tuileries after the storm here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bistrot La Renaissance

I had the good fortune to go for a coffee with a good friend this afternoon...sans enfants. We went to the Bistrot la Renaissance on 112 rue Championnet in the 18th arrondissement. The café from the outside looks like many a Parisian cafe. Inside though it is absolutely gorgeous, a traditional cafe whose original decor doesn't seem to have been touched in a while.

As it turned our we had vins chauds not coffee. I blame the weather.

The windows and mirrored panes are etched with art nouveau flowers.

There are stain glass panels.

Leather chairs and crackled tile floors.

Chez Jean. Gold on chalky grey.

The cafe faces south-west so catches the afternoon sun, which streamed through the lace curtains casting such a lovely light.

They do food here. I have no idea what it's like, but certainly worth an investigation.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Glamorous Guignols at the Jardin d'Acclimatation

We went to the Jardin d'Acclimatation this weekend. This park occupies the north eastern corner of the Bois de Boulogne. It was first was opened in 1860 by Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugénie as a Jardin Zoologique, the first zoo in Paris. Later, between 1877 and 1912 it became the l'Acclimatation Anthropologique. During this time, in the mid-colonial period, it was a place to show the Parisian people the customs and lifestyles of foreign peoples. This sounds delightful and exotic, but in essence what was actually happening was that people from African countries were being 'exhibited' in the park...a human zoo. Mmm...lovely (not!).

Thankfully (!) things have moved on from those times and now the park is a children's amusement park. There are some play areas (free), some fair-ground rides (not free - 2.70€ for 1 ticket, 32€ for 15 tickets, no options in between), some farms animals to be admired, and an aviary. The park is dotted with buvettes where you can buy ice creams, sandwiches and chips etc. The chips we had were very good.

The highlight for us last weekend, was the parade of Guignols, giant puppets skillfully manoeuvred by puppeteers. The weather was perfect and the family of Guignols were quite surreal and beautiful as they strolled around the park. Here are the brother and sister.





The grandparents and parents dancing.

Here, the 6 Year Old is being taken in hand.

You can find more information about the Jardin d'Acclimatation at their website here

Friday, 14 October 2011

Lovely Light

I went for a walk up the hill early this morning. The moon was still up.

The light was amazing. A sneak view between two apartment buildings showed Paris basking in the sun.

Here I was approaching the Place de Tertre from Rue Norvins.

Light reflected in windows.


Hazy views.

And a wild cat.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


So our sublime Indian summer seems to be officially over. Hours huddled on park benches watching the kids play in the freezing cold loom ahead. Suddenly it's cold...and grey. Sigh.

I thought it was fitting to gather together a 'grey' collection. Actually this dog I saw a few weeks ago - in the glorious sunshine - first made me think of a grey series. This dog, assuming he's still alive (snoozing on a zebra crossing in Paris is not advisable) is huge.

(excuse the 'modesty patch' - idea taken from Dooce - it's for the best)

The Sacré Cœur changes colour with the seasons, from bright white on a hot summer day, to blanc cassé on a sunny winter's day, to grey...on a...grey day.

Here's some delectable grey decay.

A balloon.

A flying horse.

A shop front.

The grey concrete of the Tando Ando meditation space at UNESCO is a lovely soothing grey.

These trees down by the Champs-Elysées are amazing. Look at those wrinkles. I imagine elephant knees probably look like this.

I always feel melancholy at this time of year. I think this guy I saw last week knew the weather was going to change soon.