Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Sacré Coeur Up Close

I've been living eight minutes walk from the Sacré Coeur for the past 10 years, however the last time I went up to the top was in 1981. 34 years ago! Oh my, that makes me feel so old.

Time to do something about this. Access to the dome is at the west side of the Basilica: 4€ for children and 6€ for grown ups. Given the fantastic view you get from the top I think this is money well spent. 300 steps take you to the top. For me, the physical side of the ascent was fine, I've been living in Montmartre for long enough to have plenty of practice with stairs. The narrowness of the stairs, however, was a little challenging. Claustrophobics beware! As well as those prone to dizziness.

What helps the journey up to the top is the way you pop out at at different levels and get to admire the domes and roofscape 'eye-to-eye'.

Not to mention the gargoyles.

The textures and patterns on the domes are right there for you to enjoy.

I often admire the copper winged statue from ground level. Here I got to see it up close. 

Looking up.

Looking across: a copper lightening conductor.

Looking down: traces of copper, bleed across the roof.

And then of course there are the magnificent views across Paris. Towards La Défense ...

Towards the Eiffel Tower.

What's not to like?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Southern Shutter Swatches.

I've written about Arles shutters before (here). I love pretty much everything about them, their colour, their weathered texture, with cracks and peeling paint that show the passage of time. During our holiday in Arles this summer I took some close up photos of a selection of these moveable window covers. Shutter swatches.

And here are some shutters in situ, looking wonderful against the creamy Arlesienne stone.

Previous Arles posts:

A Room With a View.

Round and About in Arles.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Room With a View

We're back in one of our favourite places, Arles. A Provencal town 40 kms inland from the Mediterranean and 90 kms west of Marseilles. Arles is steeped in history and culture. Apart from the Roman amphitheatre, a Classical Theatre, and antique baths there are endless, narrow, incredibly picturesque streets that wind around each other in unpredictable ways. A pleasure to get lost in.

We're staying in the Hotel du Forum on the main square. Up on the third floor we have a beautiful view across the rooftops. Curved Roman terracotta tiles prevail.

Looking down and across the Place du Forum.

A window above Le Café Van Gogh, the Café which Van Gogh famously painted in 1888 while he was living in Arles. 

From our hotel room we can also see this domed tower on the top of the Mairie d'Arles. 

In the morning.

In the evening.

We move rooms today, the view is different but just as good. More photos to come!

Arles photos from previous visits.

Arles: shutters, clear skies and dragon flies.

Round and About in Arles.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lovely Loire

Our annual visit to the Loire has finally come round. A week spent with friends relaxing in their small house in a tiny village near Candes Saint Martin. When we first started coming here the children were little so we would start the day earlier than we chose and our days were spent moving from one activity to another. Now, the kids are older and we have seen most of the nearby Chateaux, it feels like the daily rhythm has changed to a more leisurely pace. We go for strolls and cycle rides, swimming and accrobranche. We make it up as we go along.

We like to visit old haunts. On our first evening we went on a cycle ride to some nearby caves. 

Last year in the fields on either side of this small track grew sunflowers.

Near the caves are a beautiful collection of quite grand houses. 

I love this grass roofed dovecot.

No shortage of bees here.

Or vineyards.

Big skies.

Good sunsets.

What's not to like?

For more Loire posts from previous year, click here.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Wonderful Windows

I've written about Paris doors before (Doors Galore). Lately I've become preoccupied with windows. Their different shapes, the reflections they create, their surround, their positioning within the facade of the building. Once you start looking, you realise how many variations there are and how much there is to see.

Here is a fairly typical Parisian facade. Only the windows on the lower floor have shutters. I wonder why?

The next road along, an apartment building catches the soft morning light. Shutters on all floors.

A cat watches the world go by from her window.

In the south of France, most windows have shutters. Everything is done to keep out the heat from the sun. Here are some shuttered windows in Arles.




And ... I'm not even sure what this is about. 

In Paris there are many huge north facing windows, designed to get as much light into the building. This amazing apartment block in the 14th arrondissement was designed by architect André Arfidson and ceramicist Alexandre Bigot.

Here is another beautiful glazed window on Avenue Junot in Montmartre.

Many Parisian windows at ground level have security bars. Here is a plain one. A street artist has felt the need to liven it up.

Another plain set of bars. This time it's the sun that has livened it up.

Curly bars.

French windows with elaborate metalwork balconies completely transform the way this apartment block in the 12th arrondissement looks when they catch the sun.

The way light reflects off windows can change the way they look. Here are some fiery windows at dusk.

Some windows detached from their frames are for sale at the Marché Saint Ouen. Lampposts and their shadows are reflected.

A stained glass window in the Église Saint Pierre diffuses the light from outside into the cool low lit church.

The dormer windows of Chateau de Versailles are some of the most ostentatious widows I've ever seen!

And finally, some bespoke burglar bars on a window in Montmartre. Even Spiderman is intrigued by these.