December 31, 2007

Happy New Year !

My intention is to be back with normal posting soon (in a day or two).

First, I would wish to thank you for all your comments to my proceeding (Christmas) post and for all your kind wishes!

I don't know if there will be any fireworks around the Tour Eiffel tonight – they have been prohibited for a few years – but I plan to be there, so if… I will try to take a few shots.

In the meantime, I will use these fake fireworks to illustrate my sincere wishes to all of you for a Happy New Year!!

December 21, 2007

Break for Christmas

I believe I will now make a break again. I’m a bit annoyed with my network connection, but there are also some other priorities the next couple of days. Before receiving family on Christmas Eve and visiting family on Christmas Day, I have still some final shopping to do (illustrated by the below pictures), some preparation of my flat, some…… , actually quite a lot.
I will try to be back with a post or two before the end of the year, but I take the opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas (God Jul, Hyvää Joulua, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, 圣诞快乐, Buon Natale…)!!!

Also on behalf of Paloma who prepared the Christmas card!

December 20, 2007

Connectivity problems

Just to say that if there is no post here tomorrow, it's for technical reasons... I hope I will get a connection. Now and then it works!

Place de l'Etoile - Arch of Triumph (bis)

I’m continuing my post from yesterday.

The decision to build the world’s biggest Arch of Triumph was – of course - taken by Napoleon I, but it took some 30 years before it was at last completed in 1836, with delays and modifications due to different changes of regime in France.

The construction is extremely heavy (about 50 000 tons), something like five times as heavy as the Eiffel Tower. It’s 50 meters high.

The Arch was finally dedicated to the army victories during the French revolution and the following Napoleon wars. It has today become a more general symbolic place for all kinds of national events, e.g. the celebrations of the end of the two World Wars. The 14th July parade has the Arch as a starting point (direction Place de la Concorde). Most state visits include posing of flowers on the grave of the Unknown Soldier, who is buried here since 1923.

When it was getting darker (and even colder) I took some photos of what you can see around (see also the top picture).

When again down I could not resist and took a further shot of the Christmas illuminated Champs Elysées… … and of course some pictures of the Arch itself. I then went for a warming coffee… and discovered again the Arch.

Some of these photos can also be seen on my photo blog.
I have some repeated connectivity problems. If I'm not visiting your respective blogs in the usual way, please excuse me. The service provider should (again) visit me Friday.

December 19, 2007

Place de l'Etoile - Arch of Triumph

So far, with my different posts about Paris, I have very little talked about the more famous landmarks, thinking that they are known anyhow. I will now make an exception and talk about the Arch of Triumph at the Place de l’Etoile.

In a certain way, I chose the wrong day and hour to visit the Arch – Monday late afternoon / evening; it was the coldest and windiest day since long, the daylight was fading away…

Anyhow, I walked up the some 300 steps (there is a lift, but only available for officially physically handicapped people which I’m not - yet). I took some pictures in all directions. Due to the fading light, the photos are blue.

Place de l’Etoile is a meeting point for 12 avenues, which of course explains its name, the “Star Place”. Officially, it was renamed in 1970 in honour of Charles de Gaulle.

Between each avenue there is a “hôtel particulier” (private residence), today of course rather occupied by offices. The place exists in different forms since 1670 and is today 240 meters wide (perfect circle). The Arch came some 200 years later.

L’Etoile is one point on the “historical axe” between the Louvre and the new office centre (la Défense) with another Arch-like office building which can be seen at the horizon of the Avenue de la Grande Armée…

The place was modified to give the Arch of Triumph a dignified surrounding. The “hôtels particuliers”, all in the same design, are from about the same date as the Arch (1836). Some of the avenues got their final and prolonged layout during the latter part of the 19th century (Haussmann again).
… This is now already too long. I will continue tomorrow!

December 18, 2007

Local shopping...

Different areas of Paris are like small villages with their own local life. Christmas decorations are not quite as glamorous as around the large boulevards or the big department stores. This is the main street of Batignolles, the part of the 17th arrondissement, where I live, with the parish church, Sainte-Marie-des-Batignolles at the end of the street.

One of the advantages I have is that I can find all kind of shops, cafés, restaurants, banks, pharmacies…, not to mention the indoor market, just round the corner. What here follows is an illustration of what I find by walking some 150 meters (I let the non-metric bloggers convert to yards) south, west, north or east from my flat. I believe there is something like 70 pictures in the below collages. The dentist and the orthopedist are just two stairs down, my doctor is 75 meters away… You may understand why I don’t need a car any more.

December 17, 2007

Meeting with other bloggers - again

Between a few bloggers we had the pleasure to meet again (last time in July).

Cergie/Marguerite” (Lucie), “HPY” (Hélène) and I met at “L6” (Lyliane)’s place, in Normandy. The « excuse » was to celebrate Lyliane’s birthday.

Lyliane had prepared our party seriously and we (including accompanying partners) spent a good part of last Saturday eating seafood (oysters, other shellfish, shrimps…), “Sauerkraut”, cheese (a lot of them), dessert… with adequate drinking before, during and after (except for the drivers of course). A typical French luncheon lasting a few hours! And we did talk blogging (not only)!

Blogging is nice and part of the pleasure is to meet with other bloggers! We will certainly meet again and with a bit of luck some others will join!

Great thanks to Lyliane for receiving us all so well!

December 15, 2007

Mid-month-theme: subway day

Normally I don’t post during weekends, but here is an exception as it “must” be done on the 15th day of the month. It gives me also the chance to wish you a nice weekend!

For the second time, I participate in a common “mid-month-theme” about subways (or underground, métro, tunnelbana) together with New York and Stockholm. This month’s theme is a “sign” to be found in a metro (subway…) station.

This one was taken in the “Louvre-Rivoli” station, which is a bit differently decorated and “signed” compared to most other Paris metro stations – a bit more “classy”; the station is full of (copies of) statues and other pieces of art exposed at the Louvre.

You can find today’s posts and some other subway posts by using the following links:

December 14, 2007


I spent a week in Sweden, more precisely in Gothenburg (Göteborg in Swedish), to visit my old mother and some friends. The weather was rather typical for the end of the autumn; grey, some light rain / fog, temperature a bit over freezing… Gothenburg is on the west coast, rather south in Sweden, and does not so easily get any snow.

The city is not yet four centuries old. Its place on the map at the mouth of the Göta River, squeezed in between what was Norway and Denmark until 1658, and difficult ground conditions led to several unfruitful attempts to build a town here.

The city plan owes a lot to the Dutch. The town used to be full of canals and many of them are still left. Its major importance has been to be a port, the leading Nordic one, and the port used to be part of the city life. Most of the Nordic immigrants to the States left from here.

The port activities are now closer to the open sea and what you still can see close to the centre is now rather like a museum. Gothenburg was also a leading shipbuilding centre until the 60’s.

Today, it’s still the home of e.g. SKF (the world’s largest bearing manufacturer) and of Volvo (which originally was a subsidiary to SKF), but the city is less and less industrial and is now e.g. the biggest Nordic university town. Totally some 500 thousand people live in the city, some 900 thousand with suburbs.

The apartment buildings I show below, close to the city centre, are mostly from the 19th or the very beginning of the 20th century (and my mother still lives in one of them).You can find some of these photos on my photo blog.

December 13, 2007

Santa Lucia, Santa Claus...

Just back from Sweden and today being December 13, I thought I should again make a post related to the day and the season – also as a special homage to our dear blogger friend Cergie, also known as Marguerite, whose real name is Lucie.

December 13 is the day of Santa Lucia (Sankta Lucia, Saint Lucy, Sainte Lucie…), much celebrated in the Nordic countries (although rather being protestant than catholic). Before the Gregorian calendar was introduced in the 16th century, St. Lucy's Day fell on the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and was thus the darkest day of the year. Together with advent, it means today really the beginning of the Christmas celebrations.

Originally celebrated privately at home, later at working places, you find since the beginning of the 20th century also nationally or regionally elected “Lucias” visiting shopping malls, old people’s homes.... Santa Lucia is represented by a young girl or lady in white clothes with a crown of candles, ahead of a procession of other women holding a candle each. (Painting by Carl Larsson, via Google.)

This is of course a symbolic illustration (pic via Google) of light overcoming darkness and the candles originally symbolized the fire that refused to take the real St. Lucy's life when she was sentenced to be burned. Santa Lucia and her accompanying girls or ladies are supposed to perform the originally Neapolitan Santa Lucia song - with adapted words. In general some specific cakes and “glögg” – the Nordic version of mulled wine (heated red wine, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, raisins, almonds…) - is served. Santa Lucia is not an official holiday, but work may not be very extremely efficient in Sweden today.

Related to Christmas, this brings me to say something about some decorations (whereof this is a detail) which can be found on a building, close to where my mother lives in my native Gothenburg (Göteborg). This house, built in the late 19th century, used to belong to the editor of the leading local newspaper, a certain Mr. Hedlund. One of his close collaborators was a writer called Viktor Rydberg, who in 1871 wrote a by all Swedes well known poem about the “tomte” (Christmas gnome).

The poem was illustrated by a 17 year old art student, called Jenny Nyström and her “tomte”, which you still can find on Christmas postcards, is clearly the model for the Swedish version of Father Christmas.

It is supposed that Haddon Sundblom, born in Michigan to a Swedish-speaking immigrant family, may have got some inspiration from her when he created the famous Coca Cola version around 1920.

He was of course also inspired by the different already existing American Santa Claus images, more particularly by the one created by the German born Thomas Nast in 1863.

The house decorations we see here below are in any case clearly inspired by the Jenny Nyström “tomte”, but they represent rather the different activities of the family owners - editors, journalists, photographers…

December 05, 2007

Some more night shots

Before I leave for Sweden (I will hopefully be back and able to post again December 13), here are some more night shots. Two from Place de la Concorde, one of the Champs Elysées and one of the roof of the Grand Palais (along the Champs Elysées). It was raining and I took the photos with my trembling hands… Anyhow.

See you (rather) soon!!

December 04, 2007

Place Vendôme at night

After taking some photos of the illuminated department stores, I thought I should have a look on the Christmas decorations on the nearby Rue de la Paix and Place Vendôme. This is where you find exclusive jewellery shops like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpel, Piaget, Chaumet… the Hotel Ritz… and the Ministry of Justice (see yesterday’s map).

A bit less spectacular as decoration, but very classy of course.

Part of the decoration was spotlights on the Napoleon column in the middle of the place. As it was slightly raining and the clouds were low, Napoleon’s shadow could be seen in the sky (see top picture).

Place Vendôme was laid out by Louis XIV in 1702 already. Later John Law, the Scottish banker who invented paper money, took over the project and the square was complete in 1720. Law had just the time to move in to his own apartments before he had to flee, bankrupt. He ended his life as a gambler and died poor in Venice.

The column, erected by Napoleon, is said to have been made out of cannons won during different battles. Both the statue and the column have been taken down a few times, depending on regimes. It stands there as it is today since 1874. The present statue is a copy; the original one was used to provide bronze for the statue of Henry IV on the Pont Neuf.
You can find a few of these photos on my photo blog.

December 03, 2007

It is (not yet) Christmas!

No ‘still painting” posts any more! The flat is now (almost) ready to receive the furniture. I have finished my part this weekend, but my son and his wife are still busy refreshing the wooden floors…

Late Friday evening I took a walk around the city to check some of the Christmas decorations – just installed.

The two department stores, Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, situated very close to each other on the same street, Boulevard Haussmann (8th arrdt.), are of course competitors, including e.g. who has the nicest glass dome (see my post June 26), but of course also right now who has the nicest “Christmas dress” and the most nicely decorated shop windows. The top picture is one of these windows. You can find some of these pictures on my photo blog.