May 31, 2007

Le Clos de Montmartre

Many of you may already know about this, but anyhow...

A few centuries ago, there used to be a lot of vineyards in and around Paris and the wine was supposed to be of good quality – at least for the taste of those days. Then, as more space was needed for housing and as transports from other areas became easier, most of the vineyards disappeared. There are anyhow a few left; four small ones in Paris and some other small ones in the suburbs.

The most famous Paris vineyard can be found at Montmartre. Some locals, led by a famous illustrator and cartoonist, Fransique Poulbot, took the initiative to occupy some space and stop the construction of new apartment houses. Instead vine planting was made and in 1933 the “Clos de Montmartre” was inaugurated by the President of the Republic (!!!), Albert Lebrun, a great wine lover.

There are some 1900 plants, generally producing some 1700 50 cl bottles. It’s not (yet) the best red wine you can find, but it’s said to get better and better. The vineyard is kept by the Paris municipality.

There is a much visited celebration taking place each year in October at the end of the harvesting. The wine is sold during a yearly auction – you cannot just go and find it in a shop - and the benefits go to different local social welfare actions. One of these small 50 cl bottles would normally today cost some 50€ (65-70 US$, 30-35 UK£).

I met somone...

More for the French readers than for the rest of you; I just wanted to tell a small story.

I incidentally met Yvan le Bolloc’h in the street on Monday afternoon. Yvan is famous in France as actor, director, writer and he is a well-known TV personality. I happened to know that, more or less for fun, he has now created some kind of music show together with a group of gypsies (“Yvan le Bolloc’h & Ma Guitare s’appelle Reviens”); it’s definitively not the kind of show where you would expect him. We talked for some ten minutes, we took a photo together (unfortunately not excellent, it was more or less raining) and I promised to attend to his show. He was really nice!

Tonight I went to the very small theatre where they perform (last performance tomorrow) together with my daughter and her boyfriend. We really enjoyed it! They all together - the gypsies of course here being the real playing and singing artists - made a fantastic show. The audience participated by singing, great applauses and bravos!

Afterwards, over a glass, the artists mixed with the spectators. Yvan recognised me and we again exchanged a few words. (Once more for the French readers: I also met Bruno Solo!)

This has started very discretely, but we will see if they can develop it to something for bigger audiences.

(Yvan is the one with some kind of blue shirt in the middle of the photo.)

May 30, 2007

Neighbours Day

Since a few years, « Immeubles en Fête” is organised in France, as part of a European initiative, the “European Neighbours Day”. The intention is give everyone the opportunity to break out of the anonymity and to share a moment with the people you possibly pass every day, or seldom, or never… with something to drink and eat, in the courtyard, in the entrance hall or wherever there is some space. It’s spreading and this year it was held for the first time in the building where I now live since a few months. We met last night, May 29, in the courtyard and had a very nice moment together. Now I know my neighbours living just under or just above my flat. Nice people! We were some 25 and everybody had brought something to be consumed (actually too much!). I took a few photos, but unfortunately most of them failed, not very sharp (too much champagne, wine, vodka…?). Anyhow here are a few examples, unfortunately not the ones where you could see the whole group. I will try to do better next year..

Cannes Film Festival

My son and his wife dressed up and walked up the red carpet stairs during the Cannes Film Festival. The paparazzi were obviously not too interested, so they had to take their own photos. They saw the new Michael Moore film, SICKO.

May 29, 2007

Le Moulin de la Galette

I will now and then come back to my Montmartre visit the other day. (By the way, I have created a second blog, “Peter – photos, where I for the moment have put the original photos which were part of my patchwork from Montmartre and Place des Abbesses.)

Today a few words about “Le Moulin de la Galette”:

Originally there were a great number of windmills on Montmartre (maybe thirty), but "Le Moulin de la Galette" is now the only remaining one. Originally it was called “Le Blute Fin” (The Fine Grounded Flour). It belonged to a miller family with four sons, who were all killed during fights between Russians and local defenders which took place on Montmartre in 1814 (Napoleon…). The eldest brother was killed the last, at the family windmill, but had first managed to give a fatal rifle blow killing the Russian commander. He was cut into pieces by the Russians and they used the pieces to “decorate” the mill wings. The four brothers were buried in the small local cemetery and their mother put a red painted miniature windmill on top of the grave. You can still visit this small cemetery, but only once a year (November 1). The grave is still there, but the miniature windmill has lost its colour. Anyhow, this red painted miniature mill became famous and later gave the name to the worldwide known “Moulin Rouge” (where no flour has ever been grounded).

The son of the eldest brother participated in the fight where his father was killed. He was seriously wounded and decided to change activity. He transformed the mill to a “guinguette” (small place for eating and dancing) and changed the name to “Le Moulin de la Galette” (Galette = thin pancake).

The “guinguette” was much visited and painted by some famous artists, like Corot, Renoir, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Dongen, Picasso, Utrillo...

There is today a restaurant at Montmartre with a small windmill on top of it. The restaurant is called “Le Moulin de la Galette”, and many would think that this is the real one.

However, the real windmill with this name is slightly behind this restaurant and can hardly be seen; the close access to the mill is today not possible, but I have some distant photos, where you can imagine it behind the leaves.

Correction: This info is slightly false. Please see a hopefully improved version on my post of March 25, 2009, on my new blog, Peter's Paris. (Click above undr "HERE".)

I made a comparison between what Utrillo painted and what I could see. Not too much of a difference, except that the trees have grown. I should try again in December, when the leaves are not there any more.

May 28, 2007


Yesterday Paloma, my granddaughter of 4 1/2 years, made a drawing, when I visited her and her parents.

May 26, 2007


A long weekend. Like many other bloggers, I will take a day or two « off », but I will be back.

Forget-me-not, No-me-olvides, Nontiscordardime, Vergissmeinnicht, Förgätmigej, 勿忘我 …

Le myosotis, qui dira tous bas: Ne m’oubliez pas. (Georges Brassens)

Place des Abbesses

Further referring to the Montmartre patchwork the other day, here are some more details about the Place des Abbesses, where the “I love you”-wall can be found. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in Paris. It has a lot of charm and is not invaded by more or less gifted ”tourist painters” and other commercial activities. It’s visited, but normally not included as a “must” in a normal Montmartre tourist tour.

Adjacent to the central place you have a small park (Square Jehan-Rictus) with the “I love you”-wall. On the place, surrounded by bars, you can find a carousel, a Wallace fountain and one of Paris’ nicest metro entrances. Crossing the street, you will find the church Saint-Jean-l’Evangeliste.

There is some more information below, between the photos.

The church, Saint-Jean-l’Evangeliste, is rather recent, inaugurated in 1904. The architect, Anatole de Baudot (1834-1915), wanted to create a simpler kind of church. The ironwork and the concrete used for the building is partly visible and the, for that époque, innovative design can be said to be related to the “modern-style”.

The modern-style” (Art Nouveau, Tiffany, Liberty, Modernismo…) is more clearly represented by the metro entrance, designed by one of its innovators, Hector Guimard (1867-1942). You can find several of his metro entrances in Paris, but this is clearly one of the more spectacular ones, with a glass roof. On the top picture, you can (on the lower part) discover how Hector has incorporated an M for metro in his design. (This entrance has actually been brought here from another metro station in order to have it saved.)

May 25, 2007

The wall of "I love yous"

There are a few photos in my Montmartre patchwork from yesterday to which I would like to come back. I started to prepare something on what I had not seen before, a wall covered with the text “I love you” in some 311 languages and dialects.

When looking on Google for what this really is, one of the references I found was from Olivier’s blog in November last year! I decided to go for it anyhow; some of you may not have seen it and for me it was still new; I started blogging only in March this year, so I had missed Olivier’s information.

This wall has white text on blue, enamelled lava tiles. There are some red spots, supposed to be broken hearts. It was created only a few years ago by two contemporary artists, Frédéric Baron and Claire Kitoa.

Of course not quite all languages and dialects are represented, but the 311 chosen include also Dzongkha, Kirgiz, Corsican…

I hope you can get a good view of it here, but if you want to visit it really, you have to go to Place des Abbesses, Square Jehan Rictus. This little park used to be the place of the Montmartre town hall, when Montmartre was not yet part of Paris (incorporated in 1860). The building was destroyed at the end of the 19th century. By the way, one more of my favourite Wallace fountains (see May 10 and 12) - the junior model - can be seen on my photo.

You could possibly try to look for your own language, but I already extracted a few which I managed to spot. (I hope I’m right with the Chinese and the Indian.)

May 24, 2007


First I thought I should make it easy for me today and just ask if you would recognise these two Paris landmarks.
Then, I understood that it would be too easy. So, here is instead a large package of photos from my Montmartre promenade yesterday – easy walking distance from where I live but of course involving a bit of climbing. I tried to make a mixture of normal tourist photos and some views which are not so common. I will probably come back more in detail and comment some of them, but I could not avoid immediately making a special reference to our beloved Amélie (see below).

Here you have the photos of the café where Amélie Poulain was working and the grocery shop where she made her shopping. (I guess you ALL saw the film!)

May 23, 2007


Yesterday morning, there was an article on “Bleeding Orange’s” blog and some comments by “Olivier” about disappearing craftsmanship (a real shoe-maker). At the very moment when I was reading this, I heard a bell ringing in the street. I looked through the window and saw an old gentleman, offering to sharpen knives and scissors. You hardly see this any more. I don’t think he was making big business. I’m afraid, a typical example of a vanishing trade.

Walking around yesterday afternoon, I took a few photos of some shops, still offering services like shoe-making, carpentry, plumbing, ironwork, glasswork…- the old way. For how long still?

May 22, 2007

No more fear of the dentist!

Incidentally, I found this statue (Place des Etats-Unis) of Horace Wells, with the inscription “American dentist, Innovator of chirurgical anaesthesia, 1815-1848”. My first and immedate thought, on behalf of us all, was of course: Great THANKS, Horace!!

In 1844 Horace discovered the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) at a circus, tested it on himself and started to use it, quite successfully, with his patients.

However, after some misadventure during a demonstration at a hospital in Boston he decided to give up dentistry. He later spent some time in Europe and Paris selling anaesthesia on behalf of an ex-dentist-partner and acting as a European expert on the subject.

He started some unfortunate experiences with chloroform. One day, delirious, he threw sulphuric acid over the clothing of two prostitutes. Then, realising his act, he committed suicide, at the age of 33.

May 21, 2007

Birds etc. ter

Some additional info about our high flying Bar-headed Goose under "Birds etc.", May 19.

Wine shop

This is a shop in Paris, Caves Augé (118, boulevard Haussmann, 75008 Paris), established more than 150 years ago. It may be the oldest, still existing, wine & liquor shop in Paris and is also considered to be among the very best. The choice is enormous, service is excellent and prices are correct. You can go there and buy an old bottle of wine, port wine, calvados, cognac… from a specific year. Tell them that you wish a bottle from 1943 (e.g. as a birthday gift) and they will probably find something for you.

May 20, 2007

Birds etc. bis

A lot of comments on "Birds etc." of yesterday - and also research. What kind of bird is this? It seems that the answer has now been found. Please have a new look!

Sainte Marie des Batignolles

The other day I took a picture of the newly confirmed girls and boys outside our catholic parish church, Sainte Marie des Batignolles. It’s definitely not one of the more famous churches in Paris.

Yesterday I had a look inside. I wanted more especially to see their concert program (most churches offer frequently good concerts, mostly free of charge).

I was in particular struck by the sculpture of St. Mary above the altar. It reminded me, especially colour wise, of some Wedgwood biscuit. I could not find any more detailed information about who created it.

The church was first built as a small chapel in 1826. It was extended to its present shape in 1851. Built more or less in the shape of a Greek temple, it’s one of the few Paris churches without a real tower. There is a small bell on the top, still indicating the hours of the day.

Wedgwood vase.

May 19, 2007

Birds etc.

Yesterday, I had again a walk in "my" park. I found this bird, just one meter in front of me. I have a question to Abraham or some other bird expert: Why is she neglecting these two eggs? I watched her maybe half an hour; she did not move.

There were also some baby birds around.

... and of course some flowers.

Added May 20:

She (a goose, a duck...? - see comments) has turned around. I had the time to see that she is laying on three eggs. The two abandoned eggs are still there.

Further addition May 20:
I thank all of you who have contributed to find out what kind of bird this really is. It seems now that Nathalie has really found it: A Bar-headed Goose. I add the Wikipedia picture. Alice already suggested the same solution yesterday. Thanks to both of you!

Origin Asia. Wild it lives on high altidtudes, but adapts well to captivated life. It is believed to be the highest flying bird, having been seen up to 10,715 m (33,382 ft)! A danger for aircraft!

Addition May 21:

How long does it take before we see the babies? Today's situation: The future mother after having put some feathers and grass around her body, took a nap. She obviously does neither eat nor drink?

Her husband had a nice walk and did not seem to worry too much.