As usual it is an enormous pleasure to arrive in Paris, my favorite big city in the world. Whether it’s history, culture, food, or romantic venues that you seek, Paris will not fail to exceed your expectations. It has everything a person could want while still being an eminently walkable city.
There is also good news for those of you who are freaked out by pet droppings. Parisian dog owners have taken to cleaning up after their pets over the past ten years. Now if we could just get rid of the crowds of tourists! When you finally tire of walking, the city has the most easy to use, extensive metro system in the world.
Personally, I am a Left Bank (Rive Gauche) person. Hotels are quite expensive these days so I will stay for a week at the OOPS! Hostel in a good neighborhood in Montparnasse. You can share a room with one other person with a bathroom ensuite for $40 a night. With a metro stop nearby I can make it to the heart of the Saint Germain in ten minutes.
I will also spend a week in Montmartre at the Plug-Inn hostel to expand my Parisian experience. It is just two blocks from the Café des Deux Moulins where “Amelie” worked in the delightful and charming film that bears her name.
Perhaps next year the Marais (Soho of Paris) will receive more of my attention. It’s easy to get stuck with the winners so I am glad to be branching out this year, and will continue to do so in the years to come.
Evening number two at a Jazz concert sponsored by Sunside/Sunset Jazz Club.
JULIE ERIKSSEN @ Café de la Danse – March 13th.
A Frenchman with an accordion is a typical experience in the Metro. I had finally emerged from my hostel after spending two days on travel planning. The weather finally broke and gave me a nice sunny day to enjoy. First stop will be the Saint Germain.
Time for an apricot with custard pastry.
After wolfing down my pastry and doing a little window shopping on the Rue de Buci, I follow the Rue Dauphine which takes you straight across the Pont Neuf bridge.
Here’s a view from the Pont Neuf.
Thankfully the floodwaters that threatened Paris a while ago have receded. That little triangular area with the tree on it was submerged in January.
The waters of the Seine still swollen intrude slightly upon the footpath in this section.
THE LOUVRE – The courtyard featuring the glass pyramid. I pretty much avoid the museum due to the crowds, and the fact that I prefer the Museé D’Orsay. A day at the Louvre will leave you burned out. Instead go to the Orsay for three hours, have a nice lunch in the museum, and leave refreshed with the whole afternoon to enjoy Paris.
MUSÉE D’ORSAY – I think most people would prefer the art in the Museé D’Orsay, anyway. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world. The beauty of the converted Beaux-Arts Railway Station is only rivaled by the fine art that it has housed since 1986 when it was repurposed into one of the largest art museums in Europe.
The stunning, beautifully restored station and clock is worth the price of admission alone.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE DU CAROUSEL
JARDIN DES TUILERIES
INTO THE METRO – Next stop the Jardin de Luxembourg.
JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG – It’s a little barren at this time of year, but will prove worth the visit.
I know exactly where I’m taking my granddaughters for their first visit to Paris.
Pygmy Pony Roundup
And away they go…
At the pond in front of the Luxembourg Palace, a man rents out model sailboats. Then the kids race their boats on the pond just like I did when I was eight years old. My grandchildren will be doing this once they finish up with the ponies.
It was 52 years ago when I sailed my boat in the Tuileries and it seems like yesterday. Some things you just never forget.
THE MEDICI FOUNTAIN
Looks like a photo shoot going on behind me. I seem to find myself at the right places at the right time.
The ponies were cute, but this lady was an unexpected treat.
Just for fun, here’s what the fountain looks like with leaves on the trees and flowers in the urns. The reflections in the water are glorious. I would love to have an artist friend do a painting of this piece. If you are planning a trip to Paris I would recommend coming when the leaves are present. I don’t think I’ll be visiting again in March. Too stark and too damn cold.
Just another quality sculpture in a Parisian park.
LE PANTHÉON – I was inside of it just six months ago so I skipped the interior this time.
CANCER CURE PROMOTION – Selling daffodils for the prevention of cancer.
DRUMMING AWAY CANCER
As Todd Rundgren was heard to sing,”I don’t want to work, just want to bang on this drum all day.” Did you know he’s not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Weak.
How great is this for a five euro donation? It really tied the room together.
Rue Mouffetard is essentially a market street where the French go to do their food shopping. It is lined with copious specialty stores where the locals carefully assemble their meals with care using the very finest of ingredients.
SPACE INVADER – The street artist whose nearly permanent, cemented, mosaic street art is found all over Europe.
LA BOULANGERIE – The French bakery is the foundation of any meal throughout the day. Given their expertise, it is almost impossible to find comparable baguettes elsewhere in the world.
LA FROMAGERIE – The French have over 370 of types of cheese with special varieties coming from every region of the country. That means you could conceivably eat a completely different each day for a year. This is a staple of the French diet, and they comprise the finest and most varied cheeses in the world.
LE POISSONNERIE – An amazing fish store.
FLOREL en PROVENCE – High End Organic Teas – Their tea bags are hand sewn into a special corn based bio-degradable pouch. Considering the quality, flavor, and labor intense manufacture, the eight euro cost for fifteen bags is very reasonable. 55 cents a serving isn’t bad for this kind of luxury. Their English breakfast is wonderful. I may have to return for some earl grey.
On my way to catch a French film, but in need of a bite to eat.
So in honor of “Pulp Fiction,” I got myself a Royal with cheese which is what they call a Quarter Pounder in France because of the metric system.
Manon Kerjean – Founder – Lost in Frenchlation
This industrious young woman created this organization so that expats living in Paris could immerse themselves in French cinema culture without missing half of the dialogue. The subtitles also come in handy for visitors like myself whose French is also not quite up to snuff to really fully enjoy the films.
Movies are screened at a few, small, quality theaters around town, and are preceded by a cocktail reception and sometimes followed by a panel discussion with people involved with the productions. Ticket prices are reasonable and it is a well managed affair.
Lost in Frenchlation is just what I have been looking for all these years. When in Paris, I usually get a serious hankering for a good French film, and now I have a venue. Thank you, Manon.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
MIA – A DELIGHTFUL NON-SEQUITER
This is my painfully cute granddaughter, Mia. She is almost always smiling, laughing, or singing. Given the somewhat weak blog content due to lousy weather here in Paris, I thought I might just brighten things up a bit, and show you one of the sole reasons I return to BlanDiego every year. I may up the ante to twice a year since her sister will arrive at the end of March.
Determined to be an interesting Grandpa, I will continue to traverse the Earth and blog to my hearts content. Also, I get to enjoy picking up little treasures from strange lands with which to surprise them for the foreseeable future. This satisfies my shopping desires, and at the same time spares me from accumulating unnecessary possessions.
I understand it can be very unnerving being at the receiving end of these sorts of pictures, given that you have no idea what kind of deformed little human with which you may be presented. Too bad these things can’t be done completely by text or social media to avoid discomfort, or that people could be persuaded to stop showing pictures of unpleasant looking infants and toddlers. At the very least they should offer a drink first to facilitate the inevitable fibbing.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché, a grandfather showing pictures of his grandchildren, but in my case how can I resist? At least I can do so in the confidence that I won’t be forcing people to lie to spare my feelings.
IF YOU’RE STILL HUNGRY FOR MORE PARIS, YOU CAN FIND IT IN THE ARCHIVES IN APRIL 2016 AND SEPTEMBER 2017. ENJOY!
ABBESSES ART NOUVEAU METRO STOP – I left behind my beloved OOPS! Hostel and took the metro across town to Montmartre where I disembarked at Amelie’s stop. I somehow missed the elevator and subjected myself to 144 steps with 50+ pounds on my back as I ascended from the bowels of the Earth. Gasping for breath at many junctures, I finally broke through to the surface. Fortunately, my new hostel was only five minutes away. I also learned Amelie’s place of employment was within 150 meters of my new place of residence.
PLUG-INN MONTMARTRE – In the heart of Montmartre, this will be my home for the next week. I will spend most of my time here planning the next three months of travel which will take me through Israel, Jordan, India, Sri Lanka, The Maldives, China, South Korea, and finally into Japan.
Rue des Abbesses
Born in Montmartre and an active street artist since 1985, her work can be seen all over Montmartre and Paris. She is known for her stencils of dark haired women which are usually combined with poetry.
Miss.Tic – “Montmartre, I send all the colors.”
GÉRARD – Our erudite and entertaining guide for the afternoon regaled us with numerous tales of Montmartre and it’s days of glory and notoriety.
MOULIN ROUGE – Once the hangout of Toulouse Lautrec and other notable Parisians, Montmartre was a place where one could go for a cheap night out in Paris. In fact back in the day Montmartre was not even officially a part of Paris, and by going to Montmartre, Parisians could avoid hefty taxes that were levied upon the goods that they consumed. Also they could come to see the naughty ladies dancing the Can Can.
One of these who went my the stage name of La Goulou (The Glutton), used to kick men’s top hats in the air and catch them on her head. As they were distracted, she would grab their glass of champagne, gulp it down, and move on to the next, hence the nickname. Unfortunately, she became an alcoholic and eventually ended up selling matchboxes on the sidewalk in front of the club in which she once starred.
Another unfortunate casualty of the Moulin Rouge was Toulouse Lautrec who usually indulged in carnal gymnastics after the show with some of the girls for hire in the Pigalle. He died of syphilis at the age of thirty-six.
Only two of the many windmills of Montmartre still exist. This one’s a fugazi, just for show.
Perhaps you recognize this image from the most popular French film of all time. One thing that shocked me was that only one quarter of the people in the tour had seen it. “Amelie” really is a must see cinematic experience.
CAFÉ DES DEUX MOULINS – This is the place where Amélie worked. It was shot on location as were most all of the scenes in the movie which is also a love affair with Paris. Audrey Tatou’s appeal was compared with the charm an magic exuded by Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” which was also a movie filmed on location. If you love good films and have missed either of these, I implore you to see them as soon as possible. Both are pure magic, and declare their love for the cities in which they were filmed. They are perfect date night films.
GREGOS – His works always involve faces protruding from walls, and then enhanced accordingly.
ZAPPA – R.I.P.
Unidentified Compelling Piece
This is the vegetable market from the movie, “Amelie.” The actual owner added the sign “Collignon” to acknowledge the despicable merchant in the movie who owned it. He used to pick on the mildly disabled fellow who worked for him relentlessly. Amelie took it upon herself to mete out justice in many amusing ways.
Gérard explains these delightful water dispensers found around Paris. Fifty of these little beauties were donated to Paris by an Englishman who had a great love of the city and its people. Due to water shortages around the city at the time, many neighborhoods had more wine than potable water. He solved the problem, and added things of beauty to the Parisian landscape. I guess not all English hate the French after all.
INTRA LARUE – This street artist took to painting castings of her own breast and displaying all over Paris. We encountered about six of them on our walking tour. She still hasn’t told her father that she has essentially showed her tits to all of Paris.
Picasso and Modigliani both had studios in this building at one time. Before coming to Paris, I saw two incredible exhibitions in the Tate Modern in London. One featured the work of Picasso in 1932. The other was an enormous collection of Modigliani. Managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants, Modigliani died destitute.
Sadly, Modigliani perished unappreciated in the space where he lived as well as worked. In the end, drinking heavily with his ceiling leaking water and his bedspread stained with sardine oil, he painted his final works before succumbing to tubercular meningitis at the age of thirty-five.
This statue stands in the square that was named for her. The bronze colored patina on her breasts is not some sort of Madonnaesque bustier, but it’s where passersby have palpated her protuberances in order to have luck shine upon themselves. From the look of the pattern left behind, it seems like the she’s been the victim of some intensive, uninvited fondling. Is this any way for fans to show gratitude towards a Diva who came to such a tragic end? Granted, it really doesn’t wreck the look of the sculpture, but it’s the principle of the matter.
Dalida was an Italian/Egyptian French entertainer who became the biggest singer in the history of French music. Her career which began in 1956 spanned a full thirty years. She performed and recorded in 11 languages, and has sold 170 million albums and singles worldwide. Her life has, however, been fraught with tragedy. She lost a fiancé, a husband, a lover and a close friend all to suicide. After a prolonged bout of depression in 1987, Dalida took her own life with the help of a quantity of barbiturates. Her suicide note read,”Life is unbearable for me… Forgive me.” She is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery.
This is Dalida’s home where she lived and ultimately took her own life.
Le Moulin de la Galette – One of the original windmills.
JEAN MARAIS – This is a sculpture of a man from a story who could walk through walls like they were butter. He robbed banks and all manner of nefarious deeds until one day he was with another man’s wife when the husband came home. As Jean passed through the wall to make his escape, he lost his powers, and became stuck. This sculpture captures that moment of truth.
LE PASSE-MURAILLE – THE WALL PASSER
Heading up the hill towards the Sacre Coeur.
AU LAPIN AGILE – The Au Lapin Agile is one of the only real cabarets left in Paris. Around the turn of the 20th. Century the proprietor would trade his food and drink for paintings by some of the starving artists. Picasso was one of these. Some years later after he had gained some notoriety, Picasso stopped in for lunch. When the owner brought the bill, he suggested that he create a little artwork instead to pay for his meal. Picasso threw together a piece and handed it to the man who noticed it wasn’t signed. The owner pleaded with Pablo to sign it and Picasso replied,”Of course not, I just wanted to pay for my lunch, not buy the restaurant.”
Here we have another Intra Larue breast that looks like it belongs on Mystique from X-Men.
Here we have a different angle of the Sacre Coeur than you normally see.
The blue skies have disappeared, and it is starting to get cold. Time to head back to my warm room.
ROOFTOPS OF PARIS
Looks like Rita Hayworth.
CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES – Au soleil, sous la pluie, a midi, ou a minuit, Il y’a tous-que vous voulez au Champs Élysées.
GRAND PALAIS – The Grand Palais is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées.
ARTISTES & ROBOTS – Unfortunately that exhibition is coming to the Grand Palais next month.
LES HOLLANDAIS À PARIS – THE DUTCH IN PARIS
THREE LINES – One waiting outside to be let inside to buy tickets, one inside waiting to buy tickets, and finally one to get into the actual exhibit. To top it off photography of the meager collection of Van Goghs and Mondrians was prohibited.
It was nice to finally visit this museum. The building alone was a treat even if the exhibit was a letdown save a few decent and unusual Van Goghs depicting Montmartre.
Spring is finally making itself evident even though the temperature hasn’t broken fifty since my arrival. I will make sure that any future visits are after April 15th.
NOTRE DAME – FRONT
Notre Dame is a pretty vulnerable target where numerous personnel with automatic weapons are ever vigilant. Major attractions are pretty much on full alert during business hours.
NOTRE DAME – Viewed from the left bank.
BOOKSTALLS ON THE LEFT BANK
In the summer this area will be full of people.
It was a nice day for a long walk on my last day in Paris.
CAFÉ DES 2 MOULINS – Night falls on Rue Lepic as I head back to my room to see if I can catch a few hours sleep before my shuttle to Charles DeGaulle in the morning. For the past two nights I have been cursed with two roommates who snore excessively. One has sleep apnea so bad, I thought for sure he would choke to death during the night. This is not your standard lullaby, “sawing of wood” kind of snoring, but instead presents like some sort of catastrophic plumbing accident culminating in a death rattle that is impossible to ignore.
Dawn breaks as I am startled awake by one final choking fit. One more night of that crap, and it would have been me doing the choking. I lost an additional hour of sleep due to daylight savings bringing about a grand total of 3 hours of sleep. Fortunately the flight to Tel Aviv will take a while, and falling asleep will take a few minutes bringing me the rest I so desperately need.
After checking my bag, it seems I was chosen for an intensive search at the security check point. This involved being thoroughly felt up and having my carry-ons put through intensive scrutiny. Thankfully no cavity search was deemed necessary. I noticed they had chosen a group of the least threatening characters imaginable for the same treatment. One good thing did come of the whole affair. The lady searching my small duffel unearthed a back-up battery that I thought had been stolen. It was nice to be reunited with my lost toy which also has an integrated contact for charging my watch.
One last amusing anecdote. As I approached the plane ready to embark, I spotted my pack lying nearby alone on the runway. I thought this odd and approached the airline employee standing next to it. It seemed that my pack was vibrating and that was making them nervous. I unlocked and unzipped the pack, and turned off my battery operated beard trimmer. “Now can I please get on the plane and go to sleep?!”
SEE YOU IN TEL AVIV AFTER I GET SOME SLEEP.