Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Just back from a Sting concert ("If on a winter's night"). Fabulous! 30 minutes standing ovation!

I’m afraid that I will have to make a break as from now and until the end of the year. I’m off to Sweden again for a couple of days and when I will be back there is time for different family celebrations ... and preparations, some visits by friends...!

I will therefore a bit early take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Especially I would like to thank you all for all your kind comments during the past year, for the great pleasure of having had the opportunity to meet some of you here in Paris and elsewhere... and for all your own blog contributions!

I thought I should resume the last twelve months with some of my post illustrations.

First some winter scenes...

... some pictures to illustrate the 120 years old Lady...

... a few of the Seine bridges...
... some photos from different parks during warmer days...
... a few night scenes...
... and some various sights.

To conclude, if I should choose one photo from this year, I believe that this may be the one. I went home, quite frustrated about not having a single good, clear, photo of tango dancing on the Seine riverside, but finally.... This one is of course completely blurred, but I like it!

Take care! See you soon!


A bank building

BNP Paribas is one of the world’s leading banks, maybe number three or four. This is of course the consequence of different mergers. One of the originating banks was called “Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris” and had its office on Rue Bergère in the 9th arrondissement in a magnificent building from the late 19th century. This building has recently been renovated and is now occupied by BNP Parisbas for their “BNP Parisbas Investment Partners” branch.

The building is impressive seen from the outside...

....but maybe even more from the inside. Unfortunately you cannot - as an uninvited guest and without anything to invest - enter everywhere (I have seen some photos of other really beautiful inside spaces), but already the major central hall is worth the visit.


Rue de Paradis

Just back from a wonderful three hour concert by Paul McCartney (no photos). I'm sorry, but I'm quite busy at the moment and have some difficulties to visit all blogs and posts. I do my best. Here is anyhow a post.
Rue de Paradis (the Paradise Street) in the 10th arrondissement used to be the paradise if you were looking for china, faïence, crystal ware... There are still some shops around with a large and nice choice, but it may not be quite what it used to be.
The name of the street seems to come from a small convent garden which a few centuries ago was called the Paradise.

The famous Baccarat used to be installed here with sales and a museum, but today remains only the facade with modern office buildings behind. If you wish to visit Baccarat in Paris today, you must rather go to Place-des-Etats-Unis in the 16th arrondissement (see previous post), where you will find a beautiful Baccarat Gallery (museum, shop, restaurant...).

One remarkable building on the Paradise Street (see top picture) was constructed at the end of the 19th century and used to be the office and showroom of a pottery called Boulenger, which among other things provided a large part of the Paris metro murals, including the well-known white tiles, manufactured at Choisy-le-Roi, a Paris suburb. The building was 1978-91 a museum for posters and other types of older publicity, but is today closed to public (office for the fashion house Escada).
I wish you a nice weekend!


Bourse de Commerce

The above photo is from the interior of the “Bourse de Commerce”, situated in the western corner of what is still called “Les Halles”, the place which until 1969 was the Paris central food market (see previous post). It’s close to the Saint Eustache church (see previous post) and also the Rue Montorgueil (see previous posts).

The present building was preceded by different castles, the last one built for Catherine de Medicis (1519-89, consort queen to Henry II and mother of three French kings – the de facto ruler – and blamed for the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew 1572). This is what her castle looked like. You can see what is said to be an astronomical tower – from 1574 - on the right side; Catherine believed a lot in astronomy. The castle has disappeared, but the tower is still there.

Around 1760 the castle was replaced by a “Halle aux Blés”, for the then important wheat commerce - basically the present building. After some fires and construction and reconstruction of the dome (the present one from 1811, the glass decoration from 1838), the looks have changed little, although the building was again on fire in 1854. The wheat commerce was abandoned and the building was taken for use by the Paris Chamber of Commerce in 1885. It was for some decades the home for different merchandise markets (sugar, coffee, potatoes...), but is today basically used for other activities linked to the Chamber of Commerce.

The remarkable paintings on the upper part of the walls date from the latter half of the 19th century.

You can also check the hour and the barometric pressure.
In the immediate neighbourhood, you will find some shops specialised in all equipment you need to prepare and consume your food...

... and, of course due to the vicinity to the previous food market, there are a number of good restaurants, including the well-known brasserie “Pied de Cochon”.

Behind an old entrance to a mansion, just behind the Saint Eustache church, you can today find the fashion house “agnès b”.


Polish church

I dedicate this post to some blogger friends, Polish, with Polish origins or family... Krystyna, her mother Maria, Terrie (Feasting on pixels), Anna Bobryk... and I forget.

This is the major Polish church in Paris. It was originally part of a convent (Le Couvent des Dames de l’Assomption). The church building dates from 1676. Having suffered during the Revolution, as most other churches, it later became the parish church of the 1st arrondissement until the bigger church, La Madeleine, took over in 1842. In 1844 it was attributed to the Paris Polish community. As you can see it is extremely well situated, in the very centre of the 1st arrondissement.

Outside the church is an always flower decorated tribute to Pope John-Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła).

(I’m sorry about the quality of the photos, but the inside is quite dark and it seems that lights are turned on only during masses and I didn’t want to disturb.)

The Polish influence here was great during especially the 19th century, when many Polish nationalists chose to live in exile. I have already made some posts related to Poland and Paris, e.g. concerning the Polish school, where Marie Curie (born Sklodowska), the only woman buried at the French Pantheon*, had a room during her university studies, where Adam Mickiewicz, one of the greatest Polish poets, was President of the school council.... and about Frederic (Fryderyk) Chopin, about the places where he lived and about his grave at the Père Lachaise cemetery ... about the Square-du-Cardinal-Wyszynski (family-related to Terrie)...

I was told that the official Polish anthem lyrics contain some maybe surprising lines (“We’ve been shown by Bonaparte, ways to victory...”, “Fighting with the Swede, to free our fatherland from chains...”). Of course, Bonaparte’s links to Poland were not only wars and politics, but also Marie Walewska.
*/ Actually there is also another woman buried there; Sophie Berthelot, who died in sorrow one hour after her husband and was buried with him “in homage to her conjugal virtue”.

New family member:

This has nothing to do with the above, but I wanted to introduce you to Elfy, the little Boston terrier that just arrived to the home of my daughter Stéphanie and her boyfriend.


Christmas show windows

Two of the most important department stores in Paris, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are neighbours on Boulevard Haussmann. There is obviously a fierce competition about who has the nicest Christmas show windows. I took photos of (I believe) all their windows. Who is the winner this year?
First comes the Printemps windows:

... and here are the Galeries Lafayette windows.
Awaiting your opinions, I wish you a nice weekend!


Christmas trees

Sweden has the chairmanship of the European Union during the second semester of 2009. This is combined with different demonstrations with the intention to make the country better known by the other EU countries. One expression of this was the illumination of two big Christmas trees in front of the Paris Town Hall by Crown Princess Victoria last Monday. The trees were offered by the Swedish State to the City of Paris.

Here we can see the Crown Princess listening to some speeches by some officials, including the Swedish ambassador, and making her own speech.
The trees were then illuminated.

After the illumination of the trees, we had the pleasure to listen to a short concert by the Paris Swedish Church choir, on the Santa Lucia (Sankta Lucia, Saint Lucy, Sainte Lucie) theme, including the Neapolitan Santa Lucia song in Swedish adaption (you can listen to it here) and also some Christmas carols. Saint Lucy should normally be celebrated only December 13, so this was a bit early, but this is clearly part of the Swedish before-Christmas-traditions. Sweden being a basically protestant country, it’s a bit surprising to see the celebration of this catholic saint; there has obviously been a mixture of Christian and previous pagan traditions. Before the Gregorian calendar introduction during the 16th century, Saint Lucy’s day fell on the winter solstice, meaning the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and there is a symbolic image of light overcoming darkness.

When the ceremony was finished, the spectators were all invited to the Swedish Institute, in the Marais, and we walked there in some kind of a procession, unfortunately under rain. In the courtyard, we were invited to some “glögg” drinking, still under rain. “Glögg” is the Nordic version of mulled wine (heated red wine, cinnamon, cloves, raisins, almonds...) . We could then go inside and listen to more beautiful singing. (There should also be a film show, but I had to leave.)