30.3.09

Black-and-white photos - number 1


I will have to return to Sweden again for probably about a week or slightly more. This time I will however not completely “close” the blog during my absence. Unfortunately I will not be able to look at or comment on your blogs, but I have prepared some posts.

At the occasion of my second blogging anniversary – and slightly more than 500 posts – I thought I should take the opportunity to please some blogger friends who prefer b&w and who have tried to persuade me to try it also. I’m not really persuaded, but as a compromise I have transformed some of the past two years’ photos to b&w.

Starting as from today, and coming Wednesday, Friday ... and again Monday, you should normally, if the programming works, find these photos by linking to Ipernity; I have split up the file in four. You should be able to see some kind of slideshows. The photos are in complete disorder.

Take care during my absence! See you soon!

27.3.09

Something more from Montmartre

I have already made a number of posts on Montmartre, as well on this blog as on my previous one. Here are some more views from a walk in the area last Sunday. Some kids were playing football / soccer in one of the calm, not tourist-invaded, streets... and there are many of those.

There are some addresses which may be interesting, some of which perhaps offer a different view of Montmartre.

At no. 58 on Boulevard Clichy (you can see the “Moulin Rouge” in the far background) there is a building and a spectacular entrance (closed, but with a bit of luck you manage to get in) with an impressing court yard inside. It's referred to under the name of "Villa des Platanes". Some beautiful stairs, statues, some green areas.... On one of the walls there are some sculptures which refer to battles during the “Commune” in 1871, which were very violent on this place. The present building dates from 1896. At no. 48 of the same street, you will find a small alley called “Cité du Midi”. Among other old buildings there is one with the inscription “Bains Douches Pigalle”, public “shower-baths”, now closed. (Most people have their own bathrooms today!) Another closed (but rather easily opened) entrance can be found at no. 40 Rue Durantin. The court yard is quite impressive and goes under the name “Cour aux Juifs”, probably due to some Jewish community having lived here. It seems that this used to be a passage leading to the street behind, Rue Lepic, before the building in the farther end was constructed. “Impasse Marie-Blanche” is another small alley. It has a rather surprising building in some kind of neo-gothic style, however dating from late 19th century. It goes under the name “Castel Eymounaud” after its first owner, a furniture manufacturer who also exposed his works here. During my walk I took some other pictures, here and there in Montmartre, to add to the ones in my previous posts. I wish you a nice weekend!

25.3.09

Studio 28



The oldest Paris cinema still in operation is called “Studio 28” and you can find it in Montmartre, rue Tholozé.

This narrow street gives a look on “Moulin de la Galette”, one of the two remaining Montmartre windmills. The name “Moulin de la Galette” has been given much later and in the meantime it had become a cabaret (“ginguette”), but originally this mill was called “Blute Fin” and dates from 1622. It’s now on private property so you cannot reach it. The other remaining smaller windmill, “Radet” has been slightly moved and now sits more or less on top of a close-by restaurant with the name “Moulin de la Galette”. Both mills used to belong to the same family. There is a long story about the mills, the family and the origin of the name “Moulin Rouge” which I have already talked about in previous posts (1, 2). The “Moulin de la Galette” has been painted by a great number of artists, including van Gogh, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, Picasso, van Dongen and perhaps especially by Utrillo.

This is thus rue Tholozé, as it looks today and as it was seen by Utrillo in 1913.
Some street views.
Let’s now come back (at last) to the cinema theatre, “Studio 28”. It was thus created in 1928 as an avant-garde cinema. In 1930 it became famous; a film by Luis Buñuel, “L’Age d’Or” ("The Golden Age"), co-written with Salvador Dalí, premiered here. A few days later a fascist group threw ink on the screen, assaulted members of the audience and also destroyed art by Dalí, Miró, Man Ray, Tanguy, Ernst (who actually also had a role in the film)... exposed in the lobby. The film was then soon banned after the Board of Censors had reviewed it. You had to wait some 50 years before it was again released. "Studio 28" survived, but with new owners. In 1950, Jean Cocteau and Abel Gance became “godfathers” of the place and Cocteau (painted by Modigliani below) designed the lampposts that you can still find in the theatre. This is also the cinema where Amélie Poulain liked to go on Friday evenings.
The cinema can only seat some 170 people, but it’s a nice place, perfectly equipped technically. A mixture of recent and avant-garde films is shown, there is a nice little bar and the lobby is still used for art exhibitions. The guest book is impressive and some actors and directors have left their footprints.


... and the trees are slowly getting green, even if yesterday the sky was a bit grey and the temperature could have been higher!

23.3.09

Graffiti, China Town, Spring...


I was too busy lately to prepare what I would call a real post. Anyhow, I wanted to post SOMETHING.

Graffiti is of course an art which is more or less welcome and accepted, depending on where you find it. Here are some samples of, in most cases officially authorised or even ordered, graffiti art (and some posters) around Paris, but also some less authorised.
One example of officially authorised graffiti is represented by the “Mur Ordener”, a wall along rue Ordener in the 18th arrondissement. On some 200 m (650 ft) professionals and young artists from the neighbourhood have been allowed to create. It started in the year 2000 and it seems that the paintings are replaced or renovated now and then. If you consider what hides behind the wall (SNCF – a French Railways repair shop), I believe nobody really objects to these graffiti?

Walking through one of our China Towns (see previous posts 1, 2, 3) the other day, I could not resist against taking these shots.
The last couple of days, we have had a fantastic weather and I can once more confirm that the spring is arriving - with some two or three weeks delay.
... also time to buy some flowers for your balcony, terrace...

20.3.09

Paris la Défense

To build new skyscrapers or towers is not allowed in Paris anymore and until further. There are some high buildings built around the 70’s, the highest being Tour Montparnasse (see previous post), a second one is the hotel Concorde Lafyette (see previous post). There are also some fairly high buildings along the Seine in the 15th arrondissement (see previous post) and also on the eastern side of Paris.

In 1958 a decision was taken to start development for especially office space just outside Paris, to the west. It started slowly with the construction of a “Centre of New Industries and Technologies” (CNIT) - the building is still there but transformed – and a few modest 100 m (330 ft) high buildings.

So, this is not really Paris, but has got the name Paris La Défense. It’s situated in the neighbour département Hauts-de-Seine in the municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. In the 70’s the real development started and has continued since. In 1981, what was then the biggest commercial centre in Europe, the Quatre Temps (the Four Seasons) was opened. Some of the earliest constructed towers have already been replaced, with new, higher ones. Several of the biggest banks, insurance companies, communication companies... have now their main activities based here, not mentioning hotels, restaurants, shops, university... The highest buildings for the moment exceed 180 meters (some 600 ft) and plans until 2015 include buildings reaching more than 300 meters (some 1.000 ft) – up to 93 levels. The area is getting bigger and bigger – and some towers are replaced.

Today some 150.000 people work and some 20.000 people live here. With the continued development, the idea is to increase the “living-proportion”. Already today, it’s obviously Europe’s largest purpose-built business district. As Paris La Défense is in line with the so called “historical axis”, going from the Louvre (see previous posts) via the Arch of Triumph / “L’Etoile” (see previous post) and to make some kind of monument to complete the axis, the “Grande Arche” was built (1990). It’s actually an office building. You can reach the top by the outside elevator (which I did – see the top photo). You may notice that the Arch is turned at an angle (6°). Different explanations are given; one being that the architect wanted to emphasize the depth of the building, but there seems also to have been difficult ground conditions. There are tens of modern statues, including by Miró (the colourful one), César (the thumb), Calder (the red spider)... and also an old one from 1883, called “La Défense de Paris”, which actually gave the name to the area. From the Paris centre you can reach the area by normal or by express metro.

I wish you a nice weekend! ... with a slowly but surely progressing spring!

18.3.09

Excuses...

Just a short message to tell you that I have a number of visitors and friends around… and the weather is so nice (here is the beginning of a birch leaf); I may not have the time to visit your blogs as well as I would like to during a number of days ! (But I have posted today - see below - and will be posting Friday.)

A Royal Chapel

There is a small Royal Chapel close to Porte Maillot. It may be small, but it is referred to with two long names: Chapelle Royale Saint Ferdinand or Chapelle Notre Dame de la Compassion. One Royal person is buried here, Prince Ferdinand d’Orléans, eldest son of King Louis-Philippe and Queen Amélie.

Maybe a bit of history? Louis Philippe (the father of the buried Prince) was the last king to rule in France, 1830-48. He belonged to the Royal “cadet branch”, supposed to take over if the “elder branch” died out. In the “elder branch” you found the direct descendants of Henri IV – de Bourbon (Louis XIII, Louis XIV... until Charles X, who was the brother of the guillotined Louis XVI), whereas the “cadet branch” descended from Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, who was the younger brother of Louis XIV. Although Charles X had an heir, the 1830 revolution (another one) forced the senior Bourbon branch to abdicate and the Orléans branch took over. Louis Philippe reigned thus until 1848, when again another revolution forced him to abdicate. France became for the second time a Republic and the nephew of Napoleon I became President. Three years later he declared himself Emperor with the name Napoleon III. Let’s hold the history lesson here! Or maybe not quite! (Maybe this graph could make it all more clear?) It may be worth to mention that Louis Philippe’s father obviously supported the 1789 Revolution, took the name of Philippe Egalité and, as a deputy, voted in favour of the death sentence for Louis XVI. The immediate execution was proclaimed with one vote’s majority!

Coming back to Prince Ferdinand - the one buried in the Royal Chapel at Porte Maillot and who would have become King one day, if the 1848 Revolution had not taken place -, he simply died in a carriage accident – in 1842 – at Porte Maillot. The chapel which was built where the accident took place, one year later, stood earlier closer to the centre of the Place, but was removed to its present place, piece by piece, in 1970, when the present Congress Palace and one of Paris’ biggest hotels were built. It may be noted that the stained glass windows were designed by Ingres. (There is still a conflict between the descendents of the Bourbon and the Orléans families about who has the right to the French throne, although it’s highly questionable that France will ever get a King or a Queen again.)

16.3.09

The Louvre bis

Normally I don’t make any posts on Sundays, but yesterday was again the 15th, meaning time for the mid-month theme “subways”. I thought therefore I could make it easy for me today by just posting some photos which I took on the way home after a nice meeting Saturday evening. Furthermore I felt that some night shots were missing to my recent post about the Louvre. Here are some.
I took a few more on the way. I guess you will recognise the buildings.