I will get back to my trip to the southwest of France, but first I wanted to show you some Paris events during last weekend. There were a number of ecological interventions – Paris is preparing the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, “COP21”, and there will be more events.

Sunday was “a day without cars” in Paris, however only in limited parts in the centre of the city. I show you some pictures from the Champs Elysées and the surrounding streets, Place de la Concorde, Rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme, Opera Garnier, Boulevard Haussmann, Gare Saint Lazare…

Walking down the Champs Elysées, I got mixed up in a crowd of journalists interviewing the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, surrounded by some colleagues from other European cities. I managed to be almost in the frontline.

Another more modest event took place Saturday in “my” little park, Square des Batignolles. The city employees who take care of our “city trees” explained their work…

… and invited the kids to climb a tree and to slide down a zip line.



I went to visit some places in the south-west of France, starting with Sète (where I have been before – see post here). I must not forget that this is meant to be a blog about Paris, so I will try to make this short… - just show you some pictures, impressions...

As you can see from the top picture, I was met by a windy Mediterranean, but the weather soon changed for the better.

In the port, among the armada of yachts, there were also a number of sailing boats, ready to leave for a race, “The Generali Solo”.

If you want some proof of the much better weather the following days….

Sète is also a commercial and… fishing port, much to the pleasure of the seagulls.

A general view of the centre and one of the canals – Sète is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of Languedoc” (the name of the region). From the top of the “Mont St. Clair” you have a nice panorama of the city….

… and also of the long flat coastline, with beaches, salt production, vineyards… all the way down to the Pyrenees – which you may see vaguely on one of these photos…

… as well as of the “L’Etang de Thau”, the largest of the lagoons you can find along this flat coastland, known for all kinds of seafood, but especially for oysters.

I can’t resist against showing some local street art.  Easy to recognize the artist of the one to the left: “Seth” (see previous posts here and here). (By the way Seth and Sète is pronounced in the same way in French.)  The other one is by “C215”.

To finish… some proof of the blue sky and some seafood lunch.

… and as usual, some maps, also indicating some other spots I visited during my too short stay down here. I will try to make it brief in some coming post(s).


A short break

I'm off for the south for a week or so... See you again soon!


More poetry - and more ...

Last weekend I visited “Les Buttes aux Cailles” for a poetry weekend (see preceding post). This weekend I attended another event, again linked to poetry, literature, theatre… - this time in my own neighbourhood, “Les Batignolles”.

This is actually a yearly event and one particular day it allows people to sell their books… and of course to buy other ones. It’s part of a lot of other activities which are proposed by a local association, “Du Rififi aux Batignolles”, during September.

Bad luck, this year it rained a lot Saturday.

I listened to some – really nice – poetry by a young lady. The event was actually this year linked to Victor Hugo and she had brought along some kids who read some of his poems.

Due to the wet weather, what should have taken place in open space was finally transferred to one of the local cafés, generously opened. We could enjoy a nice mixture of Victor Hugo texts, with interludes by a talented young cello player.

Starting under umbrellas we then made a Victor Hugo tour, listening to Lucien Maillard, a journalist and writer, who regularly offers very interesting and extremely well documented information, this time accompanied by some wonderfully performed music. (Finally, we were spontaneously invited by one of the followers to finish the performance in her nearby flat.)  

That was Saturday. Sunday, still a bit of rain, but less. I watched a number of amateur theatre plays (excerpts). There had been a pre-selection. A number of theatre groups performed, in my mind quite professionally. There were other events proposed by Rififi, but you can't be everywhere.

One reason was that I wanted to be there when a new Montmartre project was presented.
I already posted about “The Cité des Arts” at Montmartre, see here. The idea is now to obtain an investment from the City of Paris, owners of the premises, in order to create something which is referred to as the “Villa Medicis” in Paris. This green haven - where many later world famous artists have lived and worked, where the famous first cancan dancer, “La Goulu” lived and where some 40 artist studios are “hidden” - needs to be renovated, buildings as well as the green space. The idea is also to make it more open to public, to create a place for expositions…  This is now on the list of City projects for the coming years, but it’s not the only one. There is a possibility to vote here.



For the fifth time, a poetry weekend, “Festival O+O”, (= Au plus haut de Paris) was organised at Butte aux Cailles.

I have already posted about this little area of Paris, e.g. here, here and here, but maybe I should just remind you that we are on a modest hill-top, with a partly preserved feeling of a little village, which it once was - outside Paris until 1860. Close to the now covered, extinct, brook called Bièvre, it used to be a place where tannery and fabric industries were present. It’s also linked to social struggles, the Commune… It should be remembered that it was on its central square, Place Verlaine, that the first human flight landed and that’s also where you find one of the three spring water wells remaining in Paris (see here, here and here). Today, Butte aux Cailles is also a place for street art and a number of nice, simple, restaurants and bars. Few tourists take this direction, but many – young – Parisians do, especially during the evening hours.  

Last weekend you could meet some surprising “tents” walking around the streets. They “hid” a number of poets, who had chosen this way to present some of their poems, welcoming guests to visit their “tents”. The action was called "poetical shower".

There were many other ways to present poetry - on the streets, in the gardens, in shops, on walls…

On the main street, Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, there is a kind of library, which actually is a place for different social activities, “Les Amis de la Bienvenue”. Of course they offered poetry readings … and books.

At the Place de la Commune with its Wallace Fountain (see here), there were other activities ongoing, including help to write some poetry postcards to your friends, some Indian dancing...  

Much more happened, but you can’t be everywhere. I also wished to walk around, feel the atmosphere…

… check if there was any new street art.

In the evening some theatre performances by poets, stand-up artists… were offered.

On the way home, I could enjoy the special atmosphere of this little area…

… and get it confirmed that it’s a quite popular place among the younger population. 


Tractors, farmers...

Last week Paris was invaded by (according to the organizers) 1733 agricultural tractors and a few thousand farmers, of course with the aim to demand something… - minimum prices, less national and European regulations… There are different opinions about all this and I’m not sufficiently in the picture to give my own opinion. What I can say is that, from what I saw, everything went very smoothly, with a lot of smiles… The farmers are fairly well regarded and even the traffic jams created led to relatively limited protests from the Paris population. Some of their representatives were received by the Prime and the Agricultural ministers, and obtained some promises - however, to many of the farmers, not enough. 

The tractors – as well as the farmers – came from all areas and several had been on the road for days, considering a tractor's low speed. They arrived via the ring road (Périphérique) and went up the Cours de Vincennes to the Place de la Nation (see previous post).

The central monument, “The Triumph of the Republic” was party invaded.

The crowds of course gathered to listen to the official speakers.

Some of the tractors carried placards.

There were a few (three) cows to be seen.

It was an opportunity to learn the names of tractor manufacturers.

Even some of the side streets were full of tractors.

The farmers took time to eat, drink, tell some jokes…