What a small street can hide...

Walking along a small discrete street in the 15th arrondissement, rue Blomet, you can find a little green space, where you can play “pétanque” – if you are a member of the “Union Bouliste du 15e”. “Pétanque” is of course one form of the game of “boules” where you are supposed to toss or roll steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball, in general red, referred to as the “cochonnet” (actually meaning "piglet"). “Pétanque” comes from the provençal dialect word “petanca” which refers to “feet fixed” – on the ground. “Pétanque” should be played with the feet fixed. There are other forms of the “boules” games where you e.g. can do a “run up” to the throw, in France in general referred to as “boule lyonnaise”.

The game, mostly played by amateurs as a nice relaxed pastime, needs however - as we can see - a lot of concentration. (There are some more or less professional players also – not here – and even World Championships.)

Then comes the time for measuring the distance to the “cochonnet”.

There is also time for a break.

Immediate neighbour to the “pétanque” ground, 45, rue Blomet, there is now a little square - previous buildings are gone. This used once to be the home of the French sculptor Alfred Boucher (1850-1934), who had Camille Claudel as a pupil, working as a teacher at the “Académie Colarossi” (I posted about it here.). He even sculpted Camille reading a book. When Boucher moved to Florence he asked his friend Auguste Rodin to take over… and we know what then happened. 

During the 1920’s Juan Miro (1893-1983) shared a studio here with his friend Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934).

Robert Desnos (1900-1945), a poet who played a key role in the Surrealist movement also lived here. His home became a meeting place for the leading Surrealist artists like Arp, Dubuffet, Ernst, Gris, Malakine, Picasso, Man Ray, Tanguy, including authors, poets like Eluard, Hemingway, Leiris, Gertude Stein…

Miro later offered the sculpture “L’oiseau lunaire” (The Moonbird) which was placed here in 1974. It’s meant as an homage to the poet Robert Desnos (also an active resistant who died in a concentration camp).

A close neighbour to 45, rue Blomet, was the cabaret “Bal Nègre” (at no. 33). (No picture here – the building is behind scaffolding.) Before closing in the 1960’s and especially during the 1920-30’s, this was a place where the above mentioned artists met, but also Joséphine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguette, Foujita, Kiki de Montparnasse, Alexander Calder, Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, F.S.Fitzgerald, Jean Cocteau, Francis Picabia, Kees van Dongen… and even the future King Edward VIII. Later Sydney Bechet played here and the future Saint-Germain-des-Prés “gang” – Sartre, de Beauvoir, Vian, Prévert, Gréco… - met. The place is supposed to reopen in 2017, the scaffolding will hopefully be gone and I may go there.


Stockholm (2) - the archipelago.

There is a “must” to include in a visit to Stockholm – the archipelago with its some 30.000 islands, islets and rocks, a few smaller towns and villages and some 50.000 holiday cottages.

It could perhaps be mentioned that the archipelago (and the surrounding area) is named “Roslagen”. During the “Viking times”, Swedes coming from this area went east. Some of them, the people of “Ros”, settled there, were then referred to as the “Rus people”, which finally led to the name of the state of Russia – you can read about it, more in detail, here.

A number of ferries and boats of all kinds offer communication between Stockholm and the islands.

In Sweden you can enjoy the “Allemansrätt” (everyman’s right) - everybody should have right to nature. This also gives the right to go ashore or anchor anywhere which is not in the direct vicinity of private buildings - perfect for boating, further helped by the fact that there is no tide.

There are still some old steamers around. To finish my Stockholm visit, with some friends, I took an evening tour on one of them. It found its way among the islands from Stockholm to Vaxholm – and back.

Here are some views of the “Blidösund”, built in 1910, and of what you can watch from the inside or from the deck – the September weather was exceptionally kind.

When it got dark we went inside for an excellent dinner.

A last glimpse of the full moon and, earlier in the evening, something (what?) moving in the sky. 


Stockholm (1)

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden. Some 1.4 million people live in the urban area. It’s situated on a number of islands and on the coastline with the lake “Mälaren” on one side and an archipelago leading to the Baltic Sea on the other. As we can see there is water all over the place. Large cruising vessels and ferries can reach the very city centre.

Here are some photos where we can see e.g. the “Grand Hotel”, the Parliament building, the Royal Opera and the “Dramaten” (the Royal Dramatic Theatre) …

… the Royal Castle…

… the Town Hall…

… the Vasa Museum (housing the 17th century ship Vasa), the amusement park “Gröna Lund”, the full-rigged 1888 ship, “af Chapman” (now a youth hostel) and the Nordic Museum.

Outside the “Moderna Museet” there are works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely and Alexander Calder and inside by Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Rauschenberg, Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, Wifredo Lam….

The central little islands, the “Gamla Stan” (the old town) have kept a number of old buildings and narrow alleys.

This is also where you find the Stockholm Cathedral (“Storkyrkan”). Among the inside treasures there is a 15th century statue of “Saint George and the Dragon”.

Some other old buildings, partly wooden, can be found on the southern banks (“Söder”). This area has been and is still to a high degree linked to the local artistic life.

It’s possible to go bathing on the banks. The exceptional mid-September splendid weather of course helps. 

Some views of the differently decorated subway...

…remembering that biking is an alternative and a very popular way to get around. 



I’m back in Paris after a couple of days in Sweden. I have already posted on Gothenburg (Göteborg), where I spent my first 25 years, but I thought I could again say a few words and show you some more photos.

The name Gothenburg refers of course to the Goths. The city is situated on the west coast of “Götaland”, the probable origin of the Goths. (We should perhaps remember that what is referred to as “Gothic Architecture” originally was a pejorative description created by the Renaissance people (Vasari…).)

The city with some 800.000 inhabitants – suburbs included - is the home of Volvo, SKF (the world’s largest bearing manufacturer), was until the 1970’s world leader in shipbuilding and is the major Nordic commercial port.

The present location of the city dates from the 17th century after several previous attempts to create a town in the estuary of the Göta River, all destroyed during wars.

The river and the old port where basically only some ferry traffic remains (today’s commercial port activities are now further away) is maybe the major attraction of the city. The former shipyards are today transformed to living quarters, offices, marinas, restaurants …

Maybe a special mention for two ships berthed at the quays:
“Götheborg” is a newly built replica of an original ship which sank in 1745 after its third voyage to China. The present one has also been to China and when it returned in June 2007, it was welcomed by the Chinese President (Hu Jintao), who visited Sweden mainly for this purpose.  
“Viking” is a four-masted steel barque, built in 1906, the biggest sailing ship ever built in Scandinavia. She has been berthed in Gothenburg since the 1950’s and is today hotel, restaurant… 
Some views from the city centre…

… some older areas.

Some views of older ways of commerce…

… and some of more modern ones.


I'm off again...

I will again be away from the blogging world for a little while - this time for about two weeks which I will spend in my native country. 


Street art - again

There is a temporary exhibition of street art to be seen at present in the suburb Malakoff (just one metro stop outside Paris - Malakoff Plateau de Vannes).  It goes on until October 30. It takes place in what used to be an industrial warehouse, which soon will be demolished and replaced by a housing project. In the meantime, the owner, an art lover, has left the space available to street artists. 

The works of some 40 artists are to be seen. I’m not going to list all the names (you can check here), but you will probably recognize some – they have appeared in some of my previous street art posts. Some of the installations are really amazing, especially if you consider the ephemeral nature of this kind of art.

Part of the warehouse is left for temporary solo exhibitions of some of the artists. The day I was there, Mosko was preparing his following day’s vernissage. 

Some two weeks later I returned for what may be considered as an event, the opening of a Banksy exhibition. Banksy is of course one of the most famous street artists (you can read about him here) and his name attracted large crowds, as we can see here… inside as well as outside.

What can be seen is actually a Banksy fan's private collection. Maybe the best with this event is that Banksy's name attracts people to visit the place and see all the rest.