Naked trees, walls...

The inscription on the wall, which you can now read, when the leaves have fallen, is HP. This corresponds obviously to what this building first was, a “Hôtel Populaire”. “Populaire” must here be understood not as a popular hotel, but as a hotel for people with limited resources, some kind of a charity establishment.  The building from 1910 was originally financed by a rich widow, who wanted to compensate for her late husband’s rather dubious affairs. This was one of several buildings she donated. It was originally inhabited by young men, but was for obvious and unfortunate reasons emptied during WWI, became a war hospital and was after the war for some time occupied by some ministry.

The widow in question also wanted the inhabitants to adopt some good manners, including a good hygiene. Over the front door we can see a bas-relief with a woman who offers a clean handkerchief … 

In 1926 the building was, after an important subscription campaign, purchased by the Salvation Army and became a home for women with limited resources. Originally there were some 630 rooms. It has later been modernised and now offers some 280 “studios” for women, some special accommodations for women with particular difficulties and also a few family lodgings.  

It goes under the name “Palais de la Femme” (The Women's Palace)…

… so it was with a strange feeling that I entered. 

Well, I immediately deviated to a large room and a temporary exhibition of art books – some friends were presenting their works. The large room had some nice wall decorations.   

You can find the building at 94 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris.  



The first part of the Paris circular tram line opened in 2007. I wrote about it in my previous blog, see here and here. Since a couple of days, 11 years later, you can now consider that about three quarters of the circle has been achieved. I took a walk along the additional part of the line the day before the opening, last weekend, from “Porte  de la Chapelle” to “Porte d’Asnières”.  (This should mean the end of a couple of years’ traffic jams – until the work with the next extension, probably bringing the line to "Porte Dauphine", will commence.)

A number of empty trams were to be seen, testing was ongoing, the last details were taken care of… We are in the northern part of Paris, perhaps not where too many tourists find their way. The tram line follows the “Boulevards of the Marshals” (here Berthier, Bessières, Ney – all Napoleonic ones).

Most buildings along the line are rather uninteresting, just “normal”… We have the contrast between the old Opera warehouses (with Charles Garnier as architect – I talked about these buildings here) in front of the newly opened Palace of Justice (see my post here) with Renzo Piano as architect. … and I could see at least one “Morris Column” and one “Wallace Fountain”

The trams are running over nice green grass – I wish I could reach the same result in my little garden.

The tram line has honoured a number of ladies by giving their names to different stops. These already existed: Maryse Bastié, Alexandra David-Néel, Séverine, Adreinne Bolland, Delphine Seyrig, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosa Parks, Colette Besson. Two new names appear on this prolongation: Not much to be found on (Jeanne) Angélique Compoint except that she lived 1826-1907, was a farmer’s daughter… and that her family for some reason has given the names to several Paris streets. Easier to find information about the famous photographer Diane Arbus (1923-71).  

The circular tram line is quite often more or less following the trace of the circular railway abandoned in 1934 – “La Petite Ceinture”, on which I posted a number of times, e.g. here. One could ask, why not use the existing tracks? The answer given is mostly that the connections to different metro and bus lines would be too difficult to ensure.



I took a walk in the direction of the Eiffel Tower…

Closed? (See top picture.) No, but more difficult to access. The works are still ongoing, but the Tour Eiffel is now surrounded by an anti-intrusion wall - partly steel, partly bullet-proof glass. An estimated cost of 20 million € (23 million US$).

For the moment you can get into the area just after a security control, but it has been said that in the future you may need a pre-purchased ticket to the Tower in order to get in. The system also checks that you leave the area.

Sad, this evolution – at least in my mind. Maybe, and unfortunately, needed (?), but sad.

OK, the weather was cold the day I went, but the sky was blue… and the space under the Tower seemed so empty compared to “before”.

The enclosed area is not only just under the Tower, but includes also part of the “park”.

One thing which surprised me: A “boutique officielle” which sold items which in my mind look very much the same that you will easily find outside the area - and sold more unofficially. 

If you wish to see also my preceding posts on the Eiffel Tower, please click here.    


Autumn colours

A last glimpse of this year’s autumn colours. (Too busy to write a real post.)


Discrete address

This building housed the railway company “Compagnie du Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans” between 1864 and 1938, when the national railway company ”SNCF” took over. In 2011 another giant company took over, “Google”. This is now where you find the headquarters of “Google France”. Find… well, you have to know. Of course, it’s not a secret address, but you can’t read “Google” anywhere. The company keeps a very low profile, including, as we know, when it comes to tax-paying, but this is perhaps not the forum for this debate.

My personal little problem with “Google” and other giants is that when you have a problem, with e.g. a “Google” product like your (my) blog – Blogger / Blogspot – there is nobody from “Google” to help. No chance to reach anybody. There are “help forums” and similar sites to be found on the net, but advice is given there mostly only by other users, who in general are as “lost” as yourself.

The main entrance have doors with steel bars in “Google” colours, that’s the only indication of what hides behind. 

The entrance is surrounded by two wooden doors, one is for “artists”, “no guest allowed”. The other is officially for “visitors”. Well, I don’t know how to be invited… and have no need for it, but when my now ten year old blog disappeared for a while (before coming back without any explanation a few days later), or when the “Google+” feature, badly functioning and now abandoned by “Google”, made it impossible for me to work with my blog… I would have liked to talk to someone… Apart from that, I’m a happy blogger. (Thanks “Google”!)


Christmas display windows, again, again, again ,again...

Time again – for the tenth time - for what has now become a tradition on this blog, to look at the Christmas display windows of ”Galeries Lafayette” and ”Printemps”…

… including the famous, always changing, tree under the “Galeries Lafayette” cupola. 

You can find pictures from the preceding years here: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Most of the windows are made for kids...

… a few for their parents. 



I think this scaffolding is just too impressive and must be shown. Well, there is still time to see and show it. The restoration works will last for some six years, costing some 10M € - despite the fact that the church, Sainte-Trinité, is “only” some 150 years old.

Just a reminder: Since 1905, there is a French law about the Separation of Church and State, based on the freedom of religious exercise with a complete neutrality of the State. However, the religious buildings, the buildings only, previous to 1905, are still under ownership of the State (e.g. cathedrals) or of the municipal governments. This explains why you can read the text in front of the church that the renovation work is undertaken by the City of Paris.   

I already made a post about the church, see here, so I will not repeat myself too much, but just say that the church is open during the work… and that the parish still offers simple meals to needy people.

… and, of course, I could not resist against entering the church and take some photos again.


Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

The present « Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye » is mostly of a some-kind-of-16th-century-“renaissance” architecture (Francis I’s reign), replacing some previous buildings. But one little part was left - the chapel, from 1238, which slightly preceded and for a while held the relics for which the Sainte-Chapelle (see previous post) was built.  

This has always been a Royal Castle. Louis XIV was born and spent a large part of his life here, before moving to Versailles  (see here) in 1682 – at the age of 44. The ex-King of England, James II, moved then in … and family and supporters of the exiled “Stuarts” occupied the castle until the French Revolution.

Napoleon III initiated the restoration of the castle and in 1867 the “National Museum of Antiquities” could open, today renamed “National Archaeological Museum”.  (There was an interruption 1940-44, when the German Army established their French headquarters here.)

The museum proposes collections from Paleolithic to Merovingian times, passing by Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Gaul periods, meaning more or less from the beginning of time until the 8th century. The museum houses some 3 million archaeological objects, mostly found on today’s French territory, of which “only” 30,000 are exhibited. The items are very nicely and clearly exhibited, explained, in a number of rooms on two floors… and in one of the rooms you find a more recent statue of a “Gallic Leader” (by Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910) more known for his “Jeanne d’Arc” (see here)).

I’m not going to try to give an explanation of the different objects, which I will show in a complete disorder. Except, maybe one word on the “Venus of Brassempouy”, an ivory figurine discovered in 1892 and about 25,000 years old, one of the earliest known realistic representations of a human face. Consider that it was fabricated in mammoth ivory, without the aid of any metallic tools - the Bronze Age started some 20,000 years later, the Iron Age, some 24,000 years later… (This photo is of a perfect copy – I saw the original, but “no photos allowed”.) 

I would recommend a walk in the park, offering some nice views of a distant Paris – in clear weather, or at least of “La Défense” (see previous post), the day I was there last week.

You can go to Saint-Germain-en-Laye by train, or RER, knowing that you are travelling on the tracks of the first French passenger line (1837).