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).


The most beautiful avenue...

The Champs-Elysées - often referred to as the world’s most beautiful avenue. Maybe…, certainly among the most beautiful ones, obviously with some 100 million visitors per year.
Normally, most of my posts are trying to praise the beauty of Paris, but this time I must allow myself to come with some critics, something I have done very occasionally, e.g. here.

I took some photos from the lower, eastern parts, of the “Champs”, between the “Rond-Point” and “Place de la Concorde”. Here are some examples of what I found:

This “pergola”, some kind of shelter, originally built for a flower market at “Place de la République”, but rather immediately, in 1883, transferred to the Champs,* has been in this bad shape for years. How is this possible? Its “sister”, on the other side of the “Champs” is in good shape.

The pavements, visited by tens of thousands of tourists every day, are in very bad shape, and have been so for years. I saw examples of wheel-chairs and baby-buggies in difficulties…  

Where are the gardeners (doing such wonderful jobs elsewhere in Paris) and the “leaf-sweepers”? A tree should have been replanted…

Street lampions to be repaired (and a forgotten garbage bag).

When were these benches repainted last time?

The “Rond-Point” is surrounded by six fountains. They are supposed to be newly equipped (for the xth time). I saw an announcement about this maybe two years ago. The works seem to be ongoing, but obviously in a very slow pace – not a single “worker” the last times I have passed. When I see what they are supposed to look like, I have some doubts… too technical solutions very seldom work for a long time without important repairs… or abandon – many examples unfortunately to be found in Paris.

If this post could find its way to the mayor of Paris…
*/ I found detailed information about this here.
Addendum November 5:
Did Mrs Hidalgo read this post? Walking home tonight, I found that some urgent repairs had been done and also that some “leaf-sweepers” were present!