Wednesday, 31 August 2011

SDP on tour ... Bougainvillea in Hyères

In the old town of Hyères, this splash of bougainvillea enhances teh beauty of the architecture.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

SDP on tour ... Hyères: Castel Sainte-Claire

This villa, Castel Sainte-Claire, was owned by American novelist Edith Wharton, who spent winter and spring here from 1927 until she died in 1937.  She finished her novel, The Age of Innocence here.

The villa previously belonged to Olivier Voutier, a French naval officer. He discovered the Venus de Milo in 1820, on the greek island of Milos.

Voutier's grave is in the garden. In 1955 the city of  Hyères bought the villa. The grounds are now a public botanic garden.

Monday, 29 August 2011

SDP on tour....Parking in Hyères

Next time, could you move up and park a little closer please?
This photo could be taken almost anywhere in southern Europe.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

SDP on tour...Medieval Hyères

In the medieval town of Old Hyères. Just a picture I rather like. We were sitting at a restaurant in the place below, and a band was singing medieval songs.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

SDP on tour...Au Bon Coing, Hyères

Old sign - Au Bon Coing; new sign - Le Bon Coing.  At the Good Quince. The Good Quince.
Au Bon Marché : At the good market or good deal; Le Bon Marché : The Good Market. A department store in Paris.

Why the change I wonder? Is it an older use of langauge? Can any French speakers explain?

Friday, 26 August 2011

SDP on tour...Medieval Festival in Hyères: the observer

I decided in my head that the young lad above, who was watching the story in dance was thinking "Hey that looks like fun, and that kid seems to be enjoying himself....but I wonder what the kids at school would think...."

Thursday, 25 August 2011

SDP on tour...Medieval Festival in Hyères: the dancers

There's often a fête (festival) going on wherever you are in France, especially in summer. On July 10 this year I was in Hyères in Provence, while the medieval festival was in full swing. A medieval market, dancing and pageants were featured.

Located just east of Toulon in Provence,  Hyères is the oldest resort on the French Riviera.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

SDP on tour....when in Rome

....or Paris, make like the locals. Hardly anyone ever eats in the streets in is so rare that I notice it, coming from a culture where people often walk along snacking, usually on junk food. Eating is done in cafes, bistrots, brasseries, restaurants, even in parks and gardens where a pique-nique is involved. 

The exception is it is entirely permissanle to bite the end off your baguette or ficelle between boulangerie and home....

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

SDP on tour...No Culture

An interesting piece of wall graffiti / art in the 6th arrondissement in Paris.

Monday, 22 August 2011

SDP on tour...Just to prove

Just to prove that "even in Paris" there are boutiques catering to the equivalent of the Damart catalogue crowd....

Sunday, 21 August 2011

SDP on tour....Two women of Paris Number 2: Josephine Baker

From the Simone de Beauvoir Bridge, shown yesterday, you can see the Piscine Josephine Baker  - a floating pool moored on the Seine. Of course, I had to check it out for a swim. Cameras are banned inside (why? is it concern over photos being taken of people in swimsuits in public?) so I had to sneak the shots below. For a modest sum ( 5 euros for 2 hours) I swam some 25 metre laps, on a day when it wasn't too crowded. I imagine that when Paris Plage (the "beach" set up along the river terraces) is in full swing, it gets very busy.

If you do want to swim, bear in mind that, like most pools in France, it is compulsory to wear a bathing cap.

Piscine Josephine Baker from Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

Josephine Baker was an American who found fame in Paris as a singer and dancer. She was a French Resistance fighter, the first American woman to be awarded the Croix de Guerre. Baker was also awarded the Rosette de la Resistance and made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the US and refused to perform for segregated audiences.

I am not nearly as brave or intrepid; the only thing I did was suffer the wrath of a pool attendant who ticked me off for taking the photo at left. This particular piece of ingenuity is a moveable hair dryer, which adjusts up and down the runners according to desired height.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

SDP on tour....Two women of Paris: Number 1:Simone de Beauvoir

This footbridge across the Seine connects the district of Bercy and the French National Library. It's called the Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir. It was commissioned in 2006 by the City of Paris from architect Dietmar Feichtinger.

I love that there's a bridge named after a philosopher, feminist, public intellectual and social theorist, and look forward to a new Sydney Harbour Bridge, which will surely be called the Germaine Greer Bridge. No?

Like Greer, Beauvoir once worked as a school teacher. Beauvoir was suspended because of her relationship with an underage (female) student. She campaigned along with others for the abolition of all age of consent laws in France.

One of the lovely things about standing on this bridge is that you can view, moored on the river, another landmark named after another outstanding woman of Paris...about whom more tomorrow. It's over my left shoulder.

By the way, the library is designed so that the four towers resemble open books.

Friday, 19 August 2011

SDP on tour...le jogging

One of my favourite movies recently is Potiche (Trophy Wife), a comedy starring Cahterine Deneuve as a 1960s "trophy wife" of an umbrella manufacturer (dhades of one of my other favourite movies, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg??)

In the opening sequence, Deneuve is jogging through the woods near her home. She manages to look ineffably French while doing this - a sort of straight-backed, swan-necked, languid gait!

I have read that Deneuve lives near the Luxembourg Gardens, and I think she has made a close study of the Ladies Who Jog in those gardens (below) .

There's a fair bit of jogging goes on in the Luxembourg, even the "hot and sweaty" kind. However, unlike Sydney (London? New York?) you will never be in danger of being mowed down on the pavements of Paris!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

SDP on tour .... my favourite garden

One of the greatest pleasures in my life has been to spend hours strolling in various gardens in Paris. Le jardin du Luxembourg is my favourite, from the Statue of Liberty, wine grape plantation and apple orchard, to the flower beds around the pond (le bassin). I was too early for the little wooden boats to be out, but I've stuck in a pic below of Ben in his Jean-Claude guise in 2003.

Now, about those green chairs. Great place to sit and contemplate, read, check emails, snooze. Why can't we have amenity like this? Last time I was in new York, I noticed they also have them in Bryant park, behind the New York Public Library. Do the citizens of Paris, or New York, steal them, use them for anti-social purposes (I dunno - chair-raiding an ATM, for example?). Who provides them? The city? You don't have to hire them, no-one is making a profit (apart, I suppose from chair manufacturers). Why can't we have them?

What's that bloke behind glass doing? Well, he's the toilet attendant (very clean they are too - a steal at 40 centimes). The toilets are attached to the cafe in the garden, and to fill in time the attendant is multi-tasking by wrapping the cafe cutlery in napkins.....

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

SDP on tour ... on pelouse autorisee and interdite

Looks like some little person was so keen to take advantage of the authorised pelouse-sitting in the Luxembourg Garden they abandoned their shoe for the occasion. I wondered if it is also authorised to walk, or even run, on the grass in order to reach a favoured sitting spot, or whether one needs to adopt a hovercraft stance? Easier to stick to the path, I decided, and look longingly at the parallel swathe of green where the pelouse remains resolutely interdite.

I am also very attracted by the comma - which depending on how you choose to enunciate the "please", could lend the sign either an air of wistful pleading, or exasperated finger-wagging....

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

SDP on which we see that Paris is not immune

Rue de Fleurus. Central Paris has some of the most beautiful architecture anywhere (but don't get me started on the housing estates and some suburbs, which can be as ugly as anywhere...). Here in the bourgeois 6th arrondissement, across the road from where Gertrude Stein once lived with her brother Leo, and her partner Alice B Toklas, is proof that "even Paris" was not immune from examples of 1960s uglification!

It's kind of nice to see in a perverse way....otherwise you might walk around in a permanent fugue of Paris-inspired romanticism!

Monday, 15 August 2011

SDP on tour .... Vélib

Vélib. From vélo (bicycle) + liberté (freedom). The public bike sharing sheme in Paris.

Early one morning I came across this relocation worker, who picks up bikes where there are too many and redistributes them to under-resourced stations.

According to Wikipedia, the scheme was launched on 15 July 2007, and now has over 20,000 bicycles and 1,202 bicycle stations across Paris.  Apparently the daily average number of rides is 110, 000.

Vélib’ is operated by JCDecaux, a major French advertising corporation. We know JCDecaux in Sydney as the provider of bus shelters, lightpoles and public toilets.

I am far too scared to try riding in paris, though a friend who has assures me that car drivers are so much more considerate than they are in Sydney, which is where my riding on the road fear comes from. Hats off to Paris for implementing this fantastic scheme. Does your city have anything similar? One issue to overcome here is that it is mandatory to wear a helmet when cycling.

The pricing regime is really affordable. Wikipedia again: "In order to use the system, users need to take out a subscription, which allows the subscriber an unlimited number of rentals. Subscriptions can be purchased at €1.70 per day, €8/week or €29/year. With a subscription, bike rental is free for the first half hour of every individual trip; an unlimited number of such free trips can be made per day. A trip that lasts longer than 30 minutes incurs a charge of €1 to €4 for each subsequent 30-minute period. The increasing price scale is intended to keep the bikes in circulation."

Read more here, including about issues such as theft, vandalism, maintenance and uneven distribution.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

SDP on tour...always a good start to the day

Cafe Le Weekend, 65 rue de Sèvres
The best way to start the day. Coffee and croissant at your "local". In my case "Le Weekend" in la rue de Sèvres. There is no shortage of experienced travellers who will remind you that it costs more to sit down rather than stand at the bar.

I agree politely and continue to pay for my seat-in-the-window where for the princely sum of approx 5 euros I can occupy my position for as long as I like, plan the day, and engage in that most Parisienne of activities - watching people. That's priceless!
I love that you can openly watch people; no need to pretend in some shy, Anglo-represssed way. Appraise everybody as they pass, make instant judgements, create their back-story in your mind. Two rules: keep your thoughts to yourself, and know that when you leave and pass the next cafe, it is YOU that is being watched. Come to terms with that, and you're sweet.

Oh, and here ------------>'s what happened next! Mmmmmmm.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

SDP on tour ....RIP Jim Morrison

Went for a walk in Père Lachaise Cemetery, mainly to visit some women who are "permanent Parisiennes" : Colette, Piaf, Alice B Toklas, Gertrude Stein, Isadora Duncan, Marie Laurencin, but of course couldn't resist calling past Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.

Morrison's grave has baricades placed around it now, so rather than the steady stream of visitors writing messages and leaving tributes on the grave itself, the nearby tree attracts a fair amount of attention.

These lovelies were discussing how best to leave their mark.

Friday, 12 August 2011

SDP on tour....there's something about the French language...

That's underwear, nickers, grundies*, reg's*, undies, panties, smalls, bras, corsets,  or even lingerie to much of the world....
* Australian. From 1960s TV personality, and latterly gameshow tycoon, Reg Grundy: rhymes with undie, short for underpants....therefore Grundies, which moved on to Reg's.
Oh, who said that French was "strange" ?????

Thursday, 11 August 2011

SDP on tour - Hmmmm? Where to next?

I know! That champagne break helped me to gain a new perspective on the world....

(actually I had a coffee and pain aux raisins, but why spoil a good story!)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

SDP on tour - Galeries lafayette

Billed as "the most beautiful department store in the world", Galeries Lafayette in Paris would take some serious beating.

If you are a shopper, the best time to drop in is during the twice-yearly, fixed-date sales - "les soldes". In late June / July, the summer stock goes, in January / February, winter.

Everything I have been told is true - take an empty suitcase and fill it up! Apart from the heavy price reductions, the department stores offer 10% discounts on many products (some exceptions during sales on some luxury lines) for overseas passport holders, and if you get your act together and don't miss the appropriate place at your point of departure (a sore point with me - grrrrr at Nice airport!!), you can also claim the 12% tax back.

For true indulgence, you can even enjoy a drop of champagne at the in-store champagne bar....

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

SDP on tour - Meeting Paris DP

I have thought a lot about whether to continue with Sydney DP and, yes, I want to. But I have very few pictures of Sydney I would consider worthy of publishing, so to fill the gap in transmission from Sydney I am going to go all self-indulgent and publish some pics of which I am particularly fond from my recent travels. And I want to tell some little stories.

Here I'm meeting a familiar face to many. A late afternoon cocktail in a lovely bar in Paris. And, no, he didn't get me drunk; despite appearances I could still walk a straight line when I left, and anyway, I ordered before the lovely, friendly Parisien appeared on the scene!

This was my first day in Paris (July 7) and I had already hit the sales and am here wearing a new dress from Le Bon Marché! (The cardigan made the journey from Australia, and very nice it is too; it was waiting for me to buy that dress)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Theme Day: Postcard-worthy

Back from my travels just in the nick of time for the Theme Day. Otherwise you may have had to put up with someone else's city!

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants