Discovering St Germain les Arpajon

 Facts:  30 km from Paris, 9,200 inhabitants

Tonight was an evening of discovering another town which we knew only as a train stop everytime we go to Paris. We only planned to do some evening promenade in Arpajon – 5 minute-drive from home – when  curiosity took us to an untrudged road.

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The place is entirely alien to us, which was actually exciting because we just love exploring new territories.   After walking past endless terraced houses which gave us the impression that it was just a dormitory town to people working in Paris, we eventually saw a trace of royal history, this cone-shaped roof part of a building which we reckon was part of a chateau or a manor house.

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Not far behind, we eventually saw the church tower.
.  Let me give a tip here, when you feel like you are getting lost in a place, the sight of a church belltower is your only hope of finding the  center, the nucleus of all activity, and definitely, at least a hundred meter radius around it would get you to the most well-preserved bits which they call in Europe, the Old Town.

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Indeed, we finally saw what we  have been hoping to find which is the medieval part of the town.  This is the Romanesque church of Saint Germain with its saw-teeth upper frame on the door

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The door  is decorated with columns topped by a grimacing human face and water flowing leaves on each side.

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This is the mosaic footpath going around the church…nice idea for left over tiles

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This is the entire church.  The stained glass window is worth going back to!

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Just a few steps from the church is this walkway through the park and forest

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Really matured trees here.  This is the river Orge.

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Along the river, we discovered an entire new world!  A garden allotment with wooden cottages standing next to each other.  This is a way for apartment dwellers with no cultivable land except a small pot of soil to have a chance to grow vegetables for their own consumption.  Each plot is rented  for a small fee.

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Pumpkin!

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and more pumpkins!  that means Halloween is not far behind!

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Ooppss,  a garden dedicated to bees!

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and here are the bee boxes..

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Saint Germain les Arpajon is also a flower city.

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a Village heart, nice!

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Another inspiring walk!  Huh! what flowers,  green surroundings and medieval buildings could do to perk up your soul!

Strolling the Tuileries Garden

 I was scouting for canicule (heatwave) -related photo opportunities  the other day and had in mind checking on fountain parks hoping to capture scenes of water frolickers and my first stop was, of course, the most visited garden in Paris – the Jardin des Tuileries .

I say, “most visited” because everyone going to the Louvre or the Place de la Concorde would most likely stumble upon this beautiful park and as soon as a sculpture or a part of the floral garden comes into view, he will no doubt get carried away to explore further.

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This is one of the two large basins of the Tuileries.  The building on the right is the Louvre.  Noticeably absent are the remote-controlled boats which can be rented.  It’s not surprising as most Parisians are still on their summer holidays.  Same with the ferris wheel operator, as it was being disassembled when I was walking past it.

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The garden can be accessed from the Place de la Concorde, seen here by the towering Egyptian obelisk.  In the background are the  Champs Elysées, Arc du Triomphe and some skylines because the Tuileries is part of a grand central axis leading from the Louvre all the way to La Défense, the city’s business district.

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And this is the Louvre and one of the three glass pyramids

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Here, everyone can grab a chair and sit back by the grand octagonal pond and enjoy the fountains, the gardens views and sculptures.  Classical, modern and even weird sculptures.   I love the former.  It’s like walking through an open-air classical museum.

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Le Centaur Nessus enlevant D?janire (The centaur Nessus carrying off Dejanire)
by Laurent Honoré Marqueste
Marble, 1892, installed in the Tuileries in 1894.

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 Thesée combattant le minotaure (Theseus fighting the Minotaur)

Ramey Etienne Jules,  1796 – 1852
marble 1821 – 1827
Installed in the Tuileries in 1832

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 Le Tibre (The Tiber river)
marble 1688 – 1690
by Bourdict, Pierre, 1684 – 1711
Installed in the Tuileries in 1719

The Tiber is a Roman sculpture representing the river, and the original work is in the Louvre.

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If you are lucky, you can see a lost goat eating on the grass, although I honestly think they intentionally put old Billy there to keep the grass short.  It  saves on lawnmower diesel and manhours, at the same time it keeps Billy happy.

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The Jardin des Tuileries is Paris’ largest and oldest garden and a showcase of classical gardening.

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One must visit the garden every change of season. The floral displays are simply staggering!

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God’s own origami creation – the Dahlia

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Cassandre se met sous la protection de Pallas (Cassandra seeking the protection of Pallas)
marble 1877
by Millet, Aimé (1819 – 1891)
Installed in the Tuileris in 1897

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Naked Cassandra, with only a cloth over her thigh, stands next to a square pedestal that has a small statue above it-   presumably representing Pallas.
Legend goes that she gained the gift of foresight, but after she spurned Apollo’s love, he placed a curse on her that would cause no one to believe her predictions.
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Le bon Samaritain (The Good Samaritan)
marble, 1986
Sicard, François 1862 – 1934
Installed in the Tuileries in 1905

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There is something for all ages in the Tuileries…

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I went scouting for fountain frolickers in the Tuileries but this was all I’ve got… oh well, I’m off to the next park!

Theme: Legs in Paris

They are the tourists’ and they seem to figure as one of the tourist attractions in Paris this summer.  Can’t blame them.  It’s a sweltering summer and it’s the only way to sightsee in sheer comfort.  What’s more, it’s sexy and there’s a certain kind of freedom of expression attached to it.

These leg photos are telling us what the owners are doing.  Dare a wild guess?

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Ooopppsss…it’s a statue, sorry!

August in Paris, 2012

 It’s been two years since my post “August in Paris” and since it is August again and the same empty  surroundings are pervadingly apparent that I thought  I should do a follow-up post.   About a week ago, a photo of an empty Parisian street was posted on the net where the author also talked about the “every-summer-exodus” and the resulting quietness.  So clearly everyone is noticing it.

Here are my recent photos:

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Most shops, restaurants and commercial establishments close down as the personnel, like everyone else,  need to take their holiday, too!

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(Train station closed)

But the catch of this phenomenon is, you get stuck on how to buy your train ticket especially if the ticket machine is out of order and the tecnician is away on holiday!

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One thing I like is the almost zero traffic!  This is the normally busy rue d’Université infront of Hotel les Invalides.  Such tranquility!

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Just at the foot of Pont Alexandre III on the  Grand Palais side is this long parking line of tourist buses bringing visitors not only from all over Europe but also from around the world!  Did you know that an estimated 82 million tourists visited France in 2011! That’s a record number!  That’s more than the population of France which is only 65 million!

But anyway, in July and August, they say that it’s the tourists who practically run the city of Paris – I mean, running and walking and occupying all hotels and short-term accommodations while the  locals are bronzing away by the sea or holidaying in the country or in the mountains!

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This is the best time to indulge in city photography, when there are not much human or vehicular obstacles about!

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The metro stations are missing the office yuppies, there’s no rushing on the tunnel walkways.  It’s just the ambling tourists feeling like promenading under moonlight, which is a bit annoying since yours truly has taken to rushing at metro tunnels herself.

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No queues at the Hotel de Ville’s free exhibition, hurray!  Normally, I would line up to an hour or so as these exhibitions are well-attended!

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You can jump, run, skip around the Buren columns here at the courtyard of Palais Royal without fear of colliding with a passerby!

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Such quiet surroundings…now really it’s the best time to see the city!  As many Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians say, “France would be so much better without the French!”

Paris Plage 2012 – during and after

 Today I went to the site of the Paris Plage along  Pont Neuf – Quai du Louvre to find out if the Mayor of Paris might just have decided to extend this every-summer activity  in view of the sweltering heatwave going on in most of France.  and if not, at least I could see with my own eyes how the used sand is scraped  and the quai transformed, from the man-made beach of the past thirty days, back into how it is normally, a  riverside promenade for tourists and Parisians alike.

I’m glad I went.   Seeing the men worked in the heat with their heavy equipment, wading through dismantled wooden structures and messy sand surroundings is a spectacle enough, but what excited me most was the state of the quai “after” the Paris Plage which officially ended yesterday.  I’ve taken photos of the Plage while it was going on so I thought it could make a good article entitled:  Paris Plage – During  and After!

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– o – o – o – o – o – o

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 – o – o – o – o – o – o

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 – o – o – o – o – o – o

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 – o – o – o – o – o – o

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 – o – o – o – o – o – o

And when all the sand is taken away, here is just one of the many places  it will end up to:

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“When the Paris Plage is over, they are taken for recycling where they will be  treated, disinfected and taken into gardens, sandboxes of the city, race tracks, riding schools, sporting places, etc…”

Excerpt from: Paris Plage 2012