Category Archives: Paris

Paris: Walking in Le Marais (and a bit of Notre Dame)

If there is one district in Paris that I would love exploring again and again, that would be Le Marais, the posh and truly Parisian among all districts of the French capital.

I just love this area, so easy to navigate on foot, not too touristy,  plenty of museums, high concentration of outstanding buildings and hotels particuliers  where  their paved courtyards or manicured gardens are  freely accessible to the public,  numerous art galleries, independent shops,  colourful cafés and the sight of chic Parisians walking their poodles along narrow alleys.

That’s why when I was in Paris last week for a quick meeting and had no time to satisfy my museum fix, I thought right away of going ambling in Le Marais and do my photo scouting.   No regrets.  I was in complete awe the whole time and my camera shutter never even had a chance to cool down as I was just completely carried away taking shots like there’s no tomorrow.  Yes, as usual, I took myriads of photos but don’t worry, I am just posting a small percentage here so you don’t get  photo overload.

But let me start from  the area of Cathedral Notre Dame because that’s where I began my sightseeing (right after the meeting) having arrived via Metro Saint Michel.

Here goes:

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This group of men playing music at this metro underground of Saint Michel seems to be a permanent tourist attraction here.  Whatever season, for so many years, I’ve always seen them here.  They sing a huge repertoire, sometimes, Latin music like the Tango.

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At the river Seine, this lawn on a boat made me realize that not having a piece of your own land is not a reason why you can’t create a lawn complete with seasonal flowers.

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From where I am standing, this sight of Le Conciergerie on the left and the two bridges, Pont Notre Dame and Pont St Michel, is so photogenic that I always take photos of the same spot despite taking hundreds already.

Le Conciergerie was the prison where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution at the guillotine in 1793.

 

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The new mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, had the locks of a bridge (pont des Arts) removed as it was geting too heavy that it was in danger of collapsing,  but lovers always find a way where to hook their symbol of love.  They were not there the last time I was in Paris!

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Pope John Paul II and the rose window of Cathedrale Notre Dame.

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Portal of the almost 900-years old Cathedrale

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You see, I don’t need to go to a museum to see medieval sculptures. This gorgoyle is just one of the many you can see perched up of the Cathedrale.

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A part of the frieze above the portal of the Cathedrale. For the nearly 900 years it is there exposed to the elements, I’m glad that it is still there intact, being enjoyed by millions of visitors who flock to the city each year, and hopefully by many generations to come.

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This is the courtyard of “Hôtel-Dieu”, the oldest hospital in the capital, founded in 651. I always come here to enjoy the flowers but this time, it’s still empty, probably because it’s still the Winter season.

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Just one of the few oldest streets of the city
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Maison de la Colombe (House of the Dove), built in the 13th century (hence, the Seven centuries of History, written in French) now a restaurant offering the best wines.

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If you want to experience the best wine in the oldest bar of Paris, serving meals at affordable prices,  this is the place.  I have yet to try it though.

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A souvenir you will not forget, so says on the window. Have your hands moulded for 20 minutes and your hand sculpture will be mailed directly to your home address after 8 to 10 days.

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Just at the shadow of Cathedrale Notre Dame, tucked on a narrow street is this  cafe and restaurant with a facade charmingly  decorated, tempting the eyes of passers-by to try their traditional French cuisine.   The interior decoration is a feast to the senses, too.

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From Notre Dame, I walked towards Hotel de Ville (City Hall) and was surprised to see these magnolia trees in full bloom!

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This is the statue of Étienne Marcel, a 14th century Revolutionary and Provost of Merchants.  His name is all over the capital:  from the name of a road to a Metro station, several sculptures. . .

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Another permanent fixture next to the Hotel de Ville is this carousel which gives free rides to children at Christmas time.

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LE MARAIS DISTRICT

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Note the silhouette of the man in a ponytail, sunglasses and high white collar, it has become an emblem.

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These children are lucky to be growing up in a living museum such as Paris.

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Garden of Hotel de Sully.

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Hotel de Sully.  This building houses the government body responsible for the care and management of historic monuments and buildings all over France.

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The manicured garden of Musee Carnavalet.  This building has been the official museum of the history of Paris since 1897.

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If you are into café-spotting, Le Marais is the place to be.

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Their names are very philosophical, too.

 

 

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The square next to the Eglise Notre Dame des Blancs Manteaux is a favorite lunch break spot among Parisian employees.

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Lucky to have stumbled upon this free guitar concert inside the Eglise Notre Dame des Blancs Manteaux.  This church regularly holds concerts at lunchtime.

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rue des Blancs Manteaux

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A pawnshop in medieval times

 

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A corner park littered with solar lamps installed by an artist.
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A macaron shop

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This shop “Les Touristes” in rue des Blancs Manteaux oozes with colours for the home.

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These big vases of delicious-looking roses seen outside a shop.   A feast for my photographic eyes, that’s for sure!

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You can have these used Chanel shoes for a song, if you don’t mind the age.

 

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But this is a private terrace!  Please can anyone tell me the story about these locks!

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rue des Rosiers

This fallafel shop in the Jewish quarter is always getting queued up.

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Art in Place des Vosges

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It’s practice day.  Place des Vosges

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Paris Magnum © Hotel de Ville

 

This is what I adore about Paris!  I could virtually dedicate a day just visiting exhibitions and they come so aplenty!  Why not?  It’s only a 40-minute train journey  from our suburban home  so I might as well plan my trip.   The good thing about Parisian exhibitions is, a lot of them are free so it’s not really a bank-breaking leisure activity.  So after seeing the Klimt exhibit  (which I don’t mind shelling out 16.50euros because the works on display were carefully transported here from Vienna), I went to see the free-for-all  “Paris Magnum”  expo at the Hotel de Ville.   “Magnum Photos” is undeniably a legend and a visit to one of its exhibitions is the ultimate dream of serious photographers, moreso for  aspiring  street photographers like yours truly!

A total of 130  iconic images of photojournalism pioneers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa,  Marc Riboud, Raymond Depardon, Martin Parr, Elliott Erwitt, among others, are displayed in one room of the Paris City Hall depicting the capital’s metamorphosis from the late 1930s up to the present:  the trade union strikes,  the liberation of Paris, the student protests, the war in Algeria, the 1968 student protests, the arrival of the mini-skirt, the creation of HLM’s (socialized housing), politics, celebrities and the day-to-day scenes of Parisian life.

Photography is not allowed so all these photos you are seeing, except the first one above, were gathered from the net so as  to give you a flavor of what they are like.  And after browsing on them, you be the judge why Street Photography is so special.  We, photographers, are historians in the making.  What we take now becomes a historical evidence for future generation to discover.

“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”- Henri Cartier-Bresson

 

Spectators at Longchamp Racecourse, 1952 © Robert Capa

1953 © Marc Riboud

Paris, 1949 © Elliott Erwitt
Here are the beginnings of the photographic work of Elliott Erwitt: a mix of spontaneity, mockery and humor.

View of  Notre-Dame, 1953 © Henri Cartier-Bresson

In front of the Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysees, 1970 © Elliott Erwitt

-French Teen on a boat along the Seine, 1988 © David Alan Harvey

Zazou, the painter of the Eiffel tower, 1953 – © Marc Riboud

Paris, 1967 © Raymond Depardon

Place de l’Europe. Gare Saint Lazare, 1932 © Henri Cartier-Bresson

Town of Saint-Ouen, 1936 © David Seymour

© Henri Cartier-Bresson

Picasso in his Parisian workshop,  1944.© Robert Capa

© Martin Parr

Rue de Vaugirard, 1968 © Henri Cartier-Bresson

Liberation of Paris,  1944 © Robert Capa

1996 © Gueorgui Pinkhassov

“Paris Magnum” at Hotel de Ville
From  12 Dec to 28 March, 2015

Paris Inspires

I have always aspired to see a Klimt exhibition, luckily, I have that chance today.

Gustav Klimt was the most famous painter of the Secession (the equivalent of Art Nouveau in Vienna) movement. The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer was one of the most expensive paintings ever sold – 135 million dollars.

This one on the photo is entitled “Judith” (holding the head of Holofernes). I had goose-pimples staring at it! Imagine getting close, looking at one of the most famous paintings in the planet.

It’s the opening day and the queue was kilometric…I’m glad I bought the ticket online..

After the visit, I went scouting for Valentine themes.

Valet service for Fauchon clients.  They know that patisserie on Valentine’s Day is good business!

Street photo exhibition of the Liberation of the Holocaust victims of the 2nd World War, at the back of Hotel de Ville

A Valentine’s Day gift idea…I think the Eiffel tower is cheaper, but romantic, just the same.

Bird:  I hope I don’t grow horns like him!

Boutiques busy putting out Valentine ideas.  I need a large size, please..

Texting her Valentine date

Ooopppsss… he saw me!  Sorry, Monsieur, photographing a café is better when there are customers on it…

Biking knows no age.

Love the boots!

Dreaming…

I have seen this lady for hundreds of  times but it doesn’t fail to bewilder me.  It’s not so much as the sight, it’s also what it symbolizes.

Paris, Paris

With the two-week dental treatment a la Budapesti finally over, it was time to go home. What a relief to see my favorite city again after an absence of 3 months! I think this is the place I could really call “Home”.

 

Facade of the Gare du Nord train station. This building, opened in 1864,  has been declared “historic monument” in 1975.

Metro signage

The beauty of staying in old-fashioned hotels is that, you get to caress (like an expensive antique furniture) and photograph a charming hundred year old (or even older) staircase a la Parisienne…

Angeleterre Hotel, Twin Room @50euros/night
Metro: Barbès – Rochechouart
(requested for non-smoking room but the room we stayed in reeked of smoke!)

Paris architecture is mostly Haussmanian style, thanks to the Prefect (Administrator) of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809 – 1891)
who transformed the city into a well-organized urban center, at the same time, adhering to the Neo-Classical genre.

One of the favorite pastimes of Parisians is window-shopping. Who wouldn’t?

Metro underground advertising. Look…. Klimt exhibition to open soon!

Motorcyclists in the winter

“Village People” at work

For quick and more reasonably-prized meals catering on traditional French cuisine, a Brasserie is the place to eat.

Art Nouveau Metro entrance

Art Nouveau Metro signage

 Opera Garnier at early morning. This Beaux-Arts architectural masterpiece, inaugurated in 1875,
is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. A must-visit!

Bird brunch al fresco

With 1 in every 2 Metro passengers burying their heads on their smartphones, it’s a welcome respite to see someone actually reading a book. This lady is reading French writer Françoise Sagan’s novel “Un certain sourire” (A certain smile)

“Photography gave me happiness”

…thus says Sabine Weiss, the 90-year old Swiss-born living legend of Photography whose samples of her works spanning half a century are being exhibited today at the Salon de la Photo 2014. She took her first photograph when she was 12 years old and since then her camera has enabled her to keep an authentic visual record of life and the people around her.

Truth of the matter is, that’s what I have been doing the last several years and reading stories like this of iconic photographers just boosted my belief that I am not getting obsessed over nothing.
Oh well, I’ve been so lucky to see her on person today, plus, I got the chance again to click my shutter on scenes and backgrounds truly Parisian. It’s great to be back to my still-favorite city of them all…

Enjoy the photos!


If this is the kind of image that can win a photo competition, then what am I waiting for?


Photographers, amateur and pro, are all ears to the seminar conducted by Nikon


Sabina Weiss, up close and personal