Oscar on the Pont des Arts covered with “love locks”: Long walk yesterday to the Tuileries, we then crossed the Pont des Arts where I took two of the photos above — the first of Oscar with the Pont Neuf in the background, the second in the other direction towards the Eiffel Tower. The third photo was taken a few minutes later as we walked along the quais lined with “bouqinistes” selling their books and trinkets. The photo shows Place Dauphine with the famous equestrian statue of king Henri IV on the left.

Oscar in front of the Invalides

Friday, 21 December 2012 by

Oscar in front of the Invalides today: We were returning from a walk passing in front of the Invalides looking onto the Seine. The gold dome, under which Napoleon’s remains are entombed, is partially visible top left. The equestian statue of Louis XIV is visible under the arch at the centre of the facade. The Sun King built Les Invalides in the late 17th century as a hospital for wounded French soldiers.

Oscar in the Place de la Concorde

Thursday, 20 December 2012 by

Oscar in the Place de la Concorde yesterday at dusk: We had been walking around Paris for two or three hours — Madeleine, Opera, Palais Royal, Louvre, Tuileries — and here we were in the Place de la Concorde on our way home at dusk. Oscar is standing on the exact spot where Marie Antoinette was beheaded on October 16, 1793. Also in the photo, the Grande Roue (Ferris Wheel) is on the left, the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and on the right the Luxor obelisk which has been standing at the centre of the Concorde since 1836.

Oscar in the Tuileries

Saturday, 27 October 2012 by

Oscar today in the Tuileries: Took Oscar for a walk to the Tuileries this afternoon, cool and blustery with a deep blue sky patched with dark clouds on which  radiant sunlight was casting a ghastly light. I took this photo in the tree-lined promenade at the side of the Tuileries next to the Seine. The Louvre is in the background. 

Photo of the Seine during the Exposition Universelle in 1900: This photo taken in 1900 when the Paris World Fair was on shows a view that I see every day as I live nearby. Not much has changed since. The photo, showing the Pont Alexandre III over the Seine in the foreground, could have been taken last night. Except of course for the spectacular buildings, no longer standing, constructed along the Seine specifically for the World Fair in 1900. The Pont Alexandre III was also built for the Exposition Universelle — one of the few vestiges of the event, along with the Grand Palais, still standing today.

    I was struck, and puzzled, by a recent article in the New York Times that announced, “finally, Paris has a coffee scene”. It was the word “finally” that caught my attention. Why “finally”? Paris, after all, is a city whose café culture is legendary. For generations, dreamy youth the world over have been making pilgrimages to the City of Light where — like the hero of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” — they pass languid afternoons on café terraces in search of a romantic connection with Paris’ mythic past.   I once was one of those fresh-faced youths. When I first moved here as a student in the 1980s, most mornings I could be found at the Café de la Mairie in Place Saint-Sulpice gulping down my café crème while hunched over Le Monde or one of the London papers. I don’t

Gustave Caillebotte, “Rue de Paris, temps de pluie”, 1877. Today I was walking in my old Batignolles neighbourhood in Paris and suddenly remembered the famous Caillebotte painting of a Paris street in the rain. It is one of my favourite French paintings from the 19th century, particularly as it shows my old street, rue Clapeyron. I walked over to the spot — at the corner of rue de Moscou and rue de Turin — where Caillebotte executed the work in 1877. As a vista, very little has changed in nearly 150 years, except the absence of cobblestones seen in the painting. Caillebotte painted the work on a rainy day; I took the photograph with my iPhone on a hot August afternoon. The painting, in English called “Paris Street, Rainy Day”, is currently at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Oscar in the Tuileries gardens yesterday near the Louvre, in background. 

Bloomsday in Paris

Saturday, 16 June 2012 by

The life and works of James Joyce are celebrated every June 16, the date on which the story in his masterpiece Ulysses takes place in the year 1904. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t have at least a fleeting thought for Joyce — he is my neighbour in Paris and I walk by his place almost every day. In the 1930s when Joyce was a famous writer in the final decade of his life, he lived in the comfortably bourgeois 7th arrondissement on rue Edmond-Valentin, not far from the Eiffel Tower. I walk down Joyce’s small street when taking Oscar for his daily stroll to the Champ de Mars. The street possesses a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower which is only two blocks away. It is also just down the road from the Alma bridge crossing the Seine. Thirty

Afternoon in the Passage Vivienne

Friday, 18 May 2012 by

This afternoon in the Passage Vivienne:  I enjoyed a charming lunch today in the “grands boulevards” on the Right Bank, a part of Paris which evokes so many memories — both in life and in literature. About twenty-five ago when I was a young graduate student in Paris, I had a part-time job at Agence France Press whose headquarters were just across from the Bourse. In those days I lived in rue des Saint-Peres on the Left Bank, just across the Seine from the Louvre. To get to my work at AFP, I crossed the Seine and cut across the Louvre courtyard (then a vast Egyptian construction site) and through the gardens of the Palais Royal. During my lunch breaks, I would take long walks down the grand boulevards, sometimes strolling all the way to Opera…. And there I was

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