My Parisian friends frequently tell me that my neighbourhood in the stuffy 7th arrondissement is, well, boring. It’s an observation that, at first blush, is difficult to dispute. I once read the 7th arrondissement described as “Poodleland” – a bourgeois enclave where rich ladies walk their little dogs along wide prosperous avenues. True, Poodleland is quiet, self-assured, and inward looking. Old aristocratic habits – and bylaws — keep trade to a strict minimum. There are no cinemas, no retail chains, no food concourses, no McDonald’s, no public swimming pools, and no sports gyms. When a Starbucks showed up in the rue Saint-Dominique some time ago, there was a mild flutter of incomprehension throughout the neighbourhood. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Poodleland was once the centre of bohemian nightlife in Paris. It even had a name: Magic City. Magic

On the banks of the Seine

Sunday, 10 February 2013 by

Took this photo yesterday afternoon while walking along the Seine with Oscar on our way to the Tuileries. The Seine’s banks are overflowing at the moment. You can see the high water level under the Concorde bridge. The Louvre is on the left beyond the bridge, and Notre Dame is visible in the distance.

The Pont Alexandre III: Past and Present

Tuesday, 05 February 2013 by

Yesterday I took the photo (top) of the Pont Alexandre III near my place. The second photo (below) was taken from roughly the same spot in 1900 — more than a century ago. In both photos the Grand Palais is in the background on the other side of the Seine. In 1900 the Grand Palais had just been built for the Exposition Universelle that year.

Oscar in Place Dauphine

Tuesday, 01 January 2013 by

    Oscar in Place Dauphine: Going to meet friends for lunch, I took Oscar along and on our way to the restaurant near Notre Dame we cut through Place Dauphine.

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. 

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. 

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