Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sculptures in a courtyard on Boulevard Saint-Germain

I happened upon this open courtyard full of neat sculptures the other day on Boulevard Saint-Germain, near Métro Solférino. In between taking pictures I read the name of the artist on a card by the entrance, and then promptly forgot it; oops! I've been trying to do some clever Googling to find some info on the artist, but so far I haven't been able to turn up anything. Any ideas?



Parisian Proto-Goth Beauties, 1910


(Parisian Proto-Goth Beauties, 1910, from http://chrisarrant.tumblr.com)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clever stencil of a guy stealing a no entry sign



(Well, stealing part of it.) Spotted on Rue Lepic.

Vincent and Théo Van Gogh's apartment at 54 Rue Lepic


One of my favorite strolls in Paris involves taking Rue Lepic and winding up around the hill of Montmartre; I mentioned this a while back in my article about La Basilique du Sacré Coeur . One of the many interesting sites along this path is the Van Gogh brothers' old apartment. The plaque marking the place is small and a little high up and easy to miss. But if you're in the area, just look for number 54 and you'll spot it.

The plaque reads, "Dans cette maison Vincent Van Gogh a vécu chez son frère Théo de 1886 à 1888." — "In this house Vincent Van Gogh lived at his brother Théo's place from 1886 to 1888."

Friday, December 16, 2011

13 858 € — Etonnant, Non?



€13,858 — Surprising, huh?

Real estate in France is measured in square meters, and there's always a lot of discussion about how many square meters one's apartment is, how much per square meter a particular apartment costs, etc. I found this delightful stencil on the sidewalk of Rue des Saints-Pères, in the very fashionable (and pricey) Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the 6th arrondissement. I have to wonder if this price is accurate (I have absolutely no notion of these kinds of things, but I figure the guy did his homework) and if the artist who made this particular stencil has perhaps made others that are specific to certain streets or neighborhoods. A neat — and humbling — idea in any case! I've daydreamed from time to time about buying an apartment in Paris someday, maybe in the Marais or Montmartre, which are two neighborhoods that are probably only a little less expensive than this one, and this stencil is a real wakeup call. Wow.

Colorful monster van on Rue de l'Université

Giant creepy face on Boulevard Raspail

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas, Capitaine Dreyfus



Having grown up in America, I never heard about the Dreyfus affair (aka l'affaire Dreyfus) until I was living in Paris as an adult. It's a fascinating, heartbreaking, frustrating story, and it's very well-known by most French people I've talked to. The Wikipedia article is a good introduction to the story, which is one that definitely still weighs heavily on the French conscience.

I happened upon this statue of Capitaine Dreyfus in a tiny park in the Montparnasse neighborhood; I recognized him by his broken sword, and a glance at the plaque on the pedestal confirmed that this was indeed Dreyfus (and not some other guy whose statue had simply been vandalized). The plaque includes the sobering inscription, "If you want me to live on, restore my honor." Anyway, it struck me as a little bit odd and a little bit funny that this poor guy, who happened to be Jewish and suffered greatly for that fact at the hand of the mainstream/Christian French people, has to share his little park with two big ol' Christmas trees. You're seeing the whole park in the picture above; there's really nothing in it but the statue and the trees.

Something I end up discussing with my French friends a lot is the strange, often misguided American notion of political correctness. I personally think we Americans overdo it a lot, but I always mention that I'd almost always prefer to err on the side of overdoing it rather than rejecting the idea all together and adopting the kind of carelessness or insensitivity that I often see in a lot of other countries (and back in the US a lot of the time, I should mention!). It's a matter of perspective, and I don't blame the French for not seeing what I see as insensitivity where they just see things as they've always been.

In any case, I'm not even really criticizing the city of Paris for putting these Christmas trees in Dreyfus' park; it's just something that struck me as funny, because if this happened in the US, some folks (both Jewish and non) would definitely take issue with it, complain to the city, and probably demand an apology and that the trees be removed. And they'd probably get it. In Paris, no one bats an eye. I don't have any strong feelings about this particular instance myself; like I said, sometimes I think we take the PC thing way too far in the US, and sometimes I think the French should really be a little more sensitive about these things. It's a gray area with a million different shades of gray. Just something to think about.

I really recommend reading up on the Dreyfus affair. You can visit Capitaine Dreyfus' tomb in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mr. Ryde is Watching You! (Ta Gueule)

I happened to be wandering around some little side streets in between the Luxembourg Gardens and the Montparnasse neighborhood when I came upon this lovely bit of graffiti that says "TA GUEULE" (photo 1), which is a common French expression meaning "shut up." (It comes from "ferme ta gueule" — literally, "shut your mouth/snout.") Delightful! Upon closer inspection, I noticed this charming little stencil off to the side, and decided to take a photo of that as well (photo 2). Then I wandered a block or so and found a different version of this same guy (3), and then another (4), and another (5)! Lastly, I bumped into this poster (6) pasted high up on a wall, declaring, "Mr. Ryde is watching you." It certainly would appear to be so!


(Click any of the pics to see a larger version.)

I did a bit of Googling to see if I could find any information about our friend Mr. Ryde, but so far I've come up with nothing at all. I've never seen this image anywhere else in Paris, and after finding these five, I wandered in a one-block radius around this area looking for others, but didn't find any more. Quel grand mystère !

Update: Intriguing!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Paris Métro station names interpreted literally – photos by Janol Apin

Oh man, this is so cool! Les noms des stations de métro pris au pied de la lettre – Photographies de Janol Apin — Métro station names interpreted literally, photos by Janol Apin.


A couple of these are cultural references that even I don't get after living in France for years and years, but most of them are fairly obvious and fun and clever. Check 'em out!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oops



During all my time in central Paris, I was always fascinated by these posts that come out of the street to regulate traffic. Some streets are pedestrian-only during certain parts of the day and open to cars at other times, and these posts keep the cars out. But what if you're unfortunate enough to be driving over them right when they're coming up? Well, fortunately there are traffic lights in place to tell you to stop when the posts are going to pop up. But if you run the light, which happens all the time in Paris, you might be in for trouble!

I saw this taxi on Rue Montmartre one morning. I love how his license plate popped off and is just sitting there in front of the car.

Scarfood

Say bonjour to my little friend.

I present to you, dear readers, one of my favorite stupid and nonsensical things in all of Paris:



This place was/is right down the street from my old apartment in Pigalle, just below Place Blanche, where the Moulin Rouge is. Note they even put a Scarface poster on the door in case you didn't get the reference. What I wish they'd put up is a poster explaining why they're making the reference.

Attention au vampire



I bumped into this sign a while back up in MontMartre, on Rue Lepic. It stayed up for a few days. I never did find that vampire.

Artwork on Rue Chapon



This piece used to be right outside my apartment on the edge of the Marais. I have no idea who these people are or if these photos might have been taken at my building; if so, the door has been changed since then.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Back in the days



Run-DMC, Eiffel Tower. Well, of course!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The skinniest sandwicherie in Paris



This has gotta be the world's skinniest sandwicherie! That's a scarf store and an art gallery on either side, so the sandwich place really is just that narrow section in the middle. I bet they get stuck if they try to hand you your sandwich longways. New employees probably do that all the time.

(Rue des Gravilliers)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sham Paris

Holy crap! During World War I the French worked on building a fake Paris outside the real Paris, to "disorient German aviators into bombing and destroying it rather than the real city." Amazing! Check out the whole article, with maps and photos:

A Paris Made to be Destroyed--Sham Paris, 1917/18

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Good bars/cafes to watch a rubgy match in Paris?

I received a message on Twitter from @sjhphotography asking the following:

"Hi Manning. I am in Paris this weekend & wonder if you could recommend a bar/cafe to watch the England v France rugby? Stuart."

The short answer is, I really don't know! Well, specifically, anyway. I've never been much of a sports fan, so I don't have a particular bar to recommend. Fortunately, I can tell you that practically every single bar and cafe in Paris will be showing the game -- some of the smaller ones even wheeling in a big ol' tv from home just for the occasion -- and I can suggest a few neighborhoods and streets with lots of lively bars and pubs, so you can bar-hop a bit and find something you like. Paris goes completely crazy during rugby and football season, and there are fun times to be had all over the city.

So, first of all, if any readers have any specific suggestions for bars/pubs/cafes that are great places to watch a game, please leave a comment! Thanks!

The first area that springs to mind for me is Pigalle, aka Paris' red light district. The main big street that runs through Pigalle, called the Boulevard de Clichy, is full of bars and cafes and pubs, which are somewhat touristy, but I don't see that as a bad thing when you're looking to watch a rugby game with a lot of fans, both local and from out of town. The area is a little seedy, and you'll want to keep an eye out for rowdy drunks (both domestic and imported), pickpockets, hash dealers, strip club employees aggressively trying to pull you into their clubs, etc, but none of this should be a big deal if you keep your eyes open. I lived in the heart of Pigalle for about a year, and I absolutely love the sleazy ambiance there; I never had any trouble there at all. So, if this all sounds good, I recommend taking the Metro to Place Blanche, right in front of the Moulin Rouge, and then walking up and down the Boulevard de Clichy from there until you find a bar that looks good; you'll be able to see the big-screen tvs from outside of most of them, and if the weather is okay a lot of them will have opened up their front walls/windows completely, so the party will be spilling out onto the street. I can think of at least two Irish pubs within a couple blocks of Metro Blanche, and all the French cafes and bars there are also big and loud and fun, and they all definitely have televisions. Anywhere on this street should be great.

Another bustling neighborhod that's definitely fun but less wild and sleazy is the area referred to as the Grands Boulevards, centered around the Metro station called Grands Boulevards. The big street there is called the Boulevard Poissonnière, which soon turns into the Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle in one direction, or Boulevard Haussmann in the other. This whole boulevard is full of bars and pubs (as well as restaurants, shops, clubs, etc), which you'll see immediately. Again, you'll have the combination of French cafes with local French fans and lots of tourists, and a few Irish or English pubs with lots of out-of-towners, and some locals too. This area is a little classier and more expensive than Pigalle, but they're both a lot of fun. I like recommending this area to people just because it's a part of Paris that most short-term visitors never see, even though it's relatively central. There's nothing particularly famous there, but it's a fun area with a wonderful, very Parisian ambiance.

I hope some of that helps! Good luck,

- Manning
 
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