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This week, this is again how I found the – giant - hibiscus in my – little – garden. 


It made me think that it was time for a little summer break - soon leaving for the south… I hope to be back blogging in about a month. In the meantime, especially if you live in the northern hemisphere, enjoy the season!  

I’m not the only one to love this tree and its flowers!



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I already mentioned this remarkable building in some previous posts, see here and here. Already from the outside it’s really amazing and it certainly has some of nicest gutters you’ve ever seen (see top picture).


It’s a very large mansion (hôtel particulier) built around 1880 for a banker, Emile Gaillard (1821-1902), and it’s still referred to as Hôtel Gaillard. It may be interesting to know that he was the banker of many of France’s richest dynasties, of Victor Hugo… and that he once was one of Chopin’s best pupils – Chopin even, in 1840, when Emile was 19, dedicated one of his mazurkas to him (Mazurka in A minor, B. 140 – you can listen to it on the net) !

Emile was married, there were children… , but the vast space was obviously especially requested to make place for a fantastic art collection, mostly from previous centuries. He asked the architect, Jules Février (1842-1937) to take inspiration from the Loire Valley renaissance castles (Blois, Gien…).

After Emile’s death, the art collection was sold, but it took until after WWI before the building was acquired by the Bank of France, who after much work, opened a branch office here, closed in 2006. 

A lot of the original architecture is fortunately still there, however we must of course remember that it had become a bank during some 85 years before closing with e.g. an important bank vault surrounded by heavy walls (temporarily closed when I visited – I “stole” a photo from the net).

On one of the walls you can find some caricatures in relief, one of Gaillard, holding a purse and one of the architect, Février, holding a compass.




It took then some time for the Bank to decide what to do with this building. There were some ideas to make it into some kind of a “Dumas Centre”, the three Dumas (grand-father, father, son) are all represented on the Square in front of the hotel (as, you can see on one of the photos, is Sarah Bernhardt who lived around the corner for a couple of years. I talked about all this in the posts I referred to above.) 

Finally, the decision was taken to make the place to a “Cité de l’Economie”, dedicated to economics, moneys… and, after a few years of restoration, it opened to public mid-June this year. If you want to learn something about economics there is now plenty of information - screens all over, of all sizes… documentation… Despite my education in economics, I was personally much more interested in the building itself.  
    

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In a previous post I showed colourful umbrellas in the “Village Royal”. This time I wanted to show colourful balloons. You will find them at the “Bercy Village”. This is the place where you can find what used to be wine merchant buildings, now transformed in to shops, restaurants… I posted about the place on my previous blog and also here.

But… on the way there (I had a nice lunch) and back, I walked through what since the 1990’s has been transformed into a large park (see again my previous posts). This time I decided to take photos only of some “details” of what you find in the park. “Details” refer of course basically to all the kinds of – colourful - flowers. A great bravo the gardeners!

But, the first thing I found was actually this turtle. Someone had offered it (him / her?) some roses. I had a feeling that it looked at me, somehow opening its eyes… but it didn’t care about the dead insect.

I hardly know the names of the flowers I saw (except roses…), but I recognized the fantastic garlic flower which to me looks like a concentration of hundreds of small tulips.

This flower has a very specific beauty I think – and I was not the only one to appreciate it.

I didn’t know that ants were climbing all the way up to visit flowers.

A few more flowers, berries, vines …





… and at last some examples of some nice insect “hotels”.

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Paris is preparing for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Place de la Concorde (see previous posts) was empty of cars and full of sports events last Sunday. This picture was of course “stolen” from the net – I did not offer myself any balloon-trip. An amazing thing is that when I passed by Monday noon, almost all was gone, the Place looked normal and the traffic was back.

Here we can see the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, doing some (fake) heavyweight lifting. She is accompanied by Tony Estanguet, three-time Olympic Champion (in canoeing) and who in the meantime had the time to graduate from a top business school … and now is serving as the head of the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics organizing committee. 

I show a number of pictures of different sports activities, not all of them yet present during the Olympic Games. People, especially the kids, were offered a first insight in some sports, led by instructors, some actually champions in their respective sports.






There was a symbolic 2024 meter run around the Place. 

Some of the participants were then, by some kind of lottery draw, winning the right to participate in the 2024 Marathon Race. Here we can see the lucky few, together with Tony Estanguet and the French Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, born in Romania, French Champion in swimming, Olympic silver medalist…


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There is a little street which you may take during a walk between the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church (see previous posts here) and the Saint-Sulpice Church (see previous posts here).


Actually, this little street hade the name of rue Saint-Soulpice, later rue Neuve-Saint-Sulpice, until the middle of the 17th century, when it got its present name, rue des Canettes, meaning the Duckling Street, because of the decoration you can still find on the front of no. 18 – see top picture. You can find four ducklings in different positions.


In the preceding post I talked about Marcel Proust (1871-1922). I discovered that there is something to be said about him also here. A lady, Céleste Albaret (1894-1984) - who was Proust’s secretary, housekeeper, factotum, for the last 8 or 9 years of his life - later, with her husband (who originally was Proust’s favourite taxi driver) and daughter, were during some twenty or thirty years running the hotel which now is named  Hotel La Perle. She was very much appreciated by Proust and she was, with Proust’s brother, present when he died… Proust who knew that he was dying had wished her to be the one to close his eyes. Here we can see a photo of her and what obviously was the last page of “In Search of Lost Time” (see “end – “fin”) - she talks about it in an interview made in 1962 for the French Television - you can see it here - in French - minutes 41:40-55:30. And there is also a little poem he wrote to her.

Here are some other views from the little narrow street, with a number of shops and places for eating and drinking.

We can see that the street poles also here have been decorated by CyKlop. I wrote about him e.g. here.  … and on the corner of rue Guisarde, we can see another “duckling” dressed like the comedian and actor Coluche (1944-1986) – I talked about him here and here.   


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“In search of lost time” is the title of seven volumes and several thousand pages written by Marcel Proust (1871-1922), by many considered to be among the greatest fictions ever written. The opinions may of course differ, but I’m rather proud to say that I have managed to read a large part of them – in French!  Last weekend I met a number of Proust fans and I have now promised to re-read Proust, maybe with “new eyes”.

Well, I didn’t lose my time last weekend. I went with some musician friends to meet other friends who have a country house close to a little village originally called Illiers. Marcel Proust spent some summer holidays here during his young years and the village appears in his writing as the fictional village Combray. The village was actually, thanks to Marcel Proust, in 1971, officially renamed Illiers-Combray.

After two days of preparations and final repetitions – and a lot of nice time, good eating and drinking - a garden party (with a lot of Proust discussions) took place followed by a concert by a trio of friends performing Smetana, Chostakovitch and Schubert.

Here are some pictures from the village…

… and the park, named “Pré Catelan”, but which in Proust’s writings corresponds to Swann’s park and which originally was designed by Marcel’s uncle – who actually appears on a photo I found on the net.

The church of the village is quite remarkable. Built during the 15th and 16thcenturies, its architecture is quite different. I was especially impressed by the around 1685 painted simple wooden church vault – see top picture.

… and I could not resist against taking some flower pictures.


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During a recent visit to the Père Lachaise cemetery (see previous posts here and here), I thought I should look, among the about 70.000 tombs, for the ones of some famous painters, sculptors… They are not always that easy to find – there are not the same crowds around them as e.g. with the tombs of Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison…

Well I found a few, which I will show without any particular order.

Here is the one of Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), of course especially known for his painting “The raft of the Medusa”. The sculptures on his tomb are by Antoine Etex (1808-1888).

When I found the one of Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), I took also a photo of the little inside altar. I posted about him already, at least twice, see here and here… also telling how we must thank him and his fortune for the number of impressionist paintings that could be saved to French museums.

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) was an excellent painter and sculptor, but remains perhaps especially known for his caricatures, often politically quite courageous.    

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) is here represented by a self-portrait, when he was 39, and and a later photo by Nadar (I will revert to him further down). Well, among a number of paintings, we may especially remember “Liberty leading the people” from 1830, the portrait of Chopin from 1838 (Chopin was 28)… I mentioned Delacroix several time in my posts, e.g. here, here, here, here, here… but I can’t now find the one I’m sure I once made about his museum. L  I found only this one, mentioning the outside of the museum.

I mentioned already Nadar (real name Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, 1820-1910) when showing the photo of Delacroix. He (and later also other members of his family) photographed almost all celebrities of their time, but Nadar was also an excellent caricaturist (see Balzac here). He took photos from the air already in the 1860’s, he was a friend of the future impressionists and their first exhibition in 1874 took place in his studio.  I wrote about it here.

The paintings by Camille Corot (1796-1875) may be seen as neo-classical, but are also seen as anticipating the impressionism, which started more or less when he died. He was also much related to the “Barbizon School” (see previous post here).

David d’Angerswas a name Pierre-Jean David (1788-1856) adopted when he as a student joined the studio of Jacques-Louis David in order to distinguish himself from the master painter. He was a sculptor and medalist, but today we may especially remember him for the pediment of the Pantheon (see previous posts).   


















George Seurat (1859-1891), a post-impressionist, especially known for his pointillism technique. We all recognize his very large painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Jatte”. 


Something completely different: Tignous is the synonym for Bernard Verlac (1957-2015), one of the victims of the Charlie-Hebdo shooting. He had been on their staff since 1992. Maybe a look on my post from January 2015?  

Marie Laurencin (1883-1956) was a member of the Picasso team, more than a good friend of Guillaume Apollinaire. She was one of the few women to be considered as - more or less - cubist painters. Here we can see a self-portrait from 1908 (she was 25) and one from 1909 where Apollinaire is in the middle… and we can recognize from the left to the right: Gertrude Stein, Fernande Olivier, ?, Picasso’s dog, Apollinaire, Picasso, the poet Marguerite Gillot, the poet Maurice Cremnitz (Maurice Chevrier)… and Marie herself at the piano.  (I have of course posted quite often on Picasso, see e.g. here.)

There is a columbarium at the cemetery with thousands of urns. One has the number 2102 – Max Ernst (1891 – 1976).  There is a lot to say about his life - his friends include a number of famous names (he was married to Peggy Guggenheim for a while …), but you can read on Wikipedia. I wrote about him and his fellow artists at the “Fusains” in the Montmartre area in a post here.

Then there is of course the tomb where Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920) is buried together with his last companion Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920). It was only some ten years after her suicide that the Hébuterne parents agreed that she could rest beside Amadeo. Their tragic story is well-known and I mentioned it again in this post and have of course referred to Modigliani quite often, e.g. here and here.  

I was desperately looking for the tomb of Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), the fantastic animal painter, but never found it. It should be here! I have talked about Rosa in some posts, e.g. here and here.

A last tomb this time is that of Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946), novelist, poet, but especially known as sponsor and friend of Picasso, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Matisse… We know her also for the portrait Picasso made of her in 1906. On one of the photos here, she is sitting at the Closerie des Lilas with the Hemingway kid. On another photo we see her together with her life partner Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967), with whom she shares the grave.

I may revert with other tombs another time…

In the meantime I cannot avoid showing some of the wild flowers I so much like to see in the cemeteries.


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A bit short of time for a "real post", so, just a question.  Just round the corner from where I live, I find these trees. To me they look very different... and beautiful! Anybody knows this kind of tree... or plant? 

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This used to a post office, an important one. You can still read the inscriptions on the façade: “P.T.T. BUREAU 34 P.T.T.”. “P.T.T.” stand for “Postes, Télégraphes, Téléphones” (translation hardly needed). This was the name of the French administration of postal services and telecommunications until 1991, when it was split into “La Poste” and “France Télécom”. This could have been my post office, but no… it’s now a very recently opened “Agnès b.” shop. I could possibly go here to buy a fairly expensive shirt or jacket, but for my postal services I must now walk quite a bit further.

There is still a little post office entrance and some limited postal services are offered, but only for “business”, not for “common people”.


One reason why I stopped in front of the shop - and actually entered – was that I saw this mural painting... still there. It has been there since 1946 and was then part of the post office decoration. The title of the painting is obviously “Saint Gabriel” and it was made by Edmée Larnaudie (1911-2001).  It may be a bit surprising to see that a religious painting used to decorate what was then a state office … but we must perhaps then remember that “Saint Gabriel” is the patron saint of postmen. It’s nice to see that the decorators of the shop have decided to keep the painting … and if you ask, the shop even offers a little paper about it and about the artist, who also sculpted, created tapestry, decoration for the Paris Opera…     

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A walk along the Seine, between the “Pont d’Austerlitz” (see previous post here) and the “Pont de la Tournelle” (see previous post here)… reminds me about the tango dancing I posted about almost ten years ago (see here), but in the daytime you can just enjoy the general nice feeling of walking along the River…


… see some “nature”…

… some river traffic…

… watch the opposite bank and see the exit (or entry) to the Canal Saint Martin (see some posts here) and a nice three-store-flat….  

… and something particular here – the number of sculptures. Most of these are from the 1950’s or 1960’s. One good thing, I feel, is that they are just there, solid, not depending on a rotating mechanism etc… (see my recent posts about rotating hearts and showers). The only danger of deterioration is maybe a little tagging.




One special word about this sculpture representing Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), which I already described when it was to be found in another arondissement (see my post here). I’m still impressed by how the artist, Jean-Robert Ipoustéguy (1920-), managed the simplified portrait of the young poet.

Once you arrive at the “Pont de la Tournelle”, you can admire the statue of “Sainte Geneviève” by Paul Landowski (1875-1961), perhaps most known for “The Christ the Redeemer” in Rio de Janeiro… and also have a look at the Notre-Dame - after the fire. 

Well, of course there are also flowers...



… some equipment for sports and amusement…

… a few animals…

… and a number of bikes which have been saved from the bottom of the River.


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