Local Heart, Global Soul

April 17, 2014

Zooming In, You Never Know What You Might See…

Once a detail fanatic, always a detail fanatic… blogger or no blogger back in the Spring of 2009 I still filled my camera with close ups and as much detail as I could manage. This trip to Paris was no different, here is a photographic post on the stunning detail of Sacré-Cœur…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Gargoyle? No, just a cheeky imp…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 16, 2014

Sacré-Cœur, So Much More Than Just A View From The Hill…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (Sacré-Cœur / Sacred Heart of Jesus Basilica) is one of the most visited and photographed places in Paris.

Stand on the steps outside and “people watch” and you will see everything: bus tour guides trying to keep their group together and on schedule for the next destination, trying round up the stragglers who want “just one more photograph” or souvenir.

There are school trip parties of either fairly young children or teenagers, the first distracted because they would rather be in a playground somewhere and the later  looking bored because these things aren’t really cool but at least a day out is better than a regular day at school and stacks of homework.

You see the obvious stereotypical types too: backpackers, the retired couples, the singles, the best friends in Paris, the lovers, the kids on family holidays getting their dose of culture and then there are the hawkers, buskers, gypsies and somewhere blending in, the pickpockets too.

Sacré-Cœur basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. It was a was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. and was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. Sacré-Cœur has it all, it’s beautiful and so imposing that even then you are driving around the Paris ring road it’s sometimes possible on a clear day to catch a glimpse of it in the distance. The American friends I came to Paris to meet are busy with their tour group at the moment so I’m alone and can wander as I please. I join the hordes and turn my camera to the beauty of the Basilica. I might not have been a blogger  back in May 2009 when I took these photographs but I was still very interested in beautiful buildings and taking photos.

One thing everyone wants to see when they look out over the Parisian landscape is la tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower). Tourists peering desperately into the distance as they search don’t realise that you can’t see it if you are standing  looking out at the city directly in front of the Sacré-Cœur. You need to follow the curve of the road to the right and a 3-4 minute walk around the corner, past some tall trees on the hill will suddenly bring  tour Eiffel into view. Voilà !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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af1r sacre coeur (Small)

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacr%C3%A9-C%C5%93ur,_Paris

April 15, 2014

You Choose: Sweat The Steps Or Take The Funiculaire…

Filed under: France,Paris,Paris: Montmartre,photography — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have severe asthma and use a portable nebulizer.

Whilst hiking around the hills of  the Paris area of Montmartre  is possible with plenty of stops to take photographs, if I want to walk for longer on any given day I need to be  wise and take any short-cuts available. It’s because of this that I’m heading for another Paris landmark: the funiculaire.

Wikipedia tells me:  “The Montmartre funicular is an automatic funicular railway serving the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris, in the Eighteenth arrondissement. It is operated by the RATP, the Paris transport authority. It was opened on 13 July 1900 and was entirely rebuilt in 1935 and again in 1991.

The funicular carries passengers between the foot of the butte (outlier) of Montmartre and its summit, near the foot of the Sacré-Cœur basilica. It provides an alternative to the multiple stairways of more than 300 steps that lead to the top of the Butte Montmartre. At 108 m (354 ft) long, the funicular climbs and drops the 36 m (118 ft) in under a minute and a half. It carries two million passengers a year.

The Paris city government voted to construct the Montmartre funicular in 1891. Initially, operation of the funicular was subcontracted to Decauville through a concession that ended in 1931. Thereafter, the Société des transports en commun de la région parisienne (STCRP) took control, and this was nationalized together with the Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris (CMP) to form the Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP), which continues to operate the funicular today.

The original funicular was water-powered, using a system of cisterns of 5 m3 (180 cu ft) each that were filled or emptied to move the cars and to compensate for passenger load. In 1935, the system was converted to electricity. The funicular was completely rebuilt by the RATP in 1990–1991.”

Open every day from 6 am until 12.45 am, transporting 6,000 people a day, or around 2 million a year, I entered one of the two carriages and became yet another tourist who was very grateful for the more restful  lift up the hill, whilst the more hardy sweated their way up the steps.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montmartre_funicular

April 14, 2014

Marching Around Montmartre…

Filed under: France,Paris: Montmartre,photography — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you are ever thinking of visiting Paris I have several recommendations: forget packing your high heels ladies, you are going to need your comfortable walking shoes far more.

European streets often consist of cobblestones or bricks, and Paris is not exactly flat, of course there is the metro train system but even there you’ll need your walking shoes.

The Paris Metro has more stairs than any other public transport system I have found to date and worse still, lifts and escalators are exceptionally rare so it must be a nightmare for disabled people and anyone considering moving around with a pram.

Also of course if you use only the metro then you will have an excellent idea of what underground Paris looks like but it’s the above ground Paris you came to see wasn’t it?

So get those walking shoes on and prepare to do some hiking (it’s well worth it).

Back in 2009 I joined my visiting American Foodie friend and her husband in Paris since it was only three and a half hours on the high-speed train from The Netherlands , we had been corresponding on the internet for several years and we wanted to finally meet in person.

During this post they were off on one of their tour group  planned excursions so I was left to explore on my own. A short series of metro journeys later I exited the underground in the region of  Montmartre and prepared to do some hiking. It’s well worth taking smaller winding streets and investigating local bakeries, grocery shops and local markets. One thing that I discovered later when showing  the photographs to my American friends was their fascination that asparagus in Europe is usually white, and not the green variety they are used to. There are plenty of traditional old style Parisian buildings to photograph, but one new one made it into the series because  the whole building was decorated to look like a bar of chocolate. New or old, many of the views around Montmartre are delicious…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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April 13, 2014

So Beautiful: It’s A Walk In The Park…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s totally amazing that  in a city of over ten million people that it is possible to have almost an entire central city park to yourself.

Admittedly I got up ridiculously early on a Sunday morning and this is a business park area which is crowded during the working week but relatively empty during the weekends, but just a few kilometres from the heart of Paris? I was stunned.

All of this was back in 2009  when I was in Paris meeting up with a Foodie friend and her husband, we had been on-line friends via a cooking website for several years previous and this was an excellent chance to finally meet in person.

I was not disappointed: she and her husband were lovely, witty and charming and in between their  scheduled tour group  events we spent many an hour exploring the city.

They are staying at the Sofitel Paris Bercy Hotel in Bercy Village and I stayed at the Ibis Hotel just around the corner. They had been out late with the tour group on Saturday evening and the jet lag had now kicked in more than just a little, so I left them to sleep in at their hotel whilst I made an early bird start from mine. I didn’t have far to walk to reach my next destination, I had spied an intriguing set of gates close to the  nearest Paris metro station (Cour Saint-Émilion) and had gotten up early especially to investigate this place further.

The place in question is “Parc de Bercy”, a  beautiful city park that runs alongside part of Quai de Bercy. It’s so peaceful and during my entire time walking around I saw only two other people, but a little group of sparrows (?) joined me, probably in hope of caging some breakfast, but alas I had no food on hand to give them.It’s a long photographic post, but I hope you will agree well worth it because I consider this to be one of Paris’s hidden gems.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Parc de Bercy
128 Quai de Bercy
75012 Paris
Frankrijk

April 12, 2014

Not Water From Wine, But Renewal From Wine Warehouses…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Big cities all over the world are regularly faced with the dilemma of how to upgrade  former industrial areas.

In European cities that have grown substantially over the centuries, industries that were once on the outskirts of the city  now find themselves in prime residential and commercial  areas as the city and it’s population expands.

Inevitably the encroachment means that land prices rise and industrial use is not longer as profitable, transportation of industrial sized goods become difficult in now more densely populated areas and the industries start searching for cheaper land out of town where transport is easier and land prices are cheaper.

This eventually leaves old historical inner city areas run down or derelict and local councils have to decide between demolition or incorporating the old buildings into the regeneration project.

In the Bercy Village area in Paris, France there were long rows of wine warehouses that presented just such a problem  but luckily the solution found was to turn this into an artisan shopping area. The renovated warehouses now house cafés, restaurants and a large variety of shops, I will admit that it is rather touristy, but listening to the languages spoken as I walked past the outside tables of the eateries, it seems to be a popular place with locals too.

I like that some of the original features such as the railway line in the street have been kept, even if they have been filled in and are just symbolic.

The metro station is close by so I passed this every day at various times of day but took the photographs early on a Sunday morning when things were quiet and I could walk and take photos without the jostle and bustle of the crowds. I did try and take photos at other times but it was so busy the views were obscured.

On the Saturday I shopped there buying a long rainbow coloured ribbon on a stick (like the ones rhythmic gymnasts use)  for Kiwi Daughter to play with in the park and a wind-up torch for LittleMr. who was busy at home trying to waste as many batteries as possible with his obsession with torches at the time. Himself  scored some handmade chocolates and a bottle of the very alcoholic type.

The metro station is on the other side of the wine warehouses but instead of getting the business park and office worker commuters to walk around the long row of warehouses, one of the warehouse buildings was left empty, exits made in the back and is now a covered passageway that short-cuts though the line of buildings without changing the style, line or character of the buildings very much at all. It’s the kind of sympathetic solution to solve a practical problem whilst still keeping the history that I love. Ingenious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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April 11, 2014

Learning The Short-cuts To Find A Bed…

Filed under: Art,France,Paris,photography,Statues — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you want advice about an inexpensive but clean and safe hotel chain to use in Europe, then my personal recommendation would be for the Ibis Hotel chain.

Paris, like any of the biggest cities in Europe is expensive when it comes to accommodation because land prices are so steep.

My friends were part of an organised tour group so their hotel was part of the tour package and they didn’t choose their accommodation themselves.

They stayed at the more expensive Sofitel hotel chain and I wanted to find inexpensive accommodation close by.

The best way to go about this when looking in central Paris is to first find out which  “arrondissement”  you would like start searching in.

Pronounced “Ah rond dees mont“, an  “arrondissement”  is an administrative district and Paris is divided into twenty of them. Confusingly for the non French speaking visitor though, the full word  “arrondissement”  is used in the spoken rather than in written form, so you have to know that the written abbreviation for it is “ème” when it directly follows one of the numbers one to twenty. Therefore the area I where was searching  for accommodation was in the  “12ème”  meaning “the 12th arrondissement”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The specific location within the 12ème was the Bercy Village area, which is actually a business park area, full of offices and conference facilities which basically means that it’s exceptionally busy in and out of the metro at rush hour on weekdays but quiet in the evenings and weekends, and the area is good so this turned out to be an ideal location.

As luck would have it there was an Ibis Hotel literally just around the corner from the Sofitel Bercy so I booked immediately.

Sofitel Paris Bercy
Rue de Libourne
Paris 12 F-75012
Tel 33 14446 4673400

ibis Paris Bercy Village 12ème
19, place des Vins de France
75012 PARIS
FRANCE

This trip to Paris took place way back in 2009 shortly before I started blogging so I don’t have photographs of my hotel room but I did take photos of the views out of the window and of the sitting  female sculpture outside the Sofitel. The standing lady sculpture is in the garden area around the office buildings. I’ve included a screen shot to show how close the two hotels are to each other and other screen shot shows the short distance from Notre-Dame (the geographic centre of Paris) to Bercy Village, so it’s also a very central location.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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April 10, 2014

Au Vieux Comptoir: A Recommendation Brings Us To Lunch…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m lucky to have French friends, some of who also originally hail from Paris.

More than one of these is a fellow Foodie and they were happy to list their favourite cafés and restaurants in their native city.

It goes without saying that when my American Foodie friend and her husband asked for advice on where to head to for lunch, the recommendation that I had been given went down really well.

Usually it’s essential to reserve to get a seat here but luckily we arrive outside the main lunchtime rush hour and there is space for the three of us.

“Au Vieux Comptoir”  is fairly well known and has a regular clientèle and many excellent reviews.

For me personally the food was good but I wouldn’t got so far as to say it’s the best I’ve ever eaten, but maybe I’ve been been totally spoiled by having experienced some amazing home cooking from some of our  French friends with their home grown produce and seven course meals.

I opt for a fillet of salmon and my friends for a smoked salmon and salad and sardine dish respectively. The food is good and the service is friendly and we were pleased we came here for lunch.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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The closest Metro station…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Au Vieux Comptoir
17 rue des Lavandières-Sainte-Opportune
75001 Paris
France
Tel: +33 1 45 08 53 08

http://www.au-vieux-comptoir.com/

April 9, 2014

Beginning (Carefully) in Paris From Kilometre Zero…

Filed under: France,Paris,photography — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you dropped off any tourist in the centre of Paris, chances are that they will make a bee-line for one of the cities most well known landmarks.

On this Paris trip I was no different: one of my first stops was “Île de la Cité”  which is one of only two remaining natural islands in the Seine in Paris (the other being the Île Saint-Louis) a smaller island next to Île de la Cité, connected by a bridge .

Of course the most famous building on the Île de la Cité is the French Gothic church “Notre-Dame de Paris”  (Our Lady of Paris) also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral which is one of the most well-known church buildings in the world.

As a tourist you must be extra careful in the area around Notre-Dame, it’s a pickpocket heaven and also one of the local hotspots for con artist gangs.

One ruse is to get the unsuspecting tourist to put out their arm, a woven or string band is quickly tied around it and then extortionate tactic are used to induce the tourist into paying for it.

Or the trick used on the street or in shops where (often a child) will give the tourist a nudge and question if the ring being offered was dropped by them. Once the tourist takes the ring to examine it the strong arm tactics are used to “request” payment. This “request” often involves the sudden appearance of an entire group of adults who surround the tourist, persistent and sometimes even menacing and since this of course is not the enduring memory of Paris that the tourist board hopes visitor will remember, Police have been very active in trying to stamp out these gangs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are still of course persistent thieves so it pays to try and not look like a tourist,  to know that not every “friendly” person around you has your best interest at heart and to keep your valuables and your hands well hidden.

Do  look for a little star in the pavement outside the front of Notre-Dame, it’s France’s “kilometre zero” and is the designated geographical centre of Paris.

It’s also the point from where all of the official distances are measured to other French cities.

Local tradition has it that if as a visitor to Paris, you step on the “kilometre zero” star, it’s good luck and means that you are destined to return to Paris one day.

A short distance away on the Île de la Cité, on Quai d’Orleans you will find an ice-cream parlour Berthillon , that came on the recommendation of more than one of my French friends as in their opinion having the best ice-cream in Paris.

We went there and tried some ice-cream of course, but not having tried all the other ice-creams in Paris I can’t tell you if this one was actually the best and we will all just have to take the word of my friends. On the other side of la Seine, located on the Quai de Conti you will also find the beautiful and imposing buildings of the  La conciergerie  and the Le Palais de la Justice.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ile St. Louis, Berthillon (icecream parlour) on Quai d’Orleans…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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kilometre zero…

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les fleurs, (rue de la Cité )…

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Rue de Lutèce. (Ile de la Cité) …

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Rue de Lutèce. (Ile de la Cité)…

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La conciergerie …

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La Seine and La conciergerie …

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La conciergerie and the Le Palais de la Justice…

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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April 8, 2014

Taking A Very Speedy Trip Into The Past: A Paris Adventure…

Filed under: France,Paris,photography — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know what it’s like: the digital age means that you accumulate thousands of photographs on your hard drive and forget to make them into that hard cover book you keep promising yourself you will get around to making, or sorting them into some sort of coherent system.

This is one of my reasons for blogging: my “diary” just happens to be an on-line one where I share my travels and adventures, but not our personal details.

It’s also a chance for me to archive my photographs and to add the text details from the notes I always make at the time so that when I am old and forgetful or when my children want to recount their childhood travels they can do so easily. (Yes, I do have a back-up copy of my blog posts too).

Since I am not particularly mobile at the moment and my morphine based pain relief makes me sleepy I have been trying to use any clear headed time wisely and set myself a task that I can do in small bite-sized pieces over several weeks or months.

This set  of photographs came about when one of my foodie friends announced in 2009 that she was coming to Europe with her husband to celebrate a special wedding anniversary. They would be part of a tour group and would be passing through Paris, where there were several events scheduled over the three days there for the group but the rest of the time they would be free to set their own itinerary.

Since I had been to Paris before, speak some French and had known her on-line for several years and we had been dying to meet each other in person, this seemed the perfect place to join up. Paris is thee and a half hours by Thalys  (the Dutch version of the fast-train TGV) so I left Himself to babysit at home and set out rather literally at high speed for Paris. First stop in Paris is Gare du Nord (Station North)… so once out of the Thalys it’s time to look around this famous station…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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