Saturday, 28 May 2011

Cherubs, lampposts and golden horses vie for attention

The Pont Alexandre III bridge was built as part of the series of projects built for the Universal Exposition of 1900. Construction started in 1897 and was completed 3 years later. Components of the bridge were pre-fabricated in a factory and then brought to the site and assembled using a large crane. I have mentioned the amazingly over the top lampposts on Pont Alexandre III before. These ones. 
Viewed like this they look utterly extravagant. When you look more closely you realise the extravagance extends to the details.
I was rather taken with the lamppost's lion paw feet.
Not to mention this cherub surfing on a giant fish.
If you look closer still you see that somebody has attached one of the 'love locks' by the base of the fish.
People haven't been able to resist touching the cherub's toe.
At each end of the bridge are stone statues, often detailed with gold. 
The Eiffel Tower is vying for attention...."Coucou, don't forget me! I'm over here. Remember!"

And then of course there are the gold horses on top of the 17 metre high granite pillars. They have been gilded recently and shine beautifully as they catch the sun.
I can't help thinking this horse is also trying to get my attention..."Pick me, pick me!"

Sunday, 22 May 2011


My parents were in town for a few days last week. As is often the case when they're here we embarked on a more ambitious outing than the usual trot to one of the local parks. We went to Chantilly, a small town about 40kms north of Paris, easily accessible from Paris by trains leaving from the Gard du Nord. Chantilly has several attractions, the Château de Chantilly, the Musée Vivant du Cheval (the Living Museum of the Horse) and the Chantilly racecourse. The Chateau was built in the mid 16C but later part of it was destroyed in the French revolution and rebuilt in 1870.

The Musée Vivant du Cheval is housed in enormous stables built in 1790. The 186 metre long building can accomodate up to 240 horses and 500 hounds! Legend says that the Prince of Condé, who inherited the Château in 1632 requested the building of the stables, as he believed he would be reincarnated as a horse.

To get to the Museum from Chantilly station involves walking through a bit of forest, not unlike the Bois de Boulogne but without the hum of Parisian traffic in the background.
You can then walk 'as the crow flies' along the horse track, a vivid green plush strip of grass. One of the healthiest expanses of grass I have ever seen in this country.
At the end of this long strip of grass is the Musée Vivant du Cheval, decorated with...of course...horses.
The stone is a lovely soft butter coloured limestone.
As luck (a miracle) would have it, we arrived just in time for a horse show. 14h30 incase you're interested. The show takes place inside.
The horses are beautiful.
And the riders, very skilful, manoeuvring round a tiny arena with a 13metre diameter.
This horse wasn't in the show, isn't he handsome?
And this one has a beautiful eye...
...and nose
More photos of Chantilly can be seen here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Eiffel Tower, from afar and close up

I've written about the Eiffel Tower before. I usually see the Eiffel Tower from afar, from up the hill in Montmartre. A hazy, filigree (oh-so-incredibly-well-known) spire in the distance.

So when I cross the river I'm always pleased to get up closer, to appreciate the scale of the Eiffel Tower as it pops up in unexpected places.

I'm not a pigeon fan, but admit to being quite charmed when I saw this pigeon eye-balling the Eiffel Tower.
It's only when you get up very close you realise how incredibly intricate and elaborate the details are on the Eiffel Tower, with swirls and curls.

On the sides of the Tower, just below the first floor platform are the names of 72 famous French scientists in gold letters. Here are a few.

The Tower is painted 'Eiffel Tower Beige', by hand, with brushes! It takes 6-7 years the paint it. Three shades of brown are used to paint the Tower, starting with the darkest shade on the lower level, gradually getting lighter at each level above. The lower level looks like it must have recently been painted.

I love these giant metal pulleys, used for hauling the lifts up and down between the ground and first floor.

And finally, where do you think I took this photo from, Photoshop was not involved. Hint - the clue is in the neon light.

More photos of th Eiffel Tower can be seen here and here

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Well hello there Montmartre, you're looking very fine this morning! 

People say that Montmartre is like a village, and sometimes it really feels that way, especially early in the morning.
Here is a door way just by the Sacré Cœur. If somebody told me this was a door way in Provence somewhere I wouldn't argue.
Evidence would suggest it's rose season. I've never really noticed Paris roses as much as I have this year. Are there more roses due to the amazing weather we've had lately? Or are there always so many lovely roses at this time of year and I've never paid attention to them? Here is a peek at an amazing rose garden on Rue St Vincent.

I love red roses.
And close up. What can I say.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Tritons and Naiads catch the sun

I've crossed the river twice in the past week. There is nothing  quite like crossing the Seine to make you realise you live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. One thing that always strikes me as I get close to the river is how much bigger the sky feels as compared with up in Montmartre. Up in Montmartre, unless you are up by the Sacré Cœur overlooking Paris, you don't tend to see big open skies and long views like this.
Before crossing the river I cycled over La Place de la Concorde. I decided to stop half way across and have a closer look at the two fountains by the Obelisk. I've never really had a close look at them before, usually walking or cycling past them on my way to somewhere else. They're pretty elaborate! Built in 1840 they are designed round the theme of rivers and seas. The southernmost fountain is devoted to seas, and has six tritons or naiads holding golden fish that periodically spout water jets upwards.
In the centre of the fountains are are four figures depicting different arts and crafts. I love the way they shine.

The northernmost fountain is devoted to rivers and similarly has tritons and naiads. They all  have rather fine physiques I might add.

The water was spilling over the upper parts of the fountain.

A man in the centre was holding grapes.
And finally, I spotted a naiad with a rather fine hat.