Thursday, 28 July 2011

Luscious Loire

We're still in the Loire, running on an Internet connection run by ladybirds. The ladybirds round here are very talented.

The good news is it has stopped raining.

Though it's still a little chilly in the evenings. No eating outside yet, we even roasted marshmallows one evening, not an activity one would usually consider in July.

 We've been out on a few jaunts on the bikes, we cycled along here...
...and ended up here.
The plants have clearly loved this recent bout of rain, they are thriving!
The bees are in 7th heaven.
Happy 50th anniversary C and D. And thank-you.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Raindrops in the Loire

We're spending a week in the Loire, in a beautiful place we have been coming to for years, courtesy of a childhood friend. It's been raining, and it's cold. For a moment I thought we'd got it wrong and gone to Donegal on the west coast of Ireland where we were there last year.
Better weather due as of now. I love it here.
You can find more raindrop shots here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An afternoon aux Puces (St Ouen)

Apparently the flea market, situated between Porte de St Ouen and Porte de Clignancourt in the north of Paris, has the highest concentration of antiques stalls in the world. I don't know if this is true but it certainly has an incredible range of stalls, starting at the western end (by Porte de St-Ouen) with people selling things they have found while trawling through the bins of Paris.

And ending at the eastern end with new clothes and shoes. In the middle are many, MANY stalls selling anything and everything you care to imagine. If you ever need new wheels for your suitcase for example, this is the place to come.

When we went last week the weather was beautiful.
I took photos of some of the buildings. Many look like they may fall down any moment.
I love looking down the small alley ways and seeing where people live. Here is a rather lovely lane.
At the very end is this gorgeous house. It looks positively idyllic here on a sunny day.
One of my favourite places is this small back yard selling statues, sculptures and garden furniture.

I rather fancy this door bell.
Here is a mermaid crouched under a lion.
If you ever fancy a traffic light...
Across the road from here we spotted a fox. Everybody's 'must-have'.
Behind the fox is a gorgeous shop where you can by leather hides...
...and brocade tassels and ribbons.
It was hot, so we stopped for some refreshment.
Felt much better after that. Weeeeeeeeeee!
For more photos of the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen can be found here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow).

The market is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Details of when the market is on can be found here. (in English) and here (in French and English)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Chantilly in green

We have family staying at the moment so are enjoying being tourists at home. On Monday we went to Chantilly a town 40kms north of Paris. We went there back in May. During that visit we went to the Musée Vivant du Cheval (the Living Museum of the Horse). This time we went to see the Château and its' gardens. The Château was built in 1560 for the Duc of Montmorency whose father worked in the household of Louis XII. The Château is not that big, but looks enchanting, built in a creamy yellow sandstone with a scalloped slate roof, surrounded by a large moat. Here is a view as you approach from the Musée Vivant du Cheval.
The gardens are beautifully kept, they were laid out for the most part by André Le Nôtre. Unfortunately we didn't leave enough time to visit all of the gardens, but we did see part of them, including a brilliant labyrinth that the kids enjoyed charging around. The gardens are beautifully kept and very green, with water ways, small areas of woodland, a jardin anglais and much more. For this post I've gathered together a series of green themed photos I took in the gardens. 

Here is a wrought iron bridge crossing a waterway. It cast some lovely shadows....
...and even better reflections.
There were plenty of fish.
A few birds. Here's one in a cage.
I love living in Paris. I love big cities. But sometimes to get out into the countryside and enjoy bigger skies and more greenery is just what the soul needs. 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Living Wall at Quai Branly

The Musée du Quai Branly exhibits a stunning collection of indigenous art and culture from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The building was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel and completed in 2006. It is situated 100 metres from the Eiffel Tower. 

The north side of the museum complex flanks the 'Quai Branly' a busy multi lane road running along the south side of the Seine. Along this northern side and part of the museum complex is a 'living wall', or a 'green wall', 200 metres long and 12 metres high, designed Patrick Blanc and Gilles Clément, both botanists and skilled gardeners. 

The first time I saw it a few years ago I was not expecting to do so, I had never seen anything like it. I was amazed by the luscious, textural, green facade of this modern building, with otherwise sharp angular contours.

What adds to the magic are the windows that reflect the sky.

Here it is in May 2010.

And here it is in May 2011, during the exceptionally warm spring we were treated to this year.

Once you get up close to the wall you see the multitude of different plants growing and the complexity and detail of the design.

There is an inbuilt watering system that irrigates the wall. 

When you go into the museum gardens, embedded in the pathways are resin blocks containing non living plants, as well as insects and shells. The kids love hunting out these little gems. I prefer the living plants, but these are not bad either.