Friday, January 19, 2018


And plenty of it. The wind and rain have calmed down, temporarily. Another wave is predicted for the weekend. Joy. I haven't taken the camera out in weeks. The weird thing is that it's not really cold. In fact, the unseasonably warm temperatures are expected to continue for a while. Normally, January and February are our coldest months.

Escalator in the Pompidou Center, Paris, 2011.

I'm sure people around here are wondering if we're going to have a freeze this year. They always say that we need a good freeze or two to kill off the excess of bad bugs and weeds and molds. And then there's the probability of an early spring with a freeze or two in April. Like last year, spring freezes wreak havoc with the grape crop, especially if the vines start budding out early because of a warm winter. Oh well. Time will tell.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


This is another shot from the rooftop café and observation platform that once existed on the top of the Samaritaine department store. The basilica of Sacré Cœur in the distance draws the eye immediately toward the Butte Montmartre. But what I like best about this image is the closer dome of the Bourse de Commerce, former home of the Paris Commodities Exchange. It sits at the western end of the Les Halles development area.

Sacré Cœur and the Bourse de Commerce seen from La Samaritaine. Color slide, 199?.

Since 1998, the building belongs to the Paris Chamber of Commerce which offers business services to French and European enterprises doing business in Paris. The building and its dome have status as a historical landmark/monument.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I wanted to write a little more about the rooftop café at the old Samaritaine department store. I mentioned yesterday that the store is closed now. The store was established in 1870 and gets its name from a water pump that once existed on the Pont Neuf (bridge) across the street. The pump was adorned with a sculpture of the biblical story of Jesus and the Samaritan and Parisians eventually started calling the pump "la Samaritaine."

The Pont des Arts and some other famous landmarks seen from the rooftop café at La Samaritaine. Color slide, 199?.

The current collection of buildings that housed the department store were built around the turn of century (1900, I guess I shouldn't use that phrase any more) with the main buildings constructed in the Art Nouveau style. The store's success and its remarkable architecture made it a landmark on the Paris riverfront.

Fast-forward to 1981, when I arrived in Paris for the fist time as a student. The store was still open for business and I shopped there from time to time. Their 1960s slogan, On trouve tout à la Samaritaine (You can find everything at the Samaritaine) was well known and still in use.

One of the features of the store was the rooftop café. Back then, the café was like its counterparts on the street level with outdoor seating and waiters for table service. Ken and I and many of our student friends started hanging out up there when the weather was good. It was a somewhat hidden gem of a place, never crowded, at least in my memory, and it offered some of the best views in Paris for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Ken and I went back to the café in the '90s, but it had changed into a more modern self-serve coffee shop with vending machines and modern plastic tables and chairs. No more table service, no more waiters. The views were still great, but the ambiance left a lot to be desired. Shortly after that, the place closed down as the building was sold, then condemned, and then incorporated into a serious redevelopment project, not without some historic preservation and design controversy.

I don't have any photos of the store when it was open, but I have this one that I took in 2016 when the building was covered in scaffolding for renovation. Here's a better photo of the store from the Wikipedia site.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


I'm not exactly sure when I took this picture. It's probably some time in the '90s, and if I wanted to dig through the slide collection stored in boxes in the attic to find the date, I could. But I'm not doing that today. It was long enough ago that the rooftop café on top of the now-closed Samaritaine department store was still open; that's where I was when I took the picture.

Looking west along the Champs-Elysées. Color slide, 199?.

The colonnade and building in the foreground are the eastern facade of the sprawling Louvre museum. Behind it you can see the obelisk in the center of the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysées stretching west to the Arc de Triomphe. Behind that, the axis continues out to La Défense and its high-rise development which, today, is even more high-rise and more developed than when this photo was snapped.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Here's an old favorite from 2004 (before I started blogging). I posted it here in 2006 during the blog's first year. It's taken on the grounds of the château at Bouges, about an hour south and east of us. I don't think I've been back there since then. I don't remember what was going on when I took the picture, but I was lucky to have the camera ready.

Four kids on unicycles with one running behind. Château de Bouges, October 2004.

This was before I had my own digital camera. I was using one of Ken's first cameras, a Canon PowerShot Pro 90, undoubtedly set on automatic mode.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Another old photo from inside the cathedral at Rouen in Normandy. Candles that are used in religious settings are called cierges in French. I guess that distinguishes them from the standard bougies that people use in their homes. And on birthday cakes. Tea lights are called bougies chauffe plat (platter warmers). Candles used to be called chandelles, but bougie seems to have taken over as the more popular term.

Cierges in Rouen. There's a coin box nearby where worshipers can leave an offering before lighting a candle. Color slide, 1992.

I'm up early this morning. Tasha got up with Ken, went outside (to pee), then ate her breakfast. She then came up to the loft and insisted I get up to take her outside (to poop). She usually waits for me to wake up, but this morning I guess she just needed to go. We are in this pattern now where she waits for me to take her out for morning "poopies." Ken thinks I must scare the shit out of her. I'm looking forward to summer when Ken can just leave the door open in the morning and she can go out on her own.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Paris morning

Another shot from the archives, this time from a spring morning in 1997. Ken and I rented a studio apartment in the 7th arrondissement. The windows in the main room opened on to a tiny balcony with a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

The view from our window. Color slide, Paris 1997.

We were in Paris that year to attend the French Open tennis tournament for the first time. We had tickets for the women's final on Saturday and for the men's final on Sunday. The weather was great on both days. We watched Iva Majoli beat Martina Hingis for the championship, and Gustavo Kuerten won over Sergi Bruguera.