Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sab's Top Ten Paris Sidewalk Slogans: No.2 ~ "Flying Thieves"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Slogans ~ Sidewalk

Sab's Top Ten  Paris Sidewalk Slogans
No.2: "Flying Thieves" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

In considering just how many 'Top 10s' I could drag out of the actual streets themselves, the more I thought about it, the more daunting a task it seemed.


In terms of what people are currently writing under our Parisian feet, there are artistic (and non-verbal) works, anarchic or political slogans, and more recently advertising from well-known high street brands. Not to mention lovelorn lads laying open their souls on the cold hard concrete; I'm thinking of the plethora of 'Alice je t'aime's which surround the Denfert Rochereau RER station, presumably on the daily route to work of Alice herself...


So, although I'm tempted to specialise my street top tens, I'm going to create one for all verbal expression for the time being and see how long it takes to reach double figures. Another shall be dedicated to less wordy expression. Eyes down: here we go!

Sab's Top Ten Paris Sidewalk Slogans
No.2 ~ "Flying Thieves"

I'm going to cheat, just a little, in terms of originality, because what follows was lifted verbatim from the Paris iPhone photography chronicles blog, Paris and I, which happens to be mine too, but I still don't like publishing the same thing more than once.

Anyway, you were presumably lured here on the promise of reading some words of mine, and some straight from the streets of Paris, which is practically the same thing, in fact, and I'd be the last to want to disappoint you. Sooo...

People write some weird stuff on the streets of Paris, but then they always have. This one next to the Jardin de Luxembourg in the 6th.

'Les avions volent notre air' ('The planes steal our air' - with a probable pun on the verb 'voler', which means 'steal' or 'fly') says the street.

I never know why people write such obscure things. The likelihood on, well, what - the airlines all spontaneously shutting down having spotted this from on-high? - must be minimal, so it must be a personal thing they just needed to get out.

The most famous - and sorry if you all know this - street slogan, from the student protests of '68, across the road from the one above, at the Sorbonne, was 'Sous les pavées, la plage'. This means 'under the paving stones, the beach', and the tradition of making the streets beneath our feet speak to us and to others continues.

Which is good, I think. Because it's all about trying to make us think, even if, in the end, the result of our reflection is rejection. But occasionally a message resonates, thrums, sticks even, or just hangs in the air, invisibly encloaking us like deflated aeroplane fumes, insidiously infiltrating our lungs and our minds.

Phew! That was a bit heavy, I guess, but no soar feelings I hope. Have a high-flying day in any case, whatever plane you're floating on  ;~S


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discover all my Paris sidewalk slogans... 

1) OPTICAL ILLUSIONS ~ 2) FLYING THIEVES ~ 3) DANGER TO THE RIGHT
4) JACK SPARROW IT ~ 5) REPUBLIQUE DES B... ~ 6) HOLD YOUR HEAD UP
7) COMING SOON ~ 8) COMING SOON ~ 9) COMING SOON
10) COMING SOON
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sab's Top Ten Naughty Paris Knockers: No.7 ~ "Lady Of Montmartre"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Doors Knockers

Sab's Top Ten Naughty Paris Knockers
No.7: "Lady of Montmartre" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

In case you were lured here (guys?) under false pretences, I don't apologise, it's your problem and you'll have to live with it ;~S

Anyway, Paris knockers and door knobs are of course in abundance in this city, but due to the uniform and apartmentalised nature of the city, they don't necessarily jump out at you in your average Paris street. You have to seek them out. Or possibly just walk around and let them seek you.

These beautiful and sometimes surprising items can take many forms, and the most interesting are generally found on old houses which are, or at least used to be, single residences, where you may well have summoned the owner, or more likely the housekeeper, if you dared to let the knocker drop.

Here I start a sweet little series on a topic which isn't original but full of charm and curiosity, which, as you know, is right up my street. Enjoy, and if you know of a lovely Paris knocker or two, then this guy would most certainly perk up his grisly head!

Sab's Top Ten Naughty Paris Knockers
No.7 ~ "Lady of Montmartre"

Of a rare powder blue, admittedly a little lost in my first picture (look for it in the shadows), but clearer in the following two, the doors of this Montmartre hill-house are arresting to say the least.

And when you discover that there's a wonderful ball-in-hand door knocker just waiting to be, well, knocked (does one knock a knocker? - I'm not sure if one does...), the delight is all the more intense.

I felt a little sheepish when the door whose knocker I was lovingly fondling gingerly opened, and the inhabitants peered out, wondering who was squeaking the hinges of their beautiful ball in hand. It was I. Embarrassing.

This street, in any case, is one of my favourites in Montmartre. Right next to the Lapin Agile cabaret, there are always a ton of dogs being walked or pooed or peeed and, of course, tourists being... tourists, and good for them!

So sleepy is this little street, it's difficult to imagine this particular porte being frapped so often as to leave the gaping hole in the welcoming metal we can see in the third picture. But this is the case, whatever the case. I wonder what you call the receiving plate; I'm sure there must be a wonderfully technical name for it, like 'knockerplate' or 'hammerstop' or something.

The thing's make of solid metal, and my heart jumped a good few times as I was holding it up in the air with a couple of fingers of one hand and taking the picture with a Nikon D700 in the other and every few seconds it would suddenly jolt downwards in an attempt to appease gravity threatening to mortify me with shame as it came smashing down on its landing pad.

Luckily I just managed to avoid this, and one of the day's photo clients got in on the fun, creating a far more striking picture than my attempt, what with her red nails and everything.

So next time you're wandering the streets of Montmartre, look out for this one, and No.1 in the series which was also taken on the Butte. It seems the area has a bit of a penchant for such things.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discover all my naughty Paris knockers... 

1) BALL IN HAND ~ 2) COMING SOON ~ 3) COMING SOON
4) COMING SOON ~ 5) COMING SOON ~ 6) COMING SOON
7) LADY OF MONTMARTRE ~ 8) COMING SOON ~ 9) COMING SOON
10) COMING SOON
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Sab's Top Ten Curious Paris Corners: No.1 ~ "Lady In Red"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Corners Statues

Sab's Top Ten Curious Paris Corners
No.1: "Lady In Red" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Wander around these sacred streets a moment, especially the older quarters, and raise your eyes from time to time as you round a corner or two.

Peek-a-boo! There's sometimes someone looking down on you. Some would say 'looking after' us. 'Guarding over' us would be pushing my irreligious tendencies a little too far, but whatever the origins of these charming corner curiosities, it's always a pleasure to discover them.

And discover them you will in the most unexpected places, which is just one more reason to wander around Paris with your nose in the air, at the danger of slip-sliding away when you step in something much more down to earth.

Once again, thinking back on all the interesting corner phenomena I've seen in my 20-odd years in the city, I'm a little worried as to which approach to take with this series. Should I limit it to statues in niches only or go wider to include amazing mosaics, ancient shop ensignia, historic timepieces and more?

Only time will tell, in fact, but one thing's for sure, there'll be a surprise around every corner in this Paris Top 10.

Sab's Top Ten Curious Paris Corners
No.1 ~ "Lady In Red"

In my haste and desire to get this first beautiful little red statue pic out there and into your colletive eyeballs, I realise I have very little to actually say about it. But that in a way is good, because it brings me back to the original essence of all my Paris Top 10 series: pick a simple and well-defined Paris theme and offer you around ten pleasing examples of it without drowning you in too many words.

Obviously I haven't succeeded, as far as the syllabic soaking is concerned, as I can't seem to shut my fingers up once they get going. It's still good, though, for me to remember that the main subject of each posting in my top tens is, in the end, the item itself, and that it's neither necessary nor desirable to give the history of the building, the road or even the entire quarter, which I'm sometimes tempted to attempt when I get a bit carried away.

So who is this modest, if slightly showy lady in red?

Probably a representation of the Christian religion's virgin icon, which is fairly common around the city in one form or another.

I don't think she's original, as in 'old', meaning that the building with its intriguing little statue protecting nook is almost certainly several centuries older than the lady herself. After all, fiercely anti-religious royalist-haters gave pretty short shrift to anything pertaining to the object of their ire back in those days. Suffice it to say that not many flimsy slivers of iconic stone survived the anger of revolutionary gangs on the rampage.

Things calm down again of course, and lost icons get resurrected, or simply replaced. As in the case of our scarlet harlet. OK then, in reality our rather washed out wifey upstairs (see the second photo on the left, not the suped-up first one, and even the latter's been cheered up a bit).

I shouldn't forget the intriguing inscription below the statue, which must have referred to an earlier, long gone version, which says Ecce mater tua, or 'behold your mother' in Latin. Which is a bit silly really, because there's no way my mother, decent Scots border lass as she is, would ever be caught posing around the corner of a building in one of the oldest but also gayest streets in Maraisdom in a bright red dress...

So there you have it, something of the story of this marvellously eye-catching little quirk and a worthy start to my newest series of Paris curiosities. And as for what's coming next... watch this corner.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discover all my curious Paris corners... 

1) LADY IN RED ~ 2) COMING SOON ~ 3) COMING SOON
4) COMING SOON ~ 5) LOSING YOUR HEAD ~ 6) COMING SOON
7) HUSH LITTLE BABY ~ 8) COMING SOON ~ 9) COMING SOON
10) COMING SOON
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs: No.6 ~ "Châtelet"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Metro ~ Signs

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs
No.6 ~ "Châtelet" ~ Introduction
 Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

I don't know about you, but for me there's something utterly magical about all those wonderful Paris metro signs, be they the traditional ones we're all familiar with, or the rather more unusual sort we're quite surprised and rather pleased to stumble come across on our cross-city travels.

In fact the variety is far greater than you might expect and their 'form' is far from 'uni'.

I didn't realise that at first though, which is why I rarely paid them much attention; I thought they were all just variations on the good old Hector Guimard Flowy Joey Art Nouveau style. This is not the case.

In this spontaneous series I'll be bringing you ten (or so, I find restrictions so... restricting) of my all time favourite Paris metro signs, classic or otherwise. As I'm writing this introduction with only the first sign below in mind I'd be delighted to have suggestions for the other nine!

It's also a great excuse to have a bit of fun with my cameras, both fancy, and not, the pic directly below being an example of the latter. It's an iPhone shot, played around with afterwards, and the limitations of the camera sure tests the inventivity of the photographer, which is half the fun. I hope you enjoy reading my Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs articles as much as I do writing them, and I look forward to reading your comments sometime down the line!




Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs
No.6 ~ "Châtelet"

At first I didn’t think I was going to cover the big yellow ‘M’ signs you see here in my Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs series.

I didn’t consider them particularly magical and the reminded me irresistibly of… but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. The more I thought about it the more I realised they did have a story to tell.

Of course, you might  have guessed that the big yellow ‘M’, well, isn’t it one of the most incredible coincidences that the world’s largest hamburger chain just happen to also use a big yellow ‘M’ of surprising similar design and dimensions! I wonder how many times seeing this particular metro sign has subconsciously driven people towards the other ‘M’ which you can actually see in one of these pictures if you look closely. Another happy coincidence?

I also wasn’t thinking of including this one because I was most interested in the word ‘Métro’ in all its manifestations. But then I realised I was missing the point.

The ‘M’ was all that was left of ‘Métro’, which itself had replaced the more cumbersome but beautifully written ‘Métropolitain’, and there are examples of all three incarnations of the underground transport system’s name around the city for us to admire today.

I will draw the line at metro entrances with no sign, of course, given the title of this Top 10, but I’m now perfectly happy to include this rather cheery (in the chill of a mid-November night) sunny symbol of a warm train ride home.

It’s strange, but almost as soon as Hector Guimard’s beautiful art nouveau metro entrances we love today had been put up in the early 1900s the city started to do away with them, or at least not renew them in later additions to the network.

Here we see two of the new wave, with three pictures showing an older-looking circled ‘M’, although I think it is steel nevertheless. The fourth photo, from just the next station along on line 1, Hôtel de Ville, has a more modern-looking silver hoop. Iron and even stone have been used in the past and are still occasionally to be found, so keep your eyes open!

Anyway, there you have it; me and the miserable ‘M’ are now fully reconciled, he’s a proud member of my Top 10 Magical Paris Metro Signs (for the time being at least) and let no more be said about it.

By the way, did you know that the best McDonalds deal is the loss-leading  ‘McChicken’ at only €2 a piece. Terribly tempting, I can tell you.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) SENTIER ~ 2) BOURSE ~ 3) MADELEINE
4) PALAIS ROYAL - MUSEE DU LOUVRE ~ 5) VANEAU
6) CHATELET ~ 7) PLACE MONGE ~ 8) COMING SOON
9) COMING SOON ~ 10) COMING SOON
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!
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