Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sab's Top Ten Paris Wallace Fountains: No.4 ~ "Call Me Mellow Yellow"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Wallace Fountain

Sab's Top Ten Paris Wallace Fountains
No.4) "Call Me Mellow Yellow" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Me and Wallace, we're like that you know - practically brothers. Will - Willace - Wallace; you see, family, more or less.

It's true that as a Scot I feel more than a passing affinity with the so-called philanthropist who gave a bucketful of these fountains to my adopted city in a wild and utterly un-Scottish display of largesse if you believe the old cliché about the mean old Scots. My theory's that he'd had a few too many wee drams and was letting the whisky get in the way of wiser choices at the signing of the contract.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the fact is that there are now Wallace Fountains on practically every street corner.

They've now become so symbolic of the Parisian cityscape that they grace guide book covers and no Parisian photo essay would be complete without at least one picture of these emblematic watering holes, originally intended for the poor and thirsty in search of clean liquid refreshment.

They're generally green. But not always. There aren't enough colour variations to fill an entire Paris Top Ten, but if you'll allow me a little personal indulgence I'll try to supply you with ten Wallace Fountains which all offer you their own personal story, interwoven with mine. Santé!

Sab's Top Ten Paris Wallace Fountains
No.6) ~ "Call Me Mellow Yellow"

'Mellow's a misnomer actually. We're talking rich saffron, in-yer-face, head-jerking, jaw-dropping yellow here, especially when we're so used to the extremely sober bottle-green edifices we all know and love.

This is one of the very rare Wallace fountains temporarily repainted as part of a symbolic nod to the regeneration of one of the city's developing areas down in the south-west corner.

As well as this one there's a... oh, well you'll just have to read some of the other entries in my Top 10 Paris Wallace Fountains to find that out, won't you?

Whilst I bemoan the lack of a bright purple or blue version, I can offer myself some pale consolation with the very unofficial spray paint which has been illicitly applied to the yellow one shown here.

I strongly object to objects of art being mindlessly defaced, in the form of the pointless black marker pen graffiti we can see here above the ladies' hands. As for the blue spray paint, I don't 'like' it on principle, but having said that, it's only one of the sides and it's kind of added a new way of looking at things.

I have this recurring thought of creeping out at night and spraying one of these things a colour it was never meant to be.

Some of the obvious choices have now been dealt with as here, but I'm still hankering after a violent purple Wallace fountain, and even something as seemingly banal as black, white or even orange hasn't yet been seen in this city to my knowledge.

As I've probably mentioned elsewhere, other cities around the world have some far fancier Wallace fountains than ours, with different parts painted in different zappy colours and all sorts. I content myself with what lies within (and occasionally just without) the sacred city boundaries to remain faithful to my theme, but I can't tell you how excited I get when I see that even this hallowed institution can let its hair down from time to time.

Last Sunday saw me heading off on a wild goose chase having been tipped off to a multicoloured Wallace fountain right across from the Père Lachaise cemetery.

My hopes were high and the anticipation palpable as I turned the corner into the Boulevard du Ménilmontant and headed down past the necropolis' main entrance to discover... just another standard old green watering spout.

Disgruntled? Well, I could only laugh wryly. Apparently it had been brightly coloured by a whole bunch of graffiti, but these things are pretty closely surveyed and I arrived just a week or so after it had been given a resounding lick of richly dark green paint.

I'm telling myself it wouldn't have counted as a 'real' Wallace fountain with a difference, but I'd like to have seen it anyway. That area is renowned for its spectacular street art, especially as you head further into Belleville, so it could have been honourable.

Such are the ups and outs of a street rover's life and there will always be another surprise around the next corner, or maybe the next. As I write we're one week away from the Chinese new year, which might give you a hint as to the colour of another of the weird and wonderful Wallace fountains I've found not to far from this one. Can you guess?


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Discover all my Paris Wallace Fountains 
7) COMING SOON ~ 8) GREY IS THE DAY ~ 9) COMING SOON
10) COMING SOON
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* 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...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Sab's Top Ten Paris Sidewalk Slogans: No.5 ~ "République des B..."

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Slogans ~ Sidewalk

Sab's Top Ten  Paris Sidewalk Slogans
No.5) "République des B..." ~ 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.5) ~ "République des B..."

Luckily, Paris has a long and incredibly rich history.

Unluckily, an awful lot of people died, horribly, in the process.

I don't know if it can be any other way. Looking around me would suggest not.

There are web sites out there claiming that there are more wars, or 'as-good-as' wars, going on right now than at any other time in history.

You'd think we'd know better. But then again, why would we? We still have primitive genes, primed for violence and victory, which the technology of this society has surpassed, but the reality of it has not.

We still kill each other, and with a vengeance. And if it's not in real life, we spend millions producing simulations of murder, and then spend millions more 'enjoying' it, whether in cinemas or theatres on simply in the comfort and (relative) security of our own homes. The 'relative' part depending very much on which country you find yourself served up to live in. The choice not being yours, as evolution would have it.

Who places these slogans pavement-sent, that I'd love to know. Is it students? Old revolutionaries? Sly street artists? Grizzly grannies? Me?

I don't know, and I never will, and that's just fine by me. I wish I could say something more profound in these paragraphs. After all, and when all's said and done, I'm just a little bit bitter to be writing and imagining someone else's efforts as opposed to mine. Maybe I just don't have the revolutionary spirit in me. Is that what it takes to deface the public walkways, to be photographed by anonymous street snappers and then written about on blogs in a language you may not even understand?

There are many mysteries in life, if we wish not to enlighten ourselves, and the ultimate reality doesn't please everyone. The current reality irritates others. The extent to which they can, or rather can't do anything about it irritates even more. And so they draw, paint, plaster and derive. And in the end, who's to say that hard words on unforgiving tarmac aren't the best way to express our frustrations? There are others I'd prefer to avoid, in these post-revolutionary days. For the moment. For now. For this inter-revolutionary period...


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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
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* 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!

Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Symbols: No.6 ~ "We Are Sailing"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Symbol Boat

Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Symbols
No.6: "We Are Sailing" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru


The symbol of Paris is a boat. Strange, you might think, unless you think about it a little more.

Paris is a river-based city. That stretch of water has both brought invaders and protected it down the ages. The Paris area, taken as a whole, is purported to be Europe's busiest port.

The river Seine is synonymous with the city and the French capital would be unthinkably lessened without it.

The motto of Paris is 'Fluctuat nec mergitur', which means something along the lines of 'tossed by the waves but does not sink'. Which is metaphorically true enough. Paris has been invaded or under siege or simply revolutionised countless times, and yet has never suffered the whole scale destruction many other cities have.

The symbol of Paris is a boat, often depicted as being rocked on a restless sea. They might not be immediately obvious, but as soon as you become aware of the idea, as often happens, they suddenly start cropping up all over the place. This Paris Top 10 is devoted to the little, and sometimes not so little boats of Paris, in all their incarnations. As ever, if you find a wonderful one you haven't seen here, do tell me and I'll add it in.

Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Symbols
No.6 ~ "We Are Sailing"

Schools and swimming pools in and around the French capital seem to share the same penchant for nautical architecture and symbolism, including quite a few eye-catching Paris boat symbols.

This one, strolled past quite by chance, I really love. It's colourful, cheery and with a few simple lines both reproduces the city logo perfectly and gives you a real sense of a life on the ocean wave. Did there used to be oceans over Paris? I'll have to check.

You might have noticed a strange pattern on the wall which is not an integral part of it.

What I think has happened is that the sun was actually above and behind this wall, and the shadow and light patterns aren't shadows at all but the reflection of the sun in the windows of the building which would be behind me as I took this shot.

It's funny, but I didn't even notice this as I took the shot, but it's come out quite clearly here.

This 'noticing after the fact' happens quite often in street photography, but to be honest these are fairly straightforward record shots of this marvellous Paris boat symbol which makes a very worthy appearance in my Top 10.

Do you think that Rod Stewart's 'Sailing' is an obligatory part of the maternelle and élémentaire school curriculum, and if it isn't shouldn't it be? I think it should.


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Discover all my Paris boat symbols... 
1) COMING SOON ~ 2) COMING SOON ~ 3) BRICK SHIP HOUSE
4) COMING SOON ~ 5) COMING SOON ~ 6) WE ARE SAILING
7) FLOAT MY BOAT ~ 8) COME IN NUMBER 22 ~ 9) PROPERTY OF
10) UTILITY VALUE
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* 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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