Tour de France

Sunday, July 28, was the final stage, stage 21, of the 2019 Tour de France. As always, the final stage finishes in Paris with a loop or two down the Champs-Élysées and around the Arc de Triomphe. This year the 120+ km route came from the southwest and into Paris near Boulogne. Then by the Seine, past the Eiffel Tower, past Invalides, into the 5th to St Michel, over to Pont Neuf, across the Seine, through the Louvre right by the Pyramid, to Concorde, and then the finishing laps.

I started out by walking from my apartment towards Pont Neuf. This took me right by Hôtel de Ville.

Yes, that is beach volleyball on the parvis of the Hôtel de Ville.

They used 10 cm x 10 cm beams stacked two high to be able to bring in 20 cm of sand. They made four courts. It was late on Sunday afternoon and all courts were in use. Some people were pretty good. Some were playing the two vs. two style of beach volleyball. Some was just a pickup game.

I got to Pont Neuf and worked my way over to the west side to put the setting sun at my back. I had arrived with almost two hours before the first riders were expected. Lots of time to be standing in the sun. Some of the “caravan” dribbled by. These are the support cars and vans. They were heading to the finish to set up.

By and by, an “official” cadeau (gift) truck came by. They had a speaker blaring their pitch for souvenirs: caps, umbrellas, bracelets, etc. As you can see, the price was 10€.

This picture also shows the people lined up against the barrier. It got more crowded, but not much more than one deep shoulder to shoulder at the barrier. I expect it was much more crowded on the Champs-Élysées.

Finally the riders came. There was no way-in-the-front leader, just the peloton. So, they arrived quickly, passed quickly, and were gone quickly. That was that! Below are a set of pictures in a row showing the peloton passing.

I walked over to St Michel to get my favorite super-cheap meal: a gyro dinner on one of the small back streets of St Michel. For 9€ you can get a plate of gyro, lettuce, tomato, frites, tzatziki, a pita and a drink.

My further path back went by Notre Dame. Still very much a work in progress, more around it has been opened.

Marche Fiertés LGBTI

Today, June 29, was the Marche Fiertés LGBTI in Paris. Marche is from marcher, to walk. (Not to be confused with marché: a market.) Fiertés is pride. So, capping off the gay pride month was the LGBTI pride walk. It went from Montparnasse to Republiqué. From Montparnasse east and then straight north across the Seine and up to where it could turn eastward again towards Republiqué. This took it between Les Halles (on the route’s west) and the Pompidou Center (on the east). The Pompidou Center is just one block to my apartment’s west, so it was only a couple of blocks walk to view the walk. It was hot, about 33C (92F), and sunny. I tried to stay in the shade and hope I got enough shade to not regret being outside for some hours.

Here are some pictures. Remember that this was mostly an informal walk and not as much an organized parade. There were many, many people who just joined in. And, the audience was a diverse as the walkers. There’s one picture below of some audience members who wanted to put on their own show for the crowd.

The walk’s start and the backs of my fellow crowd members.

“en roue libre” is “freewheeling.” Do not know what the top of the sign says. As you can see, they are cyclists.

These signs are in English. The thoughts are typical of the walkers.

Usually any group had some flamboyant people leading.

A prominent rainbow flag and a woman happily strutting her stuff.

Lots of “just people” walking.

During a slight pause in the walkers, two of our crowd gave a small show. it is hard to see, but she is wearing next to nothing and he has the tightest/smallest possible shorts and high heels. They were having a good time. They danced and posed for all of the onlookers.

The last before what was masses of walkers was the truck.

At the truck’s end were blaring speakers and a person encouraging the walkers behind to dance with the music. And there were many, many walkers following…

The Olympics are coming to Paris

It is five or so years in the future, but Paris will be hosting the Olympics. So, there was an Olympic Day last Sunday. They totally took over the Place de la Concorde. There were many “events”, all set up so anyone could try them.

The Champs Elysees was closed leading up to Place de la Concorde. The above is a climbing wall in the middle of that usually-busy street.

Volleyball. If you look closely, you can see the ball in the air.

And volleyball while one stays seated! A lower net, of course. They were doing reasonably well.

Another climbing wall with active participants and a queue.

Ping pong or table tennis.

Badminton. There was quite a breeze and both the table tennis and badminton were suffering from drifting balls/shuttlecocks.

Hard to tell, but this is the soccer area. They were playing soccer volleyball/tennis.

An overall view showing the stands in the center of Place de la Concorde.

While walking from Place de la Concorde towards the Louvre, i saw some ride set up in the Tuillerries. The one above is a big arm that was sending (screaming) people way up into the air.

And a large Ferris wheel. The building just beyond it is the start of the Louvre.

After visiting the Louvre, i took the Metro back to the Hôtel de Ville stop. It was time for lunch at 2:00 PM, so I stopped in a corner bistro. This was my view while eating. Straight ahead is the Hôtel de Ville . The road going left/right is Rue Rivoli.

Carnival des Femmes

Sunday, March 31, 2019, was the Carnival des Femmes in Paris. I gather it has been running each year for some 15 years. It is a pre-Easter Carnival-like event, but on a much smaller scale than New Orleans, etc.

It gathers at the Pompidou Center. At 15:00 it starts out on a winding route through the 4th (the Marais). I caught it on rue des Archives, on the same block with the apartment I hope to be able to move into later in April.

Following are a series of pictures. The music, mostly drums, was very loud. I will present the pictures without further comment.

Plus de Noël à Paris

I have been meaning to get some pictures of the sapins de Noël (Christmas trees) for sale in Paris. This Sunday I ventured in to see if there were Christmas decorations to see. When I emerged from the Metro at a stop between the Seine and Bastille, I saw the biggest selection of all.

This vendor had trees of all sizes, including very large ones. What was interesting to me was how each had its own stand. It is a half-round of some much larger tree with a hole that the slightly-sharpened end of the goes into. All trees and all sizes of trees seem to come this way. There would be no watering the tree to keep it green with this method.

In fact, with the end shaved to snugly fit the hole, I wold expect the tree to dry out quite fast. As you can also see, the plastic netting to hold the branches tight to the body for transit is done here.

Today was warm, a balmy 7C. Yesterday and the day before were much colder, about -2C. That almost 10C difference has a big effect on how cold it feels. And, it has been rainy, sometimes even freezing rain. Sunday was the first day for the warmer temperature and only a small rain shower or so.

There was a planned Christmas Village in front of the Hôtel de ville (City Hall). It was supposed to open December 12. But, a combination of bad weather and the “yellow vest” demonstrations seems to have delayed things. I walked to the area, but this is all I saw.

They were working on putting it together, but it was far from finished. I guess they are aiming at next weekend.

The idea (as advertised) was a place you could wander through the trees, which would all be decorated. There was also to be vendors at various places.

So, that is all I can show you of the Christmas decorations! I hope the display gets finished and is all they had hoped it would be. I will miss it as I return to the U.S. before the end of next weekend.

Parisian café premier étage completed

I have now finished the Parisian café premier étage. It was mostly finished a week or so ago, but i was missing two small parts. One was one of the hinges for the Murphy bed (see picture below) and the other the pivot for the bottom of the handrail going to the next higher floor. Lego very nicely accepted my saying the parts were missing and shipped me replacements. They arrived today.

First are some views of the first floor as a separate unit. That is how you assemble it.

Above is the front view. You can see the Murphy bed through the center glass door. It is very decorative with flower pots and all.

Here is the back view. Later you will see how the small terrace outside the door connects to the rest of the building. The stairway ascends to what will be the second floor. It was the bottom pivot of the handrail that was missing.

Now an inside view. You can see the Murphy bed, then a swivel chair, then a small table, then a fireplace. The light is not good enough to see the flame in the fireplace. Sigh.

And the view looking the other way. Beyond the Murphy bed, which does fold up into the wall if needed, is a stool and table with a cup on it. Beyond that is the stove with the oven below, a cupboard, and an overhead cabinet. The first floor is a small studio apartment.

The shows the back view with the pieces put together. The terrace over the ground floor has been added with its chairs, lights, and flowers. It connects to the back stairway up to the not-yet-there second floor.

The front shows the stairway on the right leading up to the terrace. That is how the studio apartment dwellers get to their living quarters. They have two windows overlooking the street, each with flowers, and a center door leading to a small balcony.

More detail on the right-hand stairway to the first floor terrace. Nice detailing on the chimney masonry. The terrace has a bottle of wine and a glass for it all ready for use.

Finally, a view detailing the terrace and its connection to the back stairway.

Now that I have completed the first floor, it is on to assembly book #3 and parts packages labeled #4. That’s the second floor and will finish the café.

And, yes, I am having fun building it. It lives on my desk in the office.

Noël à Paris

The weekend was very cold and rainy in Paris. The “Yellow Vests” did some violent demonstrating on Saturday, so I avoided going downtown. But, even in the cold and rain, I ventured in on Sunday.

I got soaked going in, but had a nice lunch on Ile St-Louis. I sat inside for quite a while to dry out and hope the rain would lessen.

My path back took me by Notre Dame. Surprisingly, there was not a line to get in. So, I took advantage.

I really did not expect Christmas decorations inside, but was surprised to see the manger scene.

The entire setup is quite large. You are seeing one end of a long table with lots of villagers, houses, etc.

Next surprise was the more pagan Christmas tree inside, but there it was.

I guess all types of decorations are allowed now. From the entrance end, I took this picture.

Hard to capture with a camera, but the star was quite bright and a center of attraction. I bought a 2€ candle and silently dedicated it to worldwide peace and understanding.

Less surprising was the Christmas tree in the parvis. This is a terrible picture of it. You can see that the weather was not helping, but the tree was quite nice. It was lit with bluish bulbs which do not show in this picture at all. Oh, well. Imagine a nice Christmas tree out front.

Lastly, but not least, was a small choral group right in front. They were braving the rain and cold and singing out as best they could.

I had hoped for a nice day and would have gone to other sites, but the weather was driving everyone, including me, inside and home.

Noël à Boulogne-Billancourt

Christmas decorations are being put up all across France.

Each morning I walk from my apartment to my office. This takes me right through the Marcel Sembat crossroads. It is a major crossroads. You cannot see it, but the major road has a tunnel under the center of the circle. So the traffic you see is only the crossing traffic.

These pictures were taken at noontime when David and I walked from the office to Monoprix (a grocery/department store) to buy our lunch. We have to walk about half way around the circle.

The large sapin du Noël (Christmas tree) in the center is about 40 meters high. And, yes, it is slightly tipped with the star atop it even more noticeably tipped.

What is harder to see is that the main tree is surrounded by smaller trees. Those are about 3 meters high. They are next to each other going around the main tree.

The second picture is simply to show the traffic. This is the not-too-bad noontime traffic. At about 6:00 PM (18h00), it is terrible. There are policemen/women at each road leading on/off and they direct traffic as well as protect the pedestrians.

I’ll see if I can get some pictures in the evening when it is all illuminated.

Parisian café rez-de-chaussée completed

This is a long-delayed post about the Lego Parisian café I got for myself for my 70th birthday. Just before I left, about October 3, for a Columbus Day break in Vermont, I finished the rez-de-chaussée, aka the ground floor. That is also when I initiated my permanent visa process. That process requires you surrender your passport for the duration. Well, I did not get my passport back until November 9! Fortunately, it did have my visa in it. I flew back to Paris on the 10th, but have had meetings in Basel, so I only have been in my office for one day. All this is to say that no more progress has been made on building the café and I did not get around posting the previous pictures until now.

The rez-de-chaussée is book one of three. It was also parts bags one, two, and three. My top left desk drawer is my Lego parts drawer. The café sits on top of my desk.

First is the front view. As you can see, it is Chez Albert. Typical outdoor dining on the left, albeit with the biggest croissant ever seen. The dining is separated from the street by chain link fencing. On the right is a bench, and some plants. There is a staircase starting on the right which will go to the first floor, when that gets built.

Now a from-the-top view. Indoor dining on the left and the kitchen on the right. The tiled floor of the kitchen is a nice touch. Also, the stack of plates, glasses, an island with a stove. You can see a refrigerator with its door open. Inside are a few provisions. Most of the drawers actually open. Some have things inside.

On the left, all you get is a top view of the waiter holding a tray with a wine glass and one couple awaiting their meal.

Moving to the right side, you can more clearly see the staircase to the first floor as well as the back window of the kitchen. I also like the rain/water drains on the edge of the street. Much of Paris has the edges of its streets cleaned regularly by running water down the street’s edge. There really are drains everywhere.

Our motor-scooter rider is going across the back by the back kitchen windows. The kitchen’s back door has a red and white canopy. There is some interesting greenery growing up the back wall. There is a trash can and a hinged-lid storage bin. You cannot see what is inside, but there are more provisions there. The small gray cat is hunched between the trash can and storage bin. Awaiting a mouse?

We finish off with another interior view. This time towards the people having dinner. Notice the picture on the far wall? And the heavily draped windows? The chef’s stove and sauce pan is more clearly visible in this view. And there’s a pie on the side counter. Right by the kitchen’s back door is a push broom standing up in its holder.

I will eventually get time to proceed on to the first floor. I hope you enjoy seeing the progress as much as I am enjoying build my Parisian café.

Berthillon

One of most well known ice cream vendors in Paris is Berthillon. My son Dylan forwarded me a Facebook posting that said Berthillon was now creating and serving their special autumn flavor: Marron Glacé. He said I should investigate and, as a lover of chestnuts, I was more than willing.

While Berthillon is sold in many places in Paris, their home location is at the center of Île St Louis. That’s where I spent the Spring of ’17 and a place I continue to enjoy. So, I took the Metro from Boulogne-Billancourt (the southwest side of Paris) to the Cluny – La Sorbonne stop (just south of Notre Dame). It is then a quick walk over the Seine to Cité and then to Île St Louis.

Still lots of tourists on a Sunday morning, but nothing like the crowds of late-June, July, August. Walked right into Berthillon’s little “tea room”. They use large video signs for the current ice creams flavors.

You can see Marron Glacé in the upper left corner. It also has a +0.5€ supplemental charge.

I indulged in the Coupe Triple (3 boules) option including Caramel au beurre salé and Praliné aux pignons as well as Marron Glacé. And, of course, I also opted for the whipped cream and raspberry sauce.

As you can see, it is just a little snack to fill in some gaps. I added an espresso near the end so I could sit and savor the flavors.

Then I took a walk back past Notre Dame (I never get tired of looking at it), back south across the Seine, and had my cheap lunch of a Gyro plate, Gyro meat, lettuce, tomato, sauce, and fries, for only 6€. Not too far apart physically, the worlds of Berthillon and the cheap Greek places are quite far apart in most other ways.