Archive for March, 2018

Botanical endurance

Pretty spring fleurs

Sorry, you people in the NE, for sending your way the brrrr weather that came through here. #jesssayin …plus, it’s still cold here.

How many of yesterday’s flowers will be zapped tonight? Predicted overnight low in this neighborhood is right at freezing (33°F). Brrrrrr.

Night weather: Twice

Azalea fancy

I’m calling this fancy azalea; I probably messed with the photo levels and skewed the image too much….

So, last night we heard the weather was coming our way, and we got in the new and fancy car, with iPads and laptop, and went to a nearby parking garage just before 11:30pm. The predicted weather included winds over 60mph and hail 2 inches in diameter. Who wouldn’t want to be safe, no?

What happened in our neighborhood was wind and rain, but not as dramatic as the weather that was predicted and the tornadoes that hit elsewhere. We hid out for less than an hour, but the parking garage rounded up; we paid with minimum grumbling. Yawn. We were safely in bed by 12:30am or so.

Yellow plus reg azalea

I’m calling this regular azalea—the pink—and a yellow-blooming shrub I don’t know the name of.

Tonight’s weather story is that the lows are supposed to be below 40°F, but not down to freezing. In our neighborhood. Welcome spring!

Decent proposal?

Dogwood bloom

’Tis dogwood-blooming time. If I were naming the seasons or parts of the year by plant activity, I’d call this Heyday of the Dogwood-Blossoms…something along those lines.

Looooov(re) light

Louvre ceiling angular

Still discombobulated from the cross-Atlantic time-change. Managing to fall back asleep when I awaken at appropriate France-time, yet feeling rather listless, languid, and lethargic as evening rolls around. Like now…time for another episode of Counterpart anyway.

Louvre ceiling circular

These two images are both of light-above at the Louvre, in a gallery and in a stair? connecting? area. As we took escalators from this floor to that, I distinctly thought…this is a change? I may be wrong, but I felt that there had been a major architectural upgrade to the visitor experience since we last visited.


I’m offering two photos of each city we visited….

Marseille step lane

We might even call this Memory Lane, Marseille.

Marseille rudder view

Rudder view, dry dock boat, old harbor.

Aix side door

On to Aix…love the shadows on the wall to the right, especially in contrast to those angled ones on the door wall.

Aix shopping tease

The shop attendees do step out onto the street when no one’s inside…but not to hail passersby, usually, instead to smoke. Love the rocks holding the racks and the shoeless manikins.

Avignon narrow street

And in Avignon…narrow streets, some construction, often high crowns (suggests rain can gush here).

Avignon courtyard

And sometimes a courtyard peek…usually no longer gardens, but turned into parking. The fountain at the back was preserved…and appears lonely with only a few companion woody plants.

Paris Seine scene

Paris…Paris is always Seine-side to me.

Paris tourist impulse buys

A shopkeeper believes this assortment will entice the many tourists streaming by headed to Montmartre. Why all the hard-sided luggage? Do the vendors push some cheap knockoffs? Who buys a suitcase to trundle around while sight-seeing? Someone must…makes no sense to me. Postcards and miniature Eiffel Towers, yes, but carry-on roller bags?

Marseille marmite sides

Okay, one food picture just like during the trip. This is the marmite (say mahr-meet), or seafood stew, that I had in Marseille. Served with dry bread to soak up the juices. And, here, also with grated hard cheese and sweetened mustard. I didn’t know about this stew before the trip, and now I do.

This is one reason to travel—learning something that becomes a reason to return. I had thought I would find Marseille gritty and off-putting. Perhaps before the harbor was turned into a tourist haven, when it was still fisherman and mariners, with smells of oil and fish and dirty sea-water, I would have struggled to find the charming. No longer. Am I a pushover?

The big transition

CDG dawn

During the shuttle ride to the terminal (roads are oddly sinuous among the many CDG terminals), the dawn sky featured a lovely assortment of colors. I had the front-right seat, and got this shot through the windshield.

Luck James photo

Always good to get to the gait and have a plane waiting, especially for an early flight.

Deltas prosecco

Curious that a flight originating in Paris would have an Italian sparkling wine…tasty, however!

Vincent LV

I’m swapping food photos for movie photos. This is the title character from Loving Vincent.

LV movie art

The movie is all painted. The story is portrayed in Vincent-style, while the flashbacks are in apparent black-and-white. A lovely movie. Recommended.

Movie 2 shape water

Movie two: The Shape of Water. A real, stay with me, fish-out-of-water tale. I didn’t find it earth-shaking, but the script was tight and focused, which almost always is a gigantic plus. Not one of my all-time favorites, yet glad I saw it.

Movie 3 42grms

Movie three was 42 Grams, about a couple who started a lauded restaurant by that name—he was the chef; she ran the front of house. The chef seemed to be quite talented in the flavor compositions of his plates. I have trouble getting warm and fuzzy about what I think of as art-food…food that takes tweezers and lots of finger-prodding to compose the dishes. Still, as the story of a passionate undertaking, I enjoyed the documentary.

I also saw a BBC documentary that I didn’t photo of the first major exhibition that the British Library did on a living author—they chose JK Rowling (rhymes with bowling) and real magic history. Did they start with ancient Chinese oracle bones?—I think so, and I think the BL has over 400 of them (Shang dynasty/Bronze Age). I enjoyed the discussions of alchemy and herbal plants—quite wide-ranging in toto…. Worth the time.

Stone mtn

Then, after hours and hours, we slipped through a modest cloud-layer, and I could see Stone Mountain! Home again!

Metro visits, more

Gare Nord fixup

Today’s moving day.

We packed up and took the train to the Gare du Nord, and found workmen busy pouring concrete (rear). We left our luggage in a locker, and took off for a half-day of sight-seeing.

Balloonists cathedral

We found balloonists eyeing the Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. Is that what gave us the inspiration to ascend on foot?

Sacre bride

Most of the way up, we found our bride of the day. We saw the couple giggle together while the photographer was barking commands…seemed like a good omen for them.

Stpierre chapel left

We walked around to the far less visited l’église Saint-Pierre, consecrated over 870 years (or, 87 decades) ago in 1147.

Notredame foot snake

This church is where, among other things, folks honor Notre-Dame de Montmartre. She likes her snakes, I’m thinking, especially with fresh flowers.

Artist setting up Place du Tertre

We toured through Place du Tertre, and watched arriving artists setting up, aware, I guess, of coming sunshine/good weather.

Veg shrouded apt

Working our way down, we had a couple of vegetation moments. I’d rent this place!

Vinyard daffies

I vaguely knew there was a vineyard on Montmartre, but didn’t anticipate seeing it. Yay! With bonus daffodils!

Lapin Agile

The Lapin Agile has many reasons for being a phrase rattling in your brain (e.g., Montmartre painters, Steve Martin play…)…and a much longer WikiPee page in French than in English.

Shitake soup

Continuing our descent, we stopped for a bite at an old-timey (sorta) bistro. This was my shiitake soup with fresh Malabar pepper and chopped chives. I would never make it with this much pepper, but it was nuanced in flavor—and…interesting (why we eat at restaurants, no?).


Our return route to the Gare du Nord passed opposite the Louxor, Luxor in English—because we don’t have the same linguistic need for extra letters? Interesting architectural details, yet oddly streamlined.

Metro equation

Found a series of equations on the walls of the station section (below where we arrived) where we waited for our airport train. I think this one is something about tickets, but am too brain-dead to figure it out.

Destinations diverse

Flights listed at CGD Terminal 2. There‘s a real assortment of destinations!

Airport view

And as the sun was setting, we saw this brilliant reflection from our window…. We have an early call tomorrow to make our shuttle back to the airport…so, nighty-night.

Tower tour aka tour tour

Twobirds onetour

Enjoying the sunshine from a bench with a stupendous view, the sounds were of a light wind, a mowing crew, and crows. Here’s a crow duo. Such photographic timing!

Blossom tour

Finally, we set off, keeping an eye on the tour. Tower is tour in French.

Backlit birds tour

Aha, tower, backlit, again with birds. The iPhone goes all drama with strong backlighting.

Bride tour

From this bridge, the tower is great background. We saw four bride–photographer groups here. Same time. One group had a Mercedes limo waiting for them, parked illegally.

Isle tour

There’s a narrow island down the Seine, I assume something to do with navigation and bridge engineering…engineering, anyway. Great view upstream of the tower.

Edge tour

We crossed back to “our side” of the river…one glance back at the tower before heading into the side streets back toward “our place.”

Glass bridge

The tower isn’t the only striking architecture here. Loved the tube-mesh surrounding this hobbit-trail.


This tilework was in the arch over the main doorway of an elementary school built in 1912. I think the blue tiles (bottom) have faded and clouded with white in the intervening century.

Champs tour

Our home-bound route took us back through the Champs de Mars, so here’s one last look at THAT tower.

Beef tartare

Food pic of the day: beef tartare starter (entrée in French—yes, slightly confusing—also can be used for entrance, that is, place to enter). We had a fancy lunch out…. Total yum. Our tour helped us justify the chocolate-lava dessert, no?

In an amateur way, this post with many photos of the same subject honors Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series….

Flower day

Tram inside

We took the Metro underground and made a connection to an above-ground tram, which meant we had a view! We rode oh-so-quietly along the Seine downstream, picked a station to hop off, and headed toward the Bois de Boulogne—a huge park that once was a hunting preserve outside the city, much like Windsor was to London. In 1783, this was where the first Montgolfier hot-air balloon was flown untethered. In 1814, after Napoleon’s defeat, abdication, and exile to Alba, 40K British and American troops camped here, cutting down trees and otherwise intensively occupying the landscape, leaving it quite ravaged. The park was created in the 1850s. The builders installed an extensive irrigation system with pipes going everywhere. Crews planted lawns, meadows, and 420K trees (says Wikipee).


We encountered this sign above a restaurant not far from the trolley station. I thought that’s not the kind of place I want to eat…rather have the not-bones part of the fish….

Seine downstream

We crossed the Seine safely on a vehicle-busy bridge, then continued downstream.

Rehab building

We passed this building undergoing rehab, slowly. Interesting architectural details.

Fleur jaune

Here, outside the paving stones and micro-mananged enviroment on the old city, I found wildflowers! Fleur jaune.

Dunno blue

Tiny fleur bleu.

Nibbled violet

Fleur mauve.

Partial moat

We left the Bois and passed over this almost-moat and into a garden—jardin.

Conservatory jardin

The main part was a large central conservatory (the palm house, natch), and six flanking arch-topped greenhouses in two trios.

Fleur rouge

Fleurs rouge.

Fleurs blancs

Fleurs blancs.

Fleurs jaunes

Fleurs jaunes.

Jean Moréas

Then, we turned back toward the apartment. First, we passed through a poets’ corner…this is Jean Moréas (1856–1910), who was born to an Athens family and originally named Ioannis A. Papadiamantopoulos. He came to Paris to study law. I think of him as Mr. Moustache.

Champignons de Paris

Back in our neighborhood, we made a quick store stop (milk for coffee!), and I found this carefully packed box of white button mushrooms (champignons de Paris), stunningly aesthetic and appealing.

Quiche foursome

Okay, food pick—tonight’s quiche foursome. Plus salad.

We Looooov(r)ed

Louvre pyr entry

Back to the Louvre neighborhood to “do” the Louvre…that is, to browse a few galleries. There are three main sections, and we only hit parts of two. The Louvre is huge, and my poor brain can only take in so much.


Bam! First objects: caryatids. They are gigantic. And the ladies’ breasts are at armpit level and consequently look strange…from today’s display angles, maybe not when they high on a building.

Celtic guy

Called Wounded Gaul or Gauloise blessé, (the original of) this statue came from the Acropolis in Athens. It commemorated the victory of Attalus I, king of Pergamum, over Celtic warriors who threatened his territory in what is now Turkey in 200/199BC. This is a Roman copy of one figure from the lost bronze Greek statue group. Love the wild hair.


Called Aphrodite of Milos and Venus de Milo, this statue of an unknown goddess compels the eye. The aesthetics of the features and pose seem to date it to the 5th C BC; however, the elongated body and the sinuous pose are later—3rd to 1st Cs BC. So says the Louvre‘s specialists.

6th7thC Coptic fabric

This bit of Coptic fabric dates to the 6th/7th C. Always amazed when organics are preserved, so against the odds! The fibers are linen and wool.

Pyxis Islamic date picking

This carved vessel type is a pyxis; a pyxis is cylindrical, with a separate piece as a lid. The earliest are of wood (hence the shape, I assume). This one is of ivory and dates to the late 700s. It is Islamic style, and came from Spain. The figures are picking dates, and this likely symbolized the dynasty of its owner, back in the Levant. So says the Louvre’s specialists.

Hammurabi stela basalt

This scene is atop the famous basalt stela that is carved with Hammurabi’s code and dates to the 18th C BC. It portrays Hammurabi being awarded his royal insignia (aka investiture) by the solar deity Shamash. Hammurabi is holding his hands over his mouth, signaling that he is praying or honoring the deity. Most of the stela is covered almost everywhere with small symbols that are cuneiform script in Akkadian, then the dominant language in Mesopotamia (e.g., Babylonia).

Scary cat

Switching gears: scary cat!

JeanII King France about 1350

This is King John II of France, aka Jean le Bon. He lived from 1319 to 1364. The Louvre’s people note that this is “believed to be the oldest conserved example of an independent portrait since antiquity.” I guess that means in the Western world. Since he isn’t wearing a crown it probably dates to before he ascended the throne in 1350.

Louvre shopping

Okay, enough of the energy-intensive art objects! On to…see the logo to the right? Yup, on to the Apple store in the shopping area underground west of the museum.

Stuffed morels

A time jump, and we entertained! Relatives! Such fun!

I had stuffed morels, very dainty and exceedingly tasty. Thankfully, my SIL had a huge platter of coq au vin that she shared, or I would have been…well, not hungry exactly, but definitely not as sated. Of course, the dessert souffle trio would have helped fill me!

Lovely meeting up for the evening!