The Saint Agustin church was built between 1860 and 1871. It is one of the distinctive buildings meant to give grandeur to the crossing of prefect Haussman’s grand boulevards. With a statue of Jeanne d’Arc in front, it has a much photographed facade. But I like the view from the back, especially when the sun makes it rise even taller.
I am a big fan of metro-systems. Although using deprives you of views of the city, it is the speed and relative ease with which you can go around town that make me a big fan. And with mu Passe Navigo I can travel all around town in Paris. Most stops look alike, but some are of exceptional beauty. One is the Line 12 stop Concorde. The lettered tiles form the words of the Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, the basis for the French constitution.
The thursday evenings of my youth were dedicated to listening to Ferry Maat’s Soul Show. One of the most legendary radio shows in The Netherlands, it always brought surprising new music, combined with golden soul oldies. Somewhere in my humid basement I must still have some taperecordings of the show. One of it features the soul classic Best of My Love by The Emotions. And since I listened to that tape very often, this song always reminds me of those days, sitting next to the radio, taking in new music and, of course, taping it all.
The Arc de Triomphe is another famous Lutetian landmark. It stands in the middle of a very large and normally packed with traffic roundabout. I love driving there. The name of the roundabout is officially Place Charles de Gaulle, as you can see at the picture, but it is also known as l’Etoile (the star), because of the many roads that come together at this points, making it look like a star from above. We’ve been told once that you can derrive a persons political views from how he refers to this place. Using the official name is reserved for the right part of the political spectre, while Etoile is used amongst those who have a distaste for the right and thus for Charles de Gaulle.
An amazing man turns 90 this week, on July 18. He’s been an inspiration and a hero to me, and I thank him for that. I wish him a happy birthday and health, happiness and success with all that he is achieving through his charity foundations for many, many years to come.
Happy Birthday Mr. Mandela!
You can send your own birthday wish, with a donation to his charities, through internet. I think he deserves a lot of attention, so visit the special Happy Birthday Mandela site.
Lively is Google’s newest gadget. It is sort of a cross over of instant messaging and 3D worlds like Second Life. It is a place where everybody can create an avatar and a room. What it will become, I don’t know, but it will probably be the next ‘in’ thing. So,I just created a Lively room. Come over and visit! You’ll probably need to download a plug-in, if you haven’t already.
Today the 2008 edition of the Tour de France starts. Three weeks of cycling through France, and a bit of Italy this year, finishing in a grand finale in Paris. I’m not a very big cycling fan, but like this event because of the strategic game the teams play to get their best man in Paris in the Yellow Jersey. However, this could just be the last tour of this magnitude. Already people have lost interest in this big event, because of the many cases of doping that have been uncovered during previous tours. To some it is even more interesting wether this one will be clean than who will win in the end.
But anyway, I probably will go and have a look at the last stage, since the finish is not too far from my new home! And it will probably be better than the time I saw the peloton of the Giro d’Italia. It came past where I was on holiday, so I decided I wanted to see it. It was at a flat stretch, only 60 kilometers in the race and there hadn’t been any escapes yet. I was standing on the side of a street and from the point when they appeared to the moment they disappeared out of sight, it only took them about two minutes. So that was not too interesting. But on the Champs Elysees they will run a couple of rounds, probably before the finish, so I might enjoy it a bit longer this time.
It’s four weeks now that I live and work here in Paris. And a little to our surprise, it is not as weird as we thought it would be. In fact we feel at home here. Yes, of course, there are differences between France and The Netherlands, in a lot of things. And yes, the french ways are mostly obscure for us, but it is not bothering us to the point that we want to go back home crying. In fact it is amusing and expected. There are stories to tell, but most already have been told. One particularly good version is A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke. It describes very accurately, and in a very funny way, how France works.
Personally I think that one of the beautiful things of submerging yourself in another culture is to experience a different take/view on life and learn from it. For that matter, I can already say that moving here was a very good decision.