Vitamines pour la rentrée – a September play list

La Défense concerts

It was always like a little present, when traveling through the subterranean transport system of Paris, I would hear the tunes of these wonderful artists giving their morning rush hour surprise performance. Music always helps me to get into that work state of mind. And now that September is well on its way, schools have started, vacation is over, it’s time for, as they call it in France, ‘la rentrée’. To get you going again, here’s my September playlist with tunes selected to energize you. Which songs are your ‘labour vitamins’? Let me know.

PS: if the embedded playlist doesn’t show for whatever reason, you can click here and open it in Spotify.

Don’t always trust your travel guide

Obviously her travel guide book told her to be careful with Parisian cabbies. Negotiate, stand her ground and most of all: don’t be overcharged. Not knowing that the taxis at the official stands at CDG operate on a meter, under strict rules, and that breaking these rules means hefty fines or loss of license. Also not knowing that a trip from the airport to the city can cost you 60 Euros, depending on where you go and the traffic on the périph, and that the taxi driver probably said the trip would cost 60 Euros to not disappoint the lady when arriving at destination. Better to say a higher price with the end result on the meter being slightly lower, than the other way around.
And so she negotiated, stood her ground and tried to tell the taxiste that 60 Euros was too much. She offended the first Parisian she encountered and started her stay in the city of lights on the wrong foot.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Final Post

Steak Tartare Condiments

One of my favorite things to do in Paris, was find a nice place to sit down and have a ‘steak tartare’ for lunch. This series, with my photo impressions of living in Paris and wandering the streets, started off with a picture of a nice tartare, and it is a good a subject as any t end the series. A week ago I moved definitely out of Paris, and France even. So what better final snapshot of Lutetia than one depicting the condiments needed to self-prepare the tartare as it should be, served in the brasserie of Hotel Lutetia.
Paris is a great city to live in, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly. Now, the new adventure in Riga has started. Which also means a shift of focus in the almost weekly photo-post. From next week on, it will be renamed to Postcard from the Baltics.

Snapshots of Lutetia – La Defense

La Défense from Pont de Suresnes

When I started working in Paris, a lot of my friends and colleagues, not only from the Netherlands, assumed that I was working in La Défense. The business district just west of Paris. In fact, the office I work in is in Saint Cloud, about 10 minutes south of La Défense with the tramway. But assuming that someone working for one of the bigger companies in Paris, is located in La Défense is not strange at all. In fact, most of the big French corporations, including my employer, have offices in this business center of Paris. Even so, there is business life outside La Défense.

Snapshots of Lutetia – La Defense Concerts

La Défense concerts

One of the things I will miss in Paris, is the irregularly regular free classical music concert in La Défense. Now and then, a group of professional musicians performs classical music in the halls of the La Défense public transport station. And, unlike a lot of musicians you find in the Parisian subterranean transport system, these guys are GOOD! Often, they play one of my favorites: the Canon of Pachelbel. And, they play it very well. Always when I hear them, on my way from the deep down RER A to the Tramway 2, I take that small detour to listen to three or four pieces. It is like a little present on your way to work. Just forgetting about time, listening, enjoying the moment, and being happy.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Ever Present Gare de Lyon

Palmtree in the Gare de Lyon

Strangely, the Gare de Lyon has always been prominently connected to my Parisian visits and life. I don’t pass by there on my daily commute, or live close to it. So it could have been one of these places of which you know exist, but just hardly ever see. But on my first ever visit to Paris, I was about 15, we stayed in a hotel next to the Gare de Lyon. And from there it started. I vaguely remember walking through the station and seeing the orange TGV’s, the largesse of it, something we do not have in Dutch stations, and the crowds moving. Then, just about when I started to consider Paris as a possible place to live, the brilliant movie ‘Amélie‘ was released, in which the Gare de Lyon also plays a prominent role, even though most of the movie seems to be set in the 18th arrondissement. And then, there are the occasional business trips to our office near Grenoble, for which I take the now more greyish coloured TGV. From the Gare de Lyon, that services the destinations in the southern part of France. That might also be why the station’s main restaurant has tried to give itself a bit of a mediterranean look by putting up a palm tree in one of the station’s halls.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Promenade Plantee

Promenade Plantee

When we were in New York earlier this year, we wanted to visit the High Line, a defunct elevated railway turned into a park. Unfortunately, it was almost finished, but not open to the public yet. What we did get was a tip for back in Paris. The inspiration for the High Line comes from the Promenade Plantée. This elevated railway was turned into a parc in the late 1980’s. It runs from a bit east of the place the la Bastille, to almost the Boulevard Péripherique and the Bois de Vincennes.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Les Sous du Pont de Bercy

Pont de Bercy

There are many words in all languages that you hear quite often, but will never be taught in whatever language lesson you take. No, I am not talking about the obvious obscenities, but more about colorfull ‘street’ language. The French have not only a very rich official language, but they also like to play with it. Verlan is only one of the examples. Another word you will hear quite often is sou (or maybe sous). It indicates money. As in “J’ai pas des sous”. While I was looking for some information on the pictured pont de Bercy, I learnt that the current bridge replaced a suspension bridge, for which the payment of toll was required. The price was “one sou (5 centimes) for pedestrians, 3 sous per two-wheeled cabriolet (including persons transported) and 5 sous per car with four wheels attached to two horses.” And there it is, the origin of the use of Sou, which apparently is similar to a nickel, or stuiver in Dutch.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Docks-en-Seine


This picture was shot more than a year ago. I liked the combination of rough concrete stucture with some modern additions. It looked very much as being under construction, however, and I had no clue what it was. Recently, I was close to it, so I decided to walk by it and find out more. Over a year later, it still seems unfinished. It was also closed to the public, but at least now I know what this building is. It’s the Docks-en-Seine. Part of a restructuring program of the Port d’Austerlitz, and planned to be the center of Fashion and Design. It houses the Institut Français de la mode, and probably some other fashion and design related instutes. But, it was closed off to the public, so more, I do not know.