Entries in France (49)
If you want to experience a real French Christmas market, don't miss Strasbourg's famous Marché de Noël. Europe’s oldest Christmas market was founded in Strasbourg in 1570. Four and a half centuries later it continues to celebrate Alsatian holiday traditions with over 300 chalets in a dozen locations throughout the picturesque town of cobblestone pedestrian streets and half-timbered buildings with decorated facades and twinkling lights. I’ve visited several times and have taken friends and family, and the Strasbourg Marché de Noël never fails to impress. Disneyland wished it looked this cute!
We’ve been so busy gawking at the sorry slapstick of American politics that it’s easy to forget the other circus acts going on around the Atlantic rim. In France they’re trying to show how many clowns can fit inside the teeny cars of political primaries, and just when you think the vehicle is full to the brim, voila! --another sad-faced bozo tricycles over and squeezes in. It’s hard to believe that one of these Pierrots will eventually take command of the stage and start miming the actions of a president.
Many visitors to the Château de Versailles learn about the extravagant parties and masquerade balls hosted by the Sun King Louis XIV. But did you know you can actually attend one yourself?
It has been gorgeous and sunny in Paris since Monday. I went out for a morning run in the Jardin des Plantes Wednesday morning and thought I'd have a look at the level of the Seine along my usual running route on the quays, and was surprised to find cyclists and pedestrians already enjoying the Quai Saint-Bernard (5th arrondissement).
On the Quai St-Bernard near the Batobus stop for Jardin des Plantes.
The Resto du Coeur (soup kitchen) boat along the Quai St-Bernard back in service.
A bit of gravel and mud along the lower end of the quay.
The little amphitheatres where people dance on summer nights are still underwater. Click for the Instagram video I filmed here.
Quite a bit of mud here, but most of the flowering shrubs on the right seem to have weathered the submersion without problem.
Municipal gardeners are out planting the summer annuals now that the rain has stopped.
Closer to Notre Dame Cathedral, the water is still above the lowest paths along the quays.
You can see here on the right the benches peeking out from the water, which is still knee-high here across from the Ile-St-Louis. Note that the only roads that flooded in Paris were these auxiliary quays along the water. The Seine never rose above that wall on the left. Click the photo for the second video from Instagram.
This photo taken from the Théâtre du Châtelet Sunday night shows the first rays of sun shining on Notre Dame in the early evening. You can see more clearly here the pedestrian path along the river is still flooded, but the water, even at its highest level, never got close to the top of the main wall protecting the city (where you see all of the cars, buses, pedestrians).
Some cellars and the RER C, which runs rights along the river, were infiltrated by water, but the museums didn't suffer any flooding, even though as a precaution they closed for the weekend while moving crates of art works from lower level storage into the upper galleries. Sunshine predicted in Paris through Saturday, we should be back to normal in no time!
It’s hard for today’s American expatriates to fathom the lives of our forbearers who lived in France before the internet, commercial airlines, the telephone, or even the telegraph, completely cut off from their homeland for months at a time. When I first arrived in Paris as a student in 1995, France’s communications industry was suffering from a full blown identity crisis. They seemed both behind and ahead of the US, determined to modernize but only on their own Gallic terms.