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Posts Tagged ‘paris’

The destruction of the Jardin des Éléphants

Posted by dlandgren on 2011-02-18

The Forum des Halles redevelopment project finally got around to sending in the bulldozers, the chainsaws and the jack-hammers to tear apart the Jardin Lalanne. In its place will be a glorious entrance to the underground shopping mall, thereby satisfying a long-standing complaint the tenants of the western wing have had with the owners. Due to the fact that there is no entrance on one side of the mall (apart from an emergency exit which is always locked), there is less foot traffic and so sales are lower. People are not consuming enough. This must be fixed.

So the garden got chopped. We demonstrated with the children a couple of years ago when the plans were made public, to try and save the garden. Hundreds attended the rallies but to no avail. The town planners had their way. It is true that the building surrounding the Forum are an eyesore, and no-one will shed a tear when they are demolished. But surely there could have been some alternative plan that would have retained the garden as it was. There’s certainly a soulless playground with next to the jardin that could have got the axe.

What is really sad is seeing what has replaced it, out in front of Saint Eustache. And when you look at it you see that the children there are not having fun, not really. It’s too boring and safe. There’s no adventure, no call to the imagination.

TODO: I have some more photos taken from a couple of years ago during the demonstrations, that show what the garden used to look like (because if you never saw the Jardin des éléphants in its heyday, this post probably doesn’t make a lot of sense). I’ll dig them out and add them here next week.

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Tulips in spring

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-03-28

We bought a bag of mixed tulips when we were up in Amsterdam at Christmas. The label said there was red, orange, yellow, blue, white and purple flowers in the packet.

There’s an alley along side a canal that has shop after shop selling all sorts of bulbs. Both they and Amsterdam residents must laugh at the silly tourists who come and allow themselves to be ripped off. We bought a packet of fritillaria that contained about 30 bulbs. Two have sprouted. And a couple of calla bulbs, which are I suspect are quietly composting themselves. Not to mention a gigantic cyclamen bulb that has about as much biological activity as an abalone shell.

So back to the multi-coloured tulips… the results were not what we expected; we were hoping for a few more colours, that’s what the label said. Oh well, uniform colours are okay too in their own way…

In looking very closely at the leaves, we discovered that one bulb was in fact slightly different: it’s leaves had a faint yellow striping along the edge. Bonus!

I remember looking for a long time at a packet of agapanthus. Now I don’t feel so bad. You didn’t get all my money, you scummy retailer!

Although we did have a bunch of hyacinths that came up, with an absolutely heavenly perfume.

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Douglas Kennedy, The Woman in the Fifth

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-02-17

Finished reading The Woman in the Fifth last week. I found it a bit disconcerting with its drift into the supernatural, but well, why not?

Kennedy paints Paris very well in the story, with neither condescension nor misplaced veneration. He captures the problem of immigration and the plight of the sans papiers with precision and at the same time without pathos.

What I liked least (or rather, what was the weakest aspect of what is otherwise a very entertaining and at times moving tale) was that the main character Harry Ricks is forced to flee the United States due to circumstances far beyond his control. And which aren’t revealed for some time in the narrative, and when you finally learn what happened it’s a bit of an anticlimax.

I hope Kennedy is exaggerating a little at how a simple fait divers can bring down a person in America, but hey, drunk Japanese finance ministers commit political hari-kiri (come to think of it, so do English members of parliament caught wearing frilly panties — or not, as the case may be), so maybe small town University professors have to, as well.

I did like the Faustian bargain aspect of the story. Kind of like winning the lottery… just so long as you spend the precise amount of winnings, each day, every day.

Walk on the wild side

Walk on the wild side

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Snow! It’s snowing!

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-02-02

Woke up this morning to find everything covered in white. It’s really quite rare for it to snow in Paris. The past couple of winters were snow free. I snapped some pictures with my telephone. The quality is about what one would expect, but it’s better than nothing. (Apart from that, the telephone is quite good at making and receiving calls).

It’s raining now. The day is here and the city is warming up. It will all be gone by tonight. Still, it was fun while it lasted. It rained most of the day. If only it had been colder, we’d’ve been rolling in the stuff.

In a particularly enjoyable episode of schadenfreude, it was fun watching some fat slob of businessman in a late model Jaguar get into trouble. He’d hit the juice, spin the back wheels, and the back of the car slewed dangerously towards the row of parked cars. Then he’d slam on the brakes, lock up the front wheels, and slide the front closer to the edge. The other cars on the road gave him a wide berth. At one point he was driving along at about 25 degrees off centre. He did this dance about three or four times until he managed to get past the traffic lights and then I lost sight. What a loser. None of the people zipping round in smaller cars appeared to be having difficulty.

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