Sunday, April 26, 2015

Old signs and abandoned buildings

Abandoned storefront in Rodez, France

A lot of my favorite finds never make it to my blog. 

As most "France" bloggers do, I tend to focus on the scenic: pastoral views, architectural wonders, and, of course, the mandatory doors and windows. (Sometimes I try to resist the latter, but who can, really?)

But what I actually love tracking down the most are old signs, abandoned buildings, and assorted weird places that wouldn't make the tourist guides.

Girdles ("gaines") must have been more important than lingerie at the time

This sign for Triumph Lingerie, a perfectly modern brand,  is displayed on a still-operating lingerie shop in a nearby town. I like that they have chosen not to take it down -- or just haven't gotten around to it.

There's always a story...

More recently abandoned buildings, especially businesses, always make me feel melancholy. I wonder what the story was: dwindling trade, no one to take over after retirement, even a death? I may like the photos, but it doesn't mean I like the situation.

An old sign of the scenic variety

One finds, in France, a number of old advertising signs placed directly on houses, or even painted on them. I've often been curious about this practice, and I also enjoy looking up the brand if I don't know of it.

But with so many of the letters hidden behind the leaves, I wasn't able to find out what the one above was for.

Does anybody out there know?


Although I hadn't heard from her for a while, I suspected that this would be the type of mystery that Susan from Days on the Claise would solve, or at least help me solve. She was able to decipher that the top word was "HUILE," or (motor) oil, and suggested the brand might be HART.

That sped up my research considerably. The brand was not HART, but HAFA, and it is still a going concern -- just shows you how much I'm up on my motor oils. 

This led me to finding a full photo of the same ad, on the blog Fragments de Roanne.

Photo courtesy of Dominique Thoral

I had been intrigued by the latest photo's on Dominique's blog, a series of "abri-bus," or covered bus stops, and was not that surprised to find out the blogger is a truly accomplished photographer who has done some exhibits.

Website: Choses Communes by Dominique Thoral

Lou Messugo

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Easter in Paris, Suite et Fin, and good-bye to a neighborhood

Le Printemps celebrating "le printemps"

I had hoped to do better blog-wise by my lovely Easter weekend in Paris. It was my first real dose of spring, and there is so much to tell, as usual when one spends a weekend in Paris.

But spring continued to move into full bloom phase here, and time went by without my feeling like spending evening time on the computer.

(This is where I should tell you that I was spending my evenings whipping our yard into shape, but in reality I was lolling on the couch admiring spring blossoms from our sunny living room.)

The light, the light...

For new readers of this blog, our eldest daughter has lived in Paris for nearly three years now, and that has given me -- or us --  the opportunity, or at least the impetus, to head up there much more often.

More impetus for this trip...

I had definitely wanted to get up to Paris for the David Bowie Is exhibit at the newly opened (January 2015) Philharmonie de Paris. I'm quite a Bowie fan, but a bit leery of rock music exhibits and museums. It is such a challenge to translate a musical experience into a musical and visual one without the actual presence of the artist.

But Bowie's work and persona are definitely up to this challenge, and I would call the exhibit an unqualified success. It is on until the end of May, so if you have been wondering about going, get your tickets!

We also went to the recently renovated Musée Picasso. I hadn't visited this museum in decades, and appreciated the airy, uncramped feel of the new version. They are also doing a good job with crowd management; despite a huge line on a day (the first Sunday of the month)  when the museum was free, the galleries were not overly crowded. 

Of course I took plenty of photos, but will just share a few views from the building: 

I often find looking out from museums almost as interesting as looking at the works inside them... 

Back in Aveyron -- oops, Paris 12me

This weekend had special meaning as it may well have been the last based in the "quartier des Aveyronnais," or a small portion of the 12me arrondissement near the Cour St. Emilion and Bercy Village

My daughter has been lucky enough to live the past three years in a special, and very reasonably priced,  apartment building for young people from the Aveyron, L'Oustal

But all good things must come to an end, and in mid-July her lease will be up, and she will be looking for new lodgings. 

I will miss many things about this calm and relatively little-known neighborhood of Paris.

I will miss the delicious food from the Auberge Aveyronnaise, pictured above. Of course we can go back there -- and even eat the same type of food here in Aveyron! 

My first stop every morning I spent in the neighborhood

And yes, I will miss the relatively un-touristy Starbucks that was just a few minutes away from her apartment.

But, assuming that she finds a decent apartment in an interesting area of Paris, there will be more discoveries to make.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Paris 1: Les Douches, la Galerie

Entrance to Les Douches, la Galerie

As a student in France in the 1980s, I was always fascinated, and a bit perplexed, by the many municipal bath and shower facilities I saw -- especially in Paris.

For some reason or another, I even ended up using one once -- I think a youth hostel I was staying in only had toilets, not showers, and we were guided to the city showers.

I thought they were a thing of the past, but before writing this post, I learned that there are still 17 operating municipal shower facilities in Paris. There is even an official video about them on Daily Motion (all in French.) And according to the newspaper Libération, their popularity is on the upswing, as users include people trying to save money any way they can, including on hot water.

Be that as it may....

...I didn't start my Easter weekend in Paris off with a public shower. My husband had scoped out a photo exhibit of shots of New York, so we headed off to Les Douches, La Galerie

It was an interesting show, albeit just enough to whet one's appetite for photos of New York City. I was especially interested to see some photos by the mysterious Vivian Maier, and hadn't realized that this gallery had housed her Paris exhibition in 2013

No doubt here as to what this place used to be

It was fascinating to see how this gallery has kept its "public shower" atmosphere. 

The New York photo show is open until May 22nd, and entrance is free -- but showers are not included.