Archive for March, 2014

La Défense en boucle

Posted in La France, Paris, Photography at 19:08

Businessman sculpture, Courbevoie

Today I took a long walk around the northern half of La Défense, starting from the top (northwest), in Courbevoie, which has RER rail tracks leading to the business quarter. From there I walked to the opposite side, in Nanterre, the southwestern end of La Défense. It’s the first time I’ve been outside of skyscraper-land; unfortunately, I can’t really say I was impressed by the large Parc André Malraux, meant to be the area’s greenery. Most of the visual interest in this part of the Parisian suburbs comes from architecture rather than nature.

Thus it was that I returned to the parvis de la Défense on my boucle, or “round”. Yet another temporary art exhibition is being set up, which looks like it will be glass mosaic fishes in front of La Grande Arche.

Now with enough photos to merit it, I’ve created a set for La Défense. It has a mix of pictures taken with my phone, which has quite a decent wide-angle lens, and my Nikon SLR. You may notice several shots of the GDF Suez building (shown below) – that would be because not only do I find it a beautiful skyscraper, it’s also the client I’m currently working for. During my first few days in Paris, the sun came out and turned all the glass and metal into beautiful plays of light. Indeed, while I generally prefer natural vistas, I’ve found La Défense, with its fields of rock and concrete, trees of glittering steel, and flowers of iron, to be a postmodern forest in its own right.

GDF Suez T1 tower in the sun

Greetings from… sweet-aired Nice

Posted in Nice, Paris, Travel at 17:19

You may have been wondering why I haven’t posted in the last two weeks spent in Paris. The answer is simple: I changed my blog password before leaving, and, naturally, forgot it.

This weekend I’m briefly back home on the Riviera, picking up such necessities as hi-fi speakers and spring-weight blazers. As an unplanned bonus, I am also gulping up as much mimosa-and-sea-scented fresh air as possible.

This last week in Paris was quite literally suffocating. We had terrible air pollution; so bad that for the first time in the history of Paris, public transportation was made entirely free for three days, starting yesterday. This was nice timing for getting to and from my TGVs! This morning I popped into the RER A at La Défense and was at Gare de Lyon fourteen minutes later. For free. Walking through open stiles in Paris city center is an experience I’ll long remember, after years of wrassling with the things whenever visiting.

Kanoko, Susu, and I spent our first week and a half in a cheap apartment-hotel in Courbevoie, at the northwest corner of La Défense. Thanks to friends, I quickly found a furnished apartment nearby! We moved in on Wednesday. The cats took to the new place right away. Both of them had a rough time with the hotel; the tiny, dirty window (grimy even after I tried to sponge it off) drove them a bit stir-crazy, and they huddled under the covers every day. Once in the new apartment, however, they took to their old habits of pigeon-gazing from the French balcony doors, and dozing tummy-up on the vintage couch.

As for me, I spent the first week focused on work, and the second desperately trying to stay healthy while losing my voice, throat, and sinuses to toxic air pollution (100 microns per cubic metre). I didn’t get much sightseeing done – as a result, readers haven’t missed much of my Paris adventure so far!

Before the smog settled in, I took this photo on my morning “commute”, a 15-minute walk to the offices I’m at. You can find a few more photos in my Flickr stream – more will come soon, and now that I have my blog password, they’ll be posted here.

Grande Arche de la Defense