Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Show Must Go On . . .

Paris . . . ahhhhh Paris . . . What is it about Paris ? ? ?
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I've been living in or near Paris for the past 17 years, and spent 8 months as a student here before that, yet I still remain enchanted with Paris. A love affair shared by many folks in this best of all possible worlds I suppose. Paris was touched by a magic wand of urban creation way back at the beginning when people first settled there along the Seine. After 17 years I'm still discovering parts of Paris that I haven't ever seen before.
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For example, the other day, just after Christmas, I went in to Paris to catch a train out to Brittany from the Gare Montparnasse. Having an hour or so to pass before the train left, I decided to go up to the top of the Tour Montparnasse . . . which I'd never done before. The tower rises 209 meters over Paris, the view from up there is quite extraordinary, as it is slightly more central than the Eiffel Tower, though the Eiffel Tower is over 100 meters higher.
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And in case you might not have heard of him, there is a French gentleman named Alain Robert who specializes in doing solo free climbs of tall buildings around the world, with no gear or ropes or whatnot, just him on the building, with a bit of chalk for the hands. His climb of the Tour Montparnasse can be seen on YouTube here. Gives me the willies just thinking about hanging on to the window frames 50 floors off the ground . . . This is the view looking up . . .
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The Eiffel Tower is far more elegant, imho . . .
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The view from up there abounds in landmarks. The Centre Pompidou modern art museum and St Sulpice (which figured in The DaVinci Code) are visible here, among other Paris sights and sites (parasites ?) . . .
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This strange rusty object mounted on a mast adorned the top of the tower . . . if you have any idea what on Earth it might be, well I'm open to your ideas, it surely serves a critically important role in the universe . . .
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The Pantheon was gleaming in the sun. I can still remember visiting the famous tombs in the crypts there when I was ten years old; a trip which probably influenced my return here years later . . .
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Les Invalides, Napoleon's tomb, the Arc de Triomphe . . . what a view ! In every direction there was something to admire . . .
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Practically right next door, a bird's eye view could be had of the Montparnasse Cemetery, where quite a number of famous people are buried . . .
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Down at ground level again, some of the Parisian population were getting on with their daily business, watching people stroll by near the train station . . .
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49 comments:

TechnoBabe said...

Quite the view is right! And there is something special about Paris. You are fortunate to be living in such a lovely place of love and history and beauty.

The Things We Carried said...

I LOVE Paris and dream of living there one day!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you for the panoramic sights... it looks almost as if there is an old Paris and a new Paris.. are they divided that way...
is there much room left to grow?
or do they have to go up?

I guess these amazing views are what the people watchers in the last photo see every day.. oh the life of a bird...

James said...

I too have a love affair with Paris. Paris is an enchanting city.

I've been there three times in the last four years and if it was practical I'd go again tomorrow.

I always plan on going to the top of Tour Montparnasse but I never seem to do it.

I really love these pictures Owen.

babbler said...

Around the world in eighty seconds! Wow, the internet is fun when people, er slugs, like you are at the helm. I truly enjoy your photos of great places to slide! I hope to go back again someday to see views like that. I feel like I am there, there is nothing like an "Owenseye view!"
Thanks for the amazing tour, love Mrs. and Mr. Slug (the husband slug is currently enjoying the best that technology has to offer, a driving game on the TV set. I think I better invite him out for an evening slide!) Toodles!

babbler said...

PS - gather up your optic tentacles.....there is a fresh slug posted today, very exciting episode indeed!
Mrs. Slug

ρομπερτ said...

Allow me to thank you very much upon returning one of the most wonderful time in my life, working as a waiter in Paris, close to 'Les Invalides' during early '90s.

With regard to the 'rusty object' it might be a wonderful lightning arrester.

Please have a nice start into the new week.

AmyR said...

What an amazing view! I can't wait to visit Paris. I know a few people that travel there again and again because they are just entranced. And it's easy to see why. Thanks for all the great photos Owen!

The video of the free climber is amazing and terrifying. The thought of climbing like that makes my insides jump!

Loulou said...

Hello hello Owen, so dear Owen!
Wonderful pictures for an extra-ordinary city for sure!
What I like when being on the top of Tower Montparnasse it is that this is the only place where you can't see the tower Montparnasse itself ;-)))
Forgive me, I couldn't resist :-)

In the cemetery there is also a famous guy who is just crazy about cemeteries, you may encounter him if you stop by one day. You'll recognize him, he has a shy smile when concentrated on the portraits, the stories behind each place here... and believe me, what he will tell when back home about those "trips" to cemeteries is certainly unique.
Please don't miss him :-)

Have a great week
Bises
Loulou back in New Delhi (it is cold over here too !)

Ann said...

Owen, thank you for the wonderful vacation I just took.As always,your photography and commentary take me to wonderful places. Bless you for taking the time to transport all of us on trips through your eyes!
Happy New Year...Ann

Nevine said...

Owen, did you really have to? You know I'm farther from Paris than I've ever been... so so far out here in San Antone. How I miss her beauty, her lights (especially in the holidays), and how I miss the food and the shopping, and just walking around the streets with my husband, or with my friends, or just by myself. It was a 1 1/2 hour drive for me from where we lived in Belgium. Now, I have to fly across oceans. But your photos have brought her right to me, and brought back so many memories, some that have made me smile, some that have brought tears to my eyes, all wonderful. I do have to tell you that my favorite photo is the one with the pigeons. I have a special affinity for them. I remember feeding them when I was a child, and running after them with my red clogs, clomping on the ground so I could watch them flutter and fly. See what you've made me do? You've made me remember, childhood and adult memories... Thank you for that, Owen. As always... thank you.

Nevine

Virginia said...

Well i"ve scorned the Tower in the past but now that I see the view, maybe i'll reconsider. Merci for the eye opener!
V

TheUndertaker said...

Awesome pics, makes me miss Europe with all its busy exotic-ness, smog, dirt and people. Not to mention passion, excitement etc. Especially the passionate French. However they are not so popular here in kiwi land after a few dirty deeds were done (like sinking our Greenpeace ship the Rainbow warrior). Keep bringing them time snaps!

Deborah said...

What I love about yours posts is what they reveal about your sense of curiosity. Seems to me you're one of those lucky people who is really able to live 'in the moment'.
I lived in the banlieue parisienne for 7 years but didn't see nearly as much of the city as I wanted to, being at home as I was with 3 little ones. Now I've discovered Brussels, and have to say that I am beginning to appreciate the non-conformity of its street-view. From on high, it's probably not nearly as impressive as Paris.
Wonderful pictures and commentary, as always, Owen. An hour well spent!

Jessie said...

I love Paris! Now I need to go back and visit all the places you mentioned! Happy new year Owen :)

The Sagittarian said...

Oh wow, that certainly gets it all over me regarding the temperature!! (Yes, I was meaning centigrade...) How fantastic to have that view, and I love the pigeons on the steps...great, great shot. Happy new year to you, twin.

cinner said...

Very interesting, I feel like I was there, thank you. I am surprised at how very crowded it is...but there would be so much to see. Have a great day.

Peter said...

After tow weeks break with blogging, I'm trying to recover all that I have missed. It will take some time! I have read your last posts, always remarkable, but will not comment everywhere, just thanks for the warning about Windows 7 which I consider(ed) bying (have Vista). I will do some careful checking before possibly doing so.

In my case, it was even worse, I waited 35 years before going to the top of the Tower, basically because I wanted to make a post about it. Whether you like the Tower or not, I guess it will not disappear in the near future, the view is fantastic and, as said by many, it's the only place in Paris where you will not see it!

You obviously chose a good day, your photos are so clear and neat!

All the best for 2010 with a lot of fascinating posts!

Adam said...

Trust you to find something old and rusty up there!

Happy new year! Perhaps we'll finally meet somewhere in this magnificent city in 2010.

Maryh K. said...

Wonderful photos of Paris !
Nevertheless, the one I prefer is the last one, with pigeons in the foreground. Thanks for your sharing.

I've got an idea for the weird rusty object upon the Eiffel Tower: maybe something aimed to broadcast? Just a mere suggestion.
Have a nice day Owen.
Sincerely, Marie

designslinger.com said...

From the Eiffel Tower to a tower with a question mark.
It's great having you back!
:-)

louciao said...

Wow! What breath-taking views, and I don't mean (only) because of the height! I would certainly lay down a few Euros for a postcard of the first scene to send home from my Parisian holiday. But the pidge-watching-people one is my favourite. Yes, I would definitely want to see that one in your gallery show because, after all, that is why I would be in Paris, sending postcards home.

Steve said...

Hmm. Could that weird object be the rusted remains of the front wheel of an ill fated 747 that approached the airport a little too low...?

BLOGitse said...

Happy New Year!

Amazing pics again! I've never been to Paris.
Every time I see your pics it hits me: go, go...maybe one day!

Please visit my blog and check what happened to my phtograph. (an ordinary snapshot! or maybe that's why?!)
I just want to warn you and all photographers - pictures are not only yours when on your blog!
http://blogitse.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-love-sharing-but-i-hate-stealing.html

StyleSpy said...

Welcome back, Owen.

What always amazes me about photos of Paris taken from spots like this is how crowded the city looks from up there. When I'm wandering the streets in Paris it never feels claustrophobic, but seeing ot from this high up makes me realize how dense it really is. By what magic does the city accomplish this, do you suppose?

French Fancy said...

I adore Paris and am so pleased that Mr FF is now based there - roll on next year when we can relocate to as near to this great city as we can afford. Dreux looks quite nice and is about an hour away from the centre - do you know anything about it, Owen?

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

I found you through Peter's blog and what a fun blog this is! :)

I am totally impressed with the view from the Tour Montparnasse! Incredible! I've been seeing some ads in the Métro stations for going to it and seeing the view. When the weather gets a wee bit warmer, I may have to do this. Thank you for sharing these great photos.

And BTW, I wonder if the rusty thing is a lightning rod, perhaps? Hmmm.

jeff said...

Quelle bien belle promenade tu viens de m'offir Mister Owen !
Je n'ai jamais eu l'occasion de monter en haut de cette tour et la vue qu'on a de la haut est superbe ! Mais tu n'as pas pû t'empêcher de photographier cet objet rouillé qui a dû faire de la figuration dans "la guerre des mondes" ! ! ! T'es sûr qu'il y était encore quand t'es reparti ?...
J'aime beaucoup ton regard panoramique sur Paris, comme une sorte de bilan de tes 17 années passées ici en France ! Mais qu'as-tu fait Owen ? Le bon choix ?... Pour sûr que tu as fait le bon choix ! T'as qu'à voir...! De fil en aiguille, je ne serais pas là à te parler, t'écrire plutôt ou taper des mots sympathiques... 17 ans après !... Mais juste un truc Owen ! C'est quand que tu te décides à m'inviter gratos dans la capitale, à m'héberger gratuit et à me faire visiter tous les coins que tu connais mieux que moi ?... Quand ?...:-)))
Je plaisante bien sûr cher ami ! Simplement pour te dire que j'ai bien envie de te rencontrer un de ces jours !...
Allez Owen le poète, je te laisse à tes remembers et surtout... Tu as fait le bon choix ! Quoi ? Lequel ? Ben celui d'être monté sur la tour Montparnasse bien sûr ! ! !...

Ciao amigo...;-)
A bientôt...

Nathalie said...

I followed your link and watched Alain Robert's ascent to the top, it almost looks easy. Yet I can't climb 3 meters without freaking out. What an amazing feat!

I absolutely adore your photo of dame Eiffel - god knows we've seen shots of her but I can't help but be impressed every time. The perspective with la Défense in the background is stupendous.

I enjoyed reading your thoughts about living in Paris. Life has a way with us...

I wish you all the best for 2010 and just like jeff, I hope this shall be the year when we meet in person. Cheers!

John`s Photography said...

Fabulous set of photographs, Owen.
Happy new year.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Oh, I love Paris! Thanks for the photographs. When I was there 100 years ago it seems, I loved every single step of it, but particularly remember three older white-haired women sitting in a garden just outside the Veteran's Hospital there--which in my memory is next to the Military Museum(...which was also surprisingly interesting)and across the street from the Rodin museum. I'll never forget those three little ladies dressed in their black, chattering away like birds. Thanks again, lovey!! :>)

Alberto Oliver said...

New York has the money, London has the "posh", but Paris has "it" that has no name. Some people say that you can even enjoy it more not when living in but when you miss it and wish to come back. Thanks for the pics, they are inspired and wonderful. As always, i like so much to read your words and complement it with you charming images. May it be a wonderful year Owen, and let´s the show go on!!!

The Pliers said...

Owen,

I too love Paris. So much so that I try not to think of it too often since my visits are few and far between.

I love the Tour Montparnasse which is loêated very near one of my favorite creperie, Crêperie Josselin and was last there, in both the Tour and the crêperie, on May 8, 2009! Perhaps that's were we must meet and have cider instead of wine. Vincent's last home can wait a while.

Then, I propose that we take a walk in the Montparnasse Cemetery and visit Philippe Noiret and Jacques Demy–for starters–together.

I see no obstacle to the realization of such an outing...

crederae said...

bonjour Owen
-beautiful presentation!
I loved your breathtaking photography and the video of the climb.
I wonder what is in that guys dna to allow him to climb that way. ha ha
have a beautiful day.

Babzy said...

Merci pour ces photos aériennes de Paris , ce fut un vrai plaisir de survoler cette belle ville du haut de la tour :)

Arnaud said...

Owen, thanks for those amazing photos from one top of Paris. I never had the opportunity to go there but seems it really worth it !
Happy New Year and all the best to you and your relatives !
Hope our paths will cross in the future !

Owen said...

Hey Arnaud... good to hear from you ! Hope you had some excellent vacation time, can't wait to catch up with all your photos... was also on vacation for a week out in Brittany, was out of touch with the blogosphere for a while... I wish you a fantastic 2010 !

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Bonjour Babzy ! Bonne année... bien content si ceci t'a plu... à bientôt !

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Bonjour Crederae... ce serait un nouveau nom de plume par hasard ? Bonne année à toi. Stay warm in the great North !

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Dear Pliers,
Of course, of course it is an obtainable goal, and I shall look forward to it whenever it may be able to be arranged with great anticipation and pleasure... maybe Summer 2010 ! Hope you are having a wonderful time in the sun, it is freezing here ! I'm trying to think of where to go in February to get away from the cold for a while... take care !

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Alberto, a million thank you's for your kind words and support. To you too an excellent 2010, with plenty of good blogging time to come... This past year has been a pleasure...

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Dear Distracted,
I hope you are staying warm in sin city, I hear middle America is getting a bit of a cold snap... You are right, the Rodiin museum in Paris is just a few steps away from Napoleon's tomb and les Invalides. Also in les Invalides, but very poorly known and publicised is the Museum of Plans and Relief Maps...le Musée des Plans et Reliefs... which is full of large scale models made back in the 1700's of several fortified cities around France for military purposes, as there was no satellite photography available, they had highly skilled model makers build beautifully detailed models of entire cities. Well worth a visit... So you were here 100 years ago... jeepers, how old does that make you now ???
:-)

Owen said...

Dear John, thank you very much, and a wonderful new year to you too... loved your river shots there... shucks, love nearly everything you do... guess that makes me a fan...
;-)

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Hi Nathalie !
I'm like you, I could never climb up a building like that, I'd be paralyzed. I once tried to climb the outside of an industrial smokestack that was 100 metres high, and had a metal rung ladder built into it, I got about halfway up and just froze up, could only go down, my limbs were refusing to move another inch upwards... and yes, absolutely, I hope in 2010 to meet up with you and Jeff and Clo and Karine and Jilly and I don't know who all, but to pass a good afternoon at a bistro in Avignon ! Ce serait un grand plaisir !!!
Bonne année à toi et tes proches !

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Salut M. Jeff !
Et oui, la vue est splendide de là haut... la prochaine fois que tu arrives à Montparnasse en TGV il va falloir que tu montes là haut, ou faire comme Alain Robert, et grimper l'extérieur... c'est moins rapide que l'ascenseur qui met même pas une minute pour monter au 56ème étage. Et oui, si, si, j'ai fait le bon choix, pas de regret et pas d'hésitation à le refaire. Bon, comme je disais à Nath, il va falloir que l'on trouve le moyen de se voir un de ces quatres en 2010... un de ces jours je vais partir avec un sac de weekend et faire un saut dans le sud... Allez, garde-moi un peu de tisane quand même !
:-)

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Hello Karin (alien, mais pas alienée, j'espère! :-)) bienvenue, welcome to my humble little blog... always happy to see new visitors or lurkers who've come out of the closet... I have no idea if that odd rusty object was a lightning rod, seems a strange shape for a lightning rod, which mostly just resemble antennas... but who knows. And yes, it is probably more enjoyable by warmer weather, there was a heck of a wind blowing up there the other day... it was... refreshing !

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Hi FF, so you're moving closer to Paris ? What an adventure ! I'm honestly not familiar with Dreux at all, have never been there, and it's quite a ways from where we are... it's still a little ways out of Paris though, I'd research the commuting situation carefully... keep us posted...



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Style Spy, there is most certainly some strange magic going on, I agree with you, when walking it seems open and vast, but when seen from above like this, incredibly dense... maybe it is something in the coffee here that alters one's perception ??? Or maybe in the wine ???

:-)

Catherine said...

what wonderful views - I love cities that constantly enchant and surprise - Mexico City certainly falls into this category too.!! Happy New Year

Nadege said...

Wonderful shots of Paris Owen.
Happy, peaceful new year to you!

Jill said...

Educational photos, Owen...Having lived my whole life in rural PA, I have a hard time conceiving of a city so dense and vast...Oh, the exploring I could do there!! You are so fortunate!

The climber reminded me of Philippe Petit, the tightrope walker, who walked between the Twin Towers. I saw a documentary on him called Man On Wire (very worthwhile viewing!)

Owen said...

Hi Jill, I'm sure you would have all sorts of adventures exploring Paris, and there are more and more bicycles around, even spots in many places where you can rent a bicycle, and then leave it somewhere else later. Many thanks for the tip about the man on the wire, hadn't heard of him before, I'll see if I can find something, no doubt on YouTube...

Stay warm, I hear it's cold in your neck of the woods...
:-)

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Nadege, many thanks ! A fine new year for you too !

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Hola Catherine, I'm sure Mexico City must be a fascinating place to wander around, you are so lucky to be there... Loved your volcano photo from Costa Rica... gosh, you sure get around !
;-)

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Dear Blogitse, at least once in your life I hope you'll be able to visit Paris, if such is your desire... it is a rich rich city, so many places to visit, one could spend years discovering Paris...

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Steve ! What an imagination you have... but I wonder how it landed safely after leaving a wheel up there ??? Must have been alot of sparks flying !

Owen said...

Dear Lynne, well, starting up the postcard business would be part of the gallery project, which will happen just as soon as I come into some funding... but no harm in dreaming about it !

Stay warm !!!

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Hi Design, well, I wasn't away for too long, but one must step back to enjoy the holidays... many thanks though, glad you enjoyed the view...

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Bonjour Marie K... Happy you liked the pigeons, me too, I love the way they are lined up there on three levels, like they're at the pigeon theatre or something... and I thought they were going to attack me when I threw the first piece of bread on the ground, they were flying all around me, inches away... !

Bonne journée !

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Hi Adam, yeah, you know me, if there's something old and twisted and rusted around, I'm likely to spot it and wonder what had happened to it... but this one remains a mystery to me, it doesn't seem to make sense as a lightning rod, nor as an antenna... strange. Ummm, yeah, it would be a real pleasure to meet you, and we will have to give that some thought, organize an afternoon and hook up at a café someplace, have a drink, maybe go for a stroll ??? Yes, for sure, let's give that some thought... soon...

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Hey Peter, I thought you had already posted about everywhere in Paris... Well, if you haven't been up there before, it's worth the ten euros... imho. The view really is spectacular. Same for Adam as said above, hope to catch up with you before too long...

Bonne année !

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Hi Cinner,
Paris is extremely dense, one could spend years and still not see it all... best wishes for a happy 2010...

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Thanks Saj-twin, yeah, just rub it in about the temperature. Last night it was minus 6 here when I came home from work !

Owen said...

Hi Jessie, if such is your dream, to return to Paris, I hope it will come true for you ! Best wishes...

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Hey Deborah, well, I often been told I was a curious guy, but I've never been able to figure out if that was a compliment or not... But indeed, when out with a camera in hand I do live in the very present moment, examining closely the world around me (and wondering what on earth is going on most of the time) Hope you'll have more time to get out and explore once the little ones are bigger... ?
:-)

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Dear Undertaker, wow, the Rainbow Warrior... hadn't come across that reference in a long time, but indeed, that was a sad story from start to finish... I try to stay well clear of anything to do with politics and religion, we get deluged with far too much of that stuff by the press. Sounds like you spent some time in Europe then... ? Hope all is well in sunny summertime NZ... if you run into the Saj please say "Hi" to her for me !

Owen said...

Hey Virginia, yeah, I'd sort of ignored it too for all these years, it was a spur of the moment thing, I was there, and had some time, so up I went... glad I did, it was invigorating to feel the cold wind up there...
;-)

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Dear Nevine, always hold those memories close... it is good to re-live the past as well as living the present, and dreaming about the future. So glad to be a bit of a catalyst then for you. And what else is there to do, you are just going to have to come back. I know Air France has a direct flight from Houston... a friend of ours is a pilot on that route... so you know what you need to do now...
:-)

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Ann, you are entirely welcome... if I can provide a little vicarious travelling to you, then it is time well spent I think...

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Dearest Loulou, so you don't like seeing the tower on the Paris horizon ? Well, it does sort of stick out like a big black tombstone... nothing very aesthetic about it. Good thing there is only one like it in Paris, and not hundreds like in New York.

And it's funny, when I went in the cemetery, I think I saw the person you are talking about here, but each time I tried to approach him, he ran off and hid... guess I'll try another day when he's not feeling so shy....

All the best to you and the family Loulou, and stay warm... here it is minus 5 again tonight....
BBBBRRRRRRRRRRR !!!
:-))))

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Amy, well come on over then, life is short, and Paris is a must as far as I'm concerned...

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Hi Robert, you are very, very welcome... so you worked as a waiter in Paris ? Perhaps you've read George Orwell's "Down and Out In Paris and London" ? Great story about his days working in a restaurant in Paris... much happiness and philosophy to you in 2010 !

Owen said...

Dear Mrs Slug, so happy to see you out and about sliding happily through the blogosphere ! I think you're just going to have to get Mr Slug out for a slide right across the continent, and then an undersea ocean crossing slide... maybe you could latch onto an underwater trans-atlantic cable and just slide straight over to France like that ??? Or hitch a ride as a stowaway in the meal cart on a flight ??? I'm sure creative slugs like you will find a way to make it to Paris, where there are plenty of lovely parks for good sliding, like les jardins du Luxembourg...

:-)

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James, wow, three times in four years, well, if you keep up that rhythm, you'll be over again soon I'd wager... well, do give a toodle-oo if you're going to be coming back, ok ? Glad I could help get the travel juices flowing a little bit...

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Hi Gwen, yeah, I love those people watchers, they have the good life, pecking up the baguette crumbs from tourists munching sandwiches out there... As for old and new, so much of Paris still seems old enough that the new structures do stick out a bit... but it's a fascinating mix, of ancient, old, relatively recent, recent, and new... to under construction...

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Hi Things Carried... if such is your dream, I hope it will come true for you one day... I'm a firm believer in "Where there's a will, there's a way" ...

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And finally back to the first comment here...

Dear Techno, believe me, I count my blessings regularly... if good luck was measured in pennies, I'd be rich beyond belief... I was very fortunate years ago to meet a young french lady who became my wife, were it not for her I might not be over here now...

All best wishes to you for 2010...

@eloh said...

Paris.

Thank you Owen.

Lulu Sorcière said...

Bonne année à toi Owen ! Je ne suis jamais montée jusqu'en haut de la Tour Montparnasse, merci pour ce coup d'oeil ! J'arrive juste en bas avec le train ;-)
Bises !

Phil said...

tu fais honneur à Paris avec ces photos sublimes !