Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Paris; La Défense

Besides some of the most touristic attractions of Paris I went to the business district, La Défense. Since I had paid for a Zone 3 transport pass (38€ for 5 days, ew) my friend suggested I go take a look if I'm interested in that kind of places.

It sort of felt weird to see all those tall glass buildings around. For starters there's only one skyscraper in Lyon and it looks terrible. I don't love skyscrapers but I don't hate them. It just really depends on how you arrange them in a city. Still seeing some kind of reminded me of Montreal. Yes, I'm starting to miss Montreal.

According to Wikipedia, "La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district". When I got there the first thing I saw (besides the well known white square) was that the district was made like a very large public space, unlike Montreal, where it's either small public places (Ville-Marie) or directly onto the street. It's also easily accessible via metro (station La Défense, line 1).


There aren't only offices, there is also a movie theater, an important commercial offer as well as an university campus.

Errr a thumb? Besides the modern architecture buildings there is a lot of artwork all over the place. Some of them are a bit weird but I guess they have a meaning, right?

I walked to the white square and decided to go up the stairs. On the right (I didn't dare taking a picture) there was a lady sitting there with a freaking army of pigeons just chilling around her. I think she was feeding them. The weird part is she looked normal. I don't feed birds because I'm afraid they might start shitting all over the place when they take off.

Up the stairs is the access to a business school and some glass panels that give a cool effect. It's also very windy because you're basically in a tunnel-like structure.

When you look towards the Champs Élysées boulevard, you can see the Arc de Triomphe on the back. Paris's urban planners really thought this through to make a very good use of this structural haussmannian boulevard.

More artwork, this one at the entrance of the shopping center and movie theater. Not sure what this is supposed to be.

As I kept walking towards the Champs Élysées boulevard, I saw this beautiful statue that didn't seem to be in the right place. I thought it was interesting to see something old and classic in a very modern context. I find it gives it more value since it's not something you would expect in this place.

Behind the statue there was this pool/fountain. I say pool because the tiles make me think of a pool but it's not shallow enough and its purpose is to create a water curtain for the eyes of the people on the lower level.

More modern art. A bean growing out of a sphere.

The view on the white square from the top of the pool.

More buildings everywhere as I walk towards the Champs Élysées boulevard. As you can see, the whole thing really is an enormous public place.

Remember the fountain in my post on Paris's Chinatown?

The last thing before you arrive to the edge. Some kind of pool with metal structures sticking out. I wasn't exactly a fan but what I really liked were the tables around.

As you can see, picnic tables are installed around the pool in a way that you can enjoy a lunch or a book without having to sit your bum on a cold piece of concrete. I think it's a nice way to integrate utility and some kind of attraction (people are always attracted to water, no matter its form) in a public space. Maybe this should be done more often in Montreal instead of just placing benches facing a fountain.

So that's it for today! I uploaded those pictures while I was waiting at the train station in Mulhouse. Right now I am writing this post while on the train back to Lyon ... because I was in Zürich the whole weekend. Man I still have so much to do because I am obviously not keeping up fast enough. Next post will be on Paris again, but the next ones will concern a few personal aspects of my life, my trips in Strasbourg, Marseille and Zürich, and obviously, food.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Paris; Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries

While I was in Paris I tried to visit as many attractions as I could. Unfortunately I'm going to have to come back (especially for the Louvre, that's going to take at least a whole day). There are many that I have also looked at from far but didn't have the time to get closer. There is well too much to see in Paris but here's a quick overview of the outside of the Musée du Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries.

First I got off at subway station Louvre-Rivoli (the station Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre is closed at the moment because they're working on an exhibition in the station).

Montrealers, do you recognize this? One of the entrances of the subway station Square-Victoria (in front of the Centre de commerce mondial de Montréal) has the same metal structures because it's actually a gift from the city of Paris. By the way if you haven't seen them yet there are mini Eiffel towers on the Jacques-Cartier bridge, also gifts from the city of Paris.

Now this is the east entrance of the Château du Louvre.

When you get in there is a nice inner public place with a fountain on the west side.

Can you see what I see? Yes, one of the glass pyramids of the museum!

I kept walking west, towards the Jardin des Tuileries. Here you see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

I was taking pictures when a mini-Eiffel-towers seller comes to me. I tell him I'm not interested in his stuffs. He then starts telling me how beautiful I am, asks me where I'm from (Canada) then asks me if I have a boyfriend or am married. His french and english were terrible so I started thinking maybe he had just arrived in France. Still it was awkward.

And so I started walking into the Jardin des Tuileries. It used to be a neighborhood but today it's a public garden, the most important and oldest à la française of Paris. Many statues, artworks, two fountains and a lot of chilling spots make this garden a nice place to relax.

As you keep walking towards the west you can see the Bassin Octogonal and a ferris wheel on Place de la Concorde. I'm starting to think every big city has its ferris wheel (Marseille, Lyon, and Lille have one).

I have to admit I wasn't exactly a fan of the Jardin des Tuileries. From what I've seen on pictures it seems like an amazing place to see during the summer when the trees are full of leaves.

When I got out of the garden I started to feel hungry so I bought a crepe. It wasn't made on the spot but it was good.

I nearly got killed crossing the Place de la Concorde. Parisian roundabouts are officially the worst ones. Anyways I was attracted by the fountains and the obelisk and it was worth it.

If there's something I love about France so far it's (besides the food) the fountains. There are so many of them that are just epic, old, very elaborated ... it's simply insanely breath taking. I wish we had fountains like this in Montreal. Wait, I keep forgetting how freaking young Montreal is compared to french cities.

I didn't walk all the way to the Arc de Triomphe because I was hungry. The crepe wasn't very filling. I turned right on the avenue de Marigny then right again on rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. I didn't really know where I was going but I stumbled upon the Palais de l'Élysée, basically where the french president officially lives (currently François Hollande).

I knew it was an important place because of the guards at the gates. Lucky me I didn't look menacing so they didn't look at me weird.

So that's it for today! I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of some of the biggest attractions of Paris. My next post will be another quick tour of some more Parisian attractions and monuments ;)
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