Thursday, 31 January 2013

Paris a walk in the park...

While still on the subject of Pais I thought I'd share this little video I found will making a page for one of our favourite parks in the city (Parc Monceau) for my site  - quite charming

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Meeting your Paris neighbours...

When we stayed with Richard and Francoise In Paris on the way home from Scotland we took the opportunity to introduce them to a nearby neighbour of theirs - much to their surprise!

 As it happens French friends of ours who have a holiday home in Barrou stay within a shot walk of them. We were invited round for an aperitif and the introductions were made - with hopefully the beginning of new friendships. It is certainly a small world.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Church on Sunday...Saint-Étienne-du-Mont,Paris

Staying in Paris this Sunday with a visit to Saint-Etienne-du-Mont (Saint Stephen on the mount) which sits behind its grand neighbour the Pantheon in Paris. Although dedicated to Saint Etienne the church has a greater part to play in the religious order of Paris.It was here that the remains of the Patroness of the city, Saint Genevieve, lay entombed awaiting the completion of what was going to be the most spectacular church  in the city. What is now the 'Pantheon' was intended as her new resting place built to replace a small church that had been nearby where her tomb had been since the sixth century. It was Louis XV who had it built in her honour and indeed she did spend time there after its completion in 1626 (it  had taken over 130 yrs to build) before being removed by the Revolutionists in 1789.The church was then dedicated to the Revolution, and  immediately secularised as the 'Panthéon'.

After the Revolution some bones and a few other relics of the saint were said to have been recovered and replaced in the sarcophagus they had once occupied within the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont - so in fact the Patroness of Paris has no 'official' resting place!

That said, her current location isn't just happens to bear some other saint's name!

It is built in a very flamboyant Gothic style and certainly has the 'wow' factor.

It has a rather elaborate rood screen separating the nave from the choir, probably  there to separate the riff-raff from the nobility, with spiral staircases on either side.(Much better pictures than mine here...)

It has a rather ornate altar worthy of its surroundings.

The organ

We actually didn't spend as much time in here as we;d have liked as guests started to arrive for a wedding although they showed no heed to us or the other tourist mulling about.

It was fitting that the church  dedicated to the saviour of Paris should also find a place for our own Joan - the saviour of France!

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Way back in 2009 we bought a towel radiator from the above store - due to some bad project planning on my behalf it wasn't actually fitted until over a year later (must have been on sale). After it was installed it was fine for a couple of years but suddenly stopped working. It was not used that often as it was in 'Les Balcons' and we only do summer lets,so it was a bit disappointing. Thinking it was sure to be out of the guarantee period we bought a replacement (different type obviously) but I kept the old one as it was still 'brand new' and perhaps I could fix whatever problem it had - into storage it went for me to look at in my spare time!

Imagine our surprise on our return home from Scotland to find among our mail a letter from Leroy Merlin telling us these radiators had in fact been faulty and should be returned to the store for exchange!

Now I wonder how many people still had them after this time? Anyway on Thursday I went into one of my my 'storage areas' and retrieved said item and took it back to the store in Poitiers with the receipt that Pauline's efficient filling system had no problem in producing,

They handled it as if bought yesterday and when we told them we had already replaced it they said it was not a problem and immediately credited our card with the value (at today's price) plus gave us a voucher for €30 for our trouble - who said customer service was dead?

Now this little story highlights a couple of things about us - my inability to throw anything out and Pauline's obsession with receipts / paperwork - but on this occasion these little foibles were to our advantage. Now as Pauline says if we could turn all the items I have stored away into capital in this way we might get a nice holiday out of it!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Inside out...

Looking through one of the windows at the Musee Carnavalet in Paris into the courtyard.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

All a question of taste...

Here's a Picasso from 'Mussee Carnavalet' in Paris...mmm...

Francoise much preferred this - me, not so sure about those clouds.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Prêt-à-manger, Paris style...

 During our walk around the Marais district of Paris, Richard and Francoise suggested we head along Rue des Rosiers to 'L'As du Fallafel' to sample what is said to be the best Falafel in Paris. What they forgot was that is closed on Saturdays (the day of our visit) respecting I suspect the Jewish Sabbath - Marais  has a large Jewish community (as well as a large gay community). The establishment across the street however was obviously not as observant and was taking advantage of the closure - I wonder if it only opens Friday pm and Saturdays? - it did have a 'temporary' feel to it.

We joined the small queue and were soon in possession of our various 'takes' on this middle eastern dish.

Pauline and Francoise had the vegetarian option (above) while Richard and I had the lamb and turkey  option. Now I have only ever had lamb carved from a rotating spit once in my life - post-pub obviously - when drink induced hunger demanded salt and fat in some form or other - I did not particularly enjoy it and it only served to convince me that it was not for me! I think the vision of a piece of meat that looks nothing like any animal I am aware of doesn't help matters. Notwithstanding the meat shavings I rather enjoyed the messy combination of 'things that I pointed to' served in a hollow pita bread. We ate on the pavement with fellow diners some of whom were better dressed for the occasion. 

Replete, we continued our walk.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Church on Sunday...St.Paul's, Paris

The St-Paul-St-Louis Church can be found squeezed between blocks on Rue Saint Antoine in the Marais district of Paris. The church was built between 1627 and 1641 in the Jesuit architectural style. Its design is said to be based on the Gesú church in Rome. If you are visiting one of the other attractions in the area you should make a point of popping in - you won't be disappointed!

The first Mass here was celebrated on Ascension Day, May 9, 1641 by none other than Cardinal Richelieu you can imagine the pomp and ceremony that day.

Looking up is a delight to the eyes, even on a dull day light filters in through the many windows of the church's 63 metre high dome and galleries.

The architectural detail is amazing.

Due to its proximity to the Bastille the church was badly ransacked during the start of the French Revolution.but it has been restored to its former glory aided by the inclusion of some paintings, one of them is 'Christ in the Garden of Olives' by Eugene Delacroix (French Romantic artist) hangs in the left transept of the church.

Built in 1867 the organ is rather impressive, its wooden housing is actually recognized as an historic monument. 

Where's Joan...she's here in all her glory.

Love the big red  front door!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

French sales...

After visiting the Musee Carnvalet in the Marais district of Paris last weekend my brother Richard wanted to pop into the 'no brand' store 'Muji' to buy a kitchen utensil - he is good in the kitchen,though not quite as good as Francoise  who said he didn't need it. Interesting shop which had some handy items- this one obviously had Francoise and Pauline intrigued.

They were pretending to be testing out the sofa when in fact they were just resting their weary legs.

At this time of year the sales 'Les Soldes' are on  - did you know that in France, there are only two 'legal' sale periods - the winter sales (Soldes d'hiver) that start in January and the summer sales (Soldes d'été) that start on the last Wednesday in June.Just along the street from 'Muji' there was a store having an unusual sale - not really sure what was on offer!

Please excuse the language!!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Do people fall for this...

Had a phone call this morning from someone with heavy foreign accent claiming to be from Windows operating system 'technical department', she asked me to open up the Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe) and claimed that  my computer was being attacked by malware and viruses. When I questioned how she knew my particular computer had this problem she went to great lengths to explain my unique windows id blah blah blah - all very convincing perhaps if you were not aware of such scams. I asked was she working directly for Microsoft -no, just technical help - and told her I was recording the conversation asked for her name (Anna) and a number I could call her back on 00442020860664 ?
There is plenty on the net re's a video;

Thursday, 17 January 2013

All in the name of research...

We broke our journey again back to Barrou by staying with my brother Richard and his wife Francoise in their apartment in Paris.It was a chance to catch up plus to do a little further research for my site about this great city As on previous visits we walked for miles - its such a great place to wander around in but we also had a couple of visits we wanted to make.

One of these was to the 'Mussee Carnavalet', which we had not as yet visited. This imposing museum is housed in two 'hotel particuliers' (mansion houses) Hôtels Carnavalet and Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau. These grand houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries but from the street, Rue de Sevigne, you might easily pass them by, as I'm sure we have on previous visits to this part (Marais)of the city. You cannot really appreciate their grandeur until you venture into the courtyards.

The museum's collection offers over a hundred rooms (too many for one visit) devoted to the history of Paris, from its origins to the present day. They include paintings, sculptures, furniture and archaeological finds, many in reconstructed room settings - if like us, you've trekked around most of the grand chateaux of the Loire Valley this way of exhibiting can become a bit 'samey'. The collection is meant to deliver an insight into the story of how cultural life in Paris has evolved over the centuries but although it was very interesting because of its sheer scale and opulance, you find yourself a bit lost in history and searching for the real Parisians.

The great thing about this museum is however that it is free to visit so if you need more time you can always return.

One of our favourite settings was the reproduction of a Parisian jeweller's shop from 1900 by Alphonse Mucha, a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist.

We also liked the model of the Bastille of which there is nothing remaining today.

We have visited most of the main tourist attractions of Paris but it is always good to find new places.

You can visit the website of the museum here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

More French connections...

When we looked around St.Martin's churchyard in  Epsom last week we noticed that there were five tombs representing different generations of one family - the Garlands -and we wondered what their connection to the town was.After a little research we found out that one family member,Nathaniel, had played an important part in the community and had links,albeit ones he may have preferred not to have had,with France.

Here is an extract from an Epsom history site

"Nathaniel married Anna Walter Cope on 3 March 1814 at Orleans in France and thereby hangs a tale. After attending school at Eton, Nathaniel Garland had gone on to Christchurch, Oxford, as a gentleman commoner to matriculate on 15 November 1793. Instead of waiting to take his degree, about 1797 he embarked upon the Grand Tour and was still travelling around Europe in 1803. Unfortunately for him, the Napoleonic War broke out which resulted in him being 'detained' (detanu) - for the next 11 years! - during which time he is reported to have paid 136,000 francs in 'fines' extorted by his captors. Incarcerated about the same time had been the Cope family including a 14 year old daughter, Anna Walter. They appear to have been interned together at Valenciennes and, when the groom was 39 and bride 25, were joined in matrimony by a fellow detenu (an attested copy of the official translation of the marriage settlement between Nathaniel and 'Miss Anna Cope of Paris', dated 26 February 1814, is held by Surrey History Centre under ref. K90/21/1). It is unclear when the newly-weds gained their release but their son Edgar Walter Garland, was born in England: he was delivered on 26 December 1814 and baptised at St Mary's, St Marylebone Road, London, on 20 January 1815. Woodcote Grove is mentioned in Pownall's history of Epsom - "The next seat worthy of notice in this place, is that described by Mr. Toland, as 'the Grove', but now called Garland's, after the family in whose possession it has been many years; and is now the residence of Nathaniel Garland, Esq., late high sheriff of Essex. It is situated at the north-west end of Chalk Lane, and is a handsome brick building, surrounded by about fifty acres of land, well timbered, and finely undulating." The demise of the later Nathaniel Garland was recorded at Upper Berkeley Street West on 3 January 1845. Two years later, the widowed Anna obtained a royal licence to resume her maiden name of Cope, 'in obedience to the will of her grand-uncle', in order to inherit family estates at Drummilly, Ireland: she lived on until 1867, dying in Armagh aged 77."

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Church on Sunday...Epsom..St.Martin of Tours

You know I love a coincidence, so you can imagine our surprise when deciding to have a look at the one of the churches here in Epsom, to find it dedicated to none other than St. Martin de Tours. The site here in Epson has been host to place of worship since Saxon times.The Doomsday Book of 1085-86 highlighted the existence of two churches in the area one of which would have been a forerunner to St.Martin's.

The 'medieval' church consisted of a short nave of about 50 feet with side aisles, a south porch and a north west tower.The 'new' church was built in 1824 in a 'Gothic' style but retained the old tower (15th century). The original seating would have been boxed pews.

 The very ornate alter sits underneath a partially stained glass window - apparently unfinished due to lack of funds - and behind a rood screen.

A view of the side chapel under the organ loft.


Two little stained glass windows in the small otherwise simple right-hand side chapel.

Two views of the impressive organ loft.

The pulpit is very reminiscent of the ones we see in France. 

Looking to the rear of the church and the 15th century baptismal font.

Not surprisingly there is no hint of 'Joan' even with the French connection.

The ancient graveyard surrounding the church is now 'closed' for burials...

but there is a pretty little garden of remembrance where 'ashes' can be placed.

The plain leaded windows of the nave are attractive in there simplicity.