Sunday, August 28, 2011

Night Lights

La Rochelle at Night

La Rochelle harbor at night.
I find I'm getting pickier about my photos. I took several harbor photos and none are to my liking. Does this mean I'm getting to be a better photographer or just more selective in processing and posting? Whatever.

For Weekend Reflections.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Great Grapes

Great Grapes

One of my first nights in France this summer, we stayed in a chateau. Actually we stayed in the outbuildings of a chateau. The place was charming but we found our hostess cold and unwelcoming. I guess not everything that glitters is gold.

For See It Sunday--grape.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Day at the Beach

Day at the Beach

I got to indulge my weaknesses for old postcards, photography, and flea markets while in France. I still love it that I can buy a tiny piece of history for around a Euro, the same price as for a glossy modern tourist postcard. There is nothing written on the back of this postcard but the label is printed upside down to the photo. I can't help but ponder all the details--all the men with berets and mustaches, the child's lace up boots, "grandma" wearing mourning clothes perhaps. There is a tale here if only I knew how to read it.

Today's theme for Postcard Friendship Friday is National Dog Day. Note that this family brought their dog to the beach.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Ornate Time Piece

Back when I was studying French I used to enjoy puzzling through the poems of Baudelaire. Some poems are transparent and enjoyable for that reason; some require work to feel at least somewhat connected to what the meaning is. Baudelaire was in the latter category.
I had a momentary lapse and forgot the French word for "clock". Whilst looking it up (poetic word intended), I found a link to one of Baudelaire's poems, L'Horloge, from Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil). Here is an excerpt with translation:


Horloge! dieu sinistre, effrayant, impassible,
Dont le doigt nous menace et nous dit: «Souviens-toi!
Les vibrantes Douleurs dans ton coeur plein d'effroi
Se planteront bientôt comme dans une cible;

The Clock

Impassive clock! Terrifying, sinister god,
Whose finger threatens us and says: "Remember!
The quivering Sorrows will soon be shot
Into your fearful heart, as into a target;

Quote and translation from

Makes one feel one's mortality, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Very Big Shadow

Ombre de Phare

Shadow of the Lighthouse of the Whales, Le Phare des Baleines, Ile de Re, France

Playing a new photo meme--Shadow Shot Sunday.

So many photos to process, so little time.

Nantes at Night

Nantes at Night

I spied on the neighborhood nightlife from my hotel window in Nantes, France.

See It Sunday--Night

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Much Ado about Deux Chevaux

Ceci N'est Pas Une Voiture

I don't care much for cars except for a way to get to point A to point B. My husband will gleefully point out how poorly I take care of my current vehicle but I can't help but not care as long as it drives. Maybe it is just a girl thing. In this case (as in quite a few others) it makes be proud to be female. Call me sexist, but there it is.

Pretty Maids All in a Row

However, I saw a convention/gathering of fanciers of the Citroen 2CV while visiting the Chateau of Chambord in France and have to say I found them intriguing in an anachronistic way. Sort of like a vintage Bug I'd say. These cars were all over the place when I lived in Paris in the early 80's. I'd not thought about them since and now, like me, they are vintage. Alas, I doubt I'm considered a collectable.

One or two bits (horses?) of history: the Citroen 2CV (deux chevaux--two horses, meaning two tax horsepower--not sure about the tax part) was made from 1948-1990. It was intended as an economy car and as such was much cheaper than the aforementioned Volkswagen Beetle. It even had a bit part in a James Bond film.
OK so maybe I'm not car crazy, but cute is cute.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Looking at the Past

Le Petit Journal

It's not even my own past, I know! Is nostalgia simply a product of getting older? I'd have to guess not given the resurgence of interest in classic rock music and clothes and styles of the 60's to 80's among the younger generation. Maybe I should have been a historian like my uncle and cousin since I like to dig through the history of objects, generally every day objects like photos and bits of paper, but especially photos.
I picked up some old photos at flea markets in France. They aren't too expensive a hobby compared to, say, that of a young friend of mine who boasted recently about having made an incredible deal on a Chanel purse in Thailand. She positively glowed with triumph. I on the other hand strive for a more modest 1 Euro and under fee for an early 20th century photo postcard. And I can't even wear it! (Although I did score a couple of 1980's blouses at a thrift store in Paris--another tale).
I spent a fair bit of time trying to trace some roots on the above postcard. In the interest of time, I'm just going to post what I put on my Flickr site:
I tried to date the postcard (blank on reverse except for Carte Postale imprint) by the journals. The Petit Journal on the banner was published from 1863-1944.
The woman is likely holding a journal Le Petit Parisien which was published from 1876 to 1944.
My best (uninformed) guess would be the photo was taken sometime between 1910-1920. Don't hesitate to educate me.
If you are interested in either of these old French journals, the Biblotheque nationale de France has all the editions scanned on their Gallica website. Pretty amazing. Here's the link:
They even have sound recordings. I could spend hours.

Actually I did spend hours. Here's another photo. It looks like it could be Paris but I have no further information. I feel as if I could write a novel just based on this one photo.

Woman Reading

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jeudi, le 28 juillet, 2011

Now that I have time to post about my trip, I'm going back to my first day's journal entry. Here goes:

Le Rustic Bar

Craches, France
Are we there yet? Jet lag is still muddling my sense and senses but here we are in a small town somewhere near Chartres. Our arrival in France was unremarkable. Driving here involved a few wrong turns due to an unfortunate lack of a good map and a French-speaking GPS. (Actually it turns out it spoke English too, and probably Swahili if I'd tried to check, but we didn't figure that out the first day and by the time I had done so, I was stubbornly determined to use the French voice as part of my continual aspiration to maintain my French language skills). My French is good but having to adapt to "Tout droit," "Prenez le rond point. . ." has me surprised that GPS devices don't swear, along the lines of "You effing moron; you were supposed to turn back there!"

St Aignan
St. Aignan, Chartres

We visited Chartres and its wonderful Cathedral. It is under construction which is unfortunate but even so it is a wonderful building. Cathedrals such as this make me half wish I were Catholic so I could have the spiritual experience of praying in one. Fortunately, the urge passes quickly. I also feel drawn to lighting a candle but don't.
Our night is spent at a farm turned B&B in Craches. "Tres atmospherique," I'd say in French.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Paris hasn't changed much in the past millenium or two

Obligatory Seine photo #1

I thought I'd just copy here my journal entry from yesterday afternoon:
August 5, 4:45
I've been wandering the Marais area all afternoon. I wound up continuing to shop--buying some old paper and an embroidery stamp at an antique shop in the Village St. Paul area which was, the shop I mean, stuffed to the brim with small items--sewing supplies, linens, buttons, items for school kids of earlier years, etc. While I was in the coffee house earlier, I had read through a picture book about the author's school days in the 50's and many of the things he mentioned were for sale there in the shop. I then found a "vintage", ie used, clothing store. I've been in search of a skirt as I overpacked shirts but found one pair of jeans, one pair shorts (not appropriate for Paris) and one dress wasn't quite the right mix of clothes. I didn't find a skirt that fit in the store but I got three great floral short sleeved blouses--one by Cacharel--probably from the 80's. I'm happy. While waiting for the changing room, I watched some French ladies browsing through the dresses--they favored red ones-- and some Asian (probably Japanese) girls trying on shorts. They were giggling in the dressing room for the longest time and left an enormous mess of empty hangers. I asked the sales girl and she said they did spend a fair bit which I hope justified the extra work they left her.
I was also able to visit a real antique store, mostly carrying iron work. The owner kindly educated me about "les heurtoirs"--door knockers but I couldn't afford the lovely item he showed me--a 17th century piece priced at 1700 Euros or so. It would have been so nice on my door too. He showed me one in a Druot catalog (like Sotheby's) of a hand shaped knocker--also 17th Century)--beautifully done with veins and finger nails evident on the iron hand. That went for 15,000 Euros. I still want a hand door knocker but I'll have to look for a "cheap" 19th Century one. As for now I only have a collection of pictures of them--I still find them quaint.

Door Knocker

This journal entry was written while drinking Perrier in a Scottish pub. The bar man turns out to have been English not Scottish but after more than a week in France he felt like a compatriot. Sometimes my brain feels tired from straining to think in French. BTW the music in the bar was Dylan. It is rare to hear French music playing in a shop or cafe.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Not bad for a country home. It makes me understand the French Revolution all the more. The interior is as fantastic as the exterior. Full of tourists but rightly so. I have to leave the gushing at that. The internet connection is too slow for multiple uploads and I should certainly be doing something other than blogging at the moment.
I'm currently in Le Mans, headed to Paris tomorrow. I'll try to post more from there. Paris should be great but I'll miss the smaller cities and towns and the drives through the countryside.
A bientot!