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Monday, May 06, 2013

France 2012 - Day 2 - Montmartre

France 2012
Day 2 - 14th October - Montmartre


Having arrived at almost midnight the previous day, I set my alarm for 8:30am but woke before 7. It seemed the gods wanted me to roam and not chill, so who was I to deny them?

I had a lunch appointment, so I deigned to take the hotel breakfast (it was still kind of dark) and decided to walk around in the morning.

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What happens with Air France cost cutting - the most austere boarding pass I'd seen from a full-fare airline (someone left this boarding pass in the toilet - it was after the time printed on the boarding pass so I guessed he didn't need it anymore)

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"Square Caulaincourt"
I was curious about why it wasn't "Place Caulaincourt". "Square" is borrowed from English and refers to "Petit jardin public, souvent établi au milieu d’une place".

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Stair going down from Square

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Rue Pierre Dac

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Métro with old-style sign

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Rue St Vincent

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Dalida
Presumably the bust is not of her at 54

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View of Sacré-Cœur

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Legend of St Denis

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St Denis statue in garden, with him holding his head in his hands

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Ship mosaic

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Avenue Junot

According to the guidebook, this was the only original windmill left in the area.

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Windmill

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Creative vandalism. I asked 2 guys at the bistro door smoking and talking. They didn't know what CVD was (Google gives me results on the French Paradox about diet).

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I like the elaborated sign

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The man emerging from the wall was weird enough, but look at the buttocks on the right.

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Ship. Presumably this was the coat of arms of the area.

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No dog-walking

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Ostrich graffiti

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Rue Norvins, Sacré-Cœur in fog

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Engravings evocative of La Belle Epoque

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Rue des Saulles, with artist
I thought he was an Asian Asian but then he spoke in French. I suppose most Asians wouldn't waste their time sketching.

It was about 9am on a Sunday morning and there were a lot of Asians, and not just tourists. I counted 3 East Asian lady shopkeepers and one black. Caucasian shopkeepers were nowhere to be seen (IIRC).

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Sacré-Cœur in mist

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St Pierre

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Sign about St Pierre, church dating to the 12th c. This sign was covered by commercial operations:

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Wine - cheaper than hot chocolate.

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"Tu veux connaître et aimer Jésus, viens nous rejoindre !"
You don't vouvoyer sheep.

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Jesus behind a dustbin
I hope they at least get kickbacks from the concessionaires, who had set up in the courtyard

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"The parish of St Pierre has fallen to a strange sickness : the parishioners have lost their appetite, they don't eat anymore, they don't drink anymore and worst... they've lost their spiritual hunger (drumroll). Father Francis, the doctor J.C and the cook Claude have the mission of giving Life back to the parish (drumroll). Do you want to help them??? Every positive response will let the parishioners regain their physical and spiritual health"
You can't fault their marketing

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"No shorts or extravagant informal clothes"
Whatever "extravagant informal clothes" are

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Notre Dame of Montmartre

There was mass ongoing I counted 15 atendees, a priest, his assistant and an organist somewhere.

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The church was quite plain, with modern stained glass.

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Church door

In a sign of old age, I took my time browsing and enjoying the market stalls near the church.

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Sausagefest - stall with regional hams and sausages

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"Liberty. Equality. Leftist Front"
Notice they don't mention Fraternity - rich people are presumably not brothers of the Left.

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Sacré-Cœur in mist

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Café culture, aka people-watching (and presumably gossiping about them)
Inside there was a table of 3-4 people, all of whom were facing the window

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I don't know why I took this

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You know things are bad when you have a map of dustbins

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"Militant du goût"
This is an organisation dedicated to gastronomy

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"A little too much Franche-Comté"

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View from top of the butte

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Sacré-Cœur

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"If you love birds, don't feed them"
Feed the birds... NOT

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Even at this early hour (9:45am) individuals from a certain demographic were alreay there. From above I saw them scamming hapless tourists.

I decided to skip Montmartre cemetery due to time constraints - Offenbach and Berlioz could wait. The rain would've made it gloomy and treacherous anyway.

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Human statue, and not a very good one too. He fidgeted and talked to someone, and moving.

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Sacré-Cœur

It was my third time Sacré-Cœur, but it was always nice to walk through.

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Door

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View from Sacré-Cœur

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To crypt

I couldn't remember visiting the crypt, so I went there (turns out it was closed in 2006). I asked the staff member what was inside and she said "les reliques de la basilique". I was quite annoyed because there was almost nothing inside: just stuff not ostentatious enough to go upstairs.

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Chapel

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Altar

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"Anonyme"

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Houses of God in France

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Stuff

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St Denis and St Genovefa (Geneviève). The latter is the patroness of Paris.

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Sts Donatien and Rogatien

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Bourru - new wine
This was 3-4% and was like a soft drink!

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Pork sandwich specialis "Sandwich Raclette". Their motto: "Some lard or some pork"

I went back to St Pierre, and there was another service ongoing with 2-3 times the people and 3 times the priests. I was impressed.

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"A bit too much of Franche-Comté" again
The stalls were part of the "Fête des Vendanges" (grape harvesting festival)

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All I can say is "mmm"

It was quite fun visiting the stalls and talking with the stallholders. I was very surprised at how friendly they were, and remarked on this to one stallholder, who said they came from all over France. On hearing this, I suddenly understood: they were not Parisians. I told the stallholder that Parisians were not nice, and he diplomatically said "it's different".

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Hunny. I can't tell if this was supposed to be Winnie the Pooh in his honeybee guise:



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Ivy-covered house

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Vineyard
Would you dare drink wine made from these grapes? The terroir is rich with vehicle fumes

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Artificial cigarette ad

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Random street

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"Marriage and PACS Salon"
Civil unions are not left out!

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"Daily produce is expensive. FALSE!... Superior cooked ham"
So what does one do with inferior ham?


Ad for flowers
There were 5 men in the series (from a static display I saw) but the videos only featured the black guy

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"Sex beasts: seduction in the animal world"
Too bad I wouldn't be in Paris to see this (well it's on until August this year)

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"97% of people who try SKYN recommend it... It changes everything. Skyn Original: the sensation of not wearing anything"
They can go fight with Okamoto
Are the 97% women who recommend it?

Line 5 of the Métro actually stops *inside* Gare d'Austerlitz. That was quite cool.

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"Bachelorette: (un)faithful, rebellious/beautiful, (im)perfect... These girls have everything to (dis)please"

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"No: not everything was better in the past"
Against uncritical romanticisation of the past!
I was amused by the cod liver oil - I used to consume that

I was waiting for my lunch appointment with a Selebriti, and a Jehovah's Witness passed me a pamphlet. One guy then came to argue with them, saying they were criminals and condemned them as 5 centuries out of date. Then the Jehovah's Witness said the Nazis condemned too.

I went to eat Laotian food with the Selebriti, at "Lao Douang Chan".

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Lao Douang Chan menu: it seemed mostly Vietnamese. Notice the menu was in French and Chinese - but not Lao.

Amusingly the guy spoke Mandarin (it was run by Laotian Chinese).

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Laotian Laksa (pork), item 45. It wasn't very spicy.

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Noodles with 3 Treasures (char siew, sio bak, chicken). I tasted onion oil, and it was like Indomie. This was Cantonese.

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Beef skewers, served with medical gauze. This was Laotian-Vietnamese

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Mussels (Thai). These were the only bad item, as they weren't very fresh and the Chili-Basil didn't quite work. They were also small.

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Selebriti

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Another table had something that looked like bak zhang. I asked and it was an off-menu item like amok. It was alright.

The spring rolls were alright.

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How the beef satay worked: the gauze was to keep the skin of the rolls separate

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Perles de coco à la cacahuète (coconut balls with peanut)
This was like mua chee with coconut and peanut inside

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Coconut ice cream. This was super gao.

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"Caroline Vigneaux loses her dress"

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"14 years of line 14. Come share a moment of conviviality with our staff on Monday 15 October from 7am onwards"
Erm. Good luck for the morning rush hour.

In Rennes station, one of the huge ads had stickers on it denouncing large ads, saying 50x70 was enough. Ahh, socialism!

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"C&A" ads with stickers: "Stop looking for disaster. Stop advertising"

The website is hilarious. Here is a translation:

"Stop the advertising invasion in the Paris metro. I am upset and disgusted to be subjected to innumerable ads in the metro. They attack me and fatigue me. I cannot escape without closing my eyes. They are often sexist, the hype encourages overconsumption, wastage and spending more. I am not opposed to commercial and cultural information.

This is why I ask:
- that we remove all advertising brackets/frames in the Paris metro
- that we replace them with a maximum of 4 non-luminated panels of 2 square metres per station, on which will be posted posters which are no larger than 50x70cm... this will let the user come closer to know more according to his needs rather than imposing on users. This will be 8 square metres of posters per station, rather than 144 today on average
- that in corridors non-luminated panels will have a space of at least 30 metres between them

I support the non-violent action and civil disobedience of Reposeurs"

I suppose the same people will complain when fares went up if their measure is accepted. The solution, undoubtedly, is higher taxes!

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"(Re)disover your colleagues!"

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"We love, we support... 3rd National Day of Listening. Listening to the excluded"
Taxpayer money supporting subversive social enterprise!

I tried to get a SIM card, but the normal Relay (bookshop chain) didn't sell SIM cards. I was asked to go to a tabac (tobacconist) - perhaps mobile phones are addictive. Yet, Relay sold porn. At one tabac I said I was in France for 2 weeks and they told me they couldn't get me a SIM card: they had to courier the card and stuff like that, so I was asked to go to an operator's office... but they were closed on Sundays. Gah.

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La fille du régiment

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"For you to play"

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"Carole, fighting cancer
Paul, sick with Alzheimer's
Jean, victim of a stroke
The most intolerable would be to have to choose between these sicknesses
With the Foundation for Medical Research, you choose to fight against all sicknesses"

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"Some men have problems expressing their feelings. Not our designers" (Renault ad)


One good way to tell that you're in a Third World country is to see whether you need to throw your toilet paper in a dustbin instead of the toilet bowl. Yet, how do women tell? Female toilets are not always furnished with dedicated feminine hygiene bins (I've been to unisex toilets in developed countries where they just have a normal bin), so how do you know if the dustbin is for toilet paper, or just for your used amenities? One suggested solution to this conundrum was to see what other people threw in (or just to see if there is a lid) (a frequent traveller to Burma tells me there you throw the paper into the toilet bowl).

You can't drink alcohol in public in France anymore. I was quite surprised by this law. Apparently it was enacted in 2009.

My original route for my week-long vacation had been to start in Toulouse and go north. Now it was the reverse, so I would be able to make "Stravinsky and Dance". But I decided not to waste 16€ and torture myself. Unfortunately I only had a week or I would've visited Cordes-sur-ciel and Gordes.
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