Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We're not quite sure why we didn't discover Musee Carnavalet on our 2006 trip - maybe we didn't know it existed or maybe it was just a time thing. This time with one whole week in a Paris apartment, we had more time to indulge ourselves with the museums of Paris.
Musee Carnavalet is located in two mansions on Rue de Sevigne in the Marais and is devoted to the history of Paris from prehistoric times. The Hotel Carnavalet was built in 1548 and the Hotel Peletier during the 17th century.
Some of the exhibits came from an archaeological dig in the Parc de Bercy in 1992 when a neolithic village was unearthed. I have to admit that my memory becomes a little hazy when looking back on the photos of Carnavalet and my other favorite museum on the Left Bank - the Musee National du Moyen Age, but that comes next week.

Statue of Louis XIV in the courtyard of Carnavalet.

The painted wall room of two centuries ago.
We've mentioned before of our passion for the Art Nouveau period of furniture, architecture and sculpture. Australia does have some fine examples but Paris, New York and Glasgow, Scotland I believe sprouted the origins. We loved the exhibits at the Musee d'Orsay but relocated the showroom of the Jeweller, Georges Fouquet absolutely enthralled us. One could imagine the wealthy wanting the beautiful pieces made by this craftsman.

The entrance to Fouquet's shop front.
His whole interior design was the work of Alphonse Mucha - I didn't realise this at the time of the visit and its only when researching for this post, I became aware of this fact. I'm a big fan of Mucha since my early art student days.
Many of Fouquet's pieces were designed by Mucha. I found some examples posted below.

What an inviting entrance to do business with Monsieur Fouquet.
Looking out from the reception area.

The crab necklace.

Two pieces designed by Alphonse Mucha and produced by Georges Fouquet.
Paintings hanging on the walls follow the history of Paris over the centuries.

Models of Medieval Paris are recreated in glassed boxes hence the reflections.
I probably could have stood for hours looking at Paris once was!
In the forecourt of Notre Dame you can discover the Gallo Roman foundations of the Parisi tribes ancient city. We saw it on our first trip. The buildings you see in this recreation no longer exist.

Well worth a visit - don't you think?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fairfield in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne - 100 Metre Walk

Late last week I took my little point and shoot pocket Canon to Station Street, Fairfield. Its what we call a strip shopping centre. Since the advent of big shopping malls, strip shopping went on the decline.
The small traders of haberdashery, hardware and electrical stores couldn't compete any longer so these commercial precinct streets started reinventing themselves. Most now service the locals with specialty shops and restaurants servicing the many cuisines from around the world.

I won't be long, promise and I'll bring you back a treat.
 On this occasion I felt the need for coffee and a light snack and so I headed for Station st. No shortage of Cafes here but there is a favorite of mine where a few years ago we would have a morning coffee before training at the indoor velodrome nearby. Degani cafe/bakery is a place to relax, read the paper and enjoy that kick start to the day.

Many of the old types of business have made way for the many restaurants and cafes offering a diversity of cuisines. There seems to be a mainly Italian influence mixed with Tibetan, Indian and Greek.
Care for a Gelato as you stroll down Station Street on a warm afternoon?
Or possibly a light lunch while looking at the world go by.
Although many a business has disappeared over the years, those offering something special have thrived. This small supermarket has served the local trade for 50 years through diversity.
I grew up in the district during the 60s when it was a working class district but today its become quite trendy with real estate prices matching the bayside area where we live today. With a population of over 5000, this small northern suburb is only 6 kms from CBD of Melbourne.

What do you suppose this building could have been in the past glory days of the early 1900s. Maybe a film house or reception rooms?

Every suburb has its churches and this on sits smack dab in the middle of the shopping strip on my 100 metre walk.
Many of the homes date from the very late 1800s or early 1900s to post WWII. There are many very modern homes being build on the small blocks as the yuppies move into Fairfield.

Local cafes and bars promote the local entertainment.

Fairfield is not without its graffiti but somehow you need to go looking for it and you find little surprises like this young girl playing cards and when you look closely you see real cards as part of this street art hidden in the laneway.

And this tree that must have some symbolic value that is way beyond my comprehension - however it does look very nice!!

Did I say that Fairfield graffiti was subtle?

As I left my Station Street walk, the little black dog was still waiting patiently for his owner to come back from shopping.

For a further view of Station Street, I found this interesting website offering views of various Melbourne streets.

As you know - I like to add a little music to my 100 metre walks. Do you know how difficult it is to find a musical link to "Station Street" or "Fairfield"?
I did however find a you-tube clip of a group called the "Fairfield Four" with the most beautiful gospel voices.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Riding on the Freeway

Just a quick hint before you start reading - click on the you-tube clip at the bottm of the post first and then start reading - I did!
Thursday morning I had to call on a client in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell. Further down the road is the Monash Freeway that runs almost to my office in Tullamarine, not far from Melbourne Airport. In fact my office, I'm sure is right under the landing and take off path. It's a little unnerving to here some international airliner thundering over your office sometimes to the point that I feel I need to hide under my desk. I digress!!

So back to the Freeway - I thought this would be the quickest path back to the office - WRONG!!!
With my little pocket Canon camera sitting in one hand resting on the steering wheel, I took these shots travelling from one side of Melbourne to the other.

The on-ramp at Toorak Road is where I hit the freeway - they have these lights flashing from red to green so that only two cars at a time can gain access to the freeway in peak times. It's a good time to read "War & Peace".

Along the way there are some nice bridges with a bit of history to them.
This is not one of them.

But this one is. It joins the north of Melbourne to the south - residents of the south claim it should be pulled down so northerners can't gain access.
It's a snob thing.

The old silos had these neon signs exposing the products of Nylex Plastic Products. Nylex the company is a mere shadow of its former self but the historic boffins claim that the sign is a Melbourne icon. And so it stays!!!
I wonder what would happen if the silos needed to come down, hmmmm!!

Now this building was going up over a period of time as I used the freeway.
Would you believe that its a soccer stadium??

Just after the soccer stadium you come to the Domain Tunnel. I remember when it was initially being built. It actually runs under Melbourne's Yarra River. Sorry about the fuzziness of the photo but I didn't want to use the flash in the tunnel and besides it shows how I was feeling at this stage of driving on one of Melbourne's most boring roads.

Now this is the Bolte Bridge tha spans Melbourne Harbour. It's named after one of Melbourne's most pugnasious and bombastic Premiers. Well that's not entirely true, Bolte was in good company before and after, but that's just a personal opinion of mine about polititians.

Melbourne's great ferris wheel is now being built, no, lets say "being rebuilt" as it started sagging and bending a little after being erected and was deemed unsafe. OOOOPS!!

I'm just a little confused with this canopy over the freeway as it changes its name to the Tullamarine Freeway. To the left is a 1960 high rise development that was built by the state housing commission. Its like a filing cabinet for humans.
Not sure if the canopy over the freeway is so the residents of the filing cabinet can't see the traffic passing by or maybe its so we can't see the human filing cabinet.

Melbourne's cheese sticks - yes, that's what we call these strange yellow things sprouting from the side of the freeway as we enter the Tullamarine Freeway to Melbourne Airport.
My apolgies if I sound a little morose on this post but freeways and traffic make me feel this way - I promise to be more jovial over the weekend - Oh, the weekend. Hope yours is full of good things.

Aretha Franklin has always lifted my spirits - hope this little you-tube clip lifts yours too.

Thanks Aretha - I feel so much better now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An afternoon @ Musee d'Orsay

Musee d'Orsay sits on the banks of the Seine. From the rooftop you can see as far as Sacre Coeur.
It wasn't our first visit - the Musee d'Orsay is in a way like the Louvre. You always need a revisit because there's always something you've missed. Its just a personal opinion but I feel that d'Orsay has a living, breathing quality about it that draws me back to visit Matisse, Monet, Manet, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas, Lautrec and Cezanne. I'm certain their souls "live" there.
I'm an devotee of Impressionism and the Art Nouveau periods - always have been from art school days. The Louvre didn't give me that feeling because of it hugeness. In comparison d'Orsay is more intimate.
To me, you return to the Louvre because you need to. With d'Orsay, its because I want to!

This time we decided we would make our visit more leisurely. The d'Orsay cafe sits behind the old railway station clock. We were the first patrons who were looking forward to a mid-morning coffee.

The station clock is a feature of the old Gare d'Orsay. Imagine pulling up at the station at the turn of the century in 1900 when it was opened. The station served the South West of France until 1939 when the trains became longer and faster.
The station couldn't cope with progress and served more local traffic thereafter.


And Now

A sketch of Rodin - we also enjoyed Rodin's Museum in an earlier post.

Rodin's "Gates of Hell" inspired by Dante's Inferno - Try sitting here for more than 10 minutes and you will walk away with a lifetime of images. 186 figures twisted with torment with "the Thinker" at its central theme deserve more than a passing glance.

As I look at the figures moving through the material sculptured by Rodin it makes me want to revisit Musee d'Orsay for another look when we return to Paris next year.

Sorry but my little pocket camera just does not do justice to Rodin's "Gates of Hell". Give yourself a treat and go there.

Being a big Joan of Arc fan, I had to take this photo however this sculpture as majestic as it is, can not compare with the emotion with the statue of her in full gallop on horseback at Chinon.

Many of my favorite impressionists works that I remember seeing only in my student day books, sit on the walls of Musee d'Orsay. Gauguin, Cezanne, Degas, Monet to name a few.

Art Nouveau is possibly my favorite period of furniture and architecture and to view it at Musee d'Orsay was a treat. I could imagine myself having a glass of port, smoking a cigar (I don't even smoke) and reading a good book amongst this furniture.
It's not possible to pass on the enthusiasm and delight we experienced on the two visits to Musee d'Orsay - you have to go yourself. If you can't, then pop into their website.

See you next Wednesday for "Wednesday's in France"