Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Day at the Paris Car Showrooms

April 2, 2010 was a wet dismal day but it didn't dampen our spirits

We were in Paris and on the Avenue des Champs Elysees, the scene once a year of the finish to the Tour de France at the end of July.
To me as a cyclist it is quite amazing to see the roughness of the cobbled street surface and the incline leading up to the Arc de Triumph. Watching on television, you don't get the whole impact of what these cyclists endure after around 3000 kms of cycling around France.

It wasn't the only reason to walk the length of the Champs - the main showrooms of the great French automobile marques are there. Citroen, Peugeot and Renault. Being both Citroen and Peugeot owners, we (read as I) took a bee-line to these showrooms.

A bike, a road sign - It tells it all, PARIS.
Leaning on the lamp post - it reminds me of a 60's song. Who sang it?
My arty farty foto in black and white
A close up of the sculptures on the Arc
It was wet and windy but it didn't dampen our spirits.
The first showroom was Peugeot which had had a great range of current vehicles, past historic cars and even a display of their earlier bicycles and a concept bicycle and car. We've owned three Peugeot and have a soft spot for them - Sue loves her 307 that she owns now (our second). Our earlier 505 GTI was magnificent.
The company began business in 1810 producing coffee mills and then bicycles.
Peugeot introduced their bicycle range to Australia during the 70s after their successes in the Tour de France. I believe they did the same in the USA and so Peugeot bicycles became a household name for a decade before becoming lost in time.
We even have a Peugeot pepper grinder in our kitchen.

Peugeot won the Indianapolis in this racing car in the early 1900s
Peugeot's mascot - the lion is soooo cute, isn't it? 
Bikes and cars from the early Peugeot days in their showroom.
And cars of the future
Plus bikes of the future
Time for lunch and how appropriate on my birthday trip to France.
Louis Renault
Did you know that Renault started production in 1899 - one of my first cars was a Renault Dauphine and then the versatile  R16.

I left my favorite to last - Citroen is my automotive passion, I've owned one before I had a licence to drive. The Light 15. big 6, the DS and the Xantia have sat in the driveway at various times. Andre Citroen was an innovative marketer from the beginning and it was to prove his downfall. Paris commemorate his legacy with a parkland in his name.

The man, Citroen was a master of marketing - the company started in 1919 and became the most innovated car manufacturer of all time. The first to mass produce a monocoque steel body, that is no separate chassis took Citroen to being the fourth largest automotive manufacturer in the world. Andre studied the production processes of Henry Ford to achieve these targets.
The company was also the first to produce the monocoque body with a front drive engine, radial tyres and all of this sent Andre into bankruptcy before Michelin saved the company financially.
Poor old Andre never lived to see the success of his brainchild, the Traction Avant become successful over the next twenty plus years.

Looking out of the Citroen Showroom windows, it was still raining around peak  hour traffic time and the rain wasn't helping things. All we needed to do was hop back on the Metro to our apartment to another wonderful home cooked meal by Sue.
The following day we took a walk across the Seine to the 5th and 6th Arrondissements but you will need to tune in next Wednesday for that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Australia Day Weekend

Australia Day is celebrated over a three day weekend although the actual day is January 26. It gives Australians the opportunity to get away or just hang about and relax. Its also a time of great sporting events - we like to think of ourselves as a great sporting nation but I expect in these recent times we might be more of a great nation of great sport spectators.

Two international events come to an end today.
For cycling it was the Tour Down Under in South Australia - It has become such an international event that Europeans filled the top 10 placings although an Australian, Simon Gerrans did win the Saturday's stage which is our official Australia Day. A bit like a Frenchman winning the Bastille Day stage in the Tour de France I guess.

The other big event is/was the Australian Tennis open held in Melbourne. Its still happening but I need to get up at 5.30 AM tomorrow morning to meet the boys so you will probably know the result before I do.
As I go to bed, Andy Murray is putting in a good performance.

Our Australia Day Weekend has been a mixed one with enjoyoying dinner both Saturday and Sunday nights with friend and going out to breakfast this morning - I really do need to wear off the kilograms with some kilometres so until Wednesday, I'll say goodnight.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Funky Friday - Mars is no Fun

Be the first to live on Mars - for the term of your natural life.

The other day I heard an intriguing interview on Australian ABC radio of a Dutchman discussing the concept of sending 4 people to Mars to set up a colony. Hopefully he will choose the applicants better than the British did to colonise Australia - the first fleet was a way to move their convicts on.
Anyway, the radio talk back host asked the question, "Who would you like to send to Mars on a one way trip?" Maybe you might have some suggestions yourself - I'm listening.

Below is something I found while research more on Bas Lansdorp's concept.

There’s an old joke about sending someone you hate on a one-way trip to Mars. Now, a Dutch entrepreneur has formed a company around this concept -- and it’s no joke.
Bas Lansdorp, the 35-year-old founder of Mars One, told his company is serious about a one-way mission. The company will hold a worldwide lottery next year to select 40 people for a training team. They will then set up a mock colony in the desert, possibly somewhere in the U.S., for three months. This initial team will be reduced to ten crew members.
They will then be sent to Mars, never again to return.
“We will send humans to Mars in 2023,” he told “They will live there the rest of their lives. There will be a habitat waiting for them, and we’ll start sending four people every two years.”
The habitat will consist of several housing structures that Mars One will launch before 2023. In 2016, the company plans to launch the first supply vessel. In 2018, it plans to send a rover.

The talk back host played a song that related vaguely to the subject - I was driving at the time. If I hadn't I would love to have suggested Camille's "Mars is no fun" from her CD from last year. I'm a big fan of Camille, she's French and really weird.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

April Fools Day in Paris 2010

Yes!!!! That really was the day of my 60th Birthday
The mid morning and early afternoon was spent exploring Les Invalides military museum. We took the Metro and emerged from within to a sunny morning with little white puffs of cloud and the ornate Pont Alexandre III. We then turned towards the grassy promenade that led towards Les Invalides.
We came out of the Metro
To see the Pont Alexandre named after the Russian Tsar Alexander III and built between 1896 and 1900.
The cannons at the entrance to Invalides
Another view of Pont Alexandre III
Walking up to the entrance.
The gold capped dome in the distance that overlooks the casket of Napoleon
The military museum has the most amazing display of military  armour and weapons throughout the centuries.
From beautiful books of the past, we have progressed to the age of the Kindle - really? Still its wonderful to see these pieces of history preserved.
Napoleon's Tomb
How did the horses carry so much weight when covered in all this steel?
Pick the dummy
I really enjoyed seeing the many posters, some propaganda from both sides.
Looking up from Napoleon's Tomb to that gold dome you saw from outside.
Works of art from war make you stop and contemplate why!!!!

We did enjoy our walk within Invalides - 2010 was our first time but not our last. We returned in 2012 with family members and frankly, I could return again. It has such an impact.

It was time to leave as Sue had booked us in for my birthday dinner at an Italian themed restaurant just around the corner from the apartment. I don't remember the name or street but I do remember it was a great way to celebrate my 60th. Everyone should celebrate their 60th somewhere in Paris.

A glass of wine at a bar before dinner.
By the look on my face I may have a little too many glasses of wine.
What would birthday celebrations be without the bubbles?
And after we arrived back at the apartment, I was feeling a bit arty so I finished off the day with a scene I had in my head of a middle aged Frenchman riding his bike. He seemed to impress me as the stereotypical image I had in my mind of a Frenchman.
And that folks was my 60th birthday - just Sue and I in Paris 2010. 
If you getting close to entering your sixth decade and don't like having large parties or maybe concerned with leaving someone off the invitation list - escape, just the two of you. You won't regret it!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Melbourne Weekend

A Birthday and a Going Away Party.
Both Andy and Mitch have a great bunch of friends and they all feel at home with us.
Mum and Dad to the left, Mitch beside Mum and leaning to the right. Andrew is in the tie-dyed T-shirt.
Most likely something he won't have a lot of use in London. It's predicted to be 0 degrees and snowing.
Our youngest, Mitchell James turned 25 this week and Andrew Cameron now 27 returned to London this Sunday to resume studies for the final year of his PhD. The boys also had a reunion gig with their old band, In Tongues.
They played to a booked out venue on Friday night with many disappointed people being turned away at the door. Having seen some of the footage (it was recorded), it seemed like an outrageous night.
So that those who missed out among their friends and of course us, Mum and Dad, we set up the equipment in the backyard. A couple of their Musco friends joined in for an impromptu jam session - a great night it was.

Both our sons also play in other bands but In Tongues is the main one. Andrew plays a different genre of Music with his mate Lloyd (below photo) and Mitch fills in with a couple of other bands while In Tongues is in recess.
Andrew and Lloyd recorded a few tracks and this is the cover photo.
Just a couple of Dandies.
I must admit that my head was not wanting to lift from the pillow this morning but we did need to get Andrew to the airport for his flight back to London. Naturally we'll miss him but there's great experiences and opportunities out there on the international arena.

Sue is calling me for dinner so I must go but I'm sure she will keep me awake tonight by following Andrew's flight path on her iPad. Oh, yes and there's a new series of Australian Master Chef starting tonight as well - that should help to take her mind off Andrew's empty bedroom for a little while.

See you on Wednesday for the next post on our 2010 France escapade.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Pig out time...............25 years of tradition.
Since our boys were in high chairs we have taken them to Sofia's, an Italian resturaunt in Camberwell, Melbourne. It really is a PIG OUT!!!!

The waiters are still the ones from our early days. They would to take our boys to the Gelato Bar to get a cone full that the boys would never hope to finish. Eyes bigger than their belly.
The menu I don't believe has changed since we first started going there - Pizza, pasta, fish, chicken, seafood and huge steaks. Sofia's started out as a medium sized family restaraunt and then they took over upstairs, and later next door. Most weekends, the place is full. We love the place. The waiters make you laugh, the food comes quickly and it is over the top. Doggy bags are part of the bargain.
They make you feel welcome and its like coming home every time you are there.

The reason we went was due to our son Mitch's 25th Birthday and Andrew is returning to London on Sunday so the dinner was somewhat a tradition - nostalgia. Let's do it again when we next get together.

Andrew's spaghetti carbonara - the only thing he has ordered for the past 10 years.  He brought a lot of it home in a doggy bag. That means they package it up in a container for you.
He had some for breakfast and then more tonight after band practice. For a normal person I reckon it's 3 normal sized meals. No wonder we all loved it when our boys were unfillable teenagers!
Leon's flounder. Underneath it are all the vegetables!
Mitch and I both had fritto misto. THIS is my plate AFTER I had finished!
Mitch ate more than I , from his plate, but the person with the biggest appetite I know, couldn't finish either.
It sounds ridiculous, but it is yummy and very inexpensive as Australian restaurants go.
Leon and I usually order entree sized pastas. Leon finishes it and I never do. Over the years, the boys have always evaluated on the way there. "Yes, I think I could eat a main tonight! I'm starving!" For the sake of a few dollars we have let them order it. It has never happened, but we have enjoyed laughing at them.
That is the stuff of which legends are made.
On the way there, Andrew, 27, said, "Yes, I reckon I can do a main tonight!" We all laughed and told him he'd been away too long. Ha ha.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Walk around L'Ile Saint Louis

We walked down to look at Notre Dame, I don't know how many times we've done this now but its always nice to see the sparrows being fed and the see Charlemagne on horseback - a great piece of sculpture it is to the right of the cathderal. I've always felt the rear of Notre Dame is the most restful - the tourists don't seem to admire the flying buttresses and its peacefulness. I guess if they did, it wouldn't be so peaceful.

It's the way we make our way to I'lle Saint Louis, the other island in the Seine. It was named after King Louis IX. Walking the streets of the island is a delight, not to be taken too quickly. Take a stop for an espresso in the mid morning, find a place to lunch with a glass of wine and then wander around to find the magic Ice Cream shop before walking off home.

We crossed the pont from I'lle de la Cite to I'Ile Saint Louis for a relaxing day's walk  of discovery.
But before leaving I'Ile de la Cite, we took in the more peaceful rear view of Notre Dame. 
And it seemed that we were not the only ones with a quiet walk.
Some as couples!
Some on their way - somewhere!
And others maybe shopping or on their way back to work?
No matter where you are in Paris, there's always a Deux Cheveau lurking in the streets.
Although we spent on coffee, lunch and Ice Cream, all our other shopping was only window shopping.

And there were plenty of windows to view,

It was a grand day - not alot of excitement, just mingling mainly I presume with locals as I don't think that late  March is a high tourist time in Paris. We find those shoulder seasons of spring and autumn to be the most rewarding. People have asked me if I have been to France or Paris for the Tour de France and I say NO!
I'd rather watch Le Tour at home back in Australia when I can see it in full, and view the wonderful coverage of the countryside from the helicopter cameras. What about those close up footages from the motorbike as the competitors grimace their way up the steepest alps of France.

No - We'll stay home in July when France is at its hottest.