Moving in Dijon in December


Porte Guillaume on Place Darcy


A fun train for little kids


Place Darcy promoting “Dijon moves”

Dijon in December

Early December: Signs of Christmas were all over Dijon—street decorations, decorated Christmas trees, pretty lights, a Christmas market. On our first full day on that visit, we started at Place Darcy on a special walk called The Owl’s Trail. We’d got a booklet at the Visitors’ Center the afternoon before, that describes how visitors can follow markers set in the sidewalks: in this case, shiny owls (more on the owls and the walk later).


A clever name: Dijon se bouge, which also has On se bouge in it

RcarPlace Darcy is named after the engineer Henry Darcy who constructed a reservoir to bring water to the town. At the end of the Place is the Porte Guillaume, an 18thcentury triumphal arch, named after Guillaume de Volpiano, the 11thcentury reformer of the Saint-Benigne Benedictine abbey. The famous Dijon shopping street, rue de la Liberté, begins at the arch.

That day, the place was bustling with a miniature Christmas train for kids, and with a special promotion called “Dijon se Bouge” (Dijon moves). A sporting organization was one of the organizers, and various booths were set up, where people could stop and chat and get information—about sports, getting moving and keeping healthy.

What a great idea, especially on a frosty December day when moving to keep warm was a very good idea!

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Covered Food Markets in Paris: La Chapelle


A meat stall in La Chapelle


signCovered Food Markets in Paris

(All the photos are from La Chapelle)

Besides tracking down the secret corners of Paris, or the quiet gardens, or the angels on buildings, my husband and I also love to find new markets, both covered and outdoors. Food is such an integral part of a culture and any of these markets give us a glimpse, and taste, of part of the life of Paris in the different neighborhoods.

The old downtown Les Halles was demolished in the 1970s and the market moved to Rungis, and since then there has been no main central food market in Paris. But flourishing covered markets, many historic, serve neighborhoods all over city. These markets, marchés, serve many purposes: they sell a huge array of cheeses, charcuterie, meats, fish, wines, bread, fruits and vegetables; they are a great place to meet your friends and neighbors and to get to know special vendors; and they usually have stalls where people can eat casual meals or buy dishes to take home. Lots of these are run by vendors originally from other countries, so it’s a good introduction to the multi-ethnic face of Paris.


Quite a selection of goat cheeses


I wrote about the Saint Quentin Covered Market before. See here:

On one of our more recent trips to Paris we made a point of taking the metro (line 12 to Marx Dormay) to find and visit the La Chapelle Covered Food Market,often just called “Marché d’Olive” because it’s on the rue d’Olive. It was well worth the effort, an undiscovered delight for most tourists and visitors to Paris I think.


Wonderful pates




La Chapelle(which means “the chapel”) is one of Paris’s great examples of a covered market, I think smaller than Saint Quentin, but still a fun place to visit. The friendly and obliging vendors offer quality items and a good selection, but the other main attraction is the actual building. Designed by French architect Auguste-Joseph Magne(1816-1885) in the Baltard style, it opened in 1885. Victor Baltard(1805-1874) was a French architect whose best-known work was the old Les Halles. His biggest innovation was to use a glass and iron umbrella-shaped roof that maximized light and ventilation.

After extensive renovations that took great care to preserve the original architectural elements (took more than 2 years, and the merchants had their stalls outside during that period), La Chapelle reopened in September 2010.


You can clearly see the metal and glass structure


Easy to guess what their speciality is!

The market building is in a paved pedestrian plaza just off Boulevard Marx Dormay (18tharrondissement). This vibrant, largely West African, neighborhood is becoming more fashionable, and the streets around the market have many wine bars, and cafes springing up. On the outside, the walls are covered in pale orange mortar, divided into large rectangles separated by iron framing. Inside, a soaring ceiling, lacy cast-iron supports, tall columns and wide aisles do, indeed, give a feeling of a chapel. Natural light pours in through a glass light well that runs almost the full length of the pavilion roof.

The newly-refurbished stalls are very welcoming and you can find all the typical market items, such as cheeses, meats, pates, fish, fruits and vegetables. I really enjoyed looking at all the wonderful vegetables, the cheese and the foie gras stalls. My husband always makes a beeline for the fish stalls!




foiegrasWe also noticed a couple of eateries, some with seating. This northeastern Paris neighborhood is a vibrant multicultural one (especially West African and Caribbean countries), so some of the eateries and stalls reflect this.

Address: 10, rue d’Olive (18th), Metro: Marx Dormay

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8am-7.30pm; Saturday,


Beautifully set out

9am-1pm; Sunday, 8am-1.30pm. Closed Monday.



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Not a Station, but a Restaurant


At the start of Passage des Panoramas


Passage des Panoramas


Looks like a railway carriage



Victoria Station, the Wagon Restaurant

11 Blvd Montmartre, opposite the Musee Grevin. Metro: Grands Boulevards, Line 8 or 9.

This restaurant advertises its specials as pizzas au feu de bois (cooked on a wood fire) and grillades au feu de bois.

We’d seen the side of this place at the start of the Passage des Panoramas, which leads off Blvd Montmartre, and took note as it looks very unique—like a railway carriage, plus there are Union Jack signs, signaling Britain. Why a British-themed place here in the heart of Paris? On second thoughts, Paris (besides just “being Paris”) is also pretty cosmopolitan and we see cafes and eateries from the cuisines of many different countries. So, why not a British theme?



Rod M at our table looking out on Blvd Montmartre


Galley, waiter dressed like a train conductor


Booths look like carriage compartments


One evening we ended up here by default as the menus of a couple of bistrots in the Passage didn’t “speak” to us. We got a seat right at the front of the restaurant, looking out on the street through the big glass windows. The concept and decor really are quite unusual, designed to look and feel like railway carriages, with a narrow corridor down the middle and booths(compartments) down one side, with a narrow galley kitchen on the other side. The waiters wear uniforms like a train conductor and the pizza chef, who mans a wood fire at the front, calls a finished order by pulling a bell. A bit funky, but fun. There’s a much bigger area at the back, still with train theme, but not a narrow carriage.



Pizza chef


Big room at the back

Food was fine and plentiful; we had a cotes d’agneau plate each, and shared a bottle of rose wine.

Would we ever return? Maybe just for the novelty, of if we ever take a family visitor to Paris.


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Things Change, Things Stay the Same


huitresRodCafé du Marché on rue Cler (7th arrondissement)

Things change, things stay the same

I’ve written about Café du Marché before, see here


The new salad perigordienne

saladeRodIt’s always been one of our favorites for lunch, so we returned when we visited Paris last month. Since we were there last, in May 2017, it has changed management, something we were not aware of until we got there and sat down.

But, it didn’t seem to matter too much as it’s still a welcoming place. The décor hasn’t changed much at all, but the menu has and our all-time previous favorite salade, the salade marché, has gone off the menu. In addition, prices seem to be a bit higher.

We liked the salade marché for its arrangement of different vegetables topped with raw ham and a slice of foie gras. So, off the new menu we chose their salade perigordienne, which also has slices of foie gras on three small toasts, as well as geziers (gizzards) on salad. It was pretty good, and the geziers were the softest we’ve ever had anywhere.

huitres outside


huitresRod2One thing that hasn’t changed is that in the winter months the café has a stand outside selling huitres (oysters) from Normandy (or sometimes Brittany). People can buy them on the street, or customers inside can order them. Rod loves raw oysters, so he was very happy!

In fact, on that trip we needed to go to a bank close by, so we went by for lunch again and were still happy. So, I guess it passed our taste test!






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Hotel Aida Opera, Paris


This is the web site official photo. We didn’t bother to take one, as much of it is covered with scaffolding right now



Cadet metro station

Hotel Aida Opera

11 rue Richer (9th),

Metro: Line 7 Cadet; Line 8 and 9 Bonne Nouvelle, or Grands Boulevards

This was our first time to stay in this hotel and on this trip we stayed here a few days, then left for the Canary Islands and then came back to Paris and this hotel again for a few days. It’s a couple of short blocks from the Folies Bergere. At first sight, in the rain, the neighborhood seems a little drab but it comes alive later and actually seems to be quite a ‘happening’ area with many bars, cafes and restaurants. The hotel, on a corner, has 6 floors but 2 or 3 are being renovated right now, so there’s some serious construction going on—a bit noisy at times, especially in the morning and especially in the rooms facing the street.



Looking out the lift down into the courtyard

All the staff in reception are very friendly and helpful and went out of their way to find a shuttle to the airport for us. Breakfast is offered for 10 euro but we didn’t take any. They also have free snacks between 3-6pm, which we also didn’t sample as we were never there at that time. We booked through and price was very reasonable.

The lobby is bright, with a painted fiber-glass horse and armchairs. There’s a new lift (elevator) on the edge of an inner courtyard, painted with bold, bright geometric patterns.

The first days we were in a room facing the street on the 6th floor, which has recently been done up. It was quite a large room, for Paris, and very comfortable, with a great bed and pillows. The walls upstairs are also painted in bright floral-type patterns, and the wall behind the bed in our room had an interesting geometric painted design. Rather nice. There was a new shower, which was great, but a rather small hand basin. The room had a fridge but no electric hot water kettle.


On the return days we had a room on the first floor facing the courtyard, so it was much quieter. It was a very large room, almost like a mini suite, with both fridge and kettle. Its only problem was a leaking shower.

When we are back in Paris we’d definitely like to return here.

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Around the Pompidou Centre


Square on entrance side to the Pompidou Centre. Note the Thumb statue, and the escalator on the outside of the building


Stravinsky Fountains with Pompidou Centre behind 

We are not particularly fond of modern/contemporary art so the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Europe’s largest museum of modern art), in the Centre Pompidou isn’t on our list of special places in Paris (sorry modern art lovers!). But, we love the actual building and the squares around it. The building is innovative and different and the squares are always humming with buskers, street performers, crowds of kids with soccer balls, and the square with the Stravinsky Fountains has a number of really good places for lunch. One of our favorites is the Creperie Beaubourg, which I’ve written about before (see here )

So, what is so special about this building?


First view of the Pompidou from the other side

In the early 1970s George Pompidou (President of France 1969-1974) wanted to build a cultural center in Paris that would attract visitors and be a new type of monument in the city. A competition was arranged, which was won by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, both unknown at the time. They collaborated and erected one of the most famous and radical, almost futuristic, buildings of the time in the city.

The building is distinctive in many ways. Each of the 7 floors extends through the building entirely uninterrupted by load-bearing structures, thus freeing up the space inside. So, each floor can be used to display art works, or for other activities, and each floor can be divided up and reorganized in any way needed. This makes the use of the space very flexible.

The other pioneering aspect of the center is that it used steel and glass, and that the load-bearing structures are external to the building, as are the circulation services. So, it’s known as an exoskeletal building. The services and pipes are color-coded: white for the structure’s “bones”; red for the lifts and escalators for people; blue for air ducts; green for plumbing; and yellow for electrical things. This all makes the exterior of the Centre Pompidou very interesting to look at.


Everything is color-coded; services and pipes are outside the building

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABesides the modern art museum on the 4th and 5th floors, the Centre houses a huge public library, and a center for music and acoustic research known as IRCAM. It’s fun to go into the Centre and up the escalators in the tunnels/tubes on the outside front of the building, for a great view of the square and surroundings and, once at the top, of much of Paris. (Note: you do need to pay to get into the building, unless it’s a free day).

The Centre was officially opened on January 31, 1977, and since then has welcomed more than 150 million visitors. So, one must conclude that Pompidou’s vision became a successful reality.

As I said, the squares around the Centre are always busy and it’s fun to watch some of the performers or buy a trinket from one of the vendors, who set their stuff out on the paving.

Recently when we were there we noticed that there are 3 new outdoor sculptures that were not there about 8 months earlier when we visited.

Two are up on the very edge of the big square and one is very close to the entrance. The two are sculptures of people, both by Xavier Veilhan (born 1963), a French artist who lives and works in Paris. Both are stainless steel, painted, and constructed in 2013. Both are a gift from Galerie Perrotin et Beaumarly-Glibert et Thierry Costes, 2017. One is Renzo Piano and the other Richard Rogers, the architects of the Centre Pompidou.




Me and the Thumb—shows how big it is 

The other is a sculpture of a very large thumb. It is in polished bronze, done by Cesar (full name Cesar Baldaccini) 1921-1998, who was a French sculptor born of Italian immigrants. He was at the forefront of the New Realism movement, with his radical compressions, expansions with polyurethane foam, and fantastical animals and insects.

The official name is Pouce (Thumb), 1965-1998, Edition 2/8. This is a representation of his thumb that was reproduced in many sizes.

Given courtesy Luxembourg and Dayan.


Interesting reflections on the thumbnail of people on the square


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Angels of Paris


Lion Tamer Angel on Palais de la Decouverte

We found a wonderful little book called “Angels of Paris” by Rosemary Flannery. So now, as part of our quest to get to know this city in more depth, we’ve decided to look for some of these angels each time we visit, if possible.

Rosemary Flannery noticed angels in all parts of the city, in all shapes and sizes, ages and genders, from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. In her opinion, Paris is a city that has escaped most invasions over the centuries and calls it a protected city. For her, these angels are a symbol of this protection, viewed as universal celestial beings, as they have been described in the writings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam; and in the religion of ancient Iran, Zoroastrianism. She also noted that the angels of Paris reflect l’esprit du temps, spirit of the times, and depict peace, war, turmoil, triumph in varying ways.

In Flannery’s words, “’Angels of Paris’ is a hymn to all the angels….and to the sculptors and architects that made Paris the beautiful city that it is today……it is my love song to Paris.”

We have only found a few so far, but it was a fun search and we look forward to discovering more.

Here I want to show you the Angel of the Opera, and the Lion Tamer Angels.


Front of Opera Garnier


The large group that has the Angel of the Opera


The angel and the cherub



Pensive little chap!

Angel of the Opera: this little angel is on the beautiful Opera Garnier and is part of a large group on the main façade, sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Eugene Guillaume. He was asked to create an allegory of instrumental music. This group is second from the left and has Apollo, god of the arts, raising a scroll and holding a lyre. Muses on either side of him hold a shawm (wind instrument) on the left, and a fiddle on the right. Flannery feels that the group is rather static, but that it is saved by the chubby boy angel on the right, and a wingless cherub on the left, linked with a banner.




Facade of Palais de la Decouverte


A gorgeous building. Just behind the rail on the steps you can see one of the lions


Lion Tamer Angel

The Lion Tamer Angels: The Palais de la Decouverte, on Ave Franklin D. Roosevelt, is part of the Grand Palais, which was built for the 1900 World’s Fair. The Palais de la Decouverte was inaugurated in 1937 as a science museum, and it’s wonderful, both for the science exhibits and for its beautiful facade.

On either side of the entrance staircase to the museum are some large lions being ridden by little boy angels. Supposedly the little angels are trying to tame the beasts and are stuffing flowers and garlands into their mouths. I must say that they are rather cute!


Rod M and the lion and angel


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