One more photo of my hometown (see yesterday’s post). We have a cathedral, Notre Dame, our Lady, which happens to be exactly 1000 years old. One of the side chapels, in the west wing.
As many of you know, I am not in BCN anymore. I am in Strasbourg, France, my hometown, this being for health reasons. All BCN photos are taken from a rather expansive archive, 6 years worth of photos, 110.000 of them.Many many more BCN posts to come!
This here is the area known as La Petite France.
And Weekend Reflections are right here.
Back to Paris… This is art. It is called Buren’s columns, after Daniel Buren, french conceptual artist who did this on commission of the french government in the inner courtyard of the Royal Palace. But les 2 plateaux was actually the original name of it when it was built, in 1986. I was living in Paris at that time, but I’m sorry to say that I never understood it. I remember well the intense discussion it provoked, over the integration of contemporary art and historic buildings. But hey, this was a car park before!
No, nothing to do with a rather average movie a few years back! This is better, this is Paris plage, Paris beach! Here is what it says on the municipal website:
A Seine-side holiday. That, in a nutshell, is what Paris Plages is all about – complete with sandy beaches, deckchairs, ubiquitous ice cream sellers, and concerts for French and foreign guests. Holidaymakers at the Bassin de la Villette (Paris 19) can also borrow books free of charge, play beach volley, take an aqua-gym class in a mini pool, or kayak around the lake – or, of course just chill and enjoy. The Seine’s banks become pedestrian and the beaches are spread across three spots (Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette).
This was the first beach that opened in 2002. It spans three kilometres through historical Paris, and features open-air attractions (rollerblading, tai-chi, wall climbing, boules etc.). Refreshment areas, play areas and deckchairs are available for your time out unwinding by the river.
This is the latest addition to Paris Plages, and opened in 2007 round Bassin de la Villette (Paris 19). It stretches from Rotonde de Ledoux (nearest Jaurès Metro station) to the former Magasins Généraux (in Rue de Crimée) and features a proper water-sports complex (with rowing boats, kayaks, pedal boats and dinghies) alongside quaint quay-side restaurants and boules courts.
It all finishes next Sunday, so hurry up and go to Paris!!!
And back to Paris! Beaubourg, better known now by it’s official name of Centre Georges Pompidou (a former french president). It is a huge culture center/museum/library/exhibition center, with some cafes, situated in the Beaubourg area of the city center. Quite a lot to say about the place, you can click here and here for more info.
Hmmm…..OK, let’s do it, it is so hot
Leaving Paris, we are now in the city of Strasbourg, north east of France, at the german border. My hometown.
This is la petite France, the area known as little France, with a gruesome history to its name. There was a hospice in the area, called l’hospice des veroles, built during the 15th century, specially for people suffering of syphilis (most of them prostitutes). Syphilis was better known as the french disease, as it was brought by french soldiers. Therefore the name of the area…
Nowadays, it is the center of the old town, with a lot of very pretty houses, most of them over 500 years old, crossed by the river Ill. No hospice anymore, just lots of good restaurants. And tourists.
Have a look here to see many more weekend reflections.
One of the nicer places in Paris to have ‘un p’tit noir’, an expresso, the Nemours. In front of the Royal Palace, and facing the Louvre.
Let us stay in Paris a little longer. Paris has one of the world’s oldest metro network. And the entrances of most metro stations are in a lovely art deco style. But not this one! This one is right royal, it even wears a crown! Normal, it is the Palais Royal station, the royal palace.
Thanks to my friend VP, from Livorno in Italia, I can tell you now, hours after posting this, that it is called the Kiosque des noctambules, by Jean-Michel Othoniel. It was created in 2000, and is made of aluminium spheres and Murano glass. The Murano glass comes from the famous Salviati workshop.
Early morning at the Louvre.
And talking about good heavens, I would like to thank the ever so mysterious Cieldequimper, my good friend from Versailles Daily Photo, for 2 very nice hours! We’ll have to do it again. Somewhere…
Well, the theme day for march was cafe chairs. Here is my last photo about this, an early morning in the south of France, not too far from here. And a very happy Easter to everybody!
The theme for April 1st is pedestrian crossing.
This month’s theme day was about cafe chairs. And it’s a real joy for me, as I have some many many photos on this subject.
So, here we are in Strasbourg, Alsace, northeastern part of France. My hometown.
… in Northern Catalunya.
I spent the week in France, for urgent family reasons, and came back today by train, through the Center of the Universe. Yes, the Center of the Universe has a train station!
Following a visit in 1963, the Catalan surrealist artist Salvador Dalí declared the city’s railway station the centre of the Universe, saying that he always got his best ideas sitting in the waiting room. He followed that up some years later by declaring that the Iberian Peninsula rotated precisely at Perpignan station 132 million years ago – an event the artist invoked in his 1983 painting Topological Abduction of Europe – Homage to René Thom. Above the station is a monument in Dali’s honour, and across the surface of one of the main platforms is painted, in big letters, «perpignan centre du monde» (French for “perpignan centre of the world“). Or in Catalan, Perpinya, centre del Mon.
Yes, it is in France, but still in Catalunya.
Me??? I wouldn’t dare!!!
Some very colorful paints in this artist’s shop! All in all, should you think about some southern french/northern Catalan holidays, Argeles has it all: 7 km beaches, a lot of activities, hundreds of restaurants, a lovely old village, an English book galore, food to die for…
Here is a panoramic view of the seafront.
Our world on Tuesday, right here.
France has several national sports, among them: football (aka soccer), rugby (mostly in the south), the Tour de France (not cycling, just the Tour de France), and petanque, or boule. Yesterday, some important business was going on in front of the Argeles city hall: no less than a championship! Important business, no joking matter!
Not enough windows where you live? No problem: paint your own. It might lead to something nice!
Greetings from the lovely french seaside resort of Argeles-sur-Mer, in Catalan Argelers de la Merenda. It is France, but it also still is Catalunya, or Catalogne in French. I like to call the french part of it Northern Catalunya, or Roussillon (in Catalan Rossello) The people here, some of them anyway, speak a very close cousin to our Catalan south of the border.
Confused? Click here!
We’re here to celebrate France’s 14 juillet, or Bastille Day, with fireworks and dancing, yeah!
There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
… means you were called to vote for a new President of the French Republic. As one of the almost 24.000 Frenchies registered at the french consulate (very few bother, so it is hard to say how many french are living here. Lots), I did. There were 3 places where you could vote, depending of your postcode. I went here, the Institut Francais de Barcelone, representing proudly french culture.
The results are out, we have a new president. Will it change anything? Let’s just wait and see.
Regular followers of this blog will already know that we spent a few days in Montpellier, south of France. This was one evening on the place de la Comedie.
Carrying on this little series about Montpellier. We not only met our fellow blogger Marie, but the real Snow White as well! Blanche Neige, in France. She left the 7 dwarfs at home, and came to Montpellier to give out some scratch cards, together with several super heroes. Nice way to spend one’s weekend!
This is of course for Our World Tuesday!
Photo courtesy of Mandy, and Rob was playing around with Picasa’s new features.
It is always a very great pleasure to meet a fellow blogger! Of course, we couldn’t fail meeting lovely Marie, from Montpellier Daily Photo! Thank you Marie for telling us we look so much younger than we are! We’ll be back! After all, we’re just 320 km away, 200 miles.
Photo courtesy of Mandy, of course.
Montpellier has one of the funkiest playground we’ve ever seen. Extremely popular place!
Just a pond with some lilies, and a bit of sky…
This is for James’s Weekend Reflections.
We went up north, to the beautiful french city of Montpellier, and this is one of the first things we saw… This was to celebrate the opening of some new tramway lines. Montpellier’s tramways are the sexiest on earth, according to the New York Times!
Will show you much more!
Oooops, I totally forgot this month’s theme day, about electricity. Therefore, a second post for today, a photo taken from a speeding train in french Catalunya.
One more photo of our Christmas trip to the north-eastern corner of France, for the weekly Watery Wednesday meme. With a bit of HDR, of course!
Splendid sunrise, but God, was it cold! Skywatch Friday, right here.
441 years of Christmas market in Strasbourg… A few glimpses, a few impressions.
Strange title? No, not really. This is the river Ill, in my hometown of Strasbourg, Alsace, France. The Ill (yes, ill as in sick) is a sidearm of the mighty Rhine. We just spent Christmas there. Cold, but no snow unfortunately.
We will stay away from Barcelona on this blog for a bit longer, to show you something that has been happening in Strasbourg for a looooooooong time…
You know what to do now…. No? Just click here.
One more photo from my trip to France, a few weeks ago. It’s not Barcelona, but it’s still northern Catalunya. Photo as I took it, straight out of the camera, for once.
This, of course, is for Skywatch Friday! Click here!
A nice and colorful merry-go-round,with a little difference…
If you check the top of the picture above,you will spot some ladies whose presence in something meant for children is… unusual. Or can you call it… classical educational pictures? Strange.
Anyway, as long as the little girl has some fun… But who’s driving her car? Her invisible friend maybe?
No, this is not Barcelona. This is my pretty hometown Strasbourg, in the Alsace region, north east of France, on the German border. It is a relatively old town, 2023 years, with a very chaotic history, sometimes French, sometimes German. It was even a Socialist Soviet Republic, for 3 days, at the end of WW1.
Good wine, good beer, very excellent and cholesterol-rich food!
Funghi porcini, olive oil and some wine, found in an Italian shop called, strangely enough, Spagna (Spain, in Italian), in France.
Please have a look at James’s blog, to see what other people did for the Weekend Reflections meme.
PS: 8.40 PM, just came back from this year’s Gay Pride, have a look at the 34 photos I posted on my other blog, on the sidebar! Was great fun!
Hmmmmm. Some hesitation tonight. Or not. Many of this blog’s friendly commentators asked me how I process my pictures. I mostly use a small and easy to use High Definition Range program, called Luminance HDR. To give you a better idea of what you can do with it, below is the original photo, SOOC, straight out of the camera. In this case, although I’m quite happy with the result of 3 minutes of playing around, I like the original best. What do you think?
It’s the same photo!!!
Once again, please click to see what others did for Skywatch Friday. Here.
I am originally from the north east of France, a region called Alsace. It is an area famous for many things, the Council of Europe, we have our own German dialect, and we have 7 wines, 6 whites and one rose/red.
And lots of beers. Although I don’t drink the stuff myself, this is serious business. The proof? This is the Beer Academy in Strasbourg!
Don’t have a lot of time lately to browse your blogs, back soon!
I went to France twice in the last 10 days. On my first trip, I somehow managed to forget my camera in Alsace, 1300 km from here. Well, good news: we were reunited today! Yeah!!!
So anyway, this photo was taken through a train window, the sundown over one of the inland seas in southern France, the ‘etangs”.
Many more to come! This one is for one of our favorite memes, Watery Wednesday. Just click here, you know you want it.
Going fishing…. On this:
My World Tuesday, right here!
Other news… I (that’s Rob) turned 50 yesterday, Monday. That makes me officially what they call in French a ‘quinquagenaire’. Oh well.
How to choose a good melon? One of the last great remaining mysteries on this planet.
We spent the weekend in Argeles sur Mer (catalan: Argelers de la Merenda), in the french part of Catalunya. And yes, Saturday was market day. And no, I did not forget the camera!
Before you buy, you need to check the ware! And if you’re good at it, you’ll get the best tomatoes in the world!
PS, much later… I slightly re-modeled this post, as many of you seem to prefer what is now the first photo.
Absolutely nothing to do with Barcelona, apart of the fact that I did it here.This is for My World Tuesday.
French onion tart
- For the shortcrust pastry
- For the béchemel sauce
- For the tart
350g/12¼oz shortcrust pastry (from above)
60ml/2¼oz olive oil
3 onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
¼ bay leaf
60ml/2¼fl oz dry white alcohol-free wine
90g/3¼oz béchemel sauce (from above)
2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
1 free-range egg yolk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
90g/3¼oz emmenthal or gruyère cheese, grated
green salad, to serve
- For the pastry, sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers, gently rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and cold water, and gently bind together until you can press the dough into a ball.
- Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours before using. You will use half of the shortcrust pastry for this recipe – the remainder can be refrigerated or frozen and used for another recipe.
- For the béchemel sauce, stud the onion with the clove. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the studded onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and grated nutmeg.
- Bring to the boil over a high heat, then immediately turn the heat down to a simmer. In another pan, melt the butter over a moderate heat and, when melted, stir in the flour. When thoroughly mixed and just as it begins to take on a little colour, gradually add the milk, straining it through a fine conical metal strainer, stirring with each addition. Discard the onion, garlic and thyme.
- Cook the sauce for about 30 minutes over a low heat stirring regularly. The sauce should be smooth and lump-free. Pass the finished sauce through a conical strainer into a bowl. To stop the sauce from forming a skin, place one or two small pieces of butter on top of the sauce while it is still hot.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Fort he tart, roll out the pastry and line a 28cm/11in loose-bottom tart tin, or alternatively four individual tart tins. Line the pastry with aluminium foil and fill with ceramic baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and baking beans and bake for a further 3-5 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly coloured. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Heat a frying pan on a high heat, add the olive oil and, as soon as it starts to smoke, add the onions and garlic and fry until golden-brown (this will take about 10 minutes). Add the thyme and bay leaf. Pour in the wine and boil until it has reduced to half the volume.
- Stir in 90g of the béchemel sauce and continue to cook until it has been completely absorbed into the mixture. The remainder of the sauce can be set aside for another dish.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley and egg yolk – this will give the mixture richness and help to glaze the tart. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the grill to hot.
- Pour the onion mixture into the pastry case and sprinkle the top with the grated cheese. Brown the tart on a tray under the grill until crisp and golden-brown. Serve with a green salad.
With added bacon, in this case.
This is what we eat at Christmas in my home county of Alsace, France: pain d’ epices. Here is what Wiki has to say:
Pain d’épices (“spice-bread”), sometimes loosely translated as gingerbread, is a French cake whose ingredients, according to the Dictionnaire de l’académie française (1694), are “rye flour, honey and spices“ (today including aniseed but not traditionally ginger). According to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, the commercial production of pain d’épices was a specialty of Reims, made to a recipe of a pastry-cook from Bourges, and given éclat by the taste for it of Charles VII, “King of Bourges” and his mistress Agnes Sorel. The honey used was the dark buckwheat honey of Brittany. In 1571 the Corporation of Spice-Bread Makers of Reims were chartered separately from the pastry-cooks; in 1596 the Parisian makers of pain d’épices were given their charter, too. The pain d’épices of Dijon outpaced its older competitors in the Napoleonic era. In Alsace, a considerable tradition of pain d’épices incorporates a pinch of cinnamon.
Pain d’épices was a kind of sourdough without leavening; it was left in a wooden trough to rest in a cool place for months, during which the honeyed rye flour experienced a fermentation. When ready the dough was cooked in moulds. The modern product rises instead with baking powder, developed in the nineteenth century.
On the photo above, you can see the Alsatian version, dry, with a lot of sugar and spices. We call it langues glacees, iced tongues YUMMY!!!!!!!
This is for our weekly food meme. Please feel free to add any even remotely food-related posts, you can do it until Saturday included! If you do this, and want to add the logo on your own blog, just save one of those below to your computer, and add it normally as a photo on your post. No complicated html thinggies. Right click and save.
Reflections on a mountain river.
This is for Watery Wednesday. Please click here to see more.
Amongst other news… The Unesco, meeting in Nairobi, has declared the catalan human towers, castells, an intangible world heritage! They did the same with flamenco dancing and singing, and… FRENCH CUISINE!
I have very little time and energy at the moment, so there is another one from the archives. The name of a house in french northern Catalunya. It is a word play,’la sardine rie’ meaning ‘the sardine is laughing’, but ‘la sardinerie’ is a sardine packing factory, therefore no laughing matter for sardines.
Can’t believe I just wrote sardine 5 times in the same sentence!
The house itself was fairly common.
It is the 3rd day of autumn, and everything is turning golden brown. This is the main entrance to the Lourdes Sanctuary.
We went to Lourdes, on the french side of the Pyrenees mountains this weekend, a good 500 km from Barcelona.
What to say about Lourdes? 17.000 inhabitants, over 400 hotels, 6 to 8 millions visitors a year. Which makes it the second most touristic place in France, just after Paris.
They all come to see the place where a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, had apparitions of the Virgin Mary, in a grotto along the river Gave. The grotto is on the photo above, and Bernadette has been canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Miracles have also been reported, over 6000, but the Catholic Church accepts only 67 of them, and calls them ‘inexplicable’.
The Pyrenees Mountains, border between Spain and France, a mountain range partly right through the middle of Catalunya, between the spanish and the french part.
Can’t think of a more romantic place to sit with your boy or girlfriend, and to watch…
Collioure, north Catalunya, France.
This is for Skywatch Friday, season 4, episode 52. Please click here to see more photos!
An archive photo about our holidays in the north, in July last year.
I am mending, did even sleep a bit last night!
It was a very hot day, when we went to Perpinya (French: Perpignan), the other capital of Catalunya. Was watching that little girl stepping on the water, doing her best not to get wet. Or was she doing her best to actually get wet?
Perpinya, the former continental capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca, medium-sized, busy, not really much to see, but excellent for shopping those french delicacies you don’t get in Spain. I just needed my quince jelly, my paté and my creme de cassis! Oh yes, and some wine bien sur!
Well, this is Collioure, one of the prettiest towns in France. The village (2750 inhabitants) had quite a strong impact on 20th century European paintings. People like Derain, Braque, Matisse, Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, to quote only the most famous, lived and painted here. Just google around, you’ll find their Collioure paintings quite easily.
The church in the foreground is called Sainte Marie des Anges, Saint Mary of the Angels, and the square building just behind is the Royal Castle, with quite a long story. More about the castle here.
Collioure is basically an extremely pretty holiday spot, laid back, with many many restaurants, bars, 1 disco at least, many hotels, several beaches (gravel, no sand), a short distance from Spain and from Perpignan (Perpinya, the other capital of Catalunya). I didn’t know the place, and I loved it!
Amis d’outre-Pyrenées, une fois de plus, toutes mes excuses pour avoir empieté sur votre territoire!
Well, back from too short holidays north of the border, in what is not Spain anymore, but still in Catalunya. Collioure, a very lovely small port between mountains and sea, absolutely packed full with northern European and French tourists.
It was not really going abroad… Here in Barcelona, the 2 official languages are Spanish and Catalan. And in the northern part of Catalunya, they speak French and Catalan. Catalan will never be an official language in France, as the French government would never allow any language other than French. History of other languages and dialects, or even cultures in France is a long and very sad story. The big bad word is : assimilation.
But still, same culture, same food, same dances than in the Spanish part of Catalunya. I will tell you more about it during the next few days.
Amis d’outre-Pyrenées, désolé d’avoir empieté sur votre territoire!
I know what you will think… Barcelona is NOT in France! You’re obviously right, although France is just about 90 miles, or 150 km, away.
Well, I stick to me french-ness. Yesterday, I went to a french countryside market in the middle of Barcelona, right in the port, and had a little taste of my old country, which I left so many years ago. Feeling nostalgic, now and then. But no worries, going there in 4 weeks time.
Anyway, we made a little gastronomic trip, had some cider, some wonderful brown bread, my wife loves her croissants…
And no, I can’t stand snails!!! The garlic sauce they usually come with, yes, but not the snails!