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The Year of the Water Snake 2013 – Chinese New Year in Paris

17 Feb

Nian beasts and the red lanterns and drums used to scare them away

Whereas our own New Year’s Celebrations have long passed, the Chinese New Year Celebrations are in full swing and the year of the Water Snake has just begun.

Paris’ “Chinatown” is the largest one in Europe and there are New Year Festivities taking place in the 3rd, 11th and 13th arrondissement, the ones in the 13th offering the biggest parade to visitors, find its route and the Métro stations (Place d’Italie, Porte d’Ivry…) here.

The Dragons are awake

The dragon in the 13th will open its eyes at 1:00 pm for the  New Year’s Parade on Sunday, February 17, 2013, and start dancing down the streets followed by his fellow dragon friends, chasing their mythic pearl. I am always amazed on how realistic its movements look, fluttering through the air, twirling around, it definitely looks like a real being.

Colorful embroidered costumesWhat at first appears to be  a furrier, stumpier version of the dragons are in fact no dragons, but the Nian. The Nian was said to be a cruel monster, living under the sea or in the mountains. Every year for the Spring festivities / Chinese New Year it would appear and chase people because, unfortunately, his favorite dish was humans. The Nian’s terrible reign didn’t last forever though. A wise monk came up with the idea to turn the tables on the monster the next time it appeared, fighting it by lighting fireworks and firecrackers and beating empty bowls, plates and gongs, making an awful noise and frightening the beast.

Up!

The Nian tried to flee, but wherever it went it was greeted with more noise, the people often wearing red, as this color scared the Nian even more. According to some of the legends, the Nian was eventually killed, according to others it never dared returning to the village ever again and peace was restored.

The red lanterns you see hanging everywhere during the Chinese New Year’s week and the firecrackers used still date back to these ancient stories and shall forever bar the Nian from doing harm again.

Crunch Bob

The acrylic Nians you spot during our modern parades don’t really scare us anymore, but don’t forget what they stand for and root for the right team, the Nians are the baddies, the Dragons will bring you luck.

More of my pictures from previous years' Chinese New Year celebrations and this year's poster

The Chinese New Year Celebrations and the colorful costumes and traditional rites bring color and fun to the still cold and harsh Winter days, still, two things you should consider in order for you to have a great time:

1)   There will be many, MANY people, as you see in the pictures below, if you’re a woman you’re lucky, wear heels, you’ll have a much better view. And if you don’t like huge crowds and overflowing streets, don’t go, really, it’s madness

2)   Authenticity. Over the past years, the amount of advertising has risen drastically, almost everything is endorsed by anything, and even many of the lanterns and balloons are branded (phone companies, airlines…), it just clashes with the ancient traditions and kind of gnaws on its ceremoniousness.

Gold Proc p

A happy Chinese New Year to you all! After the turbulent Year of the Dragon, Chinese astrologists expect the Year of the Water Snake to be a calmer and luckier year. Now that sounds great, let’s cross our fingers.

Did I mention the huge crowd of people..?

Rock en Seine

9 Aug

Official Rock en Seine Poster

Rock en Seine – is there a better reason for Parisians to head back to Paris after a long holiday?

Join them for this star-studded music festival held at the beautiful Domaine de Saint-Cloud, a former nature preserve and today a vast park with French Château (of course…), Rock en Seine will entertain the crowds for three days, August 24 – 26, 2012.

The 3-day passes are already sold out, but single-day passes are still available here.

The Black Keys, Placebo, Green Day, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and The Dandy Warhols will heat up the Summer days and nights even more, supported by the bands responsible for some of the most catchy tunes in the last months: Mark Sheeran, Foster the People, Miike Snow, Yeti Lane and the ethereal, yet deep sound of cult Icelanders Sigur Rós.

Some of our (not really insider anymore) voice crushes are also performing: dEus, Owlle, the Black Seeds (check out “Frostbite”), Bass Drum of Death (name reminds me of Death Cab for Cutie, but they’re definitely good festival material), Kimbra and her magical voice,  and of course Granville, solid, easy-going Summer music.

And, since we’re talking French Robot Mixeurs here, I have to mention: The Bots! Nice name – fun sound.

Find detailed instructions on how to get to the festival / map here.

Now let’s hope for good weather to round up the festival season.

Ps. Did you notice the great retro-style illustrations on the Rock en Seine web page? They’re by graphic designer Thomas Baas and I think they deserve to be highlighted, check out his Portfolio here.

Picnic in the Streets of Paris

1 Jul

Paris Picnic

Paris is bathing in the sunlight today and we’re preparing for a lazy Summer afternoon. If you happen to be in town right now, escape the big city hustle and bustle and join the picnic in Rue Montmartre. The whole quarter is coming together for a Summertime picnic in the charming pedestrian area. Bring your own food and drinks, tables and chairs will be provided.

Hope to see you there.

From 12:00 h – 16:00 h, Rue Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement, 75002 Paris.

Frame Notre Dame with Bananas and Roses

12 Oct

Notre Dame Bananas

While visiting Paris it is almost mandatory to add a photo of Notre Dame to your collection.

Make your photos unique by snapping them through a special frame. E.g. the Eiffel Tower through the metal construction of the Passerelle Debilly (especially nice at dusk when the bridge is illuminated) or through the flowers of the Musée du Quai Branly and Notre Dame through a lush wreath of violet and yellow flowers with red roses and a finish of banana leaves.

The banana plant and roses frame with Notre Dame peeking through is at Square René Viviani (see this map for location and metro stations), which is a beautiful little square, with lots of greenery and many benches inviting you to sit down and take a little break. The square has a rather eventful history involving a tale of a curse by pagan witches, it has been a cemetery once, you can find remains from the 19th century restoration of Notre Dame around and you may also come across Paris’ oldest tree, which is about 400 years old. Learn more of all this on Wikipedia.

NotDame booths across the street

Despite some of the rather spooky elements in the square’s history, this mini-park offers a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. Continue your walk along the Seine into the direction of the Louvre or visit the Île de la Cité to discover Notre Dame up close.

You may come across the little Pont de l’Archevêché, leading up to Notre Dame, the pont is adorned with thousands of love locks. Couples proclaim and immortalize their love by attaching to the bridge padlocks with their names on them. Every now and then the city tries to remove these love tokens (also from other bridges like the famous Pont des Arts), but the lovebirds from allover the world never give up and  it seems that the “cadenas d’amour” will stay for yet another time to come.

Love Locks Pont

Unlike the padlocks, the autumnal leaves are not staying, hurry up and snap your very special framed photo now, to eternalize your very own love for Paris.

All Posts Are Now Also Sorted by Arrondissement

22 Aug

Bonjour!

To facilitate looking up my articles by Parisian arrondissement I have now categorized them for you.

Wherever in Paris you want to go, this new search function gives you an easy overview on all the mentioned places and adresses located in the same area.

Also, I haven’t just listed the twenty arrondissements by their numbers, but also added to each a well-known place, momument or similar, to make knowing what is where a breeze.

My arrondissement categories are:

1st arr. (Louvre)

2nd arr. (Bourse / Stock Exchange)

3rd arr. (Temple & northern Marais)

4th arr. (Hôtel de Ville, Notre-Dame & southern Marais)

5th arr. (Panthéon & Quartier Latin)

6th arr. (Jardins du Luxembourg)

7th arr. (Eiffel Tower)

8th arr. (Champs-Elysées)

9th arr. (Galeries Lafayette)

10th arr. (Gare du Nord / de l’Est)

11th arr. (Place de la République)

12th arr. (Bercy)

13th arr. (Paris Rive Gauche & main Chinatown)

14th arr. (Gare Montparnasse)

15th arr. (Vaugirard & High-Rise District)

16th arr. (Passy & Ave. Foch)

17th arr. (Place de Clichy)

18th arr. (Montmartre)

19th arr. (Buttes-Chaumont)

20th arr. (Ménilmontant & Père Lachaise)