Updated on 25 September, 2016. Please credit all photos to pgoh13.com
Happenings in Paris
Paris without cars for a day
The Champs Elysees and much of the rest of Paris was taken over by cyclists, joggers, roller-bladers and pedestrians on Sunday 25 September 2016 as it was the "Journée sans voiture" (Day without cars). This is the second year that the Paris City Hall has undertaken such an event and it is likely to become a yearly affair. (Above picture was taken along the Champs Elysees on 25 September 2016.) Swimming along the canal at La Villette. Something to look forward to.
While waiting for Paris City Hall's authorisation to allow public swimming on certain stretches of the canal at La Villette (some say it could come about in the summer of 2017) swimming fans could only watch trained swimmers participate in the 1.25km, 3km and 5km races along the Bassin de la Villette on Sunday 28 August 2016. Among those who took part were Marc-Antoine Olivier, who won the bronze medal in the men's 10km marathon swim in open-water at the Rio Olympics and Aurelie Muller, who came out second in the women's section of the same event but was later disqualified on technical grounds. (Above picture was taken on 28 August 2016.) The Place de la Republique is back to its former self Photos on left and bottom right were taken on 14 August 2016.
(14 August 2016) The graffiti, drawings, posters, flowers and candles that have swamped the makeshift memorial for the victims of numerous terrorist attacks in France around the statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique are there no more. The statue, which is the focal point at the Place de la Republique is now back to its former "clean" self after meticulous cleaning-up operations by Paris City Hall during which time it was closed to the public.
It all started with the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks on 7 January 2015 when overnight the Place de la Republique became the central point for people to gather and pay their respects to the victims. This was followed by a series of carnage (click for more) carried out almost simultaneously at Bataclan and a few pubs on 13 November the same year.
La Canopée at the Forum des Halles
La Canopée (The Canopy) at the Forum des Halles, a stone's throw from the Pompidou Center, was inaugurated on April 5, 2016 after nearly six years of restructuration. Conspicuous with its undulating roof, it was designed by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti. Photo (above) shows Le Patio at Level -3. The escalator here leads to the Nelson Mandela garden (which will only be ready in 2018) and the new Médiatheque de la Canopée (municipal library) on the street level. The second photo (below) shows a section of the library where you can lie down comfortably with a book. With the opening of La Canopée, the Forum des Halles has become a good place for a Sunday promenade as most of the shops there are open on Sundays.
The Chinese New Year procession in Paris on February 14, 2016
The Chinese New Year procession in the Chinatown of Paris on February 14, 2016 was unusually calm as the ear-splitting firecrackers hanging from trees or poles (and meant to drive out evil spirits) were prohibited due to the state of emergency in France. In fact it was a cordon of policemen that headed the procession.
The new Rosa Parks station on the RER E line
A new railway station on the fringe of Paris is the Gare Rosa Parks which was open to the public on December 13, 2015. It is on the RER E line running from Gare St. Lazare Haussmann to Chelles Gournay. Tramway C running from Porte de la Chapelle to Porte de Vincennes has a stop just outside the station, which is named after Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger when travelling in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Friday November 13, 2015 - the night when ISIS gunmen killed 129 innocent people at six different locations in Paris
Night of horror in Paris as ruthless gunmen from ISIS went on a shooting rampage at six different locations in Paris and at the nearby Stade de France, taking 129 lives in all. Above picture shows Le Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people among those attending a rock concert by the Eagles of Death Metal group were shot dead in the middle of the performance. More photos here. 2015 Ganesh procession from La Chapelle in Paris
Paris's Little India was all alive with colour on Sunday August 30, 2015 for the yearly Ganesh procession starting from Rue du Faubourg St. Denis in the 18th district. More here. (Photo: pgoh13.com)
Paris Plage gets underway from July 20, 2015 The month-long Paris Plage, Paris City Hall's efforts to bring a semblance of a beach and holiday camp to stay-at-home Parisians and tourists alike, is now in full swing. This photo was taken near the Pont Neuf subway on July 22, 2015 (the Pont Neuf bridge is in the background of the photo). For full details go to the official site for Paris Plage here. (Photo: pgoh13.com)
A taste of culture in a Parisian toilet
A toilet in one municipal library in culture-conscious Paris with posters of cultural events decorating its walls. Incidentally, Paris City Hall can only be complimented for its efforts to enable the culturally-hungry poor to compete on a level-playing field with the wealthy by equipping its numerous libraries with a rich stock of books and magazines that they would otherwise not be able to afford. However, since Anne Hidalgo became the Mayor of Paris, almost all municipal libraries are closed without prior notice whenever there is a public manifestation. They should be aware that many library users go through great pains to come only to find the library door closed. Some consideration for the library users please!
Note: There are no less than 75 municipal libraries that are spread out all over the 20 districts of Paris.
ALL GONE! Love locks = broken hearts Where public security is in danger there is no place for sentimentalism. All the "love locks" at the Pont des Arts bridge near to the Louvre-Rivoli subway have been removed under instructions from Paris City Hall who fear that the total weight of the padlocks will cause the bridge to collapse.
The removal started on the Pont des Arts on June 1, 2015. The more than 700,000 padlocks there weigh some 45 tons, according to a City Hall official.
The next "padlocks removal operation" will be at the Pont de l'Archevêché bridge near the Notre-Dame Cathedral. So if you are one of the few romantic couples who have kept the key to the lock (most throw them into the Seine River after locking them) make a quick trip to Paris if you want to recover it for sentimental reasons! The photo below, taken on June 3, 2015 shows the "love locks" at the Pont de l'Archevêché bridge which are due to be removed too at a later date.
Picture above shows the "love locks" at the Pont de l'Archevêché bridge near the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Their days are numbered!
Mediatheque Francoise-Sagan near Gare de l'Est There are already over 70 municipal libraries in Paris.
The latest was open on 16 May 2015 and is called Mediatheque Francoise-Sagan. It is at 8, rue Leon-Schwartzenberg near the Gare de l'Est railway station. As its name implies it is more than just a library. Except for Wednesdays and Saturdays when it is open from 10h00, it is only open from 13h00 on the other days (including Sundays). As is the case with all municipal libraries in Paris, it is closed on Mondays.
If you should get off at the Gare de l'Est subway station take Exit No. 8. But you'll have a hard time trying to find it by its address! The easiest way to find it is to look for the BNP bank at 82 Boulevard Magenta. Cross the road over to the opposite side and you'll see a little park beside the Post Office. Enter the park and walk to its end and you will be able to enter the Mediatheque Francoise-Sagan from there. (Photo: pgoh13.com)
Cold reception for 2,000 new bus shelters in Paris as modernity takes passengers for a ride!
The price to pay for progress? The 2,000 new bus shelters in Paris claim to be ultra modern but don't do what they are supposed to do - offer shelter to waiting passengers. Even the glass "back wall" at this shelter is half open, allowing rain and wind to enter the shelter.
Digging out a traditional bus shelter (photo above) to make way for a new one that does not give much shelter but which will have USB slots to enable passengers to recharge their smartphones while waiting for their bus! Click on photo for a bigger version. (Photos: pgoh13.com)
According to a newspaper report dated 26 March 2015, bus-users in Paris are unhappy with the new bus shelters (photo on left) that have replaced or are in the midst of replacing the old ones.
"When it rains we get wet," says one man waiting at one of the shelters. The woman next to him agrees: "It is completely open and we are freezing," she complains. A third passenger adds: "It is evident that the people who constructed this new bus shelter have never been inside one to wait for a bus!" Yet another passenger comments: "I am not at all interested by all the new digital stuff they put up here. I am just here to wait for my bus." He was commenting on the fact that there are USB slots in the new bus shelters to allow passengers to recharge their smartphones while waiting for their bus.
JC Decaux, whose subsidiary company Sopact was awarded the juicy contract to modernize 2,000 bus shelters, says the "open" bus shelters are to allow access to wheelchairs of disabled passengers. The inauguration ceremony on Monday 23 March 2015 was attended by Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris.
Dragon toboggan at Parc de la Villette This toboggan sprouting from the mouth of a colorful dragon near the overhead bridge across the Canal de l'Ourcq at Parc de la Villette was reopened on 7 April, 2015 after having undergone a transformation. It had been closed since September 2007 for security reasons. The covered metal tube (on left of picture) allows children to slide to the ground. The toboggan is only open to children between 8 and 14 years old. (Photo: Le Parisien)
The new Philharmonie de Paris After 5 years of construction the Philharmonie de Paris was inaugurated on 14 January 2015 and a big number of concerts have been programmed despite the fact that it has not been totally completed yet. Don't be surprised though if you hear about Philharmonie 1 (the new one) and Philharmonie 2 which is actually what was formerly known as La Cité de la Musique and which had already been in existence there since 7 December 1995. Both are in the vast Parc de la Villette, near the Porte de Pantin subway (Line 5). Take Exit 1 and you'll be right there. (Photo: pgoh13.com)
The Champs Elysees illuminated for Xmas 2014 As is the tradition the world-famous Champs Elysees in Paris has been brightly-illuminated at night since 20 November 2014. The illuminations will continue every night from 18h00 to 02h00 until 7 January 2015.
Musée Picasso and Fondation Louis Vuitton
Part of the huge crowd that waited in line for the reopening of the Musée Picasso on 25 October 2014. It had been closed for five years for renovation works.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Bois de Boulogne will be open to the public from 27 October 2014. It is a museum for contemporary art and designed by Frank Gehry.
New glass floor in Eiffel Tower
How would you like to walk on a glass floor and look down some 57 metres below your feet? Since 6 October 2014, visitors to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower will be able to do this. Visitors who are not suffering from vertigo, that is!
A new experience awaits visitors to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Paris Zoo in the Bois de Vincennes
After being closed since 30 novembre 2008 for renovation works, the Paris Zoo in the Bois de Vincennes re-opened on 12 April, 2014. You can find full details (opening times, entrance charges, location, etc.) from its official site here. You can even book your tickets online to save queuing time. However the site is in French only. Picture below shows a zebra galloping in the zoo.
The Beaugrenelle shopping mall (Click on the pictures for an enlarged version.)
The new Beaugrenelle shopping mall in the 15th district of Paris was inaugurated on 22 October 2013.
To go there get off at the Charles Michels station (Line 10). All the big department stores like Marks & Spencer, FNAC, Darty, etc. are there. There are also 10 cinema halls equipped with state-of-the-art sound systems and comfortable seating with plenty of leg room (the seats are numbered!) For more, go to its official site here.
The left bank of the Seine River takes on a new look. (Click on the pictures for an enlarged version.)
After a visit to the Eiffel Tower or Musée d’Orsay how about a leisurely walk along this latest attraction of Paris? The 2.3 km stretch along the left bank of the Seine River (between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont de L’Alma) has been converted into a pedestrians-only promenade by the eco-conscious Hotel de Ville (French name for the City Hall of Paris) and open to the public since 19 June 2013. Along this highly animated promenade, which boasts of a number of snack bars and restaurants, there are activities and games to keep the children happy as well as facilities for sports-loving adults. If you are going there straight, get down at the Solferino metro station (Line 12). From there it's just a short walk to the Seine River.
The Republic Square gets a facelift.
The Republic Square (Place de la République) in Paris just outside the République metro station takes on a new look from 16 June 2013. Situated right in the heart of Paris with heavy traffic day and night it has been turned into a place of respite with tables and chairs provided by the Town Hall for the use of the public. At one end there is a drinks and snacks stand called Le Monde et Medias. It's open from 07h00 to 02h00 a.m.
(Updated in May 2015) Le Monde et Medias is not there anymore! There was a fire that destroyed it. So the tables and chairs that you see in the photo above are also not there anymore. A pity!
(Updated in March 2016) The above snack bar is back in business after being renovated. But it's now known as the Café Fluctuat Nec Mergitur (after the motto of Paris in Latin).
A new youth hostel in Paris opened on 13 May 2013 at 20, rue Pajol. Turn left into rue Riquet on coming out from the Marx Dormoy metro station then turn right for rue Pajol. Locate it easily by looking for its solar roof panels.
The Egyptian-styled Louxor Cinema just outside the Barbes Rochechouart metro station re-opened on 17 April 2013 after having been closed for some 30 years. The rebirth was possible with financial backing from the City of Paris.
Two new metro stations have made their appearance in the Paris subway. The first, called Front Populaire, was open to the public on 18 December 2012 and continues from Porte de la Chapelle, which used to be the northern terminus of Line 12. While some signboards have Front Populaire as the terminus, others have Mairie d'Aubervilliers, as this will eventually be the final terminus of Line 12 (though the works are only expected to be completed in 2017!) The second station is called Mairie de Montrouge. It was open on 23 March 2013 and is the new terminus for the southern end of Line 4.
Façade of the shopping mall near Paris called Le Millenaire which is easily accessible by boat.
If you have run out of ideas on where to go or what to do in Paris how about taking a boat ride to go shopping? In fact there is a shopping mall just on the outskirts of Paris called "Le Millenaire" (it was open in 2011). Though technically situated in Aubervilliers, it actually borders on the 19th district of Paris and is easily accessible to Parisians via a shuttle boat service near the metro Corentin Cariou (Line 7) station.
Once you come out of the metro station (from whichever of the two exits) and find yourself on the road, just keep on walking straight ahead for about 100 metres, cross the canal and turn left. You should be able to locate the shuttle boat stop (there is usually a line of people queuing up).
Somehow there has not been too much publicity about the shopping mall yet but Parisians who know about it find it relaxing to take the boat and spend an afternoon shopping (or window-shopping) in the still not too-crowded mall.
Besides, the shuttle river boat (called la navette in French) is free and there is one every 10 minutes or so. It only takes 7-8 minutes to arrive at the very doorstep of Le Millenaire shopping mall which is along the Canal de Saint Denis itself. However as the mall is closed on Sundays, there is no such boat service on Sundays. So make sure you don't go on a Sunday!
Click for an enlarged picture
The shuttle boat that plies between Corentin Cariou in Paris and the mall in Aubervilliers.
The Millenaire shopping mall as seen from the inside.
The striking red building of the mall along the Canal de Saint Denis.
In summer visitors will be able to eat and drink on an extensive open terrace facing the canal. The same boat makes the return trip to Corentin Cariou for those coming from Paris. The first trip starts at about 8h00 and the last at 21h00 from the mall end. It runs every day of the week (including Sundays) as the mall is open 7 days a week.
Among the 140 businesses operating there are big names like Carrefour, Fnac, Boulanger, Sephora, H&M, C&A, Kiabi, Toys'R'Us, Zara and Celio. There is also McDonald’s and other snack bars and restaurants. The Boulanger, a huge department store specialising in electrical appliances and photographic as well as computer equipment, has up to now been inaccessible to Parisians who depend on public transport as it is often way out in the suburbs. With its implantation in the mall this will not be the case anymore.
The shops open Mondays through Sundays from 10h00 to 20h30 (the restaurants stay open till later) while Carrefour opens from 8h30 to 21h00. More details from their official website here (it's in French). The complex was built by French architect Antoine Grumbach who also designed the Sequoia Lodge hotel in Disneyland Paris.