April 24, 2012

Belleville: Rue Dénoyez

The Writing Is on the Wall

Photo by Lisa Redburn
Just around the corner from Edith Piaf's favorite Belleville café is the rue Dénoyez, one of the most colorful streets in Paris. It is a living, breathing open-air gallery. Graffiti graces every inch of wall space along the short span of buildings, and everything on or near the street is painted (from windows and mailboxes to door-code panels, garbage cans, and flower pots).

Photographer Bob Levy Captures a "Moment"
The palette and art on the walls change from moment to moment, as graffiti artists come and go, leaving their marks ... layer after layer ... to keep the tagging battle alive and well. What you see in the morning will be repainted by evening. It is, as the sign says, a street of "No Rules."

Photo by Ann Wilson
The WICE photography exploration class wandered this neighborhood a few weeks ago with interesting results. Everyone walked down the same street, encased by the same buildings that were splattered with the same morning sunlight and shadows. And everyone saw something different. That's what art ... and life ... are all about.

Photo by Petra Nass
Join us for the upcoming photography classes in Photographing People/Portraiture, Black and White Photography, and an evening Gertrude-Steinlike photo salon (sipping wine and discussing your photographs). 

Photo by Patrice Neger
Posted by Meredith Mullins

April 18, 2012

Paris Marathon

The path has to be one of the most beautiful traveler journeys in Paris. From the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysées, through the Marais to the Place de la Bastille, on to the Bois de Vincennes (full of tulips and flowering fruit trees), back west along the Seine and finally through the forested Bois de Boulogne. And no cars! The only problem is that you're traveling with 40,000 other people. And, oh yes, you're running 26.2 miles. It's the Paris Marathon.

The marathon takes place the second full weekend in April and attracts runners from all over the world. It's now one of the "big six"—Paris, London, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, and New York. A far cry from the first Paris marathon in 1896 with 191 participants, each year it attracts more and more people from the international running community (nearly 40% are from outside of France).

People line the streets and bridges to shout allez or wave flags as the runners bounce by. Some runners are in costume, some in bright colored wigs, some very serious, some limping but determined to keep going, and many just enjoying the idea that they can go the distance. There are bands along the route and energy outposts (water, raisins, oranges, bananas, sugar) every 5 km to keep up the spirits and health of the runners. Rumor has it, there's even wine and cheese at the 35 km mark.

This year's men's winner, Kenyan Stanley Biwott ran in just over two hours. The women's winner was Ethiopian Tirfi Beyene in 2 hours, 21 minutes. More than 30,000 finish the race and most vow to return to do even better next year.

Save the date—April 14, 2013. And start training!

Photos and post by Meredith Mullins 

April 10, 2012

Hanami: A Celebration of Blossoms

Jardin Albert Kahn by Lorena Coletta
Spring arrives in Paris with such force that you can almost hear buds bursting into bloom. Trees will be stark and wintry in the morning and full of fresh new leaves that same afternoon. It happens so fast you dare not blink. The emergence of spring spreads over a few weeks because of all the microclimates in Paris. But no matter when it happens, the blossoming of the fruit trees is beautiful. Everyone has a favorite cerisier, prunier, or pommier.

Montmartre Cerisier by Petra Nass
There is the old Japanese Cherry Shirotae in the Jardins des Plantes, with its branches so heavy with white blossoms that they sweep the ground like a grand ball gown. There is the tiny cherry grove on the south side of Notre Dame, framing the towers and spires as if the plantings were done with just that service in mind. The fruit trees at Giverny come into bloom, and tulips and wisteria are mixed in, just to add to the celebration. The quiet gardens and rustic red Japanese bridges of Jardin Albert Kahn are also complimented by the soft white and pink blossoms.

The ultimate of fruit-tree ecstasy is in Parc de Sceaux (a short RER ride from Paris). Nowhere else can you be totally canopied by blossoms as in the two cherry groves in the park—an orchard of pink and an orchard of white.

Parc de Sceaux by Meredith Mullins
The Japanese have the time-honored tradition of Hanami, the viewing of the flower blossoms accompanied by a celebration (usually a picnic under the cherry trees). It is here in the Parc de Sceaux that the tradition is carried forward, as people come to sit under the trees and eat, drink, and rest on a carpet of cherry blossoms.

But the tradition can take place anywhere, so pick your favorite blossoming tree and celebrate spring!

(Let us know your favorite cerisier, pommier, or prunier ... if you're willing to share it.)

A Sky Full of Blossoms (Photo by Meredith Mullins)
Posted by Meredith Mullins