Category Archives: Event

Sunday Morning

UFO for blog-0570A typical Sunday morning:  Never a dull moment.

We woke up to the sound of drums, that familiar beat of encouragement for yet another Paris marathon that always wraps itself around the Place de la Bastille.  And that is a good excuse for breakfast out, camera in hand . . . This was a different troupe of drummers, composed of more ages than most and maybe less nubile than the last bunch.UFO for blog-0581

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Continuing on our walk to the Aligre market we heard the music of a different generation, performed by a quartet perhaps less energetic but no less passionate, no less ambitious and maybe even more appreciated than the drummers were. 

UFO for blog-1800Finally, back to the boat before lunch, we watched as the entries in the yearly UFO at the Arsenal were nearing full readiness. This crazy Arsenal event, called Unidentifiable Floating Objects, designed by and for kids(of all ages), has seen the creation of some pretty strange, and hopefully floating, vessels.  Using barrels, bicycles, surf boards and other motley objects, ragtag floats propelled by human power have been taking shape for several days on the stone quai across the canal where we have a bird’s eye view from our back deck.

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Not looking good . . . but it didn’t sink!

The wind was at their backs, the sun on their faces and the life jackets cinched on.  There was a rescue boat at the ready, but only one young captain was seen getting swept overboard – but maybe he really jumped in and loved every minute of it!

and then it was time to get on with the rest of the day . . .

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“Nuit des Musees” the European Night of Museums

Nuit des Musee-35All over Europe one extraordinary night is devoted to exciting the populace with the opportunity to enter the museums for free all eventing until midnight. Since 2005 yearly this event has pushed open the doors of culture, encouraging people to get out and visit their city museums.  Many of the museums have special events for everyone to enjoy which are especially enticing to children, and also available at other normal opening times – like the light dancing wildly through the gardens of the Musee Branly and hands-on writing with light at the Arts and Metier. The night is a real family affaire.  Paris weather was perfect for a promenade and that alone was something to get out and enjoy!

We tried not to be too ambitious but still managed to stay out until the wee hours, just after midnight.  At that time the Eiffel Tower sparkled on the hour and spread its beacon across the city; on the bridges sleepy children were rolled to the metro for the late ride home and raucous revelers joined the crowds having a last call or two in the crowded sidewalk cafes.  It was like a vernal New Year’s eve, with happy, warmish, lively fun.

The Curies

The Curies

Our first stop was the small, fascinating Curie Museum, the old “Radium Institute” in the Latin Quarter.  So much daring work was done in this humble little lab with beautiful hand made tools and equipment. Their innovative work and discoveries would change the world in startling ways and garner the Curie family, over their lifetimes, 5 Nobel Prizes for their work.  And for Marie and her illustrious daughter, Irene, would cause their deaths.

This work below was the most amazing, beautiful and easiest to relate it to the science.  Cells with stuff inside all bouncing around, bumping into each other and multiplying.  Very understandable.

Nuit des Musee-7“At night, unaware of the peril, they admired the fruit of their work as it lay on a pine table: tubes of radium fragments that exuded a pretty bluish “fairy-like glow,” in Marie’s words.  Even today, the notebooks in which they recorded their work from 1897-1900 are so radioactive that any scholar who wishes to consult them at France’s National Library has to sign a certificate that he or she is doing so at their own risk.”

In the small garden in the back yard behind the old laboratory is an exhibit of how artists view what scientists see through their microscopes.  The scientists posed the question: What can we learn from this vision?  Not sure they have an answer yet . . .

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All life under the glass domes

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Next stop was a bizarre exhibit at La Monnaie . . . all about eagles, a “Museum of Modern Art – Department of Eagles”.  The artist, Marcel Broodthaers, is something other than an artist it seems to me.   His idea is supposed to be “a reflection on the imaginary museum as institution, fixed idea, principle of order or temple of artists.”   The exhibit contains many objects, all of which relate somehow to the eagle and some to money which the artist considered inseparable from art.

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According to the literature “Exploring the mind of an iconoclastic artist, this exhibition is the gigantic achievement of an aesthetic and spiritual fantasy “. Stranger things have been called art but one feature throughout this exhibit is a sign beside each object, written in German, French or English that states “This is not art”. Strange.

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Nuit des Musee-41After a walk across the Pont Neuf and a quick metro ride, we arrived at our last venue: the Musee des Arts et Metier. Placed high in the deconsecrated Saint-Martin-des-Champs church, the 1909 Bleriot XI plane, just 8 meters long, seems to float in the vaulted ceiling.  Starting with that plane, when it crossed the English channel, England would no longer by an isle unto itself, and would be linked more easily, if not more completely, to the continent.  Arts et metieres

Below that plane, a symbol of such daring technology a century ago, would-be graffiti artists had a chance to “paint” with water and light, using new technology of today, the uses of which are somewhere out there in an exciting future dream.

The queue was long to try one’s hand, but it was fun to watch while waiting . . .

And finally, about midnight, another bridge…another metro ride and very tired, we’re back to the boat!

Let’s go Fly a Kite!

And what a better place to do that than in the Parc de Vincennes at the end of the long walk at roof top level on the lush Promenade des Plantes then back down to earth . . . Promenade Plantee - 21

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  It was a glorious blue sky day with a breeze lofty enough to lift the heaviest kite.

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Kids, young and old, enjoyed the festivities and we were all caught up in the swirling winds.  Kites got tangled up together, lines twisting tightly, wings crashing with a muffle into the bows of an evergreen.

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Men rumbled on go-carts powered by the wind caught in a billowing sail flying high above them, and raced across the fields.

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Children spun in place, their little kites on dowels raised as high as their little arms could reach.  Wind mills and wind socks, sharks and soaring birds, color and motion against a clear blue sky, brought a wandering day into focus.

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Quartier de la Bastille

Genie in the puddle

Genie in the puddle

For the past 5 years the entrepreneurs who own small businesses around the neighborhood have celebrated the fact that they made their businesses happen, even under often difficult circumstances.  Starting a business is a challenge anywhere but the French system seems to make it especially difficult, so these intrepid individuals have reason to celebrate their accomplishment.

On this rainy Saturday morning a small group of us met at the steps of the Opera in the Place de la Bastille not sure where to go to see this celebration.

As often happens, one only needs to follow the music.  A troop of a dozen percussionists, dressed in sunny costumes and head gear, walked down Rue de la Roquette to the Bastille playing a syncopated rhythm that had everyone moving.  With drums, shakers and something like a wash-board, they lead the way like the pied piper and all the crowd followed them through the neighborhood’s narrow streets.

Little businesses and cafes waited with their doors open and passions showing, many with demonstrations to watch.

The eye glass artisan was the reipient of an MOF or Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best of French Workers)  a title awarded only in France by type of business in a competition between professionals organized and recognized by the Ministry of Labour .  This man proudly wore his hard won medal, displayed the bone, nuts, plastics and other materials used in the creation of his one of a kind, very unique glasses.

Just another morning stroll in the neighborhood ends with more music  . . .

Some friendly games…

Boules court above the Arsenal

Boules court above the Arsenal

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Then back to the boat and lunch . . .

Mooring at the Arsenal

Mooring at the Arsenal

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Eiffel Tower in the distance

Eiffel Tower in the distance


On Friday  as we  took a bus from Porte Maillot at the edge of the Peripherique to an airport over an hour away in Beauvais for our flight to Italy to attend a special and spectacular wedding, we passed many of places we traveled to by boat last year.  But this time we cruised at lightning speed by comparison – with the Eiffel Tower disappearing in the smoggy distance.  We passed the small port towns of Pontoise and L’Isle Adam, crossed over the rivers Seine and Oise several times, and rolled past the bucolic farm lands in just a little more than an hour rather than several long cruising days.

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

All the guests stayed at the Villa Catignano,  just a few km north of Siena.  It was here that the Massoni family created a renaissance scene beginning with the early music concert in the villa’s courtyard played on ancient instruments.   The beautiful wedding couple walked past classical sculptures of the “Four Seasons” to the altar at the end of the garden, where Socrates looked on approvingly.

Anne,  the groom Stephen’s eloquent sister  performed the ceremony

Sister and Brother

Sister and Brother

and the celebration began . . .  continuing until late at night for many, and early into the next morning for the rest!

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Our leaders, Claudio and Stephen – Keeping us moving forward was a tough task in this city, so much was a feast for the eyes.

At dawn each day, the dew was heavy on the boxwood maze in the upper garden, but the tall terracotta “Four Seasons” soaked up the damp, saturating their color until the sun rose above the cypress centurions and warmed their bright cheeks.  A double staircase down to the big pots of lemon trees leading to Socrates’ arched niche, the old garden walls studded with shells, the valley barely visible through the shroud of morning mist and above the valley, Siena blushing rosey pink on the distant hill . . . Tuscany is OH! so beautiful.

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The wedding was a beautiful and intimate event. We had warm sunny days of touring Siena, Castelnuovo, and an impressive sculpture park.

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Warm days became cool evenings, with non stop food, prosecco, music and conviviality with old friends, family and new friends.

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The family grows . . .

… We got back to the boat last night about 7 and are now drinking tea in our comfy little boat listening to the pouring rain beating its own special syncopated rhythm on the roof.