Chunnel Vision

One Irreverent Writer Tracks Two Superlative Cities at High Speed

Posts Tagged ‘Paris quartiers

Paris: Chinese New Year

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Trust the dragon to hog the limelight

FOR the second weekend running, Chinese Parisians welcomed in the Year of the Tiger, and in roaring style.

This week it was the turn of the 13th arrondissement. Now, I bet you thought the streets around avenue de Choisy were home to the largest of the city’s Chinese populations, didn’t you? (I did). Well, we’re wrong: many more live over in Belleville.

That said, the 13th is more visibly Asian, and very commercial, which still makes it one of the best places to head if you have a hankering for pork dumplings or a yen (yuan?) for saucy shot glasses. (By the way, if anyone knows why said shot glasses are a tradition in Chinese restaurants in Paris, but not around London’s Gerrard Street, please let us in on the secret…)

Anyway, it was a slate-grey Parisian day, but the vibe was lively. Just add firecrackers, cymbals and goodwill.  Happy New Year 4078!

Written by manda

February 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Paris, travel, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Jean Sarkozy … at the mercy of wolves

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timthumb.phpTHE EPAD row rumbles on. Here’s the latest from The Times.

Meanwhile, France’s Young Socialists have raised a smile with their  Become a Sarkozy adoption campaign. Yesterday, they were outside the Elysee Palace, and now the campaign has gone live on their website. Over-qualified and unemployed, they think a change of family identity could work wonders on their job prospects.

Written by manda

October 14, 2009 at 8:13 am

Paris: Jobs for the Boys

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La Défense © PTB Henri Garat
I want one like that
La Défense © PTB Henri Garat

EVEN FOR France’s bling-bling President Sarkozy, it was a pretty immodest gesture.

Cries of nepotism went up when Nicolas Sarkozy gave his son, Jean the plum job of heading up Paris’ business district, La Défense (pictured left). Feelings are running high, and it isn’t hard to figure out why.

Mr Sarkozy Jnr is 23 years old. With only two years on the conseil départemental under his belt, the President-designate of EPAD* hardly looks like the kind of heavyweight needed for the job. In his defence, he claims to be well briefed on the EPAD/La Défense files from his work as a councillor. That may be true. Trouble is, his chief qualification is that he’s the son of the Président de la République. Are we really supposed to believe there was no one else up to the job? Someone not just out of short trousers, so to speak?

A petition is currently  doing the rounds, inviting Jean Sarkozy to do the decent thing (ie, turn down the post,  get on with finishing his law degree and do a couple of work placements.) And, while it’s unlikely to attract quite as many hits as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s new online organ, it is gathering support.

So how much does the post really matter? The simple answer is, a lot.  To the west of Paris, La Défense is lumbered with a legacy of ageing high-rises and a reputation for concrete soul-lessness. It has been hard hit by the recession, and yet it will play a pivotal part in the future of Greater Paris.

When (if?) Jean Sarkozy – aka “le Dauphin” – takes over the helm at the end of this year, he will have an annual 1 billion euro budget for modernising and humanising the district. Then again, if the challenge turns out to be tougher than expected, he can always count on Dad.

* l’Etablissement Public de l’Aménagement de La Défense

Written by manda

October 12, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Paris: JR – “Women are Heroes”

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[français en bas]

IF YOU MISSED JR at the Tate Modern this summer, here’s a second chance to catch the photographer working his larger-than-life magic on city facades. And yes, Women are Heroes is pretty unmissable.

It took days to cover the quayside along the Ile Saint-Louis (4th); the results are stunning.

An audioguide (tel. 028 55 200 89,  calls charged at France’s local rate) lets you hear  women from Brazil, India, Cambodia and Kenya tell it in their own words -though in the end the images speak louder.

  • “Women are Heroes”, from the Hotel de Ville to the Quai de Bourbon, 4th arrondissement, until 2nd November ’09.
The eyes have it

The eyes have it

SI VOUS L’AVEZ raté au Tate Modern à Londres, voici une deuxième occasion de rencontrer des portraits gigantesques du photographe JR.

70 femmes de quatre continents ornent les quais du 4e. Cueillis des favellas de Rio et des bidonvilles de Nairobi, les portraits leur rendent un bel hommage.

Un audioguide (tél 028 55 200 89, tarif local) vous permet d’entendre les paroles des femmes photographiées, bien que les images soient plus loquaces.

  • Women are Heroes” -Paris 4e, jusqu’au 2 novembre ’09.




Written by manda

October 5, 2009 at 8:11 pm


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