Articles by deebee

French roundabouts

Circular junctions existed long before the creation of modern roundabouts, these marvelous circular junctions that make driving so much easier…or at least we like to think so!

This roundabout is in fact in Flanders, just at the boundary with France

The first French roundabout was the Place de l’Etoile in Paris that was created in 1854 and which circles the impressive Arc de Triomphe that was erected to celebrate the Napoleonic victories.

The creation of that circular junction, though, was not to ease the traffic of horse-drawn carts in Paris but just to showcase the arch, to make sure that it was visible from any direction!

Roundabout advertising a local chair factory

Modern roundabouts are a British invention as they were developed by the United Kingdom Transport Research Laboratory in the 1960’s.

The efficiency of the design proved very successful as all “traditional” French crossroads are steadily being converted into roundabouts.

Advertising an annual Jazz Festival

Not only are they “driver friendly”, they also become true works of art and it seems that each municipality competes of inventiveness not only to create the most attractive roundabout but also the one that will be the best promotion for the local industry, annual music festival or anything that needs to be shown and seen…

The zoo is not very far...

Here is a short selection of some of my favourite roundabouts.

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Louis Vuitton flat-bottom trunks

Carrousels – Merry-go-rounds

Windmills in France 

September 26, 2012 Comments disabled

Louis Vuitton’s Flat-bottom Trunks

No need to introduce the fashion house Louis Vuitton as the brownish Monogram Canvas embedded with the LV monogram, quatrefoils and flowers is the most recognised pattern in the world!

The first Louis Vuitton shop was founded in 1854 on Rue Neuve des Capucines, a stone throw from the Opera House.

Advertisement for Louis Vuitton July 1898

At the time Louis Vuitton was not selling his iconic, trendy and very expensive ladies bags but flat-bottom trunks made with the grey Trianon Canvas that had the peculiarity of being lightweight and airtight and obviously easy to stack to the delight of the travellers of the time.

Louis Vuitton’s flat-bottom trunk was an instant hit as until then people travelled with trunks that were not only heavy but had a rounded top to allow for the water to run off…but made them impossible to stack!

Louis Vuitton trunk 1923

In 1867 Louis Vuitton participated in the Universal Exhibition in Paris where his trunks made such an impression that in 1876 he decided to change the original grey colour into a brown and beige stripes design to limit imitations.

Many luggage makers kept imitating Louis Vuitton though but none ever really caught up with his productions; however, in 1888 Louis Vuitton created the Damier Canvas pattern which he licensed as a “L. Vuitton registered trademark”.

Louis Vuitton’s son took over the business in 1892 and expanded it overseas.

Louis Vuitton 1923

In 1896 he created the much-celebrated Monogram Canvas inspired by Japanese and Chinese designs that were very trendy in the late 19th century, and licensed it worldwide.

In 1903 he opened the Louis Vuitton Building at No 101 Champs-Elysées, the largest shop of its style in the world at the time.

Many prestigious shops were opened around the world in the decades to follow, turning Louis Vuitton into a real empire.

Louis Vuitton Building at No101 Champs-Elysees

Many new models were invented through the years and in 1959 LV amended the quality of its successful Monogram Canvas to make it more supple in order to produce smaller items such as wallets, purses, keys holders etc.

In 1987 Moet et Chandon and Hennessy champagnes merged with Louis Vuitton to form LVMH, the well-known luxury goods conglomerate and by 1989 Louis Vuitton had 130 shops worldwide.

Many new designs have been released since; they tend to change at each season, difficult to keep up with them.

Source Photos Wikiemdia Commons Public Domain: #1 Advertisement Louis Vuitton 1898 Attribution #2 Malle Louis Vuitton 1923 Attribution #3 Louis Vuitton 1923 Attribution

 

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Carousels – Merry-go-rounds

The Fête des Remparts in Dinan – Brittany

About French wooden clogs

 

September 19, 2012 2 comments

Carousels-Merry-go-rounds

Carousels originally come from Italy.

The first carousel appeared in France in the second half of the 19th century and quickly became very popular with the Parisians.

1900’s is considered as the Golden Age of the carousel, and modern merry-go-rounds look very similar to the original ones.

Traditional Carousel in Paris

The carousels are still part of the Parisians’ daily life as nearly twenty merry-go-rounds are found throughout the capital. The concessions are granted by the City of Paris to private owners.

Some merry-go-rounds have been on the same spot for years, others settle temporarily on the lawns of the Tuileries Gardens, Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne for the time of a fair.

Carousel in front of Montparnasse station in Paris

Carousel in front of Montparnasse station in Paris

One of my favourite is the carousel that stays permanently on the tiny Square Willette below the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

Carousel in Montmartre near the Sacre-Coeur

Carousel in Montmartre near the Sacre-Coeur

The ceilings of the Italian-built carousel represent the Canals of Venice but the theme chosen for its wooden horses (which are actually plastic) is the American Wild West with diligence and Indians…

 

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About French Wooden Clogs

The Fête des Remparts in Dinan – Brittany

Tour de France 2012 in Souillac in South-West France

September 12, 2012 2 comments

The Fête des Remparts in Dinan – Brittany

The Fête des Remparts is a medieval festival that takes place every other year in Dinan, the home town of Bertrand Duguesclin, one of the most famous medieval characters in French history.

This year’s festival was held on 21-22 July.

Fete des Remparts in Dinan - One is never too young to participate...

It was created in 1983 by the Society of Friends of the Museum and Library of Dinan, with the help of the Tourist Office and the support of the municipality of Dinan.

Fete des Remparts - Place des Merciers in Dinan

The festival has a different theme each time: 2012 was “Réjouissances princières et liesse populaire – Princely festivities and jubilant crowds”.

The theme of the next festival which will take place on 19-20 July 2014 will be “Inventions and Discoveries”.

Fete des Remparts in Dinan - one of the many outstanding costumes seen in the streets

People are encouraged to dress up with medieval costumes for the occasion.

Hiring a costume allows free access to the many shows organized on that weekend such as jousting, medieval markets, open-air dances. The festival ends up with a great parade.

Fete des Remparts in Dinan - a cute little dog...

The Fête des Remparts de Dinan takes the visitors back in time and the century old timber framed houses are a perfect settings for it. We are back in the Middle-Ages.

The spectacle is also in the streets, and it is really difficult to chose the best costume! I let you judge…

 

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April Frost and Three Saints known as Lune Rousse and Saints de Glace in France

Summer Solstice celebrations in France

About French Wooden Clogs

 

August 17, 2012 2 comments

Tour de France 2012 in Souillac in south-west France

Souillac is situated between Sarlat and Rocamadour in the department of Lot in south-west France and was one of the towns traversed by the riders of the 99th edition of the Tour de France on July 20 during Stage 18.

Tour de France 2012, Stage 18 in Souillac, Sponsors

On that day the 153 remaining riders  covered 222,5km from Blagnac-Toulouse to Brive la Gaillarde.

The stage was essentially flat with only four climbs (Côte de Saint-Georges, Cahors , Souillac and Lissac-sur-Couze).

Riders had gone through three weeks of racing and 14 teams had not had a stage win, so the pressure for doing well on this stage was quite high.

The stage started fast as it took only 21 kilometres for an escape group to form, but at the 120 kilometres mark a dog ran across the road causing a crash in the peloton involving the riders Gilbert (BMC), Menchov (KAT), Farrar (GRS) and Vichot (FDJ) who fortunately were not injured and were able to ride again.

Lead group with the Green Jersey and the Polka-Dot Jersey

The first attack from the front runners came from David Millar (GRS) with 43 kilometres to go but he was caught up. The escapees had an advantage of just 1’35″ with 37km to go and Millar was credited as the rider who did the most work at the front of the escape.

All the riders gave their most but despite all their effort Cavendish (SKY), who had received a perfect lead-out from Bradley Wiggins and his other teammates, started an amazing sprint 300 metres from the line and gave his team a 4th stage win in the Tour de France 2012.

Wiggins ended 19th.

Tour de France, parade of the sponsors known as Caravane du Tour de France

Tour de France, parade of the sponsors known as Caravane du Tour de France

The Tour de France always has the same magic, no matter if you are interested or not in biking as it is not only a major sport event but a cultural one.

Its popularity seems to cross the borders as more and more foreign riders win it. Locals and holiday makers arrive hours in advance to get the best place along the roads and patiently wait for hours to see their champion and the other riders run past like rockets!

The attention goes up one notch or two as soon as the helicopter that follows the riders is heard and seen in the sky…they are just round the corner…

Cameras are ready and everyone starts shooting or recording.

The spectacle lasts only a few minutes then it is all over…but it is worth every minute!
The show is not only with the riders but also with the Sponsors’ Caravane which precedes the riders by about an hour.

It seems to improve year by year as the sponsors compete for ideas and ingenuity to produce the finest decoration for their cars.

The crowds eagerly await the distribution of gadgets and gifts that are thrown from the cars.

Caravane du Tour de France: Sponsors parading and throwing gadgets and mini gifts to the crowds

Tour de France: Sponsors parading and throwing gadgets and mini gifts to the crowds

Everyone takes to the game, children and adults, and engage in a true scuffle to grab the goodies in mid-air!

Vittel, the official water of the Tour, always parades last and traditionally sprays the spectators with water. It is great fun and everyone expects it, and it can be quite welcome on a sunny and hot day!

It is always very amusing to watch the faces of those who return home with a wealth of gifts!

2012 was the 99th edition of the Tour de France, a major annual cycling event which was first staged in 1903 and which covers over 3600 kilometres in 21 days.

Parade of the sponsors...

Parade of the sponsors, PMU.FR the official sponsor of the Green Jersey

This year event It started with the Prologue on Saturday, June 30 – 6.4 kilometres Liège-Liège.

The riders started Stage 1 on Sunday, July 1 – 198 kilometres from Liège to Seraing and ended with Stage 20 on Sunday, July 22 – 120 kilometres from Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Élysées.

Stage 18 day’s winner was Cavendish (SKY) , the Yellow Jersey Braddley Wiggins (SKY), Green Jersey Sagan (LIQ), Polka-Dot Jersey Voeckler (EUC) and White Jersey Van Garde (BMC).

The overall individual winner of the Tour de France 2012 was Bradley Wiggins (SKY), the first ever British winner of the event, and Cavendish won his fourth successive victory in Paris!

The first French was Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), the youngest rider in the Tour 2012 -20 year old- who qualified for the 10th place in the general classification. A young rider to follow closely next year…during the 100th edition!

 

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Catching the Tour de France in Brittany

Mardi Gras – Carnival Season

Wind energy industry in France

August 10, 2012 2 comments

About French wooden clogs

The origin of the word French Sabot that means Clog goes back to the 12th century and would be the combination of the words Savate (from the Arabic Sabbat for shoe) and bot (feminization of boot) as it applied to a ankle length shoe.
The images I have selected to illustrate this post are of Dutch wooden clogs because I find them so beautiful! Hope you will too.

 

Painted wooden clogs

Painted wooden clogs

The use of clogs spread like wildfire in the late 15th-early 16th century especially in the eastern, northern and western parts of France.

Shoes were then commonly called sabottes.

The making of wooden clogs

The making of wooden clogs

Clogs were worn by the rural populations for practical and obviously economic reasons as leather shoes were very expensive and could not be worn for working on the farm.

Clogs were traditionally made from birch, willow, beech or poplar, soft woods that are easy to work but are also very resistant.

The making of wooden clogs

The making of wooden clogs

Once finished the clog was left to dry for several weeks before being put for sale.

Clogs were always a size larger than the foot to allow for straw and later thick woolen socks to keep feet dry and warm.

The making of wooden clogs

The making of wooden clogs: clogs are now left to dry before being put for sale

Farmers wore wooden clogs about until the mid 20th century when cheaper materials came up on the market and allowed for large scale manufacture.

Wearing clogs has never really stopped but they are now found in various forms and colours…  and in plastic.

The clogs are finished and in the shop!

The clogs are finished and in the shop!

Fortunately there is a very clear return to traditional products and wooden clogs are becoming fashionable.

The French seem to follow the example of the Dutch that produce wonderful painted wooden clogs that could almost be considered works of art. Unfortunately French clogs were not painted and were more considered for their practical use than their aesthetic.

 

Painted wooden clogs

A selection of painted wooden clogs...which one to choose?!

Reminder: the images I have selected to illustrate this post are of Dutch wooden clogs because I find them so beautiful!

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Laguiole, a prestigious folding knife

Aligot of Aubrac

Summer Solstice celebrations in France

July 11, 2012 5 comments