Sunday, 28 February 2010

Ready, FIRE! Err, Aim...

The Hôtel de Sens in the 4th arrondissement of Paris is remarkable for
a couple of reasons.

For one thing, this is a superb piece of 14th century architecture,
albeit much restored, built originally for the archbishops of Sens and
now the Forney library.

And secondly, there's an unfortunate cannonball stuck in the wall as a
lasting testimonial to poor shooting from the revolutionary days of
1830 (it's the little black dot middle top in today's Paris photo).

(a Paris iPhone street photograph for 'Paris & I' by Sab Will)

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Jolly Green Giant

Jolly Green Giant, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Well, not that jolly maybe, but he certainly gives Shrek a run for his
money in the oversized and green stakes.

There's a whole bunch of these curious characters along the Seine side
of one of Paris' most unusual open spaces, the recentish Parc de Bercy.

It's all the more interesting for having a sexy new footbridge link
over the river to the extremely unsexy BNF (Biblioteque Nationale de
France), on of the great architectural disasters of the late 20th
century. We all make mistakes...

(a Paris iPhone photo by Sab Will)

Friday, 26 February 2010

Paris and I ~ 'Ghost Train'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Ghost Train ~

Ghost Train, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

There are plenty of spooky scenes all around us all the time, but sometimes it takes the magic of photography to take them out of the photographer's imagination and onto a computer screen or mobile phone near you!

This is the definitely spooky Metro Line 14 in Paris. Why so spooky? Well, there isn't any driver for a start! A real ghost train running through the heart, well entrails, of the city. And what's even better is that you can go right up front and see other driverless monsters coming straight at ya!

Strange reflections and unexpected bursts of light only add to the mystery. Make sure you step aboard yourself one day if you're ever passing through. If you dare...

(A Paris iPhone street photograph by Sab Will for the 'Paris and I' photo blog)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Down & Out in Paris

Down & Out in Paris, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
It was as inevitable as my first Lady Eiffel pic i guess: gritty
social commentary comes to the 'Paris and I' blog. Yep, honeymoon
season's over i'm afraid, and from now on i'll be mixing the cutesy
shots with the other Paris reality.

It still hits hard, even after all these years, to see a guy plastered
all over the pavement right in front of your favourite home and garden
improvements store.

i am in Paris, right, and not Calcutta? Yes, there's the metro
whizzing by overhead; there's the French writing on the wall; and
there are the busy Parisians hurrying insouciently by. What else can
you do? What can you do?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Amis Chemin

Amis Chemin, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Mis.tic is one of, if not the best known of the Paris street artists.
By street artist, i mean she literally paints the streets, or the
Walls at least, with her trademark little black numbered girl usually
accompanied by a slogan involving a play on words.

Here, 'nous resterons amis chemin' cleverly mixes 'we'll stay friends'
with 'half-way, neither here nor there' which is how a lot of
relationships are i guess.

The two passers-by who weirdly seem to sprout from the same trunk, are
my spontaneous attempt to add something original to the photo to
strengthen the artist's message.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Tall, Proud & Leaning My Way

Call yourself the 'Paris and I' iPhone photography blog and haven't
even got a picture of 'her' yet..? Pah! (i thought to myself) We'd
better change that!

To take an original photo of this Fucking Tower among towers is not
the easiest task, believe me. i talk from experience. Unfortunately,
she's the most fotographed fucking tower in the world. Luckily, i'm
the unique and only Me in the world, so i give it my best shit, i mean
shot. (gotta stop swearing)

So, here is my first official iPhone posting of she wot brought me
here (more or less it comes down to that) in the first place, and
we'll see where we go from here - standing tall so far...

Monday, 22 February 2010

Sweet As Candy

Sweet As Candy, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
This beautiful ceramic shop wall sign from times gone by tried to
tempt you in with the promise of 'Dragées' and 'Chocolats' (sweets and

You can still go in and buy kiddy-targeted stuff, but now it's over-
priced children's clothes that are on offer.

Actually, some of their prices aren't too bad, but when you see a pair
of mini-mini Converse or Nike trainers for €50 that are going to last
three weeks and be worn once you start thinking the world's going
nuts! Then your wife tells you she's just bought some.. ;-)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sea & The City

Sea & The City, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

i've just realised that the last five posts to 'Paris and I'- oops, i
mean 'i' - were all related to the Paris transport system in some way.
Revelatory... And i guess that isn't goingto change much, given the
amount of time the average Parisian spends there.

But 'un oeuf is un oeuf', as they say, and here is something
completely different. But no less Parisian: a Paris street market, of
which there are many scattered all over thr city.

This is a rather up-market, err, market, residing on the popular and
just slightly snobbish rue Daguerre, named after Jacques, who invented
the... Daguerrotype, so we're in good company. That'll do!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Danger of Death

Danger of Death, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
i got on this train, by the way. No, not by dropping Mission
Impossible style onto the roof, but by passing thru the ticket barrier
and running for it like everyone else. Sorry.

If you see where the tail of the train is, that's going in the
direction of my house, which is just down the road a bit. Good old
Gentilly RER station, in case you were wondering, so not quite Paris,
but close enough for the moment!

Friday, 19 February 2010

You Are Here

You Are Here, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
There are many practical devises-cum-symbols in the world's most
famous cities. If it weren't true why would people walk around with T-
shirts instructing you to 'Mind the Gap' or dry their dishes with tea
towels sporting handy London Underground maps (to use a couple of UK

The Paris metro is no less iconic, and I'm now more familiar with than
that of London, although my slightly eccentric ambition to know all of
the lines and stations on the map by heart has been put on hold
recently, not helped by the fact that the very device i am typing his
message on will bring up a perfect version of the Paris metro map in
two seconds flat... Bon voyage, in any case.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Just Passing Through

Just Passing Through, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Coming up from RER line E into the no-man's land of the darkly
populated passageways between the various different levels of the
complicated Gare du Nord train system can be an unsettling experience.

The strangest combination of people rushing to be somewhere else
melding with those who seem to have nowhere else to go hits the eye.

All that, combined with the impersonal architecture of a zone to be
passed through, and quickly, lends an oppressive atmosphere to the
place. And then there's that distinctive smell...

(Comments welcome)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
i've long liked the colourful bright red handle-things on the RER
trains which spend their days streaking back and forth across the
city. Sometimes as they open and close you catch funny expressions of
people jostling to get on or off, but not here.

All i have to offer you in this graphic image is an interplay of
patriotic colours and lines (spot the tricolor's bleu~blanc~rouge?) of
the sort millions of Parisians see every day, whether they are aware
of it or not, for what it is worth...

(Comments welcome)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Space Between Us

Space Between Us, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
The public transport system of any big city is always a fascinating
place. We come into contact with so many other lives and histories,
just ever so briefly passing through other people's worlds, and then
we, or they, are gone, probably never to be seen again.

i can never decide if these fleeting encounters enrich me or make me
immeasurably sadder...

(Comments welcome)

Monday, 15 February 2010

All Drained Out

All Drained Out, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
i'm obsessed by Paris drain covers. And lampposts. And electricity
junction boxes. And drainpipes. i don't know why. There's just
something irresistably, well, human about them.

And I'm not alone in my madness i might add. i occasionally come
across a fellow fan on my travels, and we happily crawl around the
city, lenses to the ground, attracting strange glances, and probably
pity, from those who just don't 'get it'.

Do you 'get it'?

(Comments welcome)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

PIGS (4 big ones)

PIGS (4 big ones), originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
It's got to be the best acronym of the year: funny, mean, catchy and,
let's face it, rather apposite. Eat too much and you'll get fat,
diseased and dead, in roughly that order.

Europe grunts confronted with the 'PIGS' (Portugal, Italy, Greece and
Spain, the economic 'bad boys' of the euro zone) roughly reads the
headline. '20 minutes' is one of the ubiquitous free news papers you
find all over Paris and which make for some easy reading on many an
urban commute.

(Comments welcome)

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Business As Usual

Business As Usual, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Yesterday the 'tempete Xynthia' visited France, apparently killing ten people. Luckily it wasn't anything like as bad as December 1999 - i remember returning after Christmas to what looked like a war zone. We have seen some damage though.

Here in the Cité Universitaire, a special park-like area where foreign students live in the south of Paris, there were a lot of branches on the ground, and the odd arboreal casualty.

Although all the official parks and squares - all the places where wayward trees could drop bits of wood on people's heads - were closed, the Cité U seemed to escape this rule, and studyers, runners and Sunday afternoon strollers were to be seen going about their business as usual.


Friday, 12 February 2010

Night Crawlers

Night Crawlers, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Along the periphery of the city after sundown we see a very different
face of the world's most visited capital. Silent bridges traverse
sinister cuttings where motorists rush to be anywhere but there. And
unexpected, inexplicable signs of other lives at other times only make
me wonder... what signs am i leaving..?


Thursday, 11 February 2010

Crap Stats

Crap Stats, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
i've already sounded off about this unhappy woman in my local park
(park Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement), callously suggesting
that she could be the crappiest statue in Paris. i'm now forced to
modify that judgement: i'm now Absolutely Convinced that my first
impression was correct!

Bizarre proportions, careless finish and, let's face it, she's no
Rodin either. And, quite honestly, i'd far rather she'd kept her
clothes firmly on...

To my credit, i reckon, i looked for an inscription of some sort to
explain this affront to my sensibilities. Some words were illegible
and some others mention 'les Hellenes de Paris' but i can't be
bothered finding out what that's about.

Funnily enough, a friend tried to defend 'Helen' by evoking an attempt
to reproduce the 'pseudo-naïve realism' of (get this)... Rodin!!! But
then he suggested, rather childishly i feel, that the real reason i
don't like her is because she's got small tits... I mean, honestly, do
i really come across as that shallow..?


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Watch Your Wallets

Watch Your Wallets, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
If you think this looks like some avant-garde arty French film image
from the 60s i'm delighted, but in fact it was taken last night,
February 2010, on the boulevard Saint Michel, as a few night owls
couldn't resist a quick browse in one of the second-hand Meccas of
book/CD/comic-loving Paris.

i've calmed down a lot recently, but many's the time i would pop in
'just for a quick look' and leave an hour later with an armful of
cheap but perfectly playable CDs. And a wallet a few hundred francs


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Vache Rouge á la Vache Noire

A few years ago now, (were you here?) the whole of Paris was invaded
by the strangest herd of bovines you've ever seen. Sporting
psychedelic colours, snazzy windmill attachments or picnicking couples
perched on their rumps, the 'crazy cows', exposed during the mad cow
disease scare what's more, were the talk of the town, and a
photographer's delight.

Now our cud-chewing cousins have had their moment of glory and have
been put out to graze in less glamorous fields. Keep your eyes open as
you wander around suburban parks, squares and other public places. You
never know when you'll suddenly be confronted with a pair of those
mournfully reproachful eyes, like here, quite appropriately, at 'La
Vache Noire' (The Black Cow) shopping centre, just to the south of


Monday, 8 February 2010

Don't Boul'Mich Me!

Don't Boul'Mich Me!, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Empty tables, true, but this is, nevertheless Friday night in the
Boul'Mich cafe on the famous boulevard Michel in the 5th. Just
stopping in for a verre on my way home and thought i'd share this
pretty graphic image with you, my fellow Paris-loving friends. Have a
good night, y'all, no Boul!


Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sex For Sale

Sex For Sale, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
The other side of the city of light (i did promise you both somewhere,
didn't i?). Rue St. Denis on a rainy February evening where i get my
arm grabbed by what was probably a youngish lady (i didn't look too
closely) who says 'On y va' (let's go) and starts pulling me rather
presumptiously... Doesn't she realise i'm a world famous Paris iPhone
streetwalker photographer who shoots to kill? She was lucky to get
away with minor injuries...


Saturday, 6 February 2010

Let There Be Lamp

Let There Be Lamp, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Can't say i'm disappointed with this little pic, considering the
minute amount of time i spent on it.

It's my bedside lamp for tonight at least, before i head back to the
original big City of Lamps tomorrow evening. See you back in Paris!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Lucky For Some

Lucky For Some, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Cello is one of the two cats who live where i work in my other life
when i'm not photographing Paris, and he often keeps me company
through the long days and nights alone... He looks slim here but it's
an illusion - he's getting fatter by the hour! He just sits and does
nothing or moans to be let out, unless he IS out, of course, in which
case he moans to be let IN. Hmm, i think i know some humans like that...


Thursday, 4 February 2010

Welcome To My Antrum

Welcome To My Antrum, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Getting swallowed up by the often eerie escalator wells is an
occupational hazard for all Parisians. And one of my favourite
photographic subjects, with people always looking dominated by the
dramatic receding lines and harsh lighting. Like something out of
an apocalyptic sci-fi movie.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Passage of Desire

There are plenty of these spooky little orifaces in the City of
Darkness (at night in any case) if you know where to look. But maybe you shouldn't be looking...

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

To Top It All

Let me explain. I'm a photographer. But I'm not a happy one. Oh no.
I'm a frustrated one. The problem is, there are too many photographs
to take and not enough time! I'm such an obsessive perfectionist, when
I work on a photo it takes ages to actually get it out onto the
webosphere. Not only that, but I also felt I needed a new challenge. I
can take photos of Paris until the cows come home, and I probably
will, but I was looking for the 'next stage' of the journey, as it
were. And I've found it. Using that crappy little blackhead on the
back of my phone that pretends it's a camera lens, I'm going to take
loads of instant pictures of Paris an' stuff, play around with them a
bit there and then, add some pithy prose (yeah, I wish) and then post
it all over the web. How about that, eh..? Bet you can't wait, right?
So here we go. That was the pithy prose, by the way. I'll try to make
it pithier from here on...

Monday, 1 February 2010

Don't Pass Me By

RER E, 7.55am, just two mins out of Paris Gare du Nord... A somewhat
sombre scene of the part of the city you never see in the guide books
and yet which is so real: a veritable mushroom field of stubby, sulky
towers lurking moodily on the outskirts of 'la ville lumière'...
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