July 21, 2014

A Quick Stop in Cannes

As a lifelong lover of cinema, and as someone who works in the film industry, being able to pass through Cannes on the way to pick up a friend in Nice held a special meaning. (Though I missed the film festival by a couple of weeks.)

We went around 8 in the evening, when the sun was just starting to set.

On the way, we passed by a water park for children, with its weird Shrek head.

I also found it odd that an apple core was considered something enticing to children.

There was a colorful fellow who spent a good portion of the time the cars were caught up in traffic sitting on the window of the car.

Qatari license plate.

I thought this was a gas station shop, but it turned out to be a giant vending machine.

There was a fire on one of the main streets leading to the famed Crosiette.

A couple enjoying the view.

Drum players.

Without the film festival, Cannes is simply a beach town where the French like to vacation.

A nun and a bum.

The famed Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, with its iconic red-carpeted staircase was on display for tourists, but I was surprised by how Cannes itself has the feel of a town that loves cinema. Case in point: the huge mural of Buster Keaton that you see as you exit the town.

Hike through Gaou Benat

Gaou Benat, in southeast France.

You wouldn't know from this photo, but the area is dotted with people's second homes. The houses are positioned in such a way that even a house 100 meters away is hardly ever visible.

If you trek through the hills, you can make your way to a popular beach. There is a vineyard close by.

Even someone taking a fairly arduous walk to the beach is impeccably attired, like this lady.

A beautiful but mostly abandoned church.

There are a handful of restaurants by the beach -- perfect for a meal break after a swim.

The area even houses the President's former summer quarters, but the location was changed last year after it was determined that it lacked security.

Considering how easily we were able to reach it, I would have to agree.

Little shrimp in the water.

Anemones, all closed up.

We foolishly tried to get back to the house via the rocks. It ended up taking five hours and was probably the most physically exhausting thing I've done in my life.

Sea urchin and seaweed.

Dried up starfish.

Military boat in the distance.

June 28, 2014

A Dash through Saint-Germain-des-Prés

These photos were taken while fast-walking through the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, completely late for a dinner appointment.

As far as I could see, it was very creatively inspiring area, with clusters of art galleries and bars/restaurants/cafes.

If I were able to take a proper shot of this gallery, it would have made for a brilliant photo.

Firmin Didot was a late 18th century printer, engraver, and type founder who revolutionized the printing process.

These photos were taken at about 8:30pm, which makes me absolutely envious of European summers.

Café de Flore, where all the famous philosophers once congregated. Also an important location for Jean-Marc Vallée's similarly-named 2011 film.

This was a school of some sort. Perhaps the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts?

Paris from the Top of the Arc de Triomphe

I was in Paris for less than 24 hours. Not wanting to be too ambitious, I rattled off the top of my head all the tourist places I could think of, and the Arc de Triomphe was one of them.

Completed in 1836, the arch was initially ordered to be built by Napoleon, who wanted to honor the French Army and its victories.

It wasn't until I walked around that I found out that you could actually go to the top of the tower!

This was the price for two adults.

You can take an elevator to the top, but it was broken when I visited. The trick to climbing the stairs is to empty your mind and simply trudge on.

The views of Paris that you can see from the top are very much worth it, though. The arch in the background of this photo mirrors the Arc de Triomphe and is a symbol of La Défense, Paris' business district.

There is also of course the Eiffel Tower, which looms over everything else in Paris.

Zooming in on rooftop spaces that made me envious. I did the same thing at the Coit Tower in San Francisco.

This one is practically a forest!

Les Invalides, a collection of buildings and museums devoted to France's military history. The golden-domed chapel of Saint-Louis-des-Invalides was built in 1679.

The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, one of the icons of the Montmarte area.

The Louvre, which lets you know how massive it is.

There are four sculptures on the pillars. This one is Le Triomphe de 1810, which features Napoleon being crowned by the goddess of Victory.

The names of the military leaders of the French Revolution and Empire are engraved here. 

The day before I visited, President Obama had visited along with Queen Elizabeth for the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at Omaha Beach in Normandy.