14 Jul 2014

La Belle France

Just back last night from two great weeks in France.Cycling in the Loire,the Le Mans Classic and then a week in Paris.Weather did not co-operate fully.Fine and hot for the first week but very mixed for the race weekend and really wet and quite cold for the week in Paris.The Le Mans Classic was superb-big and by far the best of the four I have been to despite the weather.Photos on the LMC to follow.
France was just wonderful but it always is.And I believe that it is getting better.I have visited it many times over the years and the old jokes about them being rude to foreigners and reluctant to speak English and willing to run you over as you crossed the street sadly used to hold true.But the French have changed and particularly the Parisiens.Now you can cross the street with confidence-but watch for those scooter riders-English is widely spoken-just as I finally have got a handle on French after all those years-and people are helpful,polite and even willing to have a chat.Quelle une difference!
And it was great to see so many smiling faces and so few ugly tattoos and studs and attitude.
I took quite a few photos-naturellement- but not as many as all those people killing millions of pixels at the Le Mans Classic and the DSLR toting tourist hordes in Paris.After another week there I am convinced that is now nigh on impossible to take an original photo of Paris.It's all been done before.Just look at the black and white postcards outside on the racks outside the souvenir shops.It's all been done-often in black and white and many years ago.
My humble attempt at an original Paris photo is above.That was the closest I came to originality in a week of Leica toting in Paris.
My trip was not all smooth sailing.Just when it looked like finishing without a hitch-apart from the weather that is-the complete check in luggage conveyor system broke down at Charles De Gaulle Terminal 1 on arguably one of the busiest days of the year.Result total chaos.It made Heathrow look like a monastery on a quiet night.Luggage everywhere and my A380 two hours late departing for Kuala Lumpur- not how you want to start a 22 hour flight- and as I write my luggage is still lost.
But I must say thanks to some of the wonderful French people I met and was lucky enough to photograph.
Starting at the top.Firstly the charming lady in the dressmaking shop in the little laneway in Chartres who mended the seam in my sweater which had come apart on the flight and who only charged me 3 euros.Madame you saved my life-I wore that sweater nearly everyday.
Secondly the very friendly Patron in a little bar Azey Le Rideau in the Loire Valley who served a very nice cold beer and who gave Patrick and I a great cycle route which we used.Thirdly the proud lady with her immaculate garden and window boxes also in Azey Le Rideau.Fourthly the cycle shop owner in Azey who rented us the bikes.It was a real old fashioned cycle shop which smelt of tyres and inner tubes and oil.And finally the wonderful man with dog having a smoke outside a quiet bistro in the heart of Paris a few hundred metres from the seething mass of tourists at Notre Dame Cathedral.
To you all thanks -- for the memories-and for letting me take your photos.
All Leica X1 photos.

1 comment:

  1. These photos are timely for me as my 88 year old friend from Paris, Gladys Latour, recently passed away. She moved to Sidney, British Columbia about 20 years ago. She made at least one trip back to Paris every year. I have many of the postcards you mentioned. We would sit at a sidewalk cafe here in our little town of Sidney and she would tell me all about Paris. I don't travel much but the last time I flew was from Vancouver to Sydney, Nova Scotia (return). I checked no luggage and had one small carry-on bag. Upon arrival I walked into the welcoming arms of my friends and directly out to their car. I only stayed a week but it felt so liberating to avoid the luggage hassel.