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June 15, 2009

People Pix -- France, 2009

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Some of you thought I was simply going to France for a vacation. Well, HA!! I had my camera set to low pixel density specifically to capture images for our beloved blog. It was a working vacation. Got that? I insist. Honest ...

Having cleared that matter up, I thought my first photo essay will be about people-related stuff I encountered. No theme other than that. And the photos are in nearly the same order they were taken. As usual, no cropping or other Photoshop alterations.

Here are people who are either striking about hunger or are on a hunger strike -- the banner is obscured, so I'm not sure. The French, including immigrants, seem to love strikes. This was taken along the Quai d'Orsay near the Pont Alexandre III.


We're on Paris' Montmartre, half a block from the Place du Tertre where tourist crowds head after visiting the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. Shown are street artists plying their trade.

This business of sketching off a clipboard is something new to me, as is the large number of artists doing so -- and only near the Sacre-Coeur. I hadn't been to Paris in five years, and never noticed this before. Typically, a sketch artist or caricaturist will have a setup where both he and the subject are seated and he works off an easel. At any rate, I saw a dozen or more clipboard guys in action that morning; something to do with the economy?

I was a few minutes late deciding to shoot this ironworker in action (he's the one with suspenders). Just before, he was shaping a cold iron bar on a portable anvil using only a hammer, eyeballs and skill. At this point, the iron has been shaped and he's making final adjustments before installing it as part of a handrail next to a few steps.

The location? At a door to Claude Monet's large studio in Giverny where he painted his famous water lily murals for Paris' Orangerie.

Market days are still popular in France. A large one takes place in Sarlat in the Dordogne; I show only a fragment of it here.

Weather permitting, restaurants and cafes feature outdoor dining. This is in the picturesque hill town of St-Cirq-Lapopie above the Lot River a short ways southeast of the Dordogne. The diners are almost surely tourists.

Cannes, near the beach. France's cities attract street vendors from the "former" colonies. I'm guessing the policeman is trying to determine if the vendor is licensed; from the look of things, he isn't.

More al fresco dining, this time in the Place Rossetti in the old, Italian part of Nice. It's not yet seven, so the tables have yet to fill. Nancy liked this restaurant so much we ate dinner there three times. In the right background is a gelato shop with a large assortment of flavors, so we had dessert there.

This is in Monaco near the entrance to the Monte Carlo casino's gift shop. As best I can tell, the casino hired these people to dress up and mingle with the crowds, providing some atmosphere and grist for snapshooters such as me.

Then there is the beach at Nice. All of it that I saw was rocky, so it's only useful for sunbathing. This cluster of gals strikes me as being part of a college-age tour group. Otherwise, why so many and why so together?

Was there any topless sunbathing? Yes, but only a percent or two of the female sunbathers were doing so. I noticed one 70-ish-year-old tourist (with her back to me) sitting topless next to her husband. But the rest seemed to be young locals with good figures who are into perfecting tans sans-lines.

Oh, and I saw no bottomless sunbathing on Nice's public beach. That's probably going on elsewhere.



posted by Donald at June 15, 2009


Fun pictures. Even more fun are the comments!

Once upon a time, paintings were only on the interior walls of patrons' palaces. The introduction of canvas on easel had given artists more freedom to choose the subject matters to paint. Pupu suspects that the use of a hand-hold sketch board instead of a board on easel increases an artist's mobility and maximizes his catch of narcissistic travelers. With so many digital cameras around, fewer people may want to have their portrait done. To test this hypothesis, just check whether a sketch artist moves around throughout a day. Another factor that may have attributed to this phenomenon is that travelers today are perhaps more time conscious and prefer a quick sketch to a more elaborate portrait. Again, digital camera may have played a role here.

Posted by: Pupu on June 15, 2009 1:11 PM

I noticed one 70-ish-year-old tourist (with her back to me) sitting topless next to her husband.


Posted by: Peter on June 15, 2009 9:54 PM


Hey, 180 degrees the other way and it would have been a lot worse. As it is, Donald did not gaze upon the Medusa, so is still with us, and all is well with the world.

Posted by: PatrickH on June 15, 2009 10:54 PM

Fun snapz. France certainly looks like it still has a lot of the old charm. Note to self: Visit the Dordogne. Looks super-lovely.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 16, 2009 1:41 AM

A warning, Michael; it's sometimes called Dordogneshire (for obvious reasons).

Posted by: dearieme on June 16, 2009 3:42 PM


I'm of two minds about disrobed oldsters on the beach. On the one hand, I certainly don't want to look at unsightly raddled flesh, and would consider it simply bad manners to so display an aging self on a public beach. On the other hand, sun, sand, and sea are really most fully enjoyed in a state of nudity or near-nudity, and perhaps it is a form of priggishness to deny the old this pleasure of the flesh that remains to them. (Not that this will ever be a personal dilemma. I'm too fair to ever have exposed myself on a sunny beach, whatever my aesthetic condition.)

Posted by: Moira Breen on June 16, 2009 4:46 PM

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