Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Sunday Promenade in Dijon


I love Sundays in my adopted town of Dijon, France.  The streets and sidewalks are quiet, except for a few morning joggers (Sunday is the only day I see them), so it’s possible to stand in the middle of the street to get a photo without being run over or to pause on a sidewalk without being plowed down by someone reading phone messages as she scurries down the street on business.  Kind of like texting and driving.  So on this first Sunday back in town I went out into the empty streets to explore my new neighborhood, camera in hand.  Come along with me on the journey.

While my apartment is within the boundaries of the historic district (no hanging laundry in the window to dry!), the neighborhood comes up short in the ancient-buildings-with giant-beams-in-the-ceiling front.  But that’s okay because I prefer my living space not to have a permanent 10º tilt in the floor.

My neighborhood primarily represents the belle époque era of architecture, lasting from around 1880-World War I.  It encompassed Art Deco/Art Nouveau in Europe and the Arts and Crafts movement in the United Kingdom and the United States.  When you think of France, you think of Paris and such iconic belle époque landmarks as the metro signs or the le chat noir.  I guess it appeals to me because my neighborhood in St. Louis got its start during this period, too, although American housing from that period looks completely different.

1/15/13_a   1/15/13_b

Let’s start with my building.  It was built in 1900.  I know that because French law requires at the closing of a purchase a recitation about the history of the building.  I can’t tell you more because that would require me to translate more than I want to.  The photo at the top of the post is the community faucet in the courtyard of my building.  It hangs over a trough carved out of a single piece of stone (sorry would have had to move bikes and garbage bins to get a good shot).  I’m assuming originally it was the only source of water for the building.  I don’t want to know about the toilet facilities of the time.

Next is one of the remaining pieces of ancient ramparts in the city.  It’s about as tall as a three-story house.  There’s a door at street level, but I can’t see what is hidden behind this wall.


A bit of belle époque architecture.  This is just the top of the house because many of these properties surrounded themselves with high stone walls.  The house is isolated at this intersection, surrounded by modern apartment complexes.  The brick and the ironwork mark this era of building design.


“Little pink houses for you and me.”  Sorry, don’t think this is what John Mellencamp had in mind.  But I love the pink brick and green wall as well as the combined angles and curves of the roof line.


I’m lucky enough to have some of this colored glass on my balcony.  These porch covers are all over Dijon, adding an Art Deco flair.  The photo was taken in the summer if you’re wondering about the blooming roses.  When you live in an ancient city like this, you don’t have manicured lawns and freshly painted front doors, but there are so many pockets of beauty amid the dirt of a few hundred years.


“This is not a pipe.”  Anybody here read John Green’s amazing, award-winning novel The Fault In Our Stars?  If I hadn’t finished it on the trip over (trying not to sob in public on the plane and train) I never would have noticed this.  First read, here, about artist René Magritte who first said this, then rush to your local library or bookstore or e-reader to get a copy of Green’s novel and read it right now because this quotation plays a big part in his story.  I mean it.  Read it.  Right now.


The temperature is dropping and it’s getting dark now, so how about we finish this tour of the neighborhood in a couple of days.  Get yourself something warm to drink and when the feeling returns to your toes, come back and tell us in the comments box about one of your favorite buildings you’ve encountered.  Is there a particular architectural style you love or is it the funky stuff like this.  And if you’ve read John Green, tell me what you think -- even if you didn't like it (no spoilers, please).

After my last post about Russia's adoption ban, I read that some people in Russia do think this is outrageous.  One of the marchers says he would love to adopt but can't afford it, so he doesn't think it's right that the children suffer.  Unfortunately, the political atmosphere in that country rarely lets what's best for the children rule the day.


Becky Green Aaronson said...

Gorgeous, Julie! Thanks for sharing your little slice of heaven with us!

Liv Rancourt said...

Beautiful photos. I'm fairly jealous...

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks. I'm going to get some snow pictures posted on FB today. So look there for some more.

Muriel said...

I am gad that you like Dijon so much. I feel slightly guilty now because I don't miss France at all. Something must have gone wrong with me.

Julie Farrar said...

I don't think it's bad to not miss a home country. You are in a new, full stage of your life, looking forward and not backward.

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