Archive for March, 2011

Strasbourg stands in solidarity with the people of Japan and Libya


Yesterday afternoon the Mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, other elected representatives, the Croix-Rouge française and the people of Strasbourg joined the Counseileur-Gènèral from the Japanese Consulat in Strasbourg to stand together in solidarity with the people of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami that happened earlier this month.  The first picture shows the Senator and Mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, speaking just before there was a minutes silence.  To his right is Jean-Jacques Gsell the Parti Socialiste candidate for Strasbourg canton 2.  After the Mayor Armand Perego,the president of the regional delegation of the Croix-Rouge talked about what they were doing locally and in Japan to help the people who were the victims of the earthquakes and tsunami, including the 86 teams deployed by the Red-Cross Japan and the assistance provided by the organisation to the more than 300,000 people who have been evacuated.  He also said that they had raised more than 25,000 Euros locally which had already been transferred to the Red Cross Japan.

The representative of the Japanese government thanked Strasbourg Council who had voted 20,000 Euros of help to be sent via the Red-Cross to the people of Japan and for organising this display of solidarity with the people of Japan in the heart of the city.

A large cheque for 5,300 Euros was then presented by the local representative of the Croix-Rouge to the representative of the Japanese government.  In this picture the person with the blonde pony tail and the black coat with the green pattern is the candidate for Europe Écologie for Strasbourg canton 2 also; so both candidates for the run-off today took time out from campaigning to show solidarity with the people of Japan.

There was a very good turn out of people from Strasbourg despite it trying to rain whilst we were there.  After the speeches a Japanese poem was read out by a Japanese student studying at the university and then two musicians originating from Japan who play with the Strasbourg Symphony Orchestra played Back on violin and Cello.

At the same time as the gathering to show solidarity with the people of Japan, actually on the other side of the statue of Jean Baptiste Kléber there was a gathering in solidarity with the people of Libya with most of the people gathering carrying flags from the Parti communiste français or the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, both of who oppose the action for the no-fly zone in Libya.  This woman’s placard read, “No to the intervention by the imperialist powers in Libya, it’s not imperialism which can bring freedom and democracy to the people of Libya.”  As in previous weeks there was a banner against the plinth of the statue calling for a democratic Libya and for “Gadhafi Degage.”  The woman in the picture on the left had come in what is clearly her protest outfit including a crash helmet with a loudhailer attached to the top of it.  Her message was, “A war to save lives?”  It was interesting that the message from the people gathered around the statue was one of opposition to what is happening in Lybia whilst next to the banner was a young man who could have been of Libyan origin with a sign thanking France and the United Nations.

Place de la Republique with blossom out and in the sun


Yesterday morning and a trip to the dentist for the first step in getting a crown and on the way back via the Place de la République completed when Strasbourg was part of German around 1900 to give the political authorities a capital for “Alsace-Lorraine Reichsland”.  It was part of a master plan an extra 386 hectares of buildings in Strasbourg in addition to the then existing 230 hectares.  The square is bounded by the Palais du Rhin (1983-88wiki), former Imperial Palace which is now used for the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine, the oldest international institution in the World, and the Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles (DRAC Alsace). On the left behind this picture is the Direction des Serivces Fiscaux  which was built as the Ministry of the “Alsace-Lorraine Reichsland”(1892-1902) and on the right the Offices of the Prefecture which were also part of the Ministry(1906-11).  The picture shows the Monument to the Fallen (1936) by the sculptor Léon Drivier in limestone. The monument, influenced by Rodin, symbolises the painful experience of Alsace  with a mother bearing her two sons on her knees.  Both have fought during the war on different sides.  On the point of death and no longer wearing their uniforms they join hands as an final expression of rediscovered fraternity. One lies facing France and the other facing towards Germany. The other side of the square houses the Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire (1889-94) which is now being renovated but before had a throng of students outside smoking, and the Théâtre National de Strasbourg (1888-92 wiki) which was built as the Landtag (Assembly) and the Alsace-Lorraine Reichsland.

All that history is all well and good but it is just a beautiful place to be when the sun is shining, the trees are in blossom and the council’s green spaces department has planted the park up with some beautiful flowers as can be seen in the first and third photos.  Have a nice Saturday.  I’m off to watch the England vs Wales game later.

Strasbourg and Banksy? The last post?


OK.  As in all good soaps and other regular TV programmes, the story so far.

I posted here about a piece of outdoor art I had seen locally on the side of a florists and asked whether it might have anything to do with the renowned graffiti and outdoor artist known as Banksy. The verdict of the people I consulted via Facebook and Twitter was in accord with my view that this was not in fact an example of his work and that it was therefore not by him.

In response I received a comment from a fellow Strasbourg blogger about another piece of outdoor art that was close to the above item.  As a result I went out to walk around the area and discovered the piece of outdoor art in the second picture.  The response to my publishing this on Facebook and Twitter has been agreement that this is much more in the style of Banksy and therefore either is the man himself or a good copyist.  At the end of yesterday’s post I promised a revelation today.

Well here it is.  Across the river from the previous item was another piece that would also seem to be in the style of Banksy.  It doesn’t answer the question whether it is him or a copyist and is the sum total of the images or are there other examples out there? Have a good weekend.

Banksy or not II and an interesting local outdoor artist.


Three days ago I wrote a piece about some street art that had appeared near where I live in Strasbourg featuring the picture on the left.  After posting the piece on Twitter and Facebook the consensus amongst the replies was that the work was not by Banksy, which was pretty much what I thought too.

Afterwards two things happened.  The first was that I was followed on twitter by Banksy Graffiti, no doubt after my tweet and post appeared via a Google or similar alert. The second contact came from ‘Mes pensées étranges‘ in the comments of the piece via Expat Blog where she said,

“Hello! Found your blog on the expat website. I’ve recently noticed more art like this too. It’s hard to say if it’s Banksy, but I think it’s more like someone who’s been influenced by Banksy’s works. Have you been around la Petit France recently? There is a great one there near les Ponts Couverts of a black and white girl who looks to be coloring what appears to be a spray paint tag. I have a picture of it here if you’re interested:

The site mentioned is just about ten minutes from where I live so yesterday evening I decided to wander around the area and see if I could find the piece linked to and/or anything else.

The first thing I found was the above and left piece on the base of post carrying the power to the work being carried out on the Vauban Dam.  It doesn’t look to me like a piece by Banksy at all and that’s before you look closer and see it is signed ‘Dan 23’.  Bearing in mind it is upon the transportable base of a post it needn’t even have been painted here but could have been done elsewhere and just ended up here with this work, although the site for Dan 23 does have it pictured in this spot.

Further walking around took me to the Pont de la Spitzmühle and turning looking through an arch  to Quai de la Petite France and Square L Weiss I saw the piece I was looking for.

So what do you think, Banksy or a very good copyist? Here are photos of some of Banksy’s other outdoors work for comparison. Stay tuned for another Banksy related post tomorrow

Spring has sprung!


One of the good things about living in Strasbourg is that there are clear seasons.  As I posted here only a couple of months ago we were under the snow for what seemed like weeks.  The winter is dark and cold.  People I know are tired, succumbing to illnesses and generally worn out.  Last weekend was the Strasbourg carnaval which aimed to drive out the Winter.

As the pictures from the carnaval show the day was beautiful and sunny.  The weather has continued in the same vein since and it seems as if Spring is upon us all at once.  Where there were just bare branches there is the start of colour.  The first picture taken on the way back from some work this morning whilst waiting for a bus in Robertsau shows some yellow shrubs on the side of the footpath and in the distance a tree with pink blossom.

One of my favourite places when the sun is shining is Esplanade.  It was somewhere I spent quite a lot of time the Autumn I first arrived and I didn’t come to appreciate the wonders of the angularity of the buildings, the whiteness against the blue of the sky and the colours closer to the ground. This second picture is from Esplanade with the yellow and pink blossom on the amorphous shaped trees against the white blocks of the buildings and the blue of the sky reflected in the darker blue at the ground floor of the building on the left, and where it’s in the sun the blue is almost singing.

The avenue through the centre of Esplanade is something of a living gallery of sculpture designed by the artist J M Krauth as part of the artistic decorations along what was then tram line B but is now C and E.  Each piece is mounted on a coloured bench and you see in the picture above the contrast between the blue and yellow benches, the warm brown of the artwork, the pink blossom further on and the white of the buildings and the blue of the sky.  The line of trees on the right in the middle of the avenue mark the separation between the tramway, which is in the middle of the road, and the road.

The picture above shows other trees coming into pink blossom and further trees lining the road showing where they have ben pollarded and there has been further growth last year.  The staff from the council’s green spaces department, I do think that’s so much better than the Parks Department, were at the top of the road pollarding other trees so it won’t be long before  these have been trimmed before their Spring growth starts and when in leaf they offer wonderful shade along the street in the Summer.

The last picture is from closer to home, just about 200 metres away.  This tree is the first locally to flower and it lifts the heart as you pass it on the tram in the morning, especially like today against a blue sky with the sun shining, although as this was taken this evening its a bit darker!

The title comes from what I thought was a Spike Milligan poem but thanks to the wonders of the internet I discover is an anonymous American poem to be delivered in a New Jersey accent:

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where the boidies is

The boids is on the wing!
Don’t be absoid!
Da wings is on the boid!

Elvis is alive and well and living as a candidate for the Front Nationale in Alsace


On Sunday there were what are called cantonale elections in France. They were for around half the seats in the département,(French wiki) here the Bas-Rhin.(wiki) Explaining the different levels of French Government would be a much longer exercise than I plan here but the département lies below the region and above the city.

Of the 23 cantons having elections in the Bas-Rhin two elected candidates on Sunday with the remaining 21 elections to be decided by a run-off between the first two candidates.

A lot has ben made internationally of the surge of the Front Nationale(FN) to come third with 15% of the poll nationally behind the Parti Socialiste(PS) and President Sarkozy’s UMP (17%),  One aspect highlighted in the article linked to is the number of races in France where the FN are second and in the run-off, 400. In Bas-Rhin the FN are the main opponents in the run-off in 8 of the 21 elections as can be seen in the full list of second round races here or below.(Click on the display to see it full size.)

One of the main areas of interest has been around the result has been in the canton in which I live, in Strasbourg 2.(Gare – Halles – Finkwiller)  Here the candidate for the Greens has come second behind the sitting candidate for the PS, Jean-Jacques Gsell.  As a result of the Strasbourg city council being run by a coalition between the PS and the Greens the latter have a number of Adjoint, or Deputy Mayors, and the person challenging the incumbent is one of these Deputy Mayors. The Mayor of Strasbourg has waded in and called upon the Green candidate to respect the collaboration on the Strasbourg council step down from the second round.  You can read her reaction and that of the incumbent here. The piece has lots of western imagery referring to the film ‘The Train whistles Three Times’ which is on rotation on one of the film channels here and casting the Mayor as the Sheriff.

Finally, from the other département in Alsace here is a picture of the run-off in Andolsheim where the contest is between the party of Mr Sarkozy and fascist Elvis impersonator:


Strasbourg Banksy?


I don’t know what it is about the mouse for an iMac but it eats batteries.  I have never before known anything which consumed batteries so quickly.  After the low battery warning having been displayed for a time the mouse (or should that be iMouse?) batteries died this afternoon.  On my way out I spotted something I hadn’t seen before on the wall of my local florists.  It’s not like the area where I live is drab and colourless, after all the nearest tram stop is the one for the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Then there is the local bar, just around the corner in the appropriately named Rue de Barr which is adorned with pictures of men and women in Alsatian dress (pictured above) and just one block further away is our local Cave ‘le Vinophile’ for the all important stocks of the fermented grape.  Those I know about and had become part of the local scenery, so much so that they are hardly noticed anymore.

As I said above the discovery was on the wall of the local florist pictured.  What I want to know is; was this done by someone locally who is influenced by Banksy or was the man himself in Strasbourg?

The Killing Moon


As any fule kno is the title of a wonderful song by Echo and the Bunnymen, wonder what video this post will end up with?  Anyway last night I was out in Strasbourg with two friends who were visiting for the night between visits to Bruges and Milan.  I showed them the sights of the city and had time for some tarte flambe and the occasional beer whilst doing so.  I also took the odd photo whilst out, particularly of what was supposed to be the big moon.  I haven’t done a photo blog since the Christmas market was on but here goes anyway:

The first is a view of the Petite France area from the Ponts Couvert and I love the way the Ill is so still and the pretty houses are reflected in it.  The Petite France area got its name from when the pox, or to give it its proper name Syphilis, clinic moved to the area and the Alsatians refered to the disease as the French disease making the area little France.

As with any visit to Strasbourg we spent some time in front of and inside the Cathedral (wiki).  The picture shows the inside with a service taking place; the first time I had been inside whilst a service was taking place and it meant we were not able to see everything.  Whilst I was there the seemed to be in either German or in the Alsatian dialect of German.(Which here is described as a form of German Swiss)

The next picture is the first appearance of the moon, taken in the German quarter of the city on the Place de la Republique looking down the Avenue de la Liberté towards the university.  At this point it looked no bigger than the glow from the streetlights  or traffic lights either lining or in the centre of the avenue.

The next picture doesn’t feature the moon but does show the Eglise St Paul (E wiki, F wiki)  Following the French link will show a picture of the church at night where it is all lit-up.  Because there is restoration work taking place and some of it is covered in scafolding I imagine is why it is not lit-up at the moment. The last picture from out trip was taken at the scene of a previous post, Place Homme de Fer again showing the moon, although as I have no other pictures of the moon taken at this site I am not able to show whether it was particularly big or not.

The final picture was taken a few days ago on my phone.  If you had a brand called Japan Rags, although why anyone would think that was a good name for a brand is beyond me, after recent events is now a good time to be having a poster campaign?

You didn’t expect me to miss out on a chance to feature a video of the fabulous Bunnymen did you?  As trailed at the start, here it is:

Pancake Day but not as we know it Jim


Yesterday being Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day it was necessary to eat pancakes so we went to a nearby crêperie called La Crêpe Gourmande (pictured in the heart of the old city, reviews) but it wasn’t pancakes like we previously had in the UK which were on the menu.  Rather than pancakes with a bit of sugar and lemon, or if you’re really extravagant syrup or jam, these were stuffed with food as a main course.  First I had to have cidre brut which came in a jug and was drunk out of a large cup as I had done in Normandy when there last Easter.(You can see the cup mentions the Rance which is the river on whose estuary St Malo sits.) The crêperie is not very large inside with tables close to each other: health and safety would have been very unhappy to see one table placed in front of the emergency exit but it didn’t feel too much like my space was being encroached upon.  There were also plenty of English voices to be heard; people also out to get their Shrove Tuesday fix.For the first course I had galette paysanne which was a buckwheat pancake stuffed with onion and ham with an egg on the top.  This was really a local version of the galette as onion and ham are the toppings of the local speciality of tarte flambeFor dessert I had a crêpe salidou which was a more white pancake like crêpe compared to the galette made with buckwheat (pictured) which was a dark brown and had the look of a rougher texture although that wasn’t the taste.  The crêpe salidou contained saltwater caramel sauce which is a speciality of Brittany an is delicious in a pancake and is a delicious flavour for ice-cream.

This week is not one for homebodies as it started with the return of fencing on Monday night and after the crêperie last night I am celebrating my birthday at fabulous looking Le Buerehiesel tonight in the middle of the parc de l’Orangerie which  puts it close to the bowling alley where I will be joining friends after eating.  Thursday is the sole night in before eating out at the house of friends on Friday when appropriately for lent it will be fish on the menu. Saturday sees me join colleagues from the play I was in at the end o January to celebrate a fellow cast members birthday.

Le Pen in Alsace, to be more exact Neudorf in southern Strasbourg


I don’t intend to blog a lot about Marine Le Pen and the Front National (FN) during the coming year to the French Presidential elections apart from to highlight and tackle her views so two consecutive posts is already over the top.  This morning there was the news of another poll which has her again in front of the president and the secretary-general of the Parti Socialiste (PS), though again, and again one of the lesser reported items, was that she would not would be beaten if current head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, were the PS candidate, unlike the previous poll I wrote about.

This was followed by a tweet from the local media saying that Mme Le Pen would be in Neudorf, southern Strasbourg this morning in support of the FN candidates for the forthcoming Élections cantonales (local elections) on 20th and 27th March.  A later story said that the half-hour visit to the Marché du Neudorf had been fitted in to a trip the FN leader was making to the European Parliament.

The visit is reported by the DNA here which has a video.  She is reported directly from the visit here by L’Alsace saying “If there is a good time to help the system it’s now.”  She went on to say that she needed to step back and calmly consider the results of the recent polls and to continue to work to publicise her ideas among the French people.  She continued that the people of France have 14 month for their democratic revolution which she compared to those in Tunisia and Egypt.

Speaking in Lille the general secretary of the PS blamed the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, for the rise of the FN.  In particular she highlighted the racist way he behaved about the Roma last summer and starting a debate on what it means to be French having fed into the rise of the FN.  She said « Qui aujourd’hui, fait que des hommes et des femmes se sentent humiliés, abandonnés, oubliés, si ce n’est la politique de Nicolas Sarkozy ? », (something like, “Who is today responsible, if men and women feel humiliated, abandoned, forgotten, if not the policies of Nicolas Sarkozy?”)

StrasTV also filmed the visit and added some music:

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