The two of us

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Norman Ball is a retired university professor who loves visiting Paris and wandering about the city. He is the author of half a dozen books on the history of technology and is currently doing research on pre-1900 typewriters.

Philippa Campsie is a Toronto writer who studied in Paris as a university student, and has never quite got Paris out of her system ever since. She collects Paris maps and travels there with Norman as often as possible.

The fallen tree at the top of the blog is called l’Arbre des Voyelles, the Tree of Vowels, and it is a sculpture by Giuseppe Penone, installed in the Tuileries Gardens in 1999.

19 Responses to The two of us

  1. a menzies says:

    Chestnuts – how wonderful. And a breath of Paris and Ravel. Thank you.

    • Alison says:

      I like the companion pictures. Bookends? Not quite but a great combination of prose and pictures. Please keep it up for all of your groupies.

  2. Carole says:

    Hi, I’m afraid I could not find your email address hence this note – please can you contact me at regarding an Expat Focus Recommended Website Award for your site? Thank you.

    Kind regards,


  3. MATTHEW ROSE says:

    Hey there, would love to invite Parisian Fields (*the two of you) to my exhibition GOD & COUNTRY which opens Thursday 1 September at STORIE, 20 Rue Delambre 75014…

    Can you send me your e mail? Me: http:/

    Thank you!


  4. Richard Ewen says:

    Dear Philippa Campsie:
    “The Balcony Scene”
    I was re-reading the articles on your blog this morning and wanted to mention that I read De Waal’s book on the Ephrussi family and Charles’ netskes after reading of it on your blog this month. My father-in-law collected netskes right after the second world war and my wife and her sister have many beautiful ones. I enjoyed reading about the history of their arrival in France and wanted to connect that story, of the Japanese craze to hit France at the end of the 19th century, with your article on “The Balcony Scene” showing Caillebotte’s ariel-view painting. That point of view was also a result of the influx into Paris of “cheap” Japanese woodblock prints. Their use of the “birds-eye view’ was repeated by countless painters in the impressionist and post-impressionist camp.
    “Cheap Eats”
    We met Sandra Gustafson in LA at The Traveler’s Bookstore one April evening back in about 1993 or ’94 when I had an art show of my watercolors of Paris and she was there promoting her books as was Mark Eversman, promoting his fine newsletter, “Paris Notes”. We used her book to find three or four hotels before settling exclusively on one where we became friendly with the owners and remain in contact to this day. We too gradually moved on to rent and now have purchased a part ownership in an apartment in Paris for our visits.
    We also used Sandra’s books, as well as her editions on London, and she eventually dropped the “Cheap” in the title. Mark Eversman’s monthly newsletter eventually went online and then he retired. Now the internet makes travel information instantly available to everyone.
    I know you put a lot of effort in your articles and want you to know I really enjoy reading them. Thanks, and keep up the good work!
    Richard Ewen

  5. Richard Ewen says:

    Did you run across any material about this bridge that mentions that when it was first opened to foot traffic there was a lot of “swaying” of the structure, and that it was shut down temporarily and something was done to stabilize it? I was going to Paris each summer when the bridge was being built and seem to remember that it was opened and then closed for a while. Perhaps it was another bridge and my memory is incorrect.

    • Thanks for your comment and yes, you are correct. As often happens with elegant pedestrian bridges there was a swaying problem which was fixed rather quickly. No problem now. There is a long history of swaying bridges, the most famous being Galloping Gertie a vehicle bridge over Tacoma Narrows that swayed to destruction.

  6. Tom G. says:

    I was lucky enough to discover your website and enjoy reading the posts. I especially wanted to commend Norman for his ‘Beauty and the Bridge’. His thoughts on space and the function/beauty aspect were well expressed and the pictures were great. I love the bridges in Paris also.

  7. Sab says:

    Hi There Norman & Philippa!
    I do love reading your postings, and it’s always a pleasure when a new one pops into my in box.
    I was wondering if you could tell me where a sign in your ‘Signs of Paris’ posting from 13th May (I think) is located. I’d love to photograph it myself! It’s the one saying ‘Maison salubre tout à l’égout eau et gaz à tous les étages’ or something like that, all on one plaque. It’s terribly corroded though. My e-mail is . Let me know if I can help you out in any way too :-) Sab

  8. Richard Ewen says:

    Norman Bell:

    Peter’s Paris’ Blog today posted some neighborhood shots, one of which would interest you. It shows some curiously curved stacks. Scroll down the collection of photos and you will see what looks like a low first or second story small roof.

  9. Diane says:

    HI Philippa and Norman,
    I just left a post on your Christmas blog and then took a peek at your bio. I really like your blog – well-written and great photos. We have a similar story – my husband takes the photos and I write about our favourite topic, France.

    I’m wondering if you would be interested in receiving a review copy of our latest book, “How to Cook Bouillabaisse in 37 Easy Steps – Culinary Adventures in Paris and Provence”. It’s a culinary romp that takes the reader to cooking classes, wine tastings, champagne exploration and truffle-hunting…

    Long title, I know! It’s currently available on Amazon and soon to be available at Chapters. It’s been getting some nice press so we’re trying to get it into the right hands.

    I hope we can send you a copy!
    Diane Shaskin

  10. I am dazzled by your blog, your research, your stories, your photos. I want to sit here and read through all your archives and take notes and then visit the places you describe so thoroughly and so evocatively! Thank you for sharing.

    My poor husband–he’s going to get very tired of my bugging him that we should take our family to Paris very soon!

    I’ve added this site to my blogroll and plan to come back often.

  11. Katherine Olney says:

    Just wanted to thank you very much for the pleasure that your postings provide me. I love the details of life and am lucky to lately be able to visit Paris yearly. My visits last for only a week or ten days–but due to your generosity I’m able to see your Paris. (I just purchased note cards from Richard Ewen’s website and may be able to visit the gallery in Austin, Texas–the ripples that emerge from computer trolling.) Thanks very much for sharing your research, photos, and thoughts.
    Kitty Olney

  12. Your blog is beautiful, Philippa and Norman. I found you while looking for just that: beautiful blogs to nominate for the One Lovely Blog award. I’m following you now and I’m excited to do so, as I’ll learn a lot about Paris through your eyes, including while I’m there for the month of July! Take a look at your nomination here, and keep up your wonderful work!

  13. Janice Caine-Brewster says:

    Hello Philippa, My husband and I are going to Paris in five weeks. My great grand-father was an artist who lived and painted in Paris and I feel called to go. I am interested in checking out flea markets, the artists scene and generally seeing as much as possible. What advice would you give us?

    • Hello Janice,

      I would love to know more about your great grandfather. What do you know about him?

      There are two main flea markets — Vanves at the southern edge of the city (smaller, cheaper, and more informal) and St-Ouen on the northern edge (much larger, more expensive, and semi-permanent). We started with the former, which is less intimidating and filled with reasonably affordable treasures. Also look for temporary antique markets called “brocantes” that pop up here and there for a few days at a time.

      As for the arts scene, look out for “vernissages” (gallery openings) and “portes ouvertes” (days when artists’ studios in a particular quartier are open to the public). We generally stumble across these things by accident, but the mairie (or city hall) of each arrondissement usually has information (in French) about such events. We’ve visited galleries and artists’ studios in the Marais, St-Germain, Belleville, and Montsouris just by wandering around and looking to see what is open.

      If you have other questions, just ask. Have a wonderful time!


  14. Jeroen says:

    Hey, I recently uploaded a video about Paris on vimeo, thought it might be interesting for your blog ;)

    • We are envious! Where we are, spring is very late and there are still a few piles of snow here and there. Thank you for the reminder of what spring can be in Paris.
      Philippa and Norman

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