Author Archives: Parisian Fields

About Parisian Fields

Parisian Fields is the blog of two Toronto writers who love Paris. When we can't be there, we can write about it. We're interested in everything from its history and architecture to its graffiti and street furniture. We welcome comments, suggestions, corrections, and musings from all readers.

Vespasiennes: Does a Roman Emperor Deserve This?

Our home offices are in two adjacent rooms. While exploring one of my favourite Paris websites, Paris en Images, I called to Philippa, “What’s a Vespasienne?” and was instantly told, “A public urinal.” There had to be a blog in … Continue reading

Posted in Paris civic functions, Paris history, Paris streets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Greeting the New Year in French

We’ve never been very good at New Year’s resolutions. I’m still carrying around that five pounds I meant to lose in, um, 2012, and Norman still hasn’t cleaned out the area around his basement work bench. But this time, we … Continue reading

Posted in French language | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Paris is a billboard

Viewed through the long lens of time, 19th-century photos of advertising broadsides glued to the sides of buildings seem so charming, so urban, so Parisian. But what if it were your wall, or you were the printer whose fine work … Continue reading

Posted in Paris street art, Paris streets | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Some corner of a foreign field

To the memory of Raymond Hummel, 1886–1916, and John Sieber, 1893–1917, and to the 166 men and 1 woman of Perth Academy who died in the Great War. The remains of my great-uncle Raymond Hummel lie in France, in a … Continue reading

Posted in World War I | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Designer of the invisible

When you arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, one of the first things you will see is the work of a man who died on September 10 of this year: Adrian Frutiger, type designer. You won’t give it a … Continue reading

Posted in Paris history, Paris metro, Paris travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A city built on air

A few years ago, we found this postcard in a street market, showing a sinkhole in the Place Saint-Augustin. What on earth (or under the earth) had happened during the storm of June 15, 1914? We found one account in … Continue reading

Posted in Paris cemeteries, Paris civic functions, Paris history, Paris maps, Paris streets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Geraniums by any other name

We are fairly laid-back gardeners. Our Toronto garden is small and shady, and nearly all the plants are perennials that come up every year on their own so we do not have to “put in” the garden every spring. We … Continue reading

Posted in Paris gardens, Paris streets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments