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Saint Denis

SD intro 3

 

Apologies for the late post but I decided to take the advice of many on this blog and catch my breath. After one attempt at sight-seeing (Eiffel Tower) Coco and I retreated out of the rain and cold, and did nothing over Easter but eat macarons and sleep.

Ironically, having now missed a week, I feel far more relaxed about it – my first project ran over time so this one is bound to as well. As long as it doesn’t run over too long, I surrender to the inevitable.

So, to this week’s suburb – and a ‘real’ suburb at that. Having last explored the neighbourhood around Faubourg Saint Denis, I thought it would be interesting to follow up with another Saint Denis. Same saint, different address.

Very different in fact. Because Saint Denis is one of the much maligned Northern suburbs – banlieues – of Paris. Not quite riot territory (2005) but not far from it. I expected that people would warn me off it and they did. But others I asked were far more neutral – yes, there were problems there but no, I wasn’t likely to be knifed. Pickpocketed maybe but not knifed.

So, hide your jewels and on y va Saint Denis!

 

Part 1: The saintly side of Saint Denis

Despite its reputation, some tourists do in fact venture ‘all the way’ (10 km from the city centre) out to Saint Denis. Because in the midst of all the apparent horror lies the beautiful Basilica of Saint Denis. Gothic and old (10th century), it’s the burial site of 43 kings and 32 queens. You see a few adventurous souls hop off the metro and make a beeline directly to the church before scuttling back, warnings not to dally no doubt ringing in their ears.

The Basilica is lovely but what impressed me more was the general environment around it. From what I’d heard Saint Denis was dirty and pretty crap so I wasn’t expecting much. Instead I found a generous town square with a beautiful mairie (town hall) on one side, the Basilica on another and a handful of charming cafes facing both. On the days I visited that were sunny, older kids raced around the square, on foot or bike, while little ones whizzed around on an amusement ride. Twice I found markets nearby the square, general and flea, the latter complete with wonderful old books.

This was more South of France than scary suburb, and far from feeling uptight, I felt my shoulders drop. After weeks of intense Paris, here was space to breath.

 

outside kids play while inside kings and queens sleep quietly

outside kids play noisily while inside kings and queens sleep quietly

 

 

 

crowning glories

crowning glories

 

 

 

loved the stained glass light

love the stained glass light

 

 

 

old France

old France

 

 

 

Maxim, struggling with his numeration

Maxim, struggling with his numeration

 

 

 

My initial impression of Saint Denis as somewhere thoroughly pleasant was also helped by the fact that the first people I met were a delightfully rambunctious group of school kids on an outing to see the Basilica. Although they were from the Stalingrad area in Paris, their teachers told me they had similar backgrounds to kids in Saint Denis, and as a result were sometimes challenging but never boring.

 

United Nations of Paris

United Nations of Paris

 

 

 

Hossama

Hossama

 

 

 

energy

energy

 

 

 

Abdoulaye

Abdoulaye

 

 

 

Sokona

Sokona

 

 

 

didn't catch his name but delighful he is

didn't catch his name but delighful he is

 

 

 

au revoir, kids of Stalingrad

au revoir, kids of Stalingrad

 

 

 

Part 2: Beyond the Basilica

Leaving the town square, I braved the main street, rue de la République. I say braved because this of all the areas I explored was the one the locals told me to avoid. I’d stop somewhere and someone would say in hushed tones, you shouldn’t be carrying that camera around here, it’s dangerous. Or, ‘No, Saint Denis is fine – but don’t walk down the main street, it’s… dangerous.’

Aside from one incident when a bunch of police cars screamed up the road to man-handle some dude into a van while shouting to the crowd, ‘Regarde!’, by which I think they meant, ‘Let that be a lesson to you!’ but can’t be sure, nothing much happened. La vie ordinaire.

 

life on the 'dangeorus' street

life on the 'dangerous' street

 

 

On another visit, I headed west of rue de la République to find the public housing blocks you hear so much about. Just prior to doing that I popped my head in to see a local exhibition, ‘Cent ans de logement social‘, ‘100 years of public housing’. It was all in French but from what I could understand, things had improved but they were still far from rosy. The worst HLMs had been demolished and replaced with smaller, more humane apartment blocks, but many still remain. As do their problems.

HLMs – Habitation de Loyer Modéré (House at Moderate Rent) – were built to house a largely immigrant population, needed to work in the factories during France’s great industrial boom in the 1950s-70s. While the boom ended, the people stayed. The result? An unhappy trio of unemployment, crime and drugs. And a fondness for setting cars on fire. At least that’s what you read. I wanted to see for myself.

 

then and now - better but not best

then and now - how much had changed?

 

 

 

the worst were demolished but many remain

HLMs - the worst were demolished but many remain

 

 

 

rising heavenwards

in need of heavenly help

 

 

 

I was shocked by my visit to the HLMs, but not in the way you’d expect. They were remarkably unremarkable. Quiet, clean with just a smattering of graffiti here and there. And the two young residents I ran into, Chris and Stephen, were more than happy to be photographed and very sweet. I asked them, what was it like living here, did they like their home. “Oui, bien sur”, yes, of course, they replied.

 

Stephen and Chris :: 1

Stephen and Chris

 

 

 

their HLM

their HLM

 

 

 

Chris loves his HLM too

Chris loves his HLM too

 

 

 

I later learned that I’d merely chanced on a better group of public housing and that other areas really did have issues.

But then youth unemployment, crime and drugs are the same problems much of France faces. Hence the comment left at the exhibition – it’s not just the disadvantaged banlieues, “La France est en crise!” It will be interesting to see how this plays out at the presidential elections in two weeks time.

 

what will Sarkozy's response be - let them eat cake?

what will Sarkozy's response be - let them eat cake?

 

 

 

Part 3: Green and cultured

In spite of the social problems, Saint Denis has a lot going for it. Sure it has its HLMs but it’s also blessed with lovely centuries old buildings, as well as being green – and clean. And on top of that, Saint Denis has culture, by the bucket load. A thriving theatre scene, jazz festival (ends today), classical music concerts, a delightful art school – and if anyone reading this is in Paris and has nothing to do this weekend, une fete des tulipes, a festival of tulips. Suffice it to say, its Saison Culturelle booklet for spring and summer is a chunky number.

 

Saint Denis, surprisingly green

Saint Denis, surprisingly green

 

 

 

the Armenian gang, enjoying the peace and quiet

the Armenian gang, enjoying the peace and quiet

 

 

 

Abrehim's into theatre, the other fella, literature

Abrehim's into theatre, the other fella, literature

 

 

 

fun and games at the theatre cafe

fun and games at the theatre cafe

 

 

 

Banlieu Blues Festival, jazz en Seine-Saint-Denis

Banlieu Blues Festival, jazz en Seine-Saint-Denis

 

 

 

Donnell, bookish yet hip

Donnell, bookish yet hip

 

 

 

who needs the Eiffel Tower when you have so much culture in Saint Denis?

who needs the Eiffel Tower when you have so much culture in Saint Denis?

 

 

 

Part 3: The sweet life

It’s sweet tooth heaven in Saint Denis, from the 100 year old Boulangerie/Patissier, to the more recent ‘Oriental’ arrivals.

 

nothing and everything changes

nothing and everything changes

 

 

 

cherry blossoms and Easter bells

cherry blossoms and Easter bells

 

 

 

nice nests

nice nests

 

 

 

Delice de la Casbah

Delice de la Casbah

 

 

 

succulent Saint Denis

succulent Saint Denis

 

 

 

not easy with braces

not easy with braces

 

 

 

Faxsa with her Orientale wares

Faxsa with her Orientale wares

 

 

 

new and old France

new and old France

 

 

 

Part 4: The art of living in Saint Denis

On another visit, I took Coco with me and we stumbled on a beautiful old house that looked like it had been plucked out of the French countryside and plonked in Saint Denis. We stuck our heads in the door to see what or whom lived there to find Peggy, a lovely French woman with a very unFrench name.

The house turned out to be the ‘Ecole d’arts Plastiques‘, a school of visual art for children and teens, and Peggy, its director.

While she insists she doesn’t speak good English, it was more than sufficient to allow us to have an in-depth discussion about all manner of stuff, from the unjustified bad rap that Saint Denis gets to the positive role art can play in a child’s life.

What was also interesting to hear was that Peggy doesn’t consider she lives in Paris. She lives in Saint Denis, an altogether different place – despite the fact just 10 km separates the two. And she’s not alone; many teens who live here have never been to Paris. Ever.

 

 

you could be in the country - at the art school with Peggy

you could be in the country - at the art school with Peggy

 

 

 

new energy enlivening the old beauty

new energy enlivening the old beauty

 

 

It was Peggy who enlightened me about the fact that I’d only seen the better HLMs and that, yes, there were worse areas with real problems. Did I want to meet her when she was visiting another branch of the art school in one of those worse areas? Oui, bien sur!

And that’s how Coco and I ended up in the Franc-Moisin/Bel-Air quartier of Saint Denis. Looks can be deceiving but again, from the outside at least, it all seemed pretty benign. And it just so happened that when we visited the art school, three of the sweetest kids from the neighbourhood were happily moulding clay into pots before patiently lining up to have their photos taken. I had visions of what the place might be like before I arrived and I have to say, a perfect picture of domestic-creative-happy bliss was not one of them.

 

 

 

we arrived when the sun was shining

we arrived when the sun was shining

 

 

 

Maryam, Aisseta and Moukthar

Maryam, Aisseta and Moukthar

 

 

 

the joy you can create with a box of pencils

the joy you can create with a box of pencils

 

 

 

making pride from clay

making pride from clay

 

 

 

nature tamed vs wild

nature tamed vs wild

 

 

 

The kids were just delightful as were the two art teachers in there helping them with their work. But the fact is, they’re kids still, not yet at the more challenging teen age. Peggy mentioned the drug problem and the challenges of having such a different culture exist within the French one. Almost as a reminder that not everything is a walk in the park in Saint Denis, the sun had disappeared by the time we left, and in its place, a dark and threatening sky.

 

the darker side of Saint Denis

the darker side of Saint Denis

 

 

 

Still, as I said before, many of the problems at Saint Denis exist elsewhere throughout France. Aside from them, the suburb has so much that’s positive, things you’ll never hear about on the 7pm news.

 

but rain or shine, there's a lot to love about Saint Denis

rain or shine, there's a lot to love about Saint Denis

 

 

 

For one thing, they have Peggy, a beautiful soul who’s passionate about art, kids and the place she calls home. After thanking her for giving us a deeper insight into another side of Saint Denis, Coco and I hit the metro and headed back to Paris. A whole different place indeed.

 

back to the maddening crowds

back to the maddening crowds

 

 

The Wrap

Will Saint Denis ever make it onto the average tourist’s ‘Must See’ list? I doubt it when there is so much on offer in Paris proper. But then, as much as I’d like to see the place prosper, I wouldn’t want it to be. A whole load of tourists roaming rue de la République would ruin it for sure.

 

 

bon chance banlieues

prayers for Saint Denis

 

 

On the ‘home front’

I feel like I’ve walked more than I have in my entire life since I posted last. After turning many corners, I’ve turned my own corner – I like Paris! I don’t know, maybe it was the macarons from Laduree (disinterested until I popped one in ma bouche). Or the metro (you could spend a year doing that as a project in itself). Or the people – I get them now – they’re quirky in an entirely new and fascinating way. Or maybe just having some time to myself and then a break from the uber-urban in Saint Denis.

Whatever it was, I’m starting to understand what all the fuss is about. Paris, and its suburbs (well, the one I’ve visited anyway) are indeed tres bien. Or is that tres bon?

This suburb has been brought to you by Richard Hawson and Gerry Roubin

A favour to ask before I go. One of our cats, Jinx, has gone missing from our friend’s place in Maroubra. I haven’t told Coco yet as I know she’ll be devastated. I don’t usually go in for this sort of thing but I’m so sad about it, I’ll try anything: Could I ask you to just close your eyes and say to yourself, ‘Go home Jinx’. I know, kooky, but maybe, just maybe the power of positive thinking will drive the little guy home. Merci beaucoup.

See you next Friday.

 

  1. suzy says:

    Beautiful photos! And lovely to see a different side of Paris.

    If you have time to do something a bit touristy while you’re there the l’Orangerie gallery in the Tuilleries has a fantastic collection and is compact enough not to bore small people, and then there is a fabulous trampoline park and playground just next door to reward patient gallery-going.
    Hope Jinx makes his way home soon, have you got someone looking out near your place? He might have tried to find his way back there. Fingers (and paws) crossed.

  2. suzy says:

    PS Well done on cutting yourself some slack. Maybe you should factor in a week off every time you change cities?

  3. Zainil says:

    Done. I hope Jinx was just having a slept over at one of his mates. Cats do that.

    Love both your photo and text essays. Good one. I think you have a special talent for capturing the essence of a place. :))

  4. Lisa says:

    Lovely photos and a great interesting place. Sending positive thoughts for Jinx to return home safely

  5. Vivian says:

    Fingers (and toes) crossed for Jinx. Loving the blog – glad you now love Paris – I always have!

  6. Hazbola says:

    Great portrait shots of the kids.
    Remember, a dangerous place looks safe 3 times out of 4.

  7. Fay Thomson says:

    I enjoy your photos from a suburb somewhere. Now how about you take a look at my website ART TOPPLING tobacco which is a competition/project submission by photograph only to do damage to the tobacco industry. It is free to submit and is now in its 3rd year.
    Maybe you’ll take a look.
    Fay Thomson http://www.arttopplingtobacco.com.au

  8. Tatyana says:

    beautiful mix of food for eyes and soul, enjoyed every picture! Belated happy Easter to you girls! and fingers crossed for Jinx.

  9. Nicole says:

    Ha, I agree with Suzy, perhaps a week for settling in each new city is a good idea.
    Thanks for your insights… they always make me want to see the world a bit more clearly.

  10. Wayne says:

    Lovely images once again Louise.
    The moment, like a macaron is fleeting…
    Just love “Crowning glories”!

  11. Kerri says:

    beautiful – thank you for bringing this to us.

  12. Frank Page says:

    You’re fabulous and another wonderful insight – feel like I’ve just walked with you. Hope Jinx gets the vibes and heads home – have asked my cat, Lucinda, to send a message too. Good that you’re refreshed too and did take some relaxing time. Be safe

  13. Louise says:

    Suzy – Thanks so much for crossing your paws for Jinx. And yes, I’ve thought of that, taking a week to settle in to each new city, but until now have felt the need to push on. I may start to do that now that I’ve decided to cut myself some slack. And thanks for that suggestion, sounds do-able for the non-tourist like moi!
    Zainil – Merci on both counts!
    Lisa – Great. How can he not return with all this positive stuff heading his way.
    Vivian – Yep, Paris is not bad!
    Hazbola – Very true. It would only take one pickpocket to confirm every bad thing you’ve heard about a place.
    Fay – Will take a look.
    Tatyana – Merci beaucoup and Happy Easter to you too!
    Nicole – Visiting places like Saint Denis really round out your impression of a city. I definitely recommend it.
    Wayne – Yeah, pity those macarons stay so briefly on the tastebuds! Means you gotta keep popping them in. Very addictive.
    Kerri – My pleasure.
    Frank – Lucinda, merci! Tell him he’s worrying the hell out of me and to get home now! Or they’ll be no tuna for dinner ever again.

    Thanks all – especially for the Jinx wishes. Coco and I adore our two Burmese, they’re like dogs with such distinct personalities and incredibly affectionate. Here’s hoping. x

  14. Jackie Nolan says:

    So good to see the ‘inside’ of this suburb not
    far from Paris proper. The HLM’s are of special
    note. Just to see some of these enormous blocks where many people live is incredible! The population density must be high!. As always, a super combination of commentary and photography.
    Encor.

    • Louise says:

      Thanks Jackie. As the comment after you shows, it ain’t a bed of roses. The population density, the youth unemployment, etc etc, all enormous problems that have been around for a long time and don’t look like going away any time soon. But those same problems exist in plenty of other places around the world, as well as in other areas of France. So you can also understand the frustration of people like Peggy who are incredibly sympathetic to the problems but don’t want them to completely overshadow the positive things that are happening in Saint Denis. Very tricky.

  15. yann says:

    Well, unfortunately the reality is always around the Corner in St Denis and nobody help the 93 to stand up
    The famous MP of St Denis Electorate, Denis Braouzec has just been bashed and robbed in the street of St Denis yesterday night.

    http://www.liberation.fr/societe/2012/04/13/le-depute-patrick-braouzec-victime-dun-vol-avec-violence_811457

    • Louise says:

      Yann – Poor man. I must say, everyone I spoke to, even the ones who said Saint Denis was unfairly tarnished, did warn me to not venture there at night.

  16. Olivier says:

    One more set of wonderful photographs.
    One more reason to try and lure you in my part of the world to see what special beauty you could put into the lime light.

    • Louise says:

      Olivier – You never know!

  17. Gloria says:

    I think you’ve inspired us to venture out to the suburbs when we’re in Paris in June. Loving every post, thank you Louise

    • Louise says:

      Gloria – Yes, do it! It really rounds out one’s impression of Paris. Although I’ve been told that just as those in Saint Denis don’t think they live in Paris, ‘Parisians’ don’t consider the suburbs to be part of Paris. Trés intéressant, non?

  18. Anna Sticklebricks says:

    Brilliant post – so glad Paris is winning you over!
    Hope Jinx gets home soon, if only they knew the anguish they cause when they hide like that. Sending out lots of feline homing thoughts and hugs to you too.

    • Louise says:

      Thanks Anna! It’s a strange thing, I am enjoying Paris more and more – but just as that’s happening, I’m starting to really fret about Jinx. It’s been two weeks now. So thanks so much for the feline thoughts. I so so want to wake up tomorrow morning and find an email from my dear friends looking after he and his brother telling me that he’s in residence once more. Hungry but home.

  19. Bella says:

    Louise,

    You are making me Paris sick…

    You are going great guns x

    • Louise says:

      Bella – Yeah, sorry about that!

  20. Ellen says:

    If i cacat ill tell it to go home for ta xxxx great pics

    • Louise says:

      Ellen – That would be dandy, merci!

  21. Gavin Blue says:

    Really beautiful Louise, the break did you good :)

    • Louise says:

      Gavin – Merci monsieur! Hope you’re keeping well.

  22. Claire says:

    Hello my love.. gorgeous photos… Glad you liking Paris more. Am so sorry about Jinx.. fingers crossed.. Can’t wait to see you in Berlin.. xxx

    • Louise says:

      Yes, Berlin, having never been there I don’t know what to expect. See you there soon!

  23. Kristin says:

    Hi Louise, I love the shots with the two girls in the art centre. In fact I love all your portraits. Seeing the old buildings makes me a little homesick for Europe, that’s for sure. Great post and I hope Jinx comes home soon.

    • Louise says:

      Merci Kristin! I bet it makes you homesick. I’ve been feeling quite a bit of that recently. It’s such a strange feeling isn’t it, kind of literally an ache near your heart. Or is that just me?!

  24. jen says:

    thank you for the beautiful images Louise, and fingers crossed for Jinx. Take it easy on yourself, this adventure is for you and coco too – nobody expects you to pump out photos. Take a breath and slow down a little – it’s in those moments that we really see a place. You are so very appreciated

    • Louise says:

      Jen, thanks so much. You know, it’s not just wanting to make this adventure the best I can for my vicarious travelling companions. What drives me is also the desire to do justice to a neighbourhood or place, to paint a picture that shows the character and beauty. But you are right, I need to remember to absorb it too – just the other day, after dropping Coco off to her Montessori school, I had my FIRST real slow walk back home – in three weeks! And it was wonderful. I had no camera, no objective, just dawdling back home to write up this post. And I’m very aware that I want Coco to enjoy and remember more than being dragged around by me!

  25. Audrey says:

    Hi Louise, I am a Parisian (born and raised here) and I wanted to thank you because I’m one of the ones who raised an eyebrow when you told me you were exploring this suburb… first, as you mention in your post, to me there’s nothing to see but ugly HLMs but especially because to me, as many Parisians, Saint Denis is not Paris! BUT when I saw your post yesterday, read your comments and saw your beautiful pictures, not only it gave me another image of Saint Denis (even if I’m aware you probably didn’t go in the worst places) but also I felt a bit ashamed of my Parisian disdain for the suburbs… Your pictures were really stunning (as usual) and I even preferred them to the ones you took on rue Saint Denis, which is surprising to me! Thank you because now I want to go to Saint Denis to visit!! xx

    • Louise says:

      Audrey, that’s so interesting – especially the part about Parisians regarding the suburbs as another place, not Paris! They’re so close – 10 km – and yet obviously so far in the minds of people here. And I’m sure you’re not alone in your “Parisian disdain” for them. But I’m so thrilled you’ve been somewhat converted! There is so much to places like Saint Denis, beyond the mainstream media portrayal. If they were more celebrated for the positive things, those that live there might have a sense of pride about living there – who knows where that could lead?

  26. emilie says:

    Thanks a lot for this unusual portrait of Saint-Denis. I live in Paris now, but i grew up in Saint-Denis (as you said, not in Paris). And we hear so many awful things about this city – and the Parisian suburbs in general – it’s good to see you could catch the positive side of this city (certainly one of the most cultural ones of the area). I must admit i couldn’t believe it when i recognized La Souris Verte (the art school you have photographed), which was my art school when i was a child, and which was in my street (maybe you’ve crossed my mom’s way there ! :)).
    Anyway, thanks for the whole post (pics and texts).
    It’s been a long time i wanted to go back to the Basilique, to visit it again. Now you’ve convinced me i have to do that quickly!

    • Louise says:

      Emilie, I’m so glad you saw the post – and recognised your old art school! Yes, the amount of culture there is amazing isn’t it? So surprising for somewhere so maligned. I hope you make it back to see the place again.

  27. Josh says:

    My Burmese Boy just closed his eyes as well in the morning sunlight for Jinx

    • Louise says:

      Oh Josh, your words stopped me in my tracks and almost had me blubbing into my cornflakes. As a Burmese owner you’d know what I’m talking about right? They are not like other cats, they’re so … I don’t even know what the word is… I’ve never owned a dog but I suspect they are closer to the way dogs are. Always by your side, keen to have a ‘chat’, intense. Thanks so much to your Burmese Boy for thinking of Jinx.

  28. Vanille says:

    Great captures and interesting to get a new perception on this special suburb. Grand Corps Malade song titled, well, Saint-Denis, would make the perfect fit with this post. Bonne route and I keep fingers crossed for Jinx.

    • Louise says:

      Vanille, merci! Glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the Jink well wishes.

  29. Malou says:

    Yes finally you are falling in love…Paris and suburbs= full of history, diversity, culture, dark alleys, despair and LOVE! your pics are always amazing. I grew up in a HLM and have the fondest memories….as a child you only see with innocence.. but we stayed clear from the big buildings ‘jam crammed’ with people where rapes and drugs were exchanged…’cage a poules’ (hen houses) as we called them ~ oui Mr Sarkozy time to wake up and consider the real world out there pass the bling bling in Champs Elysees…
    hugs to you and Coco and special prayers for Jinx

  30. Fer Buenos Aires says:

    All so beatiful and interesting place.

  31. Brigitte says:

    An ex-Sydneysider, I’ve been living in Paris for the last eight years – and sadly, I’am still not getting it! Having lived in NY, Munich and Sydney, Paris is really the place I like least. I admire your work, your humour, your talent finding the hidden, but living and working here is just a different ballgame. Looking at things through a lens would help, I guess, as would an open-minded Anglo approach to things, if it can be sustained. Next time you come, head 15km out West where I now live, there’s a type of mini version of Paris, postcode 78100. Great eye for images that you have, you’ll love it.
    You’ll like Berlin, too. Lovely people.
    I’ve spoken to my cat Felix and we’re both silently urging Jinx to retrace his way home. Cats can do that!

    • Louise says:

      Brigitte and Felix – Oh I so hope you can help get that naughty Jinx home. My eyes are welled up just writing this. Come on Jinx, see all the people and cats who are behind you? Get your beautiful little self back home, maintenant! I promise, tuna for every dinner, the best tuna too. Come on!
      Aghhhh! Anyway… thanks so much Brigitte, appreciate the comment. And yeah, although I’ve found a Paris that I really like, I can imagine it would be very different living here. Although you are comparing it to two of the world’s best cities – NY and Sydney (haven’t been to Munich so can’t speak for it). If we have time I’d love to check out 78100.

  32. Brigitte says:

    I can just imagine what you must be going through. My Felix is a little bit how you’re describing Jinx. A little bit dog, alert/aware eyes, always by my side, making cooing sounds when overcome with love. Very touching. He’s a large Sydney boy, by the way, half Oriental, and I brought him out to Paris with me. I’m actually writing a book about our shared experiences in France.
    I keep thinking what else you could do to locate Jinx. Is he microchipped? Have you contacted vets in the area, the microchip registry, if there is such thing? Put up ‘lost cat’ posters all over the place?

    • Louise says:

      Brigitte – I’d like to read that book, especially from Felix’s perspective – how he deals with les chats Francaise! Yeah, Jinx is microchipped and my dear friends who are looking after him and his brother have done everything – calls to vets, lost cat posters etc. They’ve fallen for the boys too so they’re pretty sad as well. Still, we haven’t given up hope.

  33. Irinak says:

    You have great talent! Beautiful pictures!

  34. KATE says:

    So happy Louise to see that you’ve taken on Paris. I followed your Sydney suburbs blog with much interest and appreciation of your brilliant imagery.
    I’m in Paris right now for a few weeks – this Spring weather is so changeable, it must be very challenging for photography.
    I spent two years in the banlieue, south of Paris, in Chatillon a long time ago. It was very multicultural, but no particularly strong communities as you’ve shown in St Denis. Nevertheless a long way from the gold leaf of Pont d’Alexandre.
    Best of luck for Jinx, it’s dreadful when they’re missing. You must notice every single cat here!

    • Louise says:

      Kate – Thanks so much, on all counts. And yes, every damn chat reminds me of Jinx. But he’s going to turn up some time, I just know it.

  35. Genie - Paris and Beyond says:

    Hi Louise,

    One of my followers sent me here to your site – What wonderful coverage of this very interesting “not Paris” burb! I was there for the first time in January, admittedly to see the basilica, but spent the better part of a day wandering through the streets and taking in the atmosphere. Although I am a tourist, I have a love of Paris including the suburbs – how can they not be Paris! I know about the mailing codes and where the line is drawn but it is as much a part of the culture and life of Paris as is Jardin du Luxembourg. I featured a local (St Denis) just last week and look forward to returning with a photo for him.

    Your portraits are wonderful, capturing the inner spirit of each. Thank you for sharing this other side.

    I am hoping that Jinx finds his way home soon!

    Bises,
    Genie

    • Louise says:

      Genie – Merci! And I’m glad you agree that the distinction between city and suburbs is intriguing. And thanks for the Jinx wishes.

  36. Peggy says:

    Louise, thank you for this glance you have on things. Sorry to give news late. We change president and have a lot of hope today for France. In Saint-Denis, we are proud of our diversity, it is our wealth. The solidarity and the sharing are the key. I work hard to make live these values… Patrick Braouzec made assaulted by young people of a nearby city. Dionysiens tried to defend him. Strange story in electorale period…. I wish you beautiful meetings for the continuation of this fascinating journey. I was glad to show you our town and Thank you for having to put your bag a few days in our district. In the pleasure to re-cross you one day…

    • Louise says:

      Peggy – I was thinking of you and Saint Denis tonight! I so hope your new president can bring the change France (and Europe) so clearly wants and needs. It was wonderful to meet you Peggy and I wish you all the best with your art school and the kids. (And thanks for clarifying the details of that assault. The truth is so often in the details.)

  37. Fiona says:

    Loved your photos and well written explanation of St Denis. I had read so much about the history of the cathedral and included it on my bucket list. Leaving now to explore. Thanks again for your brilliant take on the area and its people. Ps. Did Jinx ever materialise?

    • Louise says:

      Jinx never did. Too sad. But we have his bro, Tom, who’s sweet as. Hope Saint-Denis was interesting!

  38. Sherhan says:

    I was listening to a Jazz song called Strausberg-St Denis by Roy Hargrove (great tune by the way) so I thought i’d look up the suburb that inspired the track. Your blog was really interesting and photos were amazing. Good work!

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