Wordless Wednesday #143

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Trip to Le Petit Palais

We hadn’t intended to visit the Petit Palais but found ourselves nearby, decided to go inside and found a bit of a treasure trove.

It’s a listed art museum in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, which now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris). The Petit Palais is located across from the Grand Palais (pictured above, undergoing extensive renovation) on the Avenue Winston-Churchill. The building’s other façades face the Seine river and Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

How it all began

In 1894 a competition was held for the 1900 Exhibition area because the Palais de l’Industrie from the 1855 World’s Fair wasn’t considered fitting and needed to be replaced by something new for the 1900 Exhibition. Architects had the option to do what they pleased (alter, destroy, or keep) with the Palais de l’Industrie. In the end, Charles Girault won the competition and built the Petit Palais to replace the Palais de l’Industrie.

ARCHI/MAPS — Elevation and floor-plans of the Petit Palais,...

The construction of the Petit Palais began on 10 October 1897 and was completed in April 1900. In 1902, the Petit Palais officially became the Palais des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris.

Girault largely drew on the late 17th and early 18th century French style for the Petit Palais. Additionally his work, such as the domed central porch and the triple arcade, has many references to the stables at Chantilly, Oise.

Girault’s plan for the Petit Palais had minimal alterations from design to its execution. The building is a trapezoid shape with its larger side, the main façade, facing the Grand Palais. The building’s shape makes for a semi-circular courtyard at the centre. Its ionic columns, grand porch, and dome echo those of Les Invalides across the river. The tympanum depicting the city of Paris surrounded by muses is the work of sculptor Jean Antoine Injalbert.

The main façade of the building faces the Grand Palais and its focal point is the central entrance archway  – now that’s what I call a door! – set in an archivolt topped by a dome and reached by a broad set of steps.

Two wings flank the main entrance, continuing to the end (corner) pavilions, are embellished with free-standing columns that frame the tall windows.These grand windows provide side lighting for the outer three galleries of the interior museum.

Its interior is split into two levels with two series of rooms running parallel and juxtaposed and was designed to create exhibition spaces. The entrance rotunda and main gallery is especially grand with its mosaic floors and marble-lined walls. The dome and vaults are filled with allegorical paintings.

The exhibits in the Petit Palais are divided into sections: the Dutuit Collection of medieval and Renaissance paintings, drawings and objets d’art; the Tuck Collection of 18th century furniture and the City of Paris collection of paintings. The museum displays paintings by painters such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Gellée, Fragonard, Hubert Robert, Greuze and a remarkable collection of 19th century painting and sculpture: Ingres, Géricault, Delacroix, Courbet, Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, Cézanne, Danger, Modigliani, Carpeaux, Maillol and Rodin, among others. There is also a relatively small but important collection of ancient Greek and Roman art and of Christian icons for which the museums’s first and only 21st century artwork was acquired in 2019.

Not all the architecture of the 1900 Exhibition was well received however, reactions to the Petit Palais were generally positive. King Leopold II of Belgium was very impressed with Girault’s execution of the building and consequently he was commissioned to build several structures in Brussels, extensions at the Royal Castle of Laeken, and a seafront colonnade at Ostend.

Musical Monday: James Brown

Here’s another headliner who’s no longer with us.

James Joseph Brown (1933 – 2006) was an American singer, dancer, musician, record producer, and bandleader. The central progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th century music, he is often referred to as the  “Godfather of Soul.” In a career that lasted more than 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres. Brown was one of the first 10 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural induction in New York, January 1986.

Brown began his career as a gospel singer and first came to national public attention in the mid-1950s as the lead singer of the Famous Flames, a rhythm and blues vocal group. Brown built a reputation as a dynamic live performer with the Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra. His success peaked in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good) and It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.

During the late 1960s, Brown moved from a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly “Africanized” approach to music-making, emphasising stripped-down interlocking rhythms that influenced the development of funk music. By the early 1970s, Brown had fully established the funk sound after the formation of the J.B.s with records such as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “The Payback”. He also became noted for songs of social commentary, including the 1968 hit “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”. Brown continued to perform and record until his death from pneumonia in 2006.

Brown recorded 17 singles that reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts. He also holds the record for the most singles listed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that did not reach No. 1. Brown was posthumously inducted into the first class of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013 as an artist and then in 2017 as a songwriter. He also received honours from several other institutions, including inductions into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

French Fancies: Samsic

If you’re a cycling fan you’ll have heard of Samsic as it’s co-sponsor of the French Pro-Conti cycling team Arkea-Samsic, though I appreciate you may not know what the company does. If you’re not into cycling, you may not even have heard of it.

Samsic’s story started in 1986 when it was just a cleaning company. The acronym SAMSIC, Société d’Application et de Maintenance des Surfaces Industrielles et Commerciales no longer reflects its activities which have since significantly diversified.

The enterprise now acts as holding company for group companies primarily involved in the provision of industrial services, such as industrial cleaning (Samsic Properte), security (Samsic Securite), employment (Samsic Interim) and staffing, facility management (Samsic Facility Management) and others.

UNEXO Fonds de Dette souscrit à une émission obligataire de F.F.R, holding du Groupe SAMSIC - Unexo

Its industrial cleaning segment offers rat extermination, insect removal, decontamination and disinfection services of offices and workshops as well as other industrial facilities. The company offers temporary staffing and employment services on behalf of its clients. The group’s security services include security staffing, fire prevention, remote monitoring and surveillance, among others. In addition, its facility management provides maintenance and industrial logistics services. Based in Cesson Sevigne, France, the company is active all over France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain, plus many more countries.

How it all began

Christian Roulleau

The Group created in 1986 by Christian Roulleau (pictured above) handled outsourced industrial cleaning for larger companies. Over the years, off the back of its excellent reputation, the group developed and expanded its client offering to include more personalised services. In 1992, Roulleau opened an agency in Rennes to provide temporary staff. Then in 2001 he expanded into industrial safety. Expansion overseas took place too, particularly in Spain, Portugal, UK and Switzerland.

After winning the accolade of Entrepreneur of the year 2019, Christian Roulleau announced, in accordance with a commitment made five years earlier, that he was handing over the management of the group to his son-in-law, Thierry Geffroy, formerly a Director of Samsic’s Human Resources division.

The Group claims to be the leader in integrated business services in Europe, the second largest cleaning company in France, number 7 in safety and number 8 in employment. It employs over 90,000 people, is present in 25 countries and generates nearly 3 billion euros in turnover.



Samsic’s sustainable development goals include taking action to combat climate change and participating in building sustainable cities and communities. It is committed to protecting the environment and makes every effort to reduce its carbon footprint and engage in sustainable business practices.

Sports’ Sponsorship

During the 2000s, the group also launched into sports sponsorship. In 2004, it became a partner of Stade Rennais, the Ligue 1 football club and two years later it became the main jersey sponsor.

Stade Rennais FC Football Puma Home Shirt 2022-23 - Mens

Since 2009, Samsic has also been a partner of the Cesson-Rennes Métropole handball team, which plays in the national division 1 and, since 2011, of a second Ligue 1 team, via a partnership concluded with the Évian Thonon Gaillard Football Club..

As mentioned in my opened paragraph, for the last 5 years, the group has been a co-sponsor of the Arkéa-Samsic Pro-Continental cycling team and, since 2019, has also sponsored the Lyon OU rugby club.

To conclude, Samsic is an international business that is constantly expanding into new territories while continuing to support its home base. Its teams provide daily services in living spaces and workplaces to ensure the comfort, well-being and peace of mind of the occupants and develop the professional skills of millions of people. Through its three major areas of expertise, it delivers global service solutions that drive the performance of its clients by allowing them to fully concentrate on their core business.

All images courtesy of Samsic

Silent Sunday #122

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Salted Caramel Iced Apple Cake

Apple cake with salted caramel icing has the autumn comfort food flavours of apples, caramel and cinnamon. I love to use a crisp yet sweet apple for my cake such as Juliet. Granny Smith apples, perfect for pies, are too tart for this, and Golden Delicious too soft. Use whatever local apples you can find that will keep their shape and are flavourful and sweet. Apple cake with salted caramel icing is simple to bake, yet comes across as a bit of a show stopper.

Ingredients (serves 10)

Apple cake:

  • 480g (4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour,
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 large organic eggs
  • 425g (2 cups) light brown sugar
  • 240 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 410g (2 cups) unsweetened apple puree


  • 475g (2 cups) peeled, freshly chopped firm apples
  • 60g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 105g (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus (if desired) additional for sprinkling
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • 115g (1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted


1.Preheat oven to 180°C /fan 160°C/gas mark 4/350°F.  Thoroughly grease and flour a 3 ltr (12 cup) bundt pan; set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda,  cinnamon and salt; set aside.

2. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs and brown sugar for 1- 2 minutes until combined. While whisking, gradually add the oil  and whisk until everything is combined.

3. Add the vanilla and  apple puree and combine. Then, add the flour mixture and combine using spatula and figure-of-eight movements to ensure no lumps remain. If using a mixer, mix on low speed, being careful not to over beat the batter. Fold in the apples.

Best Pound Cake Recipe from Great Grandma - Julias Simply Southern

4. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean, 40 – 45  minutes. Transfer cake to a cooling rack, and let it cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before inverting and removing the pan. Let it cool completely before glazing.

5.  Once the cake has cooled, make the caramel icing. Please note that this firms up rather quickly so be prepared to  pour over the cooled cake as soon as it’s made.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Brown Eyed Baker

6. In a medium-sized saucepan over a medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the brown sugar, salt and cream until thoroughly combined. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and let it boil for about 1 minute  without stirring.

Caramel Icing Glaze - Erren's Kitchen

7. Remove from heat and whisk in icing sugar until it reaches your  desired consistency; the more sugar, the thicker the glaze. I often add less icing sugar as I prefer a more sauce like consistency.

Salted Caramal Apple Cake

8. Once the sugar is thoroughly incorporated into a smooth icing, immediately pour or spoon it over the cake. If desired, sprinkle a small amount of sea salt over the glaze while it’s still warm. Let the glaze cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Maybe with a drizzle of more sauce?

9. Store leftovers  – as if! – tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to one week.

Fresh Apple Cake With Caramel Glaze created by themcmullens96_7874

One from the vaults: Long distance

We’re heading back to a post from November 2012, was it really 10 years ago?

Last Sunday was the fifth edition of the Nice-Cannes marathon. Each year I toy momentarily with the idea of taking part in the following year’s.  The key word here is “momentarily,” common sense soon asserts itself. After taking part in the 1994 London Marathon, I did say I would do another one. Of course, no timeframe was specified and I suspect this was said during the rose pink post-completion after-glow.

I do run as part of my cycling training programme but I use the word “run” guardedly. To be honest, I find running for more than 40 minutes a bit boring and indeed prefer to sprint between lamp posts, trees or other such markers. Of course, it’s somewhat disheartening that while sprinting at my top speed I’m regularly overtaken by better runners just jogging effortlessly along. Though if I’m honest my most embarrassing moment remains being overtaken by a runner while riding up my favoured Col de Vence. But, back to the running.

My cycling coach often puts running on my weekly agenda and I duly oblige, even though I might prefer to be out riding. However, if the forecast is for rain, I’d rather run than ride. I’m not sure why but I get less wet running for 40 minutes than I do cycling. I think it’s all down to the feet. When I’m riding the rain water runs down my legs and rapidly soaks my socks. There’s nothing worse than cold wet feet. You should wear waterproof shoes covers I hear you cry. It’s true, they partly delay the inevitable but I find my feet get far too warm in them while they don’t get anywhere near as wet when I’m running.

Anyway, it wasn’t an issue this week as the weather was gloriously sunny  although there’s now a bit of a nip in the air and long descents demand a gilet. So I wisely saved my running for this week end when rain was (correctly) forecast. I managed my 40 minutes this morning while it was just drizzling. Since collecting my beloved from the airport at midday we’ve had a solid downpour which has forced him onto the home trainer on the balcony. He’s lost part of his home trainer: don’t ask how! So now he keeps sneaking bits off mine and then forgetting to put them back. Husbands!

We’re now into that time of year when the home trainer comes into its own. A bit like running, I can manage only an hour at most and find it best for one-legged exercises to improve my pedalling or using both legs to improve and increase my cadence. However, it remains at best a last resort. If it’s not raining too much, or it’s just wet underfoot, I’ll happily ride my mountain bike in preference to the home trainer.

We did have a couple of splendid descents in the domaine. Well-worn paths through the trees where the residents take shortcuts between the buildings which were great fun to ascend and descend, and only a stone’s throw from the doctors should I have a bit of a tumble. Some bright spark decided they should be turned into proper paths and they’ve now been concreted over so I’ll have to find somewhere else to practice my death defying descending.

Thursday doors #175

Here are a few more doors from our summer trip to Uzès and Montpellier.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Trip to Palais Garnier: Part II

With its gleaming golden facade and imposing columns Palais Garnier dominates Place de l’Opera in 9th Arrondissement. This grand opera and ballet house is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Built during a turbulent time in Paris’ history, it took nearly fifteen years to complete, finally inaugurated in 1875.

Palais Garnier

It’s the primary venue for the Paris Ballet company and the best way to experience the sumptuousness that is Palais Garnier is to attend a performance there, which is exactly what we did.

10 Fun, Fabulous Facts About Palais Garnier

The grand ballroom at Palais Garnier

1. When it was completed in 1875 Palais Garnier was one of the largest opera houses in the world. Emperor Napoleon III’s vision was to create a temple to the arts, a world centre for artistic pursuits, and an architectural wonder of the age.

File:Opéra Garnier architectural drawing.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

2. The architect Charles Garnier faced a number of challenges during its long construction (originally estimated to take seven years). One problem arose with the discovery of an underground lake — it took almost a year to pump out the water. Then, of course, there was that pesky Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. Oh, and the destructiveness of the Paris Commune.

File:Palais Garnier plan at the highest floor level - Steinhauser 1969 plate5.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

3. Charles Garnier’s study of Greek and Roman classics, and his Beaux-Arts training is evident in the design and decoration for the opera house. He expertly employed classic principles such as symmetry and concentric forms within rectangular frames, and gave the opera house the pomp of a palace.

4. The front facade with massive columns references the Louvre. Garnier chose six types of stone and precious metals to reference classical temples.

5. The dominant interior colours are red and gold. Garnier said he chose red for the soft velvet interiors to “complement the ladies’ blushing low necklines”! Evidently he was a bit of a charmer.

6. Garnier’s goal was to make everyone who entered the opera feel as if they were the stars of the show. He achieved this with the lavish Neo-Baroque style — grand marble staircases, elegant corridors and hidden alcoves.

Opéra | opera house, Paris, France | Britannica

7. The six-ton chandelier was a marvel for its time, although critics complained (as they will) that it obstructed the views and that the light was too bright. There is a persistent rumor that it was this chandelier that specifically inspired Gaston Leroux’s  The Phantom of the Opera.

Visit The Palais Garnier - Opéra national de Paris

8. One hundred sculptors and painters worked around the clock to complete the artwork. (But not, we assume, for the entire 15 years.) Most of the interior and exterior statues portray Greek deities.

9. The facade is ornamented with seven archways, each decorated with two marble columns, sculpted statues, and a pair of gold statues.

10. Guilded bronze busts of great composers are located between the columns on the front facade — Gioachino Rossini, Daniel Auber, Ludwig Beethoven, Wolfgang Mozart, Gaspere Spontini, Giacamo Meyerbeer and Fromental Halevy.

Bonus Fact

Charles Garnier’s design would go on to inspire architects around the world. You can see influence of his design in a number of other buildings including for the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.



Wordless Wednesday #142

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.