petite anglaise

September 16, 2005


Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:38 pm

Autumn has arrived in Paris. The trees which line our avenue, partially obscuring the view from our fifth floor balcony when fully clothed, are beginning to shed their large golden brown leaves, making it more of a challenge to steer the pushchair clear of any déjections canines which may be lurking beneath.

I am slightly embarrassed not to be able to say what type of trees they are, but as I have mislaid my childhood “Spotters’ Guide to Trees”, I’m at a bit of a loss.

Tadpole insists on walking through the leaves, listening to the crackle they make beneath her Startrite shoes, pronouncing them to be “crispy, jus’ like cornflakes!”

It won’t be long before an army of little green men bring out the heavy artillery of leaf blowing/hoovering contraptions, working around the clock to clear the pavements. Men with futuristic looking machines on their backs, powering leaf blowers which blast the debris violently into the gutter. (Tadpole doesn’t like the noise these make, and shrieks, eyes like saucers: “regarde! it’s a big hairdryer mummy!” Hairdryers are Very Scary Things. Apparently.) There are green hoover trucks which drive up and down the roads, sucking up the blown leaves from the gutter with a huge serrated tube. In parallel, more traditional, labour-intensive methods are used involving sweeping brushes and huge green plastic bags.

In the mornings, on our run to the childminder’s house, it feels rather like an obstacle course negotiating the blowers and the sweepers, in addition to the usual pavement power washers and the sprinklers set up in the park, so that they slowly rotate and catch passing pedestrians unawares.

With all this frenetic, noisy activity going on, much of it at dawn, when it really would be nice if it were quiet enough to get some more beauty sleep, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the pavements might actually be clean.

Sadly, the little green men are no match for the combined forces of the Parisian pigeons, dogs with scoopless owners and cigarette butt tossers.

Living in Paris is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.


  1. Probably Sycamore (also called Plane Tree), but you can have fun finding out for yourself:


    (p.s. Sorry if this showed up more than once, but Opera doesn’t like this comment field.)

    Comment by Aimée Cardwell — September 16, 2005 @ 5:17 pm

  2. Ahh… fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. :)

    Comment by theinsider — September 16, 2005 @ 5:35 pm

  3. I was always fascinated by the motorbikes with vacuum cleaners on the back, used for sucking up the “déjections canines”.

    Comment by Greg — September 16, 2005 @ 5:52 pm

  4. There is nothing scarier than an oversize hair-dryer.

    Comment by Universal Soldier — September 16, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

  5. Fall is starting to peek through here in upstate NY as well. Can’t wait for the colors to break through. While I am not a fan of snowstorms, I don’t think I could live anywhere that does not have fall colors…….

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — September 16, 2005 @ 6:33 pm

  6. Autumn always makes me miss america, Halloween, apple-picking… but there’s nothing like Paris in the fall. No. Scratch that. There’s just nothing like Paris. Point Finale.

    Comment by Lauren — September 16, 2005 @ 6:56 pm

  7. “Living in Paris is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it” – cleaning in Paris is a dirty job, and someone has got to do it and does it – thanks to those people!

    Comment by Loops — September 16, 2005 @ 7:17 pm

  8. I love Fall! It’s by far my favorite time of the year. I don’t know if/what they use to get rid of fallen leaves here in NYC. I don’t recall ever having seen a fallen leaf here with the exception of Central Park that is.

    Comment by yayaempress — September 16, 2005 @ 9:02 pm

  9. If the leaves in the above pic is from the trees you can’t name then those leaves are from sycomores they come from the US and in France we call them Platanes.

    They grow even better in the south.

    Comment by GPV — September 16, 2005 @ 9:20 pm

  10. “Platanes” are not sycamores; they are plane trees, which indeed are what these are.

    Comment by Sarah — September 16, 2005 @ 9:58 pm

  11. You are getting terrific at photography, Petite. The pic on this post is lovely.
    Yep, I have got sprayed by those guys in green, because I was walking quietly down the pavement in my own thoughts shutting out other worldly sounds. He he heh. C’est vrai.

    Comment by Brad — September 17, 2005 @ 8:54 am

  12. Paris really is beautiful at the moment. Hope you are having a good weekend and enjoying it.

    Comment by Anne — September 17, 2005 @ 11:11 am

  13. At least you’ve got trees. If you came to my bit of the 10th arrondissement you’d be hard pressed to tell what season it was.
    We have plenty of dejections canines though.

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — September 17, 2005 @ 1:55 pm

  14. When I worked as a janitor at the Hopital Pasteur in Nice, I had to be at work by 4am (I know, the glamour). Unfortunately this coincided with when the street cleaners were using high pressure hoses on the rank pavements, creating a kind of dog-turd aerosol that could really spoil your day if you got caught in the crossfire.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — September 17, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

  15. Petite, now I see what you mean, Jim has a wonderful way with words. Dog-turd aerosol had me in stitches imagination running riot!!! :)

    Comment by Keith — September 17, 2005 @ 4:39 pm

  16. I love Autumn and the photograph is lovely :) My little girl also dislikes leaf blowers!

    Comment by Miladysa — September 17, 2005 @ 9:56 pm

  17. You have aliens cleaning up your leaves? ;-)

    Comment by Taupe — September 18, 2005 @ 12:00 am

  18. I love autumn, my favourite time of year :-)

    Comment by Juliette — September 18, 2005 @ 12:18 am

  19. Having spent many autumn’s in Paris, I enjoyed your description….as I sit here in 90 degree heat in Florida!
    I found it interesting that Tadpole wears Startrite shoes….all of my children and grandchildren have worn STRIDErites here in America.

    Comment by Terri — September 19, 2005 @ 1:03 am

  20. Paris is one of the filthest cities I’ve ever lived and I gave up bringing up my child there. Move out!

    Comment by A Frog In Oz — September 20, 2005 @ 1:03 am

  21. Sure looks like a Maple leaf to me!

    If you want to see the most colorful Autumn there is, come to Canada during the month of October! … but make sure to leave before the cold settles in for the winter…

    Comment by Joe Canadian — September 22, 2005 @ 7:21 pm

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