The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #28


A reader writes:

It's snowing, so it's a northern temperate climate.  It doesn't look like the US.  Also, the "hotel" sign doesn't help, since the word is the same in English, French, and German. I'm going to guess that the minivan is the clue.  I didn't see too many people driving those in Prague or Vienna (two cities that this scene reminds me of).  I think this is the one city in North America that truly resembles a northern European city: Quebec City.

Another writes:

It’s obviously somewhere in Northern Europe.  The cleanliness of the streets makes me think that it’s somewhere in “Scandihoovia.”  I’ve spent a little time in Oslo, so I know that some of the inner-city neighborhoods were damaged during World War II, but there was nothing comparable to the flattening of urban areas that occurred in Germany. Hence the mix of old and new.  Norway remained a fairly poor country (by European standards) until the Oil Boom of the 1970s and '80s, so the reconstruction of central city Oslo was marked by some particularly ugly buildings, such as the modern one in the photo.  Tåkk for alt!


The colorful European architecture next to the drab Soviet-style building is so very Czech. This picture was taken facing the Acc-nifos Lublanka hotel in the Nove Mesto (new town) neighborhood of Prague, I think the corner is Tylovo nam. As a proud Czexan (a Czech from Texas, of course), I especially treasured my visit to the homeland, in fact my family is from a small town, also called Nove Mesto, in Moravia. This picture brought me back, so thanks. Now excuse me while I go eat some kolaches and remember my trip.


That's got to be Edinburgh.  They just had that big snowfall recently, and those kind of angled streets and buildings just scream "Edinburgh".  Even with the snow, I wish I was there having a nice Tennent's lager in one of the nearby pubs.


Southampton, England? First time trying for this contest. But I'm hungover and just wasting time in bed, so I thought, why not?


My first thought was that the stark concrete architecture of the building on the corner seemed Soviet or at least Eastern European.  But I doubt I'd see the word "Hotel" on many hotels in that part of the word, the snow means not-Mediterranean, and a quick Google search for "yellow zigzag street lines" told me that such a thing is common in the UK.  I've only been to Italy so I don't know if they occur elsewhere in Europe. 

At this point I'm still completely lost, so I take another stab in the dark.  The dude walking with the girl is wearing a red and white cap.  I have no idea if the practice of wearing baseball-style caps with team colors is at all common in the UK (I kind of doubt it), but another search tells me that red and white are the home colours of Liverpool FC (and, of course, the away colours of the England national team itself).  So I'll say the city is Liverpool.


I have no idea where this is. But I can't wait to find out where it's okay to park on the sidewalk and the line dividing street lanes appears to have been painted by Dali.


So, that zig-zag line for the bus stop led me to Paris, France.  Being unable to sleep, I turned on the Google Earth hotel tag and scanned the city, looking for an intersection the shape of the one in the picture.  I found a few candidates, but couldn't pin down the exact spot and gave up after a couple hours.  Still, what I did find was generally so similar to the location in the picture that I still think it must be Paris.


I'm guessing central Paris.  Along with the road markage being distinctly French (those zig-zag Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 12.05.12 PM yellow lines), the big tip off is the road sign with its distinct French royal blue rectangle with a flourish on the top.  In addition, the bus stop's sign has the Parisien turquoise, though can't quite make out the route number which would be kind of helpful. But I can't narrow it down from there, can't see the arrondissement or any other detailing figure.  Stumped beyond that.


The bus stop with the turquoise sign just said "Paris" to me, as I have lived there. Plus one can glimpse the blue street sign to the right, balconies, and the word "Hotel" displayed vertically - all typical of Paris. Less typical is the newer architecture and relative lack of storefronts. I'm going to say the 20th arrondissement because of the newer construction.

I love Paris and was just there last week being interviewed for an art history film. I met my husband there (but in the 13th arrondissement), and I love to pore over Atget and Marville photographs of Parisian streets. All this makes it painful for me that I cannot name the street in this picture.


I guessed Paris right away because of those waist high poles lining the sidewalk. They are just high enough to give me excruciating pain if I’m not looking carefully where I’m going. The modern architecture would suggest either 7th district or one of the outlining districts, maybe 16th or 18th.  There’s also an RER sign on the bus stop. Still, the poles are all I need. They still exist in my nightmares.


The "French touch" of the picture for me are the poles sticking out on the edge of the sidewalks: their function is to prevent cars from parking on sidewalk. The renowned Parisian sophistication goes through the window when they're behind the wheel.


All your French readers will probably guess this one, or be close. Apart from the snowstorm that fell on northern France last Wednesday, there are many clues. The bus stop, the street lights, the street signage all look French. The hotel seems like a typical Paris and close suburbs building, as well as the street sign. I thought the shop's sign was for the optical chain "Krys", but couldn't find a shop close to a crossroad with the required angle on Google Maps. So I have no clue as to the exact location.


I grew up in Paris, and the photo has the unmistakeable feel of somewhere in the 5th or 10th arrondissement. In any case, native or not, the tell is the green translucent plastic garbage bag hanging from the pole: after 9/11 they turn all public trash cans into see-through monstrosities.


Rue-signIt's definitely in France, because of the "French Windows" of the neighboring building, and it's probably in Paris because of the shape of the street sign. The shape of the street sign is distinctive for Paris, at least to my knowledge: the rectangular field states the street name, a number under the bow above indicates the arrondissement.


I know this scene is in Paris, not just because I live here but because of the bus stop, the shape of the little blue street sign on the side of the building on the right and the bollards on the sidewalk. But the street sign is too blurred and so is the bus number for that stop. I just spent an hour on Google Earth looking at all the stops for the dark blue bus lines in Paris, but can't find that spot. :-(


As soon as I saw the picture I knew it must be Paris, and it wasn't hard to work out that it must be in one of Paris's 19th century quarters, full of geometrically-designed streets meeting at acute angles. This is the intersection of Rues Commines and Froissart, Paris 75003. The building itself will carry several numbers, but the photo was taken from a window directly above Skyman Production company, listed at 1 Rue Commines. It's the white building opposite the bank, and the photo was taken from the corner window on the top-but-one floor. I am rubbish with HTML etc, so after much fiddling with the code, the best I can do is insert a link to what I hope will be a google maps street-view of the building itself: Link.

I have probably cycled past this intersection on one of the city's excellent rental bikes, on my many attempts to get from my cheap hotel near Porte de Clignancourt to the archives and libraries I've been using around Place Bastille as I work on a PhD in French history. The major roads near here are very busy and potentially dangerous (though I've never had trouble), so I would often cut through smaller streets like these. Brilliantly, this area is only a couple minutes walk from the delights of the Marais, and from the more trendy eastern districts. I envy your photographer his vantage-point.

Correct intersection! Another reader illustrates it further:

First, the architecture suggested continental Europe, and I recalled that there had been heavy snowfall in Paris recently. The details of the bus stop (zigzag pattern in the street, dark blue stop name sign, greenish route number sign) confirmed that it was Paris. From there, it was off to Google Maps to find narrow street blocks that looked similar to the layout of the photo. By chance, I was poking around Marais and found a likely candidate, so I switched to Street View and followed the bus I saw to the very street corner in the photo (the unusual shape of the ground floor window in the VFYW photo was the key to recognizing the place):

Rue Commines

The photo is taken from the building almost directly across the intersection from the unusual window:

VFYW building

Remarkably, several readers guessed the correct intersection, building, and window. So to break the tie, this week's prize goes to the only correct guesser of a difficult window in the past who hasn't won yet:

Hotel_Commines2 The photo was taken from a 4th floor apartment on the corner of Rue Commines and Apartments1 Rue Froissart, Paris (Le Marais, 3rd Arrondissement). The hotel at left is the Hotel Commines (avoid at all costs, according to reviews!). The building across the intersection is an office block that appears to house several lawyers, whilst the apartments from which the photo was taken can be rented for about 1100 Euros per week.

From the reader who submitted the photo:

I took it from the fifth floor (sixth counting US-style) of the building at 92, rue deAnswer Turenne at 1:30p  on December 8, 2010.  View is of the Bretagne bus stop on line 96 at the corner of rue Commines and rue Froissart in the 3rd arrondissement.

It's really fun to see it posted, and we can't wait to see the guesses on Tuesday.

One of our favorite guesses:

We figured out the city by googling different European bus stations and realized this is Paris. We then split the city between us and used Google street view to browse the streets of Paris, looking for this specific corner. Not necessarily a smart move but we had a lot of time on our hands. Paul McCartney was rehearsing on the monitors. As he was singing "Give Peace a Chance" we were all virtually walking the streets of Paris. Thanks for a great day! The Interns at SNL ...

See you Saturday!