My Last Full Day In Paris

I decide to go back to the Louvre today to do some drawing but on arriving I discover that the first Sunday of the month the museum is open to everyone, so it is absolutely packed, wall to wall people!  Certainly not conducive to study and drawing so I head over to the Eugene Délacroix museum on the Left Bank instead.

On the way I stop in at Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris.  There are marble columns inside that date from 512 AD.  The church has been repaired and enlarged over the centuries and is an example of Early Gothic and Romanesque styles. The church as I saw it today was mostly built in 1163 but it is once again in need of repairs and restorations.

DSC02558This is the view from the north west corner and the sculpture of a head in the bottom right of the picture is by Picasso.


The view from the front door.  This church was beautifully painted with many stained glass windows high above the church floor.


The pillars and columns are covered in painted designs…

DSC02536 and I also loved the pillar’s beautiful bases.
DSC02517I was surprised to see that one of the stained glass windows had a small part that opened.  It was very high up, so I have no idea how they get it opened and closed.


A bust and chandelier were nicely silhouetted against this window.


The colours are incredible.  Stained glass windows need light to show off their beauty.


This picture is a bit dark, these cathedrals are always quite dark inside, but it does show the windows that encircle the church.  Just around the corner from the church and down a little side street is the museum I am looking for.


Here is the entrance to the Musée National Eugène Dèlacroix’ which contains his home and studio.  One of the fascinating things about Paris is the way a door will open onto a courtyard or garden and offer a glimpse into a secret place.  You just have no idea what might be behind one of those big old doors.

DSC02570This is a palette that Delacroix is thought to have given to Henri Fantin-Latour who, like Délacroix prepared his painting palette with great care.


Dèlacroix’s studio had many of his paintings and lithograph prints and in the house there were many lithograph prints with their original stone printing plates.  He had the studio built to his specifications, with huge north windows and skylights.


Here is a view of the studio from its private garden. The garden has been recently restored, under the supervision of the gardeners of the Tuileries and due to the generosity of a donor named Mr. Kinoshita.  There were lists of the plants purchased and the work carried out in Délacoix’s archives so it has been faithfully restored, and is a beautiful calm oasis in a busy city.  His home is in the building on the right of the photo, it was quite large and well appointed.DSC02573A view of the garden looking from the studio.  I decide it is time to think about heading home and walk from here towards the Louvre, as I want to stop at their bookstore and a couple other shops nearby.


There are some sights that are very definitely Parisian.  Do you notice all the parked cars?


I have no idea how the drivers here manage to park in such tiny spots, or even how they manage to get out of them, but they do!  It is quite something to watch.


I pass some very interesting looking shops, but as it is Sunday they are all closed so I take some photos through the windows.  Too bad, or maybe good, as I am sure I would have found some fascinating item that I would have wanted to bring home.


All sorts of curious and interesting things.


This window was intriguing, especially in light of all the figure drawing I have been doing.


I snap a couple last photos and head home to get packed and ready for my flight home tomorrow.


Me and the Mona Lisa!

Here are my metro drawings from the last couple of days.imageimage

The Louvre, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps

I decide to go visit the Louvre again on Saturday.  This is a view of the enclosed courtyard at the east end of the building.  It is hard to comprehend just how big this museum is, it covers almost 15 acres.

DSC02417The Louvre was originally a fortress built in 1190, but it was rebuilt in the 16th century to be a royal palace which continued to be expanded over the years. The Louvre became an art museum in 1793, when Louis XIV moved to Versailles. It is now the largest museum in the world.

The Louvre contains 35,000 works of art on display, divided into eight departments: the Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings and Prints and Drawings.

It is impossible to see all of this museum in one day.  Even walking through all its galleries in one day would be a challenge, never mind actually stopping to look at the art.  Many of the paintings are very large, as is The Pentecote, 1732 by Jean Restoutst.  There weren’t many people in this room so I was able to set up my little gorilla pod and take my own picture.


It is easy to be mesmerized by the art on display but I also found it interesting to remember to look up and to look past the art work to see the palace itself. Here are some photos that remind us that the Louvre was first and foremost a royal palace, and what a palace!.


DSC02453 DSC02458 DSC02464


The Apollo gallery.  I love the red walls and remembered this room from our last visit eight years ago.


This is the Grand Gallery!  and the picture below is about halfway down this long room.  If you double click the photo to enlarge it and look closely you can just make out the statue above the heads of the people in the picture above, and then the Gallery continues way past the statue!

DSC02466In a side room off off the Grand Gallery is the painting most people come to the Louvre to see.  La Joconde, more commonly known as the Mona Lisa.


It is behind bullet proof glass now, and is pretty much always surrounded by hordes of people, most of whom are very surprised, and sometimes disappointed,  at the rather small size of this very famous painting.


This is Eugene Delacroix’s The Death of  Sardanapalus, just one of many familiar paintings. After seeing these paintings in my books for so many years it is wonderful to be able to stand before the actual works.  I spend about four hours here and then head off to visit a couple other Paris landmarks.

First, The Galeries Lafayette, this incredible dome is located in the main store, which has nine floors and covers an entire city block.  There are two other stores, connected by walkways, each of which also covers a city block!  This place is enormous, and very crowded with shoppers.



A view looking down onto the perfume, makeup and fashion accessories floor.

DSC02478The shoe department covers one entire floor.  The floors are divided into ‘mini stores’ where each designer has their own displays and sales people. There are so many people shopping that the escalators are absolutely jammed with people all the time.  I find It  totally overwhelming, there is no way I would be able to shop here, and after taking a few pictures I leave.

I head down the block to Printemps, thinking that it might be a bit smaller and easier to look around.


… but it is just as big and almost as busy. Here is the floor map of Printemps, again three stores connected by walkways, each store a city block long and wide.


I am definitely not a shopper!  I spent less than an hour in these stores and that was more than enough for me.

I find a little sidewalk cafe and stop for a much needed meal and a pot of tea.  This mural is on the building across the street.  The guy in the corner was my very charming French waiter.


On the way to the Metro I stop in to visit a little church, Saint-Louis D’Antin but there is a service taking place so I don’t want to walk around and just snap a photo from the entrance.  Even the small churches are very beautiful.


Here are just a few of the goodies I saw on display today.  They look scrumptious, but not for me…  I did have one raspberry tart today at the Louvre.  It was the only time I ate something that I shouldn’t have on this trip.  It is really almost impossible to find desserts that do not have gluten, egg or dairy.  Strangely, I didn’t feel deprived, or really want to eat bread, cheese or pastries.  I know if I eat these things I don’t feel well and I think that knowledge takes away the temptation, but I did enjoy looking at the displays.




Saint-Séverin and Shakespeare And Company

I had a good flight home, and now, the first of the promised posts of my last couple days in Paris.

I had a very nice meal at a little cafe on the left bank overlooking the Quai Montebello which is part of the road which runs along the Seine, and I had a great view of Notre Dame just across the river.  After a leisurely second pot of tea I walked along the Seine down to Pont Neuf to take a few more pictures of Notre Dame in the late afternoon sun.  I am still marvelling at the fact that I was standing on the top of the tower closest to the river.


The road along both sides of the Seine is the home of the used book sellers. Their iconic green boxes can be seen in many paintings of Paris, especially those of the Impressionist period.   There are 900 boxes along the Seine, three kilometres of used and antique books, old magazines, manuscripts, postcards, as well as stamps, souvenirs, magnets, posters, painting reproductions and even locks for lovers to put on the Pont Neuf.


I don’t think they should be allowed to sell locks, as the poor bridges in this area are becoming overburdened with all the locks tourists have attached to them. Lovers write their names on a lock, attach it onto the bridge and throw the key into the Seine River.   These locks are removed periodically in an attempt to prevent damage to the bridges but I saw several sections that had boards placed over areas of railing which had collapsed under the weight of thousands of locks. I don’t suppose that all the keys thrown into the river can be good for it either.DSC02277I wander along the streets looking for Shakespeare and Company, but have a hard time locating it.  Along the way I so see lots of other interesting places though.DSC02287

Another interesting art store, but it is closed so I have to be content looking through the windows.


An interesting mix of automobiles, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles.  The guy looking back had just got honked at and one of the motorcyclists was yelling at him. I think maybe he cut someone off.  He is riding a velib bicycle, one of 20,000 bicycles you can use in Paris, after buying a daily or weekly pass, for 1.7 euros or 8 euros respectively.  The first 30 minutes of each ride are free, so you can ride, exchange your bike for another and keep doing this as often as you want.


Another beautiful Paris building and one of the many Paris policeman directing traffic.  They love to blow their whistles, and do so very often and repeatedly

DSC02300This plaque is on a primary school wall.  It is in memory of young students who were taken by the Nazis to the death camps. I found the dried flower tucked into the ring below the plaque very touching.


I find it interesting how the old churches are surrounded by other buildings and shops. This is Sainte-Séverin.  It is very dark inside and it has beautiful ancient and modern stained windows.


There are a set of seven stained glass windows inspired by the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church.  These two are the Wedding (with yellow tones) and the Confirmation (with red tones) designed by an artist named Jean René Bazaine in 1970.


A view of some of the ancient windows.


More windows and the incredible ceiling arches, and then I looked up!


It is impossible to capture the  grandeur of these cathedrals in a photo.

DSC02334This pillar is the Twisted pillar, very unusual and quite famous.  This church was built  in the early 14th Century, and chapels along the outer aisle were added in1520.  It is one of the oldest churches on the Left Bank, and is still used for services today.


A  mass was just starting in one of the chapels along the outer aisles while I was visiting. Because it was so dark in the church it was a bit difficult to take pictures.  This one is a bit blurry but gives an idea of the little side chapels that were completed in 1520.


For some reason the lights on the pillars are green, which gave the place a strange eerie sort of glow.  The guy in the bottom right corner with a ladder was replacing burned out lights.


This church is badly in need of restoration, it is very old and it shows its age.


I am still looking for Shakespeare and Company, and pass by a little park and which contains the oldest tree in Paris.  The park it is in is closed but I do get to see this 413 year old tree from the sidewalk.  It has a cement support to help hold it up and was planted in 1601.  I think it is quite amazing that we know when and by whom a tree this old was planted.


Success at last!  I figure out why I had such a hard time fining this place: it is right along the main road!  I thought it was a couple of blocks in so I was looking in the wrong place entirely.  Bob and I visited here last time we were in Paris and thought it was a pretty fascinating place.  It has an interesting history as it started out as a private collection of books.  Much too long a story to get into here but do look it up if you are at all curious, it is a very curious and intriguing tale.

DSC02345You are welcome to use this old typewriter or just sit and read in this room.  It has a collection of books that are not for sale, only for reading.DSC02349

There are several beds in this bookstore, including the upper bunk bed behind the curtain here.  People are still allowed to spend the night in the bookstore.  Really, do go read about all this!


The bookstore is a maze of rooms and hallways, on two levels.

DSC02357Here is a view of the store.  Sometimes if I wait a bit I am able to take photos without list of people, but no luck here.  This is a very busy place.  It is getting late so I head for home, walk back to the Cité Metro station which is on the other end of the same island as Notre Dame.DSC02362

The cathedral is quite beautiful all lit up at night.


Cité is one of the art Nouveau stations designed by Hector Guimard.



This is a picture of some of the rail lines of the Dare du Nord taken form the Metro on the way home.  Do you see me?

This is a long post, but I did promise lots of pictures!

Only One More Day…

Tomorrow is my last full day in Paris, and I leave early Monday for home.  I’ve  decided that I need to write about the last couple days of my trip once I am home.  I need to pack, tidy the apartment and decide how to spend my last day in Paris.  I’ll be back in a couple of days, with  lots of pictures.

Gargoyles and Chimeras

Today was the day to climb to the top of Notre Dame!  It is 400 steps to the top and another 400 to get down, and it was worth each and every step! While I was waiting in line, for an hour, I took some pictures of gargoyles from the ground.


I need to warn you, there will be a lot of pictures in today’s post, and I am only going to do the first part of the day, or this would be ridiculously long.


The climb up wasn’t too bad as it was broken half way at a shop where you buy tickets.  Soon I am 46 meters above the ground and face to face with my first Chimera.  These are ornamental sculptures which are depictions of monsters or mythical beings.  This Stryga, or bird of the night, is one of the most famous of Notre Dames chimeras.  Interestingly the stone these carvings are made from is full of sea shells!  You can see Sacre Coeur in the distance.


You probably aren’t supposed to pet them, but I just had to!


The view from up here is quite spectacular.  I am in the area between the two towers.



And there are more chimeras and gargoyles everywhere I look!


There were windows that were too high to look into, but I held the camera up to the glass and this is what was inside.

image After another 150 steps I am at the top of the south tower of Notre Dame and the view is even more incredible from this height, 69 meters above the ground.  Here is a different view of Notre Dame’s famous flying buttresses.

imageimageIt is easy to understand how densely populated Paris is when you see all the buildings so close together from up here. The population density of Paris ranges from a low of 8,000 people per square kilometre, in areas near Notre Dame, for example, to a density of 42,000 people per square kilometre in the area where my apartment is and other arrondissements in the north and north west of Paris.  I can barely fathom 42,000 people living in a square kilometre!

imageimageThere are sculptures everywhere I look. Dragons on this steeple,


and more gargoyles high on this tower.

image I manage to stay up on the top of the South tower while three or four groups come up, they allow a group every ten minutes or so, but eventually we all get chased off so the next group can arrive, so I head down the 400 stairs to the bottom.  On arriving at ground level I look up, and surprise!  More gargoyles!


I was on the walkway between the two towers, and on the top of the south tower.  If you look closely you can see people in these two pictures.

imageimageThe average visit is 50 minutes, I am up here for over two hours!  It was an amazing experience!

Thursday’s Drawings

I wish I could say I did my best drawings on my last session but I struggled for the first part of the day.  Our model was an older fellow and he was a bit fidgety which I found distracting today.  I switched over to watercolour washes and quick line drawings during the last few poses and it went better.



Our model in the afternoon brought props, which can be interesting but it can sometimes make drawing more difficult if they hide the neck and shoulder area.  She was a great model, no fidgeting or moving about at all.


And finally another set of metro drawings. The last few days the cars have been pretty packed so drawing was sometimes impossible. I had to be content with people watching, and there are always interesting people to watch on the metro, or anywhere in Paris, for that matter.




Saying Goodbye to Académie de la Grande Chaumiére

Today was the last day of drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére, and I felt quite sad when I left.  I really loved the time I spent here, and this week I have had several conversations with some of the artists drawing there.  I guess it took a while for me to feel comfortable enough to do so, and today several people came and initiated conversations with me, which was really nice.  Here is ‘my spot’ in the studio

imageI came back for one final look around before heading to the Musee d’Orsay. The stools get stacked at night so the studio is ready for a painting class in the morning.


I am really going to miss being here.  This intensive life drawing experience has convinced me that  I need to do this more than once a week when I am home.  I often  didn’t even manage to go every week, but I am determined to change that.

I made my way to the Musée d’Orsay, which used to be an old train station and now is the home to an impressive collection of art, especially the works of the Impressionists and the Post Impressionists.


The museum is open till nine tonight so I have almost two and a half hours, which isn’t all that much time.  Two of the floors of the museum were closed for renovations, which in a way was good, as there was less to see!  There are a lot of Monet’s paintings here.  One of the things I realized as I walked around was the sheer number of paintings these artists produced, and this is just one museum, their works are in so many other museums around the world.  It shows that it is essential to actually make art if you want to get good at it.  Completing two or three pieces a year just isn’t enough to make a difference in the quality of your work.

imageimageSome of the paintings are surprisingly small and then there are those that are vey big! I managed to see most of what I was interested in, but realized I could easily spend at least a couple of days here studying the work more closely and doing some drawings as a way of studying as well.

My focus this trip was life drawing, but I am thinking that I could very easily come back and spend more time in the museums in addition to the life drawing.  Maybe one day in the not too distant future….

I discovered that it is possible to go out on the roof of the museum and take some pictures.  It was getting dark but they give an idea of the view.  Here is the Louvre across the Seine, and Sacre Couer in the distance. You can see that it is definitely on a hill!



I asked someone to take my picture, so here I am with the Louvre behind me.

All too soon it is nine and the museum closes, so I head home.  It is late and I am busy drawing on the metro and I miss my stop!  I have to go quite a bit further to connect with a line than will take me home and it meant many more flights of stairs and a long walk, probably two blocks at least, through underground tunnels until I got to the station I needed. I counted stairs today and on the trip to the Academié there are over one hundred stairs to climb or go down, and that is just one way!  And it is also probably the least number of stairs of all the trips that I make on the metro.  No wonder there aren’t many overweight Parisians!

imageI took this picture in a mirror on a corner, (so people don’t crash into each other? ) and didn’t realize there were lines all over my face till now!  It is after midnight, so I will post the last of my drawings at the Académie tomorrow  morning when I am not so tired and there will be better light to take the pictures.

Une Belle Journée

When I was looking for an apartment in Paris I corresponded with a lady who lives in Paris. We made arrangements to meet and today was the day.  We met by the Académie de la grande Chaumiére at 11:00 and we spent the day together.  Anne-Francoise showed me her neighbourhood, and some of her favourite secret places.  We had a wonderful time together, and walked from eleven till six o’clock, with only three stops: for tea at the Jardin de Luxembourg, lunch at a sidewalk  restaurant beside a little square,

imageand then sorbet at the famous Berthillon Ice Cream Store.  We sat in their gorgeous little tea room and had the most delicious sorbet, I chose raspberry and peach and they were both delicious.


We saw so many beautiful buildings and places and it was very interesting as Anne-Francoise was able to tell me all about them.  She is very knowledgeable about the history of Paris so I had my very own tour guide!  I tried to speak French as much as I could and she spoke English as much as she could and it was just fine.  We got along so well and we like many of the same things, so we had lots to talk about.


This is the back of a fountain by the Palais du Luxembourg, and the next picture is the front.  I remember seeing this fountain when Bob and I were in Paris, but had no idea there was a back side to it as well. This is one of the many ‘secret places’ I was able to visit today.


We strolled through an interesting flower market with lots of beautiful plants, flowers and garden accessories, and saw store that only sold orchids, big beautiful orchids of every colour and shape.


We crossed the Seine several times and I took pictures of some of the many interesting bridges in Paris.

image imageThis view is looking towards the newer business area to the East.

We dashed across the middle of the street on one of the bridges so I could take this photo of Notre Dame.  I really think it is most interesting from this angle, as the flying buttresses that support the walls are visible.

imageWe walked mostly in the 4th, 5th and 6 th arrondissements, and we walked a lot, so I am very tired tonight, but a good tired.  I think maybe speaking and trying to understand so much French was a bit tiring too, but we managed to communicate quite well.

This is the St. Etiénne du Mont Church, du Mont means on a hill.   It is not vey big but is very ornate inside.  I never tire of these beautiful places of worship.  They are all so amazing.  This church took about 150 years to build!  Just imagine…..


I thought this picture might give some idea of how popular motorcycles are here in Paris.  These were parked near the Pantheon, alongside yet another big beautiful building.


I should have been taking notes so that I could remember the names of the buildings, I am afraid they all seem to have disappeared from my head tonight.   I thought this apartment was particularly pretty with all its matching window boxes.


All too soon it was time to say good bye to my new friend.  It was a bit hard to do.  We had such a good time, and I don’t know when we will have another chance to spend time together.  Strange how it is possible to just meet someone yet it felt like we were friends right from our first greeting.

There is so much more I could write but I really need to get to bed.  Tomorrow will likely be my last time drawing at the Académie and I do not want to be too tired.  My days in Paris are fast coming to an end.  I fly home on Monday.