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!

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!

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.

Drawing In The Dark

Today was a very full day.  First I went to a four hour life drawing class at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

image imageMy drawings at the Académie were kind of hard work today. As is often the case when I have a day like this, the quick five minute poses turn out the best. I horribly overworked everything else.

I hurried home after class, and had a half hour to put my feet up, grqb a bite to eat, and get ready for the ballet.


The sun was starting to set when I arrived and the light was catching the golden statues on top of the Opera Building. There are always a lot of people milling about, taking pictures, or just sitting on the steps soaking up the atmosphere. It was pretty neat getting to walk up to the big front doors, gain admittance, and walk up that grand staircase.

imageIt wasn’t all that easy to find my seat.  Turns out it is behind a locked door with no door knob, that needs to be opened by an attendant.  I am sitting in a beautiful red plush box seat!


That was a surprise.  I knew I had a railing in front of me, but I assumed it was just a wooden railing because there would be a walkway in front of it, or something similar. I feel rather regal, I must admit. I wonder who else has sat in that very same seat over the years?


The painted curtain rises to reveal a red velvet looking curtain.


imageThe Opera Garnier,  also known as the Palais Garnier,  was completed 139 years ago in 1875, and is now the home of the Paris Ballet.  It holds about 2,000 people and is pretty much sold out most for every performance.  I was very lucky to get such a good seat the day before the show, there were only a few seats left.  There are benefits to travelling solo!


The Chagall Mural and crystal chandelier are stunning!  Actually the entire place is stunning.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.

I took my pen and sketchbook with me and drew in the dark.  I couldn’t see a thing so I had no idea what I was doing until I could take a look when the lights came on at intermission.image

The first half of the performance was very traditional so there were often dancers posed in the background for a few seconds, which made it a bit easier.  Although I was fairly close to the stage, about a third of the way from the stage, the dancers still looked  still fairly small.  I am so glad I didn’t get a  seat further back.  Sometimes during this performance all the dancers were on stage at  the same time, quite the spectacle!

image The second half of the performance was very contemporary, and the dancers didn’t stop moving for a second! I was pretty sure these drawings were just going to end up as scribbles, but I think they actually still give the feeling of dancers.


imageIt was a great evening, watching the ballet and trying to interpret what I was seeing on paper, in the dark!


The Opera Garnier  was very beautiful by night.  I think I am going to have to take a bus ride at night just to see the lights of the city.

I also managed to do some more metro drawing today too, but people kept getting up and leaving.


I was a bit nervous about taking the metro home so late and thought for a while about the best route to take, but it was quite all right. I didn’t get home until 10:45, definitely the latest I have been out so far.  I may even try going to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night, now that I know I can get myself home after dark!

Balzac and Beautiful Buildings

I went to the noon drawing session at the Académie and then decided I needed to come home afterwards for a bit of rest.  The weekend was busy and I have had a couple of restless nights so I didn’t have much energy today.  Here’s a 15 minute pose,  3 x5 minutes poses, and then a twenty minute one.

imageYet another great model.




I am still feeling my way with the watercolour gestures, some work better than others, I think I’ll keep at it for a  bit longer.  I am working in a A4 sketchbook which is about 8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″, so the drawings I am posting are done on that size paper.imageWhat a treat, a new model every day. Tomorrow I plan on staying for both sessions as there is supposed to be a male model at 3:00.  So I will take it easy tonight, get organized for tomorrow, and hopefully get a better night’s sleep.

Here are photos of few buildings along the way to the Eiffel Tower. I love the tops of these buildings, they look so intriguing.  I wish I was able to see what the insides of the apartments up there look like.

imageimage image

There was an outdoor exhibit of children’s art alongside a park, near the studio where I was drawing.


This is a view of the Seine River from the Pont Alexander III beside the Eiffel Tower.  I do want to take a boat ride on the river before I go home.  I think I better start making a list, as I know I am going to run out of time.


And then there is this very famous statue of Balzac by Rodin.  It is on the median beside the Vavin Metro station, which is the metro station I use to get to the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.  I passed it several times and didn’t even see it until a couple of days ago.


One last photo.


Did you spot the artist?  I always notice them but wonder how many other people do?