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.

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

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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.

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A bust and chandelier were nicely silhouetted against this window.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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All sorts of curious and interesting things.

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

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

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Me and the Mona Lisa!

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A view of some of the ancient windows.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

Parc Des Buttes Chaumont, Organ Recital and the Marais

This morning was slow and relaxed as I was a bit tired after yesterday’s drawing class and the evening at the ballet. I finally got myself out the door after noon and set out to walk to the Parc Des Buttes Chaumont which is a 25 hectare park in the 19th arrondissement. imageIt is a beautiful place, and although it has many man made features this park does not feel as though it is in the city. Most of Paris’ parks are carefully manicured, laid out geometrically and have paved or gravel surfaces with benches or chairs. There are not many parks that actually allow people to walk or sit on the grass, which I found strange at first, but when I once I thought about the density of population in this city and realized how many people use the parks I realized that this is a necessity, or the grass would be trampled and dead.

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The Parc des Buttes Chaumont, however, is a  park that welcomes people onto its many grassy hills. There were lots of people out enjoying the warm day. I saw everyone from individuals relaxing, sleeping, reading, or playing the guitar, couples having a romantic picnic complete with a bottle of favourite wine, families enjoying the sun with their children to large gatherings of family and friends, sharing a meal and visiting in the sunshine.

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Because it was once a quarry there were lots of hills to climb, including one up to a ancient looking little structure on an island which is also the highest point in the park where it’s main attraction can be found, the Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature version of the famous ancient Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy.

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Sacré Coeuer is visible in the distance from here and there is quite a good view.  If you are interested, Wikipedia has a very interesting write up about the history and construction of the park.

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There are also a couple waterfalls, and a swinging bridge that crosses the man made lake to the island, and lots of flower beds which have signs describing what is planted in each bed. I spent a couple very pleasant hours wandering about and then decided that I should go to St Sulpice for an organ concert at 4:00.  The organist was from Thomas Dahl, from Hambourg and the music was incredible.

imageI sat with two Susan’s, one from California and one from Newfoundland who were two friends spending a week together in Paris. They had both been to Edmonton and St. Albert, which was rather surprising.

imageThey were sitting in a special area with comfy red cushions and they made room for me to sit beside them. It was much more comfortable than the chairs that are used for the congregation and guests visiting the church. I was sitting in the raised box at the back of this picture, right in front of where the white statue is located.

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The concert was about an hour long and I tried to draw part of the cathedral while I listened to the music, but was not very successful. I think buildings are more difficult to draw than people. At one time you were allowed up the stairs to watch the organist playing but this is no longer allowed due to security measures. A pity…

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Next stop was the Marais. This was the area where I had first reserved an apartment, it was behind the red door in this picture, but the reservation was canceled because one of the neighbours was having some ‘mental’ problems and the owner was not comfortable renting her place until things got settled. I actually think that I like the area I am in better. It is further out, but it is a real Parisian neighbourhood.

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The Marais has become a tourist attraction, lots of shops and bars and tourists everywhere. I went into one store and the clerk didn’t even look up when I entered. In ‘my neighbourhood’, I am greeted with Bonjour madam, and a smile.

imageThe Marais has also become a centre for gay tourists and residents, which made for some interesting sights.
imageI made a friend though.  This little girl ran away for her mother, whose arms were full of groceries.  I stopped her and told her to go back to her mother, and actually did this in french without thinking too much about it at all!  She ran back to her mom but turned around to look at me, so I waved to her.  We then played peek a boo and waved to each other for several minutes.

I headed home for supper and a FaceTime chat with my son at eight. I must say that I love how easy it is to stay connected with family and friends while travelling.

Buses and The Champs -Élysées

I decided to try taking the bus today instead of the metro so I could see more of the streets of Paris.  The bus map is a little intimidating, and rather confusing, but I am starting to figure it out.  Wednesday’s life drawing class is in the evening, and although I am feeling quite comfortable walking about by myself in the daytime I don’t really want to be out at night, so no drawing class today.

I took the bus from my place to the Pont Neuf right beside the Louvre, popped inside for a quick visit to la toilette, (more on toilettes later…) and then walked towards the Tuileries.

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Looking towards one wing of the Louvre.

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These are the beautiful gardens just west of the Louvre.  They even have an off leash area for dogs at the end closest to the Louvre.  I can’t believe how many dogs, and all the big dogs that people have in this city.

imageI stopped for lunch at a cafe in the park, and then continued on to the far end of the Tuileries which is Place Concord.  This is a huge square with an Egyptian obelisk in the centre, flanked by two identical ornate fountains.

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There is so much to see here that it is hard to know where to look.  Sometimes I just stand in one spot and slowly rotate, every direction I look brings some new amazing sight into view.

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The end of the Tuileries and the entrance to Place Concorde, with the Eiffel Tower thrown in, as though there isn’t enough to look at here.

Soon I am walking along the Champs-Élysées and realize that Autumn is almost here, the leaves are beginning to change colour.  It has been sunny and warm every day since I arrived, temperatures have been between 21 and 25 every day, so it feels very much like summer.  I couldn’t ask for better weather.

imageThe parks here are so very well maintained, and the flowers everywhere are magnificent.

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There is an art exhibit along the street.

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imageMany of the photos moved me to tears.  War seems so very senseless.

This is the Grand Palais National Gallery, I check it out but it is a 30€ entrance fee!  I don’t know what the exhibits are, I’ll have to see if it sounds worth such an expensive entrance fee.

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One of the things I love about Paris are the incredible details, if one remembers to look.  It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the grandeur of all these buildings, but when one looks closer there is almost always more to see..

imageAnd then even more to see.  I think this  beautiful mosaic frieze is probably not even noticed by many tourists.

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Across the street is the Petit Palais, and it is free!  It is a beautiful building full of  beautiful art.

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Checking out at a Rembrandt painting, image

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Taking a photo of the floor in the Petit Palais, it is all beautiful mosaics.

I decide I will come back here another day but want to continue my walk.  I do stop for a much needed pot of tea in the museum cafe. It is a bargain at only 3€ and they are happy to supply more hot water to refill my pot.  I do a few quick sketches of people while sitting in the cafe, and then head back out towards the Arc de Triomphe, along the very busy Champs-Elysées.

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Yes, I was standing in the middle of the street to take this picture….but on a cross walk. The tree lined paths soon give way to very expensive shops.  I walk into one of the shopping Galleries to have a look around.

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Again, remembering to look for details..

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Notice the price for the tin of macaroons, 52€!  I think there were 25 little macaroons in the tin.

There is a McDonalds on this very fancy street of shops!  Bob and I stopped there for tea when we were in Paris several years ago, so I decided to stop and go sit upstairs overlooking the street just as we did before.

I finally make it to the Arc de Trimphe.  It is in the middle of a very busy traffic circle so there is an underground tunnel to get to it.  I was going to go to the top for a fee of 9.50€, but it was getting late and a bit hazy so I decide to save doing this for another time.

imageThere was a remembrance ceremony happening so I stayed to watch for a while.  It seemed as though family members were placing flowers in remembrance, not sure though.  There were a lot of dignitaries and important looking people there too.  This picture gives a good idea just how big this monument is.

Something must have been going on nearby because there were lots of sirens and seven or eight big Gendarmes paddy wagons type of vehicles came flying by, all in a row, along with several other police vehicles.  I wonder what it was all about?

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I find my way to the street with my bus stop and take a bus back to the Gare de L’Est, and then walk home.  I am pretty tired, but had an interesting day.

I took so many more pictures, but I have to stop somewhere…..

Luxembourg Gardens and St. Sulpice

Today was lovely, 22° and sunny with a light breeze.  A great day for exploring and wandering about Paris.

I took the metro all the way to rue de la Grande Chaumiere which is where the life drawing sessions I want to attend are held. Turns out it is just around the corner from a metro station and it is very easy to get to, just one train all the way from the Gare de l’Est, which is about a ten minute walk from my apartment. I love the metro, it is easy and fast and offers such great people watching.  The Academie was closed so I didn’t get any more information, but I will try to attend one of their sessions soon.

I decided to walk back and see what I could see, only there is so much to see that I barely knew where to look next.image

I stopped to take a picture of of some brushes in a shop window that does art restoration along Boulevard Montparnasse and then headed towards the Luxembourg Gardens.

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Oops, a bit blurry.

At Place Ernest Denis I found a great fountain with horse sculptures that caught my attention.  I decided to draw, and settled down in a quiet corner, but soon the park was full of children playing after school.  They were curious but didn’t approach until one brave little boy came over to see what I was drawing.  I was then very quickly surrounded with about twenty children who wanted to see my sketch and asked questions and told me things, not all of which I understood.  One little girl very knowingly said, “ah, vous etes Anglaise”, after I said something in French.

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After finishing my drawing I strolled through Luxembourg gardens, remembering the last time I was here with Bob.  We had a picnic on the grass just as so many people were doing today. Picnicking, reading, talking, playing cards, I even saw one man repeatedly lick his girlfriend’s foot!  Not something you see everyday.

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imageParisians love their gardens and green spaces, I can’t believe how many people are out in them everyday, and the flowers are amazing.

I stopped to visit St. Sulpice, a very grand cathedral, and there was a little white heart on the ground just outside the door that seemed very welcoming,

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I am truly in a state of awe when I visit these cathedrals.  I touch the stone and wonder about all the people who have been here before me, perhaps touching this exact spot.

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Then I turned around and saw this….

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It was in a little side chapel called the Chapel of Holy Angels, that had three large Delacroix paintings, painted between 1855 and 1861.  Just below one of these huge paintings there was a chair, illuminated by the late afternoon sun and it felt as though, just perhaps, an angel was present.