Our Last Day in Venice

Day 48, Sunday October 22, 2017

A week goes by much too quickly in Venice. There is so much to see, and although we wandered the streets and rode the canals I feel like there is so much that we missed. Our day started out interestingly. As we waited for our bus we heard lots of sirens and then we watched a police escort for lots of motorcycles, probably more than a hundred of them! It was quite something to see.We have a few smaller museums that we want to visit.  Ca’ Rezzonico is first on our list. It was the home of noble family in the 1700’s and once more we see room after amazing room. The ceiling in this room was painted by Tieplol in just twelve days for a wedding! It is so large that I couldn’t even get it all into a photo.Bob was intrigued by the two wooden chandeliers in the ballroom. Imagine having a ballroom your home!The top floor of this museum had thirteen rooms of paintings donated from a private collection and some fantastic views of Venice.There were also several pastel paintings by Rosalba Carriera, 1673-1757, one of the few succesful women painters of this time.
Next stop was Carlo Goldoni’s House, which is a very small theatrical museum with a great staircase.

I was worried that a little book store called Rivoaltus might not be open on Sunday.  We visited this shop on one of our first days in Venice and it had the lovely expensive sketchbook I mentioned that I coveted.  The shop was open and see that empty spot on the bottom shelf? The sketch book is now in my suitcase! Here we are on the Rialto Bridge near the book store.Next stop was the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, which was a palace that is now a museum of fabrics, costumes and perfumes. This collection of men’s waistcoats was one of the interesting displays. This collection of ‘archive bundles’ is thought to be of some importance although it has not yet been studied in depth.Here is a close up of some of the bundles. I wonder what interesting documents might be tucked away inside?After wandering up and down more streets and peeking inside a church or two we find a Gondola ride. When we were in Venice almost 40 years ago, we thought the gondolas were too expensive so we never went on one. We rectified that today.Our ride takes us along small canals, under many bridges,
and eventually onto the Grand Canalwhere our excellent Gondoliersafely manoeuvred through this traffic jam.The buildings look a bit different for this perspective, low in the water.
Soon we are back where we started and …it is time to leave Venice.

Sagrada Familia

We both had a rather restless night so we had a very leisurely morning.  I had an early afternoon nap and Bob went exploring, then we went to check out the Sagrada Familia which is only a short walk from our apartment. This is our first view of this incredible cathedral, which is Gaudi’s greatest work. This is the Passion Facade, which was completed from 1986 to 2000, by the artist Josep Maria Subirachs. It is very different from the Nativity Facade which was completed in 1930, four years after Gaudi’s death at the age of 74. He was run over by a tram while crossing the street near the church to which he devoted forty years of his life.image

We walk around to the other side of the cathedral and stop to watch these little green parrots which nest in the palm trees in the park.  They make an incredible amount of noise! They were difficult to photograph, hiding in their nests and under the palm fronds.

imageThere was a group of young children in the park making wonderful paintings of the cathedral.  imageHere is the other side of the Sagrada Familia, the Passion Facade.  I am looking forward to spending more time here and visiting the inside of this amazing cathedral.  Too tired today for more than a brief visit.imageWe head back to our apartment for dinner and afterwards go for another walk, looking for an English bookstore to buy a guide book for Spain. On the way there I discover a fabulous looking art supply store just a couple of blocks from our apartment.  I definitely need to check it out.

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!

Back to the Académie

image We had a fantastic model today!  What a difference a model can make to the feel of a class.  This lovely lady had such positive energy and beautiful poses.  It was easy to see that she took this job seriously and that she enjoys modelling.  I hope she sets the standard for Parisian models.


Waiting for class to start.

imageEasels and stools, supposedly the originals, the pot belly stove is for sure.  I think the studio must get quite cool in the winter, the back wall Is very cold already.  I was leaning up against it the first time I went and had to move; it was way too cold.

I desperately wanted to stay for the second session from 3:15 until 6:00, but I was just too tired.  It can be a tad frustrating having a body that needs more rest than I think it should.  I did buy ‘une carnet de douze séances’ today, this is a pack of tickets for twelve sessions. It is certainly much more expensive to draw in Paris than at home.  At Harcourt House I buy a yearly membership for $25 and then a three hour drawing session costs $8.00!  I alway thought that was a great price but I truly did not appreciate just how wonderful it really is.  A package of twelve sessions here is 170€, which works out to $20.50 Canadian per session and a regular drop in session without a ticket is 18€, or $25.75 Canadian.

Here are a couple of sketches from today.  The first is a five minute pose, the second a twenty minute one.

image imageI stopped in to an art store across the street from the Academié, but just had a quick look around and decided I had  better head for home.  They had a good deal on some Canson papers in case I decide to work larger.



There were also some very nice Japanese watercolours in the window, but they were very expensive.  The set with the twelve large pans is 282€!

It was so nice to come home to soup in the fridge and cooked apples for dessert.  I definitely pays to do a bit of prep work every few days.



Cezanne, Degas, Picasso and Trudy

So what do we all have in common?  We buy our art supplies at Senneliers, the oldest art supply store in Paris!  It was founded in 1887: Cezanne bought his oils here, Picasso liked their grey pastels, and Degas was one of the first clients for their 700 colour range of pastels. I resisted buying any more pastels (I do have a rather extensive collection…) but I wanted to buy a sketchbook for life drawing sessions here in Paris.   I ended up buying three instead of just one.  What was I to do?  They were all nice and I couldn’t make up my mind.


The display and storage counters are original and have a lovely patina of age.  The store isn’t all that large, but it is steeped in history and packed with beautiful art supplies. This wall of dry pigment is stunning and so are these luscious giant soft pastels, but check out the price, almost $20 each!


imageBesides spending money on art supplies, I saved lots of money at the Louvre. With my permanent teacher’s certificate I was able to purchase a yearly pass for only 35€.  The entrance fee is 15€ and I intend to visit often, so this is really quite a bargain.  I wasn’t sure that the agent was going to accept my Certificate, but after a little discussion, in French, he decided it was OK.  One of the best things about this pass is that I don’t have to wait in line to get into the Louvre.  There is a special entrance for pass holders.  This morning when I arrived the line up to get inside was wrapped around the pyramid all the way to the reflecting pond in the front of this picture and was three or four people wide.   Once inside it is necessary to line up again to buy a ticket.  I was able to go in another entrance to buy the pass, so I didn’t even need to line up today either.  Yay!


I wandered around inside the Louvre for an hour or so and started to feel very tired and had a little cough and sore throat starting so I decided to head home early and get a bit of rest. Walking to the metro I found several streets that seem to be all Art Galleries, one after the other.  I will have to return another day.

I crossed the Seine on the Pont Neuf,  the bridge with the love locks (lovers attach a lock with their names on it onto the bridge and throw the key in the Seine).  This is being discouraged as it pollutes the Seiene and puts a strain on the bridge structure due to the weight of all the locks.  They are removed periodically, and today there were not as many as I have seen in some pictures.  Then I saw one of the things I don’t like much about Paris, a man relieving himself in plain sight on the bridge!  Not all the puddles here are from dogs…

imagePerhaps a few pictures of my apartment will give you a idea of the size of the average Paris apartments.  Mine is 12′ x10′ with a 6′ x 3.5′ kitchen nook.  It also has a little bathroom with a 2′ x3 ‘ shower that is actually quite generous by Parisian standards, for a total of about 170’ square feet. I saw an advertisement today for a similar looking apartment that was 23 square meters, or about 240 square feet for sale for 240,000€ or about $336,000 Canadian!  Remember this is also not in the heart of Paris, but in the 10th arrondissment.