Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7

It has been gray and cold and drizzly and miserable here for what seems like days. Probably it's not very long, but I am a sunshine girl -- I do not like the cold weather (I've been in misery thanks to my Raynaud's) and a couple of days without sunshine is enough to make me extremely blue. And blue I am. I feel like this:

Except without the wings, of course.

This angel was in Saint Sulpice. (It's a dreadful picture and I apologize for that, but I took all these photos with a little Canon A60 point & shoot that I bought prior to my first trip to Paris in August of 2005. I've accumulated some skill at getting it to do what I want it to, there are manual settings I can futz with, but I'm no photographer and mostly I just let the camera do its best.) This is from my February 2006 trip, when it was bitter cold and gray just about the whole time I was there.

This is the plaza otside Saint Sulpice, which is a pretty intriguing old church. (Someone tried to tell me once about all the mysterious connections it's supposed to have, apparently it figures in that DaVinci Code nonsense but I really couldn't care less. It's just a beautiful old church.)

Funny how I could spend a week in the cold Paris gray and feel pleasantly melancholic but still very happy, but three days of cold Austin gray and I want to crawl into my bed and never come out again. Context is everything...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inspired by Virginia

One of my favorite blogs is Virginia Jones' Paris Through My Lens. Virginia is a wonderful photographer and she uses her skills to illuminate Paris and other parts of France, a place she obviously loves as much as I do. Yesterday she inspired me with a post about the juxtaposition of the artwork and the architecture in the fabled Musée d'Orsay.

The d'Orsay isn't my favorite museum in Paris -- I'm much more of a modern & contemporary art person, so while I appreciate the beauty of all this gorgeous 19th Century (-ish) stuff, it doesn't really tug at me like the things you might find in the Palais de Tokyo or (my favorite museum on Earth) the Tate Modern. Or a new great favorite, the Modern in Ft. Worth -- I had a delirious afternoon there earlier this year, in a delighted stupor of architecture worship and art overload. If you can get there, GO!!

The most wonderful thing about the d'Orsay (to me) is that is used to be a real, live building before it was a museum -- it was a train station and thank heavens the resourceful Parisians decided it was better to save it and bung a lot of art into it than tear it down and lose an irreplaceable and extraordinary example of fin de siècle architecture.

Forthwith, some of my favorite photos from my visit there, in August of 2005.

François Pompon -- Polar Bear

I think the bear might have been my favorite thing in the whole building -- isn't he delightful? (Not to mention that his creator was named "Pompon!" How fun!) Click on the captions for more information about the works. As you can see, even in the Musée d'Orsay, my eye goes to the most modernistic of the artwork. Everyone raves about the passion and emotive qualities of Rodin's sculpture, but I'm much more moved by the serenity & simplicity of Maillol's.

So thanks, Virginia, for inspiring me to look back on these great works!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 24

Look closely at the bikes in this photo.

I took this on my first trip to Paris, in August of 2005. For some unfathomable reason, I saw this several times while I was there -- bikes with hopelessly bent wheels chained to subway gates or some other structure.

Were they injured after they were locked to the gates? Are they waiting there for someone to pick them up & fix them, or perhaps scavenge them for parts? (They seem perfectly good other than the bent wheels, and the wheels can be replaced.) Are they abandoned? Are they art? I never figured it out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15

This is my friend Billy, who lives in Paris.

I do not believe he was born in Paris, he went there when his person, Nicole, moved to the city.

He's a gorgeous fellow, incredibly sweet, and he's a Thumping Cat. Petting is all well & good, but if you really want to make Billy happy, you thump him. Smack him rather like a bongo drum all up & down his back. I don't know why it makes him happy, but it does. Good enough for me.

Billy lives here

with his person, Nicole. Nicole is the sister of my old & dear friend Dominique, with whom I often stay when I visit Paris. For years, this is the apartment where Dominique & her son lived, and on my first trip to Paris I stayed here with the two of them. Small apartment, very close quarters, and still -- amazing hospitality from my friend. Dom & Seiya have since moved two doors down to a much bigger place, and now Nicole is living in this apartment again (she'd sublet it to Dom while she was living out in the 'burbs for a while). I've stayed here a couple of times on my own, because Nicole is frequently out of town and when my visit coincides with her leaving I get to stay in her adorable little apartment in Montourgueil and pretend I'm an honest-to-god Parisian, and she gets someone who can take care of Billy while she's away. Everyone wins, especially me. The only thing better than wandering the streets of Paris all day long is coming home to a sweet cat who's happy to see me at the end of said day. He's got quite a good loud purr, does Billy.

This post is inspired by this cat

This is my angel, my darling, my beating heart, my Shine. Today is her 6th birthday. (Well, today is her birthday observed. She was a rescue cat and so I'm not sure of her exact birthday. Her vet & I made an educated guess.) Shine is not French, she is Texan through and through, but I do think she'd do very well in Paris. She's friendly and gorgeous, and black & white is always chic. Happy Birthday, my babycat.

Friday, April 10, 2009

April 10

This is a little English-style pub called le Bombardier just behind the Pantheon in the 5th. Before I visited Paris in October of 2006, someone I know who had just been there told me about this place and how much they'd liked it. Perhaps it's silly to seek out an English pub in the heart of Paris, but sometimes a good pint of Guinness hits the spot more than a glass of wine, and I like to have options.

My friend gave me a rough outline of where the pub was, but not the exact location, so I wandered around for a while trying to find it. But first, I visited the Pantheon, and I took this picture from the roof of that amazing building, not knowing that it's what I was taking a picture of. I just thought it looked picturesque, so I snapped a photo. Sure, I can read the sign now, but while I was taking the photo, not so much.

After I left the Pantheon, I wandered for a good hour searching for the bar, asking folks if they had heard of it & getting no info. I actually wound up pretty far afield and eventually went into a hotel lobby where the super-spiffy concierge looked it up on the computer, made ah-hah noises, and printed off a map for me. And yeah, I'd been mere steps away when I started the whole journey -- it's literally just around the back of the Pantheon. Had I turned right instead of left when I came out of the building I would have run right into it. Doofus.

I went back and had a couple of pints while I read a copy of the NY Times Sunday Magazine I was toting around in my purse. The bar staff were all British expats who of course spoke my language as well as fluent French. I find that I need to make a couple of little islands of English-speaking while I'm there to give my brain a rest from the effort of French, so I have stashed away a couple of location like this where I can duck in & not feel bad about speaking English for an hour or so. Sad but true. Maybe if I work a little harder my French will be better by the next trip. Need to break out the Pimsleur CDS again.