Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paris, Part 5

On Thursday, I tried to get up early to make the most of my time in Paris, but I was so tired and still feeling sick, I ended up not leaving the apartment til around 11am. My destination: Ile St. Louis, Ile de Cite and the Notre Dame Cathedral. I think this area and Notre Dame itself were my favorite part of Paris. I just loved the Cathedral. Its age (almost 850 years!) is awe-inspiring. It's one thing to visit ancient ruins, but a building that has actually been in (pretty-much) continual use for that long is another thing entirely. It's also just a beautiful building, and I love love LOVE the gargoyles. I strongly recommend going up to the top of the cathedral (if you're OK with narrow twisty staircases), because not only do you get to meet all those wonderful gargoyles, you also get a fabulous view of Paris. I took loads of pictures. Here are a few.

Front of the Catherdral

Gargoyle rainspouts :)

Rose window

Starry cieling

Flower gate enclosing a chapel

Flower closeup

Beautiful stained glass windows

This was from a carved nativity scene. It might be hard to see, but I love Mary's expression here. She looks a little bit like McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed.

Closeup of a rose window.

Notre Dame.


Oboe/shawm-playing angel!

Majestic Interior of the Cathedral

Colored light from the stained glass

The organ

Front doors. My favorite is St. Denis, carrying his own head!

OK, lots of gargoyles next:

This one looks like a sea monster to me. For some reason, he also seems very content.

This one looks like Sam Eagle.

This one looks a little confused. He's also got an eye on another shawm angel.

The shawm angel.

Lots of fanciful gargoyles, gazing down upon the city.

A gargoyle and his city. Montmartre and Sacre Coeur in the background.

This one looks like he is deeply engaged in a conversation. Wonder what's he's saying.

This one's ravenous.

So's this one, but apparently he's vegetarian.

Aww, he seems like maybe he's afraid of heights, poor thing.

There were also some great views of the city.

Riverboat on the Seine.

Eiffel tower. Gives good perspective on its relative size.


Bridges over the Seine.

The roofs of Paris (like the movie!)

The giant Emmanuel bell. 13 tons, built in 1681, ringing an Eb

After spending quite a while at the great Cathedral, I wandered around the Iles for a while. They are lovely just to walk around on a pretty fall day. I grabbed a crepe somewhere for a late lunch, and then met Dawn with some friends of hers after work at the Musee D'Orsay, formerly a train station.

Unlike the Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay has a modern layout, with lots of information about each work, and everything is arranged in a way that's been thought out and is therefore fairly logical. The purpose of our visit was to see a new exhibit, based on the life of Parisian socialite/muse, Misia Sert. This lady knew everyone who was anyone in early 20th-c Paris, and married or had affairs with half of them. She was good friends with Coco Chanel, and supported, among others, Picasso, Stravinsky, Diagalev, Satie, Ravel, Renoir, Proust, Monet, Mallarme, Toulouse-Lautrec, Debussey, Jose-Maria Sert, etc. Therefore the exhibit included paintings from many of the visual artists in this list, some of the paintings specifically dedicated to her or even of her. It also had actual costumes from the Ballet Russe, videos of some of the early productions (including Rite of Spring), jewelery and clothing she had worn, recordings and scores of music that went with productions, and more. It was a fascinating exhibit of a truly remarkable woman and the lives she touched. It was also very crowded, more so than I am accustomed to in American museums!

I might also have enjoyed the Musee D'Orsay all the more because this time I just said I was an art teacher, showed my Crossroads ID, and got a free ticket :) Perhaps a slight stretch of the truth, but worth it. After the Misia exhibit, Dawn and her friends indulged my desire to see a little more of the Musee D'Orsay and its regular collections, so we wandered around the museum for a while. I was particularly tickled to see this particular Van Gogh painting featured in Doctor Who, among some other impressionist art. After viewing the museum to our satisfaction, and a discussion of French manners versus American manners (my first instinct was to use stairs and let the older and less physically mobile people use the elevator when there was a line to use it; my young French friends thought that was silly--we used the elevator!), we left for dinner.

We went to a restaurant a bit of a walk from the museum, just a normal French restaurant whose name and exact location I of course have forgotten. I think I split two meals with Dawn so that we could try more things, and I remember a really delicious raspberry dessert, but I can't remember for sure what we ate. We did drink a lot of wine though. It was a typical leisurely Parisian dinner, and I enjoyed getting to know Dawn's friends a little more. They were a lively and humorous bunch! By the time we finished drinking our wine, it was time to go home once more.

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