Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Paris a Day: #21

This is an art installation in the gardens near the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette's domain) at Versailles. The gardens were gorgeous, many people were out picnicking and just enjoying the sunshine. As impressive as the chateau is, I think the gardens are what make Versailles so beautiful.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Paris a Day: #20

Today I went to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and saw the graves of some of the most famous corpses in Paris: Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, etc. Amongst all the fanfare of these wealthy phantoms I found this simple grave site. No name visible, falling apart, and being completely taken over by nature. It was beautiful.

Many of the tombs have fallen in disrepair from lack of care from families. Between the giant monuments and the celebrity tombstones lie the forgotten.

p.s. -- read this book.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Paris a Day: #16 - 18

This weekend I traded the lights of Paris for the sea wind of Northern France. It was a welcomed change of pace and a chance to see a different side of France.

Technically I was on U.S.A. soil when I took this photo of the Memorial at Omaha Beach in Normandy. We drove through Normandie making stops at Arromanches, Omaha Beach, and Pointe du Hoc on our way in to the Bretagne region of France.

We spent two nights in the Medieval town of St. Malo which is surrounded by stone walls. The tides in this region are so vast that at certain times of the day you can walk out to the islands. However don't stay too long because within a few hours the tides could be crashing on the city walls.

We took a short trip to another Medieval town named Dinan that has remained almost completely intact since that time. It was a real treat to walk along the small stone paths and admire the remains of old smiths shops and homes from centuries ago.

Our final stop before heading back to Paris was to the breathtaking Mont St. Michel which lies directly between Bretagne and Normandie. It is an island in a bay where the tides ebb and flow similarly to St. Malo. One moment it can be a dry bay and in a few hours, completely surrounded by water. I witnessed a monk ringing the bell shortly before mass this morning, as this is still a commonly used place of worship.

This entire trip was lovely and a breath of fresh sea air after spending two weeks in the city.

Mont St. Michel

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Paris a Day: #15

Today I climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and got amazing views of the city of Paris. I also got sunburned... honestly, who comes back from Paris with a tan?

Dear friends,
I will not be blogging for the next few days. I will be going to the North of France for the weekend, and will not be able to take my trusty laptop along. I'll do one post for the entire weekend. This should allow me 3 pictures for the 3 days I am gone.

Au revoir mes amis!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paris a Day: #14

This is the interior of the restaurant above the Musée d'Orsay. It was the only place my camera was permitted. So far, this has been my favorite museum. Not only is it home to masterpieces from all the great 19th & early 20th century artists, but this converted train station is stunning. Wide open spaces with natural light and a sculpture garden down the center. And the restaurant above the museum has great views of the Seine and desserts to die for. I had a La Dame Blanche, which on paper sounded like a simple sundae, but tasted oh, so much better than that.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Paris a Day: #13

Reportedly the best chocolate in town...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paris a Day: #12

Musée du Louvre

2 hours just isn't enough time. I will see you again very soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Paris a Day: #11

Another rainy day in Paris. Since I got my laundry done last night, I thought I would venture out on my own to see some of the sights. Seeing the grey clouds thick with rain, I grabbed my scarf, trench coat, and iPod and headed to the Metro.

First I stopped at the Place de la Concorde and admired the Obelisk of Luxor and the Fountain of Commerce and Navigation with beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower and Embassy buildings.

Next I stepped into the Jardin des Tuileries with many 16th century sculptures, a fountain/lake with many chairs for lounging, and a long walk way leading to the Louvre. Although the expansive Louvre Museum lay only a short distance away, I opted to visit the Musée de l'Orangerie instead.

Although my class is scheduled to go to the Musée de l'Orangerie, we were informed on Friday that it was to be canceled due to a scheduled strike next week. It seemed only fitting that after this week's trip to Giverny that I go to Monet's "chapel" of Les Nympheas / Water Lilies. The rooms were designed in an infinity band and you wound around the two galleries completely surrounded by Monet's paintings. Photos were allowed, but NO flash. Unfortunately, I got yelled at because a person near me had a flash and the guard thought it was me. Language barriers prevented me from explaining and several people scowled and shamed me out of the room. Cheeks red, I slinked downstairs into the other galleries where I saw many of the masters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. My embarrassment faded as I walked through gallery after gallery of some of the world's most beloved paintings.

This is a small and manageable museum, it may be dwarfed by the Louvre or the Orsay, but it is quite a lovely collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works. I would recommend that if ever you are in Paris, it is worth a visit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Paris a Day: #10

Today is my day off... on this rainy Saturday I slept, worked on homework, and tried in vain to use the dorm laundry room. Apparently everyone had the same idea.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Paris a Day: #9

Claude Monet's home and gardens in Giverny, France.
(Actually, I wasn't in Paris...)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Paris a Day: #8

Today I went to the market and purchased some fresh produce and a delicious falafel wrap from a Lebanese vendor with delicious tempeh and hummous. The Market is right by Place de la Bastille, and buzzing with locals and visitors alike in search of great deals on fresh produce, cooked foods, and other various knick knacks. It was like a Farmer's Market and Flea Market all rolled into one.

After lunch and a glass of wine we made our way down to the Musée National du Moyen Âge (more commonly known as the Musée de Cluny). This museum is housed in a Medieval residence that was used as lodging for the monks of Cluny, a South Eastern region of France when they traveled North into Paris. We saw many of the original artifacts from the Notre Dame and St. Chapelle Cathedrals that have been damaged by war over the many centuries.

I also got to see the Northern Medieval masterpiece The Lady and The Unicorn tapestries. I was unable to get a photograph of this amazing work as light and temperature are greatly regulated to ensure that the integrity of the tapestries are not compromised. It was absolutely breathtaking. It is truly amazing that these were made by hand, the detail is mind blowing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Paris a Day: #7

The Kiss
Auguste Rodin
Musee Rodin, Paris, France

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paris a Day: #6

Today we went outside of Paris to St. Denis Basilica. The story is that St. Denis, the patron saint of France, was beheaded in Montmartre, and his body picked up his head and walked several miles and finally laid to rest. This was the sacred ground that the St. Denis Basilica was erected in his honor. This is also where all Kings of France are laid to rest. Not only did I see the tombs of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, but I went into the crypts beneath the church and saw the tombs of all the others from Henri IV - Louis XIV, and beyond.

It is a beautiful cathedral full of history and monuments to honor the rich history of the French aristocracy. It is situated in a predominantly Communist neighborhood that was bustling with markets and children. We saw several school children come through in groups for field trips.

Afterward we headed back to Notre Dame and purchased tickets for a concert later in the evening featuring a chamber orchestra, choir, and four featured Soprano soloists performing the J.S. Bach piece Magnificat.

We then ate ice cream at Berthillon, I had a cassis sorbet. (YUMMY!)

After some resting in the dorms and some primping and preening four of us headed out to see Bach performed inside the amazing Notre Dame Cathedral. It was truly breathtaking. Music filled the halls and as I gazed at the centuries-old building around me I felt in utter disbelief at how fortunate I am.

Thank you to everyone who supported me on this adventure. I am blessed to have such lovely people in my life that have allowed me to take this very important and inspiring journey. I love you.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Paris a Day: #5

This was an epic day. French classes held at the beautiful Gare de Lyon, then onto the Sainte-Chapelle Cathedral and Notre Dame Cathedral for Art History. Afterward one of the advanced students and I grabbed a petit café and walked all around the a Île de la Cité. We ended up at the one place that was at the top of my personal 'must-see' list: Shakespeare & Co.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paris a Day: #4


Today a few of us went to the Jardin du Luxembourg to meet our professor at the Fountain de Medici and head to the market. Unfortunately we were waiting at the wrong fountain (despite assurances from a local that we were at the ONLY fountain in the gardens) and missed out on the trip. However, we decided to make the best of things and walked through the Luxembourg Quarter and into St. Germain de Pres. On the way we stopped at Gerard Mulot where I purchased a variety of macarons.

They are delicious! They are kind of like light, fluffy, meringue cookies with flavored ganache in the middle. They may look and sound like an Oreo, but they are just... wow.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Paris a Day: #3

Today was a free day. No meetings, check-ins, or classes scheduled. My roommate and I decided to use it exploring the neighborhood surrounding the Cité Universitaire. We walked around the 14eme arrondissement ducking into book shops, markets, and cafés. All the while trying to communicate in spotty French to the locals. Don't believe a word anyone says about the French being rude, I have found everyone to be completely charming and forgiving as I try to communicate with them... sometimes with hilarious results.

After a lovely lunch at a local café and a walk back to the dorms, we rested and prepared notes and mapped out where we are to meet our professor for tomorrow's planned adventure.

We went out again this time directly across the street into the historic Parc Montsouris. This is such a magnificent park filled with people picnicking, children playing, joggers, dog walkers, ducks, geese, fish, birds of all sorts, flowers, and couples sitting hand in hand on park benches. I can't wait until I am able to take my family to this park... someday.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Paris a Day: #2

Although I had been in Paris for more than 1 day, it didn't feel real until the metro 6 approached the Bir-Hakeim stop and I could see the very top of the most recognizable monument in France: The Eiffel Tower. Paris just isn't Paris without it.

Simply breathtaking.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Paris a Day: #1

Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

This is the main entrance to the University and dorms that I am staying in for the Summer semester.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Little Games / Des Petits Jeux

A friend of mine, who loves to make little games out of life, suggested I document my month in Paris by sharing (only) one image each day.

The Rules:
  • The image must be either a photo I have taken or sketch from my sketchbook
  • Each image has to be from the day of posting (Paris time)
  • There must be a description of the image and put into the context of the day
  • Posts will take place from June 10 – July 10, 2010

I accept the challenge!

(Hmm, I hope I have internet access every day…)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

“I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands.”

Louise Bourgeois died yesterday, she was 98.

The art world feels the loss of such a creative force. A woman who created art her entire life without recognition until she was in her seventies. A woman who said, “I believe that not being picked up by the market was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to work undisturbed, at my own pace and in my own way.” A woman who cared for her family while creating art for herself. A woman who threw the roast out the window when her family did not rush to the dinner table to show gratitude for the meal she prepared. A woman who represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1993. A woman who used artwork to explore the deepest parts of her psyche. A woman who showed great courage, strength and force, eventhough she appeared petite and frail outwardly.

I could go on to discuss her tumultuous childhood, her move from France to America with her husband, how she has grown as an artist over her long and eventful life. But why? All you have to do is look at her artwork. Every piece is personal; every piece represents a feeling and a moment in her life.

Her magnificent life continues in her prolific and magnificent body of work.

* photo of Louise Bourgeois by Annie Leibovitz, [source:]