Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arc de Triomphe - monument dedicated to all the Frenchmen who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. Construction was completed in the mid-1830s.

On maps, this stretch of tree-lined concrete is known as the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, thought it is fondly referred to by Parians as "La plus belle avenue du monde." Translation? The most beautiful avenue in the world.

Quick fact: The Champs-Élysées begins at the Arc de Triomphe (seen in photo) and extends to the Place de la Concorde. Not really that long, just that famous.

It's a Vuarnet day, John.

Eiffel Tower shot through the greatest sunglasses on the face of the Earth. Totally becoming my version of the roaming gnome.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Unfortunately, we were unable to reach the top of the tower due to repairs on the elevator. Apparently, it's not possible to take stairs to the top, which I would have much preferred anyway... so I was bummed. Still, just being able to look upon Paris, clouds or no clouds, top or no top, sparked enough thoughts revolving around its fairly lengthy history to keep me busy for a few years.

Climbing, climbing...


Monday, March 29, 2010

Tour Eiffel.

Classic tourist shot. Had to cross it off my to-do list.

I wasn't sure where I was.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

See? Now... how could I lie about something like this?

The translation of the fine print reads as follows:

"All-star bodyguard and minor-league catcher, Robin Hood, to play country music while dancing with wolves in Waterworld, following latest underdog golf victory."

Please note the quote, unquote.

What a cool remote-controlled sail boat! Certainly not knocking little newspaper boats, but look at that nautical toy slicing through the water on its starboard side! What agility! Those little figurines must be having a great time.

Michael! Row, er, sail your boat ashore! Hallelujah!

Hôtel des Invalides, or more specifically for both of the above shots, Dôme des Invalides. Built in the late 1670s, the annex you see here served as the church for "aged" or injured war veterans residing in the Hôtel des Invalides and eventually as the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon II, Jérôme Bonaparte and many other French military notables. The structure is also home to the Musée de l'Armée, a museum dedicated to French military history, which even if it is the French, is a major interest of mine.

Nerdy nerd, nerd, nerd, nerd.

I have the Military Channel on right now - a DVR-ed hour-long program titled "Wings Over the Pacific" about aerial warfare in the Pacific during WWII. First-hand accounts? Super. This is what I do with my Saturdays when my roommates aren't around. Grind some coffee beans, grab a sleeve of cookies and watch some history.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"We need to find a jazz club."
"Hm, ok let's ask around."

Brad and Alli ask around, on the street, in various establishments... nada. No one has a clue. What? How can this be? Defeated, they begin to make the trek back to the hotel.

"Maybe we should walk up this street just a littttllle bit farther..."
"Yeah, good idea."

Le Petit Journal: Jazz Bar, not even three blocks up from our turn off. Great. Mind you, this trip was intentionally made without the efforts of cell phones and/or computers. Computer stayed at home. Not surprisingly, I think we did all right.

Interior Le Petit Journal.

Bouillabaisse, a traditional French fish stew made with rascasse (scorpionfish in English) originating from Marseille. Served with rouille and French bread, the stew is heavy enough to recognizably hit the entire palette and light enough to lead you into your next course. If you were wondering, my rouille is hiding behind the bowl - not yet in the stew. Poor food photography, Alli. Way to go.

"I own the hotel - and I live there. My life is very much like Monopoly." - Hugh Grant and/or Napoleon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Closing down the Louvre at 8 p.m. is the same thing as closing down Manitoba's in Alphabet City at 8 a.m.


And to think! All that time spent in Aussieland, trying to get the perfect over/under shot, all I had to do was come to Paris! Hmm... I wonder if it counts that I was with an Australian (hi Brad!). This photo is funny though, because one usually expects the old to be under the new, not the new under the old.

Ah yes, the age old dichotomy of new and old.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss by Antonio Canova, commissioned in 1787.

There are many, many reasons I find this masterpiece much more intriguing than the mystery of art history's favorite lady. Had the museum not been closing by the time we reached this piece, I would have been inclined to walk circles around it in admiration. It is, of course, admiration for the sculptor's craftsmanship and admiration for a physical representation of Apuleius' words describing the love affair of Cupid and Psyche. What makes this sculpture so great, aside from its neoclassical ideas of true love, is that the proper angle escalates the voyeur's emotion. I mean look at the difference in sensuality between the top image and the bottom image. You'd be lying if you looked at that top photo and told me that you didn't wish to be either Cupid or Psyche, embracing or being embraced by whoever it is that looks at you like that. Their eyes are stone (literally!) and they say everything you've ever wanted to say and everything you've ever wanted to hear. I'm not going to lie to you, I'd absolutely like to be Psyche in that top photo.

Psyche, by the way, means spirit, soul, breath, life, animating force and Psyche as a character became the personification of all of the above. Very, very cool.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, Google may be your best bud right now. No need for me to reinvent the wheel!

No need to identify this gal. Over the past 500some years, her PR people have done a GREAT job. Still, she falls short of today's lead spot.

The Coronation of Napoleon in Notre-Dame by Jacques-Louis David, completed in 1807.

Not bad for Napoleon's official painter. If this were a paint-by-number, it'd probably have over five million steps.

Winged Victory of Samothrace c. 220-190 BCE - an absolutely brilliant piece in person.

Trivia? On the night of September 3rd, 1939, she, along with Venus de Milo, was taken from the museum with the onset of WWII. Through the duration of the war, both pieces were housed at Château de Valençay outside of Paris for safekeeping.

Why would there be English translations of each plaque, Alli... goodness, you can be dumb. Put. the pom-poms. down.

Trying to move through the Louvre without an English tape and headset proved to be one of the greatest little mishaps of this trip. Though I do suppose when one sense is inhibited, the others are all the more apt, forcing your brain to focus on the artistry of each piece rather than reading its brief history. Art appreciation at its finest.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clearly, our weather was not of the utmost perfection, but being that it was what it was going to be, I enjoy the contrast and linear appeal. A bright, sharp blue would change the literal (obviously) and figurative tone and really, I like it just the way it is.

Interior view, shooting straight up.

Thinking fast, framing fast. Too much to do, too much to see.

There is absolutely no way one cannot spend an entire day at the Louvre.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Both of the above photos we taken outside a closed Maison fondee as we set out on our day trip to the Louvre, thus marking the beginning of day two.

Not only did we see a curious kitty perched at the window, but a gentleman, presumably the owner of the establishment, relaxing with a newspaper in the background. Because the natural light was not perfect, for once, I feel that photography wasn't the best medium to capture the scene. Sadly both Brad and I had left our oils, brushes, easels, berets and Bob Ross T-shirts at home.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of my favorite photographs from the entire trip. Of course I was talking as I was shooting... again... so I have no idea what I've photographed. I'm hoping my aunt, or someone of equal and infinite knowledge of all things Parisian, can aid me in amending this embarrassment. I guess this is what I get for not "studying" abroad with the rest of the United States. Considering myself a decently educated human, I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that it isn't an unfamiliar angle of something I really should know.

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in New York anymore.

No seriously, Toto. I'm not kidding!

The wheelbarrow was invented in ancient Greece. Hm. That's all I got. Unknown as to why it marked the entrance to a theater. I just like silhouettes.

This interruption of chronological order is brought to you by day one's dinner. Though the above photos are from earlier in the same day, I wanted to post the last thing I remember from that night before I angelically crashed on my comfy Murphy bed, but there's too much yellow in it to deserve the top blog slot. SO here we are. Looking at duck confit (preserved duck leg) on a luscious bed of potatoes.

It's pretty much akin to what I looked like lying on my crisp, white sheets after I ate the entire thing. Man. What a crap first day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You find out in life that there's nothing quite like sipping a hot espresso under a canopied table on a sidewalk, overlooking the Seine at a quaint cafe in Paris, France. The bit of rain that falls from the clouds, hugged between wisps of blue sky, does nothing but encourage a premature opening of umbrellas as you watch comfortable locals, unfamiliar tourists and well-read travelers create moving, living art. When the last drop is cleaned from your cup, you stand, slide past the German businessman rambling about stock exchanges auf Deutsch and turn to face the East. The sun is setting from behind you, reflecting light from every accessible piece of glass toward your face, toward your lens. The shutter closes and you release.

Though it looks like it wants to rain, the sky kindly resisted its urges to open up on our first day in Paris. Following Notre Dame, we trotted across the bridge to the Hôtel de Ville, which has been home to the city's administration since its construction in 1628*. Like any worthwhile political building, the Hôtel de Ville is wrought with plenty of scandals, murders, deaths, riots, stabbings (not fatal), fires, arrests and in my personal experience, gleeful community winter activities, such as ice skating.

*The actual site has been the location of the city's administration since 1357, but the original building was torn down by King Francis I to build the Hôtel de Ville in the 1530s. Correct, almost 100 years of planning and construction.

Hôtel de Ville.

Hercule? Like Hercule Poirot? The great, yet intolerable Agatha Christie detective?? I mean, if I were the only fictional character to ever receive an obituary in the New York Times, I think I would at least deserve to have a cargo ship named after me. Battleship, no. Cargo ship, yes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Exterior wide shot #2.

The door to my apartment looks very similar.

What? Do I owe you money?

Oh... and color.

History, lines, detail.