Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

2:46 pm

That Last Week in Paris…

I had that one last week after the end of classes and before coming to Prague. So I took advantage of the opportunity to play tourist and to take a few more pictures to remind myself of my sojourn in Paris.

Sunday in Montmartre

I spent one day wandering up and down staircases in Montmartre:

I also liked this view of Sacré Cœur from the little park around in back of the Basilica:

And I had dinner one last time in Montmartre:

Tuesday on the Seine

I finally took one of the Bateaux Mouches trips. I can’t really say that I was all that impressed, and I probably wouldn’t do it again. But it does provide a different view of Paris:

There are a couple of reduced scale versions of the Statue of Liberty in Paris: one is in the Luxembourg Gardens, and another is on an island in the Seine:

After my little boat trip, I just wandered around a bit, and came across this memorial:

The caption reads, "In homage to Komitas, composer and musicologist, and to the 1,500,000 victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire".

Marais and the Bastille

Another day, I wandered around the Marais and visited the Place de la Bastille:

I encountered this statue of Louis XIII in a plaza near the Marais:

I also visited the Memorial of the Shoah, which I had been unable to find the first time I had looked. It’s not very big, and it’s easy to get disoriented in the windy little streets of the Marais. The memorial is very moving:

The inscription on the outside reads, "Before the Unknown Jewish Martyr, incline your head in piety and respect for all the martyrs; incline your thoughts to accompany them along their path of sorrow. They will lead you to the highest pinnacle of justice and truth."

The exterior also contains the Wall of Names: the names and dates of birth of the 76,000 Jews, including 11,000 children, deported from France as part of the Nazi plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe with the collaboration of the Vichy government.

Inside, there’s the crypt:

A Star of David fashioned out of black marble, marks the tomb of the six million Jews, dead without a grave. It contains the ashes of martyrs taken from the death camps and from the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. The ashes were buried on February 24,1957 in earth from Israel, in keeping with tradition, by Chief Rabbi Jacob Kaplan. An eternal light burns at the center of the marble star. There’s quotation from the Bible in Hebrew on the far wall: "Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. Young and old, our sons and daughters were cut down by the sword".

The permanent exhibition details the history of the "Final Solution" in France, and includes biographies of a handful of Jews resident in France at the time the Occupation began. It was not a cheery experience, but it was an important site to see.

Carousels of Paris

And there are carousels all over the place in Paris. There’s this one in the Tuileries:

This one is on one side of the Pont d’Iéna, near the Trocadéro Gardens:

And this one is on the other side of the Pont d’Iéna, near the Eiffel Tower:

And this one I found in the Marais:

I don’t really get the carousel thing, but I enjoy looking at them!

4:28 am

The End of Classes

No more pencils!
No more books!
No more teacher’s
Dirty looks!

Yesterday marked the end of my French classes (at least for the time being!). I’m feeling a little bit wistful now.

Now I have one last week in Paris, free of classes, before I head for Prague and my next round of classes. Whatever shall I do?…

1:49 am

I went to Disneyland!

As advertised, I went to Disneyland last Wednesday (the 13th).

Euro-Disney is very like its California counterpart: everything is spic ‘n’ span, lines at the rides move along briskly, there are ample opportunities to meet Disney characters, and there are more than enough places to buy over-priced food and drinks and merchandise.

It was not, in fact, very French at all. The French visitors were vastly outnumbered by the American and British visitors. It seems that everyone on the staff speaks English; in fact, I was surprised to see that a lot of the signs were in English only, which I had thought was prohibited. While Fantasyland was somewhat transposed to France, there’s blatantly nothing French about Frontierland or Main Street, USA. Discoveryland and Adventureland are pretty much stateless. The main French touch: the availability of wine and beer.

Neither was it particularly crowded; granted, it was midweek and rather early in the tourist season, but still… The lack of crowds, though, meant that I was able to get in two rides on each of the three roller coasters: Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (aside: I didn’t realize that Disney owned, or at least was licensing, the Indiana Jones franchise), and Space Mountain: Mission 2. Space Mountain was my favorite: a lot of it takes place in the dark and I found that the resulting disorientation increased the excitement. Star Tours (and I didn’t realize that Disney owned or was licensing the Star Wars franchise, either) was also fun. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast was really geared towards little kids and was rather hokey, but it was still entertaining. On the more sedate side, I always like carousels, and the riverboat ride was pleasant. Alas, Phantom Manor was closed during my visit.


I’ve put the rest of my pictures into a slideshow (this will open in a new window).

1:11 am

Evening at the Cabaret

The other evening, I went to Le Lapin Agile, "Paris’s oldest bar-cabaret and a Montmartre landmark".

The story behind the name: In 1875 the painter-caricaturist André Gill painted a sign of a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan: "Le Lapin à Gill" changed quite naturally into Lapin Agile (the nimble rabbit).

The doors open at about 9:15 PM, and most of those there at that hour were tourists: a few little groups of students, a Japanese couple and another small group of Japanese tourists, and me. There were also a two or three French couples. A group of Japanese businessmen showed up a little later, and after about 10, French couples started trickling in.

The show itself is very simple: shortly after we were seated, a man came in and started playing the piano. About 15 minutes later, a few people came in, sat down at a table in the middle of the room, and just started singing. These then were the performers. It all looked and sounded very unstructured: they took turns with their solos and encouraging the group singalongs. The Japanese businessmen in particular took some good natured ribbing about their reluctance to join in the group singing. "How hard is it to sing ‘la la lala la’"? got them singing, too. While some of the French refrains were a little too complicated for me (or the other tourists) to pick up on, the French guests sang along happily, and several of the songs had refrains no more complicated than the afore-mentioned "la la lala la" or "oui, oui, oui; non, non, non." When the pianist took his breaks, someone else would take out a guitar or an accordion.

They don’t try to serve food, and while a drink is included in the cover charge, they make no subsequent effort to push further drinks. It made for a very pleasant and relaxed evening.

8:46 am

Louvre, Revisited

I went back to the Louvre last week, specifically to the see the Praxiteles exposition.

Praxiteles was a Greek sculptor from the 4th century BC. Virtually none of his work is known to have survived intact. Most of the bronze work was melted down, and the little that survives is corroded and fragmentary, while the work in marble has at the very least been chipped if not broken. As a result, most of what is known about Praxiteles’s sculptures comes from written accounts.

So, how do you put together an exposition for an artist who has no surviving, complete work?

  1. You display the fragmentary work, and
  2. You display the copies and pastiches of his work

So, there are multiple variations on, for example, the Aphrodite of Cnidus: Praxiteles is credited with being the first to sculpt female nudes. There are also variations on Apollo Sauroktonos (Apollo the Lizard Slayer: how’s that for an appellation to strike terror in the hearts of your enemies?) and the Leaning Satyr. In addition, the exhibit included several statues of a woman who may or may not have been Phryne, who may or may not have been Praxiteles’s lover.

I was a little disappointed by the exposition: the multiple variations on just a few prototypical pieces were redundant.

I also wandered around the rest of the Louvre, since I hadn’t seen everything my first visit (and still haven’t with this second visit). As usual, I mostly focused on sculpture. The last time there, I had missed Canova’s Cupid and Psyche:

I think I found my lion friend in the same room:

He’s particularly engaging in closeup, although the picture doesn’t do him justice:

I spent a couple of hours wandering around the Decorative Arts, which I very much enjoyed. I don’t know how I missed it before. And I visited the Islamic Art collection, which is the newest and not yet complete addition to the Louvre’s permanent collections. There were some lovely pieces, but it doesn’t really come together well yet.

Tourist season has not begun in full force yet, but even on a weekday afternoon, the crowds are starting to mount up:

The public buildings in Paris, such as churches and palaces, never cease to amaze me. I have enormous difficulty wrapping my brain around constructing places on such a grand scale. The only thing comparable we have in the States are shopping malls. And will people still be going to, say, the Mall of America in a few hundred years? (Oh, Lordy: I hope not!)

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