Monday, April 30, 2018

Saint-Merri, Paris / Art

Saint-Merri is around 600 years old, built in the first half of the 16th century. Ancient art adorns its walls. The church is also used to display contemporary art throughout. I saw flyers for upcoming musical performances to be hosted within.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Place de la République / Navigation

We stayed a couple blocks from the Republique Metro station and a block and a half from the Oberkampf. Republique is big enough not to miss, especially with an enormous statue visible from a block away, if you have a clean line of sight. Walking over was a breeze but the first time I had to walk back I got confused. I needed to go back on Republique and not Voltaire or Temple. I figured it out after a couple of trips over. After fighting the Metro for a couple days we started using buses with some success but finding where to catch the bus initially can be a challenge. At Republique some buses stick to the streets and others run on an alleyway through the square that's exclusive to buses. Going and coming often don't use the same stops. Once acclimated, it's second nature. We began to use the 96 bus from Oberkampf Richard Lenoir to take us south to the Seine area.

Louvre / Salon Denon gift shop

Louvre Museum / Salon Denon / Charles-Louis Müller ceiling / Trompe L'oeil

Looking up at the very high ceiling you get the 12+ stops of light differential of dark walls juxtaposed with bright light streaming in from a sunny day. 

When I processed some shots I believed I was looking up at statues between the dormer style windows adorning the ceiling. I thought, how'd they do that? Put statues up there. But... Photographs represent 3D objects in 2D. You need shadow tones and highlights to separate flat from round. When an artist paints in shadow tones and highlights and does it in the right light, well, it masks the difference. Check out the photo below and look between the three dormer windows on the back ceiling. 3D. If you look to the side paintings left and right, the painted statue on the left looks pretty 3D. The one on the right looks flat and that clued me in that I was looking at a painting and not a statue. Great effect, Charles-Louis. Great effect...

AND, now I know there's a term for it: Trompe L'oeil (to trick the eye). Outstanding.

Louvre lower level inverted pyramid / Paris / I.M. Pei

Viewing the Louvre courtyard from above you see the large, main entry, glass pyramid. Upon closer inspection, you see three smaller pyramids flanking the large one on three opposing sides. Below ground those pyramids then invert to let in outside light. Impressive.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese

The painting opposite Mona Lisa at the Louvre. 

The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.

Seek & Find, Mona Lisa, Le louvre, Paris

She must be there somewhere.

She's protected by glass. You can see crowd reflections. Part of the charm.

Louvre traffic, Quai Francois Mitterrand, Pont des arts

The Quai is surfaced with stone pavers. Lots and lots of Parisians walk, ride the Metro, ride buses, ride bicycles and drive scooters and motorcycles. Lots of the scooters, many of which have three wheels, are equipped with black body covers which shield the rider from the elements. Cars are stuck in traffic a lot.


I.M. Pei trivia question. How many glass pyramids stand in the Louvre main courtyard?

Count them.

2 paintings showing the 2 sides of 2 dimensions, right?

David and Goliath by Daniele da Volterra (Louvre INV 566)

So in art, we have 2 dimensions (paintings) and 3 (sculpture). da Volterra gives us 2 dimensions x 2. We get to see the same scene from one side then the other. To reinforce the point, the paintings are free standing in the middle of the aisle.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Louvre, Paris, underground mall, inverted pyramid of light

Hotel Dieu, Paris

The Hôtel-Dieu or “Hostel of God” is one of the oldest still operating hospitals in the world. Located next to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Hôtel-Dieu was founded in 651 to offer food, shelter, and medical care to the poor. For many centuries it was the only hospital in Paris and it had a terrible reputation. In the 1700s, there was often one bed for every five patients and a quarter of the patients who entered the hospital died of diseases they caught there. The hospital was damaged numerous times throughout the centuries by fire and war.  Baron Haussmann moved the Hôtel-Dieu to its current location during his transformation of Paris in the mid-1800s.  The present structure was built in 1877 and with its construction the quality of care also improved. (It also helped that other hospitals opened in Paris.)  Today Hôtel-Dieu is still the first casualty center for emergency cases in Paris and it has approximately 350 beds (with one patient per bed).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Grand Hotel Paris Impressionism

Since this is Paris, I thought we'd throw in some impressionism. Le Grand Hotel, open.

Wet Streets, Paris


A major fun thing in Paris, assuming you're not trying to drive a car anywhere, is the natural, organic way the city propagated. It wasn't laid out by traffic engineers to maximize vehicular flow. It grew out from around the Seine into neighborhoods that were defined by churches, markets, housing and alleyways. Streets were fit in and paved with stones and later with concrete to accommodate 20th century demand for internal combustion vehicles. You see some pretty amazing juxtapositions of buildings. The angles, the turns, the spaces created are almost never equal. Even for peds this can be a problem because there's no guarantee walking in this town that you'll be able to arrive at your destination walking a relatively straight line. Dead ends abound where newer buildings have been erected in older neighborhoods. There's an area south of St. Merry's Cathedral a little over from Hotel DeVille where you can stand in the middle of several alleys and look in about eight or nine directions and see pathways into that many alleys. If you want to go exploring, you'll need lots of time because there are almost endless options available. A truly unique moment in time for me.
I like the shot that follows, as it looks up a typical miasma of street twists and turns. This is in the Oberkampf area.

Le Grand Hotel in the rain, Paris

Hotel Gabriel balcony, Paris

Paris RATP Bus 350 CDG to Gare de l'Est

The RER B train to downtown (Gare de Nord) is faster but the 350 bus goes farther south to Gare de l'Est and we were staying within walking distance of that station. I also worked a long time in the bus business and wanted to take their version of the Airport-Downtown Express. We bought a book of tickets at the airport visitor counter with Euros I brought with me and used three tickets each (around 2 Euros a ticket - discounted if you buy by the book) to cover the cost of the five zone ride (a ticket covers up to 2 zones). Our carry on bags fit under some of the back elevated seats which was good because the bus filled to capacity + on the way to town. Here's a couple of pics of the 350 bus interior and a shelter near the airport. As you can see, RATP does a pretty good job of placing vital information in their shelters. There is a VMS inside the bus to display information about upcoming stops and locations.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Paris Metro

On our last cruise we sat with interesting people, two of which were Russian expatriate Americans who were children during WWII. They both were moved out of Moscow during the German siege. His name was Gherman. They had a daughter in Paris they visited now and again. I mentioned the Metro and he just laughed. It is not a patch on Moscow he said and shook his head. When not on strike it works pretty well if you like climbing stairs and going through tunnels to connect and dealing with broken turnstiles, etc. After a few days we kept to the surface buses which were slower but easier to board and alight.

5 Euro baguette w/ sausage & peppers

There was a political rally going on behind these guys on stage and I figured they were feeding the crowd to garner political favor for the candidate and asked for a baguette sandwich with sausage and peppers which was a little spicy but pretty decent. Joke was he was selling them for 5 Euros. Sheepishly I paid him. In retrospect a dangerous meal plan but I went with the flow. Surprisingly Ruth ate half and kinda liked it.

Place de Republique candid

I am guilty of liking this one.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Boulevard de Denain, Paris

Paris Metro interior

Not a lot of room in Paris

There's little extra space in Paris. Every night, out front of our hotel, the garbage trucks made a pickup. We bought food supplies at the Franprix around the corner. The back entrance to the store was just down from our hotel on our street. I noticed beggars out and about around the area around Franprix. They had cups asking for Euro coins, which was anything up to 5 Euros. Then I saw various people, including some fairly well dressed locals, going through the big plastic green trash cans put out late each afternoon. Whatever the stores needed to jettison, for whatever reason, went out in the cans each late afternoon for the nightly pickup. This obviously supplemented the diet of folks who hung out around the neighborhood. Pre-packaged sandwiches that had outdated, fruit, veges, you name it went out each day and folks shopped (dove in) the cans for leftovers. Because there's no room for dumpsters out back anywhere and no way to shield folks from garbage diving, it went on every day. Here's a shot from our balcony of the nightly pickup. We left the balcony doors open most of the time and heard the trucks show up every night.


Pont au Change, circa 1860