Sunshine and boats and history and school…. and July begins….

It was beautiful and hot summer weather here for a few days last week, and with a good wind, the sailboats were out at the garden ponds in Paris. That is, the toy sailboats. My sister and I delighted in this last time we were in Paris at the Jardin de Tuilleries, watching children set their boats in the water, push them off with their bamboo stick, and chase them around to the other side of the pond where the wind would take them. On Thursday I quickly got myself around the edge of the ‘bassin centrale’ in my favourite garden, and took some photos of the action. (This is where I enjoy using my phone for a camera instead of my good camera, as I can be subtle and catch wicked candid shots without being obtrusive. It’s sneaky photography, or ‘sneaktography’ maybe?)

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The last week of class also included a field trip to the Pantheon, via my favourite garden. I walked past the Pantheon every day on my way to school, yet had never been inside. Right now the dome is under renovations, so it is covered by a gargantuan white plastic wrap and images of hundreds of people looking out as if they are watching a spectacular show.

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They hired a street artist named J R who is known for giant street-art portraits, to add some modern art to the Pantheon while the renovations are taking place, so in addition to the exterior 360 degree audience art on the dome, inside the entire main floor is covered with the same style of photographs. People were asked to submit/upload a photo of themselves and J R created this composition of over 4000 faces.

It looked really cool and I’ll be the first to admit I was the one wanting to create silly photos of us interacting with the faces on the floor. My classmates didn’t entirely get it… 🙂

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This is a model of the Pantheon, sans plastic dome cover.

A model of the Pantheon.

We also went down to the crypt below, where most of the people buried there have their tombs.
To note in particular, there was Voltaire, Marie Curie, and Victor Hugo, to name a few.

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My class waiting for me. I still maintain I was not lost, just exploring.

Our class time ended before we finished our field trip, so it was only me, a couple of my classmates, and our teacher Isabelle, who continued to the University Sorbonne.

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They don’t normally let tourists through and have security guards at all entrances, but Isabelle sweet-talked a couple guards to let the four of us walk though, (or maybe it was easier because classes and exams were done for the year… Or we just looked adorably innocent).

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And of course we immediately snuck into a couple of the ancient classrooms and took photos of ourselves being silly.

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Isabelle ran down to the front to ‘teach’ us something.

The University Sorbonne is one of the oldest universities in the world, and the courses here range from Literature, Languages (like Greek and Latin), to Social Sciences and History. Most of the traditional classrooms have frescos painted on the walls, chalkboards, ornate ceilings, and sculptures and art around the room. (And in one instance, a grand piano, of course.) It felt like we were on a movie set or something.

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Every inch of this architecture was stunning.

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More stories and photos to come soon, of course, but with company!

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Art and food. (I’m sure this will be one of many posts regarding both.)

More exploring,  mais maitenant, en seule.
On saturday the sun finally came out again, escaping the numerous threatening rain clouds that have been looming over Paris this week. I really was expecting warmer weather for the end of May, but I’m sure that will come soon enough. And with the mention of sun, I have  jinxed my current situation and it has ducked behind more rolling grey clouds. This wimpy Canadian is chilly again.
imageI succeeded in buying a Navigo pass, and got photos taken at a Metro photo booth (yes, just like in Amelie- without the zoro mask and hat). It will save me so much money to have a local pass instead of buying separate tickets or a Paris Visite pass! It turns out that the Navigo pass is not advertised on the English websites for Paris Metro because it was never intended to be used by tourists. I feel so… What’s the word… Débrouillarde! 😉
I also purchased some art supplies- a sketchbook, some sketching pencils, chalk, and charcoal. Let the art begin!! (I really wish I had thought of this before so I could just bring supplies from home that I already had.)

 

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The Jardin du Luxembourg is quickly moving up the ranks of favourite places in Paris, and challenging the Jardin du Tuilleries, and this weekend it was very, very busy. The locals and tourists alike were out in droves to celebrate the sunshine. (This photo of the fountain was from last week when it was quiet!) There was also a photography installation on the grounds that I took in- WWI documentation, photos from the archives of  the French newspaper EXCELSIOR. There were photos over the years documenting the first days deployment, to women in the workforce at home, to remains of buildings, to veterans returning. It was very interesting, and there were some startling and beautiful photos.

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Today I walked by a gluten free shop. Yes, even they exist in Paris. It was in the Marais (in case this is useful information for you 🙂 ), the 4th Arrondissement where I went looking for free museums today, as it is the first Sunday of the month. There are a lot of museums on the full list, but today I wanted to stay in one area- the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements, where there were many! I originally wanted to have a go to the Louvre but unlike last time I was here, it is no longer the ‘off-season’ and therefore, you have to pay for it. As I discovered last Sunday, weekends are extra nuts in Paris, so I think I’ll wait for a slightly quieter weekday…

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One museum  in particular I wanted to see today was Musée Picasso, but it is still closed for renovations. Hopefully in July they will be complete. 🙂 I stopped in at a museum not on my list, and spent almost two hours there: Musée Carnavalet. The garden in the centre court was stunning, and so of course I had to take many many photos…. It had some incredible models of many major buildings in Paris, and I’m not even sure I saw it all as it went on for ages. I then saw another, smaller museum, Musée Cognacq-Jay, just down the street. I also thought I might go to L’Orangerie again, but then I found a chair on the side of one fountain in the Jardin du Tuilleries, and tried sketching a statue.

image It has been a long, long time, since I have done any sketching of any sort, and I feel a bit rusty!! After that I did a little people watching, and wondered if it really was this common to see so many people in (navy&white or black&white horizontal) striped shirts go by as I sat there. I stopped counting at 17 in the 15 minutes I was keeping track… :)

 

I also discovered more street markets, of course, mostly selling food, but also jewelry and toys and artwork, but again I only took pictures of the food…. 🙂

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Yes, those giant Willy Wonka blobs of color are meringues….

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It is really hard to not get excited about all the cafés and bakeries and crepe stands and gelato places, and all the amazing food here, and not buy numerous things every daythat are not ‘necessary’, just extremely delicious snacks. Today I gave myself an allowance of 5 Euros, and I am proud to say, I kept to it, only buying a crepe and a drink as I wandered around the city.

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I went to Place Des Vosges to sit and have lunch (that I had made!), and this was when the almost-storm seemed to back off a bit, and though there were a lot of people at the big tourist spots like the Louvre, this are felt a bit more calm. still majestic, though. and all my OCD friends will be happy to know how perfectly symmetrical so many gardens and courts and other meeting places here are. 🙂

The architecture of Paris is so fantastic I just can’t get over it. Back home I’m the born-and-raised Calgarian who still can’t get over the mountains, and I’m sure no matter how long I stayed in Paris or how often I came back I would still “ooh” and “ahh” over the buildings and sculptures in this city!image

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Next up: my first French class in Paris, and I’m excited and nervous! First day of school again!