Exploring Paris

After our fantastic bike trip through Southern France, it was time to spend a few days exploring Paris and London. Mostly, I just wanted to get a series of inspirational shots for future paintings. The weather was unseasonably warm (60s and 70s in late October and early November) which made strolling especially pleasant. (And by strolling, I mean about 10-miles-per-day kind of strolling).

Eiffel Tower looks its absolute best when it’s glowing orange from setting sun.

The buildings across the river from Notre Dame have already inspired….

…this painting. (Titled “Paris Roofs” and sized 12×12. Many more to come, by the way!)

Sacré-Cœur will be by next piece. Maybe a little cliché, as it is a very popular painting subject – but I have always been fascinated by this easily recognizable white majestic structure, and I tend to have affinity for basilicas that are perched on top of hills, anyway.

Speaking of basilicas – it is hard to get enough of Notre Dame (another overly popular painting subject, and yep, I plan on creating more pieces inspired by it!).

Notre Dame Lock bridge

For the first time ever, we agreed to wait in an hour-long line of tourists to access its rooftop. We actually waited until a colder gloomy day to get up on that roof, because it sets the mood properly. Most of all, I wanted to see this guy – my favorite gargoyle. There he is, thoughtfully observing the city. …as he has done for a few hundred years now!

The views from here really are majestic. It is the gloomy, gothic, monochromatic autumn Europe I love and miss (sometimes).

Late night street views surrounding our hotel (in the 7th arrondissement) were exceptionally charming…

….but staying in a hotel right above a fromagerie (cheese shop) was severely drool-inducing. The smell of that pungent, stinky cheese, made its way up the stairs into our nostrils daily, resulting in our frequent purchases of various cheesy servings as “appetizers”. I am so glad that our stay here was only 3 days, as this cheese shop addition eventually started to get a little out of hand. Any possible calories lost during those 6 days of biking were coming back with a vengeance.

Narrow streets like these are my favorite parts of this city. We overheard a tour guide calling these narrow buildings “pregnant” – because they stick out in the center, overhanging above sidewalk.

Being in Paris only 3 days with nearly perfect weather, it was hard to find the time to visit many museums – but the art collection in Centre Pompidou was beyond impressive. We spent nearly 4 hours in that building, and that was in a rushed fashion.

Here is my old long-distance friend: Duchamp’s “Woman Descending a Staircase”. Very nice to meet her in person.

marcel duchamp woman descending

And it’s always lovely to see some Basquiat in the mix. (Yes, photography in the Pompidou is allowed, sans flash – with the exception of certain specific clearly-marked off-limits pieces).

Basquiat painting Paris

But our best Paris treat was in the end. Right at time of our arrival, the brand new Louis Vuitton Foundation, housed in a shiny glass building by Frank Gehry, opened to public. We were there, in line to get in, only 2 days after its opening. I expected mobs of people, but the ticket line was actually just about half-hour long – not bad at all for such a brand new famous landmark. Louis Vuitton Foundation is a cultural center and a contemporary art gallery (and no, it does not exhibit Louis Vuitton bags) housed in a ship-shaped architectural marvel. You either love Gehry’s architecture or hate it – and to me it is very awe-worthy.

The collection inside was interesting and diverse. Again, I wish we had more time to spend here. I loved watching the documentary about this building’s construction, and learning about all the immigrant workers who put their efforts into making this thing rise. Contemporary art rooms were cool and cohesive. Every corner of this brand new gallery smelled like fresh wood and paint. But most of my attention, of course, was focused on the outside.

We lucked out and got a warm sunny day for this visit (because I wanted to see the glass glisten!) and it felt like we were in a labyrinth for adults. Everywhere you look, you get a “photogenic salad” of glass, metal and concrete, sometimes enhanced by funky lights. Makes it a little hard not to constantly click the shutter.

Yep, as far as I’m concerned, Frank Gehry can do no wrong. This was simply stunning.

And here are a couple of shots of views (and graffiti) along Paris canal to close out this post. See you later, Paris!

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