Wednesday, January 22, 2014
European Adventures 2013: Paris!
We're having our second blizzard in as many weeks and I'm stuck inside so it seems a good time to write the last in a series of posts about our trip to Europe last summer. After a week in Malta, a week in Provence, and several days in Normandy, Husband and I boarded a train to meet up with our good friend, Kirsi, for a few days in Paris before flying home.
We rented a funky little 7th floor apartment in Montmartre for this visit. It was tiny but comfortable and, since there was no elevator, we got tonnes of exercise walking up and down the stairs!
It also had a couple of balconies with views of the streets below but they were so small we had to take turns sitting on them.
We chose to stay in Montmartre because we very much enjoyed exploring this beautiful and vibrant part of the city in 2012. However, I must confess that the noise from the street at night sometimes made me wish we'd rented in a quieter neighbourhood.
Since we only had four days in Paris this time and Kirsi loves modern art, we opted to spend most of our time exploring various art galleries and museums.
Our first day in the city, before Kirsi arrived, Husband and I spent the morning exploring the small but charming Musée de la Vie Romantique Paris. The artwork displayed in the gracious villa that houses the museum (and once hosted the french novelist George Sand on a regular basis) was engrossing, but my favourite thing about the museum was its location - tucked away, nearly hidden from the street, in a peaceful courtyard.
Our first stop with Kirsi was France's premiere modern art museum, housed at the Centre Georges Pompidou. The Centre itself suffers from a rather grand ugliness, but it at least offers fabulous views of the city...
and an impressive collection of art. We spent the better part of a day wandering in and out of its many galleries, stopping only once to catch our breath and have drinks in its stunning rooftop cafe. Nonetheless, we saw only a small percentage of the works on display.
It was thrilling to see original paintings by artists such as Chagall, Miro, Kandinsky, and Klee (amongst many others) "up close and personal"...
and to wander into exhibits featuring work by artists none of us had heard of before.
The appeal of some of the art was a bit difficult to fathom - even for those as knowledgeable and enthusiastic as Kirsi - but we all came away wishing we'd had more time and energy to spend at the Centre.
The next day started with a visit to la Place du Trocadéro, which among other things, offers terrific views of the Eiffel Tower, where Husband took this photo of Kirsi and me being silly.
Unfortunately, since it was so grey and dreary, I wasn't able to get any really good photos of the Tower but I rather like the way this one turned out when I converted it to black and white.
Our next stop was the fabulous Quai Branly Museum which features indigenous art and culture from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Husband and I particularly enjoyed the art and artifacts from Papua New Guinea, where we lived and worked for a couple of years in the late 1980s, but all the displays were interesting and informative and many were stunningly beautiful.
Wandering around the city later that day, I did my best to capture more images of the Eiffel Tower. I'm not sure why I find the Tower so fascinating but suspect I'll feel compelled to photograph it every time I visit Paris.
Fortunately, we had better weather on our last full day in the city, which started with a wander to and through the Luxembourg Gardens...
where we stopped by the Orangerie to take in an exhibit of contemporary art...
before lining up for an exhibition of work by Marc Chagall entitled "Between War and Peace" at the Musée du Luxembourg. Though the gallery was packed, we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition so I grabbed a few shots of some of the paintings (or rather parts of them) together with a catalog to savour when we returned home.
That evening, we met up with our old friends, Marc and Heather, for drinks and a delightful dinner before wandering back to our apartment in time to prepare for our flights home the next day.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a few of the other things we enjoyed during this visit. Once again, the food and drink were highlights. From the coffee shop where we savoured croissant and coffee one morning...
to the work-a-day restaurant where we stuffed ourselves with lunch our first day in the city...
to the restaurant where we dined with Marc and Heather, Paris' restaurateurs never disappointed.
Then, there was the fantastic people-watching...
not to mention the beautiful and historic public spaces, filled with people from around the world, brought together by their appreciation for Paris and all it has to offer.
I can hardly wait for our next opportunity to return to this magical city.
For more of my favourite photos from our time in Paris, follow this link to a set on Flickr.