I can feel myself wilting a bit — after all, I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning to catch my Eurostar train back to London. It’s late in the evening the day of my return from my latest adventure in the none other than the Paris, the gorgeous City of Light. This belle ville was everything I could have asked for, and that’s after 6 years of high school and middle school French class, complete with oral presentations, bad accents, and yearly French food festivals in the cafeteria (hard to top, I know).
After a brief and relaxing rendez-vous in Amsterdam to begin my semester break, it was off to the city of romance, famous writers and painters, Napoleon, and crêperies at every corner. Crêpes, in all their sweet and savory varieties, shaped the bulk of my diet as well as healthy doses of frothy café au lait and la glace (ice cream, naturally). When not indulging my sweet tooth, my friends and I filled our days with endless walking, hitting up a lot of the art museums and major monuments — Arc de Triompe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, to name a few. Of the art musuems, I’d say I was most “wowed” by the Centre Pompidou, which touts itself as one of the leading modern art collections in Europe. I even went back a second time on my own to soak up more of what this trippy museum had to offer inside its glass, tubular walls, which included some unbelievable views of the city from its tippy-top floors. I didn’t expect to be that moved by the Rodin Museum, but the collection really surprised me. I’d originally thought…sculpture? Meh. Not going to be too interesting. But I forced myself to go as it was one of those only-in-Paris things and I had a museum pass, and I ended up being completely engrossed by Rodin’s work. I guess I’d come to associate sculpture solely with classical Greek and Roman figures that are — while extraordinary –things I feel like I’ve seen all my life and have grown tired of. But Rodin’s pieces were so evocative. I’ve never seen a still figures look so dynamic. Check below for some examples.
Les Trois Ombres (“The Three Shades”)
above: La baiser (“The Kiss”)
The most enjoyable part of my trip was a morning’s visit in Montmartre that spilled into afternoon with all its exploring. I’m a longtime fan of the movie Moulin Rouge! as well as artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and others who painted the famous cabarets and dancehalls and pioneered some of the first poster art. I’ll also admit to wholly romanticizing the image of 19th-century bohemian France, and I was all about wandering its winding, cobblestone streets through ivy-laden gates, cafés, and old windmills. I even went to the Musée de Montmartre which was an old apartment building that had once housed many famous artists, writers, and/or movers-and-shakers of its time, including Auguste Renoir. You could stroll through the gardens or peek at its exhibits that included originals of the famous posters (advertising places like Le Chat Noir, Le Lapin Agile, Le Divan Japonais, among others), dancehall programs, newspaper articles and other bits of history. Right up my dorky alley.
above: Moulin Rouge in the morning
above: La Cimetière du Montmartre
And, here’s an assortment of photos to capture other parts of my trip:
above: Oscar Wilde’s grave at La Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
above: a little contemporary art at the Centre Pompidou
above: the Seine by night
above: some famous tower, all aglow.
I’ll sign off with a ridiculously stupid picture of myself inside a giant clog in Amsterdam:
Happy not to be sleeping in a hostel tonight,
~ Julia Askenase