Friday, June 22, 2012

Saturday's agenda

With only seven more days in Paris, tomorrow is all about hitting the small exhibitions. I plan to return to the Musee D'Orsay for the exhibit on Misia, reine de Paris, the Impressionists and one last view of the bookstore.

Then the Musee Malliol for the Artemisia Gentileschi exhibit.

Then lunch at the Galeries Lafayette cafe and souvenir shopping.

Then the exihibit of opera tragedy queens at the Opera Garnier next door.

Then a quick walk to visit La Madeleine, and home. Exhausted, no doubt.

More Passerelle

The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir is a bridge intended only for passage to walkers or bike riders. When crossing, you can choose to walk low or high, or a combination.

Not my photo! But a good overall picture

I choose to walk high, all the way.

First length, higher and steeper than it looks in the top photo

Second length, cresting up toward middle of bridge
On the other side, the top arch dumps you into a park, which was filled with sunbathers, families, and kids out of school. This stone staircase has a fountain running through the middle, which the kids loved.

From here, I walked through the surprisingly untended park (unlike the Tuileries or Luxembourg gardens, just a lot of green space and dirt paths to a cafe and finally the Metro home.

I want to talk some more pictures of the Passerelle and the Tolbiac side. It is a very peaceful place to sit and consider the day, the Seine, and the work one is doing deep within the stacks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Simple Pleasures: Passerelle

Oh, today...

I am staying in the apartment. Doing laundry, cleaning, sweeping, and finally blogging.

I have been in the archives all week, from 9 am to about 4 pm everyday... and I am exhausted. So many people, such hard chairs, writing and researching and writing. I get back to the apartment at about 6pm, and I am done for. Didn't see anything, didn't enjoy anything, didn't even have fun researching: the encyclopedia entries I am working on right now are pretty cut and dried. Mostly fact-checking, and not particularly interesting. But it is paying for about half of my Paris apartment rental, so necessary.

I went to bed early last night, and got up late this morning. In the middle of the night I thought, I don't want to go there t'morrow. I'm not going.

After my roommate left, I went back to sleep for another three hours, then woke, took a shower, and stuffed sheets and towels into washer (the wash cycle takes about two hours). Then sat down to catch up on whatever is happening on the internet.

Notes to self:
  • back home in the Big D, start back with yoga and walking regularly. You are out of shape, madame!
  • add in some core exercises as well as strength and flexibility workouts. Because.
  • working all the time is boring and makes you boring and cranky.
  • a good view makes everything better
But yesterday when I was leaving the Tolbiac, I walked across the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, which crosses the Seine just behind (in front of?) Tolbiac and links the right bank with the left there. Wikipedia tells me it is the 37th bridge on the Seine, but nothing about the loveliness of it.

My early morning view from Tolbiac of the Passerelle: misty and mysterious
A better, fancier view of the whole thing
I plan to take more, better pictures myself.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


One of the essential points of the baroque garden as imagined and designed by Andre Le Notre ( the gardener behind Vaux-le-Vicomte, Versailles, Fontainebleau, St. Germain en Laye, and countless other gardens of the period in France, England, and Italy, including the Vatican), is that it be interesting not only intellectually in its scope, symmetry, and mathematical use of landscape (vertical and horizontal) but that it be sensual.

So the baroque garden includes texture, movement, rhythm, stillness, variation, sound, and, in the case of Versailles, color. Most baroque gardens used only green, but Louis XIV loved flowers, both for color and scent, so flowers as well as flowering and fruit-bearing trees were integrated into the overall design.

Movement, reflection, and sound were added by the inclusion of fountains and pools throughout the garden. And of course the Grand Canal.

Pools offered serene, cool spaces of water countering the green parterres, trees, and topiaries and the paths. Theyalso reflected the blue skies above. Fountains shot water vertically or diagonally and gave life to the silent, still gardens.

At Versailles, the messages of the garden's fountains and pools carries the stories of Apollo, n'est-ce pas? sweeping upward toward Louis's palace, even into Louis's bedchamber.

The Latona Fountain at the head of the Allee Royal: Latona was the mother of Apollo and Diana in Roman mythology, a goddess.

Ovid tells the story of the fountain: when Latona was looking for refuge after having given birth, the Lycian peasants refused her water. In return, being a goddess, she turned them into frogs who had to live in the mud and water ever after. So there. So the fountain depicts Latona, Apollo and Diana on top, then descending/widening rings with fountains and figures of peasants transforming or transformed. Ha!

This is what it looks like with the water turned on, which it wasn't last Wednesday.

The fountains arch up and out, filling the basin, but also causing the water to flow down the layers of the wedding-cake style construction. The figures of Latone, Apollo and Diana are marble, but the others are brass, I think, a golden-colored metal in any case.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More pictures of Versailles

Since I took about 150 during the one day I was there, I'll add them in slowly...
These first pictures are of the approach to the palace, from my hotel, then the rear of thepalace (but only part of it) and a view from that level (the palace level) down towards the Grand Canal. Where I was headed.

The palace is on a hill, by the way, which you should get from the pictures. You walk up to get to get to the entrance of the palace, then down into the gardens. Three villages were razed to create the expansive gardens around and behind Versailles.

Around the corner from my hotel, walking down the main street toward the gates of the palace 

The crowds at 10 am on a Wednesday morning

The chapel and a wing added after Louis XIV's time

The northern side of the rear of the palace, with some of the southern reflecting pool
Basically, to get to this point directly behind the palace took me about 35-40 minutes. I hadn't yet had to show my ticket, just walked into the gardens. The gardens and park are free weekdays and open to the Versailles public everyday.

In the summer, on weekends they have the Grands Eaux Musicales, where they blast baroque music in the gardens and shoot all the fountains about 15 minutes on the hour.

See the little blue within the green? That's where I am going.

A great picture of the Allee Royale, from the Palace level, looking from the Latona Fountain to the Grand Canal.
Where I'm going.

Topiaries: each one different

Approaching the Apollo Fountain at the bottom of the Royal Allee 
This was part 2 of the walk. From the palace to the Grand Canal.

This is what the palace looks like from the Apollo Fountain.
That's how far I came.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the gardens...

I saw this...

L'Allee Royal, the central allee leading from the palace to the Grand Canal

and this...

One of the figures of the Latona Fountain, a man transforming into a frog

and this...

The Apollo Fountain, modeled after a young Louis XIV

and this.

The very 21st century gardener, taking pictures of the flowers on his cell
 All pretty.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Yesterday I worked in the archives at Tolbiac all day (9 am - 3 pm) then took the train out to Versailles. Very production day, but my back hurt! Friday and Saturday I'll be out there again.

Last night I saw the opera ALCINA by Handel in concert form in the royal opera house built by Louis XVI. Here is a YouTube of the group, to give you a taste. It was bloody fantastic! Marvelous soloists and marvelous group.

Today I will go out to the gardens--despite drizzly, cool weather--and see both Trianons and Marie Antoinette's farm. Oh, and the shopping.

Here's Les Talens Lyriques, just playing. This mezzo-soprano was one of the soloists last night; she sings the castrato role, because of course there are no more castrati.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer project #1: Completed!

I worked all day today, but it is done. Finished!

And now onto project #2, #3, and #4... all waiting not so patiently in the wings.

So what did I buy?

These are the finds I made this week.

Circling around:
  1. Eucerin Hyaluron Filler Night Cream. Can't get it in the US and it has been highly recommended by A Femme d'un Certain Age and Une femme d'un certain age. I am working with the night cream for now, but it costs about 1/2 what it might in the States if I could get it on Amazon. Which I can't any more.
  2. Nuxe Serum Creme Fraiche.The serum to match my everyday moisturizer. Again, trying it because I can't get it in the States and cheaper here anyway at the crazy pharmacy.
  3. Avene Cleanance. Non-soap liquid I've been using for a year. Great stuff for acne-prone, oily, orcombination skin. And I scored: three French bottles for the cost of less than two US, and all 25% extra. This will take me for about a year or more, because I only need a dime-sized bit with my Clairisonic every morning and night.
  4. Nuxe Creme Fraiche, Formule Light. This is the combination/light version of my everyday moisturizer. I am already not so pleased wiht it as the regular, but it is not terrible.
  5. Mixta lip balm, which I love. I'll buy multiples of these before I leave--better than anything I've found in the states and leaves a soft shimmer on my lips. Not sticky or greasy.
  6. Miss Helen lipstick from Monoprix in Brun Rose, a soft slightly-darker-than-natural lip color. Less bright than my usual, but not a raisin or cocoa. Feels good on, too.
  7. Nuxe Teint Eclat Prodigieux. Nuxe's version of tinted moisturizer. Promises a natural glow. I got the lightest color and it does carry a slight hint of a tan. The feel is light but it covers well and evens skin tone. Not quite as fabulous as the Laura Mercier version, but I like it. Aagin, not available in the States.
I love French skin care, especially at bargain prices.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday errands

Yesterday I spent the morning writing like a good girl and then skipped out in mid-afternoon to do a bunch of errands and buy myself a bunch of things. Huzzah!

I headed down to the sixth arrondissement, riding the #12Metro to Rue du Bac.

I had decided to check out the Repetto store there, just in case the summer sales were already on. But, sorry, no. Lots of women looking at the shoes, but no sale... yet. I'll come back at the end of the month to take advantage of the great sales. My goal this year is to buy two pairs of ballerines, one in a neutral color and one something crazy. Like the bright blue suede.

Some women are not ballerines types, but I am. The pair I bought two years ago--a textured black--has held up to lots of use, lots of wear, and lots of walking. I wore them yesterday, in fact, and my feet felt great (surprisingly!).

En route to Repetto, walking down Rue Grenelle, I passed a long line of women (and their rich husbands) waiting outside the Christian Louboutin shop. Why, I don't know. They were taking up the entire sidewalk and looking like lions about to swoop on an antelope. I kept walking, not wanting to be classed as antelope.

This is a very swanky shopping area. Prada, etc. Heavy on the classy shopping bags. But funny too because my second stop was a pharmacy on the corner of Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte where I buy skin care. I buy it here because they have the great brands and the prices are so ridiculous that the shop is always jammed. I have no idea whether they sell any sore throat lozenges or aspirin or toothpaste, but they are selling Nuxe and Darphin and Klorane and Avene and everything else. I bought some things to try--cheaper than Monoprix!--and escaped with my life. If anything works, I'll buy multiples and worry later about getting them home. I can't find many of the Nuxe items, for instance, in the US.

Then I went to Monoprix, where I bought a lipstick, new body wash (with a better, grapefruit scent), and coffee pods. I checked out all the accessories and didn't buy anything... amazing! Saw some good things for possible gifts, but want to sift through my brain. Also crazy crowded.

My next stop was Grom, the gelato place in nearby Rue de Seine that David Leibovitz made famous on his blog. Used to be quiet, but yesterday at 5 pm a long line of folks waiting for serice. I joined them and had a little cup of raspberry and apricot gelatos, which were worth the wait.

The crowds here are a mix of students, families, tourists and couples. The Parisians who live in the neighborhood are obviously well-off, as are the tourists/visitors who stay nearby. The university is close, and there are no big museums right there, so the crowds are more mixed. Great for watching, with so many families and small children present. Don't usually run into that interaction.

I usually stop for coffee at Cafe Flore, but that was for another day.

After that, in a very soft, evening rain I walked back across Rue Jacob (looking in all the windows), rue des Sainte Peres and Blvd. St. Germain to the Metro t Rue du Bac for the ride home. A very satisfying day.

Friday, June 8, 2012

If I were in Paris... Friday, June 8, 2012

I AM in Paris!

Yesterday was another day of writing in the apartment. The view makes everything worthwhile and I am very pleased with my output.

Then, late in the day, I went here:

To see this Matisse exhibit.

The focus is on a lifelong habit by the artist of making two, three, four, or more versions of the same view or subject at the same time. The exhibition puts the different versions side-by-side for comparison. Most striking are the three versions of Pont Saint-Michael in Paris: one is a very Monet-like view, one seems an imcomplete Gauguin-like rendering, and the final one reminded me of a very colorful early Kandinsky. Amazing that all three were done in the same year, of the same subject, by the same artist using completely different styles, color pallates, painting techniques.

The exhibition was beautifully done, too, with the works on big, white walls and in large rooms, so the crowds seemed minimal. Delightful to walk around, see the work, then go eat dinner in a cafe at Chatelet. My favorite cafe there, Ma Vieux Chatelet, is apparently under construction, so we went to the Cafe Sarah Bernhardt across the place. Just as good, although my chicken was a skinny one.

The Pompidou cener is also having a retrospective of Gerhard Richter, so I'll be going back there this stop for that exhibit. Richter is simply brilliant.

On the way to the exhibition, I stopped at Mariage Freres and bought myself some tea: Casablanca, a green tea with mint, and Nil Rouge, a red tea with citus and spices. This is only my first stop: I ahve more tea to buy as gifts and for myself.

Big plans today? Finish the section of the manuscript I am engaged with, eat lunch at the little cafe down the block, buy more coffee capsules, walk up to Sacre Coeur, start rewriting the next section. A simple day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stay at home

Today I stayed in the apartment nearly all day. I took a break after lunch to walk downhill to the grocery store and buy a few things I needed as well as check it out in general. This is a Carrefour at Place Pigalle, only about a ten-minute walk; it is the big grocery store in this neighborhood, I guess, and until I figure out the best individual cheese store, bakery, and fresh market in walking distance, that will be where I shop.

Then I walked back... up up UP the hill and up the five flight of stairs.

Bad news: it's still a hike straight up from anywhere.

Good news: I got to the apartment (the pinnacle) and my thighs and heart weren't fighting it out over which one was going to kill me first. Neither were happy, don't think that, but this is progress. Already.

So what did I do today, since I stayed in? I edited the manuscript (more to do), I wrote the first page of my conference paper for July and outlined the next two beats, I handled email. I am about to start translating some Moliere now, so see you later.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Third Day in Paris

I arrived on Saturday, flying overnight from the States.

Finding the apartment wasn't hard, since I was armed with a map and a cab. On arrival, I met the owner of the flat, a lovely woman and her young son. She greeted us, then asked (a little nervously) if we knew that the flat was on the fifth floor (for those of us from the US, translate that to mean "sixth," since the ground floor or rez-de-chaussee is uncounted in France) and that there was no elevator? We said, yes, we knew.

We all hiked up to to the top floor, up a winding stair. I admit I had to stop once.

But! The apartment is a due-piece (two room) with a sitting room and a bedroom, plus what I call an American bathroom and a two-person kitchen. This means that the bathroom has a sink, a vanity, a full-size bathtub with shower, and toilet. The kitchen has the washing machine, a 60" refrigerator/freezer, a four-burner stove/over, a microwave, a double sink, an espresso machine, and a hot water kettle. Pretty nifty.

The rear view is nothing, plus there's a lot of construction supposedly going on there. But the view out the front windows is, in essence, Paris. We look out across the roofs of Montmartre south, past the Tour Montparnasse, the Pantheon, essentially to the southern peripherique. Plus the sky.

I'll post pictures soon, once the sun returns. The weather is cloudy and in the 60s--perfect for walking around, but not so good for photos.

Oh, and to get to the building? We walk uphill (anyway) from the nearest Metro stop. Either the longer, winding way, or the shorter winding way, or up what is about two stories worth of stairs. Your choice... but yes, uphill. Before you get to the building and its five flights. My thighs are not thanking me.

On Saturday, we didn't do much but unpack and familiarize ourselves with the apartment, then go out for dinner, groceries, and a walk. On Sunday, we went to the market at Richard Lenoir and then I came home and worked/read for the rest of the day. Today, we went downtown to get our BNF cards renewed--although we were an hour early for it (!) the process itself was a snap once 10 am came around.

After, I bought some items I needed (shampoo, for example), then came back to the apartment. I spent the afternoon working.  Now a glass of wine, then back to work.

But when I turn my head, it's Paris!