Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paris at last!!
     Paris!! It was even more amazing than I expected it to be. The lifestyle is more relaxed - even the landscaping runs wild without borders. On the first day, we had a bus tour and saw all the standards - The Arc du Triumph (whoa - no traffic laws there!), Notre Dame, and of course the Eiffel Tower. It is HUGE! In this picture, I am standing on a raised marble platform about a city block away. 
     We also saw things from high up like above-ground graveyards  and crossed the tunnel where sadly, Princess Diana's accident happened. My favorite things in the city were the street side vendors selling used books out of these little huts. Oh I wanted to buy some alright, but I can't read in French! I already had way too many books in my backpack by that point, too.
Most people know this one...
 My favorite museum was the Musee d'Orsay - all the works from the Impressionist Era are in there. You walk into a room and BOOM! There it is jumping off the wall - Van Gough's Starry Night. Not the Starry Night on all the laptop covers you see, but another version of it. All by itself. Worthy of an entire wall.
The other Starry Night
(the real one, not my postcard!)
      This piece is hypnotic. The bright yellows contrasting with the black and blues and then those stars....You can see the reflection of light off the thick paint strokes. This one proved the case that seeing a painting in person is a much richer experience than looking at a digital copy. Since no pictures were allowed, I painted my own rough image on a postcard - it made me look more closely at the original and how he makes your eye go around the entire painting.

Another dream realized - biking in France
Next, out to the country. We rode a train out to Vernon for a biking tour to Monet's garden in Giverny. The countryside is so beautiful, it reminds me of Napa Valley in California.
meat, cheese, cider
This is how you have lunch in the country. You go to the bakery, the meat shop, and the cheese shop and spread it all out at the park and relax for an hour or so.... No 30 min lunch-breaks!

     This was an incredible experience - painting Monet's garden. He built this garden just so he could paint it and obsessed over the light and water lillies. Over and over he painted it. You can see his final product at Musee de l'Orangerie and take in a larger than life 360 panorama of the lillies.
      Instead of taking pictures the whole time, I used water colors. It was so funny, here I was using Crayola water paints and people were taking my picture like I was some real artist or something! It happened a couple times - people see what they want to see.....I see my work as globs and splotches, but to me, it flips that switch in my mind reminding me of what it really was like to look closely at each plant and arrangement of trees.....
I'd say at least my kindergarten teacher would appreciate it!
Here's just a sample of the goes on and on!

Back to the train....

Have you ever tried putting down your camera and sketching or painting??? 



  1. Sadly, the only time I was in Paris was when I was a new college graduate... (1997!) I went with no budget, stayed in a gross hostile in a bad part of town and did not eat a single meal in a restaurant. I do have the most amazing memory of eating a picnic dinner of bread, cheese and cheap wine in the rain as we watched the Eifle Tower light up while night fell. I would love to go see the city again as a grown up!

  2. You need a do-over! and Oh yes, we had our share of seedy hostels in England - electrical outlets only in the hall, one 8x10 mirror for 6 people and a notice not to drink the water if you are on the second floor. Complete plumbing failure on our second day blamed on the 150 kids - no flushing, no hot water....And our hotel in Paris was in a very "lively" part of the city. Such is travel!