Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paris: The Sights

In the first half of our stay in Paris, we spent a lot of time in the inner, west part of Paris. Rightly so, as this is area with most of the big hitting sights and attractions. We're now enjoying other neighborhood around Paris and it's great getting the feel for their personality and typical inhabitant. But here is a little recap of the sights.

The Arc de Triomphe is a massive arch, commissioned by Napoleon himself, in the middle of a massive round-about. Imagine a five car lane boulevard, twisted around a circle with 12 streets converging into the madhouse of Parisian drivers. It's no wonder French car insurance companies don't insure damage that occurs on this unique road. At first, we weren't sure how to get over and considered trying to cross the thing. But with some intuition, we found the subway to get to the other side and see the monument, commemorating the French Revolution up close.
Notre Dame de Paris is a very impressive cathedral. The day we visited, the line was intimidatingly long and it was drizzling, leaving us second guessing whether to go inside or not. Luckily, the line seemed to be moving pretty fast, we hopped in and I'm glad we did.

From the front, it doesn't seem that gothic, but here's a shot from the back which displays its beautiful tower and intricate arches.

Inside was beautiful. While waiting in line, I asked Daniel if inside was something special, or just the typical awesome cathedral. He didn't think it was fair to assess it as typical, and I agree. The circular stained glass windows towering up high were amazing, even with the cloudy weather outside.

We took a seat and contemplated the cathedral, among other things I assume, and amazed ourselves thinking about how they built this in the 1100s without modern equipment.

While walking around, I couldn't help but notice the amount of opportunities the church provide to spend money. View the treasury and getting to go up top costs a few euro. The well sized gift shop area provides a nice place to get some gifts. And these little penny pressers gives you a nice imprinted coin to remember the cathedral. It felt a little like coin slots in Vegas. I guess the church doesn't get money like it used to, and everyone gotta make a buck somehow.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with this sculpture. We visited the popular Rodin museum and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I can truly say it was a new art viewing experience for me. As we strolled through the rooms of the museum, I learned how sculpture and the form can convey, quite accurately, human emotion and thought.

He worked a lot and had a very impressive amount of sculptures. But all of it seemed to just be practice for, what I now consider, one of the coolest works of art I have ever laid eyes on. Young as I may be, I think there would be quite a few people who can agree with me.

Rodin's Gates of Hell (just the top part). He has so many figures in this piece, many of them standing as their own work of art as larger sculptures throughout the museum. This massive door is dynamic, telling, and full of the emotions one would expect and be surprised with as the gates of hell. I could spend hours looking at this thing. Unfortunately, we had to head over to the Musee d'Orsay.

But before we did, I grabbed this picture of Casey through a sculpture outside of the museum.
I didn't get any pictures of the Musee d'Orsay as we were pressed for time and didn't want to wasted it waiting for a gab in the crowd, but it was incredible! They specialize in the beginning of modern art, when the impressionists challenged the meaning of a painting and changed the way we look at art. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Along the same line, we also went to a Gustave Caillebotte (who was a great and under appreciated impressionist) exhibit where, while waiting in line, a butterfly landed on my collar and stay there for at least 20 minutes.

On to the Louvre. The over-the-top, insanely cool, biggest museum I've ever been to Louvre. Just to set the scene, this intricate and gargantuan building was built in the 12th century and expanded over the centuries to what it is now: 652,300 square feet of amazingness. Art is contained not only in the bottom, first and second floors of the old fortress, but also a level underground too.

The iconic glass pyramid in front of the Louvre was awesome to see in person. Just like the Eiffel Tower, it was less of an amazing moment and more one of those moments of, "Cool, it's what I thought it would look like."

Here is a view from inside the pyramid as you head down into the lobby of the museum. Once inside, you're faced with the daunting task of choosing a direction and floor to start on. We went on a Friday evening, where 26 and under get in for free. The down side was that it only gave us three and half hours to see it. So we isolated a few centuries worth of art and booked it!

The collection was incredible, and we probably saw less than a tenth of it. Here is a long corridor lined with Renaissance paintings. As you walk down it, you can literally see the Renaissance happen and see the change in theme, technique and approach. Pretty neat!

We of course saw the Mona Lisa. It was a mad house in there and what I imagine being in a pack of paparazzi at the Oscars must feel like. Hardly anyone was actually looking at the painting. Everyone just had their camera and smartphone extended over the person in front of them, trying to get a steady picture. I guess they just wanted to examine the famous painting through 10 magepixels rather then their own eyes. OK. Enough of my sarcasm, it was pretty cool to see in person. But what was even cooler was this ceiling waiting for us just outside the Mona Lisa room. I've seen a ton of frescoed ceilings, but I've never seen a bronze embossed ceiling with frescos and more bronze sculptures on a ceiling. It was insane to look up at and this photo definitely does not do it justice.

After our time there, we totally need to go back. There was just so much we breezed by and missed as we headed for something higher up on our list. We saw the major ones like this piece, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which was probably made around 190 BC. BC!!!! It is a beautiful and powerful sculpture and it was great to see it, along with everything else, in person.

1 comment:

celia said...

I love your photojournalism. For an artist, I believe your were in "7th heaven". It is so amazing how old these places are and how majestic they stand for all to see: so timeless. The arts were beyond awesome.
BTW, cute pix of Casey.