I think I’m going to maybe show mainly pictures that have some explanation here, and maybe show the more plain visual ones in a slide show later. But here’s some prettiness just to sort of get us in the mood.
Let’s start at Notre Dame. Here’s a model depicting the building of the cathedral in something like the 12th century. Without getting into a whole discussion, it’s worth pausing over the fact that, for hundreds of years, the majority of the residents of Europe lived in abject poverty while ostentatious churches were built until they doted the landscape (there are three within spitting distance of ND, e.g.).
Tourists taking photos! Almost as silly looking as tourists taking photos of tourists taking photos, eh?
Here’s a random obligatory shot of teh glory/majesty. Impressive!
So, this was going to be Exhibit B in the case of the charmingly peculiar vanity of the French: a guy who stopped in the street to spontaneously clean his shoes. Dude was going at it, too — I saw him, started to walk away, then changed my mind and framed and took the picture, all while he was working. Exhibit A, more shocking but alas less photographically interesting, was a public perfume dispenser in the men’s bathroom at a highway-side gas station. I shit you not, and yes I do have the photo to prove it.
Paris is for lovers, and it really is. There are people making out in public everywhere, which I thought was nice.
Expensive-ass superhero and fantasy figurines.
In Paris there are no regular shops. There are restaurants (brasseries, cafés, bistros, etc.), flower shops, and clothing stores. Occasionally, there will be a wine shop of a fishmonger, but there is little evidence that anyone cooks much at home or buys anything not directly concerned with delighting the senses. But: here are some hens ready for the rotisserie.
Mostly I’d go with skipping “the sights” and favor wandering around (which goes for any city you’re visiting really). So here’s random prettiness #2. The tree on the balcony is painted on the side of that smokestack, note.
In one of the threads on MetaFilter’s Paris tag, someone said “you’re going to live well!” And it’s True. Here’s some side-street cafe cheese, served with bread and wine and followed with espresso. As much as the overall quality of food in London is on average noticeably worse then in the US, the food in Paris is noticeably better pretty much everywhere. Ham and cheese crepes are considered street food here.
Even the graffiti here is elegant and romantic.
The Eiffel Tower, natch. A stairs trip just to the first platform was plenty. A nice climb up a few dozen metal flights of stairs is just what the doctor ordered for the mildly acrophobic among us.
J. random view from the first platform. You could spend all day shooting and assembling a monster 360-degree panorama but ok, it’s breathtaking, we get it, geez.
At the foot of the tower there are ambiguously ethnic women walking around asking “Do you speak English?”, part of some scam that despite the extremely widely-disseminated warnings appears to be remarkably effective. One of them had a midwestern women digging around in her purse, and brazenly turned towards me as I walked by to ask me. That’s efficiency, right? Anyway, here’s home base of the Women who ask if you speak English.
Trust me, I’m going easy on you with the pictures of tourists acting goofy.
You feed these little birds bits of your ham/cheese crepe, and the competition is fierce, so eventually some of them start to try to catch the bits in mid-air, and you can get them to eat from your fingers, which is me doing exactly that here. My dad working the camera.
I would not mind living here! Willing to learn French!
I only saw one public ping-pong table in Paris, but what a cool idea. Eastside Garden take note.
The Musée d’Orsay is a highly recommended alternative to the multi-day requirements of the Louvre. They let you photograph, so lots of the paintings have obnoxious people going around with camera phones tediously snapping photos of every other piece instead of looking, and getting yelled at because flash is technically not permitted, and
these people you people do not know how to work their your cameras. This is the Van Gogh room, which was of course the worst-case example. By the way: a roomfull of Van Goghs, plus all your major impressionists, etc! (For Picasso and later, you need to check out the Centre Pompidou, which I only got to do briefly, don’t get me started.)
If you can’t beat ‘em… a particularly lovely Toulouse-Lautrec.
And the Musée d’Orsay building is half the fun. It’s a baffling structure of late-19th century origin who’s size is difficult to determine at first (looks manageable on first impression, huge on second impression, but it actually is pretty manageable), and is full of interesting big and small spaces.
Random bookstore taxidermy action.
A random sampling of street musicians: Two guys playing Django Reinhardt jazz on Django Reinhardt guitars (with people dancing), a lone violin playing random arias on an abandoned side-street, a one-man band accordion/trombone/drums guy singing (amplified) mauldin old French songs, and a guy playing minimalist tones on clarinet to faint classical CD-based accompaniment for the closing of the museum, and these guys. This is BTW some random side-street staircase shortcut, but yeah, random prettiness #3, right?
#4; in general, it’s hard to point your camera here and not hit something amazing.
And we’re going to leave it there. Next up: Prague!
3 thoughts on “Down and out in Paris”
Alesh….. enjoy yourself! I am so jealous! I lived down the street from the Orsay and used to walk by it every day when they were still working on converting it from a train station to the museum. sigh
“No stores” So true! But also a very different system from our supermarket/drugstore model where you can find everything in one store. Instead you have to go to separate ones. And just try looking for shaving cream in Paris.
On the other hand, the best grocery store in the world is La Bon Marché Grand Epicerie. And obvious French-don’t-bathe-much observation: that parfum dispenser is a necessity.
Did you have any macaroons!?
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