Tuesday, October 29, 2013

September 22- quiet day

We went to church, and then to a market. 


An interesting Metro sign. This one seems Art Neaveau-ish.

Here’s another car Al would like to bring home with us. I wonder if it would even be legal to drive this car in the U.S.


September 23- Giverny: Even Better in Person then in Monet's Paintings

We took the train to Vernon, about 45 minutes from Paris.  A local bus meets the trains for the 5 km trip to Giverny.  (Rick Steves suggests doing Giverny and Rouen in one day.  He must be much younger than us, or has long days.  We spent one day for each). 

Giverny is a small town, which seems to appear much as it did when Monet and his family lived there.

Monet first noticed Giverny when he was travelling on a train through the town. He started renting a home there in 1883,  In 1890, he purchased the home, and set about creating the gardens which he wanted to paint.  He lived in Giverny until his death in 1929. 

Monet's property has three parts- his house, gardens around the house, and the famous pond across the road.  Plus the gift shop- where one can purchase any item you can think of with either Monet's signature or one of his paintings thereon. 

Photos in the house are prohibited, so I am left to try to describe it.  It reminded me of Scandinavian houses- with blue and yellow rooms, and painted woodwork.  Monet's studio is at the far end, and filled with comfortable chairs. I imagine family and friends stopping to visit while he is working. The walls are covered with reproductions of his paintings. Photos of the room indicate that its contents are consistent with the room 's original contents.  A large kitchen, and even larger dining room- Monet and his second wife had 8 children between them.  A small sitting room and other rooms are filled with Japanese prints.

Upstairs, Monet’s bedroom and his wife’s bedroom plus a sitting room for each.  The children’s quarters at the other end of the house were not open for viewing. 

It was a wonderful change from all of the gold and gilt of Versailles and other chateaus.  I could picture a family living in the house, children running in and out, and good cooking smells from the many copper pots in the kitchen. 

Chickens in the yard adjoining the house.

Views of the house.  The gardens obscure most of the house.


The gardens around the house were not at their prime.  Flowers in bloom were geraniums, dahlias, roses.  The gardens filled the yard-and appeared to be much like the informal English gardens with plans spilling out over the walks.

The view of the garden from Monet's bedroom window.  The lily pond is not visible from the house. 



Walter Annenberg, an American philanthropist, has kindly provided a tunnel under the road which cuts through the property to cross to the pond.  We spent a couple of hours looking at the pond, and eating our lunch on a bench.  Al took a short nap- the sun and quiet were conducive to relaxing.

A stream that feeds the pond.












We walked back to Vernon.  The 5 km of railroad track has been converted to a well-marked biking/walking trail.

The Seine runs through Vernon -much wider than it is in Paris.

Thank you, Monet for creating a beautiful place to visit.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

September 20- A quiet day in Paris

No outings today.  I spent the morning at the American Church volunteering at the Friday lunch for needy, and walked home.  A couple of pictures of La  Tour Eiffel.  I never tire of looking at it.  Why?  I’m sure people who are much more articulate than me have written descriptions.  It always lifts my spirits- the way it soars into the sky, and its beautiful lines. Any day is better with a few minutes to look at it.


September 19- Visits to Two Old Fortresses in Paris


We first spent some time at the Louvre.  I need to see the Louvre in small pieces. It is huge- and takes a lot of time to get from one section to another. Plus it is always crowded.

My first stop today was the Venus de Milo.  An example of the crowds around one of  their most famous works.   


Here is a statue of Aphrodite, by Praxiteles, the Athenian sculptor who invented the female nude.  I had never thought about the fact that someone had to be the first one to sculpt a nude female until I saw this bit of information about him.
Next, a statue of Athena, the female warrior goddess who was the patron of Athens.  The original statue was created in 430 BC.




Next, some fragments from the original Pantheon.  A scale model of the Pantheon is on exhibit.  Having seen the Pantheon in Paris, it is  now clear to me where the inspiration came from.



An old Roman statute from the Borghese collection.

At first you wonder why these four men in a circle are looking at themselves so intently.  Then you read the plaque and realize that they originally held up a fountain.

Next, I met up with Al, who had found the wall which had surrounded the original Louvre when it was a fortress.  This is all in the basement of the Louvre.  They have a model of the original Louvre. 

This is a bird's eye view with the original fort/castle in the middle.  You can see the tower inside the walls and the surrounding city.  This is now under the east end of the Louvre, which has been expanded by subsequent kings on top of this fort/castle and to the left or west.  North is at the top of the model.  You can see a bit of the Seine at the very bottom of the model. 

 This shows the floor plan of the existing part of the original fort.  The path starts in the upper right and you walk down the rights side, then the bottom and then through the middle around the foundation of the original tower.  All of this is under the Louvre and is about two stories tall.

This is the view standing in the bottom right corner of the diagram looking back towards the entrance.  The wall on the right is part of the outer wall of the fort/castle.  The wall on the left is part of the inner keep.  You can see the rounding of the corner tower.

This is looking at a 90 degree angle from the previous photo along the part on the bottom of the diagram.  The wall on the left is the outer wall of the fort/castle.  The part on the right is the wall to the inner keep.  You can see the round part of the same corner tower as shown in the previous photograph.

This is inside the keep.  The wall on the right is the keep wall.  The wall on the left is the round tower in the middle of the fort/castle.

Also, inside the keep.  The keep wall is on the left.  The central tower is on the right.

 This is another part of the original fort/castle that appears to have been a storage room.  Obviously, the part of the original fort/castle that is above this level is gone and has been replaced by the buildings of the Louvre.  Essentially, these structures exist in the basement of the Louvre and support the present day building. 

Next, on to Château de Vincennes. Vincennes is the fortress built by Charles V during the 14th Century.  He hated Paris, and this location was in the country at that time. It was first a hunting lodge, and later turned into a chateau and fort.  (Today, it is at the end of Metro line #1). He  built himself  a substantial fortress-  double walls, moat, all sorts of defense tools, towers for guards. 


Entrance with drawbridge





The keep.  It has the tallest medieval tower in Europe.  It now houses a museum for the history of the armies of France.

 Detail of inside wall of the keep

Moat in the keep

This is the chapel for the Chateau.  They built big in those days.

The old hunting grounds are now the second largest park in Paris.  This is looking back towards the chapel from the park.

 After a short visit to the fortress, we moved on to the adjoining park- too bad Charles didn’t have the park to enjoy.  The park is huge (as is everything here)- and has something for everyone- lakes, horse trails, an amusement park, an amphitheater.  However, he probably did enjoy his private hunting preserve.




Lots of small streams.

Men playing pétanque.  It is very similar to bocce ball.

Lots of trails through the woods for walking, bicycling, and horseback riding.

Pictures of the lake.

 A lot of pretty flowers




This small park is outside the main area, near the subway stop.  I suppose it would be their Vietnam Memorial.
There is an art museum by the subway stop also that has this swimmer in its front yard.