Looking at just my 2011 Parisian photo catalog, I have 9,364 photos of pastries, chocolates, croissants and candy, but I have 23,236 non-pastry photos from all around Paris and across France. You’re actually more likely to find me wandering the streets, camera in-hand, hunting down a cool doorknob or old church to snap than you are to find me in a pastry shop. But it occurred to me a few weeks ago that pretty much all the “My Life in Paris” photos I share with you guys are just scenes that I think are funny and can write something silly about. So I thought it was about time to share some of my finer snapshots with you. It’s my bid to play real photographer for a day, so I hope you enjoy them.
The top shot is what I saw every morning, when I’d leave my apartment – the amazing Saint-Sulpice. It only took them eleven years and 28 million euros to refurbish the left tower there, and it’s quite a contrast with the dingy decaying one to its right. Given that I’ve snagged apartments directly on either side of it these last two years, there’s a pretty serious pull for my 2012 pad to be right there, too. Much as I want to be closer to Café Pouchkine and Jacques Genin, I don’t know if I can resist the allure of the above.
And who doesn’t love the Luxembourg Gardens? I still remember the first time I saw it, years ago. It’s one of those experiences where’re you’re like, “No way!” The design and scale of it all is just so over the top. Yet, despite it being a half block from my place, I spent the first four months of this last stay in Paris barely ever visiting it. It was only in mid-August that it dawned on me that I’d neglected picture-taking in the Gardens. So I wound up visiting several times/week, paying particular attention to sunrises and sunsets. The above got snapped one day right after opening at 8 in the morning. The sun was just poking up over the horizon. So that western expanse of trees was still pretty dark and just starting to get hit by direct sunlight. Together with the clouds, I thought it made for a pretty dramatic landscape.
There’s nothing quite like the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde either. Once at the entrance to the Temple of Luxor, it’s a pretty special piece. I always wonder if Egyptians get a little ****** when they see one of their national treasures right in the center of Paris. Of course the backstory is that it was a gift from Ottoman Egypt to Paris, so it’s not like it was plundered booty. Make sure to check it out on a sunny day, when the top and figures along the base sparkle . . . blindingly.
Just off to either side of the Obelisk are the awesome Neoclassical fountains. Unlike the Obelisk, which is better enjoyed midday, these guys really show off their magic in the early morning and evening, when the angle and colors of the sun bring them to life. This is easily my favorite photo in the whole set. With the detail in the sheets & drops of water and the contrast of the lit vs. the unlit side, it’s intense in a very olden-timey way.
Scaling the dome of Sacré Coeur is always a good time. Probably not the best thing for people afraid of heights or who suffer from claustrophobia though, given the at times cramped quarters and mix of indoor/outdoor climbing. It’s stunning for those up to the challenge. And it’s my all-time favorite among all the European domes I’ve climbed. I thought this shot was particularly cool because of the geometry and shadows. The shapes and tones – too fun.
I spend a lot of time around the Louvre. It’s an amazing museum to visit, even if it takes 4 or 5 individual visits to casually see everything; trust me, if you’ve never been there, it’s at least three times as huge as you think. Then there are the beautiful fountains that run throughout the day … the amazing sunsets … the Tuileries Gardens just off to the side … and of course the view at night. I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to catch just two people in the frame, reflected along with the pyramid in one of the pools, but I it made for a great shot. It might be that after thousands of photos of the pyramid, a few generally work out. Who knows?
Here’s another shot from the Louvre – this time from a set of gates along the northern arm of the palace. I loved the overlapping shadows, coming from three different angles, combined with the lines in the path and different intensities of light. Notice how the middle right intersecting shadows lines look basically exactly like the pyramid’s framework?! I wonder if that’s part of what inspired the pyramid’s architect, I.M. Pei?
I wish I had the backstory on this awesomeness from along the rue de Vaugirard, in front of the Sénat. I’m sure one of my French readers will fill me in the comments section (s’il vous plaît). I’d often walk by it on my way to Carl Marletti’s shop or any time I was walking back from the 5ème. I waited for a cloudless day, and then spent a good half hour waiting for the sun to perfectly align so that it would light up the body and face of the statue in the center of the shot.
Last but not least, La Seine. I was out one evening, at sunset, taking videos of waves (cause that’s normal, right?), as the Batobus would go by. The river is beautiful, as is, but the odd angles of waves the boats would generate was amazing . . . especially as they bounced off the banks of the river and then back into the wake of others. Fortunately I didn’t just have my video camera, but also my regular camera, and caught this. It might be a turbulent scene, but it’s so calming. I can’t wait to stand on the Pont du Carrousel and take it all in again.
There are tons of other photos to share with you – plenty in color, too. I just wanted to share some of my favorite black-and-white ones today. Hopefully they’ve inspired a few dozen of you to immediately book your flights to Paris. I even tracked down the latest Air France deals page, so just click here for the lowest available Air France fares. God knows I started checking flight – just for fun – while working on these.