Two days from now, I’ll finally be back in Paris. I can’t wait. But what’s funny is that, four months into my last six month stay there, I was dying to return to the United States. Why? Because I think I was literally dying. I’d gained 35lbs. (16 kilos). I had no pants that fit, was severely protein-deprived, had the energy level of a 90-year-old, and I’m pretty sure my blood had converted to raspberry syrup. That’s why I’m just going to eat pastry-only meals most of the time – not all of the time – on this go. I think that will still allow me to liberally slog my pancreas, liver and heart, without completely destroying myself again.
Anyway, today, as I’m so close to being back to the City of Light that I can taste it, I wanted to take you around town in a series of my favorite photos. The top shot is certainly key among them – a view, looking northwest from the Louvre. The colors and cloudscape of the evening sky dance off one of the pools, while people lounge and walk around the pyramid and palace. But right there in the middle is that awesome Ferris wheel I still need to take a ride on. If you know of any lovely young ladies who’d volunteer as my escort, let me know. It’s even more beautiful up close…
Since these are just some of my favorite photos, they’re in no particular order. It’s a little schizophrenic. So the shot below is from the daytime at the Louvre. Can you imagine having a house where that was around the balcony, outside like every one of your dozens of gigantic French doors? It’s a little opulent.
Less opulent in scale – but no less so in skill level – check out this door knocker. Between it and the way the paint is peeling and chipping away, I don’t think this door could look more fantastically French if it tried.
Here we have The Exorcist stairs that run alongside the tram that heads to Sacré Coeur. I can’t wait to see it in the snow this winter.
Speaking of Sacré Coeur, my favorite of all the major hilltop Romanesque-Byzantine cathedrals of Paris, here we are. If you’re thinking Sacré Coeur is the only major hilltop Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral in the city . . . well, correct. But it’s still my favorite among them.
Here’s an even closer view. It really is an amazing place. Even though I live directly next to Saint Sulpice and routinely walk by Notre Dame at least a few times each week, I’ve been in Sacré Coeur way more often. One of the last times, I walked in right as the choir began singing during their Sunday service. Haunting, people . . . haunting.
Ahhh, one of the fountain fish in the Place de la Concorde. I love how it spits water out of its nose: A. Because it’s just weird and B. Because there’s no fish that has nostrils as large as Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons or Dionne Warwick, for that matter.
It wasn’t until last year that I realized the below is what a chestnut looks like before it is “just” a chestnut. Its little wrapper seems like it should be some weird tropical fruit – not something that grows in the middle of Luxembourg Gardens, like this little guy.
Speaking of out-of-place things in the Luxembourg Gardens, the palm trees are a little weird to see in a city that’s actually a few degrees north of Bangor, Maine. I love that they’re there, but it’s still a shock.
Aside from the flora of the Gardens, cloudscapes are always fun to take in. This shot was done just after sunrise, so the clouds are lit up all crazy. Plus I was shooting it all with an ultra wide-angle lens, so the wee statue in the bottom left was my focal point, but the clouds at the top periphery have this cool distortion. Definitely among my favorite shots.
Gargoyle! Now we’re over at Notre Dame. I have to admit I was a bit disenchanted by how limited the gargoyle situation is up at the top of the cathedral – or, rather, how limited access is to the gargoyles. There’re all these areas you’re not allowed to walk up there … and lines of sight that are all messed up with fencing and whatnot. Didn’t stop me from capturing this guy though, did it?
Gargoyles! Plural. It’s like they’re three little buddies here, isn’t it? “Don’t come to church! Stay away!” is what I guess they’re meant to communicate. Doesn’t really make sense to me why a church would ever want gargoyles on it, chasing away customers.
Now, if you time your visit just right, you can see the towers’ shadows line up just perfectly in the plaza below. And I know it looks like there are a lot of people waiting to get into the church there, doesn’t it? But most are just milling about. It’s actually quite easy to just slip into the cathedral and slip out. It’s only getting up in it that takes a major wait. And then they force you to stop in the gift shop for like 10-15 minutes, when you’re halfway up. If Jesus knew about that, would he be kinda disappointed? Probably.
Skipping from structures devoted to monotheism to those with a broader approach, here we are at the Pantheon. It’s only like 3 blocks to the west of the Luxembourg Gardens, so I highly recommend checking it out – at least from the outside. Can’t say the inside is as impressive as the Pantheon in Rome, which it was modeled after. Still amazing though.
Right back to Notre Dame we go. Here’s the less oft-seen northern façade, as taken in at night. Isn’t it beautiful?
And here’s the southern side along the banks of the Seine. It’s weird that the first time you see it you just can’t believe you’re right there looking at Notre Dame. But then, once you live in Paris and see it almost every day, it just starts to seem like a normal chuch. But it’s Notre Dame!
Here’s a peek inside the framework of the Louvre’s big pyramid. Cool as it looks during the day, I think the pyramid really shines at night.
Literally, the pyramid shines brilliantly in the evenings. The shot below was done at a very low angle, right against the surface of the water in one of the pools – lest you think the ground around the Louvre is made of one gigantic mirror. I can’t count the number of times I’ve headed off to the museum at night just to soak this in. And while I don’t have a shot of it here, there other cool thing is that there are these super bright lights at the top of the Eiffel Tower that twirl around, and they shoot all the way out passed the Louvre here. So you’re taking all this in, lights from the tower are whipping across the sky, and you can look way out in the west and see the Arc de Triomphe (different from the arc pictured below). Oh, and you’re sitting in the courtyard of a ******* palace! Don’t want to forget that bit.
When I was going through all the photos I’d taken in 2011 and came across the final one I’m sharing here, I thought it wasn’t particularly well lit and was definitely pretty clichéd. “Oh, look, it’s a woman all by herself in the middle of Paris. Loneliness in the City of Love!” But I kept coming back to it; it’s now my favorite. Head tipped against her left hand, one foot casually resting on the ground, I now see much less of a loneliness than I see a relaxed quiet that’s every bit my own Parisian life. Even though some of my best memories are those I’ve shared with others, there are times when a solitary moment is just as indelible . . . and even preferred.