Parisian “Snapshots” III
Early on, in my last return to Paris, I stopped taking my camera out with me in the city. Unlike the last few years, it was cloudy and rainy almost every single day. That lends itself to some cool shots, sure, but it’s usually just a drag. Sunlight and zany cloud formations are more my thing. But there were a few nice days, and it was on those that I managed to capture what I’m going to share with you aujourd’hui.
The top shot might just be just be my all-time favorite photo – one of the fountains in the Place de la Concorde, snapped at 1/3,200th of a second. It’s what I use for the wallpaper on my cell phone, making it a frequent reminder of just how beautiful Paris is and of why it’s silly to ever leave. Few cities have anything so amazing, and fewer still hire calligraphers to hand-paint famous poems on medieval walls . . .
I’d just left the Luxembourg Gardens and was headed toward Saint-Sulpice, down rue Férou, when I saw this guy meticulously painting out Le Bateau Ivre by Arthur Rimbaud. Incredible. He actually came back every weekend for a few weeks, as the poem is super long. What little of it you see in the full shot above is a small fraction. It goes up about 7 metres and has verse after verse stretching down half the block.
Less productive men don’t paint centuries-old poems. They take naps alongside the Louvre’s pools so that others can surreptitiously photograph them. Every time I look at this photo, I assume the guy is homeless and just wants to luxuriate on the palace grounds. Then I look at his shoes and realize he’s probably just a weary German traveler or something.
The gargoyles of Notre Dame are always doing their thing, trying their very best to scare away the tourists. “Don’t come in!” they seem to say, but we do anyway.
Other statues, like this awesome one at Sacré-Coeur, just hang out and look triumphant.
For those of you who’ve only ever seen the front of Sacré-Coeur, did you know the backside is arguably even more awesome? It’s such an amazing church. Almost every time I’m up at Gontran Cherrier’s, for a croissant or five, I go a little out of my way to swing by Sacré-Coeur. I love it even more than Notre Dame.
Of course the stone work in the Luxembourg Gardens is pretty amazing, too. The shot below is one I snapped just after dawn. The statue was still pretty shadowed, but the sky and clouds had just lit up.
Speaking of fun lighting, here’s a quintet of French flags I spotted one summer afternoon in the 7ème. There are so many buildings in that area with flags, but I never seemed to catch them when they weren’t tangled or just draped perfectly about one another . . . until I got this shot. Just looking at them makes me miss the coolest country in the world.
I don’t know quite how to explain how much I love the trees in the photo below. Several times each week, I’d walk across the Pont du Carousel, heading from the left bank to the Louvre, and I’d always stop to stare down the river at Notre Dame and to look over and see my trees. They’re the kind of trees Bob Ross would have painted . . . happy trees. Permanently bent a bit westward – I assume because of how the wind blows along the banks in that section – they always seem to be rustling, whispering. Once I get back to Paris next month, they’re one of the first sights I want to soak in. I love my trees.
So there you go – some of my favorite shots of Paris. Make sure to keep an eye peeled next Wednesday, when I whip out what might be the prettiest pastry you’ve ever seen here. Oh, yes, you read that right; it’s possibly the loveliest of them all. And who is it from? Café Pouchkine, of course, courtesy of the ever-brilliant Emmanuel Ryon. And it’s the following Wednesday that I’m going to take you into the kitchen with the master himself! My apologies in advance if it blows your mind.