In February 2013 I went to Paris. I’d had a mild existential crisis in late 2012 and made a list of things I should do to get myself off my arse. I thought of the trip as a good excuse to get away from the everyday routine, to remove myself from my comfort zone while still being in a reasonably familiar environment (if you can cope in London then you can cope in Paris, Berlin, New York, etc). The reality is that I did lots of touristy things and lived on biscuits for four days. Here are some photos and (very basic) notes from my holiday. All photos can be clicked on for a larger view, and will open in a separate window. Most of them are between 2 and 4 megabytes in size.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe offers some wonderful views, and if you decide to climb the spiral staircase there is a nice padded seating area at the top to have a rest. You will be knackered! Somebody once flew a plane through the arch, the nutter.
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
One of the things I most looked forward to seeing in Paris was the Métropolitain signage, and I think this photo came off particularly well. I’m aware it’s been filtered using Instagram, but it’s still great.
Once inside the Père Lachaise Cemetery it was time for a quick “summarise Proust” contest…
…before heading off to see Victor Noir’s magnificent grave. The discolouration of his … protuberance … is because it is rubbed often due to its legend as a fertility enhancer.
Oscar Wilde’s tomb is rather popular, as you might imagine, and it’s also rather splendid:
I visited on Gertrude Stein’s birthday, and so I placed a stone on her grave like the good person I am. The photo I took of that didn’t come out too well, but this one of Edith Piaf’s grave did:
The most popular grave in the cemetery is probably that of Jim Morrison. I’m sure he really appreciates that can of Kronenbourg, what with his being dead and all, but still, it’s the thought that counts:
La Tour Eiffel
The Eiffel Tower is big. So big, in fact, that you can stand underneath it without worrying about banging your head. The highest point for visitors is about 900 feet above the ground. It’s windy up there, and cold too, but hey you can get a glass of Champagne if you want. Visitors to the second deck can get a slice of pizza and a hot chocolate, and you might see a mouse (I did). Day or night, the views are wonderful. Except for the Tour Montparnasse. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s that monolithic outrage that makes my OCD scream in the same way round tables do in restaurants.
Some magnificent views:
The same view in the day and at night:
The view on the way down is rather excellent as well:
Île de la Cité
The Île de la Cité is the centre of Paris. It’s an island in the Seine and it’s the location of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.
The Square du Vert Galant was erected “in tribute to Henri IV and his numerous mistresses”, and it’s a lovely little place by the Pont Neuf at the western tip of the island. It’s more of a triangle, but never mind.
And now for some Notre Dame photos. I couldn’t get a nice shot of the front because there was no space to get far enough back to get the whole thing) so these will have to do:
Remember, you can click any of these to make them bigger. It helps.
Musée du Louvre
The Louvre was a triumph. Yes, I saw the Mona Lisa. Yes, I saw the Venus de Milo. I took photos too, but they’re so obvious I thought it would be a crime to reproduce them here. Okay, what I mean is the photos were awful. Here are some shots of various other things instead:
I don’t know what this is called, but if I had a say it would be called “Whatever”:
This was a very nice installation but I forget the artist’s name. The shapes moved around, and the shadows were always changing. Very nice. I like the blur caused by the long exposure time.
I adore this inverted pyramid:
Centre Georges Pompidou
Finally, from the National Museum of Modern Art, which is housed within the Pompidou Centre, some art, starting with Andy Warhol’s Ten Lizes:
I’ve seen an Ernesto Neto installation before, at an exhibition in the Hayward Gallery in London. The hanging parts are filled with pungent spices:
Allan McCollum’s Plaster Surrogates:
René Magritte’s The Double Secret:
The view over Paris is pretty great too:
Three from the Dalí exhibition which coincided with my visit. The Aphrodisiac Jacket:
This causes such annoyance to some people and I don’t know why. There’s really no need to get so upset. It’s just a lobster telephone. I think the world can be split into two sections: those who would put a lobster on a telephone receiver, and those who wouldn’t. I’m in the former camp.
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War):
That’s it. The Métro was brilliant. I’ve always been a fan of subway systems and this one is a delight to ride on. Everybody I interacted with spoke English and, purely based on hearsay, I hadn’t expected that. I used badly pronounced basic French that I’d learned in middle school and could buy tickets, food, etc, but there were no communication problems at all. Well, apart from when ordering a coffee. Nobody in England understands me when I ask for a mocha, and the same was true in France. I even spelled it out and was met with “latte?” I’ve switched to cappuccinos now. It’s easier.
Well, cheers Paris, à bientôt.